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The space bubble pops

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Ian Martin creates a prototype ‘pup-spa’

MONDAY In the morning, as part of my personal energy conservation plan, I design a ‘resi-tower’.

In the afternoon I freestyle a ‘leisu-dest’, a ‘comm-hub’, a ‘ret-dev’ and a ‘pup-spa’. Spend the evening trying to remember what a pup-spa is. It’s difficult as everything I freestyle looks the same and is populated with familiar fictional characters.

This guy in his mid-thirties always seems to be there, laughing in a measured way at something on the other end of the phone as he toys with the brim of his hat, staring past his frappucino at whatever overscaled urban mustard-and-cress I’ve conjured from my software punnet.

TUESDAY I’ve remembered now, ‘pup-spa’ is short for pop-up space. They’re suddenly all over the place; unsurprisingly my fixer and lunch companion Rock Steady Eddie is keen for us to cash in.

‘Basically it’s Jack and the Beanstalk, yeah?’ he says in a menacing way that always means a hostile lunch takeover. ‘Let’s say the local stakeholder is Jack’s mum right and your steak is a crossroads or a square or whatever but you can’t afford to maintain it any more so Jack the head of regeneration and inward investment for the local stakeholder takes the local steak to market…’

My steak follows the narrative to Eddie’s plate. ‘…but on the way the dozy bastard meets some patter merchant giving it all that who says you want to transform that run-down crossroads or square or whatever with these magic pop-up space beans…’ Five baked beans are solemnly transferred to my plate.

‘Now, maybe these pop-up space beans will sprout into some spindly bollocks that’ll convince people that this crossroads or square is like a ladder of aspiration…’ he says through a mouthful of steak. ‘I mean if something DOES grow, maybe they’ll put in a high-speed lift like the Shard where you go up to the top and admire the view. If not, well. You’ve still got the beans innit. They could be the size of boulders and a funny colour, that’d cheer the crossroads or square or whetever right up yeah?’

I mournfully consider the illusory promise of pop-up space beans, and re-order my lunch.

WEDNESDAY Working pup-spa brunch with Beansy, my friend the nanofuturologist. He’s quite excited at the prospect of ‘space-only interventions’.

We work up a prototype pop-up space: a big bubble of ‘hard air’, created through our previously-patented lumpening hydrate process, then go to the pub where we plan in some detail a future world reshaped by proton-neutral hard air, until last orders.

THURSDAY A pleasant afternoon in the company of my angry balaclava’d ecomentalist friend Amy Blackwater. I salute her fury, which endures despite the huge success of Now, Forager - the headwear brand that became a tropesurge.

Now, Forager has since expanded into every cranny of poverty chic. Amy’s most successful brand spin-off is a range of disgusting hypervegan ‘found meals’ for today’s time-poor scavengers. Mostly ‘edible’ mosses, twigs, dirt, mushrooms and mildew. I shudder, remembering the time I mistook a handful of lake-cleansed deer stools for olives.

Amy’s activism has gone boutique. The days when she’d blow up a building for its patriarchal demeanour are long over. Now she’s more likely to commission a celebrity graffiti artist to undermine it with cartoon irony.

I sense an alertness behind the balaclava when I mention the pup-spa thing though. ‘Someone ought to start a campaign of redaction,’ she splutters through her woolly mouth-hole.

‘Under cover of doing gas works or whatever, just get a team in to remove whole lumps of corporate buildings, create a publicly-owned absence. That’d be an elegant non-violent direct action…’

She’s off on one. I get out my wallet to settle the lunch bill but she waves it away. ‘…unless someone tried to stop it. Then you’d taser ‘em. Don’t worry about lunch, I’ll put it on expenses’.

FRIDAY Find space in my busy schedule to reflect, and recoil.

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Spatial Discrimination 0, Space Ageism 4, after extra time and space. The smiling guy in his thirties is there.

SUNDAY The papers are full of mischief and scandal, including reports of a violent turf war suddenly being waged on urban corners by rival gangs of space dealers, the rise of personal pop-up space injury claims and a partially-redacted viewing balcony at the top of the Shard.

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