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Lowdown, not so sweet

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Ian Martin enjoys some freeform jazz, an improvised lunch and an architectural jam session

Monday Meeting of the Tamworth League. We have watched in horrified amusement the antics of ‘ordinary people on the Fourth Plinth and are now resolved to start our own Social Feedback project.

For the next 100 days a cross-section of Britain’s most despised representatives – politicians, journalists, TV presenters, police officers, teenagers, architects, smokers, neo-Nazis, Christians and fat people – will spend an hour each on top of Tamworth’s newest public artwork, the Left Blank, a plain concrete cube by artist Sam Brockley-Spears.

Members of the public will be encouraged to jeer at them and throw things. As part of the project, everything is being monitored by CCTV for broadcast later. Those who DO actually throw things or shout anything unpleasant will be prosecuted, thus forming a perfect artistic and sociological loop. This, after all, is what is meant by ‘closed circuit’.

Tuesday Overhaul Redcar seafront by driving past it to somewhere much more recent.

Wednesday Finish Photoshopping my inflatable building, commissioned by the Department of Entertainment to promote entrepreneurship at trade events. The building looks perfectly normal in the rendering, but my glamourous cartoon occupants oxygenate internal spaces with their special ‘think bubbles’.

Thursday Redesign BBC drama, giving every single bloody thing a saturated, noisy, expensive look in line with the prescribed production values of Doctor Who.

Friday Lunch with Herbie Dumplings, the jazz architect. He’s been blowing the trumpet for freestyle epic space ever since the Deco Revivalist Three-Day Week. ‘Man, those were some dark and wap-bap drrr-bap-bap pssh-wap ba-diddly crazy times,’ he scats.

These days Herbie’s semi-retired and almost totally deaf. But like all old ‘space jazzers’ he can’t ever really shut up, puffing his cheeks out and reminiscing about the architectural jazz greats.

Johnny Vitruvio, who would improvise in the New Internationalist style for hours over a Palladian riff, cut down in his prime by the deadly advent of rock and roll and a massive smack overdose. Bix Waterhouse, famous for his glass and steel penthouse pads in 7/8 time. The ultra-cool New York practice of Sank Vodka and Other, who transcended square design theory with facial hair and berets.

‘Those cats understood one simple yet pish pish ga-dap bap powerful idea,’ says Herbie, nodding along and clicking his fingers to the cadence. ‘In isolation, the worlds of jazz and architecture might be seen as glap-dap biddly biddly pish separate constituencies of tossers. But wow. Get the frozen music guys and the liquid music guys together, bam. Bap bap shoo-wap. Pish pish pish wabbeda wabbeda wabbeda, you dig me?’

God, we’re only on the bloody STARTERS. Then it’s the main course and he’s on and on about how the iconoclastic spiky Bauhaus rhythms of Fats Gropius and his Warm Club of Germany vibed out the mainstream with their chops and licks and jelly. How he’s curating a major retrospective on modernism and bebopulism at the Royal Institute of Jazz Architects. A lecture he’s giving at a brutalist car park in Droitwich called Trumpet Of The Eye.

By now I’m sick of the jabbering buffoon, with his Fedora and silver goatee and spitty disposition, and fantasising about genuinely horrible things to do with his ‘beloved flugelhorn’. Then I become aware of a presence behind me. ‘Sorry to interrupt, but aren’t you… Herbie Dumplings? I just wanted to say what a huge fan I am of your work. Well, both of us are…’ I turn round to see Darcy Farquear’say, dressed in his ‘do ask, will tell’ faux-military gear.

I rise from my seat, surprised by an unsolicited wet lick from a twitchy dachshund in miniature Arctic fatigues. Ugh. This is intolerable. I explain to Herbie that this is NOT the Creative on Sunday’s design correspondent who did a fawning piece on Jazz Architecture, Dumplings And The Quest For Spatial Freedom. No, this is just some overdressed madman begging with menaces.

The manager is summoned. A confused and inebriated Herbie backs up my story – that this stranger threatened to set his ‘dog’ on us unless we handed over our wallets – and they’re both manhandled out by a burly kitchen porter. ‘Man, that cat was like squiddly bap de-bap pish solid gone,’ burbles Herbie. I agree.

Saturday Reflect on yesterday. Uncomfortable. Now regret not summoning the police, with their tasers and real dogs.

Sunday Go freeform in the recliner.



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