Ian Martin imagines the same Adele song simultaneously playing in every shop in the world
MONDAY To the Royal Institute for the Pop-Uption of British Architects, in my capacity as cultural security adviser. It’s an emergency meeting, so there’s posh water and the biscuits have an ampersand.
We’re all familiar with the terror video by now but it’s no less chilling seeing it for the umpteenth time. The fanatical posturing. The theatrical voice, the pixelated face.
‘Idiots and bumholes of London, the end times are here. We, The Malliphate, have been striking at the heart of your godless city, slowly and mercilessly, since the days of Woolworths, all honour be unto them…
‘We demand aesthetic identicality, innit. Architectural submission to the one true plan…’ (here pointing at the sky) ‘taller, emptier, sealed environments. Uniform year-on-year growth. For the world to achieve perfection it must all look the same, yeah? O Godless London, behold the cloned blocks of luxury apartments! The retail settlements fulfilling the visions of your prophet Ballard! The densely packed office towers with their clip-art cladding and their Zizzis and Itsus and those mid-range Korean barbecue places at ground floor level!
‘You entering Tottenham Court Road underground station or a branch of Next? It should not matter. It does not matter. You in Soho or Bournemouth? Who cares? Soon all major cities of the world will be automatically networked via LinkedIn, creating a vast Mega-Malliphate, oo-er, oo-er WhatsApp…’
Well. We agree this is a turn-up for the books. Everyone knows that everywhere looks the same. We assumed that was just the morphic resonance of sinister development deals, spineless planning regimes and puerile design tropes. Nobody suspected there was actually organised thinking at work.
‘Who’s behind this? How do we react?’ whimpers Colin Buttons, head of corporate strategy. I narrow my eyes and look out of the window, over London’s dusky homogenised mass. We do not rush to make a statement, I say. We need to consider this calmly, at freelance day rates commensurate with the gravity of the situation.
A letter lies open, addressed to ‘Whores of Babylonia, Portland Place’
TUESDAY Obviously the world of design and development is talking about the Malliphate. That was always its intention. People are rightly appalled that harmless greed and self-interest turns out to have been orchestrated by a dark cult devoted to ultra-conformity.
Another statement has been issued, this time sponsored by Uber. The Malliphate has threatened to turn off the entire world’s supply of capitalism unless their demands are met. These include:
• All rural communities to be fully boutique by 2025.
• Contactless payment to be expanded to include contactless human interaction.
• The same Adele song simultaneously playing in every shop in the world.
WEDNESDAY The fickle, interconnected worlds of social media and construction futures have today shifted focus. People seem less worried about the Malliphate than about the Federal Reserve raising interest rates.
The level of panic remains reassuringly high at the RIPBA, however, which has just received a mysterious package.
THURSDAY A grim alertness at the heart of British pop-uption. The young unsmiling interns in their motivational fleeces – ‘Delivering The Day After Tomorrow’s Architecture Tomorrow’ – frisk me more demonstrably than usual.
In the ancient withdrawing chamber, the others are already sitting around the polished table. A letter lies open, addressed to ‘Whores of Babylonia, Portland Place, Blood on Your Hands’. I recognise the angry handwriting. As indeed would the security services if we took it to them.
I strongly advise against going to the police. It’s a blackmail note. If the RIPBA drops ten grand in used notes at a specified location, the Malliphate will not reveal to the world the extent to which the institute ignores cash bribes, blackmail and corruption in getting work in certain lucrative markets. ‘Such exquisite irony,’ purrs Mr Buttons. I rebuke him. Irony is an ugly word.
I need another day on time and a half to consider this.
FRIDAY Strongly advise them to pay up. I am 100 per cent sure the Malliphate will leave them alone now. I don’t tell them that I know who it is.
SATURDAY Meet up with my old friend Amy Blackwater the ecomentalist to split the cash. I mean, how many jihadist women in balaclavas are interested in architecture?
The Malliphate was my idea but she totally sold it. Next year we’re going to pretend to be militant squatters who hate homelessness.
SUNDAY Clear my conscience in the recliner, then reset it.