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Ian Martin: Architectural Anxiety

Ian Martin
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Bauhau is unwell

MONDAY Fantastic result at the Regional Futures Awards, where Mercia is once again declared Futurest Region of the Year.

I cannot take credit alone for the continuingly tractioned profile of what will be the 21st century’s first ‘meta-geopolitan zero-monoxide inhabited algorithm’ but I will have a small portion, thanks.

TUESDAY To Glutenfreude, the transgressional new bakery and pasta restaurant nestling in a pop-up miniature gas holder at the de-urbanised end of St Pancras. Nobody smokes any more, so London socialites have decided that gluten’s the new opium.  

I’m here for a decent, hard-working brunch with my old friend Darcy Farquear’say and his portable muse, Bauhau the architectural dachshund. As is fashionable we have to wait an hour for a table, drinking overpriced cocktails in what looks like a front parlour circa 1956, but furnished with anachronisms.

Darcy drapes himself across a threadbare Ercol studio couch, Bauhau’s on a little Biba pouffe, whining, with his stupid head turned sideways and his tongue out. Darcy as usual is consumed with the existential drama of Darcy. He’s ‘in want of a meme’. Clicks have been down lately and his next 2,000-online-only-word piece for the Creative on Sunday could really do with a boost on social media. He needs to blow up the internet, or set fire to it, or whatever happens when a lot of people like something for five minutes. 

He’s had four powerful Mar-a-Lagos already, and is freewheeling, sing-song style. ‘Something Brexity, sinister new trend, something post-architectural? Nuggety AND perishable, that’s the trick. “I have a take but you’d better come and get it now because it won’t stay hot forever”. Fictionalise the narrative, cultural anxiety, something something WAIT. “Architectonical anxiety”? Too Radio 3. Also, remember Brexit. “Brarch…itex…iety”? Shit, can’t even say it…’

Architectural Anxiety’s good enough, I reckon. Meaningless and ambiguous. It could mean that people are scared of looking at new architecture or scared of doing it. Either way the – oh what now?’

Bauhau’s developed this annoying, slightly embarrassed yelp-yelp whenever he wants to ‘go tinklies’, as Darcy calls it. This combination of human coyness and disruptive canine incontinence always makes me feel a wickle murdery. 

WEDNESDAY Darcy emails to say thanks for Architectural Anxiety. And sorry he’ll have to skip the Post-Ethical Design and Budget Laundering conference tomorrow. He has to take Bauhau to the vet.

THURSDAY Some worthy, mediocre conference speakers but they’re really just a front. Everyone’s here for the networking afterparty, where epic space creatives can mingle with representatives from the organised crime community, seeking synergy and opportunity. 

I’m hopeless at these things. I struggle with the small talk. ‘So, how fares the pimping sector?’ ‘Will Brexit have much impact on your cocaine margins, do you imagine?’ ‘How’s the child refugee market holding up?’

My new fixer, the portfolio gangsterpreneur Phil Cluster, is much better at all this and by close of business we have a lead. An enlightened patron of the arts wishes to ‘open a new chapter in container housing’ by converting the cash profits from a shipping container full of pure heroin into a luxury peninsula of fettered space along the Thames Estuary. 

Pleasingly, Phil and I bump into my former fixer Rock Steady Eddie and his associate, Tim Hedgespam the architect-developer. My arch-enemy. He wears a little hat all the time even indoors. The vibe’s frosty. There was some unpleasantness recently. I was tricked into trial by combat with a planning authority, risking serious injury, while Eddie went behind my back to work up some half-arsed deal with Hedgespam to metropolitanise the suburbs. 

Phil genially puts his arms around both of them, leans in and quietly offers to perform a double tracheotomy unless they fuck off directly. 

Ha ha, Hedgespam scuttles off so quickly he loses his hat. Brilliant.

FRIDAY Sketch an architectural Guardian cartoon featuring a traditional timber stable being strengthened by the prime minister while a horse with ‘OPPORTUNITY’ written on its horse-blanket gallops off into the distance. Then I destroy it. 

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist heritage footfall. Triple-Locked Authenticity Browsers 2, Benefit-Capped Charity Grazers 3. 

SUNDAY Odd to see Darcy’s byline back again on his Architectural Anxiety piece (‘Bauhau is unwell’). Pretty thorough for him. Made-up quotes from three unnamed ‘cultural insiders’. Call Darcy. Straight to voicemail. He can’t still be at the vet, surely. 

Epic Space, an anthology of Ian Martin’s columns for the AJ, is published by Unbound

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