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Ian Martin: Capital gains

Ian Martin
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Le Corbynsier reveals a secret plan to reinstate Tamworth as the country’s capital, envisioning a green, carless, high-connectivity Chandigarh

MONDAY Morning: very tempted, as a lead opinion-former, to publicly and rather cleverly call for the ‘De-Uberisation of Architecture’. 

Afternoon: change my mind. Have a better idea. As a key influencer, I shall instead denounce in the strongest possible terms the baleful influence of ‘Ubertecture’ on contemporary urban landscapes. Yes. ‘Ubertecture’ sounds much cleverer.

Evening: after some thought, decide to just keep quiet and take that gig designing a pier on the South Coast. My fee will be based on the aggregated ratings I get from punters using the pier, if it ever gets built. Humiliatingly, I’d have to cover the insurance. And supply my own wood. Still. You can’t argue with economics.

TUESDAY Absolute bloody nightmare. Attempt to wayfind through augmented experience overlays to a high-level mixed-reality content, but accidentally animate some random textural interface, end up configurating the wrong modular narrative, triggering sensory recognition data, then suddenly I’m ‘co-processing artificial intelligence via a multisensory crowdsourced thoughthub’ when honestly I swear I was just browsing some old sheets of Letraset.

WEDNESDAY At a top secret location for a two-day Labour party ‘renewathon’. In the wake of their ground-flattening conference, Le Corbynsier and his policy architects are hoping to jam out some exciting and ballsy masterplans for the new epoch now upon us. And I am one of the few selected from the many to help shape this Radiant World. Allons-y!

THURSDAY Everyone seems to have a massive hangover. ‘Josh’, a bleary Momentum Bro in a tailored donkey jacket, reminds us that hangovers are caused by ‘seven years of the Tories pandering to their bloody mates in the licensed trade, yeah?’

While Bromentum Josh disappears for a ‘power nap’, we creatives start forming beautiful shapes from brute mental materials. Workshopped ideas are thrown on the pottery wheel, then baked in the kiln of collective thought. Eventually these ideas will emerge as gorgeous Grayson Perry-like ceramic policy narratives. Fragile, but eye-catching. 

By lunch we’ve devised an entirely new social housing system called Freelet, which will build 15 million zero-rent homes with money confiscated from The Banks, Saudi Arabia, golf clubs and ‘shareholders but only the racist ones’. Also, a cost-negative carbon sequestration regime based somehow on ‘oxidised earth encapsulation’; scrapping of all infrastructure projects with HS prefix; a new wide-spectrum currency ‘incorporating vegetable bartering etc’ when Le Corbynsier his absolute self appears. He … he wants a word with me. 

We leave the room together, one of his beefy minders gripping me above the elbow, G4S style. Sense of trepidation. Behind me, to the tune of Seven Nation Army, my colleagues softly sing ‘Oh, veg-table bar-tring…’  

FRIDAY Emergency meeting of Tamworth League, a bold collective of cultural stakeholders committed to restoring the ancient Mercian citadel to its proper place as England’s capital city. Alas, Ukip-Saxon treachery 11 centuries ago handed capital status to London and the rest is tragic history.  

We shall never forget the greed and treachery of the Anglians, with their glittering eyes and hearts of ice. Or their foul allies, the Goblin Tribes of Wessex. Well, enough’s enough. They’ve had their go. Mercia will rise again, much sooner than people expected. I have something significant to report.

There’s speechless excitement in the room when I unveil Corb’s secret plan – vouchsafed yesterday – to ‘enable Tamworth to fulfil its meet and rightful destiny as the new capital of a properly regulated England’. Excitement, I have to say, tempered with old-fashioned Mercian cynicism. Tony Blair, you remember, earned the sobriquet ‘The lying shit’ not because of Iraq, but because he reneged on a promise to capitalise Tamworth in 1998. The lying shit. But while Blair offered to turn Tamworth into a world-class competitive business centre, Corb’s Think Forwards team (and I) envision more a sort of green, carless, high-connectivity Chandigarh with no homeless people, full employment and a tree for every citizen. This goes down very well. Cheering, and deep quaffing. We’re on our way to New Wembley! Which will be in Tamworth, obviously!

SATURDAY Sketch out some initial thoughts re the ‘design feel’ of a People’s Tamworth. No glass spires, no frivolous shapes. A citywide 150m roof cap. Modest, repetitive façades. No exterior advertising. Discreet cobbling. Occasional light, non-toxic fog, just dense enough to muffle church bells. Nice.

SUNDAY Fulfil my meet and rightful recliner.

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

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