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Ian Martin: Knights of the plasmic arts

Ian Martin
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Ian Martin gives T-square bicycle jousting a miss

MONDAY I’m still spending most of my time in emergency meetings about the consequences of leaving the European Union. Rooms full of fretting artistic types looking melancholy because they can’t legitimately say plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose any more.

A chirping voice in my head suggests the real gnawing anxiety here is an uncertain future for fees. Everybody assures me however that the urgent task now is to ensure that design quality remains at the heart of the procurement process, which is a kind of comfort I suppose.

TUESDAY To the Royal Institute for the Pop-Uption of British Architects. Old Lancelot the gatekeeper still stands guard with his Halberd of Truth and Beauty, but he’s looking very frail these days.

‘Odds bodikins, such commotions the like of which I never knew, sire…’ he croaks deferentially. The tiny ceremonial drawbridge is lowered, no bigger than a sheet of A2, over the ornamental moat – an exquisite trickle marking the boundary between Castle Portlandish and the real world. ‘Tantrums and alarums, sire. Rentings and gnashings. Churnings, and all. A rum do it is, sire. A rum do indeed.’

Institute president Lady Jean Donught is waiting for me in the Hall of Mirrors, where senior members of the epic space profession have sought solace and validation for centuries. As usual, she’s dressed as ‘centre ground medieval warrior queen’. Her bootsteps echo as she paces the mahogany floor. ‘Yes, these floorboards are ethically sourced and sustainable,’ she barks. ‘Why? I’ll tell you why! Because the 18th-century forest it came from no longer exists, yet its spirit lives on here! Also it’s lasted since the 18th century as I say and you can’t get more sustainable that that! Unless it came from the 17th century! Which it didn’t! Barbara – seize the opportunity!’ She produces a live mouse from her pocket and hurls it squeaking into the air. It’s intercepted by a falcon and taken off to a dark fate.

We try and conjure up a plan with her new Knights of the Plasmic Arts over a working banquet. ‘My lady, it seems clear that our foes inhabit not the fabled lands of Europe but rather lurk within our own dominion…’ squeaks one unprepossessing globule in what look like leather pyjamas. The clear disadvantage of having increasingly useless knights put to death is that remaining candidates become increasingly useless. ‘We might sue for peace with those who wish us ill…’

The slightest of nods from Lady Jean tips him through a trapdoor to the undercroft, where the heraldic Two Lions Rampant make short work of him. ‘I want a statement by tomorrow. Barbara, come!’ The falcon swoops down, lands upon the presidential gauntlet and they leave.

Look, some plonker wants all Gothic detailing returned to pre-modern Germany. Oh God. We’re doomed aren’t we?

WEDNESDAY Lady Jane very pleased with my suggested statement: ‘The Institute acknowledges the new reality of a British destiny outside the EU and urges client representatives, statutory bodies and government agencies to redouble their efforts to put design quality at the heart of the procurement process.’

I’m invited to a Roasted Ox and Mead Evening with T-Square Bicycle Jousting between Ye Worshipful Company of Parametricals and Ye Champions of Delivery ‘to celebrate the Institute’s continuing relevance!’ I RSVP no, citing the exclamation mark.

THURSDAY Extraordinary meeting of the Tamworth League. Summary: 1) Brexit good as will hasten the restoration of Tamworth as rightful capital of England after 16 centuries in wilderness; 2) Brexit bad as will trigger Hundred Years War with walled city-state of London.

FRIDAY Bravo, Dusty Penhaligon. My old friend the conservactionist is taking a stand against emboldened morons demanding the removal of foreign elements from old buildings.

‘The level of stylist stupidity is staggering,’ he drawls, sucking on a roll-up. ‘People going on about how they “want our heritage back” even if a Danish Functionalist staircase has been there for generations. Where do they think the Danish Functionalist staircase should ‘go back’ to? And what is to replace it? Clueless Tudorbethan fuckwits…’

Dusty has set up a website to mock them, which I suppose is all we can do. Ha ha look, some plonker wants all Gothic detailing returned to pre-modern Germany. Oh God. We’re doomed aren’t we?

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist political arena football. Piazza 2, Twitter 4.

SUNDAY The more things change, the more I remain in the recliner.

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