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Ian Martin: Little Binary

Ian Martin
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A garden village prototype to promote Brexit harmony

MONDAY Can’t wait for the Tories to get back in so they can implement my brilliant new plan to match gorgeous London millennials, voracious landlords and ruthless developers.
Yeah, my Build To Buy To Let For Sex scheme’s got ‘forward-looking economy’ written all over it. 

TUESDAY I find myself mired in a quandary. As designer of the suave, twisted-brick Tate Tamworth extension (the ‘Torque of the Town’) I am bound to oppose any attempt to interfere with its architectural integrity.

The problem is, I also designed the acclaimed Neo Fashlife residential tower right next door, whose sleek contemporary balconies signal interior lives of great sensuality and wealth. These balconies, inconveniently, are visible from the viewing platform of Tate Tamworth, where liberal twitterati gather to quaff cheap champagne and pretend to despise apartments they could never afford. I sympathise with the poor Neo Fashlifers, who are under constant surveillance by social inferiors in Etsy clothing. 

But wait. Just look at these snooty, complaining residents. If they were in a Roald Dahl book they’d almost certainly be witches, or vivisectionists. Yes, I applaud Tamworth Tate for their refusal to back down. The art-loving public have an inalienable right to a prurient roof terrace with champagne bar. It’s not their fault that angry poshos in expensive underwear have suddenly invaded their field of vision, is it? 

WEDNESDAY In the morning, I am totally #TeamNeoFashlife again. A High Court injunction is now being sought to prevent ‘members of the public from peeing into their flats’. How can art lovers be so brutish? And accurate?

In the afternoon, I’m equivocal again. Stupidly, I misread ‘peering’.

THURSDAY A volume philanthropist who specialises in executive housing has asked me to create a ‘garden villager prototype’.  

Oh, everyone knows how garden villages should look. Homeopathically Georgian smarthouses, arranged in gentle swirls on little roads named after wild flowers that might once have been there. A self-validating estate, sucking contextual life from its surroundings, with a pretend village green in the middle, called something impenetrable like Little Binary. But who will buy these homes and live there?

In the gold rush of the last few years, developers knew exactly what they were doing and for whom. They followed clear guidelines for the fast-track luxury apartmentalisation of our urban landscape. Units were sold off-plan to algorithms with a Chinese postcode. They were lived in by nobody. Now developers need a new garden village customer matrix. Somebody’s got to invent garden villagers and it might as well be me, with my hefty expertise and my competitive day rate.

Firstly, I think every garden village prototype household should have a rescue dog. This will help to create the appearance of a middle class which has emerged over time, organically. Perhaps one or two of the village dogs could have athsma or be missing a leg, for extra character.

There will be a ‘family of details’ for my prototype villagers, eg Freckly Son, Diabetic Gran. They must all have a ‘polite calmness’ about them, so I am definitely excluding aggressive alcoholics and any motorists below C2 who look like they might swear at other drivers. Proportion and scale will be very important. 

So YES to tall people and (free school) children, but as ever ‘let’s keep an eye on the BMI’. It’s important that garden villagers are seen to respond sensitively to the environment so in the renderings there’ll be men in cardigans doing the hedges, and women with big wicker baskets secateuring the shit out of some shrubbery. 

Soft Brexit harmony, that’s what we’re after. Oh look. There’s a jogger, waving. That’s Gareth, who’ll be moving in to Primula Close in six years’ time. Gay. Lib Dem. Charity administrator. Massive Star Wars geek. Really lovely bloke. 

He’ll try to get a Little Binary community choir together but then oh fuck. The sudden, awful diagnosis. Six months, tops. Garden villager prototypes, tragically, are mortal too. 

FRIDAY I do feel sorry for Gareth. But the client is moved to give me a bonus, so this brave garden villager will not die fictionally in vain.  

SATURDAY Pub. Browsing for an ‘eccentric vicar’ template who might add a dash of colour to Little Binary. Note: after four large ones, everyone looks like an eccentric vicar.

SUNDAY Recliner. Trying not to think about poor Gareth.

Illustration by Hanna Melin

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

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