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Ian Martin: Motion-activated space sensors

Ian Martin
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Ruthless billionaires do make for the best clients

MONDAY Note from the White House. ‘C-in-C will reach out to you tomorrow regarding your Mexican Wall proposal. IMPORTANT: please stand respectfully throughout the Skype call. God bless America.’ 

I’m pretty confident. Each 3D-printed wall panel features Trump’s ‘squinty, pouty tough guy’ face but with cool surveillance eyes and a mouth that belches liquid fire at anyone suspicious/Mexican. 

TUESDAY Well hasn’t power gone to someone’s head? You’d never know we’d done all that dodgy Scottish golf development together. Keeps calling me ‘Ivan’. 

Summary of his incoherent barking: you’re fired, we decided to go another way, with an Israeli-style Freedom Fence and by reclassifying all Mexicans as terrorists. 

Oh, turns out C-in-C doesn’t stand for Commander-in-Chief. It’s his secret service handle: ‘Cheese-infused-Cronut’. 

WEDNESDAY Massive falling out with a client over the conversion of an old jail into a heritage hotel and themed restaurant. 

I blame the stupid brief, which failed to make clear that the idea of ‘immersing visitors in the jail’s dark history, allowing them to share the experience of inmates during the 18th century’ was to be limited to some guided tour with actors in costume, projections and so on. It was apparently NOT to apply to the whole place. 

Unfortunately I had guests working as cooks and cleaners, getting slapped about a bit then thrown into a cold, damp, rat-infested room with a mouldy crust and a mug of water and invited to create their own en-suite in a corner. 

The client emails to ask, extravagantly, how on EARTH I could think he wanted to punish his paying guests. I reply: I simply assumed you were a moron. Awaiting a court date. 

THURSDAY Designing a super-rationalist house for a ruthless billionaire. Everything has to be ‘outside the curve’ and startling enough to impress the appalling people he’ll entertain there at weekends. 

Yet amid the Wagnerian terror of its bleak beauty – all fields of glass and weathering steel and sexual wood – there must be signifiers of an environmental conscience. For if billionaires do not lead the way in the husbandry of Earth’s Precious Resources, who will? 

The building’s organic energy system is linked to a nearby farm, where hundreds of cows are ‘milked’ of body heat, the warm issue pumped to an ‘hypo-calidum-vaccum’ below the main social area, really just so the client can drawl authoritatively that it means ‘hot cow underneath’. All the exquisitely sterile guest bedrooms have little tomato balconies and micro-allotments growing baby carrots, foetal beans etc. 

The cleverest feature is the system of motion-activated space sensors. No room actually exists in time and space until you open the door and look inside

Special ‘lightchip’ paper on the walls, printed with a mix of ink and tiny LEDs, replaces conventional lighting and has a life of approximately 250 years. Or so I’ve ‘heard’. 

But the cleverest feature is the system of motion-activated space sensors. No room actually exists in time and space until you open the door and look inside. Predictably, Mr Big loves this. He wanted to install cameras to show his friends the nothingness, then open the door and cause the room to exist. I told him that observing through a camera is still ‘looking’ and would nullify the non-existence. 

He’ll just have to take it on trust, won’t he, that the room goes off like a fridge light when you shut the door. They guy’s paying an absolute fortune for this, so he’s quite emotionally invested. Billionaires are brilliant. 

FRIDAY I have as requested submitted my latest report on the Northern Powerhose, a £600 million high-velocity jet, which will a) sluice out all the rubbish and b) water the green shoots of businesses owned by people with shaved heads and terrible suits who vote Tory. 

My old friend – old flame actually – Tray, who’s now somehow prime minister, asked me to suggest ways of concentrating the Powerhose where it would have maximum effect. 

I’ve suggested the demolition of dull Victorian housing near Sunderland to create a non-prescriptive, proudly British manufacturing centre of excellence, plus a future-proofed intermodal terminal on some spare seaside, ready to distribute to the world whatever’s proudly-Britishly made there. Who knows? Could be anything. The rest of the money can be shared out among Manchester gangsters to kick-start some sort of non-prescriptive economy. 

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist London skyline ping-pong. Engorged Money Silo Redeemed By Planning Bribe 6, Accelerationist Trojan Horse Approved By Patient Corbynites 0. 

SUNDAY Motion-deactivation in the recliner. Periodically check that I’m still there. 

Illustration by Hanna Melin

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