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A Mercian Wave

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Tamworth is where it’s at, discovers Ian Martin

MONDAY Redesign the geographical relationship between England and Scotland by turning everything through 90˚ then just letting the North swipe left or right.

TUESDAY ‘Think I’ve cracked it, son’ says my fixer Rock Steady Eddie, helping himself to more of my crispy duck. ‘They’re just swinging dick. Like Stalin and that lot. How Communism works, don’t you ever watch the History Channel? Show your papers, bung the jobsworth, everything’s cushty. Waiter!  Two more beers and some of them tube phings, cheers.’

He has a point. Now Chinese planners are frowning on weirdness and extravagance, architectural auteurs must drill down, deep into their inner conservative. ‘Not enough though, is it? They’re looking for an apology. Sorry I done that office block that looked like a game of  Tetris. Sorry I done that whatever, housing that looked like a bowl of sweets. Sorry I done that stadium that looked like a fanny…’ Yeah, I need to barge my way to the front of the contrition race.

WEDNESDAY Meeting of the Tamworth League. Our mission: to reinstate the ancient Mercian capital as the cultural, administrative and totally happening centre of England. The mood is buoyant. While sad old London slowly fossilises into a Qatari building park, young optimistic creative types are heading north for affordable housing, fresh air and Mercian pies. Mini-skirted London may have bossed popular culture around in the Sixties like some kooky, vinyl-capped tyrant, but mark my words. Swinging Tamworth is on the way, cats.

After a lively discussion with ceremonial ale followed by our trademark Mercian Wave* we agreed the following with immediate effect:

• Challenge London to a ‘banterclash’.

• Inform media that the word ‘Tamworth’ must at all times appear in our new Tamworth Font, based on eighth century scratch marks.

• Establish twin city status with somewhere really shit in Europe so Tamworth looks brilliant.

• Declare a permanent architecture biennale, with 30 per cent off everything, as in the sofa ads.

• Aggressive marketing campaign to attract bohemian artists, architects, alcoholics, etc, to hang out in some of Tamworth’s decorously scruffy ‘character pubs’, which, unlike their Soho counterparts, are under no threat of being turned into pimped-out equity globules.

THURSDAY To Blingnang, with a portfolio of new work for the regional architecture inspector. This visit’s about drawing a line under previous decadent design weirdness and paper bags full of cash. From now on it’s all about transparency, wearing a tie, and BACS.

FRIDAY My presentation goes really well. It’s in the form of a short film entitled An Artist’s Reply To Just Criticism.

I walk slowly through Poundbury outlining the future of architecture. Sombre music plays as I explain, with subtitles in Mandarin, how we’re all entering an era of seriousness and why the world of epic space should take its lead from China, whose state-guided culture has tolerated the adolescent doodles of ‘the West’ for long enough. I turn a corner and there’s a working class Victorian character in his walrus moustache and muffler, tending a brazier. With great solemnity I hand him a series of drawings. Each one of these aberrant follies – erotic, wriggly, anti-organic, bristling, half-liquid, iridescent, gently bouncing, upside down, partially fictional – is ruthlessly destroyed.

SATURDAY Perfect. My first gig in post-weird China is confirmed: Blingnang Pastiche Museum, a sort of analogue journey through the history of historicism in modern China.

The architecture is between pre-post-Communism and post-post-Communism but with absolutely no surprises and a selfie platform.

SUNDAY Media review in the recliner. As usual the Creative on Sunday is full of my mates. There’s controversy over the appointment of conservactionist Dusty Penhaligon to the repurposed English Meritage, which will sort old buildings into ‘useable or loseable’.

Elsewhere ‘the new nano-grunge de-evolution’ is explained by Beansy the nanofuturologist. There’s a photograph of him looking like a 1970s footballer. In the features section, Darcy Farquear’say and his amanuensis Bauhau the dachshund discuss cultural boycotts and how successful you have to be to make it onto the signatory list. In the news section there’s a blurry image of a suspect in a wheelchair wearing a balaclava fleeing the scene of a terrorist attack on new luxury housing under construction in Southwark. God, is that Amy Blackwater the ecomentalist?

There’s a knock at the door.

* like a Mexican Wave but with Dark Ages ululation and ale-hurling.

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