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‘Austerity Christmas Human Turducken’

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Ian Martin sets his sights on becoming a Wise Howl

MONDAY.  The Creative on Sunday has asked me to do something polemical for their Wise Howl spot.

Every week an influential cultural animateur throws down a sketch or a poem, a photographic composition, a micro essay or whate’er-ye-will. It doesn’t really matter as long as it chimes with some topical outrage, and the spectrum of howled liberalism is pretty wide these days.

I can’t tell you what I’ve designed.  There’s an embargo until Sunday. But believe me it’s as hard-hitting as anything else you’ll see in the Wise Howl spot, which is on page 7, nestled between that snarky literary gossip column and an advert for some weird anthology of fairtrade chutneys.

TUESDAY.  To the Institute of Plasmic Arts. Fascinating lecture by Ross Kemp on environmental determinism, focusing on the link between late Modernism and gangsters, called Bad Manors.

WEDNESDAY. Amazing TV documentary – Schama Chameleon – featuring an immersive Simon Schama on top form, exploring the evolution of social housing in period clothing and pissed on whatever they were having at the time.

Particularly moved by the animated account of slum clearances in Westminster and the advent of model Peabody estates, delivered by a gin-blitzed Schama in top hat and rakish trousers in one long shouted take before he lurches out of shot into what sounds like a pile of buckets.

THURSDAY. My fixer, Rock Steady Eddie, and I are offering civic authorities a special deal on all rebrandings for 2015. We’re calling it the ‘1+1 Affordable Masterplan Package’. Eddie’s copywriting has both vigour and economy.

‘Attention all mayors, business development managers, urban custodians etc! Got the “inner shitty blues”? Struggling to secure that vital inward investment because your town centre’s like the set of a zombie film? Need a professional team with the traditional know-how and contemporary expertise to unlock the romantic potential of wherever it is, no place too small, you’ve tried the rest now try the best?

‘Then look no further! URBISTO has been delivering top quality solutions to the  communities community since 2011. From as little as £20k, URBISTO can turn around perceptions of your urban location like THAT! Also, new for 2015! Rebrand one area no greater than 10 square kilometres, get another area no greater than 10 square kilometres rebranded HALF PRICE! Come on, these prices won’t last forever, we’re not MENTAL OR ARE WE LOL!’

Surprisingly perhaps, we’ve already had a few enquiries. Not one person so far has asked us what the ‘1+1’ in our affordable masterplan package means. Well,  we recognise that a powerful visual narrative must be at the heart of every successful rebrand.  That’s why we always shoot the target location at night, from a £100 drone flying through £1,000 worth of fireworks.

Honestly, everywhere – anywhere – looks fucking great.

FRIDAY. In the morning, embrace the self-employed festive spirit by sticking a bit of tinsel to my MacBook and calling it ‘Lapland’.

In the afternoon, decorate my freelance subconscious with imaginary paper chains. Very dusty, but there’s no point in cleaning – I’m the only one who ever goes in there.

SATURDAY. Five-a-zeitgeist horticultural blow football. Verdant Life-Affirming Bridge Full Of Dark Woodland With Dense Undergrowth 6, Muggers’ Paradise 0.

SUNDAY. Lots of warm, gratifying feedback for my Wise Howl piece, which I’ve solemnly captioned ‘Austerity Christmas Human Turducken’.

It’s a stark portrait of retro-engineered misery. At the heart of my artisanal, hand-drawn exploded axonometric: a battery-farm manger containing a quivering dachshund wrapped in swaddling clothes. ‘Perhaps he has been abandoned by some heartless buy-to-let landlord…’ I have written above the bleak scene, in wobbly pencil.

We pull out to show the manger crammed into a food bank full of hapless people looking at tinned food. We pull out further to reveal that the food bank is itself crammed into a former public library, now a charity shop full of appalling old clothes and dead people’s trinkets, staffed by tattooed women made to wear electronic tags by the Tories just because they’re fat and they smoke.

We pull out further and discover that the charity shop is inside Yarl’s Wood detention centre. Instead of a punchline, which would turn my Wise Howl into a joke rather than an excoriating satire on social policy, I have written http://www.shelter.org.uk in wobbly pencil at the bottom.

Peace. Goodwill. Have a great one.



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