Ian Martin redesigns The North
MONDAY The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has given us all a stark and final warning about carbon emissions.
As if that’s not scary enough, I’m actually reading the report in a pub beer garden. It’s uncomfortably warm in the November sunshine. Butterflies and spring flowers everywhere. In the fields beyond, sheep and birds are on their third and fourth families of the year respectively.
Dilemma. Of course we must reduce our carbon emissions to zero. On the other hand economies such as China’s and India’s are driving new wealth the old-fashioned way, with coal and poisons. And with filth-powered wealth comes great responsibility but also quite a few lucrative gigs.
It is time we all faced up to the terrible reality. We have a moral obligation to take a stand on this, which is why I for one will be dismissing the IPCC report as racist at the earliest opportunity.
TUESDAY Redesign The North, giving it a new dynamic focus by reducing it to Manchester.
WEDNESDAY As part of the new government initiative to pretend it’s doing anything useful at all to solve the housing crisis, the department for business solutions, delivery and skills is about to launch an appeal for construction specialists.
This is even less interesting than it sounds. My fixer Rock Steady Eddie has the heads-up. ‘To be honest son, I thought they were looking for consultants and contractors too. Turns out they just want someone to construct some specialist bullshit so it’s ideal really, you finishing that sandwich?’
He hands me the draft release. ‘The Department seeks the construction of a sloganised pop-up housing action plan. The proposed plan will exist as a temporary measure until the next General Election and must require neither resources nor complex thought…’
Eddie gives me one of his see-there-you-go looks. ‘Yeah? Right up your Strasse. Just roll out a couple of yards of that smartarse guff that sounds as though it means something but it doesn’t and nobody cares, whatever, hope follows hype, trope follows tripe, all that mincemeat - bosh, we’re golden’.
THURSDAY So glad the Human Rights Act is still in place, because I intend to take Kensington & Chelsea to the cleaners if they carry out their threat to ban so-called ‘mega-basement’ development.
It is an assault on my basic freedom as an auteur. How dare these pettifoggers interfere with my bespoke subterranean visions for discerning, ultra-rich clients? Let’s be clear. The planner’s job is to accept my genius. Or at the very least, to nominate a sum of money that will render my genius acceptable. It should not concern a planner what potential misery may be caused to other ratepayers in the execution of an inverted mini-skyscraper underneath a modest garden. It is nobody’s business but my client’s.
And spare me the panic about replacing dense, heavy clay beneath our streets with honeycombed privatised air. These sunken mansions are creating value where none existed. They are residential equity mines.
That makes me a HERO, surely.
What are planners planning ‘for’ these days anyway, if not their own redundancy?
FRIDAY Think I’ve cracked the government’s zero-budget pop-up emergency housing action plan. As is customary, it’s in five parts.
1. A serious-minded-sounding pledge to make ‘decent housing’ a ‘genuine priority’ after the next election.
2. A significantly extended Notional Mortgage Allowance so that first time buyers can borrow even more from parents or commercial lenders for a deposit, if they need to.
3. Tougher penalties for local authorities who falsely claim they can’t afford to house their tenants in high-rent former council houses that they had to sell cheaply and which they now need as they can’t build any new council housing, because there must be no return to the dark days of the 1970s.
4. Greater incentives for the private sector to do everything it can for hard-working people to get on the housing ladder, including knighthoods and redeemable ‘tax miles’.
5. A new Reward for Innovation scheme to encourage impressive new housing construction targets through competitive thinking.
I’m calling the pop-up plan ‘More Homes For Better People’ which has a harmless yet inspirational ring to it.
SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Promulgated Defabulism 4, Attenuated Flaneurism 58.3, after on-pitch anomalies and disquiet in the matrix.
SUNDAY Temporarily house self in recliner.