Ian Martin witnesses winged metaphor at the Milan Expo
MONDAY Recalibrate my optimism, bringing it into line with new five-year projections.
TUESDAY I’ve reconfigured Britain for foreign investors: Scottish Nationalist, Scottish Tearooms, Northern Powerhouse, Northern Shithouse, Worst Midlands, Eacist Midlands, Value Wales, Premium Wales, South West Land Bank, Non-Dormitory South East, First Class Coastal, Second Class Coastal, Help To Buy Home Counties, Qatar, All Rights Reserved.
WEDNESDAY Still, good news that the Hon Aeneas Upmother-Brown has returned to government. His erudite and humane approach is in welcome contrast to the coarse and venal character of so many Conservative ministers. Also, he’s a long-standing acquaintance of mine so if there ARE any low-hanging gigs I might be in with a shout.
Upmother-Brown is back in the department of entertainment, this time as Minister for Pop-Uption. Key role. Pop-ups represent the fastest-growing sector of British culture, according to the latest figures from 2011. Pop-up is a framing mechanism for a wide range of monetisable cultural offshoots – architecture, niche dining, community dating, Brighton wankers selling gin cocktails from the boot of their classic Morris Minor. Its influence cannot be overmetastated.
THURSDAY Of course, whatever the Hon Aeneas Upmother-Brown does, he’ll always literally be overshadowed by his swarm of pet bees.
Bees have been his constant companions since the days of Cool Britannia, when people and bees could exchange cheeky banter at Number 10 parties in the company of luminaries such as Peter Mandelson, Ben Elton, the drummer from Elastica and Fat George the Namibian White Honeybee.
Today I’m at a Service of Remembrance and Hope organised by the Commonwealth Apicultural Association at Heathrow airport. Politicians, beekeepers and opinion-formers from across the world have gathered with their swarms to mourn those who have fallen and to resolve to build a better future. An optimistic requiem hum fills the prayer centre.
Later, everyone’s buzzing as we shuffle and bank our way into the chartered plane. Milan – here we come!
FRIDAY Milan Expo. The UK’s pop-up pavilion has so far been ‘under the radar’ because of the recent electoral unpleasantness. It’s a brilliant pop-up, but was kept quiet in case it was seen to be championing the values of Conservatives who were, after all, the clients. Technically so were the Lib Dems, but their extinction seems closer than even the bee community’s, so bollocks to them.
The Hon Aeneas Upmother-Brown addresses an expectant crowd of media and business bastards. ‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ he says, the hovering commonwealth of bees behind him falling respectfully silent, ‘we are here today to honour British pop-up ingenuity. This pavilion explores a series of landscapes travelled by the honey bee (here the bees do adorable little ‘jazz hands’) showing how pollination is vital in feeding the planet. And how we must address this global challenge…’ The sublest of movements within the bee-cloud suggests a corporate determination to improve things.
‘The centrepiece of this marvellous creation is The Hive, a cuboid lattice structure inspired by the honeycomb’s form…’ Here Upmother-Brown unzips and steps out of his ‘suit’ to reveal a bee costume. The crowd murmurs. The bees softly sizzle. ‘Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this incredible space comes alive through light and sound to mimic a beehive. But…have you ever witnessed thousands of bees mimicking an…incredible HUMAN space?’
The buzzing umma swirls into action. Specks of iron in the air, snap-magnetised – whoosh! They converge into an unmistakeable thicket of spires. ‘Behold!The Sagrada Familia!’ Gasps. The winged mass dissolves and then resolves into a series of landmark buildings. The Freedom Tower (the bees hum a few bars of the Stars and Stripes). Notre-Dame de Paris (Frère Jacques). The dizzying anthology continues, and there are tears when the bees create the vanished library at Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art (Auld Lang Syne). Then, over a pounding Bee Gees medley, there’s the obligatory upbeat urban waggle-dance routine. They’ve even got a little bee who climbs to the top of a massive bee pyramid and backflips off.
The crowd erupts. The bees embrace, awkwardly, and return to their respective handlers. Is it a metaphor for global unity? Possibly. Or a warning about the dangers of unions and collective action? The Hon Aeneas Upmother-Brown should keep an eye on those bees. Only 37 per cent of them are Tories.
SATURDAY Return home with my Milan Expo business card pollen.
SUNDAY Non-industry in the recliner.