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The Great Tudor Alibi

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Ian Martin has a brush with the law, but first deals with an ethical dilemma

MONDAY Redesign the historic quarter of a French seaport, giving it a much less historic feel, which will make it easier to redevelop. I’m reassuring conservationists by putting Plus ça change! in a jaunty font at the top. 

TUESDAY Ethical quandary. My fixer Rock Steady Eddie has opened what he calls a ‘moody channel’ with certain Wahabbist clients. They’re keen to use high-profile urbanism as a repositioning opportunity. What with all the oil they’re selling on the Turkish black market, they can now afford some swish military headquarters.

Before I proceed, I ring the Royal Institute for the Pop-Uption of British Architects’ ethical support line for guidance. ‘Lauren’ introduces herself and asks how I am today. I outline my ethical dilemma: my clients are demented, murdering, rapist scum.

Lauren asks if the outline brief puts quality design at the heart of the procurement process. I check: no, it puts the will of God there instead. Lauren asks me to hold while she consults her supervisor. Three premium phoneline minutes of lounge jazz later, Lauren comes back and says OK that should be fine but remember to keep all receipts, was there anything else I could help you with today, no problem, have a good one.

WEDNESDAY My old friend Amy Blackwater the ecomentalist is staying for a few days. She’s as bossy as ever. ‘Just chill, squarebob. I need to retro-construct an alibi. So say I was here at your place asleep in front of Wolf Hall when the incident occurred, right?’

It’s a bold move. The ‘incident’ was an eco-terrorist bombing that destroyed some partially-built luxury apartments. Apparently they were ‘totemic’, top-of-the-scale investment pads designed by hot epic spacemistress Camilla Beak. A ‘cascading waterfall of urgent, foaming style’ apparently, overlooking a private section of the Thames. Now pulverised.

There’s blurry phone footage all over the internet of a suspected eco-terrorist wearing a balaclava making her escape in a wheelchair. Amy’s not saying it IS her (it is) but nor is she saying it isn’t (it so definitely is). I tell her she’ll have to tweak the alibi. Nobody on Twitter will believe for a second that she’d fall asleep during Wolf Hall’s lingering examination of truly exquisite built heritage locations such as Stabbyguts House, Somerset, Shittabedde Hall in Kent and Popefucke Abbey in Wiltshire. After some thought, we decide she was alibi-watching The Real Housewives of Cheshire on ITVBe.

THURSDAY My latest niche service is ‘post-ecological re-regeneration’.

The problem: a post-industrial landscape scarred with dozens of unsightly, decaying sustainable energy visitor centres. These once-mighty engines of social and cultural change now lie desolate and broken. The glory days of strawbale compounds full of educational guff about heat loss and compost are long gone.

Now if people want a lecture about how fat white carnivorous motorists are total bastards they can simply readThe Guardian.

The solution: rejuvenate these defunct energy visitor centres as 1990s heritage parks, incorporating energy visitor centre museums, shops and retro restaurants serving Britpop vegetarian food.

FRIDAY Oh-oh. Visit from the cops, who clearly have their suspicions about Amy. Their balaclava-recognition software would obviously nail it, but a poker-faced Amy insists she’s lost hers. True enough, it’s been incinerated, there’s no way it’s coming back.

‘So you are telling us that you are here on the Wednesday night with your…’ the plod gives me a sceptical glance. ‘Companion. And you are both watching The Real Housewives of Cheshire on ITVBe…’ Amy and I raise our eyebrows and nod in unison.

‘Not Wolf Hall, then?’ says Plod 2, eyes fixed on his notebook. Amy and I look at one another with exaggerated innocence. ‘Only they are having some tasty buildings on, I hear…’ Now they’re both staring at us with focused disbelief. ‘All that linen fold panelling. Beautiful stonework. Lovely tapestries…’ ‘Ooh yeah, and them lush Tudor landscapes, eh?’

Amy says she missed the first one and so wants to wait for the DVD. They shake their heads and read the caution.

SATURDAY That was a close one. Down the station they challenged us, separately, to name a single Real Housewife of Cheshire. I went safe with ‘Sali’. Amy went hard with ‘Wonga’ and scored a bullseye. The alibi stands.

SUNDAY Sketch out my pitch for The Six Real Housewives of Hilary Mantel’s Tudor England in the recliner.

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