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The ‘grey scorpion’ faxes

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Ian Martin salutes a winning royal bluff

MONDAY I am honoured to be on very good terms with some of the world’s most ruthless plutocrats. They are simple folk with two emotional settings: petulant anger or petulant ennui.

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe there is a kind of nobility in this shared boredom, this shared rage-filled humanity.  The far-from-humble oligarch has much in common with the far-from-humble fascist princeling.  The far-from-humble Kyrgystani warlord is as cruel and impatient a patron as the far-from-humble  Texan stock wrangler. Extreme wealth is a great leveller. 

What all the world’s most ruthless plutocrats crave is spatial novelty. In the last month I’ve knocked out sketches for:

  • A ‘hanging schloss’ for a hip-hop billionaire to ostentatiously never be in.
  • A private underground ‘busking zoo’ in Moscow for a client who thought it would be amusing to show his guests what an acoustic Stevie Wonder cover sounds like in 24 different languages.
  • A private ‘High Line’ running through acquired air rights over South Kensington, creating a circular garden bridge in the sky for the client and his wives to negotiate in monogrammed gold driverless cars, the whole thing lofted on ‘invisible’ mega-pilotis and with planning permission to excavate a further seven-storey loft extension from the air above.
  • The complete remodelling of a holiday home in Barbados, replacing a single split-level shagpad the size of Margate with a ‘spatial tasting menu’ – a series of delicious niches to be savoured with accompanying wines, eg a tiny Gothic garret that goes nicely with a gutsy six-grand rioja.
  • An orbiting space petpod in classic Googie style with in-flight entertainment system and luxury gravity so that eg Johnny Depp’s dogs never have to suffer the indignity of press scrutiny while in quarantine.

TUESDAY Shake up the North by imagining it all moved ten feet to the right and then back where it was, really quickly.

WEDNESDAY Notionally take advantage of a still wobbly and disoriented North by pretending it has been invigorated, then invite it to compete with itself in a series of urban bake-offs.

THURSDAY Champagne reception at Charles and Snorty’s London gaff.  The mood spectrum is ‘relieved to triumphant’.

Incredible to think he got away with it. If his enemies had been less focused on winning a 10-year legal battle to see some boring letters and more focused on getting access to the slippery mountain of fax paper that holds the real treasure, it could have been a different story.

As it turned out, the indigestible slab of correspondence published by The Guardian had to be dramatically trailed as ‘The Black Spider Memos’, as if HRH’s wittering on about puffins and the preservation of  Victorian tiles were some Cold War thriller. It was a stroke of genius by the Prince’s office to seek privacy for these letters, knowing the press would then ignore the possibility of incriminating faxes because what gormless idiot would still be conducting angry conversations via a wheezing 1987  Winfield X-2000, with fax paper only available as an antique curiosity at £3 a foot?

Now the boring stuff’s been ‘exposed’ everyone can go about their business and pretend he never faxed  Tony Blair about the need for a Modernism Offenders Register. Or Gordon Brown about the cash-in-hand transfer of Buckingham Palace deeds from the British to the Qatari royal family. Or David Cameron about seizing control of the Royal Institute for the Pop-Uption of British Architects when he becomes king, making everyone work at drawing boards again and introducing the power of summary execution for non-symmetricists.

Yeah, everyone thinks he’s a buffoon now. Just wait until the first architectural apostate is dragged into Paternoster Square and beheaded for witchcraft.

FRIDAY Redesign the Cotswolds, upgrading the area to ‘doable’ and nicknaming it Cribshood briefly, before getting a fucking grip.

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist  theoretical football.
Narco-Syndicalist Atrophism 3, Einstürzende Neubauten Headbangerism 1.

SUNDAY Conducting horizontal brainwork in the recliner, when the unmistakeable Star Wars noises from the corner herald a fax from Charles.

‘Need to preserve traditional IMPERIAL units of measurement IMHO!  Who for instance knows how long a furlong is any more? FYI, modern world, it’s THIS long, tiddle I po!’

I switch the fax box to digital mode and go to the pub while, at the other end, Charles feeds 660 feet of fax paper into the Winfield X-2000.


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