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The North, still born-again

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MONDAY Wow. All the architectural wisdom ever generated in the entire history of the world, distilled into a single tweet. I’m about to post it, then realise how dangerous that would actually be. Imagine. It would completely blow too many minds. The consequences would be - are - incalculable. I delete the tweet and squint into middle distance. A piano plays something elegiac.

TUESDAY Design a standard ‘smartboard’ pop-up polling station. It doesn’t matter whether you’re voting in Truro or Banff.  Pop-up buildings must reflect the system they serve, which is why they’re all the same.

WEDNESDAY Amending the masterplan for this ‘Northern Powerhouse’ nonsense. The government’s reasoning is so poor, its grasp on political reality so tenuous, I’ve decided to start from scratch.

Let the Tories and their wealthy donors persist with the fiction of a North that gives a flying toss about London. Idiots. I’m assuming, along with nearly everyone else, that by 2050 London will simply be a remote timeshare suburb of Mumbai, Doha and Shanghai.

Anyway, if there IS to be a renaissance in the North, what on earth’s the point of a Florence hundreds of miles to the south? Tamworth was England’s capital city in the 8th century. It will be ‘born again’ as capital city in the 21st. That’s what renaissance MEANS George Osborne, you gormless mafia dentist.

Yes, all roads in the North will led to Tamworth. Including the one tunnelling through the Pennines and the one going over a bridge to Ireland. Other renaissance ideas:

  • Create a Northern Latin quarter, eg Humberside.
  • Find a powerful Medici-like family to lead patronage of art and architecture in the North, eg Tarbuck, Ramsden, Chuckle.
  • Combine the vigour of Industrial Revolution engineering with the scholarly architectural classicism of the Renaissance by dropping the name ‘Isambard Kingdom Brunelleschi’ into conversations at the highest level.
  • Actually, just get Antony Gormley to do a massive enigmatic ‘Northern’ sculpture called Isambard Kingdom Brunelleschi visible from the Midlands, bosh.
  • Liberate contemporary chips from their tiny buckets of social colonialism.

THURSDAY To a conference: ‘Neo Geo Bang Bang!’  Even without the exclamation mark, the mood is febrile. Young people in T-shirts. Upbeat music. Defiant pastries. Disturbing levels of optimism. Coffee and Registration feels like a cult initiation. Summary: neo-geo-engineering, or finding comic book solutions to the Earth’s existential crises, has moved out of its infancy and is now well into toddlerhood. We have come a long way from the madcap ideas of the 1990s. Solar harvesters floating in space, faxing energy to Earth? Ha ha! A FAR cry from today’s sophisticated, wifi-enabled solar energy harvesters.

Other issues being solved today: antibiotic-resistant pestilence, social media trolls, indifference to neo-geo-engineering, men seeking women.

FRIDAY Take Sir Christopher Wren’s advice, look around me, and despair.

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist architectural football. Retro Boho Po-Mo Academicals No, Gentrifiquivocal Wanderers Yes, after a pretend penalty shirt-swap with Real Retro Boho Po-Mo.

SUNDAY My friend Darcy the epic space correspondent and his impeccably dressed muse, the dachshund Bauhau, have produced one of their classic pagefillers in the Creative on Sunday, again. This time the byline photo shows Darcy done up like Lawrence of Arabia – blue contact lenses, proper eyebrows, the lot – clutching a startled-looking Bauhau, who’s wearing a little kufi-hat-and-djellaba combo. Not for the first time, I feel a pang of concern. These two wouldn’t last five minutes in prison. Unless it was an open prison just for epic space correspondents and their pet dogs. Even then, I’m pretty sure one of them would be someone’s bitch by bedtime.

This week Darcy and Bauhau have written about ‘a rapidly expanding client base courted by British designers, space animateurs, superthinkers, visionists and others. They’re middle class, middle aged and – woof, woof! – from the Middle East!

‘They’re the long-suffering wives of those rascally, incorrigible adulterous petrocrat billionaires, the robed villains we all love to hate. But with unlimited spending money, these commissioning cougars from Dubai, Saudi Arabia and – woof, woof! – ALL the locations featured in Sky’s fascinating new series Victoria Beckham’s Hangz, in which Victoria – woof, woof! – chats to some of the world’s most engaging…’ On and on it goes, Darcy’s desperate quest for lunch with Victoria Beckham.

There are some great photos of the ‘woof woof ladyclients’, coruscating with traditional Islamic jewellery. Grudging respect to Darcy for nicknaming them ‘The Turquoisie’.

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