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Mental combat

Ian Martin
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Ian Martin redesigns his headspace

MONDAY Exciting times. I’m learning to ‘think inside the grid’. I started doing it at the weekend and already I feel a stone lighter and 10 years younger.

Like everybody else in the creative world, I’d been ‘thinking outside the box’ since the internet began, when it took five minutes to download a fake picture of Diana, Princess of Wales wearing nothing but a hat. 

But lately this old-fashioned thinking has been doing my head in. Nobody’s left thinking INSIDE the box, are they? Everyone’s up THERE, outside the box, swooping around the astral plane like Dennis Wheatley characters or those irritating yoga bears on CBeebies. Beyond the box, it’s a crowded thinking departure lounge. Chaos. 

‘Thinking inside the grid’ might sound a bit conservative but that’s deceptive because it’s not. It’s a way of subverting the blue sky thinking system from within, by using standard parameters to triangulate original thoughts. Imagine a judo move, where you use your opponent’s weight against them. Well, now imagine a combative thinking mode, where your opponent’s weight is mental obesity but NB you don’t have those big lapels so they can’t grab hold of you and do a leg sweep.

I’m not expecting everyone to ‘get’ what I’m doing here, especially those still thinking outside the box. Honestly, stay where you are. All the more interior gridroom for me. ‘Think before you curve’. ‘Any thought in a brainstorm’. See? God, my mind feels so much more supple already. 

New things I have thought up this afternoon already: edible thatch, static transport, self-regenerating decorative mould, ‘blendusers’, fold-out gardens, a Circle Line but a mile up over Scotland, talking glass, urban planning based on foetal algorithms, universal plug-ins, cloud architecture, ‘fresh-baked brick’ as a fragrance, middle-aged towns, giant ‘fitness spaces’ in parks so people can play Outdoor Tetris, aircode lotteries, Lowestoft on stilts, ‘smart dust’, Pokemon Go with anthropomorphised buildings. Bosh.

TUESDAY I’m designing a Millennial Dome for a Boutique Festival of Britain in 2025, celebrating whatever seems most appropriate at the time.

Of course its contents will be determined by the Hon. Aeneas Upmother-Brown at the department of entertainment and his pet swarm of bees, in association with the official sponsors. But there’s a branding conundrum – what does ‘millennial’ actually mean these days? Surly teenagers already moaning that they’ll never get a mortgage? Thirty-year-old home owners with lots of tattoos? Nobody over 40 seems entirely sure.

I proposed filtering the target audience with a simple test, a shibboleth. But nobody could agree on whether millennials should be able to spell ‘millennial’ or not.

WEDNESDAY My new Berlin Walk is an eco-promenade modelled on New York’s High Line. 

It follows the route of the old Wall. Obviously it’s elevated and ironic. Included are conserved sections of Cold War stonework, with adorable graffiti. 

And sculptural planting, suggestive of a world without division. And fiercely flamboyant guides bursting with an unrequited passion to teach. Timed access available through online booking checkpoint only. Passes and papers MUST be shown on arrival. 

THURSDAY The Tamworth League’s primary aim remains the restoration of capital city status to Tamworth which was, all too briefly, the London of 8th Century England. But this tectonic, shifting world requires both consolidation and ‘reaching out’. We can all see which way the wind’s blowing. Once the great M25 wanker city-state has with great reluctance let the rest of us go, New Mercia will naturally align with Scotland then rejoin Europe from the top, somehow. 

This is also the way the wind’s blowing in terms of renewables. Negotiations are under way to form a triple alliance with Norway. Let the stupid south east pay £18bn for Hinkley Point. And its Branson-level, pisstaking £92.50 per megawatt hour. Once our massive USB cable’s in place, Northway Scotgen will be banging out wind energy at around £15pmh.

So bollocks to you, London. You carry on re-inflating house prices for your economic survival, we’ll MONETISE OUR WEATHER. 

FRIDAY Redesign artificial intelligence, giving it a more lived-in, rented feel. Ease off the maintenance a bit. Let the front garden go wild. Don’t look inside the shed after dark.

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical urbanism. Regurgitated Biscuits 3, Ambulatory Eggs 1, after 50 years of trippy extra time at the extra-dry end of Hampstead. 

SUNDAY Thinking, inside the grid, inside the recliner.

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  • Talking of eco-promenades, the 'Nooks and Corners' page in today's Private Eye features the latest proposal for a new footbridge over the Thames.

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