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Portrait of the façadist

Ian Martin
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Ian Martin becomes his own nemesis

MONDAY To a conference, Putting Up The Workers, hosted in a converted trainshed by the Centre for Rational Logistics. How might we humanely house London’s underpaid powerless minion class?

Summary: in Birmingham, close to the HS2 link, in battery hutches but with room to move about, whatever, it’s almost enough that we have a conscience.

TUESDAY Invent a new architectural style (neurotic prototexturalism) and design a massive glazed tampon (the Paddington Hyperventale) in it.

WEDNESDAY To Cannes Carvénal. The property expo where criminal meets capital and architects fetch the drinks.

My fixer Rock Steady Eddie and I are here this year on separate missions. He’s doing his laughable yet plausible ‘Shonky Sheikh’ act. Done up like a Saudi prince, sweeping from yacht to yacht with an entourage of costumed sycophants over-earning their cash. Here, money talks so loudly that everyone ignores the occasional dodgy accent. Even the most astute investors are dazzled by the shimmer of easy profits. They ignore Eddie’s ridiculous patter. ‘Honest, this affordable emergency housing in Syria? It’s gonna go fucking mental, stand on me, Allah be praised, yeah?’

THURSDAY The purpose of my visit however is vengeance. The execrable Tim Hedgespam, OBE – who has crossed me so many times in the past – is also here, sprawled over sequinned cushions in his pretentious ‘Bedouin audition yurt’. Worse, he has ‘refreshed the brand’. Out goes the trademark pork pie hat, in comes a sort of facial ‘landing strip’ that disappears under his chin, and I have now sworn to destroy him.

Hedgespam’s interviewing a succession of ‘eco-sucker MCs’ for his latest concept, Modulux, a residential template that looks cheap and shitty to please the utilitarian liberals but is actually expensive and shitty to please the demanding clients. It’s a genius idea and I must sabotage it. The problem is that Arsehole OBE has aways been so very popular. He pioneered the famous Blairite Five-Step Regeneration Model (1 buy derelict building, 2 do it up, 3 fill it with hipster businesses, 4 bosh, 5 repeat) and he throws the best Carvénal parties. Caviar bubbles floating magically in the air. Drinks served by naked young people, sprayed gold. Rod Stewart doing an acoustic set.

So this year I have come in disguise too as … Tim Hedgespam OBE! My mate Beansy the nanofuturologist has developed a virtual prosthetic program called ‘CGU’. It’s at a strictly beta stage at the moment, obviously, as this is the holy grail for organised crime. Change your face, beat the biometric scanners. Although, as CGU only does from the neck up, for most of the day people have been wondering why Hedgespam’s so horribly out of shape. ‘Dem hors d’oeuvres, eh!’ I cackle in an approximation of his scampish Northern voice, then say something shockingly hurtful and unforgiveable. I leave in my wake a trail of insulted, speechless former acquaintances.

Yeah, while the real Hedgespam flops about in his yurt, gurgling his passion for ‘a bit of form follows fiction plus a bit of fan dabby dozy eh’ I’m being a fatter him elsewhere. In this guise I have called the mayor of Seoul a fish-faced adulterer, punched Madrid’s design champion in the tits, told several of Hedgespam’s closest banker friends they’re wankers and poured a jug of lemony water over an eminent academic.

Then from nowhere Echtspam appears. He is shocked to see his face staring back and, gratifyingly, fingers his ‘landing strip’ with horror. It looks as though he’s about to jump the long queue of people keen to hit me hard when a familiar voice barks: ‘Hold up, dickheads! Nobody move! Anyone wants to carry on trading with Saudi, shut it! I’ll deal with this non-kosher pisstaker, yeah? Imshi, imshi!’

Before I know it I’m being whisked away by actors in burqas with pretend guns and that’s the last time I go to Cannes Carvénal.

FRIDAY Hedgespam’s posted a £50k reward for the identity of his impersonator. I have to lie low. The CGU doesn’t wear off for another three days.

SATURDAY Spend the whole of the wrong day in the recliner, not feeling myself.

SUNDAY Oh God. The Creative on Sunday’s got the story. Photo of my shirt stretched over hors d’oeuvres-distended guts and an ‘appeal for anyone who recognises this bulging torso’.

Eddie’s mobile going straight to voicemail.

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