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The air above the Gherkin Line

Ian Martin
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Ian Martin launches the Pollard Institute for Urban Affairs

MONDAY Two months ago the Creative on Sunday asked me to work up a new ‘dreamspace’ within a 19th-century shed in King’s Cross.

It was to be a physical adjunct to the CoS presence, a public area for ‘talking, clapping politely, laughing and crying together, exploring words through feelings, spiritual happenings (NB no Godheads), fun 3D faceprinting, contemporary Shakespeare, nibbles and non-erotic dancing’.

Now they’ve bloody cancelled it. These are ‘tough times’ for journalism – news to me I must say – and the CoS must drastically reduce its ‘peripherals’ such as the newspaper itself, which is to go online only. A sad day for those being laid off, yes. But spare a thought for those who’ve spent two entire afternoons speculatively thinking about a transformative space.

TUESDAY Oh, so the Creative on Sunday want me to design an online version of the dreamspace, do they?

After a big sulk I agree. The fee’s much smaller, inevitably, but on the plus side: no construction costs, ‘tradespeople’ or indemnity bullshit. And no actual inhabitants mucking it up.

WEDNESDAY Sketch out an ‘ultra-contemporary Colossus of Rhodes’ for a client who is almost certain to successfully crowdfund the $150 billion required.

As tall as the Freedom Tower and even camper, my golden ‘Collosux’ figure will be as casually dressed as the original but more ‘sexually enigmatic’. And earthquake-proof. Nobody wants a re-run of 226 BC. The whole multi-use live-work retail leisure destination complex floats on a cushion of gravitationally countervalent ‘molecular eco-squash’. Insurance should be no problem.

The client hasn’t decided where Sexy Collosux should be located. I don’t think he’s that arsed. I put a sort of lighthouse trilby on the top and knock off for lunch.

THURSDAY I’ve been asked to ‘think around’ a faded council block. It’s been freed from the yoke of municipal Stalinism by having its human contents coughed up and the empty building transferred to private ownership for a humane rethink.

What to do with these ‘streets in the sky’? You can’t sell that to today’s discerning investor. Far too ‘common’, as we used to say. You might as well describe an excavated luxury basement extension as ‘rooms between the sewer pipes’.

There’s a congenial brains trust in the pub. My friend Darcy the epic space commentator suggests ‘aerial boulevards’ – characteristically fey and confusing. Beansy the nanofuturologist suggests ‘binary nodes’, which is too butch and also stupid.

In the end I decide to forget the restreeting and resolve to call the whole block Highground, which has a pleasantly snobby and nostalgic authenticity, and implies moral probity.

FRIDAY Extraordinary general meeting of the Pollard Institute for Urban Affairs, the correctivist collective formerly known as Space Avengers. Our aims and objectives – levelling the London skyline to Gherkin height, physically satirising anything we don’t like – remain the same.

The change of title follows an executive committee vote, eight to one in favour. The lone voice of defiance was that of Amy Blackwater the ecomentalist. She sat in a wheelchair fuming through her balaclava, insisting that Space Avengers is cooler because it sounds like a film you’d see in 3D. The rest of us however believe ‘Pollard Institute for Urban Affairs’ has the necessary gravitas to excuse our occasional acts of vandalism. And to continue to attract funding from certain quarters…

In Other Business, we vote unanimously to support the opposition to ‘daylight robbery’ in the capital. For years we have warned everyone about the dark shadows capitalism is actually casting across people’s lives, but only recently has it deemed fashionable to mention it at the dinner parties and yurt-gatherings of Hipney, London N16.

Amy proposes that we additionally launch a campaign against ‘air theft’. We agree nem con to punish developers who sequester publicly-owned air above the Gherkin Line, both with aggravated hounding and with malicious rumours on the internet. The buildings themselves will in due course be sabotaged and partially destroyed from the top down.

SATURDAY Reeling from the news that my House for Tamworth, designed in a specially thought-up ‘New Rococo post-post po-mo’ style hasn’t even made the shortlist for Best New House In Tamworth. It was one of only two eligible.

SUNDAY Set self to gentle simmer in the recliner, reflecting on figurative and actual daylight robbery and various avenues of revenge.

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