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The Dome of Disconsolation

Ian Martin
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Ian Martin discovers there’s no such thing as a free thought

MONDAY Floodproof Northern England by creating a tectonic plinth aggregated from uninhabited parts of Wales.  

TUESDAY I’m leading a thinkshop at the Institute of Plasmic Arts. It’s never easy. Students are like incontinent puppies, but mentally, and in reverse. They seem incapable of filtering the thoughts entering their doughy brains via the internet. I am teaching them my three-step method: ‘reach out’ to new thinking opportunities, grab passing thoughts by the neck, regard them carefully as they squirm.

Everyone’s a bit slow in this first session of the year so I offer some questions. Is it ‘good to be back’ or ‘good to still be here’? Does ‘good’ mean anything? Where is ‘back’? Where is ‘here’? Why ‘still’?

There’s a break to allow people to ‘mentally warm down’, go to the toilet or nip out for a smoke. We reconvene, staring at the individual elements of ‘Happy New Year’ until it stops making sense. At this point I gruffly announce that they’d better have something to show me by tomorrow. I invite them to ‘pull an all-nighter’ if necessary, and terminate the Skype call.

 WEDNESDAY An encouraging effort. They have triangulated the elements of ‘Happy New Year’ into counterintuitive linear thoughtlines of mortality and pointlessness and then assembled them physically into an impressive retrofuturistic Dome of Disconsolation.

Of course, as a distinguished guest animateur I haughtily dismiss their efforts as clumsy and derivative. I do however remember to take some screen grabs of the Dome of Disconsolation, which when you think about it was more or less my idea anyway.

I tell him of my brilliant idea: a miserabilist take on the Festival of Britain

THURSDAY Lunch at Regurgo, the exciting London restaurant where all the food has been partially digested by dolphins in a humane environment.

I’m meeting my friend, the post-urban graffitist Confession Bear. As usual both his real identity and his artistic talent remain shrouded in mystery. I wonder idly, as we wait for our warm squid in gastric jus, whether someone ought to, not ‘copy’ exactly, but perhaps ‘build on’ Banksy’s important work in satirising funfairs, queueing, etc.

I tell him of my brilliant idea: a miserabilist take on the Festival of Britain. Massively political. Ironically ‘celebrating’ austerity but also subtly criticising it? We could have a Dome of Disconsolation, say, based on Ralph Tubbs’ design but with enough of it changed to avoid any legal unpleasantness…

He stifles a yawn. ‘Long, bruv. Pass, innit. Gotta finish this stencil, some Venice pop-up. Last Supper, yeah, classic da Vinci one? Only instead of changing Jesus to Donald Trump like everyone else, I’m changing the food to pizza and that. Powerful.’

To think this buffoon used to go out with Kate Moss. Heartbreaking.

FRIDAY Summoned to Number Ten, where my ‘social housing smarts’ are required. An ad-hoc task force – me, housing minister the Hon Aeneas Upmother-Brown and his pet swarm of bees – are putting the final touches to David’s speech.

The basic idea is that the government rescues people from council estates by moving them out. Any remaining environmental menace is then cauterised by a selected party donor redeveloping the site as a gated hive of luxopads. The bees hum their approval, and suggest an important narrative change.

Instead of ‘brutal high-rise towers are a bargain for childless strivers who work in the media and simply adore Brutalism’ the prime minister should say they are ‘a gift to criminals and drug dealers’. Clever bees.

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical Scottish football. Red Tape Academical 1, Nondomfermline Athletic 2.

SUNDAY Media review in the recliner. Bauhau the architectural dachshund has produced a profile of Confession Bear, ‘as barked to his manfriend, the Creative on Sunday’s epic space correspondent Darcy Farquear’say’.

Apparently CB’s ‘hoping to curate something called Worstival on the South Bank, like they do with Meltdown, but knocking up guest buildings? Like an ironic yet affectionate “cold take” on the Festival of Britain? The Worstival Hall. Something called the SkyCon, reassuring needle like thing in the air pointing to the future, beyond austerity to what I’m calling “more-sterity?” Also, a post-ironic Dome of Disconsolation which will be proper difficult to get into or understand.’

OK Confession Bear. Let’s see what comes after ‘anonymous mystique’ when the world discovers you are Nigel Collins, former head of IT at Lay-Rite Carpets of Hitchin, with a conviction for possession of pornographic material, you treacherous bastard.

@ianmartin

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