Ian Martin stares into the future, and blinks
MONDAY Curse the fickle world of epic space. It was mid-afternoon and I’d just finished my latest world masterplan, based on the timeless principles of sustainability.
It looked great. The key tone was ‘quiet’. Lots of beigey fibres. Low-energy people strolling through pay-per-use piazzas. Solar trams. Postmodern broken pediments everywhere, to indicate sustainable irony. Flares, they were back too. Whole place awash with harvested rainwater. Domestic food waste (excluding bones and carcasses) recycled in neighbourhood compost heating systems. The lot.
Feeling quite pleased with myself, I switch on my bamboo MacBook Air and what do I find? My Twitter feed clogged with ‘#Survivability’. Apparently the whole ethos of my world masterplan is outdated.
As of lunchtime, future cities now have to look like comic book illustrations. Picturesque urban ruins retrofitted with edible greenery and Wi-Fi. And rising from great billowing clouds of spun waste: the blank, faultless towers, each bearing the legend ‘TRUMP’.
Ach. I need to get ahead of the game.
TUESDAY Update my world masterplan. It looks exactly like the #Survivability scenario but I’ve changed the hashtag to #Dedication and the tops of the buildings have been left meaningfully blank.
I wonder briefly if this makes sense, then remind myself I’m sketching out an unknowable future and stop worrying. So pleased with myself that I replace #Dedication with #Desertification, caption a photo of an abandoned settlement in Morocco with ‘Only 10 More Harvests’, put Radio 4 on in the bathroom, run a deeply melancholic bath and slip into it.
WEDNESDAY I’m helping ecomentalist Amy Blackwater prepare her entry for the Mighty Mighty Illuminighty competition, which seeks ‘elegant and charismatic proposals to reinvent the Thames at night’.
I say helping. I’m basically making tea and rolling joints while she organises a mass trespass. She’s mobilising a small army of homeless activists (dress code: elegant and charismatic) who will squat loads of those empty blocks lining the river. ‘Get them to switch the LIGHTS ON, yeah?’ she roars, through her balaclava. ‘That’d reinvent the fucking Thames at night!’
Oh God, she’s completely nuts. And entirely marvellous.
THURSDAY I’ve been asked to design a droneport on the Essex coast for a new set of clients.
Actually, ‘clients’ makes them sound normal. In fact they’re a bunch of Ukippy survivalists planning a future for Essex once it’s out of Europe and, beyond that, once it’s out of England.
I’m not quite sure where my fee – half in advance, cash, in an Aldi bag – is coming from, although the scheme does have the backing of local MP Sir Cliff Mason. He’s got a knighthood, so he must be good with money. I’m more suspicious of the clients’ motive. The scheme seems to have been prompted by the news that droneports designed by my old friend Normo are to be built in Rwanda by a charitable trust.
‘As far as we’re concerned, charity – and droneports – begin at home,’ says someone called Michelle in an amateur video which apparently is in lieu of a proper briefing document. ‘If it’s good enough for sub-Somalia, hang on, I’ll go again. If it’s good enough for sub-Saharian Africa it’s good enough for Shoeburyness…’ Whoa, they haven’t even bothered to edit the bloody thing.
There’s a series of unintentional jump cuts, from drone footage of the Thames Estuary to an England flag to an overweight bloke in glasses dressed improbably as Sweyne the Viking conqueror (‘Code of the longboats! Oggy oggy oggy!’) to a dismal choir led by some comb-over grimbo, singing ‘we are droning’ to the tune of Sailing.
I email Michelle to find out exactly what will be ferried back and forth from the droneport and get the desultory response ‘Amazon and that? Prescriptions? I don’t poke my nose into other people’s business and I don’t see why you should.’ So I just knock up a sort of bus shelter.
FRIDAY Surprised and disappointed that my brilliant £16 million visitor and community centre adjoining a Grade I-listed Gothic church in Letchworth has been turned down by planners.
Surprised because I didn’t know there were still planners in that part of the world. And disappointed that the world will never see my innovative concept of a ‘truly inside-outward-facing’ landmark. Your loss, world.
SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical footfall. Experience Seeking 1, Bread And Milk 2.