Utopias

It flies hard. Beastlike. Low.

On the rooftops of Hounslow

Concorde

Not the Concorde

Not a concorde

Simply Concorde

 

Agreement

 

Wolfgang Tillman’s golden example of 1960s techno-utopian invention

 

Soaring in its majesty

Above suburban train stations full of commuters

Above treetops

Above airport carparks full of Vauxhalls

Above washing lines and sheds and lampposts and wire fences

 

Soaring in the sky so blue blue

 

Its power was on its outside

Its visual magnificence from without

Not from within

Where you would sit cramped

And surrounded by smoke

 

You would rather be outside than in

 

Unless, of course, you were Iggy Pop who said

‘I remember smoking on the airplane

I used to love to smoke on the airplane

Those were the golden days of air travel’

 

Like it’s better to watch a steam train powering across a viaduct

Than sit in one of its filthy, stuffy, noisy carriages

 

It flies hard. Low

To new worlds

But few worlds would let it in

 

Its obsolescence was built in from the start

All the doors were closed

 

There was never a need for it

Besides taking Phil Collins to Philadelphia

Besides serving tourists

Besides its joyrides

 

No business need

No leisure need

 

Besides its sheer magnificence and splendour

 

Even without its tragic death

If it were still here now

It would have been doomed

Its sonic boom replaced by Zoom

 

Let’s come down to earth

Let’s get on the road

The highway

The autobahn

 

Wir fahren, fahren, fahren auf der Autobahn

Wir fahren, fahren, fahren auf der Autobahn

 

The M1

The road to the North and to the South

To Staples Corner, to Toddington, Trowel and Tipshelf

To these dark Satanic mills

Their overwhelming glamour trips off the tip of the tongue

Driving home for Christmas

If we get to the Watford Gap by the end of the day I’ll be happy she said

Her optimism misplaced

 

Like the Barbican

Its optimism retraced

Its honesty, its dynamism, enshrined in its brutalism

 

It tried to open new worlds

But these worlds were difficult to find

The complex was too complex

 

Its design

A Design for Life

For people who work in the City

For people who liked Scandinavian furniture before Ikea came to Neasden

For people who liked French cooking before Karen and Roger opened Café Rouge in Richmond

 

For people who like Culture. Culture with a capital ‘C’

Culture

Culture Club

Karma Chameleon

Karma Police

Culture Vulture

 

Flying high

Circling low

Over the rooftops

Utopias