Recently there was a request for some writing. It said:
Do us a line to go in an architect's christmas card. You know, instead of Merry Christmas. He's going to send it out to all his clients.
I will illustrate it.
About eight words perhaps.
It came from the Inkymole office, in the form of an email. Whenever an email arrives from an address ending in inkymole.com, my computer starts to sweat and makes a very loud clanging noise like the bells from News at Ten, and I put down my cupcake and inject myself with magic capability juice, a gallon of which I have on permanent standby, and get straight down to five or six consecutive minutes of brain-work, to figure out what the email wants. After this I know what I am required to do and can Guinness myself unconscious for a few days in preparation for what I like to call Actually Doing What I Know I Have To Do, an activity which I find is most exciting when the deadline is within sleeping distance.
In this case, I had to distil all the feelings of Christmas into eight or less words that also evoked the history, controversy and enchantment of the entire discipline of Architecture while making the clients, Axon-Beckett, seem like reasonable people, whom you might not shy away from consulting next time you were wondering how much it would cost to build an upside-down underground pyramid to house your family in when the end finally comes.
So I wrote down a page of Christmas words, then a page of Architect words, and looked at one, then at the other, and so on, for a day. And nothing happened. Then I put a page in front of either eye and tried to look through them, in the hopes the solution might drift in like a ghost. It didn't. I was disappointed. Especially because I was doing this in the pub, at the bar, and no one would even talk to me, let alone offer any assistance.
Then I looked up every quote from every architect ever and tried to think of an uber-quote-with-jingle-bells-on. I texted 118118 and asked what do architects say to each other at Christmas? But there was only a reply saying you haven't been charged.
So I walked slowly round Manchester, which is mainly made of buildings, many of which were designed by architects. While looking at the buildings I stroked my chin with a miniature Christmas tree and waited for words to engulf my brain like a swarm of something nice.
But nothing happened, so I dipped the miniature Christmas tree in red paint, thinking I'll go and write on the wall of a building, there can't be a better way to combine all the elements of the brief.
Then, just as I was about to start writing "Wots Ur Xmasterplan?" on the side of the Hilton Hotel, the five words above popped into my noggin, and I scuttled home to email them off.
And while I was typing them out I thought goshyplops, these words are terrible. Terrible. They will make me join the Writer's Register, just so they can strike me off. But the deadline is here. The deadline has been here for a while, actually, and I haven't even offered it a glass of water. I've been too busy producing nothing. I wonder if it will be generous enough to interpret doing nothing as striving. Hm.
But it turned out it was acceptable for everyone involved.