18 The Monte Rosa, Part 4

“Will the new Messiah come in the third millennium?”

The fourth and final instalment of our fortnightly four-parter about beauty, legacy and competitive town planning from the Nuketown universe. Part 4: Max and Sophia discover the cause of Walter Taut’s death.

SEE NUKETOWN ON TOUR:

Subscribe to FTF on itunes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fake-town-fables/id1114881723?mt=2

17 The Monte Rosa, Part 3

“Light wants to pass through the universe, and is alive in the crystal”

The third in a fortnightly four-parter about beauty, legacy and competitive town planning from the Nuketown universe. Part 3: Max hands over Walter Taut’s hard drive to Sophia, as the mystery around his death deepens.

SEE NUKETOWN ON TOUR:

Tour Dates

Subscribe to FTF on itunes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fake-town-fables/id1114881723?mt=2

 

Here’s What You Could’ve Won #3: An Airship Fleet

[Part of the Here’s What You Could Have Won series, where I take issues from the news and make whimsical fag-packet calculations of things that the £205 billion due to be spent on replacing the Trident programme of nuclear submarines could buy, in preparation for the tour of my show Nuketown]

Guys. Bear with me.

In 1930, the last British airship to be made in the 20th century, the R101, set off into the skies over Cardington, Bedfordshire. It really was the Titanic of the Air: a bevy of high-profile guests were on board, including the Air Minister Lord Thompson. There was a full dining car painted with a faux marble effect, a kitchen, and a promenade section with huge glass panes. It was 200 metres long, an unsinkable ship, designed to set a new passenger line between England, Egypt and India.

Unfortunately, the R101 met a similarly Titanic-esque fate, crashing in an unexpected storm over France, killing 48 of the 54 people on board.  The British government almost immediately abandoned its airship programme, followed shortly after by nations the world over.

Now. Am I saying we should send government ministers out to die in flimsy death-balloons? No. Not in this blog anyway. Like I said, hear me out.

80 years on from the end of the era of the airship, new ones are emerging. Companies are attracted to the same virtues that once drew governments to lighter-than-air travel: the ability for vertical take-off and landing to obviate the need for landing strips, their potential for greater energy efficiency, and their increasing possibility for greater speeds. Two years ago, the Airlander 10 became the first airship to be inflated at Cardington for more than three quarters of a century, with a top speed of 100mph and the ability to carry thirteen tons of cargo. That ship was made with an old airship model the US had got bored of and sold them for cheap, and backed by Kickstarter, its most high-profile donor being Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson. Imagine what could be achieved with investment from more than just legendary metal singers and the kind of people who will spend $50,000 backing potato salad.

The Airlander 10 cost £25 million. Assuming some efficiencies from mass production are counterbalanced by the costs of R&D and some bigger ships,  our £205 billion gets us a fleet of 8,200 ships. At home, you could hop on one from your local station at any city in the country, and tear through sky with electric engines on a beeline to your destination, soaring above our decrepit rail network, and our choked-up roads, held in serene suspension over the moors and beaches. Abroad, China’s terrifying New Silk Road project would be met by a smaller, quirkier English version, with driverless ships taking raw materials, machinery or even whole buildings and dropping them into parts of the developing world hampered by poor road access. Even if safety wasn’t greatly improved you’d still be more likely to die in a car accident. And they’re so pretty. Wouldn’t it be worth the risk?

The Imperial Airship programme behind the R101, for all its flawed thinking and the ethical vortex of the Empire behind it, signified a people that believed in a future. A future that we would be a major part, perhaps the leaders of. That attitude seems vastly absent from people across the political spectrum. We used to think we were inches away from colonizing mars, flying cars and 1-hour work days. Now there are only competing images of decline and dystopia. This blog miniseries has been me trying to recapture some of that 20th century optimism. And maybe giant balloons is a weird way to start. And no, it’s probably not the best use of £205 billion of public money. But its still better than nuclear bloody submarines. And, to me at least, its an interesting comparison of like for like. Of course if that money appeared today it should go on housing, healthcare and education. But if it were ringfenced for quixotic, unwieldy future tech, wouldn’t a Skytanic or two be so much more fun? Or, as the man Bruce Bruce himself put it: “I told my wife, I’m about to put £100k into a big bag of helium. It may go up in smoke. She said, people have to dream, and unless you can dream something it’s never going to happen.”.

 

16 The Monte Rosa, Part 2

“The stars in the sky and the stars on earth greet each other”

The second in a fortnightly four-parter about beauty, legacy and competitive town planning from the Nuketown universe. Part 2: Sophia sends Max on an errand.

SEE NUKETOWN ON TOUR:

Tour Dates

Subscribe to FTF on itunes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fake-town-fables/id1114881723?mt=2

 

15 The Monte Rosa, Part 1

“Engage the masses in a great task, which fulfils everybody,
from the humblest to the foremost”

The first in a fortnightly four-parter about beauty, legacy and competitive town planning from the Nuketown universe. Part 1: a town planner and decathelete meet in unlikely circumstances.

SEE NUKETOWN ON TOUR:

Tour Dates

Subscribe to FTF on itunes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fake-town-fables/id1114881723?mt=2

 

Here’s What You Could Have Won #1: A Thousand Years of Grit

[Part of the Here’s What You Could Have Won series, where I take issues from the news and make whimsical fag-packet calculations of things that the £205 billion due to be spent on replacing the Trident programme of nuclear submarines could buy, in preparation for the tour of my show Nuketown]

I write this in the middle of Storm Emma, a rare Siberian weather pattern that has crept its way west like Kutuzov’s armies fresh on the heels of Napoleon. I am snug indoors with the dog, but outside the world is collapsing. Non-essential travel is discouraged. Chatham ski slope has closed due to too much snow. A great yellow penis of frosty doom drags itself over the land, and all the English doth lose their shit. At times like this a uniquely English clash of weather and local politics emerges over the subject of gritting. In Sheffield, the ongoing furore over the private contractor Amey’s destruction of thousands of ancient trees continues to bubble over, with the council apparently prioritising gritting access roads for tree-cutters over important traffic routes. One things for sure – there’s never enough grit and never enough people to spread it. It’s a spicy microcosm of the debate around prioritisation of public resources that I’m getting sticky with in Nuketown.

Grit (which is actually rock salt), helps snow and ice melt faster and helps car tyres grip the roads. It is mined domestically and distributed by local authorities, who are compelled to grit their roads under the 1980 Highways Act. The UK puts 2 million tonnes of it out every year. So if we spent the £205 billion purely on materials, how much would we get?. The BBC recently found out the cost of rock salt per tonne in different parts of the UK, with the priciest being Torbay at £38 per tonne. Setting the cost at that of the fancy, fancy riviera salt of my southern neighbours, we get 5,394,736,842 tonnes. Stacked into cubic metre bags one on top of each other, this would stretch to the moon and back 54 times.  Spread evenly, it would slather the entire island of Britain 173 metres deep. True Grit.

But Jack, you howl from the avalanche-hole you are trapped in: what use is all this grit with no-one to do the gritting? Right you are, these sturdy guardians of our fine minerals must be taken into account. This article put pre-austerity spending on gritting across the UK at £150m per year. I’m not sure if this figure has since been cut, but let’s give it a one-third increase either way and bulk it up to £200m. Ignoring inflation (because that’s no fun), and assuming a steady and unlimited supply of grit from our nation’s mines, as well as ruling out savings from automation by increasingly powerful and hilariously named machines, the new Royal Chartered Institute of Gritters could keep churning grip-dust onto our lanes and byways from now until the year 3043. But then what would we complain about?

 

 

 

13 Nuketown #4: “No Place” (Finale & Election Day Postcript)

A utopia in four parts, reimagining the UK’s nuclear submarine budget as a new city. Part 4: we finally discover the whereabouts of Alfred’s cat.

Wanna hear more episodes like this? Support the podcast on Patreon:

https://www.patreon.com/jackdean

Subscribe on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/fake-town-fables/id1114881723?mt=2

Soundcloud:

or Stitcher:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/jack-dean/fake-town-fables?refid=stpr

Tracks Sampled:

“Wednesday Morning, 3am”, “The Sun is Burning” and “My Little Town” by Simon & Garfunkel

Usage constitutes Fair Use under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All other music is composed, performed and recorded by the author.

12 Nuketown #3: “What incredible folly”

A utopia in four parts, reimagining the UK’s nuclear submarine budget as a new city. Part 3: the hunt for Alfred’s cat turns complicated.

Wanna hear more episodes like this? Support the podcast on Patreon:

https://www.patreon.com/jackdean

Subscribe on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/fake-town-fables/id1114881723?mt=2

Soundcloud:

or Stitcher:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/jack-dean/fake-town-fables?refid=stpr

Tracks Sampled:

“Don’t You Want Me” by Human League

“Two Princes” by Spin Doctors

“Feeling’ Groovy”, “Kathy’s Song” and “Song for the Asking” by Simon & Garfunkel

Usage constitutes Fair Use under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All other music is composed, performed and recorded by the author.

11 Nuketown #2: “Millions and Millions”

A utopia in four parts, reimagining the UK’s nuclear submarine budget as a new city. Part 2: Alfred continues the search for his lost cat.

Wanna hear more episodes like this? Support the podcast on Patreon:

https://www.patreon.com/jackdean

Subscribe on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/fake-town-fables/id1114881723?mt=2

Soundcloud:

or Stitcher:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/jack-dean/fake-town-fables?refid=stpr

Tracks Sampled:

“The London I Love” by Vera Lynn

“Little Green Bag” by the George Baker Selection

“A Poem on the Underground'”, “Homeward Bound” & “The Star Carol” by Simon & Garfunkel

Usage constitutes Fair Use under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All other music is composed, performed and recorded by the author.

10 Nuketown #1: Bricks

A utopia in four parts, reimagining the UK’s nuclear submarine budget as a new city. Part 1: Alfred loses his cat.

Wanna hear more episodes like this? Support the podcast on Patreon:

https://www.patreon.com/jackdean

Subscribe on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/fake-town-fables/id1114881723?mt=2

Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/jackdean/sets/fake-town-fables

or Stitcher:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/jack-dean/fake-town-fables?refid=stpr

Tracks Sampled:

“Bleeker Street” & “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright” by Simon & Garfunkel

Usage constitutes Fair Use under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All other music is composed, performed and recorded by the author.