I am the Mayor of London (The crowds outside are going wild.)

By Matthew Fuller, 13 January 2004
Image: Photographs by Daniel Jackson

For all those who walk London's streets wondering whether brekky has been spiked; for all those who think the millenniumdome is really an enormous hallucinogen; for all those who think the mayoral candidates are from Mars, Matthew Fuller has a surprise. If you see scary surrealism in today's London, wait for the magic realism of tomorrow.

Take three millennial London moments: Conservative mayoral candidate Jeffrey Archer's exposure as a liar; the city police's response to J18 and N30 carnivals against capitalism; and the Lord Mayor's parade. In the image of which shall we cast the future of the city? Let's ask the Mayor. In London's fairy kingdom, where magic wands and realist fists rule in perfect harmony, Matthew Fuller listens in on the interior monologue of a civic Godhead.

I spread plans out on the giant glass table. Turn Brixton into Brighton – dig a channel through Kent and Sussex and let the sea roll in up to Streatham Hill. More geostrategic entertainment zones. 10.000 hole crazy golf course as workfare replaces Dagenham.

200 yards away from the Tower of London which is above a grade I listed building and of importance to the monarchy. My tower is set back in parkland. It does not obstruct any view. It is energy self-sustained. I live in an apartment three feet wide, by three light years. The staff of the tower drink their own piss in order to save the finite resources of the planet. As well as carpets I have glass atria and many computers.

The staff number in their hundreds. They wear smart clothes and two hundred denier intelligent body-whelks that recirculate moisture into the cisterns of the potplants. Everywhere light shines. They are allowed to sit on their desks and arrange their cubicles.

At five o'clock the bell sounds. Everything that happens in London happens here first. Every shit that slips out of a cockney's or a businessman's arse is monitored and given travel-clearance through the Thames Barrier from us.

I hire a rota of Ninjas to do the business. Double up, I got on the phone to Sir Paul Condon. The Metropolitan Police have good voicemail systems. I ask Paul for a team of his Harlesden streetcleaners. The man is irascible. I send my team of thugs out to appraise the situation. Facilitators in the discreet BMWs. I hire an evil married couple with a new big dog to go round town. They know to fetch me the best looking tourists.

I have innumerable valises, flush-fitted stationary cupboards of manifold contents, fast acting cleaning fluids, rows of urinals with infra-red activated rinse- and doorcontrol, excellent lifts of the most silent and glass-enclosed kind, five types of letterhead each with their degree of severity, the female staff with their hair of a certain length in knots above the neck, an ingenious display of large flowers in the foyer, some 5000 kilowatts of Internet bandwidth, self-replenishing refrigerators, servile male staff trained at fawning since birth in my private underground dojo. The security sub in the Thames: four men, one for each point of the compass, cowled like monks in dripping black oilskins, lashed to the conning tower rail by steel belts, each with a pair of goggles and Zeiss binoculars clamped firmly to his eyes, staring blindly into his own sector of darkness, teeth hidden behind frozen lips clenched onto a cheap plastic snorkel. A vast conveyor belt of snacks.

I'm at a late-night meeting, helping to develop the next generation of cause-related marketing with appeal committee fundraising. The crowds outside are going wild. I nearly knock the roast swan luncheon off the desk with the laptop. The making of the grand entrÈe for my sixminute slot beckons.

A family of tourists stands in front of the modern glass tower. They are all talking:

1st: In the Dorling Kindersley guidebook to London for the dickheaded it says that the title of Mayor of London was thought to have largely been an honorific until the current holder of the title took inauguration. ...Really. It didn't exist.

2nd: Since when he has ruled this city with an iron fist.

1st: I'm glad to have a chance to live in a city like this. Even though it's only for two weeks. You can feel the manacles. Power is only got when it is given.

2nd: Everyone stands when the mayor comes into the room. His tongue is like the thumb of Caesar. I can't tell the difference between me and my passport.

1st: Wouldn't it be great if every year the Mayor machine-gunned hundreds of volunteers or something like that. In Trafalgar Square, the symbolic heart of the Imperial City.

2nd: The whole of life here is organised round learning good moral messages within a half-hour time-frame.

I rise from my solar-panelled desk and appear on the balcony. An assistant rushes up: “Reminder, no blue clothes are allowed, as we shoot against a blue screen; also no strong reds, or plain white, or checks and dogtooth materials. And if poss, bring along an object of personal cultural interest to discuss if there's time.” I palm her face off.

All the police, all the revenue-protection officers, and the humanitarians, and the TV stars and the stockbrokers, and the thousands of loyal citizens in general population are doing a conga down the Strand.

How to simulate non-synchronous voice-overs in text:

1st: Political leaders have to make the choice between being either boring or evil. Most of them don't have the guts to make the right choice.

2nd: The Mayor is hot right now.

Speech: “It's talking about the trials and tribulations, you take the bitter with the sweet. It's talking about crime, the homeless, spouse abuse, domestic violence, suicide, tryin' out for the army and not gettin' accepted, STDs and nuclear weapons – it's talking about everything that's going on in the world. A fully laden 34 tonne lorry must move about 30 metres every time you buy a small pot of strawberry yoghurt!”

The speech continues. Thousand of cameras are on me in the black night. I take a pocket torch from my pocket and shine it under my chin throwing arcs of light and shadow up my face. The screams can be heard across the city.

When the broadcast is made it goes like this: Midnight. The streets of London are unnaturally quiet. It's almost back to Blackout. The camera pans down from the top of Centrepoint. Swooping down from cloud height across the rooftops. Nothing in human movement down the top of Charing Cross Road but the occasional upturned face of recipient. Through an open window, the roof of the National Gallery. Then deserted rooms. Streetlights throwing horror shadows across from angled doorways. The camera floats down to the entrance. Front outside: the doors collapse like a cloth rent from top to bottom. A gaping blackness seeps out from the entrance hall. Five heartbeats of silence and a leprous feral pigeon flings itself out, dead centre from the hole of the doorway. The camera, same point of view mount as the pigeon head, continues down Whitehall. As Parliament Square comes into view, the gears of Big Ben grind to a halt for the first time in living memory. The square is empty. Ten thick heartbeats of time. The camera gives an impression of flying through black. Then thin coloured light spilling across a stone floor. The sound of wings cutting through cold air. Columns of darkness thicket together. Nothing stirs except the steady echoing beat of pigeon wings.

Arcs of electricity crash between the beacons of Crystal Palace and Alexandra Palace. Across the river from the tower hundreds of ravens simultaneously swallow their tongues and strangle. A joyous citizen army composed of every trade and every standing in life goes to work, every five minutes redoubling its efforts to make this London the greatest of world cities.

The Northern Sewage Outfall wriggles in the earth like a vein rerouting itself and turns eastwards. A vast hole opens up in Greenwich. The giant white skin of the Dome is filled. Still the city pumps with vile life. The pressure builds. The Dome begins to expand as slow and ripe as a giant puffball in the moonlight. Soon it bursts. A torrent of giant shit slugs rains down upon the city for a full minute.

Gnarled feet of the pigeon hang still in the air as it swoops through Westminster Abbey. The enormous twin doors of the church crash open. Oak beams, each the length of a tree, split instantly. A vast rolling ball of flame sucks the air out of the building. All the windows collapse inwards. The fire gathers into a perpetual torrent, now the size of the entire front face of the cathedral. Boiling flames and rotten smoke form a face, a human face. It is that of The Mayor.

My phone call to Paul Condon finally gets through. I'm in the middle of the administrative work that I fought to get this job for. In the Mayor's head there is a special world. A theme park. The whole world made good. I tell Paul about it. He's keen to listen.

There's a bloke who just put his kids to sleep. It takes long enough. The walls are thin. He can still hear one of them murmuring, slurping on a finger, a musical toy winding down slow.

He starts to get ready for bed himself. Takes off his shirt and looks around the room for no particular reason. Just checking. Cleans his teeth in the bathroom, keeping the noise of the running water to a minimum. Goes back into the room with the TV and the sofa and the table and sits to peel his socks off. Everything's quiet. He takes his clothes off here rather than in the bedroom. Kicks his trousers off. A few pennies fall out. He picks them up. Scoops the trousers up by a leg. The pocket falls downwards and more coins fall out. They keep coming. A trickle. Whatever, copper, silver, quids. This is more than was in there. A five pence skitters out like a woodlouse. He looks at the money, then the trousers, shaking them again. More falls out. More again. The amount is slow, as if the trousers have to take the time to make the money. From the look of his face, his gut's eating itself.

What do you do? Do you actually look inside the pocket? Can you put your hand in or does that mean revoking the spell or catching radiation, your finger getting caught up inside a gestating blob of money?

Best to keep gently shaking it, like a slow bottle of sauce. If you didn't shake it, the money wouldn't come out.

He begins to count the amount of money coming out. It's four hours into when he's normally asleep. Six hours into when he would have wanted to go to bed because of his knackeredness. It's boring doing this shaking. A cramp begins to develop in his neck and arm. He has to work out whether there's enough money coming out to make it viable not to go to work later that morning.

Maybe he could just never turn up to work, could rig up a kind of shaking machine with a little motor and a cam. Peg the trousers to a coat hanger from one end of it and keep things running. What are the optimum perameters for productivity in this kind of thing?

There's no real consistency, no pattern, in what's coming out. Any value of coin. Nothing to be relied on to be the same.

The coins just drop. They slide out of the corners of the pocket like buds in timelapse, or suddenly like they're there, like out of a magician's fingers. If he stops shaking, which he does, did once when he got uncontrollable cramp, they don't stop altogether: it just turns the tap. Coins drop onto the floor, onto their pile, sliding off.

Some days later, of course, he gives some away. The trousers become work. Another way of getting by. His hands become stiff. The trousers become shiny. Sitting all day, shaking his trousers. I finish on the phone to Paul and wash my hands. He knows what to do. This palace is about the processing of flows, not the withholding of wealth or of information. It is a cube with a thousand holes punched through it by rays of light. Walkways and conduits gather all that remains static. There are no blocks to politics any more, simply movement. The internal becomes the external. I have seven patios. Mirrors express and maintain my commitment to openness at every level of political life. The citizens may observe as they pass by the window. I have a large weather map moored in the Thames.

Groups of men in low-precision office-wear, six or seven of them, lackeys with nostril-streams of snot and ciabbatta dust, would lock like a chemical coating onto friends of his in the street. They'd all circle round, then they'd do these little punches. Each one'd stand stock still, but rapidly swing their fists, from their elbows only. Hundreds of little punches with clean office hands until the victim faints. The fists would swing backwards and forwards, all of them going at it at once. People would half cross the street to avoid it, but it didn't look like someone getting a proper kicking, more like close-quarters Morris Dancing.

I call a meeting that night of the London Residual Authority. For an average citizen this would be like waking up into the middle of the fiercer end of the electromagnetic spectrum. For me, I just want to check they're all still ready to wipe each other out and take power at a moment's notice. Meeting adjourned.

The trousers arrive. They've stopped up with the money. Two scientists, a psychic, five minders and a laboratory are put on the job immediately. This is how the day passes. Little things, the simple pleasures of service. Restock the Thames with crocodile. A flat-load of kids whose daddy went missing have to be gas-mained, stop London Tonight having a slow one. Make sure one of the team slips the poor monkey a compensatory lottery ticket. Five doors on the right there's a new photocopier.

I've got six vans now. Doing the rounds with a load of empty speaker boxes, stopping members of general population and offloading them cheap. We had a delivery. It was too big. We've got all these speakers to flog off before we get back and our boss notices. Do you a good price. Make us a reasonable offer. The more you do this, the more they go into a state of elated demoralisation, the more they love me. Since there's no other claimants I got the adverse possession on rulership. There is no hiding place from change. That night I slip the lock. Discreetly to the side of the under-floor parking, the lab is a basic arrangement. Stainless slab tables, a truck battery, set of electrodes and a pair of legs sawn off a mannequin. It's a long room and it looks from the emptied pot noodles like most of the action's been going on down the other end. The trousers are zipped up inside an exhibit bag in an incubator, hooked up to a bunch of read-outs. The pattern of neat lights, dials, recorders and wavelines is organised and seductive. I pull the plug on them.

The monitors are clearly only there as insurance, recording. To save someone's guts from getting spilt by The Mayor should the trousers die in custody. There's a seal on the exhibit bag. I can already taste the memorandum.

Themselves, they're nothing to look at. Office trousers, worn to hide in at best. Too small to try on. I'm just holding them, expecting nothing, cooing slightly, holding them at the waist, when a penny falls out and clatters violently in the silence. Another coin drops out from the same pocket and rolls across the floor. There's a decision forming. I unzip my trousers and gently guide the left pocket over my prick. Just let it lie there for a few minutes. It's very restful.

A complex of runways brings light to my eyes. The Thames steams off its flanks in the cold morning. I will spend the day giving cakes out to people in the street. Choux replicas of the tower filled with a fat clot of cow's cream. Plenty of napkins. The thought is exhilarating. The chance to genuinely make a difference in peoples' lives. Line Three gives me some earwaxing about a shipment. I make a note to send his wife another of those forged FabergÈ fridge magnets. If he were an ice cream flavour, he'd be corpse with huge cluster of scarlet poppies growing out of its stomach ripple.

A crew of policy operators from London Outcomes works the streets before we arrive. Good chance to make like the people and do some shopping as the mess gets cleared up. Fed Ex me a shirt while I do one for the cameras.

See the conquering heroes roar into town over the bridges and roadways, on the buses and trains on a Monday morning, the sunrise glowing through the backs of their ears. I want to soul-kiss my people forever. A great glorious torrent of cakes, jellies, glistening, moist, sweet mandibular frenzy. Inspire adoration in their soft parts and in their teeth. One end of the street, there's a Security with a chain-gun in a shopping trolley. He's a happy man. No screaming glove puppet with the fist of history up his arse, just someone finding their place in life. Fuckwit. My cock feels like I was wanking with a rusty cheese grater last night.

I get one of the press assistants into the back of the armoured RVs they use doing outsides. I want to check, from her recoil or lack of, whether I've got anything abnormal going on. But she knows the game and smothers any opinion-making visual or flavour sensation with suspiciously more than regulation enthusiasm. There's no spillage and I make sure she has a Coke – scrambles DNA – directly afterwards to stop any of the eggy strands caught between her teeth having a chance to boost her pension fund. A good little worker. I decide that there's an overidentification within the population of physical difference with corruption and evil. It is irrelevant.

The next day I've got a rash; a visit to parliament, pitch for the tender on the new carpets; a multi-celebrity news hosedown and an anonymously procured tub of raw hydrocortisone to counter the business class leprosy. What Christ was going through dragging his futon base up to Golgotha, I feel it. That night the Mayor's cock looks like a root vegetable attacked by metallic rats with loose teeth. The trousers were found, not because of stray talk, but when all the rooms in the bloke's flat were up to chestheight in coins – they'd been crawling around on top of them – the side of the block he lived in cracked from twelve stories up, then fell through a day later. A waterfall without a permit. Affront to the people of London.

Now the effect they're having is different. I've got something like psoriasis with little coin hatchlets cracking out from under the skin. I'm taking enough morphine a day to keep a GP in corpses for weeks. A pound coin with the new turkey-neck profile of the Queen is emerging face-on from the rancid bruised scarlet jelly of the glans. I can't urinate. It's a reception in honour of a child of five raised entirely by earwigs. 173 different council officials are there to raise a glass in her name. The food is excellent, based around an exploration of the use of the fork in conventional Western eating practices. The chef interleaves two dishes on one plate. He challenges our understanding of meal structure by desiccating one dish into very small elements, too small to be effectively speared by the fork, so that they can only be raised to the mouth by scooping them up. The other dish is composed of parts large enough to be jabbed and stacked on the prongs of the fork, but not so large or limp that they would, without extreme effort – such as finger intervention, remain on the fork as a result of the scooping motion required to obtain the elements of the other dish. It is the tension between this daring recoding of a highly familiar, indeed almost invisible, element of our material culture and those moments of tension when the two dishes momentarily agglutinate that induces in the eater a subtle quivering between contemplative serenity and gustatory panic. Sounds highconcept, but it's also compellingly honest food – a smart way of cutting down catering labour costs by halving waiting time.

I'm on an estate action centre visit with all the usual crew including Sir Paul. Plenty cameras, The Mayor getting thumb and forefinger onto the social fabric. Some welcoming speech. To the side of me the government's Drug Baron by way of a chin stroke adds a deft smear more earwax to his fine moustache. There's a raffle for a Christmas hamper, a half-bucket of KFC bones and a milk token. Much applause. During the noise the pound coin falls out, taking flesh. I bite my cheeks. People are starting to go for the triangle sandwiches. I have to find somewhere to sit and replace the dressing. In the mÍlÈe, Sir Paul bends down to tie a shoelace he hadn't previously noticed existed. When he comes back up he's palmed the coin and tests it against his teeth. It's the genuine. Tongue screenwipes his lips and with a moist, assured smile he slides it into his pocket.

Matthew Fuller<>