Architecture For Beginners
4th February 2008: Alex Broughton is trapped beneath the shards of a broken building. There’s much for him to think about: not just the pain and the dust and the darkness, but also the matter of how he came to be here, pre-buried in a graveyard of his own creation. Whatever the findings of any future inquiry, Alex knows precisely where to find the roots of his spectacular downfall: in the events of 26th December 2006 – the day on which he renewed his acquaintance with Reggie Cullen.
Reggie’s a legend, a footballing hero famed and loved despite his oafish behaviour. The Cullen charm is lost on Alex though: this was his dearest childhood friend, and he still resents that young Reggie cut him loose and left him for dead at the first whiff of beckoning success. There’s much to be said, but in the end Alex says none of it: struggling already to find a role post-retirement, Reggie has lately been smashed to pulp by the suicide of his wife Denise. And so it’s with pity and a pinch of salt that Alex listens to Reggie’s talk of having him design and build a football stadium on his Bedfordshire estate.
So far, so smug. Only trouble is, Alex’s star isn’t all that high in the sky, either: already at war with his wife Mog over the venerable seaside theatre he’s planning to ‘reimagine’ (she’s Chair of the Friends group), he’s lately stumbled into an ill-advised, ill-concealed affair with a colleague at his practice, leading not only to marital meltdown but also to a boardroom coup.
Stripped of the chance to shepherd his dream project into construction, Alex finds himself in the market for something to help rebuild his reputation. Bygones are looking more and more like bygones, and maybe Reggie’s stadium thing doesn’t sound quite such a stupid idea after all.
What, wonders Alex, is there to lose…?