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19 December 2005updated 24 Sep 2015 11:31am

Who’s ripe for eviction?

When Charles Saatchi was turfed out of County Hall in October, his notorious collection was left hom

By Staff Blogger

Clare Short, politician
There are a number of political leaders I would like to evict from their houses, but developments in Israel cause me to wish specially to evict Ariel Sharon from his office and insert Amir Peretz, the new Labour leader, who believes in a two-state solution on 1967 boundaries and that peace is needed to deliver social justice in Israel. At last there is hope from Israel. Let us hope 2006 is the year for Peretz.

Will Self, novelist
The Church of England should be evicted from St Paul’s, Westminster Abbey and Lambeth Palace. These fine public buildings could then be adapted as affordable homes for those on low incomes. Christians preach poverty and humility – they should practise it. The established church in this country is a joke; a milquetoast pap of faith that buttresses up the monarchy and provides selective education for middle-class parents who pay lip-service to its doctrine. The son of the Defender of the Faith thinks he’s a Tampax. The sooner the Church of England is evicted, the sooner we can begin to have a politically responsible approach to the question of who should be head of state.

Alain de Botton, philosopher
I’d love to evict Swiss Re from the Gherkin, not because it has done anything wrong, far from it, but because, in a sense, the company has been too successful at creating a great building. The tower now feels like it belongs to all Londoners, rather than a select group doing some reinsurance work in an office. The Gherkin would lend itself particularly well to being a forum, a meeting venue, a public space – a kind of secular cathedral, somewhere to watch the sky and the city below.

Stephen Bayley, design guru
Ken Livingstone is my outstanding candidate for eviction. Assuming, for a moment, that he actually has the power he so evidently craves, he abuses, or underuses, it with calamitous effect. A preposterous, unaccountable, philistine, vulgar, tricksy demagogue, the Mayor of London is a disgrace to a world city. Divisive and anti-democratic, his mournful legacy of traffic chaos, pavement squalor, impudent, uncoordinated roadworks, empty gestures and general civic neglect insults citizens – and deters visitors – daily. With Livingstone evicted from his vainglorious “City Hall”, Norman Foster’s reflective building could become a new Museum of Narcissism.

Andrew Billen, TV critic
Enough fiddling about. They should either find a full-time presenter for Home Truths – and one who is not trying to sound a little but not too much like John Peel – or evict the programme from its prime 9am slot on Radio 4 on Saturdays. The same thing applies to Not Alistair Cooke’s Letter From America on Sunday mornings. Give it to Christopher Hitchens or give it the boot. Brainy Mark Damazer is proving the most pusillanimous Radio 4 controller the station has ever had, but I won’t suggest he’s evicted. Not yet, at least.

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Charles Saumarez Smith, director, National Gallery
I would like to evict the pigeons from Trafalgar Square.

Jonathan Meades, writer and broadcaster
I’d nominate John Prescott. The Prime Minister deploys bombs; the Deputy Prime Minister’s weapon of choice is the house – or rather, tens of thousands of houses. This is his way of destroying a country. It is a matter of marvel that this bloated oaf should have become the nation’s Aesthetic Comptroller. It is as though Bernard Matthews had hired a fox to oversee his battery cages. Architecture is the most public art. With rare exceptions, it affects those who are neither its patrons nor its makers. We live in an era of brilliant makers: Rogers, Alsop, Gough, Camp, Brissac, et cetera. But the DPM listens instead to the fat wallets of importunate volume builders. Volume builders? Sorry: they’re brownfield regenerators. His support for their mission is as disgraceful as his boss’s support for George W Bush.

John Sutherland, writer
I’ve always liked the word “bailiff”, which has a good Old English feel to it, like “wassail”, or “Yuletide”. Who, if I was Bailiff Almighty, would I evict this Yuletide? Easy. In the interest of the purification of our English literary heritage, Jeffrey Archer from Grantchester, so the ghost of Rupert Brooke can, until the next chancer comes along, rest in peace.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, interior designer
I would like to evict the Speaker of the House of Commons from his grace-and-favour Speaker’s House within the Palace of Westminster, because I want to live there. I was born to live somewhere that has paper that costs £300 a roll covering the walls, and I just don’t think he lives up to his surroundings.

John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman, comedians
We’d evict God. Regardless of the ongoing legal disputes over his existence or otherwise, God’s recent work has been pitiful. The world is a mess in at least 12 different ways, and God – so happy to claim the credit whenever athletes win, less forthcoming whenever they make a technical error in the step phase of their triple jump – has singularly failed to issue His or Her humble subjects with even a hint of an apology. The cracks probably began to appear when God voluntarily split His divine franchise into a number of competing religions after the Monopolies and Mergers Commission expressed concern around 6,000 years ago. The past century in particular has been an incoherent porridge of catastrophe, throughout which God has been eerily silent, but for the occasional piece of petulant tectonics. There’s no deity more dangerous than a complacent one. He should have bowed out at the top of his game – like Kelly Holmes and Zeus.

Amanda Craig, novelist
I’d like to evict the 2005 Booker judges to a small Irish seaside town where they would be forced to read John Banville for a fortnight. They could return to England only if they reread Julian Barnes’s Arthur and George. I’d like to evict all politicians whose name begins with “B” to Guantanamo Bay. Lastly, I’d like to evict John Prescott from his cars and put him in one of the Victorian houses he wants to demolish.

Will Hutton, journalist and broadcaster
I want to evict I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here! from the schedules. It’s tacky, debasing and we’re running out of B-list celebrities who are remotely interesting. I would auction the programme budget to the broadcaster with the best idea for the same slot, and if their show gets a lower audience the penalty will be to urinate on camera Carol Thatcher-style. If that doesn’t get better TV, I promise to urinate on camera myself.

Andrew Martin, novelist
I live in Highgate, north London, where I once walked down the high street behind an old lady and a young man who was perhaps her grandson. “That used to be the fishmonger’s,” she was saying. “That was the hardware shop, this one was the pork butcher’s.” It was quite heartbreaking, since most of the shops in Highgate are now occupied by traders selling knick-knacks for middle-class people with too much money. (For about two years, there was a shop in Highgate that sold only fat beige candles.) Either that, or they are occupied by estate agents. Of around 45 shopfronts, 15 must be occupied by estate agents. Many of the people who work in them are very nice, but I would evict them all, so that people can start living in the area rather than investing in it.

Arabella Weir, comedian
I’d evict Ruth Kelly, for coming up with this crazy new schools white paper. All this nonsense about “empowering parents” and involving them in what are essentially school decisions, from someone who has clearly never witnessed a parent-governor recruitment effort. People, particularly in socially mixed schools, do not come forward in great droves. Proper respect (and wages) should be paid to teachers. Kelly’s got no business being education minister anyway – her kids go to church schools, which are in effect selective. What a secular society like ours is doing funding faith schools is beyond me.

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