The Ticket to Laser City


It begins as I lie in the ruins of old town Edinburgh at night, gazing up at the fragmented arches of some grand but long destroyed building reminiscent somewhat of the Roman pantheon. I’m lying amongst rubble and puddles, near a bag of technology filled with items that I have at some point in my life lost, and other pieces that are yet to exist.  Somewhere nearby in this Edinburgh of Dreams is a hollowed out hill in Hollywood park that I’ve seen many times before. Inside it a temple of deep antiquity, flanked by enormous granite columns and worn statues, half exposed to the sunlight and weather as the side of the hill has collapsed. Its architecture stylistically inscrutable and indistinct. Celtic? Roman? It's seems to sit outside any type of easy classification, but seems to reach out from the beyond to remind us of something long forgotten.  

An office. Muddled and confused. My line manager Andy and I hold a meeting amidst jostling crowds who move past us in shoals. Eventually we ending the meeting abruptly as we are pushed away from one another. On my way out I bump into Noel Edmonds, and ask him how it is going, given his recent well publicised troubles. And by well publicised, I am referring to billboards.

“They just think that all these girls will go on fire if I talk to them” he complains, muttering about the press. 

We chat for a moment longer and I bid him farewell, in two minds about his predicament. 

I exit at the top of Broughton street and enter on a glass-fronted bus travelling down from a futuristic St James Centre. I try to take notes on my phone but a young boy or girl next to me reaches over an smears away what I’ve written like it was a pocket whiteboard, frustrating my ability to write anything down. Each time I do this I nip them in the face, and eventually they complain that this is assault. I counter that what they are doing amounts to assault also, and we leave it at that. As this exchange unfolds, the bus completely dissolves around us, I find myself at the top of Leith Walk. 

Two enormous crystal spheres sit at either side of the walk, and between them stretches the vestiges of the original St James Centre bridge from the 70s, like a gateway in or out of the city. In the far distance, in what must be Newhaven or Granton, is an enormous angular, pyramidal structure shooting a beam of pink light up into the heavens. I ask the kid what this is. 

"That’s Laser City” they say.

Soon I learn of the long and controversial history of this place - of the money that had been senselessly thrown at it, of the committees and bureaucracy that had gummed up its construction, and the contractors and subcontractors that had swallowed much of the eye watering cost. I see a big catalogue of alternative names for the site and the elaborate justifications given for them. One of them is “Computer City”.  

“I can’t let them call it that” says Noel Edmonds, suddenly, in what appears to be a flashback. “I’ll veto it. The public will never understand what it is” 

And, to be fair, it does sound like an electronics retailer from the 1990s. 

I’m later told that the ticket to Laser City was the most obnoxious and absurd part of it. Itself constituting an expensive piece of consumer electronics, and was one of the main reasons the site was so costly to enter. Later I’m being given a tour of the company that made the offending tickets, just so I can see for myself. The office is a lot like the one I saw earlier, full of pampered cosmopolitan types enjoying the perks of the cushy office. This was for the most part bowls of colourful sweets and candies of imaginative form, which sat on trays every few feet throughout the building. 

I am then taken downstairs and shown of the tickets to Laser City, which resembles an enormous candy bar, which was at once both surprising and unsurprising given the Willy-Wonka-esque surrounding. I was invited to unwrap the ticket, and as I peeled the wrapper back, a slow synth music started to build, in anticipation of what was to come. The music was timed and scored perfectly to my unwrapping actions, and I started to see why it cost so much to develop. As soon as I got sight of the ticket itself - a kind of elaborate chocolate bar full of square pits of fondant - the music really got going. 

Around this point I realise I am in a dream, and bring out my phone to begin writing down details. Although after a while, I realise this is still in the dream, but check the nocturnal Google Keep app to see what notes I have written, and try to memorise them so I can transfer the details to the waking world.