All text copyright Stephen Coates 2006 - 2015

Love Amongst the Ruins

Sometimes it almost feels as if London has entered a Golden Age. The increasingly benevolent climate, the sparkling near mineral-water quality of the Thames, the clean white buildings, the concrete, stone and glass all cleaned and polished up by money. We've been purified by wealth, flushed and depilated, scrubbed and sanitised. There is electricity and light and music everywhere. Traffic wardens, and CCTVs shepherd and watch over us. Generally, ugliness and obesity - like poverty - have been banished to the provinces. Nearly everybody I see looks passable these days and often they look stylish, hip, smart, groovy and skinny. The cracks and crannies are gone (or have been papered over with banknotes at least).That often feels good I think - but with it has come a strange sense of vulnerabilty or foreboding. Do you feel that too? We have so much to lose now don't we? And worse, we are so ill-equipped to deal with any loss at all. Is this how Rome felt at the end? - this beautifully civilised leaning on the edge of things? Occasionally a wailing ambulance irritates with a reminder of birth, sickness or death and now and then the odd police car speeding south or east disrupts our sang-froid a little, but generally we seem to have become 'comfortably numb'.

Speaking of which,on Saturday, we went to see Battersea power station for the last time before its redevelopment begins. It is as magnificent in its ruin as it surely was in its industrial strength glory. Neglect has not really harmed it at all - well, not in the way that say Starbucks, Gap and Tesco Express shortly will. From the publicity material, it seems that it is destined to be filled with advertising 'creatives' (sic), oriental investors getting their money out while there's time and mortgaged-to-the-hilt aspirational young couples. Would J G Ballard approve? Probably. He recently said that he would like to see London erased and rebuilt in the manner of the Heathrow Hilton. I was sad for that - I have long admired him but it seems he has been reading his own press and gone all literal on us. But I was much sadder about what is happening to Battersea. Every age has its losses and the city has never stood still but of all the things that could have happened here, why have we settled for something so weedy? Could we not stand to leave one glorious ruin?

Well. if we don't teeter over the edge before the work is complete, you never know - it could all turn out nice again ........

......and pigs might fly

12 comments:

Stella Polaris said...

Well, bugger.

nell said...

at one time sheep were imported into cavendish square. an attempt at 'rus in urbe'. shall we try that again? or will i arrive in may to find that all the gardens and crescents have begun to decrescent? for i'm sure a starbucks would fit nicely into each and every one.....

cheers,
nell

clerkenwell kid said...

They have sheep in Coram's fields in Bloomsbury - I buped into one one night. it gave me the frighht of my life - thought I was having a flashback but it's all part of something to cure pepole of depression apparently....

or perhaps it's to cure the sheep of depression - i forget

nell said...

do they really!?!? i will be in bloomsbury in may....i must pay them a visit. i have never thought of sheep or people as a cure for depression. both are silly creatures. all they seem to do is eat and poo.

cheers,
nell
maybe the smell of sheep shit in the morning has something to do with it.....

clerkenwell kid said...

apparently, they are a 'rare breed' - which means they are more intelligent than your average sheep - and very possibly than your average brit..

nell said...

yes....but can they fly? for those are the smartest of all sheep. and the most dangerous.

cheers,
nell
pretty sure the have the average american beat....

Anonymous said...

I saw this: http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=2785&highlight=battersea and thought of this very post. Your words have a certain resonance when you look at some of the other London 'reports' on that site. I presume the Romans perceived their empire to be perfect and presumed it would last forever too.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, i mean This

clerkenwell kid said...

hey thanks - i love that

it's like an anlagoue recording studio

Dan said...

Judging by your music and a few interviews and things i've read (yes i'm a huge fan) I reckon you'd like quite a few things on that website, from the exploration of the london drains, to the hundreds of miles of catacombs under paris. It's actually quite interesting; Parisians regularly visit the old roman mine workings and have all sorts of 'bohemian' things going on like underground cinemas and sculptures etc.

clerkenwell kid said...

amazing stuff dan. thanks

i love underground cities - Edinburgh too is cool from that point of view

i recently foounnd a secret shaft and tunnel in my own back garden - really - more on that soon

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