September 20, 2010
Interesting to wander around this immediate vicinity – described or assessed as ‘run down’ and therefore needing government grants. Many residents try hard to make their mark on the area so that it looks inviting to others – just part of the regeneration that is pushed on by individuals and their creativity. Some may say it’s ‘on the up’ while others moan on about ‘gentrification’. I thought I’d make a circle of about a 100m radius and see what took my fancy of the ‘hard stuff’. Very close by, in Market Street, is this old sandstone block retaining wall – quite tactile in its softness – with a decent batter that supports the base of the raised land along Market Passage . . . .
. . . there must have been storage within the wall or this could be the old portal to the flights of steps that climb the cliff face. The concrete steps just visible on the left are relatively new . . .
. . . the corner of Market Street and the London Road stands the old Admiral Benbow pub. I like this building and I think a lighting designer likes it too. On the roof of the building next door, the vegetation isn’t part of a roof garden but a bit of buddleja . . . .
. . . and next to this at the corner of London Road and Norman Road, we can enjoy a piece of street art that causes some puzzling looks. Unfortunately, the subject received a swastika on his conk within a couple of days – no surprise – but everyone’s behaving like good subjects now . . . I understand that it’s by Ben Eine . . .
. . . and down at Deborah’s, more childish stuff but, more interesting and attractive . . .
Looking in to the house at close quarters, there is a roof garden here . . .
. . and as Deborah designs wall paper, she’s added this in too, along with a reference to upholstery . . . very jolly . . .
. . . a look towards the back of her workroom/shop window shows she knows how to arrange objects . . .
. . . and looking back into the doll’s house, I see there’s a nod to the local dilapidation . . .
. . . walking west along Grand Parade towards The Marina, there’s a very decrepid building with a balcony that is rather lovely in its fragility . . .
. . . and close by, an ‘installation’ created late at night . . .
. . this is the ‘gentrification’ that some criticise, olive trees in tubs and buildings receiving a makeover.
Higher than the handsomest hotel
The lucent comb shows up for miles, but see,
All round it close-ribbed streets rise and fall
Like a great sigh out of the last century.
The porters are scruffy; what keep drawing up
At the entrance are not taxis; and in the hall
As well as creepers hangs a frightening smell.
There are paperbacks, and tea at so much a cup,
Like an airport lounge, but those who tamely sit
On rows of steel chairs turning the ripped mags
Haven’t come far. More like a local bus.
These outdoor clothes and half-filled shopping-bags
And faces restless and resigned, although
Every few minutes comes a kind of nurse
To fetch someone away: the rest refit
Cups back to saucers, cough, or glance below
Seats for dropped gloves or cards. Humans, caught
On ground curiously neutral, homes and names
Suddenly in abeyance; some are young,
Some old, but most at that vague age that claims
The end of choice, the last of hope; and all
Here to confess that something has gone wrong.
It must be error of a serious sort,
For see how many floors it needs, how tall
It’s grown by now, and how much money goes
In trying to correct it. See the time,
Half-past eleven on a working day,
And these picked out of it; see, as they climb
To their appointed levels, how their eyes
Go to each other, guessing; on the way
Someone’s wheeled past, in washed-to-rags ward clothes:
They see him, too. They’re quiet. To realise
This new thing held in common makes them quiet,
For past these doors are rooms, and rooms past those,
And more rooms yet, each one further off
And harder to return from; and who knows
Which he will see, and when? For the moment, wait,
Look down at the yard. Outside seems old enough:
Red brick, lagged pipes, and someone walking by it
Out to the car park, free. Then, past the gate,
Traffic; a locked church; short terraced streets
Where kids chalk games, and girls with hair-dos fetch
Their separates from the cleaners – O world,
Your loves, your chances, are beyond the stretch
Of any hand from here! And so, unreal
A touching dream to which we all are lulled
But wake from separately. In it, conceits
And self-protecting ignorance congeal
To carry life, collapsing only when
Called to these corridors (for now once more
The nurse beckons -). Each gets up and goes
At last. Some will be out by lunch, or four;
Others, not knowing it, have come to join
The unseen congregations whose white rows
Lie set apart above – women, men;
Old, young; crude facets of the only coin
This place accepts. All know they are going to die.
Not yet, perhaps not here, but in the end,
And somewhere like this. That is what it means,
This clean-sliced cliff; a struggle to transcend
The thought of dying, for unless its powers
Outbuild cathedrals nothing contravenes
The coming dark, though crowds each evening try
With wasteful, weak, propitiatory flowers. The Building Philip Larkin