Monday, November 11, 2013

Breaking Mad: The Reconfiguration Of Reality

A brief coda to October's two posts...

Last week on BBC Northern Ireland and Radio Telefis Eireann a documentary simultaneously transmitted on "The Disappeared" of the Ulster Troubles. The feature included no broad elaboration upon the cases of Robert Nairac or Lisa Dorrian - which fell outside the main thematic remit of republican violence - but was yet an extraordinarily moving reflection on loss and open-ended trauma. As discussed previously it would certainly appear that one specific political demographic in the British Isles is now dictating the historical narrative of the Northern Ireland conflict with extreme prejudice. The core dynamic of the Ulster peace process in turn now seemingly gauged upon an extraordinarily expensive psychotherapy session for certain ideological combatants and individual ex-paramilitary leaders.

Last Saturday in London I walked down towards the Lucifer Tower beside London Bridge and thus beyond into the streets of Bermondsey -  thereafter back to Wapping across the Thames. The four hour stroll yet again underpinning the gathering sense that in modern London the only reason to remain in the high-risk private-sector would be service employment geared towards the very same wealth surge that has changed this city forever in the past seven years. A work colleague knew both Bermondsey of yore and its modern film-set incarnation alike. He noted how the recent infrastructural changes in the district may well have even incorporated dry-cleaning of the local pigeons by way of the scale of radical infrastructural change. In the local Maltby Street gastro-market I did indeed notice that some of the microscopic taster-dishes atop individual stallholders' tables were actually on sale for up to four quid-a-fucking pop.

Across Tower Bridge then and east to Wapping - location of the Small Faces' legendary Wapping Wharf Laundrette in All Our Yesterdays. The three famous pubs on the riverside including The Tower of Ramsgate and The Prospect of Whitby are now surrounded on all sides by expensive apartment accommodation while the views across to Rotherhite (mentioned in turn in Elvis Costello's New Amsterdam) consist of yet more of the same from east to west - the river traffic in the Pool of London itself now dead and gone.

Another good friend recently reflected on the scale of change in London and his own West London locale full of family connections. He noted how one by one they are irrevocably disappearing now - a house where relatives once lived, a church with memories of past marriages, factories where family worked or even pubs they socialised in. A critical mass would now appear to have been reached in his estimation whereby within his lifetime London will be a city with as much relevance to him as Carlisle and his own time for leaving will surely have arrived.

First slum of Europe: a role 
It won't be hard to win,
With a cast of crooks and tarts.
And that will be England gone,
The shadows, the meadows, the lanes,
The guildhalls, the carved choirs,
There'll be books; it will linger on
In galleries; but all that remains 
For us will be concrete and tyres.

Philip Larkin, Going Going, 1972

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