hot off the press!
things fall apart; the centre cannot hold
w b yeats
currently many parts of the uk are experiencing destructive floods. some residents have had to move out of their homes, and the most unfortunate will never get to return to theirs. i have been thinking of disabled and chronically ill people in such situations, and wondering how on earth they cope. i know i loathe the prospect of having to move out of my flat on account of a practical disaster. whenever places elsewhere flood i am reminded of the lewes deluge of 2000. and whenever i think about places anywhere flooding i respond with a mixture of gratitude and dread: from a selfish point of view i breathe a sigh of relief that my home is near the top of our town and is therefore unlikely to be inundated with river or sea water for many generations to come; on the other hand, i have endured a very different sort of washing-machine-based watery attack from an ex-neighbour which means that i will never have the luxury of resting on my laurels regarding floods.
other times i worry about fire. i consider how common it is for fires to be started by accident, and how quickly these ancient timber framed buildings would go up in flames.
now i have a whole new architectural concern to grapple with.
in recent weeks parts of two structures close to my flat have collapsed. early in october a bit of side wall of the white hart hotel fell onto the pavement below. and earlier this week a section of the castle wall only metres from my flat disintegrated. i heard it happen. i was lying in bed half listening to the radio and half listening to my noisy neighbour (he is called stompy – talk about nominative determinism!) when another racket completely overwhelmed the sounds of both neighbour and radio. this pandemonium was so unfamilar that i only succeeded in describing it after the event. in hindsight i’ve identified it as a kind of crunchily crashing explosion.
after i wrote the section empathising with sick and disabled people who are forced out of their homes by floods, i waited for the model citizen. he is like an adorable little clockwork robot. he obeys several long-held self-imposed rules and restrictions, and arrives at the same time each monday afternoon unless there is a compelling reason to alter his plans. to my consternation he was a few minutes late. then he phoned from his workplace along the street to ask if i was home. i said i was. he expressed some surprise; it transpired he was calling because when he’d got to the end of the alley leading to my front door a policewoman had stopped him. she had told him no one was allowed along pope’s passage or castle ditch lane; plus there would be nobody home anyway, as all the flats in pope’s passage had been evacuated hours before.
at the exact time that i was writing about recent local architectural catastrophes, and, linked to those, my personal fears of being forced to leave my flat, i had been oblivious to the fact that i was meant to be one of those evacuated from their own home on account of a very local structural collapse!