Saturday, 8 February 2014

200words: the heygate

"...we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn." Mt11v17

Cycling idly up Wansey Street on my urban safari, I paused, a fluorescent jacketed man was struggling on his knees at the base of the new green wire fence. His toil, slowly, was the fixing of an opaque white material to the length of this tall perimeter barrier: a tidy job for a council hoping to screen off the cadaver of the welfare state being clankingly dismembered inside.

What has not already been said? The regeneration we love to hate comes ready-scandalised today, a tired tragedy of antagonistic clichés, pre-packaged with a vocabulary of beleaguered appeals by armchair socialists seeking to save another sunk sink estate from misrepresentation. The caricatured béton brut of broken Britain and the bastard chavs sired by Jespersen 12M are popularly pitched in open battle against the sentimental Smithsonians and the neo-pasturalists who pine for the romance of a rugged and rusty edifice as it catches an evening's Piranesian sombre glow.

The Heygate suffers at hands of this absurd dichotomy, whereby pointless bickering over the site's ignominious ambiguity have left a tattered political football flapping deflated. All the while a lurid 'creative quarter' is plotted: a preppy pop-up, yuppy stop gap, pre-formed flat pack of ready made new tat, the same old sanitised, gentrified, desensitised, 'urban vitality'. Dear Alice Coleman, are you happy now?

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