Isolated by impending demolition or on the make? You decide.
I am, by nature, a relatively charitable soul. I treat my fellow man with respect, I pet dogs regardless of whether they want or need petting, and I give to charity regularly and without Bob Geldof’s insistence.
And yet, despite my desperate attempts to retain the wide-eyed innocence and joie de vivre that characterised my youth, I have grown increasingly cynical as the years have passed. When a politician says they’re doing something for “the greater good”, my mind immediately asks “ah yes, but what’s in it for him”. When I see someone rattling a charity tin on the street, my default reaction is to scan for a nearby Porsche purchased by the good-hearted donations of others.
But there is one element of my cynicism that is born not of the passage of time but from over-exposure to the demolition industry. Sadly, it is a form of cynicism that largely strips me of all humanity whilst simultaneously braises my onions in a manner disproportionate to its actual impact upon my life. And it has just been triggered yet again.
I have just read a newspaper article about a guy who is the sole resident of a Scottish tower block that is scheduled for demolition. He says the block is now like a prison; his TV doesn’t work; the block smells of pigeon droppings; and his only source of comfort is music by Queen and Oasis.
There was a time, back in my right on, liberal-leaning, protest-joining, “studenty” youth where I would have greeted such a story with teary-eyed sympathy. How could life have been so cruel to a single individual? Where are his family when he needs them most? What unfortunate twist did his life take to leave him living with a flock of pigeons.
However, I have spent time in demolition circles, and I have seen it all before. I have seen neighbouring residents making spurious claims over broken windows in the immediate aftermath of an implosion. I have seen the same people “choosing” to hang out their laundry on the very day that a dust plume is likely to temporarily engulf their property; not to ensure whiter whites but to validate an insurance claim. And I have seen sole occupants of tower blocks and housing estates holding out to protect their childhood home just long enough for to stimulate a sufficiently attractive financial incentive to move on.
And so, while there is a part of me that looks upon the plight of Alexander “Buster” Nicol with sympathy, there is another part that wonders just how much cash it will take for him to step aside and allow demolition to progress.