Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Deconstruction of Falling Bricks

Some of you may have been following this story on Facebook, I did become quite obsessive about it and took as many photos of this slowly demolished building as possible.  I my eye on it all day due to it occurring outside my office window for the last four months I was working for Manchester City Council.

I'd been working for the City Council for quite a few years and took voluntary redundancy meaning my contract finished March 2014.  That's the uninteresting part of this story.  This is the story of my unlikely non-friendship with a collapsing structure.  Here comes all the personalized, irrational but knowingly just metaphorical stuff.  The collapsing structure could be seen as a physical manifestation of the end of my time working at the City Council.  The gray facade was torn from the face of the building, revealing all the hidden colours.  Almost like how my job had given me a bureaucratic facade and as time went by the mask had to slip away for the real me to reemerge... now that's turning the metaphorical into the pretentious... but I don't mind so much about that.  Pretentious is as Pretentious does.  And Pretensious writes a blog.

It wasn't like any ordinary demolition.  When I was young I remember Edlington's pit being blown up in an amazing explosion.  The whole structure tumbling down in one fast organised collapse leaving behind a blackened undeveloped wasteland.  The explosion was exciting to my 4 year old brain and I wasn't of an age to appreciate the political ramifications.  I had a vague concept of Thatcher as a pantomime villain who stole milk from children.  To be fair on my four year old self he likely had a lot more political knowledge and awareness of current events than I do now as a thirty two year old.

In contrast to the last demolition I watched this building was taken apart in slow motion.  I'm assuming it was taken down in this fashion for health and safety reasons, though a friend told me that they might be selling the bricks so they'll need them all intact.  Either way the deconstruction method could probably be googled and that would give you a more satisfactory answer as to why some buildings suffer this slow unravelling. This entry is more about how interesting I found it on an aesthetic level.  Like a form of archeology. Looking into other people's past lives, their taste in colour and how well sign posted their fire exits were.  How a dull, boring tower block can have under it's surfaces such vibrancy, and that even in council flats there is a taste for bright colours.  Not all council residents look live like Mike Leigh believes them to.

So I would check everyday, see it from different angles dependent on my position.  Discovering that there was not just one of these buildings but two of them.  If you have ever been to this area of West Gorton you would know that there isn't a great deal to do apart from smoke.  So the arrival of this rough, colorful character into my life became something of a fascination and I thought about it on a multitude of levels, some of which I can't actually recall or even put into tangible words.  Or in other words ''I'm not sure I can be bothered trying to put them into words.''  Perhaps this is due to a lack of words in the english language to define my feelings or perhaps it's due to me feeling that to reveal them would be telling too much about myself.  The main reason though is that some of the levels were very silly.  Needless to say though I did have an appreciation and at times an actual affection for this building in it's dying days.

The broken building became something important for me to chronicle.  The more it was taken apart the more the imiment change in my own life approached.  The idea of leaving my job before the building was destroyed seemed like cheating, it needed to be destroyed on the last week of my work.  Progress on the poor thing was very slow for quite a few months, so it got to a point where I feared my visual journal wouldn't be complete and that I wouldn't be there for the broken building when it was finally torn down.

Around this time I started to get into pattern design.  I started to see the world differently and the real world started to feel like art and patterns.  I started looking at everything in different ways, seeing pattern potential in everything.  The fact the building was being destroyed meant that it's pattern would be lost forever, but also it meant that it would leave a new pattern behind.  That being the issue of existing within time and space everything moves and changes.  Patterns and art are a way of fixing life into some form of permanence. There was nothing permanent about the broken building or my job at the City Council and most importantly for me to remember that there was nothing permanent about me.  That I really am adaptable and I am capable of changing.  At the time this was very frightening.  I wasn't sure what I would become and still feel like I'm in a bit of a chrysalis.

A few years ago, possibly around the point I started this blog or not long after, I actually felt I had reached my full psychological apex, that I wouldn't ever rise higher or change into a different sort of person ever again, that I had reached the middle of my life and from this point onwards I was a fixed point.  This doesn't mean that I was incapable of achieving but that my core characteristics were always going to stay the same, whether I was living alone, with people, with a cat or with whoever I would always be the Garth Simmons that I had become.  As the building was taken apart so was I, and within the ghost walls I began to think more about the real me rather than the trappings and definitions I'd inadvertently put on myself.  This is good as those definitions had become very old, tired and predictable for me to live in, sometimes they were actually frustrating.  But it was strange and scary because I had no idea, actually still have no idea, what it is that I will become.

And so it ended.  The last week of March.  The whole thing broken down and turned into piles of dead brick.  I got the bus away from West Gorton for the last time.  Leaving behind the dead shell of a departed friend not to mention some lovely co workers.  In this blog post I've attempted to make the mundane epic or perhaps make the epic personal.  Experiences somehow change their substance when put into words, ''mundane'', ''epic'', ''personal''.  It all was what it was and all these things happened and now the future feels vast and indomitable.