I sometimes come home from working in St John’s churchyard at Waterloo by walking along the South Bank and getting the Thameslink train from the new station on Blackfriars Bridge to Finsbury Park. Another monster development is underway. Hoardings display images of the completed scene.
You might have thought that this picture illustrates shock and outrage. It’s only yesterday that developers claimed that their new buildings formed some kind of contribution to the vibrancy and cultural richness of the southbank, and the hoardings would feature smiling people drinking coffee beside planters over brimming with lovely flowers. Now they seem proud that their towers will suffocate or obliterate all that, Abu Dhabi style.
When I came home and looked more closely at my photos, guess what:
This was the experience I have often had with photos of plants: when I look at them more closely I see insects I hadn’t noticed before. Yet until recently (according to my old man’s time scale) the spire of St John’s, now a stick insect was the tallest building in the area, apart from the old Shell buildings which have themselves been replaced by bigger towers.
But on the way to Blackfriars Bridge a little greening, or rather browning has ben taking place.
Pedestrians, who are attracted in great numbers are already squeezed into a narrow zone of vibrancy, what with all the marketing stunts, food stalls, cyclists and skateboarders, building sites and their fences, so evidently it was thought that these planters posed a potential heath and safety problem and had to be illuminated with glowing tape as a warning. Maybe it was once a good idea but yet again we see the problem of garden innovations without gardeners. Someone probably said they do the watering.
The river remains. Also squeezed, but still quite big. And reasonably clean, though I’m not sure if it’s clean enough for this: