The V On The Roof

One of my libraries has a building site next door – as in, just the other side of the wall of my office – and it has been a noisy year as they demolished the old buildings and then started to build the development from scratch. One of the big complaints from people in the area was that it was removing an architectural feature from the area – specifically the imposing front of what had been a college, complete with an impressive facade – even though the site had been closed and falling apart for quite some time.

As I was walking in to work the other day though, I could start to see the final shape of some of the buildings in the development coming together as the peaked roofs are added to the bare bones of concrete and metal. The shape and colour of the tiles is reminiscent of the older building that had been there before – and I thought it a nice touch. Then I noticed on one of the roofs a lighter coloured V shape, which looked familiar but I couldn’t quite place it. I mentioned it to a member of staff whose family has been in the area for generations and she got excited enough to jump out and go round to take a picture.

Apparently it exactly replicates signs of bomb damage from World War Two, where a device hit the road a short way away from the school (as it was at the time), and lightly damaged the tiles of its roof where it faced the explosion. Builders rapidly replaced the tiles from bombed out buildings nearby so that the school could keep running but the colour didn’t quite match. This left a distinct lighter coloured V shape that was never repaired or replaced until the building was demolished last year to make way for the new buildings. It had become part of the fabric of the local community – a sign of it pulling together in war and adversity to help its members – and so the reappearance of this V in the tiles on the same alignment and location of the original has been grudgingly admired as a nice nod to the past and the continuity of that spirit.

Little things go a long way

Fiction Fragment – thoughts on a train platform

Wrote this a couple of months ago while observing life as I waited for a train. Just got round to transcribing it today:

A mild temperatured afternoon was being teased with the steady cooling breeze that carried hints of rain. Not for the first time, I wondered why the station had no seats, and relied solely on the road bridge to provide any cover.

Sitting on the graffiti-covered bench under the flyover I found myself wondering what my options were from here. I wished I could be blasé about the bank letters, reminding myself they were automated and not personalised in any way shape or form, but reading each one had felt like a hammer blow to the guts.

I hoped the train would arrive soon; preferably before the gathering raindrops came back with reinforcements.

A gaggle of pre-teen schoolkids gathered their courage to walk past me on the platform. Their chatter quieted as they passed me in a cloud of sugar fumes before returning to their earlier volume when they felt a safe distance away from adult company. I smiled to myself at the thought that I semed to have become the type of person my mother had used to warn me about.

As in most packs, there was a ringleader who carried the group along; a token girl who was already outgrowing them; and a quiet thoughtful one who was keeping an eye on me.  I sighed and opened my notebook, cupping it in the palm of my hand so I could review my earlier scribblings.