Upstart building was taught valuable lesson on night of riots

The IYLO BUILDING is fast becoming a Croydon “icon”, in all the wrong ways – unfinished, neglected and now the victim of vandals. Yet in its latest column for Inside Croydon, IYLO tells us of the lessons learned from another building on a roundabout

You don’t have to give me much of an excuse to write about the Croydon riots. I’ve been mulling them over for quite a while now.

I’ve been thinking long and hard because that night I lost a good friend, a father-figure: dear old Reeve’s Corner.

He introduced himself on the day the builders had finished my steel framework. While other buildings had no time for me because of my youth and inexperience, he would always have a kind word.

Eventually we started going to the pub together and we’d talk about all sorts. He explained what Croydon Council was, where the trains come and go, and the state of various building projects around town. But without a doubt, our favourite topic of conversation was human behaviour.

We’d talk into all hours of the night over a couple of pints, and often other Croydon buildings would join in. We’d try to figure out the complexities and oddities of you people, and we’d get into debates and discussions about the subtleties of human society.

Reeve’s Corner helped me to understand what makes people tick. He always said it was difficult being a human being, that there’s a lot of judgement about money, class, profession, even accents. We buildings have something similar but there’s always respect for the fact that, at the end of the day, we are all just bricks and mortar. Or concrete and steel.

Reeves furniture store, as it used to be

That night of the riots was tense. We buildings are sensitive to the energy of humans and there was a wild feeling in the air that night. I saw a rawness in people’s eyes. Some kind of fever swept through the crowds and soon, the city centre was transformed into an ethical wilderness. People abandoned the usual societal rules and enjoyed sheer destruction.

The old building had told me that only a human being can confuse pain with pleasure. I didn’t really understand what that meant until the night of the riots. Certainly it was a night when pain was displayed as pleasure. It was a pursuit of pleasure that was so twisted that only a mind filled with pain could have conceived of it.

When Reeve’s Corner was being burned down, I assure you he felt no pain. That’s one advantage of being made of wood and plaster. He took it on the chin. “Stiff upper lip!” he said to me as the flames engulfed him. He was calm and serene.

He said that he had lived a good life, was of good service to the family who had made a business in him and that was the most important thing to him.

His last words to me were, “Live life to the full, young IYLO!”

I assured him I would. I didn’t want him to go but there you have it. You humans create us and then destroy us. We serve as perfect mirrors of your values, dreams, successes and failures. So choose wisely what you do with us because in us, you see your own reflection.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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