I am a rock! But new kids on building blocks have problems

The IYLO BUILDING has awoken from its slumbers… The construction crane is back and builders in hi-viz jackets, like worker ants, are climbing all over it. But the oft neglected, unfinished tower in the middle of a suburban roundabout has not been fooled into thinking it will be providing “city living” for any well-off people any time soon

Ooo, look, something's happening: but will the abandoned building site formerly known as the IYLO be finished any time soon?

Ooo, look, something’s happening: but will the abandoned building site formerly known as the IYLO be finished any time soon?

The other night me, St George’s Walk, Mrs Ruskin Square, and Miss Whitgift Centre got together for our monthly Croydon Bitch-Up. The Bank of America building eventually showed up and then the Post Office made a very late (and very drunken) appearance.

It’s becoming a bit of a joke lately: so many buildings in town are on the edge of being torn down. I feel a bit guilty. Will I be the last one standing?

We were all there to drown our sorrows. I know I like to complain but at least I’m not staring the Grim Reaper in the face like some of Croydon’s buildings. Actually, things have picked up in my world.

I think.

You may have noticed, if you’ve driven round me lately, that I have nice new white hoardings around me.

The crane has reappeared and the maze of scaffolding resurrected. Occasionally I see people in fluorescent vests coming and going. And yet, still not the army of workers necessary to build me.

You may know that I am under new ownership and have a new name: they’ve called me “Island”. I thought it was a strange choice, bringing up connotations of aloneness and isolation. It reminds me of that Simon and Garfunkel song that goes, “I am a rock, I am an island.”

The lyrics of the song include: “I’ve built walls, a fortress deep and mighty, that none may penetrate.”

“I touch no one and no one touches me.”

Gosh, that doesn’t bode well for off-plan sales to rich Hong Kong investors, does it?

My new owners are trying to flog me to people who live in lands far-away. Too far away, they hope, so that buyers won’t bother to visit and notice that I’m not finished and that the Westfield and Hammerson scheme is still but fairy-dust.

They’ll have their work cut out for them; my location must make me difficult to market. Compounded by that well-known Country and Western classic, “Mammas don’t let your babies grow up to live in roundabouts.”

A lot is riding on the  Westfield and Hammerson coat-tails. That was one of the things we discussed: you people do cause yourselves a lot of undue stress. You like to roll big dice instead of making little advancements.

While we were in the pub the new kids on the block – Saffron Square and the council’s HQ Building – showed up. They’ve become an item.

Saffron’s a nice enough bloke but a bit up-tight because he’s got a lot riding on his shoulders. He’s part of a strategy to bring young professionals into central Croydon to “stabilise” the area.

There you go again, putting your faith in money.

The Saffron Square tower:

The narcissistic Saffron Square tower: the new kid on the building blocks

When Saffron is out on the town with HQ, he has to pretend he doesn’t know me. HQ has a narcissistic disorder and has certain standards about what to associate with. I call her “The Shard of the South,” and you people who are wasting your lives watching your Twitter feed 24/7 will already know how I feel about The Shard.

Self-obsessed, over-pimped, character-less, a lanky scar upon forehead of London.
I thank the Big Dipper I’m not in Crystal Palace or Peckham so I don’t have to look upon that obtrusive bit of nothingness each day.

But I digress.

Glass buildings always tend to be narcissistic. I probably would be, too, except for the fact that there’s not been any glass fitted in me yet.

I tried to cheer up Miss Whitgift with my self-deprecating humour but she blubbered into her beer for most of the night. She’s just counting the days. We still can’t figure out what’s wrong with her. I mean, give her a face-lift if you want but why get rid of her?

She’s got to have at least 100 years left in her. And she’s gorgeous! Phwoar! She’s got that incredible sky-light, she’s well-built, well-planned. Okay, maybe she needs a bit of a renewal, but people still love her.

That’s one thing I need to get off my foundations: you Croydon people don’t know how much you’re going to miss her when she’s gone. You don’t realise how much she’s a part of the town. And just because something “bigger and better” is coming down the road doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to like it. At the end of the day, it’s a gamble and a big one.

One last thing we talked about was this Riesco thing. Not too long ago I wouldn’t have cared but now that I have connections with that part of the world I find myself strangely protective of the tiny bits of prettiness. I wish I could build them all a nest so they could all be warm and safe, like the birds in me do.

And a Rock feels pain.

And an Island needs to cry.

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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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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