Sometimes when I set off on a walk I find something, and I think that that will be the thing I’ll write about. Today I came across a pile of broken-up concrete, just behind the Clyde Street lights, where someone had pulled up a slab but not wanted to pay the tip fees. It set me off thinking of fly-tipping, as it’s called in Britain, and things I’ve found at the side of the road in years gone by.
In the gasworks I came across this iridescent grevillea blossom and my thinking veered off towards colours and the intensity of Australian colours. One of the brightest birds I was ever likely see in Britain was a jay, but a British jay in an Australian backyard would go completely unnoticed.
And then, still thinking about colours, I came across this crusty old porn mag and it set me off thinking about other things completely. (No, stop it.) I mean that I was back thinking about the fly-tips of England and, in the days before the Internet put porn and gambling on tap to any teenage boy with broadband and a Gmail address. In those far-distant days the discovery of a battered Penthouse or Club (a kind of British version of Hustler or something, but inevitably dowdier) could keep a playground full of boys enthralled for weeks.
I think this mag’s probably pretty lame. Anything that makes it into print now isn’t going to be all that racy, that’s for the .xxx websites. Apparently.
And then the story found me. Two young lads in the old switchboard room. They hid when they saw me but they came out when they realised I wasn’t a security guard (me? look like a security guard?). They were on the mooch; someone had told them it was a good place to go getting up to “stuff” or whatever it is that young lads get up to in derelict gasworks sites.
There was a battered old “No entry” sign and the chance was too good to miss. They let me take their picture: Mr X, on the left, from Islington and Mr Y, on the right, visiting from West Wallsend. I left them to wander off into the admin building to, I imagine, break things or start a fire.
I wondered how many people talk about visiting the gasworks site and whether this blog has in any small way contributed to that. I know from my stats that my readers aren’t in the millions but I do get all kinds of odd visitors. But I like the idea of the gasworks being my gasworks just for me, so if I like that idea why am I blogging about it?
The idea of a blog would have been anathema to my dad. Anything useful was guarded, gripped tightly in his bricklayer’s fist and thrust deep into a jacket pocket. Whatever lesson he learnt in his youth wasn’t passed on to his son. I have the feeling that these won’t be the last young lads I meet in the gasworks.