Tuesday, March 21, 2006

bringing back 'toil' to the meaning of toilet

i remember Brighton's West Pier. only as a space i could explore from afar, from my place as a child, it seemed to be made of sea-wracked steel and ghosts. it'd been condemned before my birth, and seemed to me as far too delicate a thing to have sticking out of the ocean. like a glass wedding cake balanced atop chopsticks, it looked so untouchable. as if history could be preserved by the seething brine alone, and human fingers would only crunch it. it was a glorious sight, mottled with rust and scabby sea gunge, its crenellated turrets bit back against the monontony of the grey pebbled beach and brash skies. i often wondered about it, asking my grandmother, but i forgot what she'd said, so i left it in my mind as a photograph. a movie i just saw underlined how much has happened to it since, and i'd rather have not known. construction began in 1866, during the Golden Years of British industrialism by an engineer called Eugenius Birch, but wasn't completed, by means of a concert hall, until a few years before World War I. it was closed during the wars, getting heavily mined and boobytrapped to deter the enemy using it as a launching platform. it closed finally in 1975. it got wonky, and started to sag and collapse, and even though a substantial restoration budget had been put aside for it, it was gutted by fires in 2003. they believed it to be arson, and strangely, i would've liked to've been there to watch it burn. i heard that even more of it fell into the sea lately. the above is a picture of it, swept by starlings. more pictures found here. the place was beautiful.

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