Circumstance – well, let’s be specific: the fact that I had run out of cat treats – finally winkled me out of the house today, against both capacity and inclination. Hat jammed tight around my ears, I tromped down to Sainsers with a list. It was a beautiful day. As I passed the gasometers (as usual, gazing up at them as if they were urban gods, with the birches framed against them, pale arms lifted in that jubilant way of birches, poplars and hornbeams), a few tiny, dry dots of snow came down. I can’t think of anything I like better that this sight:
Since dawdling was my only option, I took the time to have a look at what is happening to the Crow Ground behind the gasometers, and found the hoardings around the site are now plastered with enthusiastic posters announcing the purpose of the development.
My assumption that it would be high density housing was incorrect: in fact, this place that hopped and seethed with birds is going to be a “retail park”. Posters (“artist’s impression only”) show ToysRUs and a B&Q; Pets @ Home. Oh, still the dark bunting of my heart! Maybe we’ll get a PC World.
I had a tiny cry at the bus stop. I don’t mean one of those hoo-hoo hiccuppy jobs (I don’t really do that), but the sort of thing where you could legitimately pass it off as the wind having made your eyes run. I saw three crows today. And one starling, too sick to get out of the way of pedestrians, its little oily feathers sticking out in soft arrowheads around it as it waited, hopelessly, to be kicked or trodden on. I moved it off the pavement, under a shrub, and decided that if it was still findable when I left, I’d bring it home and see if I could fix it up, but when I came out it had gone.
So there we are. Thousands of scraps of wild life undone so that little Michelle and Bobby can bully mum and dad into a trip to ToysRUs to buy petrochemicals, shat out in the form of aspirational sexual stereotypes, blue for boys, pink for girls. I should be glad: it will give the area more employment, create more passing traffic for the local chicken shops. But I am not glad.
I miss the crows, and, more abstractly, I miss knowing that the wasteland was there: not a park, not a “leisure facility”, but a plot of land that was not for people at all.