After the Deluge
An interesting question is – what happens when the waters recede? The thought of such Tory strongholds as Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire being left with trails of debris, sewage and toxic waste is too horrifying to contemplate. The apocalyptic pronouncements are being put in early, and as ever sound entirely plausible: the carefully demarcated border between the safe-for-human-consumption and the disease-ridden, virulent by-product is being forcibly breached, by what newsreaders have been calling with nicely religiose fatalism ‘an act of God’.
Of course, being a leisurely stroll away from the Thames Barrier (and have I ever been more thankful for this fantastic parade of steel and concrete crustaceans, rising majestically out of Charlton to provide the capital’s salvation) my own patch of overpriced asphalt and brick is entirely unaffected, as yet, though whispers about how one shouldn’t drink the water have been going around. Potential other interesting upshot of this Biblical catastrophe: the only major area of new development in the UK, the Thames Gateway, is on a flood plain and after 10 years or so people are starting to ask questions about this, which is heartening, if a little ineffectual. When the first, much derided 'utopian' phase of Thamesmead was constructed around there in the 60s by the GLC, the whole complex was raised above the ground in case of such an event: a safeguard that Barratt Homes seem less likely to make.
What it all can’t help but remind me of is some recent reading, Ellis Sharp’s novel The Dump. Far from the calm urbanity of his blog, this is a gleefully putrid pile-up of waste and detritus, akin slightly to Stalker if Russian Orthodoxy was replaced with narked Trotskyism. Set in a sort of waste-camp on the outskirts of Walthamstow, ringed by impassable and invisible walls, this takes rather perverse joy in the washed up crap that we can be fairly sure is soon to be pervading all of Tewkesbury, savouring used condoms in jam jars, the encrustations of baked bean tins, the consumption of old copies of the Financial Times and the sexual possibilities of vegetables. This will, no doubt, become an increasingly familiar landscape, particularly after the riverside luxury flats have been abandoned and their denizens escaped to the hills.
See also: the Tomb on impending doom.