Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Things Fall Apart

I’m shamelessly borrowing the title of Chinua Achebe’s classic novel because it so aptly describes the way I’ve been feeling recently. This isn’t about relationships and your role in the community disintegrating. Rather, it’s about how recently I’ve been very aware of how fragile the human world is.

I’ve just finished The Day of the Triffids, in which nature quickly swallows up mankind’s infrastructure following the blinding of much of the human race. This idea is mirrored on a smaller scale in our flat, which is falling apart. We have leaks, problems with the water mains, power cuts, tiles that keep coming up, cupboard doors that keep falling off, phones that won’t be fixed no matter how much I tinker, toys that break, buttons falling off dresses, alarming gaping holes in the groin area of jeans (mine, so don’t get too excited) and countless other little niggles.

I’ve been spending a lot of my time running around after lots of the little things, but I’ve discovered owning a toolkit doesn’t automatically turn you into a handyman. I’m considering experimenting to see how quickly things would fall apart if I stopped my ham-fisted maintenance attempts. I wonder if Nats will accept me sitting very still on the sofa for a week to see if vines start to grow up my legs. Probably not, since she has roped me into doing this Insanity fitness programme, which has also made me understand how frail the body is. Quite frankly, a daily diet of push-ups, suicide jumps and jacks is making me feel older than my 41 years rather than turning back the clock.

Anyway, the point of this waffle is to share some links to pictures of abandoned cities and urban areas, which I came across while researching my current novel.

Weburbanist has stunning pictures of places such as the Kowloon Walled City outside Hong Kong, Oradour Sur-Glane in France and Kolmanskop in Namibia, where sand has filled up derelict buildings. Some of these towns would make fantastic settings for novels, so I’m bookmarking them all.

The same site also has images of derelict water parks, brain research facilities and psychiatric hospitals.

Derelict London has some great shots, including of Old Ford, which I am using as a location in the book I'm writing now. I need to get there for a visit to see if it is still there next to the high-end flats overlooking the River Lea.

Thanks to Gav and Perry for pointing out Shit London and Abandoned Scotland. The abandoned Arrochar Torpedo Testing Station is ideal for a location in the follow-up to Apocalypse Cow that is currently percolating in my mind.

This essay on 'ruin porn' delves into why we find these places so fascinating, and is illustrated with some great examples.

And finally, Abandoned America has more images from Matthew Christopher, who took some of the shots in the article above.

I’ve never placed too much value in objects, instead valuing experiences, and for me these images just reinforce that perception. Everything falls apart in the end.

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