This is the view from my studio* window. I love it.
That big blue gasometer has been part of my skyline for very nearly 25 years. I think it’s beautiful, in a rugged, industrial way. But the gasometer has been decommissioned. It’s being dismantled. You can guess what’s going to replace it – luxury apartment blocks with a smattering of so-called affordable housing, retail space, a ‘vibrant community’. Behind the gasometer you can see one of the chimneys of Battersea Power Station, another landmark close to my heart. In all the time I’ve lived here, the Power Station has stood empty, slowly, criminally crumbling. Now at last the site is being developed. The chimneys, no longer sound, are being painstakingly disassembled. New chimneys will be built using the same materials and methods to replicate the originals. I’m glad that Battersea Power Station is being preserved, restored in some measure. But I’m uneasy about its new function – a vast shopping/leisure/office complex – and even more uneasy about the surrounding explosion of luxury apartments. My neighbourhood is changing. A bespoke dog grooming service has opened just along the road. New 4 bed townhouses have gone up, a snip at just under two million pounds (you’ll get 50 quid change from that). I’ve always liked Battersea’s edge, its slightly shabby side, its radical history. I know I’m lucky to live where I do. I know too that this is part of London’s story – constant change, areas falling in and out fashion, in and out of prosperity. Suddenly this is happening on my doorstep. Those London plane trees just outside my window weren’t there when I moved in. They were planted several years later, once the covered car park that used to connect my block to the one opposite was demolished. Now I hear birdsong as well as traffic and planes flying into Heathrow. And I still can’t quite believe I’ve lived here for a quarter of a century, longer than I lived in my home town of Melbourne. I’ll post another photo of the gasometer below, in all its glory a few weeks ago during our prolonged Indian summer. I’m going to miss it. Though, if I look the other way out of my window, there’s a handsome red brick railway bridge and a tiled archway underneath, where youths loiter and dodgy deals are done, I imagine. I can’t see that view changing any time soon.
*By ‘studio’, I mean the room where I have two big desks and my computer. It’s a second bedroom used as a study. But, pretentiously, I like to refer to it as my studio. Gawd ‘elp me.