Grimly foreboding, the mess of stones and earthworks – here, neatly manicured; there, left to nature – stand or sit or have fallen (Danny Ross style) or were pushed (Bessie Braddock style); today visited; tomorrow ignored; next week upgraded; next month televised; next year reported; next decade lauded and all the time deteriorating, being degraded, the earth therein being moulded and moved, resettled trampled and augmented by various crows, crones, sheep, slugs, owls, worms and woodlice, fusspots; old women and old men young men and young women their wives and husbands and partners and children, singly and in coachloads.
The Guided Tour
Here and there stand now a redundant pillar or wall or pavement; then a doorway that was and now is no more, no door, a floor that is no longer paved but is mere grass and wet at that. Towering above in the wake of a substantial nothingness flies a tower long gone, a spire fallen, (lump of wood thought to have come from the second joist on the right in the once loud and frequented belfry) and the compulsory reading in the form of illegible gravestones (“What does this one mean daddy?”) and newer less skilled graffito telling us that Mop loved Julie in 1945.
What Is Left
The evidence is pretty substantial; the stones that formed the body of the kirk now stand in the walls of the neighbouring farmhouse and the dumpy village church (restored circa 1850 by local landowner Sir Emmanuel Crankshaft).
The Guide Book Shows…
It was like this and like that says the guide; the path shows that which was and those which were and thus which was is not now but ever was and ever more shall be so; it shows also that it might have been, were it imagined that it would have been other, that it ought to have used to have been that you could imagine if it were, that it had never or would not have been other than it is or was, now and was different then, well otherwise.
As you step in a hole made by a local rabbit or bemerd your right shoe yet again in more sheep droppings, a thought strikes. Why is this left a ruin?
So Much Potential
Look friend on this island then – (an unAuden quotation by the way); if we only see museums (musea?) as full of broken shredded and imaginary parts of spares or patterns (look how the floor of wherever is inlaid with patterns of broken old…) and those intangible too, are we not missing the point?
What To Do
Buildings should stand. Ruins should be rebuilt. Skills should be taught once again. Stone should be hewn once more and put back to make real not imaginary walls. Young people should be able to learn skills on projects that cover huge spaces on the earth.
Techniques should be learned again and not guessed at by those who don’t really know but would rather “like to try” a la Gilbert (W S not Giles and Scott surrounded). The making of the landscape took years and the destruction of that same took years. Time to make it good again. Public Buildings and Works, once a Ministry to a long lost ministry should be revived.
Rebuild now. Heritage by all means but put a roof back on. Rebuild the walls, reline and retile the floors. Reglaze the windows. Remark relearn and inwardly redigest. Invest, be positive, teach practicality, look forward to look back and then look forward to looking back.
A History Lesson
See that ruin child? Where? Infront of you! No I can’t see it. Well, good. What can you see child? I only see a monument to positivity, proud on the horizon. What then was there before child, do you know? Yes I do. Formerly, there was only unrealised potential and worse; it remained undiscovered for years and years and years.
Isn’t it time to get real? Time to stop wallowing in this dismal destruction? Time to recollect that each and every wreck or spoiled building is a testament to defeat and negativity, a monument to bad temper and resignation. Get a roof on it. Point it up with the right materials (see previous blogs). Light a fire in the fireplace and take a pride in restoration. If you must have a model on site, make it a model of how it so lay for nearly five hundred (or more, or less) years and show off the covered spaces.
Having built; use. Have exhibitions, readings, concerts, mediaeval music revivals; chamber recitals; rock recitals; dance of all kinds; massed unison singing once again; show films; also let the quiet, the covered quiet, the peaceable quiet and the cavernous emptiness promote inner calm and reflection. Let there be enough space to picture what one sees and thinks. Feed fairly and chew cheaply – but substantially withal.
Make the crafts real again; brew and distil; grow flowers fruit and vegetables; farm cattle and poultry fairly there. Keep bees and make honey. Sell swap and barter. Illuminate manuscripts again and value writing skills and fine art. What fun it might all be.
Comparison With Veteran and Vintage Cars
Ruined buildings are a disgrace. Imagine the London to Brighton car run with, instead of the restored cars, about a hundred wheelbarrows full of scrap iron wheeled along the road. How exciting, I remark. But really, would it not be better if….? Why is restoration not a national obsession?