I was snooping and eavesdropping and generally minding my own business on Marine Parade yesterday morning until I was rudely interrupted by a contact, whom I will call Seattle Samantha. “Put this on that crappy blog you write for,” she said, thrusting a folded piece of A4 at me. “I don’t write for it; they ask me to contribute,” I said, waving the paper at her. “What bullshit: you would write on an envelope if you thought it would raise your dismal profile,” SS said. I thought again how charmless and unquiet Americans can be, as I scanned the document. “We had a few Rieslings last night and were arguing over what Emily Dickinson would be writing about if she lived in Cottesloe in 2011,” SS said. “This is a bit verbose to be Dickinson,” I said, puzzled. “You fucking moron: we ripped up Philip Larkin – did you see that shit by Martin Amis in the FT?” It was not the best time to give SS a blank look, and she reacted accordingly. “Dude, I should have remembered: you’re up shit creek without a paddle if something in a ‘paper is longer than, like, 220 words.” “At least I have an audience…” I said, but I could feel the contempt radiating from the angry woman. “Clowns always draw a crowd, you sucker! Enjoy this place before it becomes another Obs City,” SS said, as she put her bike helmet on. I looked at her lines again. I don’t really understand them, but some of the rhymes are nice.
We thought it would last our time
The sense that, towards the beach,
There would always be low-rise charms,
Where the OBH louts could climb
The bins while having a screech;
We knew there’d be false alarms
In the POST about ziggurats
And split level shopping, but some
Have always been left so far;
And when men in hard hats
And the bleak high-risers come
We can always escape in the car.
Cott is bigger than we are, just
As it will always respond
However we mess it about;
Chuck filth in the street, if you must:
The tides will be clean beyond.
– But what do we feel now? Doubt?
Or age, simply? The crowd
Is young in the Parade cafe;
Investors are screaming for more –
More boxes, more parking allowed,
“More vibrant sites,” says Day.
On the business stage, a score
Of Photoshopped grins approve
Some TPS bid that orders
Five stories here (and eight
More down the road): “Move
Your work to the marine borders.”
The minister decrees. Thanks, mate!
When you try to get near the sea
In summer . . .
It seems, just now,
To be happening so very fast;
Despite all the land left free
For the first time we feel somehow
That it isn’t going to last,
That before we snuff it, the whole
Groyne will be bricked in
Except for the pylon –
Dog box millionaires: a role
They really want to win,
But nothing for kids to climb on.
And that will be Cottesloe gone,
The pine trees, the dog beach, the lanes,
The scout hall, the playgrounds.
There’ll be books; it will linger on
The Internet; but all that remains
For us will be tilt-ups and breakdowns.
Most things are never meant.
This won’t be, most likely; but greeds
And garbage are too thick-strewn
To be swept up now, or invent
Excuses that make them all needs.
We just think it will happen, soon.