Friday, 29 August 2008
Went back to the Heygate today. I haven't been in a month or more. Shocked to see how much more empty it is now. On the _____ Building, the majority of the flats are sealed off now. The council isn't taking any chances - any section between stairwells that is now empty has been sealed off not just by the iron plates over the windows, but metal grates over the gangway and fan-shaped spikes over the balcony.
The flats that are left seem lonely, almost absurdly isolated. In the stairwells, you hear the roar of the traffic on New Kent Road, on the roundabout, but on the estate itself, it is dead silent - you can't even hear the hum of machinery.
A curious normality reigns even here. The postman comes by, up and down the terraces, looking for the odd occupied flat. A concil worker in a yellow vast ambles down the gangway, holding a broom. A woman brings her young children out on the balcony to catch what will be ten minutes of milky sunshine.
A police helicopter buzzed the Elephant two or three times in the hour I was on the estate. The police were up in Claydon House when i got off at the train station, going up and down the gangways, stopping at one flat that wasn't covered with the plates, knocking on the door, checking the windows.