Friday, May 18, 2007

Peel back the Layers

Peel back the Layers
Originally uploaded by pupski.
This is the old Scientific Anglian bookshop in Norwich. It used to be a fabulous second hand bookshop - the eccentric kind - wood lined with little staircases and hidden alcoves. I remember my parents taking me there on trips to Norwich when I was a kid. It fed me with a copious supply of cheap Enid Blyton books. The owner was slightly eccentric and was an active member of CND. He used to write the prices on the front cover in biro.

It is sad to see this shop all closed up and run down. there is however a mystical beauty in its cracked and peeling facade. In some ways it will be a shame when its new owners fix it up. We were talking a few weeks ago in critical studies about the current British obsession for renovating and restoring ancient buildings and monuments. I agree that it can be a good thing and that ther are some things that are too special to lose - but I feel it is a mistake to restore everything.

When I lived in Thetford one of my favourite places was Thetford Priory. It is a ruin of a priory that was destroyed by Henry the eighth. It is a beautiful ruin - especially if you go there in the early morning in spring when it is misty. It has a feeling of history about it that it would never have it was restored to its original state.

I like having some buildings around that are decaying - it reminds us that our time here is transitary and there are forcces at work in the world greater than we are...maybe that's why we are so keen on restoration - trying to immortalise ourselves somehow through preserving these ancient monumnets.

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