Cardboard Castles

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Are you king of your cardboard castle?

Castles were strong fortresses built to withstand invasion. Saxon Castles were wooden structures, mounds of earth now, grassy peaks protruding from the ground level. Still standing up as always but no longer fit for purpose.

The middle ages saw the use of stone to create strongholds were the Lords ruled the battlements. Lines of arches were arrows could be fired from, surrounded by motes and drawbridges to hinder attack.

100 years ago the First World War saw the emergence of new-style fortresses. The underground variety located within the complex network systems of the trenches. Built-in below the surface to withstand the ongoing bombardment. Little mud cabin forms, mantelpiece like structures temporarily decorated with images of loved ones.

A century on what are today’s fortresses: cardboard.

Is this an example of vagrancy? King of the cardboard city. The temporary housing villages created by the nations homeless communities. Safety and security which can be found with others in parallel situations. Warmth and shelter created from communal fires and the cardboard which houses their inhabitants. Every city has a Major, so the underworld must have a King of the Cardboard Castle?

Are cardboard castles a new concept akin to that of the ‘Plastic Gangster’. The king-style leaders of gangland armed with the plastic imitation weapons of infancy. Is it a paradox similar to the new style treble glazing which costs a fortune but claims to pay for itself through savings in fuel bills and rises in property value. The audio version, that can be downloaded, of the book you don’t have to bother reading. A falsehood, a castle which is weather consumable where protection of extreme limitation is offered.

Could the Cardboard castle be a statement for the future: Recyclable. Was the vision created to make a temporary art form, to be consumed by the public, then recycled through the ease of our green processing plants. Is the new King of the Castle to be a leading eco-warrior? Will we be lead towards a sustainable future by environmentally friendly processes?

The King of the Cardboard Castle to be the leader of the cardboard city, the plastic gangster with the falsehood of might or the modern force of the eco-warrior?

You decide….

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A Way Through Everton Brow

Skull Everton Brow colour

A way through Everton Brow is a fictional works from Alison Little, none of the events of characters are based on real life.

Approaching the entrance to Everton Park I encounter a group congregated around the steps area. In having walked up from the town, then I decided to take a short cut through Everton Park, a pleasant walk through the eighties formed geometric botanical scape of the former slum-like dwellings. The steps ahead of me, encased by artificially positioned rock structures arching in my vision. Topped with beacons of the decade, semi-sphere finished, imitation Victorian meeting eighties manufacturing of plastic vacuum forming, lolly pop lighting. Many of the semi-spheres have been broken, the closest having fallen down from the teenage revelry of what looked like the previous evening. Up the hill to the left, there is the famed Everton tower, the moss lined former sweet shop which became an iconic symbol of the multi-million pound turnover of today’s Premier League. Towards the top of the hill, the soil of the parkland has been churned up, its annual transformation into a wild flower meadow taking place. A touch of England’s green and pleasant land of the rural communities bought into the inner city green space of North Liverpool. The distant tree’s masks the vision of the back-to-back housing which crowds the brow.

Coming up from the Netherton Road, a well-known prostitution zone, to my rear is one of the cities hostels for the homeless. The group look to be from this establishment, they are slouching on the steps and one of them is swagging cider from a toxically coloured bright blue plastic bottle, spilling much of it onto the white encrusted black T Shirt he has crawled into earlier in the day.

A motley, tooth lacking, hair overgrown crew, assembled in layers of clothing which looked to pad out their malnourished forms. As my eyes twitch slightly, the late afternoon sun distorts my vision. Two globes of the street lighting become eye sockets and the encircling steps become reflected into a mouth-like arch, smiling as the brick become teeth. I see the vision of a human skull, decaying, but deliriously enthused by its demise.

I consider walking around the long way, but on my approach one of the men slides to one side to allow my passageway through the group. There is a smell of fried chips from earlier in the day, proceeds of an afternoon spent begging.

As I walk closer I notice one girl amongst the group. An army like jacket combined with sprawling matt-like lengthy black hair trailing onto the ground, sweeping the debris from a day of spoils. A bag to her side looks to be her worldly possessions, easily lost and often replaced. A year, possibly two of grown out dark, dirty-blond ended hair from a cheap home dye treatment. She sits with her hood drowning over her face, the oversized jacket ruffled into her body stretching down over the well-frayed denim of the jeans. Legs entangled awkwardly, the knee joints almost too large for her frame, her upper limbs animated motion as she speaks. I look towards her face, the skin is pale, translucent and muddy in texture, common in the appearance of a heroin addict. As I pass through the group, her arms in moving, I hear her say:

‘If you could just lend us twenty quid’

She pleads, then in begging tones, she repeats her request again. As I walk forward and up towards the top of the brow I ponder over what her life must be like, reduced to the bleak state presented to myself.

In twitching my eyes again I am confronted with a new vision. I am in Everton Park when it first opened, the grasslands newly grown, the dusty smell from the demolition work still present. The trees are young, growing being guided, nurtured into what will become strong features of this green space. The lighting is new, the semi-sphere’ all intact and there is an air of excitement and optimism for this newly formed natural breathing space allowing an escape from the urban sprawl.

The swing park is alive with children’s games, delighted by their new found play-scape. Back and throw on the swings, mothers pushing younger children, grandmas and granddads holding coats and bags. Chase games over climbing structures, up and down, rhetoric, over and under. Spinning at full speed at the roundabout encircles while the occupants cling on as it reached optimum speeds. Concrete still fresh, neatly finished off with a waist height fence in line with the latest trends.

Outside of the fenced area, we have several dog walkers, one Staff is off its lead, squatting down. The owner blasé, no need to pick up, poop bags and scoops a thing of the future. Just left to rot as nature intended, a child standing in it simply wiping their shoe on the verge, no fuss, commonplace.

A mother is pushing a young girl in a buggy. The mother sports a purple dot dye blouse, no collar, large baggy sleeves cuffed inwards. A knee length skirt gathers volume in tiers, the purple mix of dyes finished off with a tie cord fitting. Her large curls flow in the wind as she pushes the buggy, a navy and grey MacClaren stroller, four wheels and the hood up to protect from the sun. The bottom compartment packed full of what they might need for the day, wet wipes and a well planned packed picnic lunch in addition to a few carefully selected outdoor toys.

Content in her push chair the daughter is happy for her mother to guide her, taking care not to hit any larger stones. Hair neatly combed into bunches, a glossy full fringe finished off with plastic animal clips. Her top is light green, wasted but with a short skirt built in. Micky and Mini mouse are in discussion on the front of the top. The girl pulls up her blanket, it scrunches around her and her sun hat seems to fall forward, she suddenly seems morphed by the buggy, then I hear her say:

‘Mum, can I have £2?’

I see before me the girl in the camouflage jacket thirty years ago. I see her when she was innocent and pure, unspoilt by the evils of life.

Reflecting on her upbringing, loving and good, decent and playful. I wonder again what had happened to her, where had it all gone wrong?

Walking towards the exit near the brow the strange eye twitching sensation happens again. I am now in a terraced street, the road ascending steeply ahead. To my right, the houses back onto the pavement, gated containing small yard area’s and possibly even outside toilets. To my left, there is a row of terraces front on with steps leading up the main doors. Only a few cars, one is parked up not far ahead, it is racing green in colour with a long stretched bonnet and a soft top, as it glistens in the sun I identify it as a Ford Thunderbird. I contemplate what its owner was doing parking a classic car of such high value in these dwellings and how it was in such good condition?

As I ascend further up the hill I pass two women chatting, both are wearing dark coats and head scarf’s, one has a loaf of bread under her arm, brown bagged and looking to be purchased from a traditional baker. I gaze over the new location and further up the street I see a woman sitting on her front step, she has a can of cider in one hand, to the far side of her, there is a baby in a well used Moses basket. As the baby cries out she shakes the basket and spits out ‘Shush’. Hardly more than a teenager herself she devours the can of cider. I hear a radio playing:

New release…..Sargent Pepper…….the Beetles.

Now I know where I am, it’s 1967, the Summer of Love, I am in Everton Park before all the demolition work and the housing schemes made way for the park. I look towards the baby, she was dirty from her mother’s lack of care, she tries to wipe her face clean with her hands having given up on crying due to lack of response. A purple dotted cardigan has been clambered into her, in need of a wash but still nice in appearance, it looks to have been a gift. A man staggers towards the group, leering as he sways, the Mother appeared to know him:

‘Lend me a few bob will ya?’ she slurs, ‘I need to get stuff in for the baby!’

Her honourable intentions being clearly unconvincing, her feet littered with crushed cans of cider from earlier in the day. I realise who the group are, the baby is the mother who was pushing the pram earlier and her mother would be the original girl’s grandmother.

My mind questions the trilogy, an alcoholic mother, a child who grows up to be respectable, tried to raise her own daughter well, her child growing up to be a heroin addict. A gene pool skipping a generation laid dormant waiting to strike again. Environment and upbringing cast aside, genetics have re-surfaced in the form of a truly destructive lifestyle.

A brow well travelled.