Thursday, 18 December 2008

What we choose to see

I took this photograph yesterday. It is a collection of round, concrete, water towers on the QMC side of Abbey Street in Old Lenton. Just beyond is where the road crosses the River Leen as it follows the line of old Nottingham Canal. The towers have been here since the late-1970s — all the time that Susan and I have lived in Lenton.

I pass them regularly, but I rarely notice them. I simply choose not to see them. I screen them out — not because I think them ugly. Quite the opposite in fact. I like them. I would be sad to see them go, so I have decided to contact English Heritage to see if they can be listed. I think they deserve to be protected.

It set me thinking about what else I choose not to see. Instead of presenting you with a list, I would like you to consider how you change the look of your own physical environment by choosing not to see a building or, perhaps, some neglected corner of your community. OK. One example of what I mean. I have just lodged my fourth complaint with Nottingham City Council about some commercial rubbish bins which stay in Church Street all the time. Other people notice them too, but most people don’t actually ignore them — what they choose to do is not to see them. This way they save themselves the hassle of feeling cross about the fact that they have to walk past rubbish every day because the person responsible for is too damn lazy to take them off Church Street.

It’s akin to the ‘elephant in the room’ syndrome. The good news is that I was prompted to remember the water towers because I was having a meeting with Alex and Steph at the Forum to talk about ‘local identity’ and related issues. Since that meeting this morning my thoughts have moved on, because Fiona, also a Forum worker, came in and started talking about a shared interest — the future of the Lenton high-rise flats. Mulling over the conversation that followed, I am quite excited about what we could do to raise Lenton’s profile among local students and the wider Nottingham community. More about this after Christmas. In the meantime enjoy a view of Lenton I have never seen on a postcard or on Flickr.

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush has, according to his family, suffered a broken arm and other severe injuries after he was dragged away struggling and screaming by Iraqi security officers and US secret service agents. They say he is in hospital in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad. Zaidi and was brought before a judge on Tuesday and admitted "aggression against a president," a crime that could carry a 15-year sentence. More than 1,000 lawyers have offered to defend him and students in Fallujah showed their support for Zaidi by raising their shoes and throwing rocks at American soldiers, who reportedly opened fire above the crowd and, according to eyewitnesses, wounded one student.

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