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Mobile Town has been ret-conned 1 February 2013

Posted by Dr Moose in Chaplaincy, Life, Ponderings, Time, University.
Tags: , , ,

It might sound like a line from some ‘Merkin movie blockbuster, but the truth is both more simple, and perhaps, more disturbing. This is not Mobile, the US city, but something far more humble and closer to home. Located at the rear of the Uni campus is an area devoted to mobile classrooms (or Portakabins to be precise). They have been a long-standing feature, some having been there since before I arrived, others having been there maybe only 18 months. Nevertheless it’s worth remembering that 6 years is beyond memory in terms of student population…

More than a year or so back, shortly after the Chaplaincy was offered one as a supplementary prayer facility, the Powers That Be decreed that Mobiles were to be removed, allegedly because they made the site look cluttered and messy, not fitting in with the image we are trying to portray as a University. Finally a compromise was reached, in that the largest, used as spare teaching and office capacity, was to be retained, along with a couple of others that were indispensible. The rest, however, were to go.

Word duly went forth, to beware that heavy vehicles would be seen on site and that said mobiles would be dismantled in situ (read as “demolished”) in the last term of 2012. And then… nothing happened. Until about a fortnight ago, and with surprising swiftness the sites were cleared, the space empty and what appears to be a brief landscaping operation begun (read as “grass seed scattered liberally”) over their imprints.

As I walked about the campus this afternoon I was struck by a brief feeling of regret that I had not taken any photographs of what had been there before. Now the majority have gone, with a few isolated outliers remaining, awaiting their fate. I was left to wonder how long it will take for them to be forgotten and pass into folklore, a bit like trying to remember what our local supermarket used to look like before the extension and refurbishment that finished only a short while before Christmas. For all our awareness that we are creatures of time, on a one-way journey to destiny, it left me pondering quite how much we realise it.

I have no real reason to mourn this change in the University’s built environment, but when I stop to think about it thre has been an awfull large amount of similar work over the last few years.

Perhaps the biggest shock of all, as I walked back to the Chaplaincy, was when I stopped at one of the campus maps, to look, symbolically so to speak, upon the only-this-week vanished mobile units, and to find that the map had already been changed. The recently removed units were no longer present, and more chillingly perhaps, those still yet to go were also missing. In a fit of retroactive continuity not only had that that was been erased, but even that which still remained and was due for removal had already gone, excised from reality as if it had never been. Not quite stillborn, but written out of the public record, written off before death.

I wonder where else that sentiment might ring some bells…



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