When I was a kid I often used to cycle into Dublin.
Sometimes I would leave the bike at the top of Grafton Street [with a compulsory visit to Geary's to see if I could afford an Airfix kit] and then wander around the city, maybe dropping into the Natural History Museum or a visit to the Grafton News and Cartoon Cinema.
Most times I would end up wandering along the quays.
I loved the quays. I would spend hours watching them load gigantic canisters of Guinness onto the ships, or further down, I'd watch the cranes drop their enormous grabs into the holds of the coal boats, and then drop the load onto a waiting lorry which would then trundle across to the other side of the road and tip the coal into the Gasworks hoppers. Everything was covered in coal dust so everything [including myself] would end up pitch black. There was always a strong smell, either of roasting hops from the brewery up-river or of tar, coal smoke and gas. Beautiful. It was a place that was alive, like the beating heart of the city pumping exports out to exotic foreign lands while sucking in fresh imports from God knows where.
It's all dead now.
haven't been into the city in donkey's years and have no desire to ever visit again. It has changed beyond all recognition and streets that looked like they had been laid by the original Vikings have disappeared altogether under great glass monuments to commercialism. The old cobbled streets have given way to cycle lanes and pedestrianised plazas. I just did a quick virtual trip, courtesy of Google Earth and the quays are unrecognisable. It is a completely foreign place and not one I would ever like to visit. It could be any city on Earth.
I see they are naming my old stomping ground. It used to be just known as "The Quays", but now apparently it's Sobo! Who the fuck came up with that name? Are they trying to imitate Soho? It just sounds like it's named after a sober hobo, which surely is an oxymoron?
I had a look at their site. It's full of glossy images of dead office blocks and deader apartment blocks. According to their images it is to be filled with people lounging around looking lost, cycling bikes or drinking coffee out of cardboard cups. Apparently it's a place with "a history of connecting people and inspiring creativity". Bollox. It has a history of hard work and good honest to God industry with not an office in sight. They give passing mention to the ironworks, the gasworks and the distillery but then go on to include U2 as part of its noble past. U2? What did they ever produce except crap music?
The future is bright, apparently. It's going to be filled with a day long buzz [presumably from the mobile phones as people lounge around outside the coffee palaces?]. People are going to be impressed by its "contemporary edge" whatever the fuck that is. It's going to be inspirational and chic! If its brochure is anything to go by it's going to be full of ad-speak bullshit.
I know things have to move on, but it's sad to see yet another chunk of history vanishing under a mass of glass and chrome. Where once people built up an honest sweat earning an honest wage there will just be people just pushing numbers around their laptops or their huge computer flatscreens.
They only time they'll work up a sweat is in the gymnasium.
Doubtless there will be a few of them too, in between all the coffee places.