Monday, 2 August 2010

Two kinds of beauty

Two black steam cranes guarded the mouth of the Wandle, square and ugly, covered in sheets of flimsy metal, and they had iron wheels which ran on iron rails. These machines it was that loaded the barges with rubbish, scratching patiently every day into mountains of garbage that were always replenished, never diminishing. Scattered lorries waited to go scouring across Wandsworth in search of more waste; huge tipper trucks and skip-carriers stood idle between piles of discarded stoves and gutted refrigerators. Far off, between the Wandle and Wandsworth Bridge, was a mile of undulating mud-coloured barrenness, relieved only by the blobs of white which were seagulls, big as swans, tearing at offal with beaks like baling hooks.
    Knocker shivered at the awesome beauty of it. 'Strike a light,' he said, 'what a place.'
The Borribles (1976), p. 100

Then the lid of the box opened completely and a thousand banknotes detonated into gaudy streamers and fastened themselves onto this great spinning wall of sewage that turned and turned and drew everything irresistibly towards it. And the paper money shone in all bright colours: green and orange, violet and yellow, amber and pale blue; and the whole whirlwind was festooned with it and so were the bodies of Flinthead and Spiff. It was beautiful.
The Borribles Go for Broke (1981), pp. 198–99

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