Where bombs fell, the awful new crept in. Ghastly concrete blocks gradually became the face of our towns-quick fixes that polluted and spread and grew like fungus. There were protests, genteel, as befits our National Character. Petitions were raised and signed, delivered and ignored by the faceless 'powers that be' who knew what was best for us...and anyway, we voted them into power.
There is another history though-it is personal-related to places less ancient, less revered. Places of memories.And one such, not old and certainly not young, but old enough to matter, that has gone for ever.
It was built in the thirties, I believe, as an Hotel, on a cliff overlooking the North Sea here in The Bay, on what was my idea of Nob Hill. This end of town was-is, where all the large houses were built. Houses with large iron gates, driveways and large gardens. The owners had servants and Chauffeurs, their children went to Private Schools and the parents owned the town, the Doctors and Lawyers, and fathers who worked in London and commuted daily, riding up to town in first class carriages in their pin-striped suits and their faces hidden from view behind The Financial Times newspaper.
The Hotel, The Miramar, was grand and off limits for me. It held Dinner Dances every Saturday with live music of the 'Palm Court' style, played by musicians decked out in white tie and tails. The clientèle resplendent in evening dress and jewels.
I know because I was there for my twenty first birthday, the first time I had ever set foot in the place.
By now its glory was starting to fade; the gilding on the ormolu ceiling was chipped, the plush on the chairs rubbed bare in places and the scarlet curtains showed dusty pink psoriasis like patches in the folds.
But for me, sitting in pride of place, looking like a plump grey mushroom in my birthday gift [a satin with tulle overlay monstrosity, bought for me by Mutti on one of her scavenger hunts into the underbelly of second-hands shops] I still felt marvellous. I had finally made it to Nob Hill. For me the lights twinkled and glittered and I reigned supreme that night. I was toasted and praised, was served first by the waiter, drank wine that went to my head in an instant, and danced, and danced as if I floated on air.
JP. took me there the following year, when I wore a strapless full-skirted dress of yellow, with tiny white polka dots. Momentous! We had met in the previous May and here it was August...Good lord! How could I have known we would still be together all these years later?
Then, as so often happens, the Miramar closed and was re-opened as a Nursing Home. But the building remained intact and, now that I live up here on what is no longer Nob Hill, I pass it each and every day. It still remained standing when an American Company bought it, pulled down two houses that had merged into the Home and built a concrete- 'luxury' building, complete [they say] with restaurant and basement swimming pool. So luxurious is it, that no-one can afford to live there, it's residents coming from far and wide, but not from here.
Then, one day last year up went the barriers of metal and wire and the demolition began.
GONEIt wasn't old, nor was it new, but it was special. Building has now begun on the second phase of 'luxury' flats for the wealthy elderly. Glass, and concrete squares and blocks. I hate it.
Thankfully it would take more than a bulldozer to erase my memories.