Sunday, 6 January 2008

Travelogue II: Recycle Park

I'd just been sacked from my job with the Movers and I found myself drifting aimlessly around. I'd leave home early in the morning so that none of the neighbours would realise I'd lost my job and spend the day wandering around the neighbourhood, finding new places to visit and while away the hours while I tried to work out what to do next. Of course, I picked up a job as an insurance agent not long after that, but in those few weeks in the middle, I stumbled across Recycle Park.

From a distance the park looks like any other I've been too: the edges delimited with box-hedges and railings in places, gates at several entrance around the edges, and signs just inside the gates to tell you something of the history of the park. There are lots of trees at the main entrance to Recycle Park, mostly sycamores and beeches, with a couple of stands of Silver Birch a little way in. In summer it looks verdant and wonderful; in winter I bet it looks bleak and isolated.

I didn't bother to read the signs in the park at first, I just wandered around. Then I came across the children's play area, and paused for a moment. The play area was a roughly oval open space, with bushes and shrubs thickly lining most of it, and a single tarmac path winding through. It was clear that the intent was that anyone visiting the area or leaving it would have to use the path. The ground was covering in soft wood chips, favoured for play areas these days. Out of that rose a white climbing frame, but the frame was constructed out of large, curved beams that were shaped like bones. Where the bones weren't long enough, two were articulated together, with what could be mistaken for tendons of some kind.

The roundabout was similarly organic looking; the swings looked for all the world as though they were suspended from long strings of muscle, again from a bone supporting frame. Everywhere I looked, the play area looked surprisingly organic.

After the play area I started noticing other oddities. The park benches were all metal, but when I looked closer, they appeared to have been made by compressing beer cans. The bandstand appeared to be constructed from compressed stacks of cardboard, and the roof was insulated with what looked like shredded carrier bags. The name of the park started to take on a new resonance.

Back at the park entrance, I found my suspicions were correct. The signs informed me that the park had been built on top of a landfill site using mostly items found in the landfill, from bones from a previous era when a slaughterhouse had stood here, to non-obviously toxic non-biodegradable waste such as carrier bags.

I didn't go back to the park again, but I did go home and shower for nearly an hour until I felt I'd manage to wash the taint of the place off my skin.

No comments: