Sunday, February 15, 2009


#46, Lynch & Sons, Dublin

The hand-painted pub sign in Ireland is a vanishing art. The more I've watched Dublin succumb over the last ten years to the bumper crop of ghastly cheap shop fronts of convenience stores like Spar and Centra (sobering evidence here), the more old hand-painted signs like this feel like an endangered species. These derelict buildings linger sometimes for years between demolition and preservation, and that's when people like me sweep in with the cameras or wander the grounds with simple curiosity, admiring what remains and wondering what will become of the old buildings we admire.

A few years ago, a friend of mine and fellow lover of dereliction printed up for me an article by architecture critic Hugh Pearman article (from the excellent Gabion site) that has since become a kind of private manifesto. The piece is called "Not building: the lure of desolation". It describes a very personal way of reacting to changes in the built environment. For me, it's right up there with Pessoa and Borges for meditative bedside reading. A brief excerpt:
Like an ending love affair or the maturing of a loved child, dereliction contains both loss and hope. What has happened - known, and perhaps lamented - is offset by what is to happen, which may be worse but which might just possibly be good. The frozen moment between two states of activity is, for me, supremely poignant. Because - anywhere that land has a value - it will not be allowed to remain in this state. It is inevitable, even desirable, that a new use should be found for it, whether it is an abandoned brownstone, a derelict railhead where the birches shoulder through the ballast, or a wharfside where ships no longer dock and weeds sprout among the cranes. Except in extreme cases, these are assets with investment potential or civic value. So be it - but I wish it were not always so.
You can read the rest here.

And yes, after weeks of accumulated numbers (many of which contain seven), here it is at long last: the first official ampersand of the collection. Lovely ligatures, aren't they?


Anonymous said...

Internet fame! Wait until I tell The Mother!

I'm having a hard time placing Lynch & Sons, though- a clue? Newmarket? How well do I know Dublin indeed...

Remind me to dig out that great bit from 'The Glass Bead Game' when I'm next in the attic- it goes well with a line from the Pearman in a way I hadn't previously noticed.

(I surface for ampersands.)

Therese Cox said...

OK, now I'm curious. What's "The Glass Bead Game" and should I have it on my shelf?

Good guess on the location, but you'll have to keep hunting. It's not Newmarket, but it is Dublin 8. More clues available on request. But happy ampersand hunting until then.

Anonymous said...

Herman Hesse's 'Das Glasperlenspiel'- a futuristic bildungsroman about a member of an intellectual elite class... Actually, 'futuristic' probably isn't the right word- it's *set* in the future, but technological advances seem to have stopped with the radio!

The game in question is allegedly based on Go, but not in any meaningful sense- I suspect Hesse saw it being played, and fantasised about its rules, application, purpose, etc., and then just used it as a device for the book.

Should you have it on your shelf? You should get a Go board first...

I'll report back from D8 anon.