I’ve been full of words about Whitchurch for years and recently I have spouted many words in celebration of its replacement.
Today I find I have no words.
I’ll leave it to Shona, narrator of ‘Word on the Street’:
“The lamppost opposite flickered, lethargic, and beyond the rooftops the copper dome of the Whitchurch hospital water tower burnt a hole in the darkness. Wherever you go in Cardiff, the water tower is there; it doesn’t seem to matter which way you’re facing – and you can be up on a hill looking down or walking along the road looking up – there it is. Leering, dominating the skyline, you can’t touch me, I’m listed. I used to collect pretentious phrases from the television and radio, and I remember some cheesy-grinned gardening presenter talking about ‘borrowed landscapes,’ which really just meant looking at something that isn’t yours. Your neighbour might have a nice tree, for example, which you can see from your decking. The cheesy gardener went so far as to suggest you made an interestingly-shaped hole in your fence in order to borrow a view. But you don’t need to go to any such lengths to include the water tower. You could blow it up and, when the dust settled, it would have rearranged itself and be standing gormless and all the more indestructible for its ordeal. I don’t know where I got the idea from, that the water tower was where they burnt the suicides. Maybe it was an early playground myth. I imagined a trolley going round the wards, collecting the bodies of people who hadn’t been able to face another day, and using them to stoke an everlasting furnace in the tower. At the bottom there was (I imagined) a pile of bones and ashes, and at the top the fumes produced by the boiling blood of people fed on mind-altering substances. Apparently, the purpose of a water tower is to create pressure in the taps.”