They are building luxury apartments nearby, but can they really be our new neighbors?


The ghostly figures that populate the picket fence that obscures the construction site have been enjoying the balmy weather in their two-dimensional world for months. The site, bordered on one side by the main road and on the other by the railway line, was once a cement factory. Now a deep chasm of obliteration, it is littered with diligent diggers and busy bulldozers digging into the sandy, dewy earth like termites on Mars.

They’re a pretty terrifying bunch, rocking a distinctly Stepford-woman vibe of immaculate dentistry

It seems like decades have passed since the dusty old industrial factory that once occupied the space was operational. The location also housed a car salesroom and a garden centre, businesses that moved or drifted with the tide.

On the outskirts of the village and wedged between the tight bends of transport infrastructure, it’s hard to imagine that the development will ever access the windy Nirvana depicted on billboards. But what do I know of the dark arts of real estate development, where one man’s sow’s ear is another man’s bulging silk purse?

Either way, the disused factory has been completely eradicated and the old warehouses cleared out, to be replaced, unsurprisingly, by luxury apartments. The units (and by the end of this gargantuan build there will be over 500) are apparently for rent only.

Although not allowed to buy in the fantasy world so lovingly depicted on the shiny boards, one can (for the meager monthly sum of your first-born, three strong heifers and a pair of golden-feathered pheasants) rent a slice of photoshopped action.

The Palisade represents an ambitious development of five-storey luxury apartment buildings facing glowing seas, among rosy sunsets and golden afternoons. These images are populated by glowing Perspex men, women and children, frozen in poses of everyday bliss in the yellowish light. They’re a pretty terrifying bunch, rocking a distinct Stepford-woman vibe of immaculate dentistry and well-ironed chinos.

Maybe it’s all the terrifying talk about limbo that I absorbed as a wide-eyed child at the knees of our bewildered educators, but the sight of this paralyzed world seems to carry a threat that if you screw up enough wrong in your little life, you too could be banished for eternity to a palisade as an embellished supplement, your image impaled for eternity in a glittering civic plaza.

Yes, perhaps we limbo dancers are destined to smile lovingly at a plasticized spouse on a balcony of imperishability, with a smirk plastered on our blandly acceptable faces. Our dark destiny could be forever stopped, halfway through the tendon, in a landscaped park where beautiful couples linger and sugarless children are trapped, frozen in the stilling breeze.

Could it be, indeed, that Limbo is a place of endless silence where businessmen in crisp shirts and suits, jackets casually slung over their gym-toned arms, stroll through the quicksands of the common garden?

Or maybe the big big billboard king in the sky will feature you as a special extra in the inclusive section let’s be mindful of demographics. There, two men on a balcony, one sporting a pink sweater draped casually over one tender shoulder, smile at the clouds, while, on another balcony, two women with naturally curly hair gaze out to sea. In yet another image, a single black face in a playful group of friends is caught in the asp of a determined stride.

Recently, on my way home with a small bag of fish I had bought at the harbour, I stopped to look at the shipyard and the brilliant pictures that adorn it and wondered who, in reality, would live there- down in blissful two-bedroom apartments. Who will borrow from this dream where it never rains, where there is no traffic on the road or passing rolling stock, and where order, symmetry and life-enhancing retail opportunities prevail?

Who will actually populate this fabricated world? A cohort, I suspect, of people with solid, consistent incomes, who will stick with the lifestyle as long as their working lives continue to unfold under a compliant corporate sun.

I am not ignoring my own privilege in saying all this. I have been lucky enough to have lived for the past 20 years in my own house within walking distance of the same sea. Barring some cataclysmic social change, however, my children will surely not be in their 60s returning home in staggering to their own apartments with their bags of rainbow backpack mackerel.

There will be, I fear, distinctly few who manage to live like those silent silver-spooned souls in the unknown and uncertain limbo of our future.


Comments are closed.