Nody Orc lies… Let us conduct a search… Nody Orc lies in a corridor, no green belt marks the girth but the corridor is natural; a natural corridor – of traffic. North 51 degrees 22 minutes, west zero degrees six minutes. See here, on the display, I’ve marked it for you. Convenient for the town’s commuters but mainly a town of convenience. A privy place; a service provider for the M25.
Notice how Nody Orc sits squat, sprawling onto his neighbours. Surrounded. The riots of rumours still waft but the tinkles of truth still linger. An eighties prosperity flushed away, a potential city status that Nody Orc rinsed his hands of. Heydays to no paydays.
Now, watch if I just click on here… and change to satellite. See, pavements paved with gum. The streets lined not with gold, but with concrete; slabs of cement and sand, concrete cubes that contoured the sixties. If I just rotate us round, we have Electric House and Lunar House. Now, don’t be fooled by their names, these buildings will not house, they will not light up Nody Orc’s skyline, the only brightness they provide is in their names. See outside the buildings, the steady current of people, its flow charged with requests for permission to stay, citizenship and asylum, but inside the people will wait, they will become static, powerless. Some, they have fled, they have come to Nody Orc, they seek work, but there is no work, there is nothing for them here.
Lets us navigate along George Street. A couple of clicks and we can follow the tram track right… right to the centre. Ahh, motion blur, we have a tram blurred by motion, a wonderful example, see how its image is smeared. It’s all down to shutter speed. Difficult to rectify, once the image is smeared. Travellers in transit, route number three bound for Wimbledon. Now, If I… pan round. Restaurants, banks, salons and shops, you notice. A fleet of shops you say. Turtles, Game, JJB Sports, Pumpkin Patch… you argue. Come now, look closer; empty, ‘to let’, empty, charity shop, ‘for sale’, empty.
Look, Allders, the departmental store, once a flag ship of Nody Orc. Like a ship marooned, she moans and creaks on the crest of the high street, her hatches battened down, her bridge unmanned, her stack of white decks go unwashed. But still her flag pole stretches up like a ship’s mast to a navy sky. But her flag does not flurry, no wind to slap at it, to fill it, to billow like a sail. Spray tags her hull. A small wave of people flank her bow, they drift by like flotsam and jetsam on the tide. Allders; flagship to shipwreck, another knot in Nody Orc.
Another click… and we’ll zoom in… a fraction more. See him? Ahh, the Town Crier and his dog, you say? No… silent crier – perhaps? The Keeper you surmise? Keeper – perhaps. But he is keyless, faceless, nameless, homeless… look, look closer, see what he carries? He is the Keeper of The Big Issue, sold out by Nody Orc, the town with even bigger issues. Nody Orc presents him with a title, several titles; ‘Big Issue Man’, ‘Man with Dog’ and occasionally, very occasionally, ‘Big Issue Man with Dog’.
Watch them; man and dog at portside, perched in the doorway, a party goer’s pee marks their territory. Did you see that? Movement. It was as if they just moved… as if Man with Dog just nudged forward… forward to relieve themselves of yesterday smells that loiter, that linger in their doorway? Just a flick, just a flicker of the screen; a flickereen. See the canvas sign that hangs heavy like a hangover, its letters slurred. Can you read it? C… L… O… S… Ahh ‘Closing down’ it reads.
Man and dog, they sit, still, waiting for change. Frozen, bereft of sound, gagged of speech. They wait for Nody Orc; Keeper of Keys to open ‘The Gateway’ to Westfield; to regenerate, to focus and to restore their 2020 Vision. They wait for change.
‘Change, got any change mate?’
Inspired by Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood; ‘Nody Orc’ is Croydon spelt backwards.