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BARBICAN LIFE


Afterthoughts


24 hours in the life of a Car Park Attendant(s) – Kevin Kiernan’s imagination of the thoughts of two of our CPAs as they get through their respective shifts.


Kevin Kiernan


12am Almost halfway through my shift. It starts at 7pm, ends at 7am. These early hours we call the dog watch , although you don’t see many dogs, plenty of foxes though. Odd that the Estate Office doesn’t ban them, as they have done (almost successfully) with pets.


I wasn’t always a CPA of course. I used to be a tower crane operator. An ideal job if you enjoy your own company -- a curmudgeon is the technical term I think, which my boss often used about me. Must look that word up, sounds important. Rhymes with surgeon, which can’t be bad. Tower crane operating is no place for a weak bladder. And that was my downfall so as to speak. So the next best thing is to be cooped up in a small room at ground level with ensuite facilities. Not so people-proof of course, sadly. 2am Phone rings. Someone reporting high jinks on the Lawn. Gives me a chance to stretch my legs and be irascible. 4am Apparently the most common time for health issues to arise, so I am on the alert. I may need to guide ambulances in. Ambulance drivers tend to over-use GPS. For example if you punch in the post code for Mountjoy, the computer guides you to Monkwell Square – a dead end. Perhaps the California tech boys are having a quiet joke at our expense.


As a crane operator I had to be expert at first aid or ‘first person aid’ as you chiefly had to apply it to yourself. There being little time for others to reach you. The Haemlich manoeuvre (sharp blows to the abdomen) can be tricky when you are choking to death, but the Kiss of Life (self applied) is almost impossible. 5am The city ‘movers and shakers’ start to exit the car park for the compulsory early start for high achievers. They’re the ones who get the fine wine delivered. Of course I don’t expect a tip at Xmas but a bottle of Asda Spumante was a little hard to take, when a lesser


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growth Margaux wouldn’t be missed from their baggage store ‘cellars’. 7am Shift change time. My colleague,’ Sigmund’, is late but we do try to be flexible. 7.05am I wave goodbye to Crane man. As the rest of us CPAs say, in his former job he used to look down on everyone and he hasn’t stopped since. 9.00am The delivery vans start to arrive. I do enjoy my job. Take parcels, for example – such romantic names - ‘Amazon’, ‘Lakeland’ - I like running my little Post Office but I dread getting flowers as I am expected to water them until they are collected. I over-watered a cactus once. Never heard the end of it. Cacti and prickly customers seem to attract. Must be Crane man’s favourite plant, come to think of it!


Of course shopping on line has changed the job. I like teasing the supermarket delivery drivers.


My


favourite line ‘nice to see horses involved in the deliveries again‘. 11am I do a bit of watering the flowers outside the hut. Nice to brighten up the concrete – (don’t tell English Heritage!). I am thinking of buying a gnome. 2pm I do enjoy a drop of telly. My only wish is that residents had the same TV taste as me because, if they did, they wouldn’t pop around to collect their parcels just as I am watching the wrestling. However one must suffer.


I


know that watching telly isn’t our job but given that we do do it, some consideration should be given to not being interrupted at key moments. 5pm Of course, you get the residents who won’t even wait for the end of a wrestling round to pick up their parcels. One person insisted on immediate service and their parcel was a 1000 piece jigsaw – clearly time on their hands if you ask me.


Of course not everyone’s in a hurry and some pop in for a longer chat. To be frank, cheerful as I am, there are only some many conversations I can have about the dreaded Garchey, so I do a bit


of psychoanalysis on the side. I picked up a bit on Freud and the later Jungian school from Channel 5. But Erich Fromm, the non-Freudian has some interesting theories which Reader’s Digest covered in their ‘Nuts in May’ special. Being a car park attendant brings a fresh perspective to the Vienna school, I like to think. I take appointments between Countdown and the Weakest Link. 6.30pm Roll on the end of the shift, I want to get off sharpish, as I don’t want to miss Emmerdale. 7.05pm I am a couple of minutes late – just to make the point to ’Sigmund’. Some say I am a little petty and pedantic, but i like to think I am pleasantly pernickety.


I rearrange the desk so it’s just like a crane control console. It’s important to have method and order. 9.00pm The roar of Porsches can be heard in the distance. The city boys start drifting back. I sometimes like lowering the barrier just when they are least expecting it. You get good at controls when you are a crane driver. 11.55pm Almost half way through my shift. An ungodly hour – (funny to think that God just works the day shift). In my quieter moments I always wondered why the Barbican Architects did not design the CPA huts as well. It seems a strange omission. These huts certainly don’t add to the visual appeal of the surrounding Brutalism. Still not being made of concrete might be an advantage if the Blocks continue to crumble. A few years on the huts might be the only thing left standing. The Barbican site was originally a very large car park, after the Luftwaffe decided to do a bit of radical landscaping that is. And so it might will return to that state. That’s when the CPA huts will return to their own.


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