Goodbye, Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station + plane

There are few landmarks as iconic to Londoners as Battersea Power Station. To the rest of the world it’s all about the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, the Shard, but to those of us who call London home those four skinny chimneys are as sweet and homely as a mug of hot chocolate.

To me its emptiness offers a moment of peace in a hectic, jumbled up city. It’s tall and knowing, calm and still. Whenever I’ve been away for long periods of time, the few years I decided to decamp ‘oop north’ for example, it, more than anything else, would make me feel flushed with homesickness when I saw it on TV.

Chelsea Fringe lens thing

‘Arty’ lens thing (being idiots).


Looking like a total gimp. Again.

A few weeks ago as part of Chelsea Flower Show’s fringe festival, the strip of land in front of the old building was opened to the public for the first time in years. The art installations weren’t particularly memorable, but the chance to get closer to Battersea Power Station was. I’d never noticed the strange romance in its smashed windows, the nesting birds or the rusting coal cranes before.

Battersea Power Station coal cranes close-up

They even had grass growing on them in patches.

Ever since I’ve been dogged by sadness. This week, work is due to start on redeveloping the building (it’s really happening this time). The site’s been bought by a Malaysian consortium – made up of a palm oil plantation, a property group and the state pension fund – who will take it to pieces and start again, rebuilding it minus the decay and the birds. Instead there will be new ‘smart spaces’ – flats, offices and a gym.

Battersea Power Station coal cranes

It was inevitable that it would become something flashy one day, especially considering its fairly central position and notoriety. Of course, I’m happy it’ll be looked after, but I’d become quite attached to the building as it was. Thanks to dozens of failed redevelopments it’s been nothing other than a landmark during my lifetime. It felt like it existed for no other reason than because it was ours, the people who lived nearby, and we loved it.

Battersea Power Station

Despite developers promising a ‘cultural hub’, a community, many of the flats have already been sold to overseas investors. The building will become an international attraction, the famous chimneys part if its brand, and it won’t be ours anymore. Technically the frontage will look similar (it’s Grade II* listed), but there’ll be little of the spirit left of the landmark I loved. When I roll past on the Waterloo train, staring out of the window, there won’t be Battersea Power Station looking back at me, but Malaysian palm oil and Arab black gold.

The fear of homesickness has kept me in London since returning from those years in The North, I was scared of seeing images of the beautiful (to me) landscape and thinking what have I done? But its useless feeling attached to city like London because, no matter how long you’ve been here, it will never love you back. Not unless you’ve got an outrageous amount of cash anyway. Perhaps it’s time to move on.

Battersea Power Station, coal cranes, sunset

As you can see, bit obsessed with these coal cranes (made in Bath, by the way)


A message to you, Magnet Kitchens


You’re beautiful, inside and out – these are the words that haunt me every night as my head hits the pillow. You’re beautiful, there is no doubt/There’s no use in hiding, your potential is shine-ning. It’s not the soft words of a loved one or a comforting self-help mantra, it’s the song from the Magnet Kitchens advert.

The tune has become my cognitive screensaver – a sort of meditative version of the ever-wibbleing geometric shape. As soon as I’m not concentrating on anything in particular, there it is. Endlessly looping like an audible version of a 30 Rock GIF. It’s as though my brain’s become the crappest Tumblr feed of all time: empty accept for three sickly-sweet lines, awkwardly cropped together, running over and over and OVER.

I’ve tried counting sheep, pigs, cats and pangolins. Blasting it with everything from Wu-Tang Clan to the One Pound Fish song didn’t work either. My trump card was a blow out too: chanting the words to Ronan Keating’s Life is a Rollercoaster was no match for this titan. It just won’t budge. It’s the Rosa Parks of songs, accept, instead of sitting for justice and equality, it’s hanging around hoping I’ll buy a pastel-coloured breakfast bar.

I can forgive the youthful simplicity of the song, it was written by a 14 year old after all – Lucinda Nicholls from Perth, Austrahlya. Her and her annoying song, Inside and Out, were discovered by Magnet on that well-know source of high-quality content, YouTube. They whisked her off to Abbey Road to record a beefed-up version for their Beauty Built In campaign. “I wrote [the song] at camp when we were mountain biking” she says in her introduction, “so I had something to think about other than ow, ow, ow, ow, these bumps are hurting.” Well doesn’t that just scream KITCHEN AD at you?

What I really can’t forgive, however, is bringing it into my home four, six, 437 times a day. It may well be the Holy Grail of ditties if you’re in advertising – sweet, beige and very, very sticky (like a pudding, accept everyone hates it). It is now firmly lodged in my sub-conscious – my creative brain is a sponge for crappy jingles. Unfortunately for Mr/Mrs Magnet Advert however, I don’t need a kitchen. I have one. It’s not perfect, but it’ll do for the next 14 thousand years or so that I will probably spend renting.

Anyway, sometimes, when no one’s looking, I whisper “On. And on. And Ariston.” to myself, but I’ve never bought a washing machine from them. And now, on principle, out of sheer annoyance, I will never, ever, EVER buy anything from Magnet, no matter how cheap/pretty/life-affirming it is or how much ‘potential’ it will help me fulfil.