They are still building my home station, Ruislip Manor. Well, not so much building as endlessly messing around outside it. The platforms have been reconstructed since work began in January 2005 but the land on both sides has become a permanent tip, festooned with Portakabins, diggers, great mounds of earth, and metal fences to keep us out. Check it out here Today I observed with some bemusement some of the builders moving benches from the spot on the ground where they had been parked for several days to a spot a little nearer to the one of the Portakabins. Funny, I thought. Either those benches are destined for a station platform or they should go back to whence they came, presumably Acme Bench Supplies Inc. Why, I pondered, are the builders moving them and not for the first time?
The answer struck like a thunderbolt (oh yeah? Ed). All this guff about rebuilding the station is just a blind. Those cabins are not temporary and the earth mounds are not just spoil-heaps. They are here to stay. The builders are moving in. No wonder they want the benches. They are going to sculpt the earth into a giant rock-garden and of an evening they will sit, each with his yellow hard hat, on the benches arranged neatly outside their new homes. The building job will never end. By day they will drive up and down in the mechanical diggers, scooping up earth here and depositing it there. By night they can retreat to their wooden cabins, light up the gas lamps and cook up something tasty on the old paraffin stove. And if they are bored then there’s bound to be something on the closed circuit TV system – there must be more than 20 cameras deployed around the station. Yes, I exaggerate not one jot. Everywhere you look there is a camera looking back. Actually none of them are wired in yet. The builders might get round to it one day, when they’ve quite finished rearranging the benches.