There once was a Man. There once was a Pier. They lived side by side. Both lived together in a quiet seaside town.
Every day the man walked past the pier. It had been a rather nice pier. Once it had been grand and shiny, splendid and uplifting. It had raised the spirits of those who viewed it. But this had been long ago; 144 years ago to be exact. Now it had seen better days.
Everything changes. A different warm sun shone on pier and beach. A different bright sea lapped both. A different breeze blew. Different sea birds flew between sea and shore. Slowly over time, much like a man when not loved and cared for, the pier had lost its splendour, had grown old and looked rather run down. Decaying, sometimes unrepaired, in places rusting, the beauty of the pier no longer shone brightly. Much like an unloved Man.
True a few viewed him with fond memories. Others scurrying about in their busy lives cared not a jot for him. Worse, a certain meanness had entered the soul of some of the townspeople. As this canker grew so did the material aspect of the town. Uncared for humanity mirrors itself in uncared for buildings.
Where once the town had inspired the heart and delighted the eye, day by day, an insularity of mind, an inability to change closed the eyes, limited the minds of some of the townspeople, even some of the town leaders.
Then, suddenly one day a terrible disaster struck. A great fire swept a portion of the pier. From near and far the townspeople rushed to save it. Much ooohing and ahhing and sighing ensued. Much wringing of hands.
Everyone had a different theory as to why the disaster had happened. Some thought “this fire was inevitable” The state of the electrics had grown old and dangerous. Others thought the cables “terminating in rusty galvanised boxes” were ticking “away to disaster”. Some speculated it could have been a deliberate act of vandalism.
Another declared “if anyone had bothered to take a cursory glance they would have noticed it was falling into disrepair with dodgy electrics that should have been replaced years ago”. Few looked into their own hearts and blamed their own collective inaction and disregard for the aged beauty of the pier. It had been someone else’s responsibility.
Once again everyone declared their love for the pier. Even the Great Leader and the Chancellor of the Land visited the wreck and declared their new found undying love.
If only, thought the Man, everyone had loved it strongly as it had grown ill and uncared for. If only the clock on the steeple had been repaired. If only all the rust had been cleaned, the wood repaired, the paint repainted with love. If only, said the Man to himself I had told the townspeople to improve the beauty of the pier. Why was I silent? Is it not the duty of a thinking human to openly voice a wrong?
We try, thought the Man inwardly to ensure everyone is kept healthy and cared for. Why do we not do so to the environment we live in? A pier is not so very different from a man. It needs constant care, maintenance and love. Memories are not enough.
It is our collective duty as a community to keep our own bodies and minds in good repair. And those of everyone in our community. So too is it our duty to keep our built environment in fine repair. Fine health and beauty of place in which to live in should be one and the same. The fire had rekindled the need for ‘beauty in our public buildings to cheer the heart and delight the eye day by day’.
As a Man needs care, health, beauty, modernising, splendour - in line with changing times - so does a pier. Nothing is forever. Not a Man. Maybe not a Pier. But while both exist, isn’t it, thought the Man, the duty of everyone to take care of both. As a wise Prince once said “Everything needs to change so that everything can remain the same.”
There once was a Man. There once was a Pier.