Wednesday, 8 September 2010


We start to enjoy wrecking things at a very early age. We are taught to.

Toddlers, babies even, are shown how to build the bricks high then knock them down. On the beach, we demolish someone else's sandcastle and then we watch in fascination as the sea destroys our own. Later we build towers of playing cards or matchsticks and then ruin them. Older children delight in throwing stones to break the windows in disused properties.

At school we discovered that tubular metal chairs could be balanced upside down in the pen groove on the top of desks. After arranging 35 such feats of balance and then nudging the corner one, the resulting noise was like a bomb explosion and on the first few occasions at least, brought the teachers running down from the staffroom.

In my day, all the fun of the fair would include a broken crockery stall where we could throw wooden balls to break plates, saucers and so on. Nowadays there are piles of cans to knock down instead.

How many of us have watched films like 'Towering Inferno' or wartime films of the reality and been irresistibly drawn to the sight of the blazing or collapsing buildings? When a large chimney is to be blown up with explosives, huge crowds gather to watch.

Perhaps the ultimate example of this phenomenon are the domino trails which are painstakingly built with each domino the exact gap between the one before and the one after followed by the short-lived pleasure of the knockdown which is eclipsed by the time taken to set it all up.

However, do not think that I am disturbed by the pleasure we seem to take from destruction. On the contrary, I think that in many cases, it is just a prelude to the joy of creation. After all, as they say, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.

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