The Template for Public Grief

The incomparable Iain Sinclair has a new LRB essay on the aftermath in London:

They waited patiently, with plastic water and floral tributes, for their turn in the small garden of remembrance that had established itself around a tree in a fenced-off corner of the station frontage, between Euston Road and York Way. Despite the sombre aspect of the witnesses, this multi-faith shrine felt Mexican: a mass of conflicting colours, adapted football shirts, written-over flags, pink bears, white dogs. Sunlight dazzled on cellophane. The trunk of the sturdy whitebeam disappeared into a mound of banked flowers. A woman in a Red Cross uniform stood beside the tree with a Kleenex box held discreetly behind her back. At the point of entry, further boxes of two-ply tissues were stacked, ready to cope with an outpouring of confused emotion. An unnoticed accident of railway architecture, a suitable nowhere, was the sanctioned memory site, a cloister of mummified flowers.

Read the whole essay here.

I’m reminded of the fact that the first time we went down to the World Trade Center site to witness the collapsed buildings and smoking wreckage piled up stories high, there were National Guardsmen posted at Broadway and Maiden who were also equipped with boxes of tissues. We needed them, too.