It’s eleven o‘clock on Friday evening. My Nokia 6100 rings. It’s Alan from Demolition Cru. “I’m outside,” he says. I walk out my front door onto Lennox Road in Walthamstow and jump into the clapped-out, blue Escort estate that he dearly loved.
“If you can get a rig up there, it’ll whack out all across London.”
“I want to try out something new,” he says. “Those old blocks in Leytonstone, where we had our studio on the top floor, I reckon we can get on the roof, but could be a bit dodge, as they have the new roof alarms fitted.”
“Wow,” I reply. “If you can get a rig up there, it’ll whack out all across London.”
We pull into the Cathall Estate in Leytonstone beneath two huge tower blocks. Dark grey, almost black, in colour and menacing looking, both are scheduled for demolition. To avoid the security hut at the front we go through a tiny gap in the fence around the back and walk into the first block, Redwood Tower, via the rear entrance.
“Fuckin’ hell, mate. Tell me the lifts are working. I ain’t walking all the way up those stairs,” I say.
“They work, but not from the ground. When we get to the second we can use them.”
“The battered lift smells like a hundred toilets.”
The block is in complete darkness. We clamber up to the second floor and jump into the battered lift. All of its panels are dented outwards from where it has been kicked about and had all sorts up and down over the years. It smells like a hundred toilets and the base of the lift is corroded from years of piss. Alan presses the button for the nineteenth floor.
The lift shudders to a halt and its doors open. We walk into the stairwell and up to the twenty-second floor. The thick metal door to the roof awaits us. Alan pulls out a key.
“This is the special ingredient,” he says.
He opens the roof door and we both hear a bleeping noise. A small LED light starts flashing red. Alan shuts the door immediately and locks it back up. “Quick! Back to the lift,” he says.
We descend to the second floor and just as we leave the lift, Alan picks his nose and leaves a big old bogey on the button for the nineteenth floor.
“What you doing, son?!” I say
“Don’t worry, you’ll see.”
We leave Redwood Tower and enter Hornbeam Tower next door. Again, we walk up to the second floor, take the lift to the nineteenth floor and then the stairwell to reach the twenty-second floor, but not before Alan has left another present on the nineteenth button of this lift too.
He pulls out his special key, opens the door and the same thing happens; the LED starts to flash and we hear a bleeping sound. As before, he pulls the door shut tight and locks it back up.
This time, we walk across the corridor and arrive in what was once our studio flat, a year or so previous. You can still see the marks from the feet of our Technics turntables on the kitchen worktop. Black bags cover the windows and the Eruption FM phone number is still stuck to the wall.
We walk out onto the balcony and look down. On the ground, what seems like a thousand miles below, we see the flashing lights of a police car pulling into the disused car park. Two Old Bill get out and walk into the block we were just in.
Alan laughs to himself. “You do realise they are going to have to press the button on the nineteenth floor in that lift don’t you?”
The penny drops. We wait for a while on the balcony smiling together. Soon, the police come out of the first block and walk into the block that we are in.
“We can hear the police perfectly. They sound nervous.”
“Come on,” Alan says. “Let’s have a listen.”
We can hear the police perfectly as they reach the twenty-second floor and stand at the metal door to the roof, literally two feet away from where we are. They sound nervous.
“Fucking hell, Jim. This is a waste of time!” one of them says. “I don’t like it up here. Even the pirates wouldn’t be up here with the state of these blocks.”
They open the roof door and go out to have a look. After a few minutes they return inside.
“See, I told you. Just like before, nothing there,” one says to the other. He gets his radio out and reports a false alarm to the station. “If these alarms go off again tonight, we won’t attend. The council need to know there is a fault with these roof alarms.”
We hear them walking back down the stairs together, so we go back over to the balcony. The coppers return to the security guard, get back in their car and drive off. We then go to the roof door and open it. Again, the light is flashing red and the alarm is bleeping, but this time, we know they are not coming back.