Potts Point Redevelopment (1871 fixer upper) – Sarah Attfield

Only takes minutes for history to be bulldozed
plenty of those minutes have been found in this city
Who wants grand houses, relics of a wished they were gentry anyway?
glass and concrete doesn’t need stonemasons, artisans, chimney sweeps

Lots of land there, lots of money

It’s confusing here, I can’t just stroll around on a self-guided historical tour
enjoying the ahhs and the wows of this period architecture, and that period feature

Jack Mundey, builders’ labourer hero saving homes only ever built for the rich
Not built for him, not for the labourers carrying the bricks,
not for the workers in white overalls plastering the walls, painting the ceiling roses
picking out the detail – wildflowers, jagged edges of waratah, soft curl of kangaroo paw
Not for them

But there’s something about these places
I can hear the voices of the maids, the cooks, the gardeners
young girls cleaning the grates, sharing a room in the attic
Gracie! Did you get a peek at the new boy? He’s got a twinkle in his eye!

Did they look out across the bay and dream of a future of glass and concrete?
Maybe Jack wants to save it for them?

All these structures are reminders of who has what
But when they built these houses the touch of the workers was there
reminding the lady or the man of the house
that working hands laid the floorboards, hands polished carefully
hands could feel the life of the timber, the stories in the grain
Can you smell the forest Tom? See the branches in the knots?

Even when these houses become offices with clichéd photos of the city skyline
and daily positive affirmation calendars, the fingerprint of the worker is there

Not so much in the glass and concrete
How can you feel the touch of a hand in concrete poured from a truck?
Not much space for the workers’ love, breath

Still, walking here reminds me of who doesn’t have a view,
who doesn’t live on these hills

But I’m with Jack – we need these bricks, we need this history
The buildings are the workers
the workers are the city