THE NEWSDESK: The Big Bang theory: we just love a demolition

Demolition of the Capitol car park and old bus station in Newport City centre. (3377496)

The aurora borealis, or northern lights, fill the sky early Sunday, March 17, 2013, above the Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox church in Kenai, Alaska. The bright display at times filled the sky. (AP Photo/M. Scott Moon). (63318)

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I’M SO old, I remember going to gigs without people holding up mobile phones above their heads to video the acts.

I’m so old, I thank my lucky stars that my youthful misdeeds came before the era when everyone had a camera phone to record them.

I’m so old I grew up in an era when my friends didn’t publish different “selfies” every day.

The past is another country. They did things which weren’t on social media there.

That said, if a city landmark like the Capitol car park was being demolished with explosives, I am sure that pre-internet, pre-mobile phone crowds would have still turned out.

There is something primal about watching something so big being reduced to rubble so quickly.

All the talk we hear of most people not liking change simply does not apply to knocking stuff down. We love it.

Think crowds in Las Vegas for hotel demolitions, the knocking down of tenement blocks in Scotland.

I’m not surprised that around 2,000 people gathered to watch it.

Oh how we all envy the teenager who got to press the button to detonate the Capitol car park explosives.

There was even some talk on Twitter about “Big Bang” T-shirts.

Hmm. “I went to the Capitol car park demolition, and all I got was this lousy T shirt...”

Unlike the loss of the Chartist Mural, I doubt many people in Newport will mourn the passing of the Capitol car park.

It was an ugly eyesore, a reminder of the sort of brutalist architecture which might have looked cool on Get Carter! for a few minutes, but didn’t look quite so cool at the end of your street for decades.

Grey, reminiscent of the worst of the Eastern Bloc, what quite a few people have dubbed “a blot on the landscape” this week.

Let’s hope its demolition can clear the way for the start of better things in our city centre.

I saw a tweet from Re: Newport which sums it up nicely: “Things to demolish: 1. Car park. 2. Preconceptions about Newport.”

I hope a few of them are now lying in the rubble where the car park used to stand.

But I fear there are preconceptions about this city which won’t be shifted by a few pounds of explosives.

Some of them are so ingrained, so deeply-held they will have to be chiselled out individually.

Still – it’s a start.

Yearning to see Northern Lights

THERE'S also something primal about the desire to see nature's wonders - and last week, I had a deep need to experience the Aurora Borealis.

There was a chance that unusual space weather meant they could be seen as far south as Gwent last week.

Sadly, I saw no aurora in person. But I was enchanted by Liz Bonnin's reports on BBC 2's Stargazing Live from Norway in which the footage of the aurora was stunning.

It was an example of what the BBC does best - and even made me forget the strange ramblings of Dara O'Briain and eternal, worrying, toothy smile of Professor Brian Cox, always ready to tell us the universe will end. Don't forget it.

Ah well. Time to research that trip to Tromso.

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