I never seem to be one of these people who are in the know about things. When people are going on about how amazing the new Beyonce album is, I’m listening to my ELO records. When the world is gripped watching Making a Murderer, I’ve been distracted on Netflix and am watching The Thick Of It for the millionth time. I’m never at any of the cool bars or nightclubs, I’m never one of the trendy few who just know things. This might not be a problem for most people but for an aspiring journalist it’s not ideal.
Last night, however, the winds of change hit me at full force with an acrid smoky smell. I was sitting in the emergency room of Inverclyde Royal Hospital which I would be for the next 5 hours according to the blinking sign by the doorway. The whispers spread like wildfire amongst the sick and bewildered gathered in the waiting room until I was forced outside to inspect for myself. The Larkfield Masonic Hall was ablaze right in front of me. I looked up at the windows of the ageing hospital behind me and saw curious faces watching from the safe confines of the wards.
I set off right away, feeling a need to get closer and find out what was going on, had someone started the fire? Was anyone injured?
After a short walk the whole scene came into view. Three fire trucks were already there, a tall crane raised above the building spewing water out over the flames that, by this point had engulfed the interior of the club and was still billowing 20 feet in the air above. Policemen and firefighters were in the street directing the traffic which, on this street would tend to whiz past were now crawling at a snails pace, necks craned to see what was going on. People were gathered in the streets in pyjamas and slippers watching events unfold.
The club has been a source of many events for people in the Larkfield area – weddings, christenings, funerals, even a few drinks on the weekend. It was at the epicenter of the community and closed with great sadness last November and sold early this year with plans to turn the building into a restaurant. These plans were stopped however when planning permission was denied.
As it turns out, someone was injured. Whilst fighting the blaze, an external wall collapsed on a firefighter and he was taken to hospital.
After watching for a while, I made my way home. For once I was there – right where I needed to be, able to document something and report it. I contacted a reporter from the Greenock Telegraph who accepted my photo’s and has posted them today in conjunction with his article.
This is a small step, I know that but I have learned from it. Firstly, always take my camera with me and never trust the unreliable battery life of my iPhone. Secondly, life is happening all around me, news is happening all the time. The hard part is just being in the right place at the right time.