Sunday, 5 January 2014

Bath and its OK to be Angry if you care.

I went to Bath for a couple of nights and had a very lovely time. I couldn’t help it, I went with my girl and Bath is…well very lovely. So lovely that the gent’s toilets in all of the pubs I went into were actually OK …they had White Company Soap and towels and everything (by everything I mean that you could actually wash your hands without fear of them being dirtier than if you had peed on them).

My favourite aspect of Bath was they actually talk like they're supposed to – you know  - like yokels. After having a wander for an hour we popped into a pub and within 15 minutes I’d been asked if I “was olright my luvvley?” and over heard some-one talking about having problems with poachers. Also, every 4th piece of clothing sold in bath appears to be waxed or vulcanised.  It was like stepping off the plane in Glasgow and everyone wearing kilts and seeing you jimmy. Bathians (?) simply had no fear of their own stereotype…it was very refreshing and will be spoilt when they discover irony sometime in the 2050’s.
Typical Bath Housing Estate
Bath has a reputation for being Britain’s prettiest town and it certainly is, if you’re the heir to the throne.  As a Georgian new town every single building was regulation Neo Classical and this regularity appears to be policed with rigour… I longed for something ugly or interesting just to put the Royal Crescent into some sort of context.

The Prince of Wales famously complained about monstrous carbuncles obfuscating a Wren church or two and has personally intervened in planning applications. The Prince of Wales is also wrong. As an example of what a town would look like if built solely and never endingly in one man’s taste, Bath admirably demonstrates this.  I probably yawned past some timeless examples of late 18th Century architecture because here’s another one…and another one…and another one.  Without something to refresh the eyes and imagination it all got a bit bland. A Bloody massive 1960’s Post Office would have fixed that. When I’m king I’m building a brutalist shopping centre right next to the station!

Bath is also the whitest place I have ever been.  My sister used to live in Ripley and the bus there took an hour and went through a number of old mining towns. I liked to amuse myself by playing “spot the not white face” and would award a notional pound for each not white face we I saw. I travelled on that bus at least 10 times and awarded the grand total of 50p as I think I once saw a black guy driving away as fast as he could.  That bus journey was still more diverse than Bath.  It’s not just that the town is white (many rural centres are) but most of its visitors were as well. I didn’t notice any guards at the station with a dulux colour chart set to “Magnolia or less”…but then I wasn’t really looking.

Something else I also noticed throughout the journey is that everyone is really angry and cross. All of the time. Each of the 6 trains I caught had some angry on it, waiting for it or just angry at having to work out if it was going to where they were going. CHELTENHAM!!! IS THIS THE TRAIN FOR CHELTENHAM!!! CHELTENHAM!!!  Angry people shouted in the street at 1 in the morning outside my window. 2 Angry Welshman were angry about vegetarians for reasons that had nothing to do with the shin of beef they were freely enjoying. The sad and lonely contributors to the nets premier Peterborough United forum were angry at a nil-nil draw. Anger at having to pay cash in a Starbucks because THE MACHINE WAS BROKEN. Angry angry angry…

Angry statue
There’s nothing wrong with being angry…but at least be angry about something worthwhile. Be angry that the education of the next generation that we will in our dotage rely on to do stuff for us is being lead by a donkey.  Be angry that 20 years of “don’t build those nasty new homes near me/ do you know what my house is worth” have left a generation with no chance of buying their own. Be angry that this leaves you stuck between smug buy-to-let wannabes and the pointless drip of agent’s fees. Be Angry about the ruining of something good or the loss of something irreplaceable. Be angry that you are so reliant on a piece of technology that didn’t exist 20 years ago that you can’t catch a train or pay for coffee without it. Don’t be angry just because you've been midly inconvenienced and now have to speak to another human being.

I guess that the point of what was supposed to be a bit of a travelogue but turned into a rant is that life has never been easier.  Which is generally a good thing – we no longer have to break our backs in health destroying labour, our homes are heated and things that would have killed us 100 years ago now give us a bit of cough.  But the easiness is also making us bland, like Bath we’re all enjoying how nice and easy everything is. We can own a Mumford’s album without leaving the house or even liking music. We can have our groceries without going to the shops and we can get angry when this doesn’t happen. Its almost as if we have to construct frustration and irritance just to feel human.

But unless there is something to provide us with a real reaction it all seems pointless.  Without modern architecture how can you realise that you like the old stuff? Without thinking about the big bad things in the world how can you know that not having phone signal is worth getting cross about?

So Bath, like a utopian society where we all have our shiny things and are all universally happy, is a great place to visit. But I wouldn’t want to live there. The fact is there are plenty of important things to get angry about so lets get angry about those and leave the card machine out of this.

No comments:

Post a Comment