I’ve just been to have a look at the new (what would you call it), housing complex(?) The almost ready buildings stand where the (appropriately) cattle market used to be and opposite Stratford-upon-Avon Railway Station and you know what? I love it.
I have to disagree with the multitude of naysayers and miserable sods who say it’s dismal, looks like a prison and not at all appertaining to the sophistication and style that Stratford-upon-Avon is known for (*cough).
Although I actually agree with all those descriptions I think there is a positive side. I actually believe think that the ‘natural disaster’ that some are predicting, is exactly what this old Market Town wants, now, right now…in this its hour of need.
The Cattle Market Project/The Arden Quarter (?) has all the makings of a place that in a few years’ time will develop an amazing living, breathing personality of its own.
Just look at it.
There are corners and crevasses where the sun will never shine. Everything is so cramped and squashed up together that the streets will give the impression of being rain-lashed even when it’s not raining. On a hot day it will be baking, and at night fierce and biting winds will hurl around every corner. Lamp posts will throw moody circles of light on to a litter-strewn pavement and it will be fantastic.
And it’s blindingly obvious what will happen next.
It will become the place to go.
Café’s playing sultry jazz will spring up overnight. There will be never-ending card games in smoke-filled rooms. Ladies of the Night will congregate on the dark, damp corners to harass passengers alighting the late-night London trains, both coming and going. Artists, authors, philosophers and pimps will populate the bars and restaurants that will serve exotic food and stay open to the early hours.
Drugs will not be in short supply. Friendly and nonchalant Policemen will pass through lazily waving at groups of randy folk all out for a good time with a knowing, ‘just behave yourself and all will be well’-type nods. Political pamphlets denouncing Nadhim Zahawi will be stuck randomly to the new but crumbling brickwork and all will be welcome to the on-going celebrations.
In short, it will be wonderful.
It will add the character to this charmless little town that it has long needed.
The question that people like me have always asked….’how can you have a town that prides itself on artistic endeavour without the danger that naturally follows such work’, will be finally answered. Stratford-upon-Avon will no longer remind one of Dylan Thomas without the drink.
At last, at long, long last there will be a much-welcomed stain on Stratford-upon-Avon’s up until now, pristine bed sheets.
And to that I say Hurrah.