You probably won’t know this, but I’ve been here before. Since I arrived in Stratford-upon-Avon early seventies I’ve spent a lot of time commenting on the Town. Pointing out its demise (wrongly) or its complete hopelessness (jury still out) or even its few successes. I thought I was done with all that. But here I am again all riled up and willing to have another go.
It was a meeting in town not long ago with one of my old friends that got me thinking again about this place.
He and one or two absent friends were the old guard. The driving force. Not a lot happened in Stratford-upon-Avon without them somehow being on the end of it. They were the influencers, the doers, call them what you will. They controlled the vibe is the way I like to think of them. Personalities who got things going. On their watch Stratford vibrated with for example, music both live and recorded. In short, there was always something going on. Believe it or not, when I arrived here, Stratford-upon-Avon was a young person’s town.
Anyway, what struck me upon this chance meet-up with a friend was the obvious fact that we had all got old. It was a surprise. A sudden realisation that Time, as it always does, had passed swiftly. And I can accept that.
What I didn’t like was the sad fact that as my friends inevitable ageing had caused them to give up their fight for Stratford, there had been no-one to take up their mantle. No-one to take their place. And in consequence, Stratford-upon-Avon had, stood still. Sure, there have been spasmodic highlights but since my friends relinquished all, Stratford-upon-Avon had once again become immersed in the sweet and sickly scent of Lavender and Aspic.
Like, a seaside town without the sea, Stratford upon Avon had slipped back into its role as a Retirement Centre. Bournemouth with Shakespeare. And, what was even worse was, there didn’t seem to be anyone around with a dialysis machine. [I know this sounds a bit like ‘now…in our day’. Please forgive me for that].
Someone needs to be looking out for Stratford-upon-Avon. Just a gentle prod now and then should do it. Healthy criticism. And, just before I move on, to all those who would use that old chestnut, ‘if you don’t like it, why don’t you leave?’, I would have to say I am not and will never be a defeatist. I love this sad little town and while I can I will do my best for it, even if that means pointing out its faulty agenda or bringing those with the ‘power’ to book. Stratford-upon-Avon can be better.
Don’t get me wrong. Change is not always for the best.
OK, so we have a Big Wheel – Big Deal (see what I did there?). But that hasn’t stopped the ‘New’ Bancroft starting to look a lot like the ‘Old’ Bancroft.
The RSC is no longer (as it was in my day) The Ruffian and Scoundrel Company but has morphed into the Really Sweet Company. Its actors seemingly puritan and off the drink.
The ‘Dirty Duck’ is exactly the same as far as its fixtures and fittings go. All that’s missing is Pam.
Bell Court has undergone another reincarnation. This time a good one but we wait with baited breath to see if it can survive an empty Stratford winter plus the fact that its pre-Brexit European make-over might well have been a colossal waste of time.
And as ever, there in the background the rejuvenated yet still anorexic Stratford upon Avon Herald plods on, searching desperately for news (any news). Unfortunately, still unreadable in a high wind and continuing to fight its on-going (and losing) battle with its short-sighted owners to go tabloid.
I have decided to start offering my view again, if only to get a reaction.
I shall try to post on a regular basis (when I have something to say) but it’s not easy as Stratford upon Avon has a habit of going into suspended animation (ask The Herald) every now and again.
Anyway, we shall see. I would only ask that you join in. Please comment or if you’d like to write a piece for the site just let me know (there will be an email address eventually) and we will see what we can do.
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Please come back often.