Day of the Driveway (Part 2)

22Jan09

209

Over the Christmas holidays spent in Somerset, news of crunched economies led me to the low-points of Bristol.

Dodging the grids on my A-Z which indicated that a monstrously inward-facing shopping mall, where huge chains and mega brands lurk, was about to appear around the next corner, I skirted the even pavements of the city centre in search of graffiti and pot holes.

As an anti-shopper, my perfect antidote to the greed of New Year sales consumerism involves the sniffing out of businesses that are no longer in business. Away from Broadmead’s oval-shaped roundabouts are areas like Stokes Croft and St Judes where instead of a frenzy of desperate buyers, played out in the dying twitches of Zavvi or Woolworths, there is the slow, civilised to and fro of women wearing the hejab, hurriedly avoiding what must seem like cultural insanity.

If ever there was a wall of the West slicing the social divide, the A4044 is it. On one side are the spendaholics, while on the other, survivalists barely making ends meet.

I like the landscapes of urban incongruity: The miserable results from a show of hands back in Thatcher’s boom years, of over-egged planning decisions that now show the disappointment we must feel towards local councillors who once served the community from behind a borough desk, failed bureaucrats who still treasure their 1984 newspaper picture with His Worship the Mayor.

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