It seems a curious subject to choose for a public work of art, this mural near the centre of Cardiff. And, as with any state-funded art commission, there must have a few bureaucratic hurdles to jump before final approval was granted. When the artist made his pitch, did anyone on the committee laugh or splutter or quibble, or did they nod sagely, as befits men and women of the cultural establishment?
I always have mixed feelings before re-reading a book that had a profound affect in my youth (and isn’t that really the age when the most profound effects of books occur?) There is the hope that the original, thrilling magic might still be there, waiting to be unleashed once more. And there is the trepidation that the experience will be a disappointment, or a bore, or even an indictment of one’s youthful naiveté.
‘On behalf on the Bovine Philosophical Society, Addington branch, we wish you to know that the finest minds of the countless generations of our clan have examined and debated an apparently simple question, year upon year, decade upon decade, century upon century, without conclusion or resolution.
Every city, every town has them. And if the developers and planners get their way, every village will too one day. Once you venture outside the ‘historical’ centre, meaning the bit that’s more than say one hundred and fifty years old, there are streets and stretches of Victorian terraces or Thirties semis or modern housing estates.
There is a social history of Britain in the last one hundred years to be written using land and building conversions as its guiding idea. Arable land has become housing estates, churches have become apartment buildings, pubs have become coffee shops, and, as in the case of the Hoover Building in Perivale, factories have become supermarkets.
Walk down the middle of Broad Street in Oxford, taking care to avoid being hit by a car or, more likely, a bicycle, and you will see a cross of granite setts, exposed like an ulcer in the smooth tarmac of the road.