Saturday, 4 February 2012

Out with the new?

So recently I've been having a bit of a 'letter to The Times' feeling.  I blame the fact that I now listen to far more Radio 4 than is strictly healthy for a girl of my age!  The problem is it is totally against my principals to ever read The Times, much less send them a letter, so I thought I would rant away here where you good people can ignore me and I can safely vent my ire, so to speak.

Recently I've been thinking about old things and how much I love them, nothing to do with my husband's age, honestly.  I love old street signs, shops, lamp-posts, post-boxes and houses and I'm not just talking about big old stately homes either.  I adore my little two bed room Edwardian flat just as much and, as I think about it, I realised why.  It's the care the things represent. 

My flat, which was always designed to be a little flat above a pub, has beautiful skirting boards and cornices, the doors are solid timber and the windows, both internally and externally, have the sweetest little black iron curly fittings.  My flat looks like the people who built it cared about it and, by definition, cared about the people who would live in it in the future.  They cared about me! 

Old lamp-posts have swirly bits of iron that are only there for decoration and old post-boxes are adorned with unnecessary grandeur.  The people who built or made things in the past were proud of their work.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying architects and builders today are not proud of their work, I'm sure they are but, it seems to me, the appropriation culture if different now and we don't give them enough to work with. 

Now a days, when we are thinking of building something, anything, from a shed to a house, we think 'how can we do this in the cheapest way?'. We limit creativity to pennies and end up with soulless, boring dull buildings with no character, with street furniture that no-one cares about, with lamp-posts only fit for graffiti and with cities that are grey, boring and depressing. 

Where cities in this country remain in their pre-war state they are majestic, inspiring places full of grand buildings which bestow a feeling of meaning and worth on their people. And I'm not just laying the blame at the city planner level, we all have a part to play.  It is our sheds, fences, doors, windows, walls, paths etc which make up most of what we see. Of course we can't tear down the grey in one foul swoop but let's at least think about what we're leaving behind next time we need something repairing or replacing.  Let's not always go for the cheap option, let's take some pride in our communities and do our little, tiny bit to stop the atrophy. Who knows, if we make our towns and cities places to be proud of we may save the money we've spent by not having to clean up so much graffiti, litter or dog mess after all.

Just saying is all, and now my rant is at an end.  Hope i can remember all that when I'm looking at the quotes for the new windows and bathroom we desperately need, especially if we have to replace them before we win the lottery. :-)