Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Tuesday, 2 July 2013
Yesterday I reminded myself why so few people who live in Bath bother to make the 12 mile trip to Bristol, and vice versa.
I would say that I had to go to the middle of Bristol yesterday, but there is no middle. The middle was bombed out of existence in WW2, and now the city is made up of a collection of distinctive hamlets which orbit a vast shopping-centre like so many satellites.
Over the years, I have had several friends who - tiring of the essential shallowness of Bath - have decided to move to neighbouring Bristol for a bit of proper city life. "Don't worry," they say, "It's only 12 miles down the road." Nobody ever hears from them again.
It takes about 3 hours to make the return trip of 24 miles between Bath and Bristol.
I met a West Indian gangster in St Pauls once, and when I told him where I came from, he said, "Oh yes. Bath. I went there once. Nice place."
Outside the place I visited, there is a tall, brick tower. This is where they used to make lead shot for guns. They would melt a large pot of lead, then pour it through a sieve at the top of the tower. As the molten droplets fall, they form perfect spheres, graded in size according to the size of the sieve.
The balls cool slightly as they drop so that when they hit the pool of water below, they do not distort, but freeze into the shot for the guns to be raked up and dried. These shot towers used to be all over the place, but I think that is the only one left for miles around now.
African slaves - sugar and spice and all things nice, is what built Bristol. When the merchants made enough money, a lot of them came to Bath to retire, so you could say that 18th century Bath was built on the slave trade too.
On a more positive side, William Wilberforce had a house down the road about 300 yards away from here.