Tuesday, 21 January 2014

God hates flags



Abbey Green - my favourite square in all of Bath.

Funnily enough, Bath is not really known for its squares - they are quite rare in fact, and the few that exist aren't even properly square. I think this place became a square by accident, sometime around the late 17th century. This is also one of the few places to retain the cobbles on its street as well. Most of the rest were tarmac'd over.

It is not even known by the name of 'square' either. Because it is called a 'green', the council sows grass seed on, or turfs over the area around the base of the tree every year, and every year the area turns into a wet, muddy patch suitable for pigs, because of the combination of rain and tourists. I hope they don't Astro-Turf it to save money, in the same way they have introduced vast, ugly, electronic litter-bins which only need emptying once a week or so.

Look at that little house with two windows and a door, squeezed in between a couple of richer neighbours. I hate to mention it, but it was a shop in this square which accused Jane bloody Austen's aunt of stealing one yard of blue silk ribbon. She was almost deported to Australia for the crime until - at the last moment - she was found not to be guilty of it. The shame...

It is astounding that the tree has survived as well. The Georgians were not too keen on municipal trees. The survival of both the tree and the tiny house is a testament to the general uselessness of town planners - things which go ignored or unnoticed quite often survive for years, until people grow fond of them, at which time they are protected by the town planners. That didn't stop the planners of the 1960s from tearing down whole streets of this age and charm, for the sake of profit from the developers.

At my back when taking this photo, is the later facade of the 'Crystal Palace' pub, which has - also miraculously - retained its original wood panelling from around 1720 (see below). The place has been taken over by a big London brewery, and is now almost worth visiting. For the last 40 years or so, it was an awful pub, but they seem to have got rid of the yob element, or the yobs have just grown up.

There are armchairs and there is a real log fire just out of shot there, but the corporate management seems to think that it is appropriate to play rap music over the speakers, and have all the staff dress in cheap, black clothing, for some reason.

The trend for piped music in pubs has been further spoilt by the trend to have that music controlled remotely by head-office. The staff working about 150 miles away have no control over the music, which is sent through the ether via the internet to come inappropriately out of the speakers over your head as you try to soak up the ambience with a beer or two. It is the same with most retail shops now as well. All it does is create an air of desperateness. You actually feel the management's concern over profits, all those miles away. Faster music encourages faster drinking - it's a known fact in the business.

I used to like those tobacco-stained pubs with a ticking clock, two old men by the fire and one mangy dog - even when I was young - but this is not an area where it is easy to harvest the Grey Pound, especially since the health police have been targeting the drinking habits of the over 50s, seeking them out behind closed doors and threatening to charge them for any more than the proscribed amount of empty wine bottles put out with the recycling.

Hark at me - I sound like a UKIP member. If I start blaming the weather on God as punishment for gay marriage, then stop listening to me. You'll only encourage me just for a laugh, and that would be cruel.


22 comments:

  1. What the hell is an 'electronic litter bin'???

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    1. One that crushes up the litter using solar power, thereby reducing the need to empty it - and employ someone to empty it - more than about once a week.

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    2. I was wondering the same whilst coveting that little house. I'm sure UKIP will be delighted to hear from you......initially.

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    3. There's going to be a few vacancies soon...

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  2. Target (just arrived in Canada) is the only department store that does not play music. At Christmas it was even better not having to listen to Christmas Carols in November. The peace in that shop is audible. I wish others would follow suit.

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    1. I go into supermarkets just for the silence, here. (I'm lying, of course).

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  3. I am not a Bathophile, and have limited depth of field vision this morning. Is that an electronic litter bin in front of the accusatory little shop.
    Maybe you're a cobble expert, too, Do you know why the patterns of thick and thin are used in laying the pavers. Strength. Resistance to heaving?

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    1. You're in good company. Dr Johnson hated Bath too.

      No electronic bins in shot, but one just out to your right.

      I don't know what you mean by 'thick and thin' patterns to cobbles (they're all the same here), but I do seem to have an innate resistance to heaving, which is why I can usually read John's posts without doing it.

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  4. That square looks more like a round to me. I thought for a moment we were going to get a tour of Bath without going into a pub - I should have known better!!

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  5. Just this minute got back from a shopping trip in Bath. There was a man balancing on a tight rope and playing the violin. A huge party of Japanese tourists shoved me off the footpath. Beautiful shops with ridiculous prices. You have to love the place...

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    1. I know that man. That - as far as I know - is all he can do, but I don't know him well enough to make that sort of judgement.

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  6. Hey Tom, I also love that little area. Turning your back on the tree and looking towards the cathedral, I love the black doors on the left and one building has the round SERVANTs, bell pull (the pull is missing).

    I love how the cathedral towers over the baths, and the colour of the stone there. The Roman Soldier and the cobbles. *le sigh*. I love Bath. I really do.

    OMG and don't forget the Reggae man who sings next to the cathedral or the tandem bike they keep in there.

    and off of Abbey Green Square is obviously Sally Lunn's.

    Yes, Bath has a huge place in my heart.

    p.s. a few days before Christmas in 2012, I ate lunch at Raymond Blancs brasserie on Queens Square I got food poisoning. The Christmas market was on and I threw up in pretty much every bin and skip in Bath. Classy aren't I. Those electronic bins are not to be trusted!

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    1. That is Elton House, which I know quite well because some friends of mine rented it for a long time. Very nice, and now you too can rent it from The Landmark Trust.

      One of those Roman figures was carved by a friend of mine, and he made a shit job of it, even though I say it myself.

      I haven't eaten at Blanc's brasserie, because I have heard it is a pretentious rip-off, owned by a pretentious frog who (like most other frogs) take great delight in ripping-off uneducated or un-selfconfident rost biffs by selling them crap food at high prices. You deserved the food poisoning, but don't electrocute yourself.

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  7. Replies
    1. In South London, God hates fugs.

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    2. In the country god hates frogs

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    3. In America, God hates cigarettes.

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  8. Ukip? The party of people who are asleep?

    Wake up England! There are other countries out here. Get with it.

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  9. I just 'walked the streets' (that sounds indecent) on Google Maps. Abbey Green IS beautiful and the trunk of that tree is massive. I wish we could ring the doorbell of that tiny house and ask for a house tour. The same goes for the apartment above the arch. What a unique and beautiful place to live.

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    1. That arch is modern, Iris, and part of a shop, I think. You could go in any time you like. The tour of the little house wouldn't take long. Abbey Green is dominated by that tree, especially in Summer. It's lovely.

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