Fugitive Time and Shopping in Warrington

Just back from a shopping trip to Warrington, on which more another time, but it reminded me that I haven’t posted on this blog for a while. Life has been getting in the way rather too much for the actual life I am trying to lead – researching, gardening, writing, with innumerable breaks for tea, cake and a middlebrow novel – and I need to get myself back on track.

I decided some time ago that work on my book had become bogged down and that I was merely amassing piles of information as I followed some interesting side-trail. What I needed was Focus and it seemed that the best way of doing this was to turn my book into a research proposal and embark upon a PhD. (As you do.) As each stage of my academic career has been marked by some ridiculously over the top life crisis I was rather reluctant to set the wheels of Fate in motion once more, but went ahead and made enquiries anyway. (Ave, etc. etc.)

Amazingly, I found the right chap at the right place first crack out of the bag but the difficulty now is in finding time for the interview. All my MA work is on obsolete technology (anyone remember those little hard rectangular ‘disks’?) and my potential supervisor, though gratifyingly interested in the research outline I sent, naturally wants to see some academic bona fides beforehand. Earlier in the year, I decided that the way forward was to write some More and Better essays but am now (obviously) looking back at such gay innocence (1930s sense) with the hollow laugh of a Bertram Wooster caught sans Jeeves.

But to return to our sheep. I took some snaps while I was in Warrington, of Arpley Signal Box (very pretty) and some Victorian stone carving that caught my eye on a building in Bold Street. This was another vain attempt to get some photographs I could decently put on the blog, but seeing I’d once more forgotten to take my camera with me and was using a mobile phone, they were, once more, too small and dark to use.

I am very aware that the blog looks a little bald as it stands and that writing about buildings history without any pictures of buildings to illustrate my points seems pretty self-defeating. At some point I will get a handle on this techno-idiocy (I spent a big chunk of yesterday afternoon re-reading the guide for my camera; time that could have been much better spent eating biscuits) and then there will be pictures galore. I like the theme – the font and the pale grey header sort of said ‘Archigram‘ to me when I was choosing – though the red tips it a little towards the Eighties. But again I digress. (You can see what happened to my book, can’t you?)

The development of the Bridge Street Quarter is underway at last, nearly a year later than advertised, with Warrington doing what Warrington does best – knocking down its built heritage. Though in this case the buildings are part of a poorly designed 1980s shopping centre. I did send an email saying that I wished to comment on the planning application, which wasn’t available on the council’s website with all the other planning applications, and where was it? – but, strangely enough, got no reply and was too bogged down with other things to chase it up.

Thinking about the design of the previous development, Times Square, and the current development of the ‘Bridge Street Quarter’ I cannot see how this is going to be a vast improvement, though it will certainly be an expensive one. The refurbishment of Golden Square doesn’t seem to have increased unit size or variety on offer – although the main walks are wider and more airy, most of the shops are still small and dark, with low ceilings and very little space for shop floor display. As usual, the architects don’t seem to have thought through the development’s actual use by customers.

Some more thoughts on the Warrington shopping experience soon. (For those bewildered types who’ve got thus far still expecting pithy analyses of books, Life’s stumbling blocks and P. G. Wodehouse you want my other blog Moulders Lane.)

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