28 July, 2011


No stools at the bar, please

Enough of this tedious media speculation about whether or not Anders Breivik is actually Stephen Lennon's secret homosexual lover, or whatever tendentious tosh little Nicky Lowles has extrapolated from some or other vacuous Faceache/Twatter rumour today. Time instead for some gratuitous low vulgarity.

The Oldie is Richard Ingrams' monthly mag for sagalouts. It's indicative or something or other that I have absolutely no idea how I came to be on their monthly newsletter emailing list. Either somebody's been flogging on data or I'm getting forg... was what I writing about again? I was in WH Smug's the other day and I bought a copy. Well, you do need something mildly respectable to slide your copies of Wanker's Weekly and Normous Nockers into, innit? I mean, brown paper bags are a dead giveaway.

It's actually a much better read than you'd expect, full of articles by grumpy old gits, but grumpy in a fuck-you way rather than a whiny way. And with only the merest token sprinkling of ads for stairlifts, step-in baths and funeral-costs endowment policies.

Browsing the contents page, I was momentarily taken aback, however, to see this entry

Now I know the elderly are apt to become pre-occupied with the deterioration of their bodily functions, but, really, there are limits. Then the rheumy eyes focused on the summary below,

Turns out to be a less than sympathetic review of a visit to an overhyped Cotswolds village.

Phew! I think I'll go and have my nap now. Nurse! The blue pills!

Never been to Bourton-on-the-Water myself, but I reckon I'm safe in assuming that it doesn't really belong in a list of 'dumps' (hur hur). Does Mr Millar include any genuinely unsalubrious places in his list?

The article is No 24 in a series. As I am not a regular reader of the magazine, I don't know where the previous 23 were. Unless Mr Millar has been spectacularly unlucky in his choice of travel destination, I expect most or all of them are by other contributors.

His beef with Bourton-on-the-Water is that it promotes itself as an idyllic chocolate-box Cotswolds village but the reality is both tacky and twee: burger and hot-dog vans in the car park and shops selling either tourist tat or esoteric hand-crafted irrelevances.

There's a good deal of metropolitan sneering going on, but all he's doing in effect is describing the contradiction of the popular "beauty spot". The changes you make to attract and cater to more visitors, and the visitors themselves, overwhelm what made the place attractive in the first place. Those miles of unspoilt white beaches become rather less attractive with a couple of thousand people, deckchairs and parasols scattered about on them.

That's the way it goes unfortunately.

I've never been to Bourton-on-the-Water either, I can see echoes of what he's saying in tourist traps like Greenwich or arty-farty places like Camden Passage. I remember the Tesco Express on Islington Green as the sort of place where you could easily buy a tin of goat's testicles in aspic but if you're looking for a white loaf and a couple of cans of baked beans you are screwed.

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