Monday, April 11, 2005

New London

Someone writing in the Stoke Sentinel last weekend warned locals that London would soon be flooded and places like the Potteries would be subjected to an exodus by peope who would be expecting a slightly better (and higher) level of architecture than the soon to be demolished Unity House, which was built in the seventies, derided by everyone for thirty years, abandoned about twenty years ago and since then just an asbestos-infested unwanted erection in the Stoke 'skyscape'. They are now taking it down, brick by brick in a process that will probabky take another thirty years, but wil at least provide Stoke with some jobs for the period.

Well, thought your White Llama writer, that letter writer might be onto something! Londoners will, sooner or later, have to decamp to somewhere inland. At least, that's the theory: I can't help suspecting that more money will be sent retaining London than even invading Iraq. But should the worst happen and Londoners face the move, where better than Stoke? As one leading the exodus, I think I speak with some authority on this topic and expect my appointment as Advisor to come soon: thus I submit the following brief:

Stoke has everything London needs. Let's not hide anything and start with the bad. Like London, Stoke has its rough parts. Take Middleport: the place where those cursed with pre-pay gas and electricity cards must reluctanctly buy their power and where walking around involves dodging alcoholics and trying not to be mistaken for a Lady of the Night. Or Day, in Middleport. But how dissimilar is that to Kings Cross? If we imagine Stoke to be a sort of Bethnal Green, then it takes no small leap of the imagination to imagine it become 'gritty' and 'urban', at least in the numerous streets of terraces.

The nicer parts of London are not be matched by anywhere in Stoke but perhaps that is its strength. You go breezily informing Manchester or Birmingham 'oh, we're transplanting the Houses of Parliament into your backyard' and they're likely to get a bit shirty. Manchester and Birmingham have personalities of their own already. They have landmarks and fine squares. Stoke has neither such attraction. Nobody, but nobody, would miss Hanley if it was knocked down to become the new Westminster. Stoke's charming remnants of its heritage could be restored into warehouse apartments like they do in proper cities, instead of being left to rot, which seems to be the current policy of its council. The people might have something to say (duck) but Londoners wouldn't have to actually live in New London: the capital from their houses (presumably the government will have to give them some cash for having failed to do very much about global warming) will buy them all castles in the Staffordshire countryside and new trainlines can replace the slow old tube: commuting might even become a bit faster.

Stoke's canals could be extended into proper and I would expect to see Stoke (the town that is, see post below) turned into an exact replica of the Docklands in time for the mass evacuation on tilting Virgin Trains sometime in 2016 (for the floods won't come before the Olympics, mark my words). Yes, there is space aplenty for the new London in Stoke. Just put me in charge of the planning budget. I can't do any worse then these idiots.


Chloe said...

I agree that Stoke could quite easily become New London. However, I fear for the poor Londoners (not something I say often either). They will probably have to go round saying "I'm not from London you know" like in Withnail & I. And the Stokees will return to the extreme broad dialect that the old people talk, and no-one will be able to understand one another.

Oh my God! Is Unity House the new Tower of Babel in reverse?

Clare White said...

Unfortunately, i cam across this article in my 'research' for the post. Um, this - - shows how Stoke treats its outsiders...

But I do like the idea of people regaining their dialects. I hope they do. You see, I don't think there will be tension - the Stokees will be able to do all the service economy jobs that are currently so short-staffed in London and Londoners can do.. whatever it is they do now...

It'll be great :)