15 June 2019

A rainy day in Paradise....

Summer in the (Garden) City.....








Hot town, summer in the city

Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty

Yeah, Right!

Flaming June!






Ebenezer Howard (1850 - 1928) set out his philosophy of urban development in his publication Garden Cities of Tomorrow.  His aim was to combine the advantages of town and country living by creating towns of limited population surrounded by agricultural land.  He founded the Town and Country Planning Association in 1899, and subsequently the world's first Garden City was declared open on October 9th 1903 at Letchworth.










I am stranded for an hour or so in this time warp while my Yeti is being serviced (some people will do anything for money).....  

I've been before, but for different reasons, and haven't had the privilege of just wandering aimlessly.   

And it is raining.....

The town hall rises from the car park, reflected in the puddles......





The coloured fountains and metal sculptures near the Railway Station don't quite enliven the street scene.....







A rare shopper hurries home before melting into the pavement....







I contemplate offering my corpse for piercing just to pass the time.....








As an enticing alternative to taking shelter in the Broadway Hotel, built in 1961 and the first licensed premises in the town (from its inception in 1903 until a referendum in 1958, Letchworth upheld a ban on the sale of alcohol).





I would visit the town grammar school, 






A shining example of the vernacular architecture, though the school long since vacated the premises.  


Other schools in the town include independent St. Chris, founded in 1915 as the Garden City Theosophical School, and renowned for its vegetarianism and policy of all (students and staff) using Christian names.  Alumni include Michael Winner  and A A Gill (who was married for a while to the current MP for Hastings,  Amber Rudd....)


I would visit the town museum, housed in the erstwhile North Hertfordshire College building....  but it isn't yet open....







And it's too early to take advantage of the somewhat retro entertainment (Live on Stage - Flanders and Swann) in the splendid Art Deco Broadway Cinema and Theatre, where my mum used to watch Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in her school holidays in the late thirties....






So I content myself with wandering and wondering, taking in the sights.....

Such as Mrs Howard Hall.....







And the nearby collectively owned (I am speculating: this was the original theory, and the similitudes and reroofiness kind of suggest this may be the ongoing) houses in similar style:







Letchworth has its place in the arts and literature.  George Orwell lived nearby in Wallington in the 1930s and 40s, and in 2011 and 2012 a festival in his name was held here....


Lenin came here.

Once.



And, among other celebrants of local culture is John Betjeman, who poked mischievious fun at the arty crafty nature of the place in his poem Group Life: Letchworth....


Tell me Pippididdledum,
Tell me how the children are.
Working each for weal of all
After what you said.
Barry's on the common far
Pedalling the Kiddie Kar.




In 2013 Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg used many locations in the town in World's End.  

And there's a film festival coming up....







Which will form part of this year's Letchworth Festival....

Note to diary.  

Fairly busy already in June.....


I dribble through Howard Park, past the memorial to Ebenezer, where people may sit semi-circularly to discuss the merits.....









And out into the industrial suburbs, past reminders of the city's glorious role in the manufacture of corsets, dustcarts and fire engines..... although the largest employer here was the British Tabulating Machine Company, later to become part of International Computers Limited.....

And back to where I left my Yeti.....







Sadly, this rainy day has not lifted my spirits, but, to look on the bright side, things could be worse....

It ain't Paradise, perhaps, but....


I could have been stranded in Luton....









And babe, don't you know it's a pity
That the days can't be like the nights
In the summer, in the city
In the summer, in the city


Rain on......












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