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REGULARS - CAROL GRANT ON BUILDING SUCCESS

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Everyone needs an angel it seems. Iconic buildings are all the rage. The Independent was one of many papers to repo...
Everyone needs an angel it seems. Iconic buildings are all the rage. The Independent was one of many papers to report that the East of England Development Agency was seeking its own 'angel of the east' to rival Anthony Gormley's sculpture and to counter negative images of the region, including the Essex 'wideboy'.

Meanwhile Manchester City Council was reported as Client of the Year 2003 by the Royal Institute of British Architects for its series of new landmark buildings in the city centre, The Birmingham Post said deputy prime minister John Prescott's praise for the city's new Selfridges complex was a message for council planners that iconic schemes can help improve a city's image.

However, not everyone was so enthusiastic. The Observer's architecture correspondent argued that 'the search for the architectural icon has become the ubiquitous theme of contemporary design', leading to 'the type of architecture that looks best reduced to a letterhead'. He concluded that 'it claims to be about inspiration, but ends only in the obvious'.

Or perhaps we should make that the bleedin' obvious. Torbay Council knows it already has an iconic building right on its doorstep. The Guardian reported that councillors have turned down plans to demolish the Gleneagles Hotel, the inspiration for Fawlty Towers. Apparently, 'the council decided it would be against its tourism policy to destroy the hotel where Fawlty was born'.

There was proof that his spirit is alive and well a couple of weeks later when the tabloids screamed: 'Basil kicks out grans', reporting that a tall man with a moustache threw 28 pensioners out of his hotel in the resort after they had the temerity to complain about the food.

But is any publicity good publicity? Never mind iconic buildings, Hull has gained the distinction of being dubbed the UK's number one crap town. No, I have not had a sneak preview of Jim Brooks' memoirs - this dubious accolade was the verdict of readers of The Idler magazine.

The Idler managed to annoy just abo ut everyone, including Graham Gubby (Con), leader of Rother DC, who said the book should be 'treated with the contempt it deserves' after it called the resort of Bexhill 'God's waiting room, a town where the very essence of death permeates every molecule in the air'.

But The Idler lived up to its name by being too lazy to even think up its own insults. The tag 'God's waiting room' originally came from Spike Milligan's remark about the town of Woy Woy in Australia, which became the butt of his jokes when his parents moved there in the 1950s. Milligan wrote Puckoon there and later called for it to become an independent republic: 'Woy, a town twinned with Woy.'

The Guardian reported that the good people of Woy Woy have no hard feelings and have honoured the comedian with a week long festival, Spikefest, organised by local councillor Chris Holstein. However, not everything went smoothly. As the paper reported: 'Plans to commemorate the 1956 Goon Show song I'm WalkingBackwards for Christmas had to be kept modest because of fears the council would face lawsuits if anyone injured themselves while walking backwards.' Civic caution prevailed and apparently the 300 walkers in the opening parade had to wear their clothes backwards, but walk forwards. You could not make it up.

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