plenty of pics, lots of pax - and the occasional (vox) pox on all our houses

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Eastgate Clock at ten past two

Iconic Chester. Timeless, in fact.

Chester deserves this and more

A useful proposal here to bring theatre, conference centre facilities and a much-needed makeover (whatever they say, it's much needed) to our dear city:
A report to members from Chris Cook, head of Culture and Recreation, stresses: "For Chester to stand alongside European destinations like York, Avignon, Bruges and Sienna, there is a need to develop the cultural life of the city alongside its retail, hospitality and tourism offers.
"Chester requires significant and sustained development in its cultural programme and infrastructure top compete alongside the best in Europe. "
If members give the go-ahead for the feasibility study it will examine all aspects of the proposals including a full economic impact assessment, funding and the possibility of financial partnerships.

Cllr Richard Short, executive member, Culture and Recreation, said: "Rightly or wrongly, there is a feeling that Chester has traded on its reputation for some time.
"The new council intends to remedy this situation for the good of present and future generations. The report before us could point the way to making up lost ground in this respect."

Present plans envisage a theatre with a larger auditorium than the Gateway, complemented by highly flexible studio facilities for art, dance, cinema and musical events. If the theatre and performing arts centre were to be joined by a purpose-built convention centre, conference capacity would exceed anything Chester has to offer now.
Funding for such a project could come from the local authority, the Arts Council, North West Development Agency, Chester Renaissance and private sector.
In the meantime, how about rethinking the purpose of the long-lamented Odeon cinema in the context of the above proposals? Widescreen cinema is going to be an ever-tougher business in the future - but grassroots community art, lifelong learning and video technologies could all come together in a local centre of all things related to video creation, for all Cestrians, whatever their political persuasion, whatever their opinions and points of view. Such a facility would not only empower us all but would serve to help generate the content which would allow Chester to acquire a modern interactive online face. Great for tourism, great for Chester's own sense of itself.

It would also serve to celebrate the art of a bygone era by keeping the filmic tradition in a building too iconic to be lost to the business of night clubbing.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009


An alcohol-free evening beckons inevitably.

Monkey business/human freedoms

A fascinating report from the Chester Chronicle on the subject of the monkey business at Chester Zoo can be found here. I suppose what's mildly disconcerting is the fact that no one really knows how it happened.

I liked this bit very much indeed:
They said: "Everybody was told to go because chimpanzees had escaped. We didn't really know what was going on but it was quite scary.

"We were just having lunch and we were told to go into the restaurants and shops, where we stayed for about 45 minutes.

"Luckily we were in there for three hours so we had a good day."

Other visitors were locked in the jaguar enclosure while staff ensured there were no chimps in the public area.
So whilst intelligent chimps enjoyed a few human freedoms, a few human beings experienced what it's like to be an intelligent chimp.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Beautiful day ...

'Twas a beautiful day in Chester today. Couldn't go out for a walk at lunchtime because I had to attend a conference call on a book to be published shortly. I wrote one of the stories to be included. We were fine-tuning the texts in question. Amazing how much time a good book needs in order to properly see the light of day.

Love books. Love the history of books. Love history in fact. I remember going to the Grosvenor Museum as a kid. Was it with the school or just parents? I liked one of the upper floors best. Stuffed animals.

Such beady eyes.

A renaissance of sorts

Used to be a baker's. Now it's an empty premises. But not boarded up exactly. Awaiting better times perhaps?

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Blue wheelie bin

Too dark to see properly. But then it's a dark subject, isn't it? Started raining by the way. Get that washing in now!

Saving the planet on an almost Monday

Yes. It is Monday tomorrow. Only just tomorrow though. Maybe I'll send you some photos of Chester as I walk through the city. Maybe you'll then see what I mean, when I moan plaintively about the state of the centre - as I am wont to do; as, indeed, I have already done so here.

And then there's our new wheelie bins. Have to send a photo of a couple of those too. I suppose I could go down into the yard and snap a couple of pictures using the flash. Loathsome items of equipment. Wheelie bins, I mean. Big companies are too powerful for governments to want to properly curb their appetites for generating large quantities of useless plastic society really doesn't know what to do with. Instead, it's the humble end-user who suffers, incapable as he or she is of fighting back. Along with the bins (which one day themselves will need to be recycled - God only knows how), we received a massive pack of explanatory literature. You need a damn degree to know how to save the planet these days.

Photo tonight or not?

Not really sure. I really am rather too sleepy for anything but sleep. But perhaps the technological challenge of sending my first photo in will convince me against my better judgement.

Wonder what happened to those monkeys.

Monkey business

Wish I could've popped over to Chester Zoo today. Could've taken a couple of photos. More on the story here.

Really not sure why the BBC should publish this in their Merseyside section, mind. Got nothing against Merseyside. Just wondering why they can't add a Cheshire section to their website.

Wouldn't cost them anything. Far less than a bottle of champagne, in fact.

A bit about Chester

Chester is a beautiful city. Its past is its future, as more than one citizen has rightly observed on more than one occasion - but saying it is one thing. Getting a posse of disagreeing - not to say on some occasions positively disagreeable - politicians to actually do something about it is quite another.

Currently the recession is leading to the boarding up of commercial premises all over the place. The new unitary authority has quite cleverly started painting up these empty baleful eyes with pretty pictures of flowers. Meanwhile, vacant building sites are encircled with black wooden walls which proclaim the virtues of the Chester Renaissance.

I'm all in favour of renaissance - but let it be real.

Let us hope the authority can be as imaginative in practice as it clearly is in discourse.