Future cities and Living Good

So that was an interesting night. Somewhat unexpectedly I had been invited to dinner at the Tate. The meal was part of a series of events taking place over the weekend on and around the theme of The Future City which will include coach trips out to Anfield to hear some of the biography of Homebaked through the narratives of the people who made it happen.

The invite said 7.00pm and I got there early. in someways this was the highlight of the evening. It was glooming with the sun going down in a pink sky and the Mersey was looking good and so it was good to spend ten minutes leaning on the metal railing fence and watching the water, one of the ferries arcing over towards the Wirral and other boats heading out to sea.  There were people walking around, tourists and locals, and there was a sense of what a good space could be by the river. Then it was time to go in.

Inside I felt something of an interloper. Apart from a C grade in my O’level art acquired some 35 years ago there is now nothing about me that would allow me to get away with giving a positive answer to the question ‘Are you an Artist?’ And the confessing up to being a lawyer sounds a bit of a let down. Fortunately I wore my Harris Tweed suit and wearing wool on a warm evening towards the end of September is as good a talking point as any.

There had obviously been an interesting day of talks on the topic of future cities with there being some quiet conflict between those who see regeneration purely through the eyes of development and ultimately profit and those who would like to apply a little more imagination to the process. I thought back to the buildings I had walked past and through to get to the Tate. The black monsters on Mann Island looming over that part of the city. How long are they going to look shiny and new and what use will they put to in a hundred years time or will they be ground back into the ground by then.

During the dinner I found myself trying to talk to the arts editor about it. The building we were in was more than a hundred years old and not as a means itself for profit but as a storehouse for grain and the other goods that came up the Mersey. But the black monsters had been built so they could be filled with apartments, hotels and shops. It seems as if there is a colossal lack of imagination that surrounds any realistic expectation of what our future cities might be. I am not sure I made much sense to the lady from the Echo and I suspect that she was bemused when the best that I could come up with to describe what we should be aspiring to was ‘something nice’!

at this point it would be good to put in a picture of the sun setting over the Mersey but there was no camera to hand but I am listening to Dan Penn singing I’m Living Good which sort of the same.


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