Friday, October 20, 2006

Simon "know nowt about it but I'll blether on 'bout it anyway" Jenkins on Nottingham

Simon Jenkins has all the attributes of a typical blogger: he'll write a piece on something he knows nothing about. However Simon Jenkins is paid for what he writes. More than that, Simon Jenkins is paid well for the uninformed guff that he writes. Sometimes I wonder if there is no such person as Simon Jenkins and all the pieces with his by-line are autogenerated by RusbridgerPlus, the Guardian's patented column generating machine.

Today Jenkins writes, badly, on Nottingham. Here's a sample.
To lovers of urban Britain Nottingham is still a heartbreaking place. It was and, until the 1950s could still have been, beautiful. To Celia Fiennes it was "the neatest town I have ever seen". As recently as 1938 the writer Arthur Mee could refer to it without irony as "the Stately Queen of the Midlands". It boasted England's first municipally financed university and its first civic gallery. It gave birth to Boot's, the Salvation Army and Raleigh bicycles - and still cares for its theatres. Then in 1958 it inflicted on itself England's most destructive urban road, the absurd Maid Marian Way, cutting the old centre from the castle mound and destroying, among a warren of streets, an exquisite set of Queen Anne almshouses.

Age has not withered the ugliness of what replaced them. An inner ring road wends its way past defaced shopping centres and car parks, which obliterated contours, streets and character alike. The Salutation Inn, with its splendid troglodyte cave, lies pathetically stranded.
There may be some worth in his claims but he then makes egregious schoolboy howlers like saying the Salutation pub has caves. It doesn't. The caves are in the Trip To Jersualem.

He gets a good seeing to by my constituency MP Nick Palmer:
Honestly, what a load of rubbish. I represent the area between the city core and the county border facing towards Derbyshire, which Jenkins derides as a nightmare. It's mostly very popular - whether you go by anecdotal evidence or house prices, people are keen to live in it. It's a mixture of suburbs and small towns, and I know Jenkins doesn't like suburbs for architectural and cultural reasons, but that's his problem. Naturally there are things we'd like to improve, such as more leisure activities: the proximity of the city discourages suburban leisure centres. But in general it's pretty good.

As for the city, gun crime fell sharply last year and appears to have fallen to a more typical urban level: it was fuelled by the extraordinary popularity of the city's vibrant night life, which tempted drug dealers and the turf wars that go with it. It was indeed a problem and still is, but it appears to be receding. Nottingham University was up to very recently the most popular for applications in Britain. The Lace Market area was refurbished years ago, rather than being desperately done up now as Jenkins suggests. I could go on, but I won't, except to ask what has any of this got to do with Tony Blair, except that Jenkins is writing the article and doesn't like him?
And a damn good pasting that was. Three cheers for Nick Palmer.

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