Sunday, 20 September 2009

What would Cedric do?

...with Stoke?

Every now and again, with a peckish tap of the ENTER key, the Web brings you something fragrant yet tantalising from the back of the fridge.

The Potteries Thinkbelt, a kind of radical/situationist university dreamt up in the 1960s by Stone-born architect Cedric Price, seems visionary even today, and appears still to be tickling today's architects to some degree.

The idea, so it goes, was to mobilise learning by using north Staffordshire's recently-closed railway lines. Educational facilities would be shunted about, combined and recombined in Hanley, Tunstall or Pitshill like Duplo with a doctorate - a kind of anti-university.

The dream was to create something that would never date, since it would be extensible, reconfigurable and generally open to erudite tinkering.

Given the age of the proposals, it's a shame there don't appear to be more remnants out in cyberspace. A search of Stoke libraries' catalogue promises to be a foregone conclusion, but we'll see... oh - WAIT!

(EDIT: hats off to Culturing Stuff. I'd missed this.)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Chopped liver

Or, the feeling that is dicing your innards as your own flesh and blood leaves the club and goes out on loan.

It'll toughen him up, say the pundits, in a hackneyed and weary attempt to kill it off. Mothers (and they are, mostly) can sound a lot like Lawro sometimes, whether feminists, post-feminists, or - usually - self appointed mouthpieces of the free world.

In the morning, there are a few dull prods of the knife-point: begging - pleading not to be left there - and a sudden wrenching, panicking conviction that none of these people will look after him.

Then Kidsgrove station, and the slow prising of sinew becomes deeper and more intense as the fast trains whisk by rather unlike magic bullets. Suppositories, sir? That's the 09.05 Northern Rail service to Manchester Piccadilly.

At lunchtime a phone call; calculated, professional reassurance is anticipated, but instead there's a pregnant pause. They were about to phone, actually. They wouldn't normally.

Word is there was spontaneous panic at school, so it might be worth picking him up earlier than planned. There's something about him, she says - he's bright - but he's up and down. He's so serious and gets so anxious about what might happen, and she's never seen that in such a young child.

The premature train home breaks down. In my lap, Iain Sinclair is wandering by the A1 in Northants. My head and stomach, meanwhile, are wondering in Macclesfield.

Later, I retrieve the lad from his in-between place. I listen hard for sounds from within, then breathe and knock. Smiles, for now. He's proud of himself having drawn a boat with wheels. And he played oustide today. What a transformation from before, they remark. Those anaesthetic analyses wear off, and there is cautious, limp relief where sharp discomfort used to be.

Still early doors, Saint. And it's still a game of two halves. Tomorrow, he and I have the morning to enjoy ourselves, and we are glad of it.

Monday, 14 September 2009


Bread. Sliced, white. Margarine.

I wonder what Captain Picard's enviable Earl Grey dispenser would make of that? I'd imagine he might well reply that such a treat is no way to explore the Delta Quadrant, or indeed The Nether Potteries.

What of recent times and climes?

There have been no colourful trips on the 21 - it's been too long old friend. No major angst (well there was, but it was just the the product of an over-anxious mind and has been noted as such), just a fair bit of work stuff (upbeat but busy), and only the odd straggle of mildly interesting annotation in my diary. And therefore, no Sketches From Boz.

The Pittshill of Despair? Far from it. Today I abandoned our only child to Serco ... sorry... Stoke-on-Trent LEA, for the first time. He didn't love it but he didn't hate it either. And for a little while at least, there's the promise of some lonesome time on two weekdays, for the first time in what seems like forever.

I spy some room for a little dérive. Maybe riding the 6A from end to end and back again (and again), or something equally daunting / thrilling. I should probably do a course, but the chances of me abandoning learning in favour of cash or much heavier learning during the next year are too high, whatever the alleged flexibility of the colleges.

I started at Longton Library, where the extremely nice librarian helped me to find a choice volume. "Thing is," she said, "these things get sent to us, and then just disappear when they haven't been borrowed in three years or more."

But there it was, virtually unthumbed: happy days in the town where nearly-new books go to die.