Saturday, 2 February 2013

Bus note 39

        Sitting the wrong way on bus.
        Hagley Rd going off from this point
then Broad St where with evening come
explosive coloured vomit patches
to be covered in the whitest drift.
        Pull up at the new library,
        where once I was to work,
        very big, gold topped and empty.


  1. As always with these Notes, a bit of background enquiry helps expand the view.

    The poems are firmly rooted in the facts of the place, and the place in turn gains stability and location from the poems.

    This is extremely consoling, the truth content.

    That hideous 200 million quid postmodern pile, "big, gold topped and empty", with its filigreed latticework silliness perhaps pleasing to the cosmopolitan ambitions of high end urban designers, appears from this great distance a very fine place to have had one's soul exterminated.

    No matter the wrong-wayness of the alternative "situation".

    It was interesting to learn that John Madin, designer of the Central Library in the 1960s, and characterized by architectural critics as the "master of post-war architecture in Birmingham", has criticized the old library's replacement as a spectacular waste of money.

    In an interview with the Birmingham Mail, 21 March 2011, Madin said: “They are spending all this money on a new library which is no better than the existing one. Eighty per cent of it will not have natural light and [it] does not meet the standards of the existing building. They asked me to do the design [for the old library] and now they are simply knocking it down. I just think it’s disgraceful.”

    The enormous vomit patch mercifully masked by the encroaching shades of evening, as the not so long day closes.

  2. Thank you, TC.

    John Madin's project was subject to resistance almost from the beginning. The council cut costs during the building of the library against the wishes of Madin himself. It wasn't quite the structure he'd planned for. Nevertheless, the Central Library is one of the few buildings with real drama and distinction in our town.

    Given the destruction of vast amounts of the current bookstock, the postmodern pile could be close to empty on the day of the grand opening.

    Some more of that background information: Broad St is a long stretch of lousy nite clubs and bars where the City sets out to get as drunk as the English can. It can be a frightening place of a Friday night. Of course, the clue is in those patches.