Now no-one is prouder than me of what the England rugby union team have achieved in the last 20 years. After all it was at the RWC in South Africa in 1995 that I first did the original deal to cement our company’s (then Cellnet, now O2) significant relationship with the England team. And it has survived to this day, long after I left of course.
Now regular readers will know I’m a bit of a frustrated architect. I love building design especially huge-scale projects like skyscrapers and massive bridges as anyone who’s checked out my tiny book collection will attest. But I also like smaller home and office stuff too because great design examples stand out like elegant fingers. Sadly the reverse is also true and our towns are full of really badly-designed or incongruously-sited buildings. I’ve done more than a few postings on these over the years. But I’ve been studying an office building they’ve been renovating across the road from us here in Twickenham and I have to tell you I’m baffled by its design.
Now regular readers may recall that when we were living in the apartment overlooking Bushy Park, there was a spell when the road immediately beneath us was dug up in virtually the same spot 4 times in under 6 months. First was the water main repair, then installation of a new gas main, then remedial repairs to the gas main, then the whole road was relaid. Unbelievable. I watched fascinated as these huge diggers and grinders, tarmac layers and rollers came and went, laying tarmac down on exactly the same spot. I thought that was it in terms of my tarmacadam education.
Now I’ve spoken about the town of Twickenham before. There’s a pleasant bit between the river and Church St containing the oldest houses and some dinky shops, restaurants and the famous Eel Pie pub. But the rest of the town and its main thoroughfares is pretty nondescript and dreary. What makes it worse is that the traffic flow system through the town feels like it’s been designed not by an expert in traffic management but by Homer Simpson. It is a lesson in dumb thinking.
Regular readers may be coming to the conclusion that I’m a frustrated wannabe architect masquerading as a marketing guy. Damn you’re good. Anyway here’s the latest in an occasional series of postings inspired by my irresistible desire to write about buildings that I come across. You may remember in a recent posting I was going on about how I found nearby Twickenhan to be a pleasant few lanes down by the river spoiled by a scruffy High St that would shame Slough and a hideously ugly office block slap bang in the centre of the town. I scoffed, as I tend to do, because the High St here in Teddington is chock full of interesting shops, restaurants and bars and 20 times more attractive in my view. However, as is also my want, I was talking the truth but not the whole truth. You see Teddington has a slab ugly building sister itself…in fact two.
Nah not rugby HQ, I’ve been thinking about the town itself. Most readers will know that we’ve found a place inTeddington which is our UK base now. And we’re very happy here. The beautiful river Thames and the famous lock is just down the road. Our little town has loads of nice bars and restaurants and more interior design shops than you can shake an Alessi-designed spatula at. We’ve got some great food stores within easy reach and loads of activities for daughter R to get involved with. Just down the road is lovely Bushy Park and across the river historic Richmond Park. And down the river is lively Kingston just 5-10 minutes away and nearby Hampton Court whilst upstream is attractive Strawberry Hill, where C works, St Margarets where daughter S and live and just across the river from them Richmond town itself which is about as prettily dramatic as any place in the Greater London area. It has everything really. And in the middle of all this terrific area nestled by the Thames is the blight that is Twickenham, a town with a famous stadium nearby and not a lot else.