It’s been an interesting few days because we’ve been over to Bristol – our city of birth- three times, and each time we’ve been able to revisit familiar places. This one is particularly important to me because when Christmas Steps was virtually rebuilt many decades ago, my Grandfather, who was over 70 at the time, came out of retirement to work on the medieval timbers because he was one of very few carpenters who actually knew how these timber framed buildings worked. So I always feel a particular affinity with this important remnant of the City, most of whose medieval buildings were destroyed by bombing during the 2nd world war; and those that weren’t were mostly demolished by planners, just as they were in Bath.
But these few buildings are surrounded and dwarfed by all the usual canyons of undistinguished glass and steel towers. Bristol, a creative boom city, is from a pedestrian’s street level point of view, noisy and rather shabby. There are many empty shops in what were once important shopping centres. Plato thought that cities were a work of art but he’d have held his tongue if he’d been here. Here’s a photo of the now derelict original Bristol Royal Infirmary – the revamped modern hospital is just across the road but why on earth they don’t do something about this ghastly mess is a mystery.
But we couldn’t resist revisiting the Museum and Art Gallery where we found one of the pieces of pottery that most inspired my interest in Chinese ceramics. This Chün dynasty bowl is inspirational in its restraint – an object of meditation,
Later we had lunch at Watershed and were greatly amused to see that so many apparent pitching meetings were going on in the cafe. We felt a bit odd; actually talking to one another with no anticipation of a future commission whilst sharing a bottle of wine and keeping our mobiles in our pockets without a single laptop between us. Most of our fellow diners wore furrowed brows for fear of being suspected of slacking, drank water and spoke of going forward, hiding behind their de rigeur screens. Later again as we walked to the bus station and passed the foot of Christmas Steps again, Madame pointed out the rather elaborate birthday cake she would like me to bake for her. Very well Madam!