The Plastic Hippo

August 17, 2010

Show and tell

Filed under: Walsall — theplastichippo @ 10:29 pm

The American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Culture is one thing and varnish is another”. As he died in 1882, it is difficult to imagine what he would have made of the Walsall Show that took place in the Arboretum on Saturday and Sunday and the thin covering of burger grease and candy floss that is passed off as culture and leisure in this southern suburb of Bloxwich.

Having binned the dreadful, tawdry and embarrassing illuminations, our enlightened council had to come up with something to hypnotise those of us they regard as the common herd and keep us slack-jawed and open-mouthed with wonder and gratitude. They decided on a fun fair, monster trucks and young men on motorbikes jumping over things. The choice of this “entertainment” and the accompanying culinary delights says more about the state of Walsall than any Art Gallery, Museum or Library (closed on Monday for your information) could ever hope to express.

In a town beset with serious social problems, what kind of messages are our executive trying to send? Bored young people with nothing to do were obliged to part with £3-00 admission to watch other young people churning up the grass and being foolhardy on motorbikes. Ridiculous, gigantic Tonka toys made a lot of noise and then crushed scrap cars cheered on by the clinically obese tucking in to overpriced junk food. Then there was the Pat Collins fun fair; £2-50 a ride and the opportunity to share your previously eaten burger with total strangers. Nice.

The Pat Collins fun fair is owned by Councillor Anthony Harris, cabinet member for…you guessed it… Leisure and Culture. Kerching.

There is, of course, a market for fun fairs, junk food and exhibitions of joy riding and anti-social behaviour, but if our council is serious about tackling these issues then they should lead by example and not promote the lowest common denominator. Other towns, smaller and less well financed than Walsall, manage to stage municipal shows and festivals that enhance the well-being of its inhabitants and make a profit. The Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival and the Brecon Jazz Festival have an international reputation for excellence and the Fairport Cropredy Convention, held on the same weekend as the Walsall Show, generates enough income to keep that tiny community affluent for the next 362 days.

In Walsall, we should wait for the varnish to dry before applying a second coat.


1 Comment »

  1. Did Ralph Waldo Emerson have anything to say about whitewash?

    Comment by dinkey — August 18, 2010 @ 8:03 pm | Reply

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