Friday, 19 February 2010


How can clothing be fearless? Is that anthropomorphism or is there another word? Well the ancient ad did survive the floods - but then it was painted well above the flood line. We all need to be fearless (and patient) at the moment as we watch our town being slowly put together again. The shop below the sign is now a hairdresser but it used to be Fletchers, a men's outfitters.
Peter Quinn made this painting last Autumn just a few weeks before the flood. It's a different picture now and not one he would wish to paint - too depressing. A few businesses are beginning to re open and a few people are moving back into their homes upstairs. It is a long haul.
People remain cheerful despite the daily problems. We still have ten bridges down. Some are sound but Highways believe opening them would interfere with traffic manage ment. Yes, I agree - but possibly for the better. Everything is being funnelled into very few options. And the options keep changing with no warning. There are no'Bridge ahead closed' signs which would save some last minute shunting and some mileage. Two Saturdays ago, driving to the gallery, I was dismayed to be confronted with the sign 'Market Place Closed'. I was no more that 30 meters from our car park. It took me a while to work out an alternative route to get to my own house - about a mile diversion. (and, no, there was nowhere to stop,park and walk before you ask. The roads are narrow and congested.)We saw three people that day and they lived up the road and had to walk past. Last Saturday was worse; I took the Northern diversion because there's contra flow on the A66 dual carriage and temporary lights on the A591 the Keswick way. I turned at the roundabout as usual and drove in a mile to the town centre as signed only to find that road was suddenly closed with no warning. Others had been caught out including buses and everyone was trying to turn round. Try turning a long bus in a narrow road - a 23 point turn is required.Chaos again. I then had to think hard to work out how to get to the gallery. If I have trouble then our visitors don't stand a chance - no wonder they are giving up.
Margaret Hodge, Minister for Culture, came to see us a few weeks ago with an entourage of aides, media people, tourism officials, council wallas and various important people engaged in the arts. Television crews were phoning the gallery from various closed roads and bridges asking how to get through to us and we were talking them in. And they are digging up Keswick ... but that's another story.