Dirty new town

Once upon a time, this town and I were both young and ridiculous, and neither of us minded. I wasn’t quite three when we moved here. The estates were new, and quite isolated, surrounded by farmland. There were local centres with small shops and little playgrounds, but no station, no shopping centre, no retail parks, no hospital. Everyone had come here from somewhere else, with degrees of willingness; and those who  lived in the villages and market towns nearby were not quite thrilled by the arrival of so much new company.

Everything was built up around us, shiny new and glossy with fresh paint, with large-scale landscaping projects to soften the raw edges of the new estates. Whole teams of people had jobs making the town a nice place to live, from planting flowers to running community TV stations and art projects. There were aspirational drawings in the planning offices of helipads, office precincts like the hanging gardens of Babylon, the eternal urban myth of the monorail.

That was a while back, though. These days we are both older and a bit knackered, with the occasional modern flourish not quite concealing ageing infrastructure and a general fraying at the boundaries. We are pragmatic and a bit skint, often tired. We struggle to recognise ourselves in old photographs.

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