Monday 3 August 2009

All ship shape and Bristol Fashion

Bristol and I have never really seen eye to eye. I don't know why. It's a city with a fine history, but I've never really had a great Bristolian experience.

My first visit was when looking for an interview suit. I know I'm pernickety, but I still don't think it should have taken a whole day of traipsing around nameless, faceless shops to end up with something that was average.

Since then, I've been there a few times, nearly always for business, whilst never quite getting it. And it's a long way down the M4 for nothing. On one occasion, I drew up in my swanky, soft-top PR Executive sports car, to be asked by a very scrawny, drug and virus addled woman if I wanted to do business. It was 8 o'clock in the morning. I then had to park said TT and spent the entire meeting wondering how much of the car would be left when I returned. The car was there, but no contract.

I took the boy there when he was a mite, and we had a lovely day @Bristol, but train delays on the way home meant that I was in desperate trouble with the soon to be ex Mrs Nota Bene.

I did a launch there for Great Western, but in the post press-conference confusion, we managed to leave Mr Great Western at the hotel when we all headed to the station for the Great Train race (train vs car - first one to Paddington wins). We didn't keep them for long after that.

I also took a girlfriend there once. I stayed and she left. Never heard from her again.

This weekend was going to be different. Having abandoned the boy in Wales, I headed back to Bristol to see the Banksy exhibition. The boy had decided he didn't want to see it, as he preferred to see original works in situ (he spent much of his younger life in and around the Banksy haunt of Hoxton).

I followed the satnav, but putting in Queens St rather than Queens Road, meant I ended up at the arse end of Avonmouth docks. If I'd slowed down, I think the local populace would have lynched me. Still I did manage to come in to the city the attractive route, and for the first time sampled the wonderful Clifton Suspension Bridge and SS Great Britain. My spirits soared.

Sometime later I closed in on the gallery to see a queue about as long as a queue could be. Normally I'm happy to do things by myself, but three hours in a line of happy families didn't appeal, so I just carried on back to Buckhurst Hill. Somewhat disappointed to say the least. I shall just have to spend the week skulking around the backstreets of Hoxton and Islington on the look out for undiscovered works.

One day, I'll find a good thing about Bristol


  1. Sounds to me that it was a chance encounter in Bristol that led you to believe £10 a pop was cheap for the shoes, not Kings X!

  2. I went to university in Bristol so am slightly biased. The Downs, the gorge, the suspension bridge, the Arnolfini, Clifton etc. Great times!

    But I can admit that the arse end of Avonmouth docks doesn't have much going for it.

  3. Aawh poor you, I've never been. I've had disappointments in other places though, just in case you think my life is all gin and skittles or should that be beer and skittles ?

  4. I tend to agree; I live about half the year near Bath and yet I seldom go to the Bristol. It doesn't seem to have a proper centre; it has the worst Gatso cameras; navigation is a nightmare. And yet everyone I know who lives there (or has done) thinks it is a great city. I just don't get it - but then I like Aberystwyth

  5. I'm sorry you had such a crap time - Bristol is a lovely city (but again like Mud, I am biased, having gone to University there). There is plenty to do other than queue up for Banksy! You could have had drinks by the Watershed, walked over the bridge, shopped on Park Street. Or drunk cider in the Coronation Tap. Ah, those were hte days.

  6. Isn't Bristol where they filmed 'Shoestring'? 'Nuff said...

  7. Great! Once went for an interview in a remand home there. Not good. Funny how little things COULD have changed your life.

  8. I have a blogger friend and real friend who used to live in Bristol and the place really doesn't have good memories for her.

    I've been ages ago. Had friends living in Fremantle Square.

    I once contemplated working for a sherry company as an accountant purely for their links to Spain. (I love Spain as opposed to Bristol.)

  9. Sorry to hear it's been so unlucky on the relationship front Notabene, not to mention the employment front as well.

    I've only been there twice but have been struck on both occasions by what a city of contrasts it is - ie half of it quaint and lovely and the other half a testament to the poorest city planning and wasted opportunities to make the most of the city's natural assets (ie the port and the historic bits). If France and Germany can recreate beautiful historic cities virtually destroyed in WWII, what happened to us? So many British cities have no narrative and no individual character any more and have been cruelly carved up by the most confusing proliferation of by-passes and ringroads imagineable.

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