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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, February 28, 2009
    I vote Luton, I vote life
    From the flyover Luton looks grotty and magnificent. Luton is a tiny metropolis in a low-rent sort of way. It's multicultural without being cultural. It has a bustling Bangladeshi high street lit up with neon where you can get a curry or a haircut on Christmas Day. Luton even has a gay village, for God's sake.

    I think a lot of people in this part of the Home Counties don't really like Luton. They look down on it because it's a bit scruffier than the more well-heeled little poodle towns that you get round here. Luton's more like a mongrel. It's sort of everything I like about urban Britain really, you know, it's messy, it's grotty, and it's complicated. But it's alive, you know, and it's vital, and it's moving, it's developing. Luton: it's like a little piece of the North for those of us who are homesick.
    Milton Keynes is the rationale of motorway planning applied to town planning. It's a motorway in the form of a town. It's the triumph of pure flow. It never once got snarled up. We never even had to slow down. The traffic flow was pure.

    Milton Keynes is like walking between hospital wards. The problem with Milton Keynes, and with this whole functionalist project, is that it's actually misjudged human nature. There's a part in us that wants mess, that wants drama, crisis even. I prefer Luton. Luton, like life, is messy. But at least Luton feels like life. Rather than Milton Keynes, which feels like a 'solution' for it. I vote Luton, I vote life.
    Michael Smith's very English road movie matures along the A5. Great insights and plenty of fun here, from the second of his BBC Four Drivetime programmes, Long Days on Watling Street.

    Screen shots from BBC iPlayer