The Sunday Times reveals that Bristol is the best place to live in Britain. Whilst I think that in many ways, Bristol is a great place to live, this view of the city may not be shared by everyone who lives here. Bristol, adds Rupert Murdoch’s organ, is “Cool, classy and supremely creative.” It is? And if it is, in what way?
I drove through Lawrence Weston last week and Barton Hill the week before. Neither seemed excessively cool and classy to me. And wandering down our high streets taking in all the charity and pound shops makes me wonder just how far those who made the judgement about our fair city moved from Clifton in their research.
The Harbourside is of course a mighty triumph, the rebirth of a post seafaring world but remembering faithfully that which went before. A world class university attended by both of my working class sons who mingle with a majority of privately educated children from all round the country. In fact, Bristol University has more privately educated students than Cambridge – over 50% – which I suppose says a lot for the quality of the university and not much for the meritocracy we should surely desire.
Certainly in terms of transport, there is nothing cool and classy about our woeful public transport system, or the permanent gridlock which makes driving through the city impossibly miserable.
The Sunday Times gushes even more: “There are jobs – lots of them glamorous, creative, hi-tech and professional.” Well, yes: I am sure there are scores of youngsters all over Knowle West and Southmead just waiting to be snapped up by Aardman animation and all the fancy dan arts businesses in Clifton. The vast majority of working class kids are headed into dead end insecure minimum wage zero hour contract jobs. Don’t give me all that “glamorous, creative hi-tech and professional” crap. This is a report made in Clifton for Clifton, it is for the ever expanding takeover by high rent hipsters who are changing Bristol into a very different city.
Don’t mistake real Bristolians from the luvvies who frequent the trendy bars and restaurants because most of them are more likely to visit Greggs or McDonalds than the latest Vegan project.
Clifton Village still look great, the giant estates less so.”The city is a worthy winner,” says the Sunday Times, “thanks to its ideal combination of extraordinary culture, impressive schools, buzzing culinary scene, exciting redevelopment and community spirit.”
Bristol is two cities and this version bears no resemblance to the one I know. Colourful Cliftonwood could not be further away from my reality.