(james benedict brown) on the road

Snapshot: from the X5

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 3 January, 2008

Another day, another bus. 2008 commenced modestly, with good food and good wine, followed by American-style cupcakes (baked by a genuine American) that were sugary enough to justify major dental reconstruction work after consumption.

I left Oxford a day later in a cloud of wordlessness that belies my output as a blogger. In the silence that continued for the duration of the near-four-hour bus journey from Oxford to Cambridge (via just about everywhere and around just about every roundabout in between), I slumped into the spacious row of seats at the back of the bus and considered England. My homeland is not pretty at this time of the year. Everything is grey and brown, or a subtle shade in between the two.

As we bounced through Biscester, Milton Keynes and Bedford, I realised that the only colour seemed to come from garish commercial activity. The ease with which anyone can use a computer to design a shop frontage or the colour-scheme of a company’s vehicle has killed off the skillful art of sign writing. Horrible vinyl shop hoardings can be printed on vinyl or plastic with remarkable ease, and any small business owner can try their hand at using their favourite Microsoft fonts and graphic effects to create their own hideous signage. Am I alone in thinking that the average British high street is a mess of low quality commercial signs?

Those who know me sometimes warn me not to romanticise Canada and the lives I have lived and could live there. But at this grey time of year I’m sure many people will agree that it can be hard to romanticise about the place you live in. The grass is always greener, as they say, but are the shopfronts any better?


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