This is England

Some people have made a career out of thinking up brilliant puns for their business names, it’s an easy way to bring a little joy to the world (I can’t help but smile every time I go past the Shirley Temple Chinese restaurant in Shirley) but it struck me when walking around Stratford-upon-Avon, just how many shops were trying to cash in on their most famous son’s reflected glory sometimes in a really crap way. The unexpectedly large Much Ado About Toys has a certain sense of it’s own frivolity, Iago’s the jewellers is a little more confusing but it’s such a glorious hotchpotch of stuffed animals, creaky staircases and draped chunky chains that we’ll forgive it most things, the most-tenuous award should go to the flabelos studio – an odd facing-the-wall experience of having your wobbly bits vibrated to such excess that they simply melt away presumably – which is called Shake-speare, Stratford residents are however, still mourning the loss of the ill-fated Shakesperience (a cod job of bardolatry that lasted less than 2 years in the town). I’m not in anyway suggesting that just because it’s a bit of a rubbish link, people shouldn’t do it, it just set me thinking about other places where this making the most of its famous inhabitants might happen.

I grew up in the small market town of Uttoxeter, which has a domed stone monument in the middle, erected either by or for Dr Samuel Johnson (of dictionary writing fame) who stood in the pouring rain one day in penance for refusing to help his father out on the family market stall. It’s known as the kiosk. It’s right in the centre of town and whilst it’s not the most inspiring building ever – Johnson didn’t even live there! He was based 16 miles down the road at Lichfield. I’m not suggesting they get rid of it but I do think the town might do better if local businesses started to really make the most of the connection with their actual most famous childhood inhabitant: Shane Meadows.

If I still lived there and owned a convenience shop there’s no way it would have a big 7/11 sign, it would be a 24/7, equally if I had a hotel, it would be called “A Room for Romeo Brass (and anybody else who wants a bed for the night)”, my charity shop, whilst not to everybody’s taste wouldn’t be able to resist the chance of being called Dead Man’s Shoes. There’s more that I’m missing I’m sure…?

If more small towns could capitalise on their even slightly famous passers-by, and local councils celebrated this by giving support and cheaper rates, I’m sure there’d be less room for the chainstores to take over and homogenise every single high street in the country and that’s a double bonus in my books

8 thoughts on “This is England

  1. Hia Mel, you need to watch Great Night Out, tonight on channel 3- 9pm. Not quite the same take, but instead the shops in the Stockport high street take their name from the items they sell. Such as Sell Fridges (yes it is a comedy), but it gets you to thinking there should be more thought in the name and I’m sure it would become more attractive to the punters. Very thought provoking Mel. ;x

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