I was listening to the Today programme on Radio4 and happened to hear the boss of the City of Culture Trust, or whatever it is called, boasting about Coventry. He said that;
"Coventry was the City Break you did not know that you wanted"
Now I am proud of my little city and think that it has got a lot of selling points. He sounded like he was struggling to identify good reasons to go to Coventry. He pointed out the Transport Museum, which I think is like car porn, soft car porn. He mentioned the galleries and I though to myself, there is only one! Isn’t there? If there are more then I do apologise. Meanwhile I went to the Herbert this afternoon and found the Turner Prize being exhibited. As if Coventry had not suffered enough. Or maybe it was kind of fitting. The Turner Prize, art without the people in mind, in a rebuilt city where no regard was taken for the people who lived there. I do remember that the New Cathedral is also an art gallery, but I think that this is a ploy to make the worship look amazing in contrast. The final selling point of the city was that it was in the process of redevelopment and was opening itself up. I nearly crashed the car in rage at this ignorance. The city has been in a state of redevelopment since it the 1900s. City planners actually regard the Blitz as a good thing because a load of lovely building were destroyed without annoying public consultation.
But lets imagine that you do choose to take a break in Coventry, what are you going to do? Well I think that you should consult a few guide books and one that I would recommend is 111 Places that You Shouldn’t miss in Coventry. The Amazon blurb says that it is the ultimate insider guide, so insider that one of the authors lives in Rugby and the other in London. The guide itself misses a good many of the real gems of Coventry but one of the shining lights is the Big Comfy Bookshop at Fargo. The Big Comfy Bookshop hosts events such as the famous “Rangers of Mordor Minor Tolkien Readers Group”, a literary festival, hosting workshops for the Coventry Writers Group, regular poetry nights and gigs. It has been the beating heart and living soul of Fargo for years but now is closing at Christmas. In the year of Coventrys City of Culture we are losing one of the most important cultural venues in the city. Should we just repeat that? I can’t be bothered to type it. Please re-read the paragraph but do not get stuck in a logic loop, do not re-read it more than once.
Coventry is a city where things get done for or too the population. Its like the essay by George Orwell, How the Poor Die. What strikes me about the events being run by the City of Culture is how many are during working hours. I would love to attend so many events but they are when working people are working. The is true of FaB Lab. Their fantastic courses are not open to working people even if they are willing to pay for them. If you are working and you want to do culture in Coventry then you have to get involved with clubs and societies outside of the mainstream providers. Furthermore with the City of Culture people there seems to have minimal involvement of Coventry people on the stage, the role of Coventry people seems to have been as unpaid labour as city ambassadors and they look depressed.
I am going to have to leave this now because I have a few months of The Big Comfy Bookshop left and intend to get to as many events as possible.