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On Visiting Southampton
The city appears to have been designed by a committee made up equally of sadists and rapists.
In Southampton this weekend visiting Cousin Guppy who, thanks to his own fecklessness, received the slim wedge of Grandmother’s inheritance and can afford to live nowhere better. He realised far too late that currying her favour was as easy as arriving at her doorstep with a Cadbury Milk Tray and tacitly agreeing with everything racist she said.
The City of Southampton appears to have been designed by a committee made up equally of sadists and rapists. These were in no short supply at the time, the city being hastily rebuilt in the fifties following its bombardment during the Second World War, and the legacy of that shell shocked generation lives on in its city planning. It is a city built by the mentally ill, for the mentally ill, which continues to produce and house the mentally ill.
The city can be roughly divided into places where one is likely to get run over by a car, and places where one is likely to be raped. Pedestrian space is scarce, with priority always given to automobiles. Road crossings frequently lack pedestrian traffic lights. Where pedestrian traffic lights do exist, one is given three seconds to cross an enormous strip of road before being hit by a BMW. This seems almost deliberately stress-inducing, but it does have the singular benefit of killing off a large chunk of the elderly population and reducing house prices.
Narrow, dimly lit alleyways make up the other half of the city, and are a playground for the Southampton rapist. No sensible person would walk down them alone at night, the threat of violation or buggery being practically guaranteed. but with nothing else going on in Southampton, many do it out of sheer boredom.
There is nothing to do in Southampton, but in this sense it is not unique. It is a remarkably ugly city to look at, but we could for this reason call it the most honest of English cities. There is nothing to do, either, in Winchester or the New Forest, but their picturesque façades allow them to get away with claiming to be enviable places to live.
Despite the great variety of appearance, social life in all English cities is essentially the same: One leaves the house principally to go to the supermarket; at weekends one goes to Costa Coffee and browses the charity shops; and at 6pm, when everything shuts, one goes home, gets drunk, and beats one’s spouse.
This pattern of social life, principally domestic and lacking any sort of third place for communal activity, is supposedly due to the cold, rainy climate which we have historically experienced. Though global warming seems to have improved these conditions (I write this article in a pleasant 14°C, on an early-April afternoon), the infrastructure, and, subsequently, the English mentality, remain virtually unchanged.
The entire country, then, needs a radical makeover of its infrastructure if we are to make it a tolerable place to live. We missed a trick when Southampton was bombed, but it is not too late to set things right, though the solution may be unpalatable to some: I suggest we bomb the entire island from top to tail, and then get the Swiss in to rebuild it
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