Coventry Is like a Person Who's Been Assaulted, Then Badly Stitched. (Northside)

By Martin, Andrew | New Statesman (1996), July 14, 2003 | Go to article overview

Coventry Is like a Person Who's Been Assaulted, Then Badly Stitched. (Northside)


Martin, Andrew, New Statesman (1996)


Two train companies operate between London and Coventry: Virgin and Silverlink. If you use Virgin, as I did last week on my first ever visit to the city, the journey takes an hour and ten minutes. Now is that a long journey or a short journey? You certainly need some reading matter, but you wouldn't think it worth ordering half a bottle of railway wine, and here is the problem with the Midlands, as far as I'm concerned. They're not really far enough from anywhere.

Emerging from the modern railway station, I drifted through some leafy Edwardian streets, but the next minute I was bang in the middle of town. Coventry is like a person who's been assaulted, and whose face has then been badly stitched, so that the eye droops too close to the mouth. The proportions have gone. The original assault was the bombing of 14 November 1940, when most of the city centre was destroyed, and the ugliness of that night was set in stone, or rather concrete, by the developers of the 1 960s and 1970s, who were inspired by a vision of Coventry as one great car park, and against whose work the entire city, being full of human beings, wages a poignant battle. There are signs everywhere to help you navigate the maze of echoing underpasses, and heart-rending notices are dotted around the centre, reading: "Thank you for visiting the heart of our city".

After concluding the business that had brought me to Coventry, I got a bit lost and came across an Ibis hotel occupying a Victorian building marked "Cycle Works". …

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