Home for the weekend to Stratford-upon-Avon, where I cringe at the local council’s latest Big Idea. A committee of madmen have decided that this precious heritage site should now be known as ‘World-Class Stratford’. And to prove it the council unveils a £3.5 million improvement to a garden area in the town centre. Once lined by mature trees, it’s now a cold expanse of stark new paving stones and stainless steel handrails. I could be in a Milton Keynes skateboard park. I look over at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (an art deco gem), now gloomily shrouded in scaffolding and ruptured by an enormous concrete obelisk. New aluminium windows have all the architectural appropriateness of pebbledash. It’s a world-class joke.One sympathises. It sounds ghastly. The website promoting it is depressing just for its language alone.
And yet, and yet. . . There is something about the phrase “World-class Stratford” that just sounds right to me.