60 Seconds

We travelled to Redditch. I went by bus to the car rental and on the way saw the crowds gathering for the funfair opened at Crystal Palace.

The car I got this time was much less tiresome than the previous one, and only added its own commentary to warn about proximity to the car in front, which it was clearly checking on a calculation based on the current speed. It had a fully digital dashboard display with no analogue dials either real or simulated. As we drove out of London we saw plenty of groups outside pubs and in parks and green spaces.

We stopped at Beaconsfield services. Along the motorway were messages telling us to MINIMISE TRAVEL and also notes about COVID testing facilities and stations for HGV drivers to check their post-Brexit paperwork.

On Saturday morning I went for a walk and saw that Redditch now enjoys the Bird e-scooter, and Googling revealed it is the UK town trialling them. That’s why you see them propped up everywhere.

Just after I took this photo, an old lady walking her dog told me “It’s been abandoned there for 2 days now…” But later I did see one in use. Three of them were clustered together on a corner.

I had a look at the Redditch Advertiser – I had to go and get a copy from the shop, as deliveries of free local newspapers terminated last summer and is not expected to be revived.

It’s a very thin issue compared to what it used to be. Memories of the Duke filled pages 2 and 3, and there is a happy story of a couple reaching their 70th wedding anniversary. There was a campaign advert for a candidate standing to become West Mercia Police & Crime Commissioner in the May elections. The other notable item was in the property section, a Methodist chapel has now been converted for secular use, presumably because there is no longer sufficient interest in Methodism in the town. I see the Christadelphians are still in business but I am disappointed that they no longer post up the sermon topics in their little display board in the window of their Hall. It’s a very striking effect, to be driving along and suddenly notice the words GOD’S PLAN FOR ETERNITY or similar, hanging in a black rectangle at the periphery of vision. I do remember someone once had a letter in the Redditch Advertiser explaining that Christadelphianism all rested on an amateur theological confusion about something St Paul wrote, and that a correct reading supported… I’m not sure which version of orthodoxy. What I took from that exchange was a sense that those old Way Of All Flesh disputes about scriptural correctness were still living in provincial England at least as late as the mid 1980s.

I went in to the Kingfisher Centre and bought a few things, whilst hearing regular announcements over the PA that at 3pm the nation would be having its Minutes Silence and asking everyone to please join in.

It was necessary to stop in order to take this picture

I noticed that the old Labour Club is now entirely demolished and the site getting ready for development. The Conservative Club changed in to something else long ago. I don’t know what became of the Liberal Club whose sign I could see going past it on the school bus years ago.

Of course the great attraction of the Kingfisher Centre are the techno-futurist mosaics designed by Eduardo Paolozzi, such as this one – the one that includes the Soviet Venera-7 space probe to Venus as a detail (light blue panels, top centre right).

I went back home and watched the event on TV. The nation seemed quiet at the time, but no more so than any other Saturday afternoon.

Driving back to London I saw someone had put an anti-Lockdown message on a board in Oxfordshire, but I didn’t have time to read it as it flickered past. The Christadelphians knew how to condense a powerful world-changing message in to the least number of words, but the art is lost now.

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