After Harrington and the surprise of Heathfield another surprise awaited us further down the coast in Whitehaven; a fantastic Art Deco Bus Station, sadly no longer in use. To show the full extent this is a stitch of two photos.
As you can see I took the above from Tesco’s car park!
Here’s a closer view of the entrance to the ex-Bus Station.
The photo below shows the curve of the entrance.
The entrance is not only fenced off in the lower part but netted above.
This is the first of the two photos I stitched:-
And this is the second:-
In do hope someone can find a use for this brilliant building – or at least put something behind the facade.
Dedalus, 2012, 378p. Translated from the Italian, Nuova Grammaticae Finlandese, by Judith Landry.
To someone like me – obliged to learn Latin at school, and enjoyed it, then dabbled very slightly in German and who subsequently learned the Finnish noun has umpteen cases (I remembered it as nineteen but it’s only fifteen) the attraction of a novel entitled New Finnish Grammar was irresistible. The fact that it was written by an Italian made it even more interesting. Diego Marani has himself invented an international auxiliary language, Europanto, perhaps partly as a joke.
Notwithstanding that, this is a very good book by any standard. It manages to overcome the disadvantage of a substantial lack of dialogue – dialogue is normally a leavening and character revealing aspect of a piece of fiction, diluting the thickness of the prose. To restrict it is a brave decision for a novelist.
Pietri Friari, an exiled Finn working as a doctor for the German army in Trieste in 1941 has brought to him an injured sailor who has the name tag Sampo Karjalainen sewn on to his jacket and a handkerchief with the initials S K embroidered on it in his pocket. The sailor’s wounds have affected his memory and he does not know who he is nor even his nationality. Doctor Friari assumes his patient must be Finnish and sets out to teach him the rudiments of that language. The framing device has Friari find in Helsinki in 1946 the notebook where Sampo had written down his experiences since his time in Trieste. The main body of the text contains these reminiscences – edited for clarity: occasional sections in italics relate Friari’s thoughts and comments on them.
Throughout the early part of the book the thought kept nagging; in what language does Sampo think and why doesn’t Friari ask him? This would be a large clue to Sampo’s origins but the question is never asked in the novel. This is a minor quibble, though. Sampo’s predicament is intriguing enough to see us through.
I wasn’t expecting the book to be about Finnish grammar but in many ways it is, aspects of the language are mentioned frequently. It is also a short history of Finland in the mid-twentieth century and a primer on Finnish myths/legends. Arguably this is necessarily so as anyone learning to be a Finn, as Sampo is, would need that backgrounding. The translator has had to cope with this too. She does it admirably but at one point puzzlingly used the German term panzer for a Russian tank.
While eschewing love and sex – two of the three perennial literary concerns; the third is death – New Finnish Grammar deals with another important aspect of humanity, belonging – or in this case not belonging, struggling to fit in. As such it is not merely about being Finnish but about being human.
Perhaps oddly for a novel whose driving force is memory loss this may be the most memorable book I’ll read all year.
On the way south out of Workington we passed through Harrington (a suburb?) and the good lady spotted the house pictured below. Luckily there was an easy place to park for me to nip out and photograph it.
Heathfield has all the Art Deco hallmarks; flat roof, rounded wall edges, white rendering. Note the long window and the stepped frontage. All the eyes are poked out, though.
The above is the first view I took. The least interesting.
This last photo shows the rounded canopy over the entrance door.
Apart from the modernised glazing this house seems to have been maintained very much in keeping with its origins. It’s still imposing.
From Maryport we headed down the coast to Workington. The approach to the town is through an industrial landscape but we did pass Borough Park, the tidy, if old-fashioned, home ground of Workington AFC. Once a proud Football League side, they now ply their trade in the Conference (Blue Square Bet) North. In their league days weren’t they known as Workington Town? There’s no mention of that on Wiki nor their home page.
We passed the building below on our way to finding a parking spot. It’s the County Library. I made sure to photo it on our walkabout. A fine building – even if its eyes have been poked out.
Also impressive was the Bus Station. Not Deco but looks like a former cinema from a distance. This seemed to be the exit. The entrance looked very similar but was at an angle to this one.
Just over the road from it (you can see a bus exiting the Bus Station on the left of the photo – and a preceding one on the right) was this.
Not far down the same street was this row of Deco shops. I didn’t bother strolling down to get a closer shot of the white ones. We were a bit pushed for time.
Like Maryport Workington was a bit own at heel especially away from the immediate environs of the main shopping area.
I liked this building though, now converted to a Wetherspoon’s.
The saxophone solo here is simply brilliant but the song also contains what is either the best or worst line ever in a lyric, “I spill my tea. Oh, silly me.”
The sax solo was used as a theme tune for a TV series later in the 80s. As I recall the series was set in a Welsh town with a lighthouse, but an internet search using those terms hasn’t been revealing.*
Hazel O’Connor: Will You
*Edited to add:- I had a sudden thought that it was actually a lifeboat, not a lighthouse; so it may have been this, from 1994.
Maryport is a lovely name for a town and it’s where the River Ellen debouches into the Irish Sea.
There’s always something aesthetically pleasing about a place where waters meet. The river in Maryport is nice enough as it curves under a bridge and into the sea but it isn’t exceptional. It helped too that the tide was in and there was as a result no unsightly muddy banks when I saw it.
The town itself has seen better times I would say and looked pretty down at heel even if the Christmas Lights were still suspended over Senhouse Street.
It did have some Art Deco, though. I spotted this on Crosby Street on the way back up from the river. The metal surrounds of the glass on the upper parts of the shop windows here are particularly striking. The higher up windows have been “poked out” though.
On Senshouse Street itself is what used to be a Woolworths and is now an Original Factory Shop. Nice roofline but again poked out eyes for the upper windows.
Brookmyre’s oeuvre has up to now been the crime/thriller novel, albeit tinged with humour. Bedlam is his first foray into Science Fiction. I came across an as yet unlent copy in my local library so thought, why not?
Medical technology company Neurosphere’s employee Ross Baker, shortly after discovering by chance his girl-friend is pregnant and without talking to her about it, has a new type of brain-scan and wakes up inside a computer game which he quickly recognises as he was an avid gamer in his past. Not long after this he is killed there but immediately “respawns” to start all over again. He soon finds a way out into a series of virtual worlds which are in the process of takeover by an organisation dubbed the Integrity which is citing a phenomenon known as “corruption” to seek by force to keep these worlds forever separate one from another. In these digital adventures Baker adopts his former multiple game-player name of Bedlam. There are, though, occasional chapters set in the “real” world where Baker is/was in conflict with his boss over the rights of digital consciousnesses.
My reservations about stories set within virtual worlds were set out in the third paragraph of my comments on Iain Banks’s Surface Detail. Briefly, if there is no real jeopardy, if there is no danger of death, what threat is there? Beyond tedium of course.
Unfortunately most of Bedlam is set within the virtual worlds and as such is seriously unbalanced. I could not suspend my disbelief and found myself longing for the “real” world. In this regard the pregnancy element is a rather transparent way to try to enlist our sympathies with the digitally trapped Baker. Moreover Brookmyre’s style at times jars badly with the scenario. SF and humour are notoriously ill-matched bedfellows. A successful amalgam of the two is very difficult to achieve. Brookmyre has made little or no concession to the peculiar demands of writing SF and has adopted a similar tone to that in his thrillers. There were also signs of the book being pitched towards the US market (tic-tac-toe, medieval, asshole.)
Brookmyre’s typical readers may enjoy the virtual scenes – or not – but as SF Bedlam is perfunctory at best. Perhaps gamers will take to it.
Cockermouth’s most famous son is the poet William Wordsworth.
There is a huge statue of a Lord Mayo on Main Street, though. From the inscription it sounds like Mayo was a bit of an imperial adventurer. He became Viceroy of India and was assassinated in the Andaman Islands!
Anyway, below is Wordsworth’s boyhood home on the junction of Main Street (right) and Crown Street (left.)
Quite imposing. And difficult to photograph without a car in the shot!
We viewed the house and garden – both overseen by the National Trust. We got there just as it was opening at eleven a.m. and there was a queue. Apparently at the height of the tourist season it’s mobbed.
Here’s a view of the garden from the house. It’s a bit sparse looking after the coldest early spring in Britain for 50 years. The River Derwent is a footpath or so beyond the wall at the back. It was from the terrace there I photographed the bridge over the Derwent I featured a couple of posts ago.
There is a small bust of Wordsworth on a pedestal on Gallowbarro – the bar of the “T” to Main Street and Crown Street.
Just to the right of where I took the above photo is a memorial fountain to both William and his sister Dorothy. This was taken at more or less a right angle to where I photographed their childhood home.