As mentioned earlier, I went to Southport this morning. This is neither in the south nor a port but, anyway. I was there with old friends to see 3 exhibitions in the beautiful Atkinson Gallery. One on Victorian Dreamers, one on Japanese 'Girl Manga' works and the last on the history of the town's mile-long boulevard, Lord Street.
This lovely main street was, allegedly, the inspiration behind Napoleon III's decision to order Haussmann to deliver the famous Paris boulevards. For some reason, Nap 3 lived in a flat just off Lord Street for a while back in 1846. It's unusually wide for a British street and the reason for this is rather bizarre. One side of the street – the one with largely houses – was built on a bank of sand dunes in the 18th. century. The other side – largely shops – was later built on a parallel bank to the west, closer to the sea. The distance between these eventually became the famous wide thoroughfare, lined by an eclectic mix of impressive buildings from several architectural periods. Sadly, there's the occasional inclusion from the brutalist 60s as well as one or two art deco jewels. All-in-all, well worth a visit if you're ever in the North West of the UK. On this postcard of the early 20th century, someone has opined that it was the finest street in the world. And perhaps it really was back then.
The exhibitions were all enjoyable but my reaction to great artwork of earlier times is always the same – increased hatred of Brit-Art in general and Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst in particular. But I try not to let my rancour get in the way of my enjoyment.
The leaflets in the foyer of the gallery suggested Southport is not at all short of cultural attractions – including a nearby museums of lawnmowers! But it was this ad which particularly drew my attention. Especially as I initially thought the animal at the rear – literally – was a fighting bull.
Finally . . . That missing ticket for a British lottery ticket worth 33 million quid . . . It was announced yesterday that the 400-plus phoney claimants faced a prison sentence of up to 10 years for fraud. I very much doubt this will happen, but I imagine that just the suggestion of it would reduce most Spaniards to helpless laughter.