Monday, 24 January 2011

The Irony of Making Altrincham Thrive Again

With reference to the Sale & Altrincham Messenger issue of the 9th December 2010 and its “Cam Can – Prime Minister Backs Altrincham Traders” front page story on how to (try) to tackle the ironic dilemma of making Altrincham THRIVE again.

The SAM article has now been bolstered by a ubiquitous plethora of A4 printed signs displayed in store and household windows beseeching residents and visitors to ‘Shop Local’ and make the town ‘Thrive Again’ – implying disingenuously that faithful patronage alone will achieve this desired commercial end.

So, obviously ‘Shop Local’ refers directly to shopping in the town centre and proverbial High Street, while steering well clear of the healthy competition posed by the Altrincham Retail Park, the Trafford Centre, the City of Manchester, and the unmatched commercial versatility of the Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet complex – and thus limiting oneself to mooching around a town where half the premises are vacant with a ‘ghost town’ atmosphere of total abandonment - and the ‘occupied’ remainder doesn’t cater for the specialist services or goods required by discerning consumers.

All well and good that Cabbage Patch Dave Scameron ‘backs’ the local traders in Altrincham’s historic Tory bastion, but what measure of assistance is he proposing to provide - if any? Will he and his Libservative Coalition of nodding muppets and Fraggle Rock refugees come up with similar futile and moronic schemes as they have to fix Broken Britain?

Well, that’s a tough question to answer, even for the House of Conmans ‘Ubermensch’ when commercial income earning potentials - versus overheads/outgoings (rents/council taxes etc) are so negatively disproportionate.

Applying 20/20 hindsight perhaps the ruling Councillors of the dystopian Soviet Collective of Trafford can stop blaming the current recession and reverse-scry back to where it all went wrong.
Altrincham might well be referred to as ‘The Jewel in Trafford’s Crown’ – which is actually BS as Trafford was unheard of as a Metropolitan area and Altrincham well on the way of going to the dogs by the time Trafford was established in 1974 – thanks to the decades-long corruptly inept mismanagement of the Masonic-dominated Altrincham Municipal Borough Council.

Did it all kick start with the decimation of our local Altrincham-Broadheath industries and the redundancy of thousands of highly skilled precision engineers?
Altrincham, until the mid-1960’s, hosted the biggest one-day agricultural show in Britain – on the Devisdale. So, was the discontinuation of this splendid and unique event the benchmark of the decline - or was it the Council’s felo-de-se fatal act of sanctioning the establishment of these ubiquitous and monopolistic Greedy Grocer supermarkets (Pestco, Pukesburys, or Mammon and Snobfords) and Retail Parks and Shopping Malls that have out-priced and forced the closure of the diverse family-owned iconic High Street businesses that once offered an entire smorgasbord of specialist trades and crafts, and goods and services?

The Butcher, the Baker and Candle-Stick maker – old Altrincham had them all - with their own personalised shop window awnings, opened out each morning and stored correctly away at the close of the day – with nary a sign of steel security bars or armoured roller shutters as per the present day. The Co-Op; Allendale’s; Stanley’s Market; McFisheries – and enough old style public houses to make an alkie quake with trepidation. The Rose & Shamrock; the Baker’s Arms; the Stamford; the Axe & Cleaver; the Woolpack; the British Legion, the Park Hotel and the Downs.

Grog shops besides, we had three Fishmongers that sold game (pheasants, grouse, partridge, woodcock, snipe, rabbit and hare). Gunsmiths, Anglers supplies, Saddlers, Bootmakers, Confectioners, Tobacconists - that also repaired umbrellas, our beloved Singer sewing branch (RIP), local Garages staffed by time-served mechanics and not Kwik-Shit bodgers, Tailors, Costermongers, Hardware shops, Bobby Hill’s quality cheesery, a fully versatile Sports shop, several quality Toy and Book stores, Arts & Crafts outlets, Greengrocers, Fruitiers, a Homeopaths, an Army & Navy store, Pet shops galore, both the Gas and Electricity boards, DIY and decorating stores, – and the UCP specialising in deli foods, cooked meats and pates, roll mops and tripe. Why, we were even blessed with not one, but two, Post Offices – and two actual ‘ye olde worlde’ Dickensian Apothecaries.

We devolved from four Cinemas in the late 1950’s to three to two to one – and then to absolutely none for a virtual eternity – until the Apollo opened for business. Same with the Devonshire Road ice rink – only recently restored as a freezing and slippery ‘straw bale build’ facility on Oldfield Street. Did anyone say ‘fire hazard’?

Really, how many Poundstretcher outlets does a small town actually need – especially so with yet another set to open next to Iceland on George Street – making a total of three - all on the same side of the street and within 100 meters of each other. Four greeting card outlets – oops – five including WH Smuts.
We are further blessed (or cursed) with more pseudo-building societies and banks than enough - and job recruitment offices (with no jobs) and estate agencies brokering unaffordable housing – unless one wishes to lock their family’s next three generations into a cycle of usurious debt.

One wonders if it is a sign of redemption that we have only ‘one’ Totties lap-dancing bar? Surely there’s the floor space and public interest for a pole dancing or topless bar and a couple of strip joints too – and maybe even an EUSSR Brussels-approved bordello in one of Railway Street’s row of vacant shops fronting the notorious Knee Trembler Lane, located to the rear (formerly Stab Vest Alley).

Hmmm, one ponders how far a town has sunk when even the McDonalds and Pizza Hut chew n spew outlets close up shop? Now that has got to be a negative commercial indicator – or did a lack of sales force them to move on due Altrincham residents getting health conscious regarding junk food?

Then of course we have the ‘Centrefold of Sleaze’ – the Grotty Graftons and the Dome - built on the demolished ruins of classical architecture, local character and colour. Alas, yet another council planning department mistake in a long line of similar mistakes, and one now under financial administration.

Where did our splendid architecture disappear to and cause the aesthetic deterioration of the entire town? The old Public Library - and the magnificent terracotta red brick and tiled Axe & Cleaver pub at the bottom of George Street to name but a couple of glaring examples? Demolished in the name of ‘Socio-Economic Progress’ (Altrincham’s Great Leap Forward) and to facilitate the construction of a plethora of Stamford Quarter ‘boutiques’ – all selling the same exploitive sweat shop tat.

Is it a tell-tale sign of the festering morbidity of our town and society that we have more mobile phone outlets and charity shops than a pensioner can shake a stick at? Plus more than enough half-empty office blocks.

Ah, who mentioned office blocks? Twas only a year or so back that TMBC schemed in typical Machiavellian fashion to sell off Shaw’s Green to an outside interests developer – to construct yet another of the stifling office blocks (for phuck’s sake, haven’t we got enough half-full ones already?) – on land ‘Donated to the people of Altrincham’ – as a Green Space - not for TMBC to flog off for thirty pieces of silver – but for the benefit and al fresco leisure (weather permitting) of the common peasants who pay these vainglorious Councillor’s (read parties of self-interest) bloated salaries.

So, we must ask ourselves, what has ‘Alderingaham’ or 'Tring’s Fields’ devolved into when plods on the beat are as rare a phenomenon as hen’s teeth and rocking horse shit, and the sound of a Dodo crowing. Instead we’re cursed with arrays of intrusive Kafkaesque CCTV cameras and moronic hi-viz Community Enforcement Officers kitted out with two-way radios and posturing alike strutting capons.

Then we have the stigmatising blemish of pairs of hubristic skin-headed gorillas hired from the Renta-Thug Security Agency on guard outside the upper town’s various Troublespot Taverns - pubs, bars and bistro’s - every weekend. This was a phenomenon never witnessed when Alty ‘THRIVED’ - and the Plod Squad patrolled the streets on sit-up-and-beg bicycles or in pedestrian pairs - with lager louts and boozed yobettes – tanked up on litres of Pitbull Brewery’s 12% ABV ‘Dogbite Special Brew’ and ‘Tithead Tankard’ – permitted a very short shrift regarding to their bawling and vandalistic anti-social behaviour.

So, who is to blame at the end of the day for the town’s fall from grace – for our society and human nature demand that, quid pro quo, someone must be held responsible? Perhaps the graft and corruption-ridden Freemason-dominated cabal that once comprised the ranks of Altrincham Municipal Borough Council. Cross the shifty Planning Department’s palm with silver and build what you wanted under the tenure of Mayor Arthur Vesey (1950), the inutile and absurd Edie Fitton (1957) – followed by a succession of miscreants, including that insidious pair of Oldfield Brow venal vulgarians, Mayor Ethel ‘Wrinkles’ Hoyle (1966) and her WWII conscription-dodging craven spouse, the porcine Mayor George Hoyle (1967).

Or does equal responsibility lie with Altrincham Municipal Borough Council’s successor: Trafford MBC and their impotent, stagnating Revised Unitary Development Plan? Alas, the town needs a lot more than a cosmetic ‘face-lift’ and a spot of Botox. Perhaps chemotherapy or radical surgery might be more in order.

Between them all and decades of mismanagement by Tory toffs (MP’s Freddy ‘The Frog’ Errol; Tony ‘The Bludger’ Barber; ‘Fiddling’ Fergus Montgomery; and now Graham 'Piranha Teeth’ Brady (he of the moronic Cheshire cat grin - whose mongrel genes have equipped him with the required prognathous dentistry to eat an apple through a tennis racket) - they all contributed to ripping the heart and soul and character out of any and all autonomy and individuality that Altrincham once possessed.

Thus little wonder the place is yet another clone of every other disenfranchised township found across the length and breadth of our sceptred isle – our once green and pleasant land. Like Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard – not much there of any interest to anyone – or their proverbial dog.
Point: has anyone thought of doing a shifty copy-cat job and ‘twinning’ Altrincham with artistic Marlborough in Wiltshire – and losing the current Chernobyl image?

Regardless, while surviving traders and residents are leading the ‘good fight’ in an attempt to rid ‘Alderingaham’ of its merited ‘ghost town’ image, Bill and Ben, the town’s mythical founding Tring Brothers, are probably turning in their graves, saddened by the fact that neither Trafford’s ‘Revised Unitary Development Plan’ nor extended free parking periods - nor 50,000 volts shoved up their little hamlet’s rear end with a Taser - are going to make the place thrive again.
Nor the re-introduction of Saturday afternoon bull or bear or badger baiting; or terrier vs rat matches; or ‘fowl’ cockfight events – or the bare knuckle fist tournaments the town was once notorious for - not while the distractions of HD television and the likes of the Trafford Centre and Greedy Grocer supermarkets exist – and one can shop from the comfort of an armchair - online.

Food for thought: A Dunham Road sign announces to visitors: ‘Welcome to Altrincham – a historic Charter Borough and Market Town since 1290’ – thanks to the munificence of Norman pillager and local Baron, Hamon de Mascis – a renowned shopaholic in his own right.
However, in the 1086 first edition of the Domesday Book, the entire area that now comprises Altrincham, Bowdon and Hale came under the ‘Hundred of Bucklow’ and was estimated to have a population of around fifty persons – including ducks - with the entire County of Cheshire being valued at £150 quid (albeit a tidy sum when the average wage for a tortoise polisher was a mere half farthing per week – before tax and insurance).

Amen, and cynicism aside, here endeth today’s lesson on the futility of attempting to turn back the clock to more civilised days and raise Lazarus without the benefit of Divine assistance. But, as Darwin once said regarding the survival of the fittest: “Evolution’s a real bitch”.

Rusty’s Skewed News Views (Purveyors of Bespoke Satire) enhanced with a modest touch of Yeast Logic and a piquant dash of Political Incorrectness: a newsheet and media source not owned by Rupert Murdoch and the Masonic Zionist kikester lobby – and immune from litigation under the statutes of the ‘Fair Comment in the Public Interest’ defence.

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