News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Friday, 14 November 2008

Cabot Circus

While searching for a dictionary for one of my students yesterday, I found myself drawn unintentionally into Cabot Circus for the first time.

Following the pavement from the Horsefair, I was lead down a path into the belly of the beast, so to speak.

Taking in the brushed metal and pleasant wooden decor, I unsuccessfully cast my eye around for a bookstore. Thankfully, at the bottom of the slope, in the unnatural amphitheater at the heart (or rather, the small intestine, to keep the imagery consistent) of the £500 million development, was a smiley and, I felt sure, helpful greeter . All smiles, shiny face and luminous day-glo orange fleece.

Perfect (thought I), a helpful, smiley and shiny-faced greeter who will direct me straightaway to the numerous well-stocked bookstores in this architectural masterpiece. My earlier prejudices about the new development were melting away, much like the November mist that was dispersing as the pale sun peered through the gargantuan glass roof (equal in size to one and a half football pitches according to the official web site).

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when on asking the orange-clad one where I might find a bookstore I was told that there was no such shop in Cabot Circus. Dumbstruck, I sought confirmation from she of the shiny face that there was in fact no bookstore at all in Bristol's landmark structure, (ten years in the making and destined to place Bristol firmly on centre stage.) "No" was the reply, repeated through gritted teeth in that what-do-you-want-a-bookstore-here-for-you-old-git-don't-you-know-we've-got-Harvey-Nichols tone of voice.

Suddenly, the oversize reindeer statues seemed duller to me despite being festooned with white fairy lights. Had any of the shoppers stopped to look, they would have noticed a disconsolate old fart shuffling back uphill mumbling something to himself about reading, learning, values and the crassness of our popular culture.

I wasn't even cheered up by the statue of the giant Christmas tree baubles.

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Chris Hutt said...

You are not alone. Actually that's one of the best pieces of Carboot Circus inspired writing I've seen, which is saying something.

Steve Smith said...

It's a sad fact that only the asset rich can afford the costs of renting most shopping mall space. In terms of bookshops, these tend to be Borders and Foyles, and I think Borders has a branch elsewhere in Bristol. As an aside, it is interesting that Westfield London, though brand newly opened, has just informed its rentors of a huge increase in rental space.

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