You are Awful (but I like you)

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

You Are Awful 271Tim Moore sets out on ‘Travels Through Unloved Britain,’ searching for all the worst places by whatever means you care to measure worst: unemployment, crime, health, pollution, ugly buildings, bad planning, you name it. To get from one miserable place to another he travels in Britain’s worst car: the Austin Maestro, a car so unloved that although 600,000 rolled off the British Leyland assembly line between 1983 and 1994 in 3812 miles he never encounters another. Then he eats the worst possible meals in the lousiest restaurants, drinks in the scariest pubs and stays in the hotels that scored the lowest possible ratings on Trip Advisor. Along the way he’s guided by SatNav directions in Britain’s most horrible accent, Brum of course and the instructions are by Ozzy Osbourne. Entertainment is provided by a playlist of Britain’s most unlistenable pop music.

It threatens to be a thoroughly miserable trip and at times it is, although a few places are not as bad as they were made out to be and even before he got to them some of Britain’s least popular buildings were demolished. The hated Trinity Square Car Park in Gateshead for example, also known as the ‘Get Carter Car Park’ from its role in the cult movie Get Carter. Opened in 1967 demands to demolish it started almost immediately and it finally came down in 2010. This is a book that regularly drives you to image searches on Google.

Britain 1 cover 271The back cover blurb name checks five town – Coventry, Stoke, Bracknell, Rhyl and Tydfil – two of which, Coventry and Bracknell, I’ve lived in (or very close to). Disappointingly Bracknell features on the cover, but if it made it to the text I didn’t find it. And Coventry doesn’t come off too badly although in the very first edition of Lonely Planet’s Britain guide I researched Coventry and wrote something like ‘poor Coventry, blitzed by the Germans during WW II and blitzed again by British architects after the war.’ I’ve been back to Coventry in recent years and found points of interest worth searching out.

The cover of edition 1 of Lonely Planet’s Britain guide ►