Nectar and ambrosia

Because of a thing someone asked me to do on the way to going somewhere else to meet someone about something, I found myself, at 9.00 this morning driving around a trading estate on the outskirts of Leamington Spa.

I know.

My friend – the one who asked me to do this something – called me on my mobile and explained that her directions had been wrong. I needed to turn right after the garage, she said, down Artemis Drive. Well, I was on Apollo Way at the time, having just turned off Olympus Avenue and I thought – Aha! Because I’m quick that way. When I reached my destination and had done the thing I was supposed to do before doing the other thing, I reversed in Plato Close and returned thoughtfully to the main drag – Europa Way. Here are a few of the people I saw as I drove along:

Okay – I made that bit up. 

How did this happen? Do you think someone in the urban planning department ended up there after a Classics degree, has lost the plot entirely and is attempting, by stealth, to bring a little much-needed culture to the mean streets of South Warwickshire? Or is it a subversive and ironic comment on the evils of urban sprawl and consumerism?

Either way, I’m onto you, unusually-well-educated urban planner with a strange sense of humour! I know your game! And now so do the three people who (very) occasionally read this blog.

You don’t believe me, do you, gentle readers? Wake up to this Olympian peril before it’s too late! It’s even worse than I thought.

URGENT UPDATE: The gods walk among us – and not just in Leamington Spa. Check out this much-awaited debut novel by Marie Phillips. It’s provoked the kind of pre-publication hysteria that would normally have me gnashing my teeth with envy – but Marie is so lovely, I can’t honestly feel anything but delighted for her. It’s going to be HUGE. (And remember it was me what tipped you off.) 

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27 thoughts on “Nectar and ambrosia

  1. On the same map: Bolingbroke Drive, Ophelia Drive, Macbeth Approach, Glendower Approach, Othello Avenue, Costard Avenue… it would seem that the town planner in the next cubicle had nothing for inspiration but a copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare.

    Or Leamington has town planners who, like the guests on Desert Island Discs, have been confined to a South Pacific archipelago with the Complete Works and an audio cassette of The Iliad.

  2. Too funny!

    The area where we live is called Camelot and all the streets go along with that theme. It’s pretty bad. I really wonder if our city planning department realized how incredibly cheesy it sounds.

  3. I’m surprised that one of the neighbouring streets isn’t called The Scottish Approach. Or perhaps town planners aren’t as superstitious as stage actors?

  4. Mmmm, Custard Way. What? Oh, never mind.

    Round here the streets are named in forms of transportation as in Surrey, Coach, Hackney and Carriage or after the developer’s wives (?) Sally, Jana, Claudine, Patricia and Michelle.

    And of course, the obligatory tree names, pinewood, redwood, etc etc. Puke.

  5. I love this quote, it feels so true.
    Bill Vaughan – “Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.”
    I guess once all the trees names have been used up the daring urbanists go one step further.

  6. Do you know I spent EIGHT years going to sales conferences in Leamington Spa and I never even got a sniff of an Olympian Drive. I feel short changed.

    I wonder if the town planner is related to Marie Phillips – I think we should be told…

  7. alphit is preceisely because you’re pedagogic yet subversive that i love you so. no houses – horrible big warehouses and car showrooms. a doric column, even one made of polystyrene, would have been welcome relief.
    poulet nice try – but i fear there’s little profound logic to this nomenclature. i fear you’ve been hoist by your own costard!
    moobs i can assure you, there’s nothing platonic about my reversing. it’s more dionysian to be honest.
    lm camelot? camelot! sorry – can’t help thinking of richard harris when anyone mentions that word.
    violet i don’t think urban planners are that keyed into the luvvy world. can you imagine living there? at number 13? the bard theme is pretty omnipresent round here, naturally enough: there’s a chip shop in neighbouring warwick called ‘the shakespeare fish bar’. i must post a photo of it
    nat hackney! hahaha. if only they knew. actually, i’ve never seen a road called ‘puke’ but that might be an interesting theme to explore.
    bennett too true! once again, your erudition puts a native english speaker to shame. i’m googling it at once.
    rilly a posh totty like you in a kebab shop – shurley shome mishtake?
    pen i know – it does seem a bit strange. it could be my mistake though – i’m always thinking people are kidding when they’re in deadly earnest. and vice versa
    wordgirl who was on maid marion, though?
    jane did you work for scholastic, then? if only i’d known. i’m hoping to link to marie’s extract on the randomhouse site from here – she’s kindly given her blessing but it seems the url’s wrong or summat. x

  8. A friend of ours lives on a 70’s estate where the streets tend to have the names of artists – Gainsborough Drive, Constable Avenue, Rothko Crescent (er, I made one of those up).

    I notice someone mentioned Ophelia Drive. A pity it’s not Ophelia Way, then I could make a feeble joke about it being a line from You’re The One That I Want from Grease.

  9. I seem to remember seeing a Cosmic Avenue in Northampton.
    But what’s all this got to do with My BP & Sainsbury’s reward card and rice pudding?

  10. ‘Artemis Drive’. That just sounds sooo cool. I’d like to live in a house in the UK on a street called Artemis Drive. We Yanks are so easily seduced by this ad/marketing crap. Now if they just had a Greek deli nearby that served Greek salad and tabouli on the side… :p

  11. Out here in the Wild West by Southwest we too often go for street names that reflect the earth’s wealth: Coal, Lead, Silver, Gold, Copper.
    I do believe a Dionysian reversal would be harsh beyond bearing…I hope you are better now!

  12. RG, I’m shocked! I wouldn’t do anything other than point to your gaffe. Certainly not! An dno no, leave the Vine post. It’s mysterious.

    (Sorry RG readers – way away from Mount Olympos. Normal service will be resumed shortly.)

  13. So what are all the pubs called? Round here we seem to be limited by statute to either “The George”, “The Royal Oak” or “The Masons Arms”.

    I like the idea of drinking in a place called “The Ganymede”. Or maybe a vodka bar called “Thor’s”.

  14. There is a Frank Dixon Way in Dulwich, and I remember mixing up the characters name on Brookside and getting myself into trouble with people by referring to Ron Dixon Way. Ho hum, I am always annoying someone with my constant prattle.

    DM

  15. There’s an area is West Hampstead called The Greeks where the streets are named after Achilles, Agammemnon, Pandora etc. My novel was briefly set there, though I decided against it because if you don’t know that the area actualy exists it would seem very twee of me to have made it up. Thanks for the shout xx

  16. I’ve taken pelters for my classical education, but I don’t let it bother me.

    I just order the boys to form a testudo until we’re within charging distance, fling our javelins and hope the cavalry can hit them in the rear.

  17. betty i’m guessing rothko? actually, my kitchen looks like a bit of a jackson pollock at the moment. grease – hahaha!
    brom i’d LOVE to live on cosmic avenue! incidentally, there’s a huge sainsbury on europa way – how bout that?
    mel aretmis drive does sond cool, i agree. just as well i didn’t take any pics to spoil the illusion.
    adrian at least you could say you live on 5th avenue!
    ben i thought camille paglia had a place in puglia.
    cronznet do they have asbestos and arsenic too? or would that be asking for a lawsuit?
    mangonel i’ll await the post with interest! we should talk, anyway
    lucY a rather disappointing batch, i’m afraid. there’s a superbowl and a frankie’n’bennies – that’s about it for entertainment.
    dulwich i had to look up frank dixon (in the nicest possible way). i can see why the confusion would occur!
    marie glad to provide a shout – and i can’t wait for the book. agammemnon, hey? is there a clytemnestra too? that would test the spelling, wouldn’t it?
    flying rodent i did classical history for a while at uni – so i’ll see your testudo and raise you a hoplite phalanx

  18. I see you and flying rodent are talking serious money in this game. I’ve only got a Stele of the Vultures so I’m out! Not sure I want to see anyone’s testudo any way.

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