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Camden New Journal - One Week with JOHN GULLIVER
Published: 23 July 2009
Prince Charles
Prince Charles
Building a Royal friendship, Piers?

IF anyone can stand up to Prince Charles’s views on architecture it is the modernist Piers Gough.
I tend to steer pretty clear off the subject. I don’t know enough about it, I tell myself.
But Piers Gough – who has made his mark with several acclaimed projects – didn’t pull his punches in an article in last week’s New Statesman.
In a cascade of needle-sharp observations, he made it clear – as he does in the opening sentence – that “there is no love lost” between architects and Prince Charles.
He describes the Prince’s style of architecture as “pretentious”, and his TV programme as “reactionary”, “milking his Royal status rather than offering intelligent analysis”.
Gough referred to Charles’s “considerable” wealth and his model town at Poundbury as an “ersatz traditional villager…as phoney as a film set.”
He described the message in the Prince’s speech at an event held by the Royal Institute of British Architecture as “pernicious”.
Gough writes that the Prince was inviting architects to “stop innovating, stop thinking for themselves. Such a proposition would be laughed at if it were made about….culture, painting, music, dance or science or medicine.’
He believes the Prince really wants architects “to stop building anything at all and retreat…. architecture to stagnate and die.”
When I rang Gough at his office yesterday (Thursday) he laughed when I told him diplomacy didn’t appear to be his strong point.
“I suppose you are right,” he said, “but I wasn’t writing the article for the acclaim of the political class.”
As an architect, Gough is probably used to a bit of rough and tumble when people appraise his own work. Noted for his design of key galleries at the National Portrait Gallery, he didn’t seem particularly upset when a reader described his latest project in Fortune Green Road, West Hampstead, as a “carbuncle”, turning the tables a bit when you consider Prince Charles used the same adjective to dismiss an extension of the National Gallery.
As we talked, it became clear he had thought hard about the West Hampstead residential and retail complex which will open later this year.
He pointed out that if you look at it from inside the facing cemetery it doesn’t “smoulder” – it is not a building with “pretty colours”, it’s suitable for its location.
The complex strikes me – only, admittedly, from photographs – as a ship heaving into view with plenty of curvy features. Prince Charles would probably hate it.
Particularly, after reading the article in the New Statesman headed “Carbuncles and coronets”.

Politicians slow to take steps on Tube escalator

PASSENGERS were warned last night (Wednesday) through a booming loud speaker at Camden Town Tube station that they would have to walk down to the platform – 96 steps in all.
It was too bad if you were disabled or with a push-chair.
The down escalator – now under repair – isn’t expected to be working again for another three months.
This newspaper revealed the sorry state of the station, one of the busiest in London, nearly a month ago.
An angry Holborn MP Frank Dobson is now sniping away at Transport for London but probably with little effect.
It isn’t surprising because, surely, the London Tube system must be the worst in Europe – if not the world.
During the week the main Tube lines are at bursting point from morning until late evening.
At weekends it’s worse because several lines are often closed for repairs
But then Tube chaos doesn’t appear to be too high on the agenda of the political class – maybe because few of them use the system.

Family affair Selection meeting turns into a reunion

YOU would expect it to happen at a wedding, but not, surely, at a political meeting where candidates wait to be picked as a candidate.
However, when veteran Labour councillor Roger Robinson turned up at his Somers Town selection meeting at St Pancras Community Centre, he came face to face with Luciana Berger – a long lost relative.
The pair worked out they are cousins, twice removed – Roger’s mother was Luciana’s grandfather’s cousin.
Luciana, 28, who lives in College Place, Camden Town, and sits on a tenants and residents association as well as a neighbourhood panel, won the nomination and will now stand alongside Roger.
The pair have another relative in the Labour movement, the legendary Manny Shinwell, a minister in the post-war Attlee government, who was Roger’s great uncle.

Bus spy cameras not fair

HOW would you feel if a camera was spying on you at work?
Not too happy, I suppose.
Nor are Metronet bus drivers – including those on the 274 that runs through Camden
No one told them about the spy camera until they found they were being fitted in their cabins.
“Management didn’t even bother to tell us about them – we only found out when some buses were fitted with them,” Paul Brandon, a union rep at Holloway garage, told me.
“What other profession can you think of where a camera is pointed at you while you work all day? “Drivers are under enough pressure without having big brother watching over our shoulders.”
Drivers are now getting ready to vote in a postal ballot to decide whether to take action short of a strike or strike action.

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Your comments:

Phil Poole shows amazing courage. We all wish his treatment to be successful. The item on the Torriano Meeting House beggars belief. There's more to local life than financial gymnastics. My heart bleeds for the poor councillors earning in excess of £200,000. The majority of residents can only dream about that kind of money.
J. Kerkhoven


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