How can a city that was considered in the 1990s to be a lump of excrement clinging to the arsehole of England, get any worse? Well, take my hand dear reader, and I’ll show you how my former home city, Coventry, has achieved the impossible.
We alight from our bus at a place called “Pool Meadow”. This bus station, like the city’s overpriced car parks, epitomises the city in that its frosty, unwelcoming atmosphere, cold steel seats, faint whiff of urine assaulting the visitor’s nostrils, and the hostile looks from locals makes us wonder why we bothered to step off the bus.
One of our first observations is that the rundown engineering industry, lamented in Hale Street’s Motor Museum, has been replaced by a sprawling so-called “University” that attracts hordes of ne’er-do-wells who can neither make it to a respectable university nor find a proper job. These ch4vs and ch4vesses populate street corners in menacing-looking gangs and stagger about in dodgy pubs.
Feeling distinctly uncomfortable we walk up to the hub of the city – known as “Broadgate” – for respite, trying desperately not to tread in puddles of spew and goodness knows what else. When we arrive we find that the city these days is still a soulless, windswept wilderness, but the shops are even worse than they used to be. The atmosphere in those that have not closed down is uncongenial, and the service is, well, let’s say, brusque.
We immediately realise that the best way to see Coventry is in the rear-view mirror of a fast car; but we don’t have a car, and so we briskly walk, constantly checking behind us for shifty characters, to White Street Coach Park. This place is even worse than Pool Meadow. It stands beneath the ring road – which itself is so small that it induces dizziness when driving around it – and there is not one single seat in the entire coach park to sit on. Furthermore, there is no shelter whatsoever from the cold wind or driving rain. We ask each other, if God himself is unaware of the existence of rat-holes like this in Coventry, how can Coventry City Council know about their existence? Our coach arrives 45 minutes late and, with no word of explanation for the delay, whisks us off, over the potholes and past the decrepit houses in suburbia, to the relative comfort of a neighbouring town.