Malvern is a beautiful place. Drive or ride in from the east along Guarlford Road in the autumn and you will think you are passing through heaven. The hills are world-famous and there is even a view that this town is the centre of the universe. It is a place built on healing, water healing, which expanded the population from a hamlet to a small town in Victorian times. It is famous for JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Edward Elgar and Roget (of Thesaurus fame) to name just four luminaries. And the rail transport links to all points of the compass are rather impressive.
It seems there was quite an influx of hippies/characters during the 60’s and 70’s. You might now get an inkling of where this post is leading. Shall we say that the Malvern “demographic” is in the evening of its life? There is a wonderful little cafe I go to every week (there are several wonderful little cafes in Malvern) and the owner is in his 30’s. Some weeks ago he told me, after I had been critical of a small mobile sample of the ageing hippies, “Ah yes, Malvern, this is a place where people come to die.”
I love the characters in this town. The truly appalling, toxic and destructive (popular) culture which is being imposed upon us passes them by. Life is devoid of characters, of true rebels, nonconformists and eccentrics. A few months ago a man who used to spend a few hours a day, smoking his pipe, sat on top of green telecom box in the town centre, passed to spirit. Every time I drove past him he put a smile on my face and given the tributes which still adorn the telecom box I am probably in a majority. (Lounge) Toad, a man of indeterminable age, with fabulous long hair and a wonderful singing act is still with us. Tony Neate, someone I could call a friend, also passed last year. Tony set up the London based School of Channelling and was involved with the School of Psychic Studies. As I have said elsewhere this man’s contribution to humanity has yet to be realised.
There are dozens of others. And there are many more upsides of beautiful Malvern than what follows. I have already hinted at the challenging side of Malvern residency in my Bill Bollocks post. Indulge me.
The journey from my house to Worcester involves over a mile travelling through a pleasant, but nondescript little place called Malvern Link. The speed limit is 30 miles per hour but if you can manage that you are breaking the law because 95% of drivers stay below 25 mph. And there is of course traffic volume.
After passing the tip, which on a Sunday I would suggest you don’t, there is a traffic island. Turn right and a quarter mile later turn right again and you are in the retail park. The same shops you will find in just about every other retail park in the country. Even in beautiful Malvern there is built environment standardisation.
Take the second exit from the island and the speed limit goes up to 40. Amazingly most Malvern drivers adhere to this. Just under a mile further on and the speed limit rises to 60. Now it gets interesting. Having driven down this road probably hundreds of times I would again use the 95% figure to suggest that is how many drivers struggle to go over 50 mph.
Who gives a F***?
If you accuse me of being an inverted Bill Bollocks then you are probably right. Why does this get to me? Because it is a prime example of unconscious, conforming behaviour. The car in front of me is doing 50 miles per hour, so I’ll do the same. The car in front speeds up slightly, or slows down slightly, so I’ll do the same. About a mile and a half further down the road is a set of traffic lights and a 40 miles per hour speed limit. In Malvern drivers tend to drive to a lower speed limit ahead of the road they are on. Everything seems in slow motion. Walk up or down the High Street and you will miss completely any hustle or bustle or vibe. Some might say there is a relaxed vibe. I would say that just as the drivers have their beady eyes on the forthcoming lower speed limit, many of them are subconsciously processing the design of their coffins.
If anyone can run with gallows humour right now it’s me.
Before I forget there is another interesting feature of this intriguing place. It’s called Qinetiq, a private “defence” contractor. Shall we restrict ourselves to saying the kind of things that had gone on here (still does?) had some rather interesting effects on some members of the workforce.
I wish to strongly avoid any kind of “Crap Towns” hit piece. I’d like to think, despite the majority of drivers not needing cars with indicators, mirrors and transparent windscreens/windows I have given you enough to at least make you want to visit here and possibly live here. Ironically as a motorcyclist-perhaps it’s six years of defensive car driving-I feel rather safe. But I stay vigilant.
There is a brilliant theatre complex here and for reasons I can’t explain Worcestershire is very strong on the performing arts. If you like live music, plays and other kinds of entertainment, come to Malvern. In fact quite a few of the restaurants have pre-theatre meals.
I’m closing with a rather sheepish demeanour. If I keep going on too much about Malvern drivers it won’t be long before the insurance companies get wind of it. Or it may just be me…
Uriah Stewart, October 10, 2019.
Bless you all, especially those of you behind the wheel.