Wonky Colchester

This piece was first written for a publication that never actually appeared.

Hey hoe.

Colchester is wonky and I love it.

When you approach North Station and see Jumbo standing proud, you then realise that the rest of the town appears as though it has fallen off a ledge.

Colchester landscape is wonky.

You leave North Station and then have to walk up the wonky North Hill to reach the town centre.

This is wonky transport planning.

And then a delightful walk around the Dutch Quarter with the houses appearing to have half fallen down, almost under the weight of the past goods produced within.

Colchester housing is wonky.

It may not be the slick identity that tourist types want to promote of the town. But I don’t care. Give me wonky Colchester over the craters that are being filled in down the road in Chelmsford as regeneration is disguised as bland housing.

And this is where wonky Colchester currently finds itself. The regeneration of the Cultural Quarter came to a halt with the collapse of world capitalism back in 2008.

Colchester could by now have had straight lines running through St Botolph’s all the way down to Vineyard Gate.

Give the money men the option and they will choose conformity over the unpredictability of wonkiness.

We should celebrate that the downfall of the world economy saved Colchester from becoming a static metre stick, serving only to measure the status quo and not irregularities.

That was a wonky thought btw.

With the Second Coming of capitalism coming back for another feed at the trough, Colchester now needs to resist all attempts to straighten out the wonky elements that define our town.

We should rejoice that the failed first Cultural Quarter makeover wasn’t able to flatten our wonky ambitions. Even the £28m firstsite insisted on having something of an odd wonky appearance.

If you can navigate your body around our wonky flagship arts space, you may just get to see some contemporary art trying to hang itself on a wonky wall.

We really can’t do any better than this, and we really shouldn’t even try. Failures need to be celebrated. They define who you are, as well as lowering all expectations for the perfect non-existent lifestyle that you can never achieve.

Even an attempt at building something as basic as a new bus station led to the new arrangements going a little wonky.

Where is Colchester Bus Station?

Outside Gala Bingo along Osborne Street, or tucked around the corner on Stanwell Street?

It’s complicated; it’s wonky.

And it’s not just an appearance thing either. The more that you accept that wonkiness is part of what defines our town, the more you can see and sense it as you walk around.

The gloriously wonky buildings as you walk down East Hill are surely the High Seat of Colchester wonkiness. These then lead to a wonky attitude to life as your potter around our patch.

Oh, they’ve seen better days. Shall we knock them down and do a Chelmsford and start from scratch?

Nah.

Leave them be and we’ll get by without any high expectations, yet still managing to achieve something quite special in this little wonky place that we call home.

Colchester is wonky and I love it.

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