St James Barton Blues

25 January 2012

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St James Barton Blues

Unless you stand on the bottom of the harbour, St James Barton is about as low as you can get round here. Handy for the shopping centre and the Royal Infirmary, its six lanes swirl round a giant plughole known as the Bear Pit. If only on one level, this is a top candidate for the basement of Bristol.

That said, some of the art has leaked from Stokes Croft onto the walls of underpasses. The clangings of buskers sometimes turn into music. And the Bear Pit Improvement Group have, for instance, been gardening. True the toilets have an unfortunate reputation, but there’s an attendant, soap, hot water, and a padlocked box for used needles.

Today I passed through to get winter socks. In the middle, a smart man was proclaiming the Holy Word in simple terms. Behind him a group of people sharing a large plastic bottle were watching a leaping bull-terrier. A dog is something to love, and depending on breed, useful if you haven’t got a house.

In a famous store nearby, the contrast was almost overwhelming. All that corduroy! Such neatly packaged briefs and Italian-sounding shirts! I learnt that a) my sock-size falls between medium and large, and b) the store were out of thick extra medium. So, heart in the basement, feet on the cusp, I went back through St James Barton singing the blues.

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