Site Unseen: The Drinking Fountain, Newmarket
Friday 14 June 1996
Like it or not, all our lives are shaped by the quality of the objects which surround us in the street. Only hermits and cave-dwellers can freely ignore the clutter inevitably spawned by the modern world.
Sadly, our contribution has been wholly negative. The red telephone box is ousted by a characterless replacement unerringly situated on the busiest part of the road. Teams of large-buttocked cable-layers tear up pavements and never replace them evenly. And, finally, clusters of ugly satellite television dishes disfigure rows of houses and blocks of flats.
For this last desecration alone, I am happy to pay my licence fee and hope that one day soon extraterrestial television loses its moorings and floats off towards Saturn, never to return. With luck, Mr Murdoch will be on board.
The Victorians and Edwardians had no qualms about displaying civic pride out on the streets. Any number of memorials, statues and fountains graced their thoroughfares. To our visually impoverished eyes, they may seem over the top. But would you rather look at a flat and stained concrete surface or at an intricate creation which pleasures the senses?
Newmarket, home of racing since the days of the Stuarts in the 17th century, possesses two particularly fine examples of street furniture - even if, like me, the words "100 to 8 on" are a kind of gibberish which makes one suspect the Martians have already landed.
The surrounding neighbourhood is full of neat and well-ventilated stud farms inside which equine passion is presumably at its hottest. The pavements are thronged by bandy-legged gentlemen whose miniscule stature would make Little Tich look like a basketball player.
At the east end of the High Street is the Clock Tower that celebrated Queen Victoria s Golden Jubilee. At the other end of the town, past the Museum and the omnipotent Jockey Club, is a drinking fountain. From here the racecourse can be seen rolling away into the distance, the height of the rails emphasising the physical splendour of the racehorse.
But this is not any ordinary drinking fountain. Look more closely and you will see that it is adorned by saddles and stirrups - exactly as it should be here in Newmarket, the home of racing.
As a fitting symbol of the 1990s, why don't we all apply for National Lottery money to pay for drinking fountains decorated by satellite dishes?
The drinking fountain is in Cambridge Road at the west end of the High Street, Newmarket, Suffolk
Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boymusic
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
- 2 Britain First 'acting like Ukip henchmen' by invading meeting of activists in revenge for pub protest against Nigel Farage
- 3 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 4 Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival streaming service criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
- 5 Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
Zayn Malik releases first solo song 'I Won't Mind' in 'Zaughty' collaboration with Naughty Boy
Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival streaming service criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
James May hints he will not continue on Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson
Menstruation-themed photo series artist 'censored by Instagram' says images are to demystify taboos around periods
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers