BUNHILL: Stop scrubbing our dirty old town

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I Travelled recently from Bunhill Towers into London, and have three comments:

1) Westminster Abbey has been cleaned and now looks as though it was built in 1988. The accumulated grime of time is one of the few resources new cities cannot duplicate. Indeed dirt is rather like interest on a savings account: it can be gathered only by the passage of time. Whatever possessed whoever it was to get rid of it?

2) Most of London's buses are splattered with other colours. This is apparently because the Government said that 80 per cent of buses in central London must be red. The operators interpreted this to mean they could have wide streaks of "their" colour on them. This must be made illegal. The ancient urban tradition of painting the bus red - or was it the town? - should be re-established as a rite of youth.

3) It is not only Eurostar that thinks it is an aeroplane (see Bunhill vol LXXXIV issue vi). A tube train on the Piccadilly Line has the same delusion: it is done up in United Airlines livery, inside and out. The poor thing has obviously become confused while staring at aircraft taking off at Heathrow. It should be taken to the train psychiatrist pronto, but I fear it may be too late. The answer could be to retire it to the Home for Loco Locos, which I believe is near Eastbourne.

I Have just met Peter Waller, operations director of the Year of Engineering Success, and could not help noticing that he drank nothing but champagne. A bit optimistic, I ventured, even for someone working for such a thoroughly upbeat organisation (the Year, by the way, is Next Year). Not at all, he said, I have a problem with my liver and not one but two surgeons have told me that champagne is the only alcohol I can safely drink.

This reminds me of a memo once distributed by the management at Euromoney Publications. "Staff can fly first-class only in an emergency," it said. We wondered at the time whether acute champagne deprivation would count, and also who might qualify. Now we know: Peter Waller should apply for a job at Euromoney, and take full advantage of its generosity.

Scarborough unfair

A Footnote to my past story about Bulgarians in Scarborough, passed to me by my Yorkshire cousin t'Bunhill. You will remember that Scarborough Council gave the Bulgarian football team pounds 25,000 to stay in the town during Euro '96. It did, for two days, before getting bored and scarpering to the bright lights of Darlington.

Hell hath no fury like the council of a seaside resort scorned, but it has now had to abandon its attempt to extract the 25 grand from the Bulgarian Football Association. This is a shame because it sorely needs the cash. The Stephen Joseph theatre, a showcase for Alan Ayckbourn's new plays, has already cost pounds 4.5m and is demanding more.

I would suggest the council deal with its hurt feelings and its financial problems at the same time by commissioning Mr Ayckbourn to write a vigorously anti-Bulgarian play. Know any Bulgarian jokes, anyone?

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