Letter: The Britain that the tourists want to see

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The Independent Online
Sir: Should tourism to Britain really be promoted with photographs of Richard Rogers' overblown Lloyd's building ('This tourist trap, set in a silver sea', 18 June)? Not only is the building a paradigm of intellectual enervation, it is also the eponymous headquarters of a collapsing institution that for years was synonymous with the City of London being the world's financial capital. No more, alas.

The rapidly ageing (without much grace) Lloyd's building is as symbolic of Britain's problems as Scarborough's pseudo-Tudor hotel crumbling into the sea - a metaphor not missed by the press. I agree with Bob Payton (the American who started the Chicago Pizza Pie Factory in London) - maybe it's our American roots and a childhood reading David Ogilvy ads.

When I take my daughter to school in Camden Town and have to climb over dozing homeless teenagers, I like to think back on that village green with the classless game of cricket. Sure it's hokum, but it's powerful hokum because it expresses a real wish for a decent, humane society, proud of its traditions and history, but moving forward in a democratic consensus.

There is no harm in having idealised images of oneself, unless one makes no attempt to strive for them. And there is certainly no harm in having visitors see the best of one, and Britain's best is certainly not to be exemplified in Paul Smith suits, David Hockney paintings, or, Lord help us, the Lloyd's building.

Yours sincerely,


London, NW1