Wednesday, 11 February 2009

einstürzende neubauten, or possibly not

The Colston Hall is a big entertainment venue in Bristol. I last went there about fifteen years.... hang on..... blimey, make that twenty years ago, to see Hawkwind ("It's a back brain stimulator
It's a cerebral vibrator Got an orgone accumulator" Whoa, get down). The place was named after Edward Colston, who made his money from the slave trade. Bristol band Massive Attack refuse to play there because of the connection.

It's funny how you can walk, drive or cycle past somewhere for ages without noticing something about it. I stopped outside the Colston Hall last summer, when I was road testing a new guide book, Discover Bristol On Foot, by Robin Haward and John Dennis, for a review I was writing for the Bristol Review of Books.

The book guides you through the city and asks questions which you can answer by looking around as you go. Thus, for this location,

14:11. I’m outside the Colston Hall, whose façade I am invited to admire. “What are the three activities shown in stone on the wall?” Er…. Gay sex, striptease and ice skating? Good grief. Eclectic taste in entertainment, our grandparents had. (Answer: Wrestling, music and dance. If you say so, guide book)
And so I passed on, and thought little more about it.

So this morning I'm idly Googling my own name (as one does....) and I find that I've made a comment on the new building next to the Colston Hall, on a feature about it on the BBC Bristol website. This is what my contribution says:

What an amazing improvement to the auditorium and backstage facilities this has made.....NOT!
Dru Marland, Bristol
....except that I didn't actually say anything. Someone has been pretending to be me. How odd.

It's an interesting take on identity theft; it could be a lot worse, but I really wouldn't use the word 'amazing'; and the capitalised NOT and exclamation mark? -I don't think so.

It got me thinking, though. If you were so inclined, you could write something purporting to be from somebody else, in which you casually split an infinitive, or expressed a keenness for the songs of Daniel O'Donnell, or salad cream, or large motor cars. The possibilities are almost certainly endless. Rather than ruin someone's reputation (if indeed they have one in the first place) you could make them seem ever so slightly off.

Anyway, having not given it much thought until today, I decided that I really ought to have an opinion about this alleged carbuncle. So I popped down there with my camera. Here it is, look.

...yup. It's OK. I can live with that. As John Fortune says, "I'm sorry, I just can't see what's wrong with this relationship."