Friday, April 28, 2017

Bruxton by O. Reader

Bruxton, about 1890


            I like the little town of Buxton. It was a Spa Town that gained huge popularity in the Georgian era, home to the gentry who wanted to take the waters. As fashions historically changed it went down the drain as it were, before coming back up as a tourist area for walkers and climbers in the Peak District.
            We came here for several years running for the Gilbert and Sullivan festivals. My grandfather used to put on these Victorian operettas at the Bradford Alhambra Theatre. It was how he and my grandmother met. So there was a family tradition for this, coupled with a natural liking for British satire and silliness. But then the organizers fell out with the local council over money and took the whole festival further north to Harrowgate.  Harrowgate is a nice town, but even further away from where we live. And looking after an elderly mother meant we couldn’t get away as before.
            But after a gap we have come back here for a folk festival. Actually, a sort of geriatric type of folk festival. The artistes are nearly all drawing their pension, and as for the audience - well, I feel positively young in comparison. So mud and paint and tents and chemical toilets have somehow lost their appeal, and the music is in a proper theater, with actual reserved seats, and a sedate beer tent next door, and nice self-catering apartments - yes, that’s where we are at.
            Buxton has a very fine second-hand bookshop, which is a bit of dying breed in the UK at the moment. Scrivners has five floors, numerous poky little rooms, winding staircases, and is probably a health and safety death trap. I spent a very happy time there this morning, although I didn’t buy anything. I have reached the point where I am selling more than buying, and have very specific lists of what I want. There were several things I would have bought in times past, covering film history, music history, theology, but now so much information is on the internet. It’s a strange rite of passage, going into a bookshop and coming out with nothing.
The same was true of the charity shops. For a quite well-heeled place - ritzy hotels and the main supermarket being Waitrose (probably only Brits would understand the connotation) there were a surprisingly large number of charity shops. It did mean that they contained some good gear rather than junk that a shop should pay YOU to take away. But even here, we didn’t get anything. Books? The same problem as for Scrivners. DVDs? We have so many that there was nothing worth having. Talking books? A few, but we had them all. Clothes? Well, I don’t do clothes. Well, I mean, I do do clothes, but begrudge replacing them. And Mrs O didn’t find anything either.
            What is most memorable are the conversations in the shops. You don’t normally go into a second-hand bookshop to hear a lady inquire whether they have any books written by Jane Eyre..? And the personal problems involving relationships and gynaecology that were being handled full blast in a North Country accent in several charity shops was most entertaining. Now I can do a passable North Country accent - it’s that distant Bradford connection - but I can’t do it here, and anyway, this blog is supposed to be PG. All I can say is women over a certain age in Buxton seem to have loud voices, few inhibitions, and unfortunate personal problems.
            So we’ve wandered around the park, had photos taken on the bandstand, wined and dined and nodded off in the chair, and now this evening there is the music.
            Yes, I remember, that’s what we came here for. Wasn’t it?


  1. An occasional reader2:36 PM

    The photo you chose for the article is of the Old Hall Hotel, just opposite the theater that probably didn't exist when the picture was taken. The very first time we visited Buxton some years ago we stayed there. Apparently we were the latest of a long line of people going back to Mary Queen of Scots who had slept there. Nothing in the architecture was square. The floors leaned over as did the wardrobes. As a result, the first morning I jumped out of bed I went flat on my face. And I hadn't touched a drop the night before. Honest.

  2. There are at least 4 people in the photo. I often wonder what those in old photos were doing and thinking.

  3. There's also a dog looking out the top, right hand side bay window.