Mark Andrews on Saturday: Silence is golden at Glastonbury

By Mark Andrews | Opinions | Published:

Read Mark Andrew's Saturday column.

AS some of you may have read last week, I really don’t do music festivals. Nothing against music, it’s just the camping in a muddy field with compost toilets and days without a wash that I find repulsive.

Anyway, when I checked out the programme earlier this week, I noticed that one of the first events was a ‘silent disco’ with guest DJ Norman Cook, who is sometimes known as Fatboy Slim. Actually, he is also known by at least 26 other aliases, and his real name is Quentin. Presumably, he thought Quentin lacked street cred, although why he chose Norman is anybody’s guess.

Now many of you will be wondering what a ‘silent disco’ involves. It transpires that people stand around in a field wearing headphones which offer them a choice of music, and dance to their own choice of sounds. What is the point in all that?

I thought the main point of discos was to cop off with somebody of the opposite sex. But how are going to do that when you’ve got a sound system on your head and you don’t know what the others are dancing too?

Then, again, it seems a bit weird that somebody who just stands at a mixing desk playing records is more famous and probably much wealthier than many of the musicians themselves. What can Quentin/Norman/Fatboy do that countless hundred-quid-a-night pub DJs can’t? Still, on the positive side, this year’s Glasto features a huge range of vegan food stalls. I guess no-one’s told them it’s on a dairy farm.

AS a Villa fan, I will grudgingly acknowledge that it is great news for Wolverhampton that a large new hotel will be built next to Molineux as part of a scheme that will link the football ground to the city. While there is no shortage of accommodation in Wolverhampton, most of it is at the budget end of the market. A high-end, luxury hotel would not only create hundreds of jobs, it will also bring a different, more profitable demographic into the city.

What does sadden me a little though is that it will be built on the site of Peal House, the Modernist former Tarmac building which was demolished by former Wolves owner Steve Morgan in 2010.

Now I realise that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I always thought that with its clean, simple lines, Peal House was quite attractive. Or, at least, it could have been with a bit of sympathetic restoration and landscaping.


Of course money talks, and the reason why Tarmac’s successor Carillion moved into the far less attractive Staffordshire House on the ring road was because the newer building was considered ‘more viable’. I can only assume that it is much cheaper to build a new hotel from scratch than it would have been to bring Peal House up to date. And as a construction magnate, Steve Morgan probably knew what he was doing.

Postwar architecture gets a bad name, and it is certainly true that mistakes were made in the 1950s and 60s when so many beautiful, historic buildings were casually pulled down in the name of progress.

My fear is that we are doing exactly the same thing today, demolishing perfectly good buildings simply because they have fallen out of fashion.

It would be very sad that if 100 years from now, the only thing left from the second half of the 20th century is memories and photographs.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.


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