As part of my New Year celebrations I went with friends to see a stunning performance of The Nutcracker by Northern Ballet at Leeds Grand Theatre. Afterwards we went for a meal at a city centre restaurant. I can't remember the restaurant's name but it was housed in an imposing building, overlooking City Square, which was formerly the Crown Post Office. The current Post Office has now been shifted to a corner of a nondescript shopping mall.
Closer to home, in Batley, what was formerly the Post Office, another impressive building next to our Carnegie Library, and overlooking a market square which would be regarded as pretty were it in France or Greece, is now an Italian restaurant, and the Post Office has been shifted to a grubby building slightly off the town centre.
Then, a few weeks ago, orders were sent from the Department of Education that all schools are now to be built to a utilitarian and cheeseparing tenplatee which I've just learned to think of as "brutalist."
Our Victorian forebears were infused with national and civic pride which, among other things, was lavished on public buildings. The splendid town halls of Leeds, Huddersfield, Sheffield, Liverpool and Manchester are just some example, and Batley's isn't too bad, though it started life as a Mechanics' Institute.
The movement of great state and local government institutions from these imposing manifestations of pride is just another example of the public squalor which is now deemed necessary to maintain private affluence.