Friday 23 September 2011


Whenever modernist buildings are demolished, I remember all the propagandists of the late 60s/early 70s who said "You can't stand in the way of progress." Tower blocks were going to be our future, for ever and ever, amen! We were told that progress just happened and things could never change back.

Yes we can! We can even turn it round and make it go the other way, or render it utterly forgotten.

”Secular” Kibbutzim Building Own Shuls (headline Jewish Chronicle June 30, 2011) “Kibbutzim used to be the symbol of secular Judaism, of creating a new type of Judaism that was not religious, but most of that has disappeared now,” said Shlomo Getz of the University of Haifa.

ASDA is bringing back pounds and ounces for fruit and veg. (Did that last?)

Battersea Power Station may be turned back into a... power station. (No – tin can flats as usual.)

Beavers, cranes, wild boar and red kites have returned. And egrets and spoonbills!

British Airways is preparing to reinstate its company crest on airliners – marking the final reversal of the “groovier” rebranding that so offended Baroness Thatcher in 1997.

Catholics to eat fish on Friday, says the Pope.

Companies are moving HQs from business parks back to downtown.

Consignia “The UK Post Office group’s decision at the start of the decade to move some of its operations under the label of Consignia attracted hoots of derision before it eventually and quietly renamed itself Royal Mail Holdings.” (Oct 2010)

County names: new county names like Cleveland, Humberside and Avon were created in 1974, universally loathed, and abolished in 1996 (bringing back Rutland).

Dig for Victory
is back. (Now can we have WI cooking demos?)

Drachmas, marks, lire, francs… we may see them back. (No, still the euro, 2024.)

Estates are razed and replaced with houses on the original street pattern.

Latin Mass: the Pope wants it back. He’s having the vernacular mass “retranslated” to bring it nearer to the original Latin (and people are outraged because they’ve got used to the new one). But the most unpopular aspects of the vernacular mass were quickly dropped (happy are those who are called to his supper, fruit of the vine and work of human hands), even though we were told there was NO appeal (and no consultation). And the Catholic Church wants new music to incorporate more plainsong. Aug 09

Leningrad went back to being St. Petersburg.

London’s rivers are being restored and more may be brought to the surface. ("Daylighting".)

Medieval London Bridge should be rebuilt – says Mayor Boris Johnson. (Sadly his one good idea was never carried out, 2024.)

Mexico City’s rivers may be restored.

Modern music – in the 70s Radio 3 pushed it relentlessly, telling us that everybody would like it one day. Their propaganda told us that music developed towards atonality: Beethoven-Wagner-Schoenberg. What happened? People went right on loathing it, and harmony and melody came back.

Museum charges were brought in in the 70s with great fanfare, loathed, dropped.

New English Bible (1960/70) was universally loathed. It was deliberately turned into “modern English”, using thought-for-thought rather than word-for-word translation. We were told it was what we were going to have so we’d better learn to like it. It vanished within a few years. “It was significantly revised and published in 1989 as the Revised English Bible.” (Wikipedia)

Old tube stations may be reopened and “repurposed”. (No sign, 2024.)

Oxford to Cambridge railway line may be reopened. (Sadly, no, 2024.)

Polish Cultural Institute says Gorecki was “one of the many avant garde composers who ‘converted’ to traditional music”.

Robin Hood Gardens, the brutalist development next to the Blackwall Tunnel (above): after 30 years they decided to dynamite it - and build steel and glass tower blocks in its place. (2009)

Russian Orthodox church, suppressed under Communism, is now flourishing.

Sometimes trying to make us accept a name used on the Continent is a disaster, and Coco Pops is one such example. There was no room in any of our hearts for Coco Krispies. Verdict: They had to change the name back to Coco Pops within a year. (

St. Pancras, empty for years and nearly demolished, is now a hotel again. And it looks much better without a coating of Victorian soot.

Synthetic phonics – or “D says duh” – is used to teach children to read, after years of teachers vaguely hoping kids would just pick it up and refusing to notice that this method doesn’t work. Read the sad story of California’s embrace of non-phonic methods here (reading levels plummeted).

Teaching children to cook instead of making them study “food tech” has been suggested. (Still a suggestion, 2024.)

The 1810s Jewish reformers saw most of their most radical liturgical reforms undone in the following decades as things they had cut as unnecessary, superstitious, repetitious, old-fashioned, un-European crept back because people liked them. Confirmations became bar mitzvahs again.

The Crystal Palace may be rebuilt. (The suggestion turned out to mean "build something completely different on the site", but its ornate underpass has been restored, 2024.)

The Euston Arch may be re-erected. (One day, one day.)

Tower blocks: many have been dynamited. Their destruction began in the mid-70s, about ten years after most of them went up. Unfortunately they are being replaced by a whole lot of new tower blocks, or tacky speculative flats.

Train companies want to reopen 34 lines axed by Beeching.

Underpasses: “The post-war scheme of roads and subways will be completely removed and a straightforward common grade established at ground level for both pedestrians and increased alternative transport modes.” (Elephant and Castle – but sadly the money’s run out and the fate of E&C is at present unknown. But at least someone had the idea of filling in the subways.)

1 comment:

  1. Update, 2021. Sadly Battersea power station is now hidden behind steel-and-glass apartment blocks.

    The euro is still currency.

    Pope Francis is nixing the Latin Mass again.

    London Bridge was not rebuilt.

    Radio 3 now plays folk instead of classical music.

    No sign yet of the Crystal Palace or the Euston Arch.