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Martin Kirby Improving city one picnic table at a time

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: December 10, 2013

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The way I see it, improving the area alongside the Severn at the bottom of Westgate Street in Gloucester is a great idea and can't happen too soon. What's being proposed – play equipment, picnic tables, barbecues, a BMX track and better parking – is exactly the sort of thing you can see just up the motorway in Evesham, on the banks of the River Avon.

Worcester, too, has attractive green areas and walkways by the Severn, but it has to be said both of these places have an advantage over Gloucester. At Evesham and Worcester, the rivers run almost through their centres, while here, the closest the river gets to the city centre is alongside the former Gloucester prison.

By the time most people have walked there, they either have a cold Big Mac or have run out of lunch time. Still, I'm always saying that Gloucester should be making the most of what it has and this is a great way to do it. Properly marketed, signposted and watched over by security operatives, it would be a tremendous asset to Gloucester and provide something worth visiting at the city's western gateway.

I totally agree that spitting in the street is a disgusting and antisocial habit, but I'm not too sure that Gloucester City Council leader Paul James is on a winner when he encourages us to politely ask offenders to desist.

The most likely outcome of asking some hairy, tattooed Neanderthal not to spit is waking up with a crowd around you. In any case, spitting isn't something that's just come into fashion – like twerking. Kids gobbed on the pavement when I was in junior school. In fact it was seen as a sort of skill and those who were able to spit over great distances were treated with a kind of reverence.

Of course, it's easy to blame Bob Carolgees and Spit the dog, who were regulars on the TV show Tiswas. But like I said, spitting was a pastime long before Bob's scruffy puppet was doing the honours. Distasteful it may be. But I prefer dodging spit globs on the pavement to dancing around dog's doings. At least Spit the dog never dumped on anyone.

Professional nose-pokers want to do away with the traditional male pantomime dame – having the role taken by a female. What's wrong with these people? Aladdin, at The Everyman in Cheltenham, has a brilliant Widow Twankey in the form of William Elliot. My granddaughters understand that it's a man dressed as a woman and that's enough to make it funny for them. Adults revel in the innuendo and everyone's happy – apart from the do-gooders. Ignore them. This version of Aladdin is fantastic – especially when Uncle Abanazer becomes Freddie Mercury!

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