Miles On Monday
The weekly thoughts of York writer Miles Salter
This week, Miles lands a world exclusive interview with Lendal Bridge over the recent furore over York council’s traffic ban…
Miles: Lendal Bridge, thanks for agreeing to talk exclusively to YorkMix.
LB: Please. Call me Len.
Miles: Thanks. So, erm, Len, how are you feeling?
LB: Great. So glad that the council have seen sense and that James Alexander has declared me open again to the public. To be honest, I missed the cars.
LB: Yeah. Well, obviously, I won’t miss the exhaust fumes. My chronic lung condition has been so much better since the car ban started.
Miles: So why are you glad about the decision to repeal the ban?
LB: Well, I missed the buzz, Miles, y’know? Don’t forget, I am one of York’s best bridges. A lot of people have been across me over the years. And things got a lot quieter when it was just buses and taxis.
Miles: Some would say you’re a bit of a tart?
LB: An easy lay? I don’t know about that. I think I prefer the term “friendly”. For decades I’ve welcomed them all: people from a hundred different nations have gone across me. And they get across the bridge and head up past Museum Gardens and then they see the Minster. And people go “Wow”. I’m the only bridge in the world that does that.
Miles: You don’t see any competition from your nearest rivals?
LB: What, Ouse and Skeldergate? Nah. Pair of losers, both of them. I’m the original.
Miles: Well, technically, Ouse is the original bridge, it’s been around since the 9th century.
LB: Yeah, well, who worries about the 9th century? You know who designed me?
LB: I’ll tell you. Thomas Page. He designed Westminster Bridge in London. We’re talking pure class, Miles. Pure class.
They think it’s all over
Miles: So, all in all, you seem pretty relaxed about the recent furore.
LB: Thing is Miles, I’ve been here a long time. Since 1863, when I was first opened. I’ve seen it all. Five men died when I was being built, you know. It was tragic, but over the years I’ve been loyal to York. I’ve become philosophical. I had troops from World War One cross me. They went off on the train and they never came back, poor lads. Kings and queens have been over me. Politicians. Celebs. They all come and go, you know? But I stay strong. I’m in no mood to buckle. So all this stuff lately, it’s just water off a duck’s back to me. Chances are I’ll still be here when you’re in a mobility scooter.
Miles: I see. Erm… what do you think should happen to the money that has been requested in fines?
LB: It would be a good gesture if it was paid back, but I can’t see it happening.
Miles: You could say that would be “A Bridge Too Far”?
LB: Is that supposed to be funny?
Miles: Well, I thought it was amusing.
LB: You need to get out of Heworth a bit more.
Miles: Let’s change the subject. How can York tackle its traffic problem?
LB: Ah. Glad you asked. The thing is, York wasn’t built for cars. It’s apparent! So my suggestion is this: the council starts a new scheme of small mini buses, about 200 of them, running constantly around the city. Punters could hop on and hop off, £2 for all day use. Sorted! Alternatively, we go back to horses. Lots of horse drawn buggies that go on a circuit around the town. Like it was in 1876. Great year.
Miles: You’re joking?
LB: The city would be famous for horse drawn transport. Tourists would love it. And it would greatly reduce pollution, and give York a distinctive favour.
Miles: A distinctive odour, more like. Well, thanks for your insights, Len. Last of all, what’s your favourite film?
LB: Bridge Over The River Ouse.
Miles: You mean Kwai?
LB: Yeah. But I always thought it would have worked so much better in Yorkshire. You don’t need Japanese cruelty. Just head to Acomb. And get Berwick Kaler to
do the Alec Guinness role. And Mike Kenny could do the script.
Miles: Interesting idea.
LB: It would be a cracker.
Miles: Thanks for talking, Len. Keep up the good work.
LB: OK, no problem. I’m feeling “fine”. Get it?
- Miles Salter is a writer based in York
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