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A book all about the A1 Road…

My daughter Adele writes some smashing book reviews, and here is one posted recently on her blog all about the A1 Road in the UK – otherwise known as the  “The Great North Road”.

It runs at the back of our house here in Little Paxton but begins at St Pauls in London and wends it way allof 396  miles to Edingburgh.

Here is Adele’s review…

Citiquing Paul Graham’s ‘A1 The Great North Road’

May 19th on : http://reeda7.wordpress.com/author/reeda7/

The photobook ‘A1: The Great North Road’ is an accumulation of images shot between 1981 and 1982 by Paul Graham documenting the life and times of the people and landscapes along the ‘spinal cord’ of communication in the UK. The A1 was built during the 1600′s, when stage coaches would complete the journey in 6 days. Over the next few hundred years the road fell into decay through the introduction of railways but in 1927 the road was reborn as the A1 with the invention of the motor car. It became a crucial industrial link between central London and Edinburgh. The 400 mile long stretch of practical importance was the busiest route in the country until the motorway system took over with it’s efficiency and speed in the 50′s.

Graham’s portrait of this historically endearing straight-forward British system is poignant in many ways. The moments he captured and brought away from the culture along the road are portrayed in a candid, sympathetic and honest manner, serving tribute to working class Britain, their collective apathy of the eighties, and the despondent neglect the road suffered during these times. Rupert Martin wrote in an essay published as an introduction to the series that Graham illustrated the ‘kind of self-sufficient melancholy’ of the people – who somehow seem downtrodden but proud of their society.

For me it’s a heartfelt and warm testament to the salt of the Earth, the genuine, honest members of our nation who keep the cogs turning, who support the road, and who the road supports back. Cafe interiors crumble into decay but a charm withstands: vibrantly painted walls and garish patterned curtains reflect fashions and a flamboyancy our country should be proud of. I feel a deep affection for our provincial towns whilst viewing the images.

Paul Graham’s work is currently on show at the Whitechapel gallery.

A tiny part of the A1, near to us, rushes past the small villages of Diddington and Southoe. It is very challenging to someone like me who isnt an over confident driver, getting into these villages off the A1 -and on the front page of the St Neots Town and Crier paper is an article about how local residents are trying once again to get a flyover of some sort to help them negotiate the road more safely.

Good luck to them too – but they might have a fight on their hands to secure the necessary funding.

May 26, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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