Although I only live a few miles from the City of Canterbury and my home is situated within it’s administrative bounderies, I rarely visit the place unless it is really necessary: which must seem rather strange to some, as people come from all over the world to visit it’s cathedral and to wander it’s ancient streets.
Well today was one of those days when I had to go into the city to play ‘hunt the parking space’ before fighting my way through the hordes of tourists on those ‘ancient streets’.
The last time that I was in town was in the winter when only the hardiest Japanese camera clickers were around, and the best place to be was inside a warm pub supping a pint or two; so I was surprised to see how psuedo- continental the old place has become, with so many tables and chairs in the streets. Blimey ! Every other store seemed to be a coffee shop or café where tourists sat sipping their expensive cappuccinos and caffè lattes or eating their ‘Ye Olde Pilgryms’ pizzas and pastas.
Now it’s not the tourists themselves that I object to, in fact they are most welcome, but those who are determined to relieve them of their dollars, euros and yen.
Whether it be the bloke selling bubble blowers, the stalls full of ‘tourist tat’ and ‘designer’ fakes, the hot dog stands or the guy loudly touting punt trips on the River Stour (Venice it ain’t), this city would be a lot nicer place without them: as it would be without the assorted beggers, weirdos and those box tickers with their clipboards, who’s mission in life is to stop you getting back to your car before your parking time expires.
I doubt if many visitors ever get to talk to ordinary people who live in the area, for most ’locals’ sweep through the High Street at speed, dodging pestering souvenir sellers and religious nutters alike.
When I lived in London I had a friend who wore a T shirt whenever he had to ’run the gauntlet’ of the West End’s pimps and pedlars. Printed on the T shirt was the message … ‘I’m not a tourist … I live here’.
Perhaps Canterbury City Council …
… should issue them to local residents.