That there on the left is my Primrose when she was little, being cheeky in London. On the right: what the big girls were doing in London at the same time. Nothing says British Modernism to me, quite like the mini skirt, Archigram and the Moulton F-Frame.
Which is why I am working on refurbishing a Moulton F-Frame for my thoroughly Modern piece of British toosh, the mother of my children, and manager of my finances, who my readers all know as my Primrose. I don’t have it quite finished yet. It is finished enough though that I am starting to get excited. Beep beep!
She will be the queen bee when she is back in hipster central, Newcastle East, in July. In due course the whole Behooving family will be back in our regular stomping ground, when my blogging will make a U-turn in tone. Newcastle East is a unique CBD, cut off from through-traffic not thanks to a ring-road but because it is a peninsular bordered by a surf beach on one side and a harbour on the other. Packed onto this micro-Manhattan is an array of building stock supporting everything from corporate headquarters and executive flats, to student squats and bohemian venues.
I think the world has heard enough about Assen, Groningen, Copenhagen and all those miserable shit holes filled with Moroccans on mopeds. They have all had their 15 minutes as pinups of the cycling Renaissance and most of us by now have even made pilgrimages. But what did we do when we were there? What were the attractions? Most cities actually have none. Newcastle is different, because in addition to the college vibe, brew pubs, swank joints and slummy ones, there are two surf beaches and a free public pool cut into the rock shelf.
The East coast of Australia also has the Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Bondi, Bronte etc., all with lively urban districts right on the beach. But they don’t have the beach and the Victorian CBD, protected from through-traffic by their geography.
Until I tire of Newcastle as an exemplar (and quite possibly, I never will), I will be using it to illustrate a lesson for every city, and that is that bicycle transport be the key to unlocking attractions. I won’t go into all the gory details right now, but the scope for doing that here in Launceston, Tasmania, where I currently live, has been sabotaged by unchecked nepotism holding this place back in its attitudes by about 40 years. If you want to time travel to 1975, you know where to visit. If you want to see the a progressive hedonistic slice of paradise, albeit an exception in a city otherwise characterised by traffic and sprawl, then Newcastle East is the place you must visit. You will be pleasantly surprised too by its accessibility from the rest of the city by bike.
Naturally I’m jealous of my Primrose, heading back in advance. She will be the envy of all the cool chicks in what I plan to make the poster city of the bicycling renaissance in coming years.
p.s., all finished: