Muesli and Brutalism (or Don’t Smash Things You Don’t Like)

Many, many years ago, before my hair turned grey and my chins duplicated themselves, when I was six and the world was a mystery, I used to sit at a pine table in Beverley and eat cereal from Hornsea pottery. Of course that was quite an uneventful occurrence in the 1970s. But as the years passed, turning into decades, the iconic brown plates began to vanish, thrown out, smashed up, given to thrift shops and replaced with more contemporary stock. People saw them as hideous, dated, worthy of contempt. The seventies! Pa! Vile! Bin it. And the same went for the fire places, and the tiles. Smash, smash went the hammer, wrenching the fragments of the dated tiles from the wall, replacing them with the decade’s new favourite. I once saw a set of Hornsea pottery on sale in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury and the price was stratospheric. Recently, I took a break from writing and painting to watch an episode of some property development programme. I watched in horror as a beautiful, intact row of Hornsea tiles was ripped out by some implement-wielding vandal. “No,” I pleaded, open-mouthed, and gasping. But it was too late. And so it is with our architectural heritage. Look at these little gems of retro glory, those stone and ceramic equivalents of the Mini Cooper or Glam Rock. Cherish them, for one day, if they are gone, generations to come will curse us and our haste to smash up the skill and creativity of those who went before.
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