Saturday, 20 July 2013

Milton Keynes

I am back working in Milton Keynes again - I was there for 7-8 months last year, and I did get some stick when I shared my thoughts about the town. I will probably get the same this time.

Milton Keynes is a dire, soulless place, that depresses me intensely whenever I have to work there.

I accept that living there is different, but my experience is working there, and that is dire.

Just to be positive, the road system does work. It works really well, even when there is a problem - finding a different route around a blockage is easy. Because people find different routes to places, there is relatively little congestion. I also gather that it is a great place for shopping. So it does have its good points.

That does not change my initial thoughts on the place.

Now I know that some people are thinking "Well, if you like the rural life, the quaint, then maybe it is not for you." Well, I can appreciate a concrete style - I went to UEA, which is built of concrete, and is stunningly beautiful. As my son commented "If you are going to build in concrete, this is the way to do it." I also took my first job in Bracknell, another new town, which I enjoyed living in.

So I can appreciate the aesthetic. Just not in Milton Keynes.

Or maybe it is that I like places I live, and not places I work? Ah no, because I have likes some places I have worked, and not liked some places I have lived. It is something about Milton Keynes itself.

The thing is that transport around the town is very good. There are cycle ways to get around, and the major roads are kept away from the residential areas. Also the shops and working areas are distinct and separate from the residential areas. The town is segregated, meaning that you don't live near an industrial estate or a shopping centre.

That, I think, is the real problem with the town. It seems to reflect one of the biggest problems in so much of life today - the separation and segregation of life, of the various aspects of life, like our work, our family, our worship, our faith. Everything is segregated and separated; we have strict divisions between these, and rigidly defined routes from one to the other, maybe tree lined. The problem of Milton Keynes is that everything is laid out, rigidly structured. There are trees and parks, but they are not so much natural, as the places that the planners decided a park was needed.

Now I am sure that I have misrepresented the town to an extent. I am sure that it is a lovely place to live in. But it does depress me, because to me, it feels inhuman. Humanity is confused and mixed, and the routes between the parts are not fixed and set. The connections between the parts of our life are random and diverse - that is what makes us odd and wonderful. When we insist on splitting ourselves up, on regimenting our lives, we lose out in all areas.

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