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And so to the West Midlands and Interbuild, where Astragal took the opportunity to quiz Birmingham's finest cabbies on the city's recent glut of architectural 'treasures'. The verdict on Selfridges? 'Well, it's what you'd call immature design, ' Astragal's driver said.

'The architect was looking at a beehive when he designed it, and then they asked him for some decoration so he got Ford to make the discs. It's a classic case of American design by an Englishman.' The response to Astragal's gentle suggestion that the designer might, in fact, have been Czech, was loftily dismissed: 'The designer's from the West Country. Why do you think he keeps bees?

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