Ken Powell's perceptive interview of Glenda Jackson (aj 20.1.00) is hopefully the first with each of the mayoral aspirants. Her views on architecture and Routemasters are revealing.
Concern that the disabled should be able to get around London is right and proper but general service buses are probably neither the best nor most economical answer to achieving this. Disappearance of the 'much loved Routemaster' may not be necessary.
Fortunately she recognises her opinions on architecture are personal. As a former actress of repute, Ms Jackson's comments on theatres built or renovated in the last 50 years must be respected. But why limit judgement to the backstage areas? Surely obstructed views of the stage from parts of the auditorium (the new Glyndebourne and the renovated Covent Garden are examples) are equally if not more objectionable.
A hang-up about concrete is common but sad. Concrete has per se no less merit than brick, Portland stone or stucco. Each may be poorly or skilfully used. The material of which a building is made is an integral part of the architect's vision, as indivisible from the final work as is the instrument in a musical composition.
Among the buildings touched upon in Powell's interview with Jackson is my Pimlico School - bete noire concrete and glass, and thus probably doubly damned. She is however reassured that it can be replaced with 'a good new school at a bargain price'. I wonder if she is aware that my proposed modernisation of the present building to fit it educationally for the next 35 years is practical, could be carried out using a private finance initiative (pfi) at a savings to the government of some £11 million - without a sacrifice of any of the wonderful site with its splendid trees. Moreover, in execution it would be less disruptive to pupils' schooling and to surrounding residents.
The Department for Education and Employment and John Prescott know of this potential saving; and home secretary Jack Straw, still a governor of the school, has to my knowledge declined to inform himself of this modernisation possibility.
Elsewhere in the aj David Taylor divulges the latest twist in the dfee's battering tactics being practised by our present education minister Jacquie Smith ('Education chief threatens Pimlico over pfi stalemate').
As the potential mayor and lover of the arts, Ms Jackson might be interested to know more about the genesis and ideas behind Pimlico School; I would be happy to show her round the building.
Haywards Heath, Sussex