Monday, 16 January 2012

On The Border, Lost In Time

Border towns around the world are often the same.

Years of wars, moving boundaries, feelings of distrust, discomfort or just downright hatred have moulded many of these places. You've only got to go to Longtown or Berwick-on-Tweed on the English/Scottish border to feel the angst which still bubbles just beneath the surface.

The Czech/German border seemed equally gritty. It was a grey place and you could feel the coldness of forty years of Communism. Where there is now just a road and a bridge, you could still feel the spectres of the old customs blocks and watchtowers.

Border towns seem to attract border businesses. If you look at the old Western films, even in the 19th Century, there usually seemed to be a Chinese business in a Dodge City or Tombstone. So, surprise, surprise, the first restaurant I saw in the Czech republic was  the Asia Restaurace.

All the border towns I have been to have businesses with glamourous names, often belying what is really inside. Style Island and Pall Mall promised more than they offered.

Try it the next time you go to a border town. See if you can find the names of the business which are full of promise. It makes a pleasant change from the multi-national chains you find on our High Streets.

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