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What do you really want? West Kilbride

Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What do you really want?
Polly Toynbee, in yesterday’s Guardian, uses the phrase “cognitive polyphasia”. It is used by pollsters and in simple terms means we want impossibly contradictory things. She’s writing about how people want “localism”, decisions made at a local level but then complain about a “postcode lottery”. That rings a bell. Many pet owners want their pets to be healthy yet still want to feed them as much as they can eat on any rubbish.

West Kilbride
Attracted by the road sign “West Kilbride - Craft Town Scotland” I diverted to take a look. The original timber railway station is still in use but it is now a lovely restaurant called Chuchus. I asked about the name. Being a railway station it’s obvious when you say it properly!

I walked up the street to a little park called “Kilbride Glen” where I was set upon by the park guardian, a Pomeranian called Oscar, yapping and snapping at my heels until his owner in the adjacent house called him off.

There is a memorial to John Boyd Orr (1880-1971) who organised the feeding of Britain in WWII. He got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1948. Along with Alexander Fleming that makes two Nobel prizes for Ayrshire. Although West Kilbride claims him, so too does the town of Kilmaurs. My grannie’s name was Boyd: maybe I’m related to Lord Boyd Orr.

West Kilbride has really taken the concept of localism by the throat. The Initiative Centre, which is staffed by volunteers, is a shop front for home working crafts people.  A lot of craft work looks second-rate but this was exquisite. The civic group also rents out nine craft shops in the town. All profits, plus grant funding, go to pay for the renovation of a church which will house a new craft shop with community based enterprises. The shop assistant explained that the town had been going downhill and local people took a decision to do something about it. A fine example of what can be done although you wouldn’t want door to door craft shops in every town.

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