Sunday, 25 October 2009

Golden Oldie

It's a wet Wednesday morning and I'm in the small town of Shaftesbury in Dorset, waiting for a bus to Salisbury.

I'd never heard of Shaftesbury until yesterday when I was told I would be delivering a car here. As I drove into the town earlier a large sign proclaimed it to be 'The Home of Gold Hill.' I've never heard of that either.

From the bus stop I can see a pedestrian signpost at the side of the town hall, indicating the way to this apparently famous hill. I have a few minutes to spare before the bus arrives so I follow the sign down a narrow cobbled alleyway which brings me to the top of a steep cobbled street, ridiculously picturesque and devoid of people or vehicles.

It is less than a hundred yards from the town centre and yet the place is so deserted that for a moment I wonder if it is private property. But there are no signs to confirm this so I walk down to the bottom and then back up again, still without seeing another soul.
gold hill

If you're older than about thirty you will have seen this view before, although you might not immediately recognise it. It is the setting for the black and white Hovis advert with the kid pushing the bike up the hill.

While looking this up I came across a couple of improbable facts. Firstly, the advert was recently voted the nation's all-time favourite, and secondly it was directed by Ridley Scott, the guy responsible for Alien and Blade Runner amongst other things.

Personally I think the advert could have been enlivened by an alien bursting out of a doorway and chasing the kid back down the hill. It might still have had a chance of being voted the nation's favourite, although not by the same people.

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