It’s a proper shit, living next door to The Queen. All those manicured lawns and domestic order, good camera angles and immaculate Barbour Jackets. It’s impossible to keep up appearances in the face of such…well…institution. “Oh boo-pissing-bloody-hoo” you might think. And yeah, you’re absolutely right. It’s not the biggest hardship in the world to be living next door to Windsor. It’s a nice place to visit. It’s SUPPOSED to be.
It could generally be assumed that if you live next door to Her Madge, regardless of whether it’s the one with all the delightful Launer handbags or the one with the fishnets and a plastic surgeon who has clearly stolen technology from the future, then, very naturally, you will bask in reflected glory and benefit vicariously as money attracts money.
Unfortunately, there is an unpleasant chasm that separates Windsor and Maidenhead. Maidenhead is the knackered shed at the end of the garden, rather than the pleasant next door neighbour with a slightly smaller conservatory and rather concerning levels of pampas grass in the drive.
That’s not to say that things aren’t changing. Maidenhead might well be the Tea-Drinking/Bacon Butty Eating Capital of The UK right now, judging by the amount of architects, surveyors, engineers, demolition companies and construction workers that are hanging out in Maidenhead. There is a country-fuckload of landscape-changing work happening and about to happen that will render our town wholly unrecognisable.
In acknowledgement of this fact, a meeting was chaired by local councillors this week to discuss tourism in Maidenhead. I KNOW. L’IL OLD US, EH?! It was an opportunity to talk about what is happening in Maidenhead with a view to reporting on our own situations, adding opinions, coming up with suggestions and sharing ideas. It was very well-attended by businesses, residents and other representatives.
What came out of it was clear: Give us our own voice.
The best example of this is the local authority funded tourist websites for Windsor and Maidenhead.
Spot the difference?
Windsor is shiny, terribly high-brow, well-policed, has a fuck-off great bastard of a castle and at least TWO places where you can buy YSL Teint Touche Éclat.
Maidenhead doesn’t have those things. Our strengths lie elsewhere. We don’t even know what most of them are yet. But we need to be able to speak for ourselves. We must be allowed a platform from which to sing our own, slightly slurred song. To wave a flag of our own making to draw attention to our unique businesses, incredible people and local events that are beginning to reach well beyond our own community.
RBWM can and will continue to market the borough off the back of one of the UK’s biggest council houses. We have spoken our piece but are under no illusions. We may have waterways project and Crossrail and humongous bad-ass offices springing up to attract the great and the good of the corporate world, but no-one ever travelled from Japan for the pleasure of videoing an office block, no matter how gloriously batshit spangly wangly it is. How can we ever compete?
We shouldn’t even try.
It’s like comparing apples with a glass-bottomed submarine. We may be the knackered shed at the bottom of the garden, but in that shed is some of the best fucking home-brew you’ll ever have the pleasure of getting arseholed on. And when the secret gets out, as all brilliant secrets inevitably do, even Windsor’s 4×4 brigade will be donning their Hunters and trudging past the compost heap to get some.
In the meantime, let’s be ourselves. Just a little bit louder.