It's been a long time since I've written to a local paper suggesting 200-foot golden statues of Kylie Minogue for unsuspecting town centres, so I've turned to my local publication the Fleet News and Mail to rectify the situation.
|Fleet Services: Major brands, and first chance for a lash outside London|
Having lived in Fleet for just over three years, I feel that I am at last qualified to join the debate on what is best for this town of ours. And while there are well-meaning types trying to revive the town centre, I fear that their efforts are wasted because the town is – well – dull.
Perhaps this dullness is the feature that many people love about Fleet, but the fact that it has literally nothing to draw in the tourist pound and potential hordes of celebrity residents is holding the town back. Alan 'Howling Laud' Hope aside, the most famous person in this town is my Nissan Micra which once starred in a Specsavers advert, which is pretty poor when you consider Aldershot has somebody who dared to marry Katie Price and God preserve his poor, broken body.
So, what can we do? I have a dream. A dream driven by a cheese overdose because they've started doing Emmental in slices, but a dream none the less. And I woke up this morning and compiled a short list that the Fleet Future people might like to take on board:
|You say shopping centre dying on its arse; I say potential icy battlefield|
The old café area in the Hart Centre? Flood it, freeze it and – hey presto – it's an ice rink. Extend it into the deserted Woolworths unit, and you'd have a rink big enough for an ice hockey team, and we'll be severing fingers and trading blows with top-level teams from Bracknell, Basingstoke and Guildford in no time. Granted, there are a few sharp edges that might take a kiddiewink's eye out, but you take your risks the second you strap a couple of razor sharp blades to your feet anyway. In some towns (mostly in remote parts of the West Country), nine-fingered, one-eyed children are considered lucky.
Fleet Pond. Yes, it's very nice, but it's just a big pond. Get a couple of well trusted individuals (respected TV presenters, leaders of national raving loony political parties etc) to lie about seeing the Fleet Pond Monster, and I guarantee the crowds will flock to the town. A convincing back story saying that it was disturbed from an aeons-old slumber by recent dredging operations will tip the sceptics over the edge and give the whole thing an air of Godzilla-like respectability. The possibilities are limitless: Tourist leaflets, snack bars, official merchandise, the whole nine yards. I'm reasonably good at Photoshop, so faking this will be a breeze.
|What respected TV presenter Chris Packham might look like if he were to abandon his principles and tell the world's media that he saw a huge lizard monster emerging from Fleet Pond (which he won't)|
Which leads us to:
Fleet Services. Face it. This is the elephant in the room - the only thing that people know about Fleet and it's because they need the toilet. That's why the only thing we can do it celebrate it: Fleet Services Theme Park. Roller coasters, log flume, National Express coach toilet horror ride, model village showing our many, many, many restaurants. We can make this North Hampshire's answer to Peppa Pig World, with the added advantage that millions of Londoners (some of them bona fide celebrities) will have to pass through Fleets Services Theme Park to get there simply because they need the toilet.
200-foot gold statue of Kylie Minogue. I've had the Aussie songstress in storage for the last few years after another town briefly showed interest then let me down (not naming names, but I'm looking at you Weymouth), so she's free to the first taker. There's a local connection too, because there's every chance she's driven down the M3 past Fleet on her way to more interesting places on the south coast, which makes our town the ideal place for her likeness standing athwart of the Hart Centre, naked as the day she was born. Also, the storage rental is killing me, and I've got to make space for a similar 200-foot golden likeness of her sister Dannii on the way over from China because it was too late to cancel the order.
|Imagine this, only twenty times the size and without the fish lips|
Yes, I know Fleet is officially the best place to live in the UK, but my four-point plan could make it even better, and should shut up the boo-boys, nay-sayers and moaning minnies for once and for all.
I am not mad.
Your pal, Albert O'Balsam