What better marker of time’s turning than yesterday’s passage of the Olympic torch through the Potteries that Arnold Bennett immortalized in our next book, The Old Wives’ Tale?
Bennet’s family had been potters for hundreds of years, according to biographer Margaret Drabble and she had this to say about the Potteries in the early 1970s:
It can be said, plainly, that there are few regions more depressing to the eye than the Potteries today, and they must look considerably better now than they did a hundred years ago, before the concept of clean air had been dreamed of.
The industry that gave the Potteries its name, Charlotte Higgins writes in the Guardian, is “essentially a museum culture now.” Indeed, this year’s Olympic torch set off on Thursday from the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.
There was no torch relay at the 1908 Olympic Games, also in London; as reported by the Daily Mail, the relay only became tradition at and after the Nazis’ 1936 Games. (Though the 1908 games did witness the establishment of the “entirely random” marathon distance.)
Regardless, this video imagines what the torch relay would have been like, had there been one, and had it run through Swansea in Wales.
Image: Daily Mail