I was talking to a neighbour last year some time and when she said she’d been to Trago Mills, I asked what that was. “Oh, you must go – it’s a Cornish institution!” It’s been a long time, but as we were driving between Liskeard and Bodmin to pick up our van with its replacement fuel tank (who knew rodents really enjoy chewing holes in them?) we decided to pop in.
To start with the best bit – it has quite a long riverside walk along the banks of the Fowey, which we greatly enjoyed. Waterlilies, fish, little waterfalls, dappled light – it was delightful, although even there we experienced one of many minatory notices. But it was mostly idyllic to walk along, on a really hot day.
But here is the notice. There are lots of them, but this one is probably the most jarring!
The grounds are full of statues representing (mostly) the enemies of the founder, though there are also Egyptian gods and goddesses, a Buddha, Confucius…..Pretty much the first one you come to is one of Sir Michael Havers, former Attorney General, holding unbalanced scales of justice, heavily weighted away from natural justice and towards administrative injustice, with the attached inscription:
And while this is pretty unspecific, though the meaning is clear enough, we know exactly why he thought Chris Patten worthy of a place among his enemies. The inscription reads, CHRIS PATTEN
JOBS for the BOYS
but not 350 CORNISH FOLK
long overdue at LONGDOWNS.
No, me neither.
But then we get on to more generic enemies: HMRC, the local council, trades unions, bureaucrats of any kind.
This is one of the kinder, or at least funnier ones.
The words read ALICE IN WONDERLAND or CARADON COUNCIL TEA BREAK? As I say, this has the saving grace of raising a smile. But what about the following?
Or this view of trades unions?
But this one is a specific attack on an individual…
Clearly Mr Robertson was a difficult man who really enjoyed a fight, and had strong views on what he should be allowed to build, and what others should not be allowed to build…
The irony is of course that the sprawling and chaotic Trago Mills is just as ugly inside as any B&Q, and even harder to find your way round. But it does have lots of turrrets and fake black and white timbering on the outside. Just in case you thought that Mr Robertson loved his customers even if he hated all officialdom, you find this:
However, we now have two very nice rugs. The service is terrible, the loos haven’t been opened, no-one knows anything about the stock, all the staff we spoke to would still rather be furloughed, and there’s usually only one of anything you want, hidden under dross of all kinds. But hey ho, if they only have one non garish and non boring rug in the size you want, does it matter? It’s just that a repeat visit isn’t on the cards until we need more double-sided carpet tape.