Poem “Horni-man” wins Urban Design Week prize

Rethinking Cities Ltd teamed up with the Urban Design Group to co-sponsor a romantic postcard competition during  Urban Design Week 2008 – people were asked to write a postcard enticing readers to visit an urban place, space or walk that they recommended as being romantic.

We were delighted with the response – some wonderful places were suggested from across the UK, from Beacon Quay in Torquay to Kendal in Cumbria, with public gardens and parks, canal and riverside walks and bridges, as well as cathedrals and church yards, all being featured.

Winners were selected by an independent judge who based her selection on the quality of the prose, not the romantic quality of the place.

Both the winner and one of the Runners-up attended the Urban Design Group Christmas event at Dr Johnson’s House on  the 8 December.  The winner is Ursula Troche for recommending London Road in Forest Hill, SE23, and she gave a very amusing rendition:

“A road with the name London Road
Carries great expectations
It should say something
About London, about its origins
And it does
We stumble across a big public clock and a museum
Both take us through the times
The clock in the present, the museum in the past
It’s the Horniman museum I am talking about
Aha, there it is, the horny man.
That must have been the first Londoner
Who made the population grow
Yes, the horny man
Preceded by Homo Erectus
Very horny that, in it?
Active romance in London.”

Ursula wins a cheque for £200 from Rethinking Cities Ltd. and a year’s subscription to the Urban Design Group. There were two Runners-up. Each winning a year’s subscription to the Urban Design Group.

The first is Stephanie Goedecke for recommending Regent Canal from Islington to Little Venice (Cafe La Ville, 453 Edgware Road, Paddington, London, W2 1TH) – she too was at the Christmas event and read out her postcard:

“Walk with me along Regent Canal – past the last few industrial remains that give a faint hint of what London used to be; past new apartment blocks with shining facades; past a single swan that sites quietly in the water admiring its reflection; past the hustle and bustle of Camden Lock Market with its mouth watering smells; past the London Zoo where colourful birds sing songs of nostalgia; past expensive villas that seem to tell the story of London without having seen any of it; past moorings with colourful boats, each a mirror of the soul of its owner.”

The other Runner-up, was Paul Holdsworth – his entry was about a walk through the streets, yards and ginnels of Kendal, Cumbria.:

“Mixing commerce and passion produces the oldest profession – but come with me to Kendal and innocent love may bloom for the price of a pint and a fish and chip supper!  We’ll sniff out Kendal’s intricate working yards, suffused with smells of heady ingredients from around the world – mint and chocolate, tobacco, cinnamon, whisky and molasses.  Stroll between the bubbling river Kent and the heart of this ‘auld grey town’, where wild boar mingle with pipe-smoking Turks.  Enjoy a lazy town as it relaxes towards a Saturday night of simple pleasures – conversation, consumption, camaraderie – and perhaps something more?”

Rethinking Cities Ltd continues to map and publish post cards written by readers like you.

Check this Google map to read some of the entries.

The Romantic Ribbons initiative ran from 2006 – 2011.  This article previously appeared on the Rethinking Cities website.