Advent Calendar 2015: Day Four

by Steve


Paternoster Square is a pleasant little space behind St Paul’s Cathedral. Not quite an oasis of calm, with office workers and tourists providing a steady stream of activity, the Square is still a bit of an escape from the roads, the traffic and the like.

But it is not a public space. It is privately owned. And there are signs at each entrance to the square making that very clear, telling visitors that the owners have the right to move you on, or refuse access altogether, because you’re only here out of the kindness of the owner. And that kindness might end at any time.

I’m paraphrasing.

But it makes for an odd space, one that is hard to enjoy, even with the lovely Christmas trees and St Paul’s looming over.

There seems to be a lot of private public spaces appearing. Or public private spaces, depending on how you look at it. They all have a bit of a funny atmosphere. You can wander into one and out of one and not even realise. They seem designed to blend in, or at least ape more traditional public spaces.

But the signs are there, if you hang around. The notices from private companies. The security guards keeping a close eye. Something almost uncanny. A version of a public space, but one that doesn’t quite work, doesn’t quite sit right.

Not that festive. A bit unsettling. But a phenomenon I find fascinating, and that probably warrants some more thought.