‘Hertfordshire – County of Opportunity’ was what I saw as I neared my journey’s end. It set me wondering what it actually meant. What are these opportunities that exist and where are they to be found? How are they quantified and why does Hertfordshire County Council feel justified in distinguishing the county in such a way as opposed to Bedfordshire, say, or Cambridgeshire?
This got me to thinking a little bit more as I remembered that Bedfordshire once displayed a county slogan by its roadsides which had me open-mouthed in astonishment at the mediocrity of the county’s claim. It read ‘ Bedfordshire – Central to the Oxford Cambridge Arc’. In other words, Bedfordshire County Council chose to describe its patch as being midway between two far more interesting places.
The more I looked into slogans the more aghast I became as I discovered a proposal for Suffolk to adopt a slogan defining it as ‘The Curious County’. What is the point in such delineation and, even worse, such homogenisation? I can perfectly understand using a pithy phrase to describe a place’s historical significance. That is, after all, how I know that Chard, in Somerset, is the home of powered flight. But really, such a non-specific claim as being a place where there is quite a lot of opportunity is almost as facile as boasting that one particular millipede has got quite a lot of legs.
I love living in North Hertfordshire. It has beautiful countryside, lovely villages, and good transport connections to urban centres. It offers access to arts, culture and heritage in abundance. And it has enough that is quirky to keep my sense of the ridiculous sufficiently occupied that I don’t want to live anywhere else. But to categorise the place as being a land of opportunity is getting dangerously near to comparing it to the New World. Are we soon to have ‘the Hertfordshire Dream’ as well?