Bell Court, Stratford

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Bell Court used to be a rather shabby precinct in which no businesses ever seemed to survive for long, but last year it was extensively (and I would think expensively) refitted; it’s now home to a new cinema and to several bars and restaurants, and there’s a rumour that a couple of national retailers will soon be opening shop units. I was never a big fan of the place as anything other than a cut-through between the High Street and the northern part of town, but it’s now a far more attractive area. On this cold January evening it was very quiet, but I expect that in summer it will be well-used – provided these businesses can keep going until then.

R and I were on our way back to the car when I took this photo, having been to the cinema to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I absolutely loved this film, and I can’t recommend too highly that you should go and see it if you haven’t already. I’ve seen it billed as a revenge comedy, but I think that’s misleading: for me the themes were guilt, grief, catharsis and the possibility of redemption, and despite the appalling event that triggers the story, it’s surprisingly moving, and even uplifting. It’s also, in places, very funny. There are stunning performances from Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, but the whole cast is very strong. I can’t get it out of my head, which is about the highest praise possible from someone who generally forgets pretty much everything about a film (plot, cast and not infrequently title as well) within a couple of hours of walking out of the cinema.