For reasons both complex and uninteresting, I found myself living for a time in North Wales: near Bangor, to be precise.
Bangor is a university town, situated on the Menai Straits, the narrow stretch of water that separates the mainland from Anglesey and that was (and still is) spanned by the first suspension bridge in the world, built by the great engineer Thomas Telford.
It must be admitted that the twentieth century has not been kind to Bangor, at least architecturally. It is not so much that the architects and builders have constructed in deliberately bad taste; it is more that aesthetic considerations have simply not entered their minds at all. A kind of raw functionalism, which has spread like a fast-growing fungus, now overwhelms evidence of an earlier and more refined sensibility.
In the town, Welsh mingles on the streets with the unmistakable and increasingly nasal tones of modern...