Pity the poor V&A. The £80 million museum celebrates its first birthday tomorrow and yet has found itself getting something of a drubbing over the past few days.
Critics have been lining up to take potshots at the museum, including Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan, a man who increasingly resembles nothing more than the fleshy by-product of a tryst between tinnitus and unchecked ego.
By and large, there are two types of criticism aimed at V&A Dundee.
The first is that there is not enough actual stuff inside V&A Dundee, although if you dig down further, you’ll find the actual complaint is that there is not enough stuff on its ground floor.
One suspects this is less a problem with the V&A itself and more about the difficulty of managing expectations.
From the outside, the V&A is a magnificent beast.
It is already as much of an icon of Dundee as anything else this amazing city has to offer so while the inside space is undeniably amazing, it can appear less so when filled with people.
Given Kengo Kuma’s intention was to create a living room for the city, this complaint seems somewhat churlish. And while the touring exhibits upstairs do cost money, to have them available on our doorstep is not something that should ever be taken for granted.
The second complaint is the rather asinine moan, repeated by broadcaster Lesley Riddoch this week, that The McManus or Verdant Works is better.
In fairness, this is absolutely true; The McManus is far better at being The McManus – and telling the story of Dundee – than the V&A, which is not The McManus, and is about design rather than Dundee. Similarly, if one is interested in learning about jute, then Verdant Works is a better bet.
Comparing apples and oranges is, it turns out, a remarkably fruitless exercise.
The V&A and McManus complement each other, as do Dundee’s other attractions – from the RRS Discovery to Verdant Works.
Over the past year the V&A has already reshaped Dundee in a variety of aways: physically, economically and even psychologically.
Dundee has always had a reputation of being, if not exactly ugly, then certainly blighted by poor planning decisions.
Now it’s worth giving your eyes a treat and taking a look at Dundee from the other side of the Tay. It’s a vista that is second to none in Scotland.
Not only are the two bridges spectacular in their own right, but we now have an architectural marvel on the Waterfront as well as the Law looming over the city.
The V&A has helped turn Dundee into a place people want to visit. Hundreds of thousands of people have passed though the doors of the V&A over the past 12 months and while not everyone will love it, the city is now seen as a destination, a place worth visiting, a city where people want to live.
That, psychologically, is huge.
Dundee has been given an incredible lift by the V&A. The years it took to bring it here have strengthened the resolve of people who live here that they can change their home for the better. That is empowerment.
The City of Discovery is not without its problems. Nobody in their right mind would consider the V&A’s arrival as a cure of all its ills.
But equally it would be ridiculous to argue Dundee is not a better place with the V&A.
The difficulty now is continuing to build on its success and to ensure Dundee continues to be a must-visit destination for years to come.
The kids are revolting…
Some pupils in Tayside and Fife have been given the green light to walk out of their classes next week in protest at climate change.
A cynic might say that children will use any excuse not to go to school but the truth is that climate change is now an unavoidable reality.
The planet is getting warmer and immediate action is needed to minimise the harm that will cause.
If temperatures rise unchecked then the consequences will be devastating, with floods, food shortages and all manner of other apocalyptic horrors waiting in the wings.
Under those circumstances, skipping school in the hope governments start listening to environmental concerns seems entirely sensible.
…as students go to pot
While it’s good to see children becoming politically active, today’s youth are maybe taking this whole going green thing a little too far.
It’s Fresher’s Week at Dundee University and as I sauntered through the campus this week I noticed a sign advertising a pot plant sale.
Now, it’s been a good long while since I was 18 but surely students still have better things to spend their money on than crotons and peace lillies?
New rector Jim Spence’s bar tab isn’t likely to pay for itself, for starters…