I’ve spent most of my adult life living in Oldham. A town which proclaims a twinning arrangement with its Slovenian mate Kranj. Given the bus trip to Lake Bled included a stop in Kranj I showed a vague interest from the comfort of my seat as we approached and halted in the place.
Nothing on the road signs to suggest any involvement with the UK, let alone Oldham. A moment of irritation at my historic council tax payments being spent on slightly bigger road signs throughout the borough not being reciprocated here. Sitting in the bus station also reminded me of the ridiculous number of different bus stations built in Oldham over the years!
The town of Kranj itself is nestled in a beautiful setting. Forests and Alps overlook it in much the same way Pennines overlook Oldham – the hills being more beautiful than the town itself. While a handful of big industrial complexes were evident close to Kranj, including Goodyear Tyres, most of the architecture I witnessed was pleasing on the eye interspersed with the occasional high rise block of flats.
I pondered twinning arrangements. I don’t recall anything in Oldham through the schools, despite sending three kids to educational establishments in Oldham. As a naive thirteen year old child myself I remember being kicked out of my bedroom to accommodate a tall, blonde, assertive fifteen year old girl from Heilbronn in Germany. Stockport’s twin town. I remained naive after that visit but suddenly more aware of what tall and blonde entailed!
So it raises the question. Are twinning arrangements in 2017 dead in the water? Do councillors no longer get the opportunity to claim expenses for flights to foreign lands? Are our kids denied cultural exchanges that were available a generation or so ago? And if I’d bothered to get off the bus in Kranj would anybody have even heard of the town’s supposed friendship with Oldham?