I must admit, Nottingham – my present county for the academic year – is a strange place. Well, not so much strange, rather it’s hard to describe the actually atmosphere and cycle of life that goes on here. You may expect Nottingham to be like any other city, and you’d be right: people travel, the city centre is always packed on Saturdays, people give you that same awkward stare when you accidentally brush passed them, deep in thought.
I think, to me Nottingham feels like a particularly special box of Quality Street that I’ve been waiting a long time to delve into. There’s so much to do here: century-old pubs; cultural events, like GameCity and Light Night; the Royal Concert Hall; dusty, second-hand bookshops; video game stores; the realm of fandom that is Forbidden Planet; tramlines; Trent River; stadiums; universities; the council house; restaurants with food from practically every corner of the planet; media networks; heritage sites; Big Issue sellers; bars and clubs; and, of course, near-endless references to Robin Hood. And with so much diversity, there are inevitability some sweets I just don’t what to unwrap.
I’ve been here a good few months now, so I know my way around a fraction of the city pretty well. But more than half the city is still a mystery to me. Many of the things that I’ve experienced so far don’t seem as if they would belong to one place in particular – they’re all very dissimilar. Take the photo above, for example. It’s of a slim catwalk/art exhibition/passageway located right between the main thoroughfare and some nondescript side streets. There are doors in the passageway, but they always seem to be locked. It’s very calming to walk through – getting you away from the mad crowds – yet grossly unappreciated. Some artistic soul had the idea to install this colourful passageway in between the buildings to brighten everybody’s day a little, but most people are too busy worrying about ‘missing the spring sale at Primark’ to notice.
See, almost everybody here is willing to buy into Nottingham’s cultural capital – just so long as it’s free. There’s a very ‘consumer identity’ around Nottingham at the moment, which is a shame, because the city really is right up there with the best of them – Manchester, Edinburgh and London – in terms of cultural identity. Maybe it’s because I’m new here, but I just don’t think enough residents appreciate what they’ve got here. Nottingham is great.
Image: Aaron Lee