IT frustrates me when people immediately label a place a “s*** ****” or some such like.
It’s generally a description reserved for former industrial towns in the north, run-down seaside resorts or the less salubrious areas on the outskirts of gentrified cities.
People are quick to categorise but as with most things in life there’s a good and a bad side and it’s all relative anyway.
I grew up between Skipton and Keighley and the marker was always there; Skipton good, Keighley bad. I never held that view, as a youngster always enjoying the walk between record shops in the latter town’s “new” arcade down the once splendid Cavendish Street towards the lovely old railway station, where steam trains made their way along the Worth Valley line, the brooding moors of Haworth in the distance.
We would go on holiday to Blackpool and people would say it had gone downhill, was cheap and tacky, but again not to me. I loved the stroll along the promenade towards Fleetwood, staring out to sea dreaming of a future that was never to be. I saw beauty in the neon flashes of the amusement arcades, the smell of chips and tooth-rotting candy floss. “It’s seen better days,” people would say as they passed the faded glamour of its once fine hotels. “So have you,” I would think.
Blackpool would never receive the applause that greet every mention of Whitby, but competes on a different level to the beautiful east coast fishing resort.
Bradford bad. Leeds good. There’s another one. I really like the latter, but have a fondness for the former. It’s easy to list a set of reasons as to why Bradford is not worth its place on a bucket list of must visits but there are plenty of positives, including the Venetian Gothic style City Hall, the fine buildings on the old cobbled streets that once housed draperies, insurance companies, banks and the rooms of the main political parties.
Not now maybe, but the evidence of the days when Bradford was a tour de force of industry is still there.
Tell people you have visited cities such as Liverpool and Newcastle and they often look askance, their faces asking “why on Earth would you?” They remember the days after the ships, the docks, the industry disappeared and the warehouses and rivers were left to rot and drift through decades of dilapidation, drug dealing and gang warfare. They moved the people out who lived in these places eventually deemed too terrible for human inhabitation, replacing them with city-slickers in newly developed £1 million glass-fronted apartments, those previously there now dumped in out-of-town estates that would soon be in the same condition as the areas they were removed from.
“S*** *****,” they say, but these places are people’s histories, families and memories, where they made of their lot what they could, where they saw beauty through the cracks of despair and where they left their ghosts behind to wander lost in a new world.
People say of Rotherham that they don’t go into town, there’s nothing there, but look at the make-up of the buildings, above the sometimes tacky shop signs and there is plenty still worth seeing. We’re all quick to judge and like those in the courts, we often get it wrong. There’s beauty in everything if you look for it. Well, almost.