The first thing I do every morning when I wake up; I check my phone. There’s always the hope that something miraculous had happened over night – has my long lost love text to declare his undying love? Do I have an email telling me I’ve won the lottery? Has somebody posted a video on Facebook of a cute puppy falling over? Are Jennifer and Brad back together? On the 20th November I woke up and discovered the Hull had won the bid to be city of culture 2017. I was waking up in York, the place I now live and I have no plans to leave, but Hull will always be the place I grew up and that morning I had never been so proud to say that it is my home town.
As about 60% of my Facebook friends are from Hull, that morning I saw many proud and celebratory status updates about us winning the city of culture bid. But over on Twitter where the rest of the world resides, there were many nasty and ignorant tweets from people who had clearly never stepped foot in the place and based their opinions on stereotypes, media bias and just generally being dickheads. The rule should be ‘you can only bitch about a place if you have lived there’. A similar rule applies to taking the piss out of gingers.
Kingston upon Hull is in East Yorkshire, we have the following, in no particular order: a premier league football team, two rugby teams who apparently do rather well for themselves, an Olympic gold medal winner, we have two rivers, a marina and a bloody big bridge. Colleges and Universities, our own telephone network complete with white public phone boxes, a ferry that goes to Amsterdam and an accent that practically means we have our own language. Art galleries, museums, we are the hometown of William Wilberforce who abolished slavery, wonderful architecture (have you ever looked upwards above the shops when walking down Whitefriargate? Stunning). All that plus the night life, a wide variety of gig venues, nightclubs catering for different musical tastes, gay bars, goth clubs, hipsters and chavs. What a mixture! Of course there are problems there too. A hell of a lot of them. Unemployment is high and so is crime, there’s sprawling council estates where these things are most concentrated, one of which I grew up on. There are murders, mugging, prostitution, teen pregnancies, apathy, but that is found everywhere. I challenge you to find any town or city in the UK where these problems aren’t present, so why does Hull such get a hard time about it? We never claimed to be perfect, we are who we are and we are finally been given a chance to prove ourselves. As well as everything I just listed, Hull also holds all my memories from birth to age 25 when I moved away. Here, I will share them with you.
I grew up on Bransholme, a huge council estate on the East side of Hull. It’s apparently one of the biggest council estates in Europe, almost a town within itself with many schools, parks, sports facilities, libraries, a big shopping centre (Branny Cenner), it was so big even the estate itself is split into North and South. On paper it sounds rather good, but in reality employment and crime are high and you are judged merely for living there, I always felt uncomfortable putting Bransholme as my address on job applications and I would always point out that although I lived there I actually went to school in a different part of Hull. I went to a school in West Hull and although no school in the city does particularity well in national league tables I feel myself and my classmates received an excellent education, one that can stand up to elitist schools in the South of England. Many of my former classmates have high flying careers, some are now even teachers at that very school, which is a testament to how good it was.
I’m aware that it makes me sound like a terrible snob to admit I used to be ashamed of the estate where I was from, but it’s simply how outsiders made me feel about myself. But in actual fact I had quite good fun growing up on Bransholme. Our house was never burgled, in fact myself nor my friends from there were ever a victim of crime, I have always been employed and looking back now I am ashamed at how much I had to defend myself for being a Bransholmer, it was other people who had the problem with it, the people who didn’t live there.
My childhood was spent riding bikes around the estate and playing ‘knock off ginger’ or ‘British bulldog’, building dens on roundabouts, hanging upside down on the monkey bars or running around Bude park. No harm came to us. We were just normal kids. We had just as many aspirations and ambitions as the kids from the posh estates in other cities. We all wanted a good job and nice houses when we grew up. Me and my friend would spend hours looking through the Argos catalogue planning what we would buy, Joanne wanted the Eternal Beau dining set, I wanted a nice sturdy pine wardrobe – how’s that for aspirational! We wanted to be doctors and lawyers, the only difference is we were told we couldn’t. By the outsiders. The amount of spite I saw on Twitter last week towards Hull made me realise it’s not just Bransholmers who still need to defend themselves, it’s the whole city.
Beyond my childhood and out of school I was free to discover the night life. My two all time favourite things about Hull are Spiders nightclub and the Adelphi.
Spiders is legendary, it’s situated outside of the city centre on and industrial estate, goths, punks, rocker, indie kids and general misfits queue up every Saturday night to get into the mysterious building, inside it’s walls are painted black and wrought iron spider webs are scattered throughout. The drinks menu is as unique as the clientèle, a plethora of cocktails with names like Pink Pugsley and Pantgalactic Gargleblaster, often served with a jelly spider inside. The first time I went there I heard Echo & the Bunnymen, danced to Hole, kissed a boy with a mohawk, got wasted on Tyzers, projectile vomited, and woke up realising I had found my spiritual home. People from far and wide come to Spiders for the experience and out of all the cities I have been to I have never found anywhere that comes close. The Adelphi is just as unique, it’s an old end terraced house converted into a live music venue, any famous band you can think of probably played there when they were ‘up and coming’. Just be a bit wary of the toilets. Spiders and Adelphi were huge parts of my life when I was aged from about 17 to 21, I can’t think of anywhere else in the world I would rather have been. When I got into my 20s I spent more time in places such as Piper and Welly, nowhere near as unique but some equally as amazing nights were had on the dance floor of both, many thanks to DJ Priya and the Yo-Yo team for the club nights and gigs they put on over the years. Sundays were spent recovering in the various coffee shops of Princes Avenue. I’m happy to see the success of Prinny Ave has spread to Newland Avenue. Whenever I go back to visit I’m always pleased to discover a new wine bar or cute tea shop. I thank Hull for all these places.
I also thank Hull for Bob Carvers. In my opinion it is the best fish, chip and pattie shop in whole wide world. Mainly for chips which are cooked in some kind of magical potion which makes them taste like actual heaven. I thank Hull for pattie butties! I’d be perfectly happy if the city was re-named Kingston upon Bob Carvers. The best place to eat these delights is of course on a cold Autumn evening at Hull Fair. Every year for hundreds of years in mid-October, Hull Fair rolls in to town. It is one of Europe’s largest travelling fun fairs, because of course we have to have the biggest and best of everything. Even if you are wary of going on the big rides, just wandering around and taking in the bright lights is a good way to spend the evening. Get your boyfriend to win you a teddy at one of the many games stalls, get your palm red by a descendant of Gypsy Rosa Lee, buy some cinder toffee, eat chips!
I’m sure this blog will stir up memories and nostalgia in many of you reading it. I have had to leave so much out, my nights out didn’t really include the likes of Beverley Road, Marina and Old Town, but I know people have had just as much fun there. I only mention Bransholme but I know people have just as lovely childhood memories from whichever estate they grew up on. I haven’t mentioned the many musicians, artists, actors and other talented people that have come out of Hull, but they do exist in their droves. I may not live there any more but it is the city which gave me my first love and my best friends, it shaped who I am and I turned out okay. These were just a few of my favourite memories in defense of my home town.
I will leave you with this thought: If Hull is good enough for Stephen Malkmus then it’s certainly good enough for you.
Lyndsay McCartney lives in York and is very proud of her lovely red bike. She is a fan of the X Factor which is a shame but she also knows a lot about nineties indie music which sort of compensates. She regularly cries at emotionally manipulative television. She likes taking pictures of herself with her phone and posting them on Instagram. She once dumped a boyfriend because he spent too much time “looking at things.” I have a strong suspicion that at the back of one of her wardrobes lurks a feather boa and a tiara. Lyndsay is Sitting On The Swings’ most popular writer by an absolute mile. Follow her here: http://twitter.com/flourella