Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Heaven and Hull

From Crap Towns, in which Hull was named #1 in 2003:
“The silent threat of violence hangs in the air, along with the smell from the chocolate factory. Chocolate factories, by the way, don’t smell of chocolate, they smell of death. If the wind comes from the southeast, the smell of Grimsby docks adds a fishy staleness to the odour. If it comes from the other direction it brings the smell of the tanning factory ... rotting carcasses and rancid flesh.”
From an article by George Marshall in BMX magazine:
Let’s get one thing straight – people hate Hull. It’s understandable. The city’s bleak reputation precedes itself. An ageing fish town on the Yorkshire coast, Hull is widely laughed off as isolated and cut off, a dead end, void of opportunity and appeal, where teenage pregnancies outnumber jobs and the best source of income is salvaging copper pipes from the abandoned homes of laid off dock workers. Once the beating heart of British shipping, a vast industrial port and whaling goldmine, the nautical trades on which the city was built have long since rusted away, only to be replaced by drug trafficking from Holland and import of STDs. With a list of grim accolades as long as the queue outside the post office on dole collection day, it’s no wonder the town has such a bad reputation. It’s claimed the city boasts the highest drug related death rate, lowest GCSE pass rate, highest suicide rate, lowest wages, highest unemployment rate, suffered the worst bombing of any UK city in WW2, was described by the Observer as ‘Britain’s drug capital’, it ranked No.1 in the book “Crap Towns” and one in three residents has Chlamydia. Get the picture?
From the BBC today:
Hull has been named the UK's next City of Culture, beating Leicester, Dundee and Swansea Bay to the right to hold the title in 2017.

Hull, known for being the home of poet Philip Larkin, the Ferens gallery and the Truck theatre, will follow the 2013 City of Culture, Londonderry.

The UK government chooses a new destination every four years, with the aim of helping tourism and the economy.
I have visited Hull, as a friend from Wales now lives there. Of its relative merits, all I can say is that the bits the Luftwaffe did not bomb to smithereens (and there aren't a lot) were OK. It left little other impression.

Here's an aptly bleak poem (read by another of Hull's famous sons Tom Courtenay) by Philip Larkin himself, who no doubt would have raised a wry smile at the news:

Philip Arthur Larkin, CH, CBE, FRSL (9th August 1922 – 2nd December 1985)


  1. Swansea was robbed.
    Loved the Larkin though and the video
    I doubt I shall be heading to Hull in the near future.
    If ever.

    1. Don't bother, dear, it's very flat.

      "No reflection on her, unless of course she made it flatter."



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