Tag Archives: Civic Pride

Something I Just Felt You Should Know

7 Jun

You know I prefer to bring you cheer: exciting episodes from my usually fun-filled life, presented as a counterbalance to the depression-inducing reality that fills the pages of the mainstream media. However, I’m about to tell you of an experience so alarming I genuinely suggest that, before reading it, you sit down. Or if you’re already sitting, stand up and then sit down. Now read on.

With the recent publication of my book (you have already ordered your copy, yes?), the Council—never one to ignore a chance to get their grubby hands on someone else’s triumph—rang to invite me to open this summer’s village fete. Naturally, I was flattered, and naturally, I agreed to take part.

TedsTeesYesterday was the first meeting of the Fete Committee, and I was asked to attend, meet the group’s members and get a feel for the festivities planned. In all honesty, I don’t give a rat’s patooie about what exactly is going to go on; I’m the type of gal who can enjoy herself whether moles get whacked or not. But what I saw at that meeting has me very worried about the event’s success and, in some ways, the future of our entire nation.

Apparently, there’s a rumour going round that a minor royal—I won’t mention names but I can tell you it’s not her, or him, or the other two—might be in the village that weekend, and the committee spent more than fifty minutes (I counted) debating about what to do with this person: should they hold a parade? should they make him a judge of some contest? and yes, should he open the fete?

Now I remained silent throughout. I understand the importance of a visit like this: it could be a real coup for shops that sell royal-themed junk, our community foundation might get a boost, we might get mentioned in the national press, etc. My own self esteem does not rely on the village’s adoration (and if it did, I still wouldn’t be troubled since my book’s been at the top of the Village News’ Bestsellers List every day since its debut). I’m not even worried that the meeting ended before any decisions were made. I am happy to pencil in the day on my calendar and rub it out if the Committee decides to go in favour of Sir Blueblood.

What blew my effing mind, though, was the fact that the name of the village—the village in which all of us present at the meeting live—was misspelled on the agenda. And not one single person commented on it.

Whether they noticed and were just shy, I cannot say.  But what I can say is that this kind of outrage cannot go by unremarked upon. Needless to say, I wrote up a quick but shaming note which I left in the Council’s suggestion box as I left.

Please know that I am out there, fighting for all of you who care about civic pride and precise spelling. When we refuse to speak out against ignorance like this, it can lead healthy people to suicide, religious people to corruption and friendly nations to world wars (read your history books, if you don’t believe me).

What you’ve just read here is shocking I know, but sometimes the truth is. I just felt it was important to tell you what occurred. That way, if you happen to hear that the police were at my house this morning to arrest me for making terrorist threats, you won’t be confused. I mean they didn’t even issue an official caution, so why this is even an issue I cannot comprehend.

In Praise of City Centres

10 Jan

I had the pleasure of escorting an American friend on a sightseeing trip today. He was traveling to Newcastle for a conference on the literary implications of nose-blowing, so I took the train up to meet him. Instead of hitting the usual tourist spots, we simply wandered around the City Centre before he nipped off to deliver his paper, Congestion in Nabokov’s Novels. (I unfortunately was unable to stay to hear his  fascinating research, but I’m sure it went down a storm).

One of the things he commented on was the exciting array of pedestrians in the City Centre. He took great pleasure in hearing apologies from the number of elderly ladies who ran over his feet with their shopping trolleys, and he was particularly impressed with the teenagers pushing their babies’ prams, dodging the dedicated charity workers desperately harassing the early morning shoppers in the name of a good cause. While he was slightly less thrilled by the young lad taking the piss in front of McDonalds (I mean this, unfortunately, literally), he had to laugh at the good-natured way said lad dealt with the restaurant’s manager who attempted to shoo him from the premises. He even maintained his smile as he gave his witness statement to the police.

City CentreI do love showing my American friends around English city centres. They are such hot beds of activity, so much of it so very English. I myself still adore wandering through the markets; their mystery I initially approached as a novelty, but even after this long, I do my best to support as many stalls as I can. This may explain why I have a cupboard full of striped knee socks and bags of outdated, non-brand-name crisps which will never see the light of day. But I feel I’ve done my part to support my community by purchasing them, and that’s all a citizen can do.

The other thing I love about city centres is the great pride people take in them. The pedestrian areas are clean; litter seems to immediately be snatched up by the thoughtful and conscientious beggars who then feed it to their dogs. What community spirit! While we have to face the fact that city centres often do have problems, I am so chuffed when I see locals taking an active stand about the unfortunate but sadly inevitable crimes that often take place in urban areas. I take my feathered hat off to the commitment these men and women make to maintaining their municipal duties.

City centres often get negative press but I, for one, find them absolutely delightful. I would happily spend a day wandering any English city centre, as long as I can get out of there before dark. I’d kill myself before I went into a city centre at night. I have civic pride, but I’m not a fucking idiot.