I have a love/hate relationship with the city where I live. Nottingham. Supposedly home to Robin Hood, Charles I raised his standard here at the start of the English Civil War, Richard III stayed here the night before his death in battle at Bosworth (the last true English King to die in battle too) and one of the largest slums outside London during the 19th century.
Although I have lived here for over twenty years now, I still don’t like it very much. And yet… I miss the place when I’m away. I adore London, the theatres, the diversity, the vibrancy and total utter madness of the city, and yet it’s almost a lost love – I had my chance there and missed it. I love North Yorkshire, Whitby, Harrogate; all places from my childhood that I love and miss passionately, where my actual family originates from, starting in the early 1700’s.
So… Why am I here? When my parents divorced, my mother moved to Nottingham for work – we also have one of the largest teaching hospitals in the country – and as she had primary custody of me, I came with her.
Both my children were born here, and I have had some of my worst times here. Some of my happiest too… been homeless and also found security. I was talking to a man the other day, from Walsall, and he said the East Midlands isn’t really the Midlands of the country at all. Nottingham is a peculiar place, coming quite late in the day to be an acknowledged settlement in comparison to places like Lincoln and York.
Situated in a dip in the actual country and surrounded by a sandstone ridge, the city is built on a network of caves that have served purpose as wine cellars to bomb shelters… but as a rule, most things, political and weather, tend to blow straight over the top of us. As a constituency, it remains staunchly labour and we are quite lucky in that here our M.P. works primarily for the people, not the party.
The weather in the East Midlands is generally a bit of this, a bit of that, and some of the other… basically take a coat, jumper, umbrella and sunscreen out wherever you go and you’ll be fine. In the city itself, there is history past, and in the making (apparently we are putting in a bid to be the 2023 European Capital of Culture…hmm)… a fascinating, horrible city.
There are gems. Wollaton Hall, which I fondly refer to as my house, and the Castle. The Castle is visible from all areas of the city, although strictly speaking, it’s actually a fortified manor house, with only the gatehouse remaining from the original 1087 structure.
I know I’m home when I see the Castle, lit up, glowing and golden, welcoming me home. So. There you have it. Nottingham. Come and visit… you might like it. But then again, you might not…