Standard Issue writers are penning a letter to their hometown. Lucy Reynolds has slowly warmed to Lincoln’s charms. And sausages.
I’m sorry. It’s taken me a while to say it but I mean it, honestly I do. Over the years you have been much maligned. By me. Like when people I first met at uni asked me where I was from and I’d say, “Lincoln” but would always add, “It’s a bit shit”.
In my defence, I think it’s quite natural to feel that about the place you grew up in. I saw you as a fast road to nowhere and couldn’t wait to leave. To quote Mr Gilbert from The Inbetweeners: “Goodbye first-rate education; hello University of Lincoln.” Not quite north enough to be ‘Northern and proud’, not south enough to assume that Southern arrogance, but smack bang in the Midlands: a no man’s land – or at least, that’s how I used to see you.
Recently you’ve been in the news, as the first place in the UK to ban legal highs on the High Street. Listening to the radio, I heard someone interviewed about it, stating, “It’s awful. You just see young people on a Saturday night, walking up and down, like zombies.” Now, stop me if I’m wrong, but that’s normal for Lincoln anyway. Long before legal highs were de rigueur, people were walking around town looking one brick short of a bungalow.
It’s our Midlands charm. I mean, where else would you find a town where a train track cuts the main high street in half, meaning that 23 minutes out of every hour during the day, traffic and pedestrians have to come to a halt to wait for usually very slow-moving trains to trundle by? Perhaps the town planners were off their tits on legal highs, too.
That’s not to say I didn’t have fun growing up with you, Lincoln. April and September would bring the joy of the fair at the South Common, in all its candy-floss-scented, waltzer-vomit-inducing glory. And the endless trips to the Museum of Lincolnshire Life. Who knows why, but EVERY primary school trip seemed to go there. Studying science? Go to the museum and make a peg doll. Maths? Go to the museum and count peg dolls. History lesson? Yep, learn about the past by making peg dolls.
When I was older, I was able to enjoy the delights of Lincoln’s night life in all its small town glory. Today Lincoln boasts fancy bars and clubs for the growing student population, but in the halcyon days of the ‘90s/early ‘00s, you were no one unless you were seen at Ritzy (inevitably called Shitzy by those in the know/in the club). It had three floors: Shitzy, Pulse and Jumpin’ Jaks, much akin to Dante’s differing levels of hell.
I even worked there as a barmaid in my university summer holidays one year, suffering the sticky carpets and lingering smell of alcopops for a thankfully brief amount of time. I was happy to get back to the big smoke (Leeds) and my alma mater, shrugging off my Lincolnshire roots.
So what shifted? Well…I grew up. Once you don’t live somewhere for a while, you slowly begin to appreciate it for what it is. Firstly my family live in you, so you’ll always be home, Lincoln.
I still get a little warm glow when I drive up the A46, knowing I’m homeward bound. And although most of the people I knew have moved away, my oldest friend Rachael still lives here so I’ll always have fond yet ridiculous memories of my childhood, including that time we dressed up to go to see Wayne’s World 2 at the cinema (I was Garth, which wasn’t really a hard costume to pull off – all I needed to do was wear the glasses. My hair was pretty much the same, which is probably the reason my brothers called me ‘blonde Darth Vader’).
I’ve suddenly found myself getting quite defensive of you too. I overheard a rather pompous gentleman saying that he thought Lincoln Cathedral wasn’t that impressive and I flew into a tirade which involved me stating that it was good enough to stand in for Westminster Abbey in the film of The Da Vinci Code and that he could stuff Coventry Cathedral (and any other pretenders to Lincoln Cathedral’s throne) up his arse. It’s not just your architecture I get riled up about. 2013 marked the third time that the LSA (Lincolnshire Sausage Association) tried and failed to get the humble Lincolnshire sausage name protected by the European Union. If it’s good enough for Cumberland sausages, why not our brilliant bangers? Screw you, EU!
Yet most of all Christmas still holds the unparalleled excitement of the Lincoln Christmas Market. I’m not even sure if it is Europe’s largest festive market anymore, but I still tell everyone I meet about it, quoting that as fact, incorrect or not. What’s better than drinking mulled wine during the day while walking around the several hundred fudge and cheese stalls? Christmas can’t officially start until I’ve been there and absorbed the festive cheer (and a doughnut or five). Oh, and you have a famously knackering street leading up to the Cathedral and Castle called…wait for it…Steep Hill. Yep, we don’t mess around when naming streets.
So Lincoln, please forgive me. I love you: the old you of my childhood; your lovely sausages, cathedrals and even Shitzy nightclubs. You’re perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing…well, maybe that train track.4071 Views
Lucy is a teacher whose dream as a child was to be WWE Wrestling Champion. That dream is still alive.