Six months since we moved here, to 'kin 'Ull, as the locals usually refer to it, so its time for another Quarterly report, this time sub-sectioned for ease of reference. I'll be adding to this post over the next week (June 24th to 30th, 2007).
Stalingrad, Rome, Manu Pichu, Babylon or Uruk, Alexandria, Mohenjadoro, Troy,Catalhuyik and New York. A list that, I can predict with complete confidence, Hull will not be joining any time soon. The sign at Hull's Railway station is a little bit overblown, not to mention, optimistic.
A new development is being constructed right next to the station, and already it is outdated, politically, architecturally and environmentally. The new development, intended to be the jewel in Hull's tiara is a glass and concrete monstrosity, a carbuncle(thanks Chaz) ,featuring a rooftop carpark (in an age where other European cities are encouraging bike, bus, ride), a "state of the art" air-conditioning/heating system (which has been properly condemned for being incredibly energy inefficient especially in light of the massive heat sink available 100ft away called the Humber Estuary), massive glass walls (possibly one of the worst insulators), and a sort of 70's shopping centre/mall appearance (where everywhere else is moving towards plazas, coffee shops and pedestrian areas).The final insult to good taste is that the supermarket chain Tesco's, takes pride of place front and centre of this development. Many people in Britain object to Tesco's because of the effect its chain of "local" stores is having on real local sole trade-owned butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, and I can sympathise with that objection. However, my real objection to Tesco's, is that like Walmarts in the US, or Zellers in Canada, no matter how hard the company tries to force it's brand up-market, a visit to any of these stores always feels to me as if the local trailer-park and penitentiary have both decided to have days out at the store at the exact moment that I need to buy some proscuitto. Slack-jawed youths and pot-bellied ladies in velour track suits sporting the famous "Essex facelift" seem to predominate in Hull's Tesco's. And everyone, but everyone is talking, no, arguing, on their cell phones.
We (more accurately 'I'), probably wo'nt be flocking to the opening ceremony. As for the rest of Hull, we do'nt flock there either. In fact, we have very little interaction with the city. We've been to local pubs no more than five or six times, meals not at all, and the movies once.
The Avenues/University is the area of Hull we live in, and in contrast to the rest of the city, we know it well, and really like it. It is tree-lined, with old houses, full of character and is a well-defined separation from the rows of hopeless terraces that infest most of Hull. We shop at Pete's Butchers, the campest butcher in England "How do you take your pork loin, sir?", and get our cat's stuff delivered by Ian at Petaqua. The community association is holding an "Avenues Open Gardens" Day on 1st July and it should be great - we get to walk into some of the local private gardens and snoop around. Author's and artists live in this area - Steven Hall, author of Raw Shark Texts lives upstairs, and Philip Larkin lived about 200 metres away.
Just a note on Steven Hall. I met Steven while I was unemployed, and I thought he was unemployed as well - scruffy dressing gown, doing the laundry at 2.00pm on Wednesday, time to stop and chat, that sort of thing. Then he mentioned in one conversation that he'd sold his book. Steven is pretty cool - he likes our cats,and one of the first things he did to celebrate his book's success was to buy a Dalek. Those unfamiliar with what this is should Google it, or check out Steven's blog (http://www.myspace.com/StevenHallBooks) which has a picture. Steven's book is Raw Shark Texts and has been optioned by Hollywood to make into a film with the scriptwriter of The Full Monty on board. Nicole Kidman actually called Steven to ask him to change the main character from a male to a female so she could play the lead in the movie and Steven is being hailed as the next big thing. Like a lot of good artists, Steven, when I infrequently meet him these days seems excited, but is still pretty down to earth.