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10:07pm on Wednesday, 6th February, 2008:

Nottingham Vignette


I took some photos, but only have 15 minutes to write this so you'll have to wait until tomorrow for them. Here's a non-photo vignette of my day in Robin Hood country:

Given the size of Nottingham University, the road signs show up awfully late. I was expecting to see them appear with 5 miles to go, but it was more like 500 yards.

The university's campus is still green, but there's been a lot of building on it in recent years. This is the fourth time I've visited (beginning with a postal games convention in about 1977), and even then it wasn't as unspoilt as the people there thought it was. Now, it's as if a slew of office buildings have been dropped in a park from nowhere.

The bus from campus to town had an advert telling students how to register to vote. "It's as easy as 1 2 3", it said. 1 was by phone, 2 was online, 3 was by post. Now call me old-fashioned, but "it's as easy as 1 2 3" is traditionally used for three-step processes, not for merely counting three elements of a set. First you do this, then you do this, then you do this; not you can do this, this or this.

Did I really see a sign for "Derby Way, leading to Clough Road"? Brian Clough was the manager of Nottingham Forest, in which capacity he won the European Cup twice; a couple of years before managing Nottingham Forest, he had been manager of Derby County, where he'd won the First Division championship.

Nottingham was famous in the past for lace-making. Hmm, that would have been useful earlier this week... I decided to have a look at the Lace Making Centre, but the signs ran out before I came across anything much interesting. Maybe the Lace Making Centre is a district on Nottingham, rather than some building?

I was stopped by a market survey person. Are you, or is anyone in your family, employed in any of these industries? Yes, my wife works for a bank. Good, that's the only one on the list allowed. Have you bought a new car in the past year? Yes. Good, good; are you planning to buy another car in the next two years? No. Just one more preliminary, then we can get to the questions: is you car one of these on this list? No. This list? No. No?! No, I have a Ford Focus, it's not on the list. I'm sorry, I can't ask you the questions. Better luck next time.

I went into Pizza Hut at 12:10. They only let me sit at one side of the restaurant. Other people arriving had to sit at the same side. Eventually, that side was full and people were queueing, but they wouldn't open the other. Finally, just as I was paying the bill, they did. I asked why they hadn't opened it earlier. We only had two people on duty, we had to get someone from the kitchen to work that half. Funny thing is, it's been really quiet all morning. Maybe it got busy because it's lunch time? Hmm, not been working in the restaurant trade for long, have you?

After seeing the Robin Hood TV show exhibition at Nottingham Castle, I'm having to redefine my understanding of the word "naff".

Some bloke threw something into a skip, and I immediately recognised the smell. Only, it can't possibly have been what it smelled like, because no way would they have had an elephant in that shop.

While having a coffee, I counted 5 groups of schoolkids walking past the window in the course of about 20 minutes. Maybe 8 in 10 of the children were of Indian Subcontinent heritage. Some cities have a Little India; give it 50 years and Nottingham will have a Little England.

When I bought that coffee, the woman who served me was extolling the virtues of Tesco to her co-worker, who had only been there once (on her recommendation). I asked if she were a Tesco Evangelist; her co-worker said she was a member of the Tesco Fan Club; I asked if she had a little shrine to Tesco in her house. "Yes", she said, "I have a huge pile of their carrier bags". So ... other supermarkets in Nottingham don't give out carrier bags? Or does she normally shop in Ireland?

There was a booth in one of the shopping centres called TIME WATCHES. Those are the best kind, I think, so much more useful than those GRAVITY WATCHES and DISTANCE WATCHES...

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Copyright © 2008 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).