What the fuck is wrong with Sheffield? Why can’t it be like the rest of Britain? We all agreed many, many years that our entire nation was going to be somewhere between a bit shit and toweringly awful. THAT WAS WHAT WE AGREED ON. London closes at 11.30pm. Portsmouth lets all its dickheads roam the streets at the same time. Nottingham is the most violent place I’ve ever set foot in (remember, I grew up in Northern Ireland in the 70’s and 80’s). Edinburgh refuses to let you do anything. Leicester is Leicester. Cardiff encourages ugly people to fuck in the streets. Brighton is full of deluded people and hand-made crafts. There’s panic on the streets of Carlisle, Dublin, Dundee, Humberside and, I wonder to myself, why is Sheffield being different to the rest of us? Also, I’m aware Dublin isn’t British but when you can sneak a Smiths lyric in you have to take the chance.
I’ve never been to Sheffield before until this weekend. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t this. I’m not saying that I was just assuming that Sheffield was one big coalmine. No. It’s just I didn’t think it would be…well…beautiful. But it is. I genuinely can’t think of a nicer city I’ve visited in Britain.
I arrived on Thursday and spent the night in two bars in what looked like a pretty boho area of town. This must be the nice part of Sheffield. I’m sure the centre of town is constantly on fire with rapists, murderers and Hitler drinking, puking and shouting outside every branch of Greggs. Also, I thought, every shop in Sheffield will be a branch of Greggs. It was good to spend the night in these two cool and relaxing bars because surely seeing the centre of Sheffield tomorrow will be a nightmare of biblical proportions, if The Bible was written and directed by Wes Craven.
I spent my first full day in Sheffield reading my Kindle in the Winter Gardens, a beautiful big greenhouse right next to a town square filled with fountains and waterfalls. I ate in The Blue Moon Café, a wanker-free vegetarian place. After that I stood outside The Crucible, the home of snooker, as a Richard Hawley gig was played on a massive screen for anyone passing by to watch. THIS is a very civilised town. How can I return to Lewisham now? Come on, Lewisham! You love closing down schools for no reason, why not close down the Wetherspoons and open up a big greenhouse? Knock the clock tower down and put up a big screen showing Squeeze and Kate Bush and anyone else famous from Lewisham (that’s all the famous people in Lewisham).
The architecture of Sheffield is beautiful so walking around aimlessly is the aim. Walking aimlessly in Sheffield is aimfull. That way you can get lost and find brilliant shops like Rare and Racy, an independent record and book shop that’s been going since 1969 and, get this, is STILL open. I bought Hysteria by Def Leppard there. I am SO Sheffield now.
Here’s the most important bit: I have yet to see a Sheffield dickhead. Every single person has been friendly. Properly friendly. Like you know when you go somewhere and you say “Oh, I like it there. People are very friendly there” but you realise you only met about 3 people so you have no authority at all to claim people are friendly there? Well, I must have met 50 people since arriving in Sheffield and they’ve ALL been lovely. And how many people are there in Sheffield? 70? 80? Something like that, so I’m definitely right to say they are friendly in Sheffield because I’ve met nearly all of them. I’ve done three gigs here so far and the audiences have been respectful, funny and friendly. I’ve been a bit shit but all this pleasantry is a lot to take in at once so it’s put me off a bit. I’ll try harder tonight. I mean it, I love this place and all the people here. The only people to get on my nerves here were a bunch of loud and obnoxious Americans (whodathunkit?) while watching Thor in the cinema and Brian May from Queen, but that’s another story.
I wish you were here.
ps Kindle owners might like to know that my blog is now available to subscribe and read on your Kindle here: http://amzn.to/ho4Qr3