First published 11th June 2010
Almost three years ago I decided to move to Leeds, it’s not very far away I’ll admit, but it was a change. I wanted to study for a degree there and meet new people, but most of all I just wanted to get out of Hull. I’d lived here for 19 years and was utterly sick of the place. It could be used as one of those imagination games: you say Hull, I say chavs, alcoholics and drug addicts, pregnant 13 year olds, largest council estate in Europe, embarrassment, awful accent, no culture, no career opportunities. Believe me, the list could go on a lot longer, and when I moved back from Leeds I also left the country for three months within a few months of returning to Hull. Yes, I absolutely hated the place.
This isn’t the most positive start to a blog post, you may have noticed, but for the positives to jump out a polar opposite is needed sometimes, so here you go: one polar opposite opening, as necessary.
I came back to Hull (relunctantly, though this time because I’d fallen in love with New York) last September, and since then it’s been a bit like Steve Jobs has been to town and waved his magical design wand over the city and made it appear flawless. Well perhaps not flawless, but I’m definitely seeing a different side of things. I moved to the other side of the city to join the Westies and see what life was like on t’other side of the river, result? It’s a different world. Obviously the west of Hull hasn’t popped up overnight, but living amongst the community really opens up what’s on offer.
Since then I’ve been networking and socializing most weeks with writers, artists and media enthusiasts (media enthusiasts!). A few years ago I didn’t think Hull had heard of the media industry, never mind was home to several businesses (nothing to do with a certain telecoms business vowing to cut us off from the rest of the country, obviously).
Last night especially really opened my eyes to how much Hull has going for it’s creative side: Humber Mud is a monthly event for creatively minded people and people in creative industries locally to gather, listen to presentations by individuals sharing their careers with us and to network, and one speaker last night in particular amazed me, naming Hull ‘a global centre for fine and contemporary art’. The Fruit Market on the marina is being regenerated as an artists’ quarter and this particular artist is opening Hull’s first completely independent cinema next month. He talked about a cinema in Prague resembling someone’s living room: just a collection of mismatched sofas and a projector, but with more cultural atmosphere than one of J.K.Rowling’s blockbusters could magic up, and now he’s going to recreate it in Hull.
From a personal point of view I think this is incredible, or at least will be until Starbucks or McDonald’s catch a mention of it and inevitably surround the uniqueness with cheap commercialism. Until then, I can say the artists and cultural types ready to give Hull a new name have completely turned around my opinion of what I thought was a city left behind, with no hopes of getting past the bulldogs and tracksuits of the estates that gave Hull such a dull representation. Now I can hardly say that’s a thing of the past, but look in the right areas and you’ll find it hard to believe they exist at all. Ah, bliss.