The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

It Shouldn’t Hurt So Much But It Does …
April 14, 2008, 7:25 am
Filed under: Comment

Robin hood

I am from Nottingham …

Robin Hood


Brian Clough and Nottingham Forest

Paul Smith

Boots The Chemists

Goose Fair


At least that’s what it was famous for – now if you ask people about the place, they either shrug their shoulders or talk about the fact it’s the most dangerous city in Europe [per capita] or the global centre for ‘Credit Reference’ companies.

It breaks my heart because when I was a kid, I thought I was incredibly lucky growing up in Nottingham

Nottingham Market Square at Christmas

There were loads of reasons for this – many I’ve listed above – however there was something about the fact Nottingham was [and still is for that matter, ha!] located in the ‘middle’ of the country that seemed extra important.

You see to me, it meant I was in a region that had the drive of the ‘South’ but with the common sense of the ‘North’ – the best of both Worlds as it were – and while that was obviously bollocks, as a young, impressionable kid trying to define who I was / where I came from, it gave me a sense of confidence, excitement and optimism.

Now it’s all gone wrong.

The local council are more bothered about their image than what’s going on around them … the crime rate is the envy of every Columbian Drug Lord and local industry now resembles the Sahara Dessert – however it was an article in The Guardian newspaper that really brought home to me how far Nottingham had fallen because it focused on a company that as a kid, made me feel truly proud of my city, Raleigh Bikes.

Raleigh Bikes were the equivalent of Aston Martin’s for adult men.

Handbuilt … World famous … Award winning … Desirable … Big range …

However the big two were the Raleigh Chopper and the Raleigh Grifter … the Harley Davidson’s of kids bikes.

Brooklands Museum - 25 November 2006 65

I got a bright red Grifter for Christmas and I can honestly say I loved it more than any single thing I had ever received previously [or since] from Santa.

When I first clapped eyes on it, I literally went into shock … I was so excited … couldn’t believe I had one, not just in front of my eyes, but actually in my house.

It was a beast of a bike … big, heavy and tough … and it gave you instant cred because like a Range Rover intimidates a Ford Mondeo, a Grifter made other bikes look like they were constructed from paper.

Infact my ‘claim-to-street-fame’ was that I could pull a wheelie that lasted 76 paving slabs … and when your bike weighs the equivalent of a Boeing 747, that was something to be proud of, ha!

Anyway that bike was my pride and joy for about 6 years and the only reason I sold it was because I started racing BMX’s – actually for Raleigh – however while my life and fashions have changed beyond almost all recognition in the intervening years, that Grifter will always have a piece of my heart and that is why when I see what is happening to Raleigh, it feels like I’m witnessing a family member slowly destruct infront of my eyes and I’m powerless to help.


Don’t get me wrong, I love my country and I especially love my city – but where it’s heading is not right and if the powers-that-be continue to ignore the issues that lie outside of the ‘glory cities’, then not only are they guilty of destroying the inherent potential of a great and proud nation, but they are also guilty of destroying the optimism that people need to make greater things happen – optimism that can benefit the World, not just the individual.

If ever there was a chance for a brand to become political and help communities whilst helping themselves, it’s now.

I’ve written about this so much in the past and to a certain degree, Tesco’s have proved it can – however given the Government seem obsessed with focusing on the ‘have’s’ rather than the ‘have not’s’, I believe fundamental change will only happen if a brand takes the lead and basically ‘shames’ the Government into action which is why I’ll be talking to a certain client of mine in the hope I can convince them to take on another establishment.

Before I go, I’d just like to say that I am not promoting communism.

DSC01392.JPG Photo: Riksmeets

Sure it would counteract the major problem with democracy – which is that people end up voting for what is in their best interests rather than the countries as a whole – however democracy is a fantastic system that people died for – what I’m talking about is an investment in nationwide humanity, because everyone deserves the chance to shine and by encouraging brands to adopt a socialistic commercial strategy, I believe they can help the country, themselves and their shareholders, which is surely the ultimate achievement for any organisation?

No doubt this post will have people call me naive or just plain stupid – but when I see more and more cities going the way of Nottingham, I can’t help but feel the truly stupid ones are the people who do the same thing over and over again and somehow expect a different result.

Maybe if Parliament moved to a different city each year things would change?

[The Guardian article can be read here]

38 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I feel sorry for Nottingham and I see the passion and loyalty you have for the place.

I’m sure lots of others will take the piss out of your hometown but this is a great post and also raises a couple of interesting questions, namely why are opportunities getting more and more dependent on geographic location, would things be different if the government were forced to shift its location each year rather than remain in nations capital and can (or should) brands exploit the underinvestment in certain key services for their own gain even if heavily contorlled by policies.

Brilliant post and I hope Nottingham is listening.

Comment by Pete

The thing with communism is that as soon as earned income becomes shared it removes one of the crucial incentives for people (that and status). However the failure of Communism doesn’t mean that we need to chuck out the baby with the bathwater. We may not need to share our wedge but we do need to grasp that its about shared responsiblity and shared endeavour. The stunning logic for this is that we are all fucking in it together.

Even the inhabitants of Nottingham.

I think what we’re seeing in the UK is a veneer of superficiality about the important things in life. We’re so obsessed with material consumption, acquisition and wealth that we’ve negated the stuff that keeps us going much longer than money. It will take generations to eradicate the greed gene that has been cultivated in the United States of Britain.

There are legions of bureaucrats who have to create work to justify their positions. We’re so far removed from the act of having meaningful lives that we excessively large vehicles on the road as representing our status.

I could go on really. Its not just Nottingham. I grew up in Southampton for many years and on going back there a few times last year I simply couldn’t engage people in the important topics of the day. It was all property price escalation, salaries, cars and fortunately their kids but also I think the self indulgent exercise of loving kids and not giving a fuck about anything else just makes a mockery of the whole amygdala twitching exercise. Why not buy a cute bunny and cut its head off when they’re finished gushing and cooing over it because its the same thing.

We’re all in it together, we’re obliged to to take a medium term view of things and neo liberal capitalism is fundamentally flawed with its rapacious treatment of the planet, its resources and the way it dehumanizes people. That isn’t to say that shared wealth is where its at but shared endeavour and shared responsibility most certainly is. That can’t be done while sucking the planet dry is the only game in town. And a very addictive one at that.

Anyway its Monday. I thought I’d come over and break wind rather than over at mine because I’m in open heart blog surgery while I transfer the domain name. I asked why it took so long and my tip top IT man said it was like two servers having sex and trying to figure out where it all goes!

Right back to fellating The Man!

Comment by Charles Frith

Rousseau is the man of the day on Radio 4 talking about the social contract.

Weren’t Clarkes shoes from Nottingham? Bet you looked well ‘ard on ya Grifter in Clarkes and shorts 🙂

Comment by Charles Frith

That’s an excellent point about HK Charles – but the key difference is the industry there is still alive and thriving whereas in Nottingham it is quite the opposite.

What this manifests itself into is a HK society that has a generally positive sense of optimism, so their spending ability and desire is high [especially as this also links into the cultural value system of continual progression] whereas in Nottingham [and countless others] there is a belief it’s future is decidely shaky which ironically is also driving spending because people are either trying to ‘forget’ their situation/issues or want to feel relevant to other, richer people/cities.

Of course I am generalising and there’s tons of other factors [including which division the local football team plays in – a study we did years ago] but the overall effect is one city is globally relevant whereas the other has a council continually spending money on areas that don’t really matter because they want to keep the illusion of relevance alive – an illusion that isn’t really working both interms of attracting outside city investment and internal city morale.

Another scary situation is that I believe this ‘denial’ attitude will continue to drive drug, alcohol and gambling use because not only will they provide momentary release from reality, but they provide moments of ‘excitement’ that simply aren’t there in normal, mundane life.

Am I being over-the-top?


Does this mean the underlying issues aren’t there?

No … and the longer governments and people deny this [or simply don’t care] the more people aren’t going to have opportunities to show how great they can be with some support.

Life should not be a privalidge, and as much as I don’t think brands should make up investment shortfalls – especially when it’s driven by Governments obsessive military spending policies – I do believe something has to be done because this head-in-the-sand approach is eventually going to get to a stage where global warming is the least of our concerns.

Comment by Rob

People champion

Comment by Lee Hill

i wanted to write something sarcastic to this, i wanted to talk about the weight of my cock being more than a fucking grifter but this is a good post and underneath it all youre a good man so ill shut the fuck up and keep the thing on track

Comment by andy@cynic

rob, i hear ya.

i spent 3 years in wollongong (similar ex-industry town, depressed economy, in the shadow a major city, never invented raleighs but) fighting against a local council that had no real vision past the shaft of their cocks.

i can tell you, i almost tore my hair out many times trying to understand why the fuck they would keep plugging money and resources into building an appearance of progress and innovation, yet completely undermine anyone who was innovative or progressive, all while doing back-door deals and fucking for DA permits.

it’s not an easy solution, and the worst thing that can happen is that there are a bunch of quick-fix solutions aimed at a place.

i actually believe in the natural cycles of civilations and as heartless as it sounds, perhaps places like Nottingham and Wollongong have to go through a ghettoisation before they’re ready for real change. Hell, NYC was the biggest ghetto on the planet before the artists moved in during the 80s, so who knows what can happen for Nottingham.

Or maybe I am just as short-sighted.

Comment by lauren

Hi Lauren – I hear you too – and don’t forget I lived in Wollongong for 6 months of my life, and oh-my-god, what a 6 months, ha!

Without trying to say Nottingham is better than Wollongong [but obviously it is, ha!] what I would say is that Wollongong’s infrastructure was built on the back of BHP Steelworks whereas Nottingham had a more diverse foundation that helped it rise from mediocrity – which means it’s fall from grace is even more depressing, but then I would say that wouldn’t I!

And as for NYC, well that was always a major city so even though it went through a tremendous downturn, it was always pretty much destined to rise again by the simple nature of it’s heritage and financial industry.

I’m not saying you’re shortsighted and I’m not saying you’re wrong in what you say, it’s just a sense of sadness that so many cities with so much potential are falling by the wayside …

Comment by Rob

I had a grifter too. Got it on the only white christmas I can remember having in the UK.

This is a great post. I’m hungover, but when I feel better I’ll write something sensible.

Comment by Marcus

I didn’t mention HK..!! – Confused of Southampton!

Comment by Charles Frith

I need sleep.

And a DR.

Fuck knows where that came from Charles, I’ve become a politician who just says what he wants and pretends that’s where the argument was heading.

Comment by Rob

Southampton boys. You gotta love us.

Comment by Marcus

you’re right. nottingham is better than wollongong. in fact, people from nottingham probably colonised wollongong, so it’s a fair shot. thankfully, i don’t have to live in either place.

i probably am wrong. and short-sighted. i also don’t have any emotional attachment to nottingham, or grifters, so i can make sweeping statements about necessary ghettos and life cycles of cities.

Comment by lauren

Seems to me that you should be arguing for less government. A post industrial service economy is not about circulating money around an area – the key is to create products/services that have export value, If you don’t have exports (and thus new money coming in) the amount of money being circulated will inevitably shrink over time due to overheads and imports. The public sector is all about recirculating/redistributing money and nothing to do with creating wealth/value – that’s the problem.

Comment by John

Maybe I should be talking less government – but if that has made Nottingham bad, then I worry for Oz as that’s the most goverened land on the planet

Comment by Rob

But Oz has abundant natural resources and Lauren.

Comment by John

An abundance of natural racists more like.

Oh, and Lauren. Plus Age.

Comment by Robert

typical campbell, writes a fucking good post and then hes the one that takes the comments on a tangent. last fucking time hes going to be able to throw that criticism at me.

Comment by andy@cynic

yes, we export most of our natural racists to england and canada, where they breed and develop a secondary market of bigots. the males return when they’re old enough to retire and take up public office.

Comment by lauren

Thank God Charles came back with that – I re-read his post 3 times trying to find the fucking HK reference!
The older I get the more disillusioned I get with ‘Democracy’ as it is in the West because, as you’ve observed before Rob, it’s politics done American Idol style – it’s not about who is going to fix the country, it’s about who has the nicest smile and offers the best short term gain. England is coming out of 10 years of “Socialist” government during which property prices have increased exponentially, inflation has been kept at all-time lows, Tesco has prospered, violent crime (particularly amongst teens) has increased exponentially, the education system has gone down the toilet (seriously, the MOE now says that class sizes of 30 – or even 40 – pupils are not only feasible but realistic), teenage alcoholism is a national epidemic and the healthcare system is verging on collapse. But it’s OK because Blair was a ‘Statesman.’ Or maybe not. I hate what Blair and Thatcher before him have done to England. Fucking hate it. The irony is, I think, that what they have done – or tried to do – is not that dissimilar to what Lee Kwan Yue has done with Singapore – by increasing mass prosperity and the ‘middle class’. The big difference is that in Singapore it comes with a (maybe naive) optimism – an innate desire for betterment – which is almost completely absent in England, where having more money seems to translate into more Magners and coke. Last week a 16 year old girl was run over in Essex because, off her face on too much booze and spliffs she walked down the middle of a busy road challenging cars to run her over because “I want to die”. It strikes me that there is a desparate nihilism developing, reminiscent of Japan, where kids are virtually killing themselves because they don’t see a future for themselves – or the future they see is so grim and fucked up that they don’t want to be a part of it. And it’s not that kids haven’t always got off their faces. A mid-40s mate of mine in London last week recalled getting stoned on weed in Greenwich and going and lying under the Cutty Sark on a regular basis. The big difference seems to me to be the lack of optimism.
Honestly, the older and more like Mary Whitehouse I become, the more I think LKW has a point with Singapore – a sensible, benign dictatorship beats pop-politics hands down. Get the best people running the country, making decisions for the good of the country rather than their own personal fucking gain and pay them a competitive salary so you get the right people rather than a bunch of publicity-seeking slags. Yeah, you have to pay a price with a bit less freedom to behave like an antisocial arse in public, and I’m the first to admit that the lack of freely available pornography is somewhat irksome, but maybe it’s a small price to pay for knowing that you can walk down any street and not get mugged, knifed or raped by a gang of pissed 13 year olds.
Sorry this is so long Rob. I blame you. And the government, obviously.

Comment by lofty

Rob I have to post about this one because Nottingham, despite the crime statistics and the demise of great firms like Raleigh is still great. People outside Nottingham may know it due to crime stats and poor publicity but for must of is still living here it is a great place to live.

OK, there are pockets of totally crap areas that I would not wish my worst enemy to live in. But look at all major cities in the UK and they must surely also have these areas.

For the most part Nottingham is full of law abiding hard working people. I live in Ruddington now and the village is booming it was feature on BBC News last week to be one of the few areas of the UK where property prices are still rising 2.5% last month. Our village school is fantastic and has required more funding to accommodate the growing families in this village. I go out regulary in West Bridgford and it is clean and buzzing with 3 new restaurants and not a single empty shop unit (I should know I’m looking for one for my business).

Yes Nottingham Forest could be back in the Championship League, Raleigh and Boots could of done better over the years and not out-sourced so much but it takes more than a few companies and a football team to make a good city.

It takes people like your Mum and all your old friends!

So don’t be too sad Rob because it is still a great place to live, work and be merry!

Nik 😉

Comment by BTBB

And of course BTBB, some of the less desirable residents have been expatriated.

Comment by John

Of course you’re right BTBB – and I wasn’t saying everyone in Nottingham is bad, just like not everyone in Iraq is either – however I’m sure you agree Nottingham is not the city it once was and those ‘areas’ you should not enter are encroaching more into the ‘better areas’ as well as becoming more violent in their activities.

And while it takes more than a few companies and a football team to give a city its pride, their influence cannot be underestimated – and with the utmost respect, living in Ruddington and having had a great education means you’re already more advantaged than many of the people in the city.

I don’t mean to pick fault and I know I haven’t lived there for a long time – but as good as Nottingham can be, it can be [and used to be] something much better than it is now.

Comment by Robert

Rob I still disagree I really don’t think it has changed in our lifetime anymore than the UK has changed in general. When we were young (ha a long time ago now) there were always the more affluent areas and the dodgy areas. As long as I can remember St Anns & Hyson Green as examples have been areas that had higher crime, sex industry and lets face it as we are both from West Bridgford not the postcodes we would aspire to live. In fact with property prices having increased so much in the UK our generation, unless big earners have fled the likes of West Bridford to live in the likes of Clifton, Carlton, Beeston you name it. I don’t go out in Nottingham city in fear of being mugged or set upon, and yet I remember female friends of ours being beaten up 20 years ago for wearing black and being into Rock.

Yes I am fortunate to live in an affluent area of Nottingham, however we are less than half a mile from one of the largest council estates in the UK and I have a friend who lives on that estate with no trouble whatsoever.

I think we will have to agree to disagree on this subject!

Comment by BTBB

I understand what you’re saying BTBB and as I said, I’m not claiming all people or places in Nottingham are ‘bad’ … but while the rest of the UK has also gone through ‘changes’ the reality is Nottingham now has the highest crime rate per capita in Europe and has the only Police Force that has constables who carry guns as default so regardless that the housing market has gone through the roof, it’s still not as bad as London or Paris and yet the crime rate is disproportionate to that.

And at no point am I claiming people who live in Council Houses are responsible for crime, christ that would get me thrown in prison – or elected to the Conservative party 😉

But I am happy to agree to disagree, I do it with Andy on an almost daily basis! Ha!

Comment by Rob

I blame the rock fans.

Comment by John

Just for the record the only armed police currently in Nottingham are those that patrol two inner city housing estates, the two estates where there is known to be a gang war at foot.

It is these gangs that give Nottingham bad statistics, Nottingham city yes has higher than average crime rates but all surrounding areas are less than national average last report showed Rushchliffe and Gedling as approx 20% below national average rates.

And yet we live only about 1 mile from the city boundary. This is the problem with stats they give a picture, but its not really the experience of people living here.

So I live less than one mile from the city boundary “the most crime ridden city in Europe”. However we have never experienced crime ourselves (unless you count the a**hole who scraped my car last year). I am about to take my disabled mother and 3 year old daughter into this crime ridden city for lunch.

Let’s face it Rob if it was that bad why would we all still be here?

Anyway, enough its been nice to disagree 😉

Comment by BTBB

Why would you all stay there?

Because you and my Mum are Nottingham’s numero uno crime Lords that’s why 🙂

Sure stats are open to interpretation – hell, my life is spent ‘interpreting’ but my post was actually more about Council/Government investment and the fact that they focus on elements that reward their ego rather than the progression of all it’s counties people.

But hey, this has been more fun 🙂

Comment by Rob

I know Rob and I apprecite where the post was coming from but one of the opening lines of it’s the most dangerous city in Europe kind of got me focused on that. I just get fed up when the crime stats are mentioned, as they frequently are, as I really feel passionately they do not reflect the true experience of the majority of people living in and around this city. Everytime they are highlighted it puts Nottingham into bad publicity again even if only on your blog!

Don’t get me started on council and government investment, in Nottingham or the UK for that matter! Like the f***ing £3m face lift of the market square, I loved the old market square what the bloody hell was wrong with the lawns, flowerbeds and fountains.

Nice talking / ranting / disagreeing 🙂

Comment by BTBB

Remember when they spent over a million quid to be voted ‘City In Bloom’ …

That was another wonderful investment too …

And for the record, I HATE the ‘new’ Market Square, it’s actually managed to turn something with soul into Milton Keynes. Or Singapore 🙂

Comment by Rob

in a random poll 100% of iraqis claimed they would rather stay where they were than live in nottingham.

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s funny, because in a random poll conducted 10 seconds ago, 100% of Iraqi planners said they would rather move to Iraq than work with creatives like Andy!

You good lovely?

Comment by Rob

nice one andy 🙂

Comment by lauren

thats because i wouldnt pay them the going rate of 2 loaves of water and a bottle of warm water a week

still on for 10 fucker?

Comment by andy@cynic

You must be ill Lauren if you’re celebrating Andy.

Yes, leaving soon so will be there by the time your ugly mug fills the screen.

Toodle Pip!

Comment by Rob

[…] what I want, despite the fact I never managed to achieve that when I was a kid – except for the Raleigh Grifter and Digital Clock […]

Pingback by You Know You’re Over 40 When … « The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Yes! Finally something about team building nyc.

Comment by holiday

[…] saw where my Raleigh Grifter was waiting for me in 1989, on Christmas […]

Pingback by It’s Time To Say Goodbye … | The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Leave a Reply