Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Norwich: energy and celebration

In university today for a tutorial and to pick up necessary papers, bumping into one person after another. A longish conversation with Giles who says he loves living in Norwich.

He's right, there is something humane and energetic about the place, and now the football team has performed the miracle of two promotions one after another so they'll be playing Premier League football next year. Maybe I will buy a season ticket. Maybe I'll buy two.

It is hard to think of Norwich as a city if your idea of cities is a European capital or a 19th century industrial metropolis. You can walk across the centre in about twenty minutes. Most of the streets are narrow and winding, on the medieval plan. The buildings are generally low and ancient. It is like Bruges without the canals, or Cambridge without the colleges, though it has plenty of small medieval churches to compensate, as well as two cathedrals and a castle. And yet the scale of it feels small and soft. Houses are curved, crooked, dimpled, worn, far from absolute. The city has its rougher edges as the crowds at the wrestling venues show, but even the aggression has an famillial warmth.

Norwich is full of writers and musicians and artists. There are bohemian streets and corners, student-haunted cafes and bars. The great Anglican cathedral, the bars, the wrestling, the bohemian life, the market, and the football team are sources of a more urban energy. When I was at the art college I would have coffee in Espresso or in Take 5, which, for a time was in the arthouse cinema. I could wander into other cafes or bars, or sit in a caff with an all day English breakfast for lunch.

This Friday I am starting a sequence of poet appearances in the Book Hive window and bookshop. Henry Layte, the owner, is another part of the energy. Daughter H and husband R are doing a superhero / evil villain session there on Saturday. The following Saturday the Voice Project are performing their vast choral piece, The Proportions of the Temple, in the cathedral with texts by Andrew McDonnell, Agnes Lehoczky and myself. That's part of the Norwich Festival - more energy.

Oh, and United have beaten Schalke 4-1. Joy unbounded after Sunday.

And tomorrow I shall go out and vote for AV. My normal election vote is worth nothing. So might this be. But I'd like it to mean something so there I go putting a cross in a box again.


Greg said...

As someone who was hoping Cardiff would be promoted .....

Never mind, I'll join you in voting YES for AV.

George S said...

Cardiff can still make it, Greg. And should. It would have been quite something to have two Welsh teams in the top division. Not sure if that has happened before.

Will Rubbish said...

Thanks for voting for AV. A generational opportunity lost. But not by you. It's called "doing your bit". Our great grand children will vote PR-style: that our children won't is a sad reflection on the post-war generation.

"..there is something humane and energetic about the place," Yes and that's real about Norwich in a way it's not real about Edinburgh, no matter what people say.