So I’ve been wondering lately whether it’s at all possible to add up how many people we know in Leicester. Nearly everywhere we go we see an acquaintances or friends – and somehow Leicester is That Sort of Place. We all say the same: that Leicester is the sort of town where everyone knows everyone; as opposed to London, where no-one knows anyone. I hate London: I hate standing at a bus stop and not being able to pass the time of day because the other person will think you’re a loony; I hate going to the same places every day and never getting to know anyone; I hate travelling on the tube or walking down the street and not being able to make eye contact with anyone. I grew up in London and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
The complete opposite of London was Leigh, a small town in Lancashire where after a year I knew practically every person in the place. Of course, there are disadvantages to knowing everyone, gossip being one of them; and sometimes it feels good to be anonymous. But Leicester seems to combine the best of both those worlds: you can disappear if you really want to, but if you don’t, there will always be someone to talk to. Take our immediate neighbourhood: besides the people who work in the shops we know people from church (about 150), people from the Mosque or Hindu temple, neighbours to nod to, folk from Yesim’s Turkish cafe, old yoga students and colleagues, fellow-students from Philosophy (I’m heading into town now) people from Drink and Think, political allies including CND members, Secularists and people from other churches we’ve attended; Quakers, Home Educators, parents and children from playgroups, and of course poets… and still I’ve not covered the half of it. Sometimes it can feel like a burden knowing so many people but mostly I like it. I have chosen it after all: I don’t have to talk to people wherever I go, but I do, because I’m interested in people. I’m a social animal and as Mark frequently reminds me, we may not have much financial capital but we are staggeringly rich in social capital.
For example yesterday, as a result of going to the Crime Reading Group (of which more anon) I sold all the rest of my pamphlets and spread the word about my forthcoming ‘I Hate Poetry, a Poetry Workshop’ (Sept 28th 11 – 1 at Westcotes Library, FREE!). Attending the Crime Reading Group is partly a social event, and it sharpens my ideas about writing as well as giving me insights into a group of ordinary readers. AND, predictably, there are a couple of people I already know – one from church and one from Home Education.
So that was good – afterwards, it being Mark’s birthday, we went across to Yesim’s for a coffee. He liked the Chris Conway CD I bought him very much, as well as the Cafe Direct coffee the children gave him: then in the evening we went – as I predicted – for a thali at Mirch Masala and then on to Pingkk Poetry where I did the Wm McGonagall parody, ‘Ode to the Upperton Rd Bridge’.
It was a packed and varied evening with a competition on the ‘Earthword-Blackbirk’ genre of metrosexual verse. Hang on, that’s not it. It’s ‘Earthwork Blackburn’ – no, it’s
bugger it, I can’t be bothered. Here’s a link:
Nope. The only links are to this blog.
Ah well. I guess you’ll have to post your own…