We are rather a small time town, and county for that matter. (We are actually a city but you would hardly know.) The local airport, East Midlands, four miles from Derby incorporated the name Notts in its title for a spell, arguing that no one knew where Derby or Derbyshire was. (I travel fairly extensively in the British Isles and find this is often the case.) Rather naff but perhaps the airport authority had a point.
We have little interest in informing the world of our greatness, our superiority over other beings. (Lest it be said we lack pride, our football ground is called Pride Park, not too often with just cause, except for last Wednesday of course.
If some Yorkshiremen are exiled, they often have to tell you, ad nauseum where they are from; if you work with some Yorkshiremen they too also remind you frequently. Not imagined, alas, I have worked with many. And quite frankly, if I was expected to shout 'Derbyshire, Derbyshire' at a football match I'd be embarrassed. I have many Yorkshire friends, including bloggers, visit the county often and much of the place is beautiful; so please, no more unwanted bellicose rants in my direction.
Which all makes me wonder how others see us and our home areas.
Derby; Bonnie Prince Charlie, marched from Scotland, got as far as Derby and went home; I wonder why. Derby, home of Derby Crown China, Rolls Royce aero engines. Derbyshire, Bakewell Puddings, (they are puddings, not tarts,) a crooked spire and underrated scenery.
It is interesting how places become famous, and occasionally infamous. I have never been to Hastings but I know there was a battle there. Lockerbie, for ever remembered for an horrific air crash. (It is twenty years this week since the Kegworth Air Disaster not far from here. I wonder how many will think of this when the name of Kegworth is mentioned.) I think of Hungerford and only think of a terrible gunman running amok. Bamburgh will forever be remembered as the birthplace of the brave Grace Darling. Nottingham and Robin Hood, the White Cliffs of Dover, Dick Turpin and York, we often form a picture of many places without having ever visited.
(Concerning infamy, see blog dated 4th October. I would be mortified if Derby were to be remembered for such detestable, thoughtless insensitive behaviour. It seems to have already been forgotten. Sad in a way though I would not like it to be thought of as being typical of the place.)
We seek an identity, some more than others. Which brings me back to good old Nigel; just a football manager. A forty two year old, modest, unassuming, likeable typical Derbyshire born individual. Whose arrival in Derby on Wednesday resembled that of the Messiah. And to many he is just that. Almost thirty thousand people go to the football at Derby. That's a lot of people for a the size of the place. (population around 230,000.) Football is in a way a tribal thing, intangible but an identity for many, and in cases like Derby somewhat traditional. Many children from an early age will 'adopt' a team. Usually a famous successful team, for instance Manchester United. Right or wrong, people travel miles to go to their home matches just for the privilege of watching what they consider the best and inevitably claim 'bragging rights' over lesser mortals. None of us have any control over where we were born. I was born in Derby and saw my first Derby County match in 1948. I have followed them since through thick and thin, and boy, have there been some thin times! Without wishing to labour the point, only a football fan can realise how a successful football team can lift a town. Many years ago Nigel Clough's father, Brian became the manager of Derby County and was extremely successful and popular. History repeats itself and the whole town is agog with excitement. Incidentally life can be very quirky. Nigel Clough was born here and lives here with his family. His father came from Middlesborough but we didn't mind and he is in fact buried here.
I look at the addresses of the friends I have made amongst the visitors to my humble blog; two things spring to mind. How do you see your town/city/area. What would you expect it to mean to me? And secondly, off the top of your head, what do you know of Derby and Derbyshire?