I came to a rather bizarre conclusion yesterday, which is that I actually quite like Hull. Now, any of the inhabitants would understand the sheer oddness of this instantly, but for everyone else, I should probably explain. There is something of an fashion in Hull for regarding it as the worst city in the UK. Which is probably why it came top of the list in the book "100 c**p towns". Yes, that's right, people in Hull actually voted for their hometown as the worst in Britain. Even the name is generally depressing. I was on a train yesterday coming into the place and the driver was reading out the coming stops. "Selby" she said brightly. "Brough" was in a tone of voice that at least seemed reasonably happy. But when it came to "and Hull", things frankly went downhill a bit. She sounded almost apologetic about the fact that she had to take some of us there.
But the thing is, I was on a train, having just been to Horsforth by way of Leeds(a note to any southerners out there. Northern place names ending in forth are not pronounced as though they come after Horsthird. Instead, it's Horsfuth. This has been an announcement by the Yorkshire Received Pronounciation Initiative) . Now, I accept that nowhere looks particularly nice from around its train station, but Leeds in particular seemed to lack any character. It was just an endless parade of identical concrete and glass boxes, crammed to the brim.
It was at about that point I realised that Hull actually makes a real effort when it comes to preserving the character of the place. Or at least, so few people want to live and do business there that there isn't the same pressure to rebuild with a lack of style. (You see, we can't help ourselves.) Maybe it's also that Hull's smaller size appeals to those of us who don't really get on with inner city living. I've lived in suburbs, villages, small farms and one one occasion on an island, none of which really gel with sudden insertion into one of the busier cities. Personally, I'd like to think that it's because East Yorkshire is generally a nice place to live, once you get over the weather.