If Wetherspoons opened a theme park, it would look like Preston

Alreet cha!

Hotpot, pies, football fights, awful nightclubs and Andrew Flintoff. Just a number of things my hometown, Preston, is renowned for. Despite being steeped in history, my city really is still what I imagine it would be like if Wetherspoons opened a theme park.

Whilst being reminiscent of the area’s signature dish – hotpot; an amalgam of almost everything piled into a dish and baked until it’s suitably greasy to be profoundly vile, yet appealing at the same time, Preston holds a special place in my heart as the place that shaped me as I grew up.

As you glide through the Primark and cut through onto Fishergate you can’t help but feel a sense of contentment as you gaze at the people of Preston. Whether it be Toxic Terry, or that guy who sells sweetcorn, Fishergate is a street which encapsulates the despair of a city which has been ‘up and coming’ since the 60s.  The scent of the Poundbakery, and Greggs opposite one another fills your nostrils, and you hear the shouts of ‘alreet cha,’ echoing through the boulevards of so charming a place.

Another wonderful aspect of being from Preston is that you have the joy of having to explain where you’re from to anyone that doesn’t hail from that part of the world. “It’s like near Manchester, but not in Manchester…yeah kinda near Blackpool, but fuck Blackpool…No, I don’t know Little T from BGMedia. Do you know Chorley? Leyland? Bamber Bridge? Never mind.”

The football culture in Preston, like many Northern towns is second to none. Our players don’t start fights with the other team, they’ll just scrap each other if the chance arises. Not only have The Lilywhites got a cult following, but that following manifests itself in all aspects of life in my City.

In Preston, it’s acceptable to start a football chant anywhere, the street, the pub, Mick’s Hut, St George’s, the train station, on your court date, at church, the list goes on. I’ll never forget the day I was on shift and a group of lads burst into the reasonably upmarket (by Preston standards) restaurant I worked at and began a chorus of “O’ Joey Garney, you are the love of my life, O’ Joey Garner, I’d let you shag my wife”, and rather than immediately stop them, a few of us actually first joined in.

There’s also an inherent joy when you meet other Prestonians, because inevitably you know all of the same people. You went to all the same places, your dads are friends, you’re probably related, you’ve been approached by all the same odd bods on nights out, you both say things are ‘well’ everything, you both claim to love Butter pies and Bovril when really you don’t, you’ve both ramped up your Northern accent at uni to make yourself slightly less understandable to everyone else for fear of losing your Northern identity, and yes, you’ve both been to Macs and Warehouse Tuesdays.

So as you sip on your pint in Twelve Tellers, Yates’ or even The Continental if you’re feeling suitably cosmopolitan on your next trip home, remember, that while Preston really is a little bit of a shithole, but it is our shithole.