I dressed as a Peaky Blinder in Lancs city centre in hopes I could join the Shelbys
My application as the newest Peaky Blinder is pending
The revelation that the Peaky Blinders were in town to film part of series six of the hit BBC gang warfare thriller has piqued the interest of many a Lancaster student, myself included. The cast and crew’s enigmatic appearance at Williamson Park has caused speculation, intrigue and ponderings about which college each of the Peaky Blinder gangs bear a similarity to.
Indeed, this exciting development has got many people in the spirit of a Birmingham-based band of racketeering miscreants, so to capitalize on this and provide myself with an excuse to leave the flat, I donned a suit, tie and peak cap (razor blade not included), the traditional uniform of the Blinders and headed into the city to see if I’d make the cut as Lancaster’s resident Peaky Blinder.
Obviously, the first obstacle in reaching my new stomping ground was boarding the bus (it didn’t seem like the weather for riding a horse Cillian Murphy style). On I stepped, already feeling severely overdressed and asked for a day rider in my most assertive tone. Presumably feeling either pity or bemusement, the bus driver made no comment and let me on.
Heading upstairs, I sat myself down and straightened out my Topman suit, which is presumably where all the Peaky Blinders bought their suits from. Conveniently, nobody else had elected to travel into Lancaster at that time so without feeling too much embarrassment, I was able to live out my fantasy of being a hardened roguish anti-hero (as opposed to a neurotic, first-year politics student).
I will admit to you now that this voyage of discovery was neither well-planned nor executed. The vast majority of it was spent on the 100 bus and this was done as I wanted to see with my own eyes whether Heysham Towers was a real place. To my surprise, there is a land beyond Morecambe and that land is Heysham.
Thankfully, my attire was not particularly out of place in this aesthetically pleasing seaside town, as its rural nature allowed me to fit in somewhat amongst the many flat-cap wearing pensioners. I may have been 50 years too young to be accepted into their clique but at least I had the outfit sorted for when that day arrives.
Following a stroll past a pub which, in my opinion, is probably more appealing when actually open, I arrived at the coast and failed one of the most important aspects of being a Peaky Blinder – looking cool whilst staring into the distance. Regrettably, I didn’t manage this as I neglected to notice the “CAUTION: Slippery” sign and nearly tripped into the Irish sea. I’m sure even Tommy Shelby has off-days.
Leaving Heysham posthaste, the bus ride back to Lancaster presented me with the terrifying obstacle of sitting in a three piece suit amongst a group of roadmen that didn’t think much of my sartorial decisions. After seemingly hours, I arrived back in Lancaster, where I decided that my next spot should be the Millennium Bridge.
There was a fair bit of footfall but most of the pedestrians were busy getting on with their own lives to care that a student was doing something frivolous. I did attract the odd glance, some disapproving, some bemused, but for the most part my overly-formal appearance did not seem to phase bystanders. Normally, I go to active lengths to not be noticed but here it felt like an affront after putting effort into what I was wearing for the first time in my life.
If anything in the city was more archaic than my choice of headwear, then it was probably the castle. Traversing up the muddy trail (which is of course ideal in a suit), I reached the top and managed to take some time admiring the structure. Thanks to lockdowns, deadlines and a chronic idleness, I had only visited Lancaster Castle twice before in my five months of being a student here, so having an opportunity to take it in was certainly welcome.
A surprising number of passers-by were present at the castle on this day so I garnered judgmental looks aplenty. I did however find solace in the small smile that a dog walker gave me, completely justifying this whole trip and proving in my mind that I could seamlessly fit in with Tommy, Arthur and the rest of the Garrison regulars.
Up to this point, I had shied away from the more populated areas in Lancaster, embarrassed by my cardinal sin of wearing a hat. It dawned on me though that if I was going to make it as a Peaky Blinder, I had to toughen up and test my new look in Sainsbury’s.
Fortuitously, the hat seems to be a great tool to ensure social distancing as it meant that nobody wanted to be anywhere near me (I’m going to pretend it was because of the hat, let me have this). It goes without saying but as a Blinder, I took a direct route to the spirits aisle, hoping to stock up on the gang’s drink of choice. If Mr. Shelby himself had been there, he probably would have placed the shop under new management, as there was a regrettable lack of Irish whiskey selection, stocking only the old reliables of Jameson’s and Bushmills. This would probably be acceptable to the average shopper but the Shelby’s seem to drink this particular beverage 5-10 times an hour so Sainsbury’s might want to consider a restock now the Peaky Blinders are in town.
I concluded my trip into Lancaster being of the opinion that I probably couldn’t hack it as a member of Shelby Company Limited. When all you can bring to the table is social anxiety and student debt, employment opportunities are invariably sparse, so you can’t afford to be picky. Regardless, I don’t think I’d be a great fit for a criminal syndicate, even if I did start to warm to the hat.