Norwich is the glorious underdog of the UK
Admit it, we all want to take on the legacy of puppet man as the pride of Norwich
Tell someone from you’re from Norwich and you’re likely to either be faced with a general look of unawareness, or a vague comment about Alan Partridge if you’re dealing with someone over 30.
Nobody ‘passes through’ Norwich; it’s an isolated little mole on the skin of the UK.
It’s not trendy like Leeds and doesn’t even attempt to be Manchester, but it doesn’t want to be. Norwich has embraced its identity as an unknown little corner of Britain and much to everyone else’s amazement, it’s having a great time of it. It’s the awkward boyfriend your cousin brings to the family gathering who sits and doesn’t say a lot. But for once, give that boyfriend a chance, talk to that boyfriend, get him a beer and you never know what you might discover.
It has the potential to be the culture capital (kind of)
Norwich has quiet little cobbled streets, a beautiful cathedral and a huge castle that looks over the city. But if historically important landmarks mean nothing to you, and you just want to know whether there’s an Apple Store, well there is, in Chapelfield. Stood in the centre of the city like a glass church of capitalism, Norwich’s teenagers went into hysterics when Chapelfield first opened.
It’s basically like every other shopping centre. The food court is the social hub of 13 year olds and there are angry mums everywhere. But there’s something familiar about Chapelfield, something homely, and despite Norwich residents inability to cope with change, over the past ten years we have taken Chapelfield under our wing and loved it like a child. Other shopping highlights include Jarrolds, an independent department store and Norwich’s middle finger to John Lewis, and Head In The Clouds, a headshop which entering as a 14 year old and learning how to buy kratom, instantly transformed you into an underground drug lord.
The clubbing scene is a 5/10
Everyone in Norwich knows their city is not the nightlife capital of the UK but if you learn to accept this, a night out can become easier and even (mildly) enjoyable. Walking down the ‘strip’ is like walking through a catalogue of shit nightclub names; “Chicagos” “Fluke” “Bar [insert number between 1 and 99 here]”.
Let me introduce you to the crown jewel of Norwich clubs: still standing like the Buckingham Palace of Norfolk’s “most dangerous road” is the staple Mantra, looking down on the crumbling nightclubs that surround it. It’s exterior boasts ‘club and lounge’ which to be honest, is the very definition of clutching at straws. Despite this, everyone in Norwich has a secret love affair with the place.
If boys who spend half their monthly salary on bottles of grey goose don’t appeal to you, then there’s always the sweaty mess that is The Waterfront. Even though it smells like a weird mixture of damp P.E changing rooms and fruity cider and it still seems to be in it’s year 9 emo phase, being the placid Norwich residents we are, we’re all okay with this and love it unconditionally.
The people are weird, but great
More than anything it’s the people that make this city. Individuals like the puppet man (a man who stands outside Primark and dances with Puppets), pensioners with their casually racist viewpoints and people who haven’t left the city in so long they’ve forgotten what the world outside of this Norwich looks like.
If you’re from Norwich a trip into the city centre comes with an absolute certainty that you will see someone you know and more often than not, they will probably be related to you. It’s easy to forget that this quaint little city is the birthplace of some big stars like Stephen Fry; Jake Humphreys; Delia Smith and Ed Sheeran (who is actually from Suffolk but we don’t talk about that).
You’ll either never leave or struggle to stay away if you do
Norwich doesn’t appreciate it when people leave the nest: it likes to hold on to it’s own and it will do everything it can to stop you leaving. To get anywhere on a train you’ll probably have to go into London first to escape back out (expensive) and to get anywhere on a road you have to leave the county. It’s almost as if Norwich is telling you it’s too much hassle to leave.
you do fight the power and rebel against Mother Norwich, chances are you’ll come running back anyway. “Sure Jonny, you head off to Sheffield, you do an Architecture degree, you show the world how much bigger and better you are than Norwich, but you’ll come back in a few years, begging for a job at Aviva” Norwich smirks.
But going back to Norwich is like ultimate hug. Sure it’s is a bit insular, it’s a bit stuck in it’s ways and you probably haven’t even heard of it but it’s a strange yet cosy home for those who look beyond Alan Partridge.