Growing up in Southampton taught me everything I need to know about life

It’s the forgotten gem of the South


My mum always said the best thing about Southampton is how easy it is to get out of, but now I’ve moved away I’m not so sure. Turns out, growing up in Soton has taught me some valuable life lessons.

How to drink your way through classic literature

Being a Sotonian teenager means learning the names of every member of the fellowship. Well, really just Gollum and Gandalf – they’re the only ones worth drinking.

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No teenage years in Southampton were complete without an utter adoration of The Hobbit. Sure there’s loads of pubs to choose from in Soton but none of them serve you bright green drinks and none of them offer you a free t-shirt if you down twelve pints of the stuff.

When it was threatened with closure a few years ago it was bitter sweet for all of us. Of course we didn’t want to say goodbye to the best pub in the South but it was also pretty cool hearing Ian McKellen talk about our alcohol poison palace.

I’ll never let go (of all my Titanic facts)

Did you know that Jack and Rose were named after real passengers on the Titanic. Did you know the Titanic has an official cat named Jenny? Did you know the fourth funnel was just for show and served no real purpose?

Of course you did – you’re from Southampton.

No good club lasts forever

Not too long ago Bedford Place was heaven on earth with a club for every occasion. If you wanted to pretend you were classy you could head up to the Buddha rooftop. If you just loved bumping into girls you hated at school then pop into Orange Rooms. If you were an adventurer you could dare to ride that weird minibus down to Oceana. If you wanted some classic bangers, Reflex was the place for you and if you had absolutely no standards you could always resort to Jesters (it was the worst club in Southampton long before it was voted the worst club in Britain).

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Classic popworld face

Sadly, nothing good lasts forever. Bedford Place taught us to make the most of what we had before it was gone. These days the fish have been forced out of Orange Rooms by animal rights campaigners and Popword never ends the night with ‘Angels’.

It’s good to know where you belong

Picking out a college in Southampton is the easiest thing ever. If you’ve got an interesting fringe and your mum thinks you’re “indie” then Barton is the place for you. Play six instruments and actually know how to ski? Then hop on the train because you’re off to Symonds. And finally Tauntons – if you’re a bit thick, enjoy getting drunk with your teachers and feel absolutely at home on the mutant mile then you’re all set.

As for the other colleges, you know how the saying goes: “Go in Itchen, come out scratchin'”.

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A true appreciation of nature

You’ve never truly appreciated nature until you’re lying under a grand old oak trying not to die from alcohol consumption. If you were a bit mainstream and lacked any imagination you probably hung out at the Common where you and your friends took it in turn to down Frosty Jacks and make sure the parents from the paddling pool weren’t reporting you to the police.

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The braver among us would venture into town. Wannabe rebels  would flock behind the Bargate, keeping Sweet City in business and pretending they knew how to smoke. Girls with dyed pink hair and weird shoes and boys who could almost skateboard made Hoglands their home.

And anyone who wasn’t cool enough for them (me and my friends) would have to find some other field to hang out in.

The art of a good sell

The hot dog man taught us all a lot about entrepreneurialism. Who knew that processed meat and new age Christian rock would be such a winning combination? I once saw him trying to cure a man’s broken arm through prayer whilst simultaneously selling him fried onions.

Truly something for Southampton to be proud of.

The most important lesson of all

Between all the underage drinking and suspicious meat vendors Southampton taught us the most important lesson of all. Just because something is ugly and no one else likes it doesn’t mean it should be cast aside.

I could list a thousand things wrong with Southampton: we were voted the the fourth crappest city in the UK, we’re home to the worst club in Britain, we have one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates, we never get proper snow, the buses don’t go anywhere useful and we’re all kept up at night by cruise ship foghorns.

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But really, growing up in Soton taught us to appreciate the little things and laugh off the criticism.

Southampton might be a bit grim, but at least it’s not Portsmouth.