Martin Kelner: The dry wit of the residents may baffle Chelsy – but she should stick around

Share

I have some sympathy with Chelsy, bless her. She has come to Leeds as a student and may well have had expectations unrealistically raised by the glossy literature produced by the city's seats of learning. This tends to go long on the myriad ways in which Leeds is like Kensington, and rather shorter on the ways Leeds is like, well, Leeds.

Possibly Chelsy had a look at some of the Leeds sites on the internet – or got someone to do it for her – in which case she may have been seduced by the pictures of bright, young, immaculately coiffed things crowding waterfront bars and world-class restaurants.

Fair enough. There are plenty of fashionable bars in Leeds, and restaurants where they will serve you a seared something or other drizzled with something else, at a world-class price, and naturally the city – slogan: Leeds, Live It, Love It – likes to crow about it. Like most of our great northern cities, Leeds has suffered decades of industrial decline, so we are busy – along with our neighbours in Newcastle and Manchester – making a living, strolling up and down the worldwide web, made up to the eyeballs, skirts hoisted up, saying: "Hello dearie, want to study here, live here, visit for a short time?" We have been doing fairly brisk business in this fashion too.

Not that this PR is inaccurate, exactly, but it is far from the whole story. Leeds is not as easy a city to love as the publicity suggests. When I first arrived 26 years ago, like Chelsy I found the locals a little dour. I stepped off the train at Leeds City station, approached a young chap and said, maybe a little too diffidently: "Excuse me, I am looking for The Headrow." To which he responded: "Are you now?" And went on his way.

What I misinterpreted as rudeness, I now recognise as mordant wit. Another example: a lavish publicity campaign by the council vaunting Leeds as a "24-Hour City" was followed within hours by a website set up by local wags listing all the things you can do in the middle of the night in Leeds. Top of the list: "Buy a king-size Snickers from the service station on Roundhay Road."

Of course, there are other reasons Chelsy should give our city another chance, quite apart from the dry wit of its residents: the Henry Moores in the City art gallery, and out in the open at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the beautifully preserved Hyde Park Cinema, home of the Leeds International Film Festival, great fish and chips, Roundhay Park (and not just for its confectionery), fine music venues where the Kaiser Chiefs, the Pigeon Detectives and others cut their teeth, and many more the tourist office would be delighted to enumerate for her.

But it was the sarcasm that reeled me in when I first came here as a tyro broadcaster. My radio station was doing a promotion in a local nightclub, where I was approached by a young woman: "Are you on the radio?" she asked. "Yes," I said, as self-effacingly as I could manage. "Well, I can see why you're not on the telly," she replied.

Reader, I married her, and I am still here.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital & Print Designer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast-growing company speci...

Recruitment Genius: IT Analyst

£17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Administrator - East Riding of Yorkshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Administrator - East Ridi...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continuous expansion and growth o...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Craig Oliver, David Cameron’s Director of Communications  

i Editor's Letter: Poultry excuses from chicken spin doctors

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Women come back from the fields to sell vegetables at a market in Bangui, Central African Republic  

International Women's Day: Africa's women need to believe in themselves and start leading the way

Sylvia Bongo Ondimba
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable