International Writers Magazine:
- Historic town of,
The only famous
person to come form Bedford is Paula Radcliffe. And she hasnt
stopped running. Though I am doing Bedford an injustice if I am
implying it is a town of grit and hardship. Oh how I wish it were.
Nothing would be more inspiring than having something to rail against.
But alas, what
characterises Bedford is its distinct lack of character. It is no
run down mess, nor a sweet little town filled with sweet little
people. There is no rich history, no real sense of cultural identity.
It is a place that few people seem to have heard of unless they
have passed through or live nearby.
course like anywhere there are a few crazy characters; Mad Ricky,
the homeless schizophrenic who will shout insults at you and then
ask for your money. Rumour has it he was once in the band Aswad.
The plus side or at least the more interesting side about living
in a town with no overbearing cultural influences is the variety
of people; there has been no such thing as a typical Bedfordian
since the end of the Second World War, when there was an influx
of immigrants - particularly Italian ones.
In a clichéd way, most of their descendants have ended owning restaurants
or hairdressers; Bedford can modestly offer an excellent lasagne or a
decent blow-dry. Then of course there is the large Polish population,
the Slovakians, the Jamaicans, the Greeks, the Indians and of course the
exotic race that are, the commuters.
Bedford attracts lots commuters. I cannot think why. Maybe to them the
blandness is a plus; its nice enough to live but not so nice youd
want to give up a swanky London job. Perhaps its because it is like
a smaller crappier version of London.
Like London there is no shop thats not part of a chain, except some
dubious kebab shops and bars that spring up one minute and are gone the
next. It is multicultural, like London, but there is much segregation
and prejudice. There are plenty of areas that as a white woman I wouldnt
feel safe going. I could go as far to say that Bedford is a microcosm
of Modern Britain. Like my bland little town, there are many different
cultures, but no real sense of an identity as a nation, something exacerbated
by branding away any individual elements; there is not a single shop in
Bedford that you couldnt find in any other town.
Am I proud of being from Bedford? Not exactly. It would be hard to know
what Id be having pride in. The Tescos? The bus station? Though
neither am I ashamed of it. Its bad points arent really that bad;
it isnt full of crime, there isnt much culture but its
a short train ride from London. I asked my sister before I began writing
what she thought of Bedford, to which she shrugged, I dunno, its
alright I suppose. Hardly a poetic or astutely observed remark,
but its certainly apt.
© Laura Kerrigan October 2007
Laura is now on the Creative Writing degree in exotic Portsmouth
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