Over on the right is Cat, outside the Markeaton Street site of Derby University. She is carrying her Portfolio of glorious artworks in the big black case. It isn’t half heavy, I can tell you. Over her left shoulder is her bag of sketchbooks and working drawings, while over her right shoulder is her UWE bag containing girly essentials.
Getting Cat up at 6am wasn’t as difficult as I’d imagined, although she was noticeably monosyllabic, and we set off into the damp drizzly dark. (Half past nine in the morning – what sort of time’s that for an interview at Derby, I ask you?). Cat settled herself down for a right good doze.
The traffic was twatmongering awful, the windscreen kept drizzing up, and the road works were almost constant. Also, why the hell did I keep getting bloody white vans in front of me so that I couldn’t see any further ahead than its filthy back windows? Bloody Sod’s Law, that’s why! For two and a half hours I ranted, and used every swear word I could think of. Cat, however, snoozed on calmly like her namesake.
At 9:28, two minutes to interview time, we were still three miles from the University, and sitting in a barely moving traffic queue. Behind a transporter carrying, you’ve guessed it, white vans. Cat phoned the University to warn them she might be a bit late, then suddenly, delightfully, the road cleared. With a mighty “Wahey!” we foot-downed and were there in no time at all. After dropping Cat at the college, I parked up and walked into Derby to check the town out. Oh, hang on – it has a cathedral, so it’s a city. On the left there is the Markeaton Street building from the east side, from which (were there any actual, you know, windows) you would have a lovely view of some allotments.There is student accommodation no more than two minutes walk from Markeaton Street, at St. Christopher’s Court (see right). It looked very secure, with fences, locked gates and entries, and a red car failing miserably to get in.
Big-arsed Gate Thingie
The road down into Derby looked as boring as a ledger book, so I struck off down a side streets and soon became completely lost. However, I did discover several hidden treasures of Derby’s cultural heritage. First, this big-arsed gate building thingie:No. I’ve no idea what it is. Google it if you’re that bothered. Down past there, and up some worn old steps, were several old abandoned mills. They were beautiful, in a ramshackle, knackered way, and redolent of the textile industry which used to thrive in Derby. Through the shattered windows could be glimpsed hints of how the interior used to look. The graffiti was nothing to write home about, however. A little further on, someone had dumped this: It looked like a work of bloody art to me, but I didn’t have a carrier bag big enough, so I left it there to be gathered in by the spring grass which will soon appear.
I was beginning to get my bearings now, and turned right by a lovely old church which had fallen on hard times and been forced into prostitution as a Chinese Buffet. The final insult must have been having to submit to the name Wokmania.
Finally, though, I’d found the town (or rather, city) centre – in the picture below, you can see Derby Cathedral at the far end of the street, thrusting itself at the grey, dismal sky. Derby, on this day seemed a normal everyday town (sorry, city).
All the usual shops you would expect were present and correct – Clinton’s, Smiths, Waterstone’s, Boots etc. etc. I saw no sign of any independent little shops that might have added a much-needed touch of piquancy, but later research shows I just missed some of the good stuff.
Rampant Rabbit Thruster Deluxe
My hopes for some interesting retail outlets at last were briefly raised by this place (left), but sadly the very next shop along was just a Poundland. (and what exactly IS ‘Liquid Satin’, which you get free with every Rampant Rabbit Thruster Deluxe? Is it a vital ingredient? And doesn’t the rabbit get scared? I will never know, for I am far too cowardly to ask).
I did see a very pretty Chinese lady with blue hair, also, but I doubt she’s a permanent fixture.
The Halifax Building Society building surprisingly perked me up, featuring as it did several statues that looked about ready to topple over onto the oblivious shoppers below. That’s Florence Nightingale over on the left there, and I’ll bet that if she HAD toppled with murderous intent, the death certificate of her victim would have made interesting reading.
Invisible in Derby
I had discovered by now that I was invisible in this
town CITY. People kept walking into me as if I wasn’t there. Actually, it now occurs to me that they may have simply all been overcome with a desire for physical contact with yours truly given my high sexual charisma. Yes, that was probably it.
I also quite liked this clock, for its simple, angular Fifties feel. It told the correct time, too.
I bought us a couple of baguettes and Fantas, and returned to fetch Cat. She told me that the interview had gone well. She’d spoken eloquently about her art, and was now pretty impressed with the place – much more than she had been previously. She and another girl had drawn each other while awaiting their turns, which she had enjoyed.