Recently, Coventry was named as the UK City of Culture for 2021. Coventry beat out Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea to the award, which was announced live on ‘The One Show’ one Thursday night in December. I work in Renfrewshire and so became very much aware of the City of Culture bid through my job. I followed the bid’s social media presences and I genuinely thought they would win. The night the winner was announced, we got it on at work and I was actually nervous about it. I am not from Paisley. I’ve never lived there. Still it was like waiting for the outcome of a job interview or a cup draw. Apparently I wasn’t alone. The next morning’s Herald had an article which quoted a journalist who was at the Paisley 2021 bash at UWS as saying ‘I’m not even from here and I’m feeling nervous’.
It got me thinking about how my life has changed in recent years. I grew up and spent the majority of my life living in East Lothian. For the last four and a bit years I’ve lived in Glasgow, working in and around the city over that time. I have come to care about quite a few places, even to the point that I actively rooted for Paisley to be UK City of Culture. I came across a post from this blog from a year or two ago when I defended a part of Dumbarton from a Twitter account called ‘Crap Views’. As I recall, it was a Chinese takeaway in Dalreoch. It always smelled good when I went past on the way to and from work. I defend Glasgow against all comers too. It is my home now. I think that the places around you change you, even if you don’t realise it.
I was sad Paisley didn’t get to be the City of Culture for 2021. The bid was very well done with an incredibly diverse programme of activities going on over the last couple of years, bringing in a lot of people from the town and Renfrewshire more generally. I am glad, though, that there will be a legacy from the bid, not least in the new Paisley Museum, its store and the Central Library, amongst many other things. Paisley has a lot of good things about it, not something I thought I would say a few years ago.