A short piece on multiculturalism, community and interesting animals in Hull.
People presume that being northern comes with an inherent code of conduct, something along the lines of you only drink pints, love rugby, wouldn’t even consider wearing a jacket unless it’s snowing, and have a strong distrust of hummus. And yet in the north, even in this geographically secluded unitary authority that is Hull, we’re surrounded by influences from far further afield than Newcastle Brown Ale.
Back when I were a lad, I’d stand and stare at the colossal whale skeleton looming above me in the Maritime Museum whilst listening to recordings of its mesmerising song. Years later, having spent the majority of my childhood living near East Park and its animal sanctuary, I discovered upon leaving home that being woken each morning by the mating calls of peacocks isn’t that commonplace. Subsequently, as a student, I often walked down Spring Bank, periodically pausing to study the many engravings of elephants in the paving slabs, each paying tribute to a historical pachyderm that was regularly taken from the old zoological gardens to bathe in the river.
A leviathan of the ocean, ostentatious Indian birds and an Edwardian ellyflump: not the kind of creatures you’d expect to find in an urban sprawl sitting alongside the murky Humber.
But it’s not simply fauna that demonstrates Hull’s diversity, and the premise can in fact be applied to practically any topic. From all-embracing art beneath roofs and open skies, to countless international dining experiences; from new faces in the streets and exotic words floating on the breeze, to the social poetry present in everyday life: it takes more than just locals to give a place its essence, and a collection of ethnicities to give it its flavour.
Whilst I agree that the likes of chip spice, Dead Bod and cream phone boxes are very important parts of Hull’s identity, let’s not forget about all of the wonders and gems that are “not from round here”. After all, a city without external contribution is by definition closed off to the world, whereas a melting pot with a little sprinkling of everything will welcome guests from all four corners of the globe.
Copyright © 2020 Rich Sutherland