People who don’t know any better talk about Bradford as if it’s the poor relation of every other northern city and as we northerners know, that puts it bottom of the pile. Well, ya boo sucks to you Bradford naysayers, this weekend, with the official opening of City Park, it was the best city in the country. So there.
I really do get fed up of the way Bradford is portrayed in the media and Twittersphere. Channel Four’s recent Make Bradford British fly-in-the-ointment, I mean fly on the wall, documentary just underlined all the anti-Bradfordness. Come on, guys, give the city a break.
With my Exposure Leeds hat on, the community photography social enterprise I’m part of, I took a gaggle of 30 or so people on a photowalk around the City Park official opening celebrations on Saturday. Actually, I should have had an Exposure Leeds hat on, a very very large one, because as soon as we stepped out from the meeting place at Impressions Gallery, we were swallowed up by the thousands and thousands of people who were enjoying the celebrations in the six-acre space. I soon lost 20 of them, it always happens!
I have never seen so many people so good naturedly having a great time in the city centre. Children and quite a few adults were splashing in the Mirror Pool, the focal point of the park, where fountains gurgle, splash and spout, depending on which way out they’re feeling. Two gymnasts were twirling and tumbling, suspended from giant helium balloons and the street entertainment just went on and on. Even the electioneering candidates hoping to get a look-in at this week’s by-election were greeted cordially, I shook George Galloway’s hand and had my head examined by the Monster Raving Loony Party candidate who confirmed that I am in fact bonkers. Tell me something I don’t know!
The idea of a photowalk is to walk and take photos, pretty simple really. It encourages people to look for something different to photograph, try something new and to enjoy the challenge. By the time we returned to Impressions, others were uploading their photos, with many of them displayed on the large public screen in the city centre.
The finale was two-pronged. On the one hand, there was a spectacular firework display, on the other, protesters good-naturedly, symbolically and actually turned their backs on the festivities to face the crumbling old Odeon cinema, cunningly hidden behind scaffolding and wrapping.
The Odeon was a splendid art deco-style cinema which has fallen on hard times since it closed at the turn of the millennium. There were plans to renovate and feature it as part of the city centre development, but that hasn’t happened so people have got a bit peeved, hence the protest. In my book, it didn’t detract from the fabulous day, it just underlined that the city has a heart and cares. How many other cities can say that, eh?