Sunday, 10 February 2013

My kind of town...(or 'city' technically)

Having lived here all my life (due to a variety of unfortunate circumstances and bail conditions), I thought I'd share with you some of the highlights of my hometown - Salisbury. Please note, this is Salisbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom - not one of around one million towns in the US by the same name, or the old name for Harare, capital of Zimbabwe. 

You see, for a bit of a backward place, Salisbury has quite a few extraordinary claims to fame and famous children. I promise you that all the details in this post are actual true facts (except for the bit where I mention my forthcoming wedding to Sarah Harding in Salisbury Cathedral). 

(Just for the record, we're actually having a small registry office ceremony)

Firstly, Salisbury is the birthplace of two of the most famous Franks the world has ever seen: Frank 'ooh Betty' Spencer (aka Phantom Of The Opera, Michael Crawford) and really quite bizarrely in my opinion, England and Chelsea stalwart Frank Lampard. Neither have been true to their Wiltshire accents.

Some of the biggest ever movie franchises have a strong Salisbury representation. Firstly, C3PO was born and lives here. To be fair, he's seen better days and you can often find him staggering out of Robert Dyas with a six pack of WD40 to take home and enjoy whilst reading the Screwfix catalogue. 

Ralph Fiennes was educated at Salisbury's grammar school for boys. You heard me right people, Voldemort learnt all his evil ways right here. Rumour has it that that his nose fell off during a particularly physical game of rugby and on the night of each full moon, it can still be heard sneezing (on rainy nights, you can even feel the droplets on your face). Thankfully, Voldemort has now become a goody, having taken up the role of James Bond's boss 'M'. 

Another star of the screen to first slither into existence in my city was John Rhys-Davies. He was the arab guy with the little hat and beard called Sallah in the Indiana Jones films and also Gimli in Lord of the Rings. In real life, he's not actually a dwarf (or a wearer of a funny hat).

Lord of the Rings, kind of leads me onto Lord of the Flies (which it turns out is about some kids going all tribal on an island and not about some guy with the best zip in his trousers ever). The Nobel Prize winning author of LOTF, William Golding, taught in the very same school that Voldemort went to.

Incidentally, this school is just a stones throw from where Handel composed some of his music back when he was like the Jay Z of his day. The drum n bass remix of his Water Music is well dope.

And slightly (but only slightly) more modern music also has a Salisbury connection. Mick Fleetwood of Mickfood Mac, no, I mean Fleetwood Mick, no Macwood Flick - oh you know the one - was brought up here. As was Dave Dee from Dave Dee, Dozy, Sleepy and Grumpy or whatever they were called.

Sting has a house in Salisbury! Well, it's just outside Salisbury in a little place just up the road from where I live called Wilsford Cum Lake. Yep, that is honestly what it's called. And given all that tantric sex he does, it's probably quite apt.

I'm not sure if he sings or not (I reckon he probably does when in pantomime and the shower), but Christopher Biggins grew up here. His brother still does and rents a room off a friend of a friend. 

The oldest part of Salisbury (called Old Sarum) has a lot of history associated with it - far more than I can list here. Or that I can remember if I'm honest. But one thing that does stick in my mind is that William the Conqueror used to hang out in the castle that was once there (it's now just some old bits of stone with English Heritage posters on the wall). 

With all the archaeology knocking around these parts, it's lucky that Salisbury is also home to Phil Harding from Time Team. He's the one with a hat and who gets really excited by old flint and stained mud. He can often be seen wandering around and always wears the same hat. Whilst he's obviously incredibly passionate and clever, I can't help thinking that he probably smells. Especially on a hot day after lots of trowel scraping and an exciting find.

You're probably thinking after reading this post that it's not possible for anyone humorous or funny to come from Salisbury. Well my friend, you'd be wrong, assuming that is, you find David Mitchell funny. I think he's funny. I like him in Peep Show and that thing on Channel 4 with Charlie Brooker, Jimmy Carr and that Geordie lass. He was actually born just one day before me. And has a beard. And that's where the similarities end really.

After mentioning some famous births, it seems fitting to end this post with a couple of notable deaths this city has seen. 

Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott died in the city's old hospital. It has since been converted into apartments and old people's flats. Someone now eats dinner or sleeps or washes in the space where Phil moved on to the big concert in the sky. And also in the same space I once had a rectal examination. Wonder if they'll ever put up a blue plaque to commemorate this when I'm famous?

Former PM (as in prime minister, not afternoon) Edward Heath lived out his final years in a big house in the cathedral close. You wouldn't really have know he lived there if it wasn't for the constant presence of armed police and the massive neon light-up sign he used to switch on at night that said, "I used to be leader of this bloody country you know".

So there we are folks, Salisbury in a nutshell. I didn't even have room for Britain's tallest cathedral spire, an original copy of the magna carter and the oldest working clock in existence. To be fair, the clock doesn't have a face, so crikey knows how you're supposed to tell the time. Let's relabel that one as the "world's oldest collection of rusty cogs and pulleys".

Anyway, you should all come and visit here sometime. Just ignore the young couples who look like they're actually siblings and the screams of whoever's turn it is to be sacrificed to keep the gods from sending us a plague of flaming locusts (which you may mock, but we've never had one yet, so screw you science).

1 comment: