Having attended primary school on the Trent’s banks in The Meadows, I was in complete despair at my parents’ decision to up sticks and move to “the other side”.
My identity always felt a bit confused as a teenager: slap-bang in between our old suburb of “Medders”, known for its high crime rates and low employment; and West Bridgford, an aspiring middle-class maze of detached houses and flash cars.
I became fluent in both the Nottin’um slang I’d grown up with, and the subdued monotone of well-articulated words and pronounced Hs found in Bridgford.
One does not simply “nip to the shops” in The Meadows; you can hardly get out your door before talking to neighbours, grandmas who know your grandma, and your mum’s best-friend’s sister. Living in the pristine area of Wezzy B that I now call home, I’m lucky to have a passing interaction with a neighbour in the street.
My mum remembers the class divisions of her adolescence, too. It was alright to be poor and living in a big house in Bridgford, but you were boggered to be poor and living in a council house. She attended the same schools as me, but wore a regulation uniform for kids who handed over a lunch token every day. They may as well have written “benefits” on their foreheads.
Now I’m living on “the right side of the river” in West Bridgford; where the residents are still all “fur coat and no knickers” according to my Grandma, but where I worked in a chip shop long enough to know that not everyone’s a snob around here. The stigmas from both sides don’t make cohesion easy, but we’ve all got common ground. Even if there is a big wad of water running through the middle of it.
Both Meadows and West Bridgford are far from perfect, but there’s no such thing as “the wrong side of the river”, and we’d all do well to sit on the banks of the Trent and look to the other side every once in a while.