As we make our way through January, ESP’s Man About Town, Pep Cipriano is back with his musings on life in the Borough and what 2021 may hold…
NEW YEAR. NEW PETERBOROUGH?
January 2021. If you’re reading this give yourself a pat on the back because you made it.
None of us can predict what the next 12 months will bring but surely it won’t be as bad as 2020. Whatever lies in store, this time I know we’ll be better prepared.
So many things were cancelled or postponed last year but despite this, our city’s growth agenda continued to progress where it could.
The city centre in particular will look like a very different place within the next two to four years. I’ve lost count of the number of new and regeneration projects that are on the go but here’s a few that I can think of:
– Expansion of Queensgate
– Redevelopment of North Westgate and station quarter
– Completion of Fletton Quays
– New university
– Regeneration of Northminster
– New residential properties
– Extension to the museum
– New library and culture hub
– Improvements to public realm spaces
– New indoor swimming pool
– New Posh stadium
– Continuous rollout of City Fibre
The pandemic and Brexit – and arguably local election results – could all play a part in the pace and outcome of these exciting developments.
For now, we seem to be heading in the right direction, despite finishing number one in a top ten worst places to live in England poll. This online poll has the credibility of Donald Trump. And when Liverpool was voted third and Luton seventh it says everything about the kind of people who submit their choices.
But while aesthetically the city is seemingly taking huge leaps forward, I’m not sure the same can be said for the attitude of a minority of our population.
When the news broke in December that Peterborough was being put into Tier 4, I was saddened to see our city highlighted like a lone island away from the block of Tier 4 cities and towns in the south east.
Yes, I know the metrics we’re measured against isn’t always a true reflection of the effort the majority of us have made to stick to the rules. I also know how much time and resource our local authority has invested into pandemic messaging.
But the facts remain we were placed in Tier 4 because not enough of us were following the rules and as a result infection rates were increasing to dangerous levels. Today, the whole country is in lockdown but our city may well remain in Tier 4 if Boris plans to go back to tiers in February.
Peterborough has often been described by people who live and work here as a city with a town mentality. But in the case of our response to Covid it’s been, in some part I’m afraid, a child mentality for some of our residents.
Perhaps when we dig ourselves out of this Covid hole we’ve fallen into, our city can make the headlines for realisation of its growth aspirations.
We’re still one of the fastest growing cities in the UK and boast more green spaces than you can shake a stick at. We’re recognised for affordable housing and excellent transport links for business and commuters, plus many more unique selling points.
But it’s not enough. Call it the ‘Peterborough Effect’, parochial attitude or that town mentality – we still have to do more when it comes to attitude.
No city is perfect but it’s time we started to embrace the good about where we live and be grateful for small blessings. Yes, there are things that massively frustrate me about Peterborough but at its core the city is still a sound place.
What it struggles with is identity and this shouldn’t be down to employed leaders to shape. It’s our responsibility to make Peterborough what we want it to stand for and what we want it to become. It’s a new year, so let’s start it as we mean to go on.
WHAT WE SAID IN 2020
It was certainly a year of words we’d never before had use of in our everyday vocabulary.
I don’t think I said or wrote the word pandemic prior to 2020 and until then if someone said the word Covid to me I’d have probably thought of it as a type of aspirin.
Then there’s furlough. Foreign students learning English are still bemused by its spelling and prior to 2020 I’d have guessed its meaning to be some kind of farmer’s ploughing technique.
Zoom was a hit by Fat Larry’s Band in 1982 but the 2020 Zoom was something entirely different. And Zoom and Teams probably gave us one of the year’s most repeated lines: “You’re on mute.”
We can’t predict what new words or phrases we’ll become accustomed to this year but I’m just hoping for a return to some pre-Covid favourites. Here’s ten I want to use again:
- Weekend away
- Pop round for a beer
- Let’s go out for a beer!
- It’s just a cough
Welcome 2021 and please gift us with the return of normality.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT!
Bored of lockdown running, so I’ve been learning the nunchakus.
MY WORD OF THE MONTH: FEBRUARY
It’s nearly here and here’s what I DON’T want the month to be remembered by: extended lockdown, Valentine’s Day cancelled, snow, kids not back to school until after Easter (now there’s a good idea), vaccinations not working, Brexit means roaming charges abroad, still working from home, gyms closed until March and more panic buying.
PEP AWARD: MOVE OVER MARY BERRY!
I’ve decided that I’m going to give a shout out to somebody each month.
My Pep Award criteria is flexible. Basically, that means a person can be deserving of my award for a number of reasons.
They may have done a good deed, achieved a personal goal, battled through an issue, been consistent in a world of inconsistencies, put others before themselves, brought a smile to my face or made me ask questions of myself. The examples go on.
So, the winner of my first-ever Pep Award is Eddie Nash. Lockdowns have seen Eddie swap his mixing decks for mixing bowls and he’s churned out some of the most awesome cakes I’ve ever seen.
Eddie’s made mouth-watering cakes for individuals who’ve gone the extra mile in the pandemic and to others who were celebrating or just needed cheering up.
Mr Nash also pushed me and others to complete the 25-day push-up challenge to raise awareness of mental health challenges.
And more recently, to help lighten the mood at weekends, he’s been posting live DJ sets of some of our favourite tunes that take us back to better times down the years. His New Year’s Eve set was a godsend and it helped connect so many people.
Eddie’s been a true trooper of positive vibes in tough times. Well done fella.
WILL WE EMBRACE EVER AGAIN?
Since 1986 the USA has celebrated National Hugging Day in January but this year it clearly isn’t happening.
Studies have shown hugging helps to lower blood pressure and trigger the release of healthy hormones. But today hugging, kissing or even shaking the hand of a friend is practically outlawed.
It’s got me thinking – when we’re eventually allowed to have that kind of physical contact again, will we actually want to? It sounds daft but will people be on their guard? Will we be nervous?
One day I’ll read this back and remember how surreal 2020 was, when some of our basic human interactions were completely subdued or taken away from us.
– Butch – let’s catch up
– John – house news?
– Tony – buon compleanno!
– Dave – time for the Alfa MOT…
– Buddy – what happened to lover?
– Hamza – we’ll be back on track next month