I've had so many people flagging the following news story up to me and wanting me to comment on it, that I've been feeling like Dennis bleddy McCarthy. I suppose you'll be hassling me into doing Wanted Column On The Air next, or that quiz with the fucking typewriter music in the background. Actually, I've been clamming to write about it ever since I saw it, so here goes; Bulwell has taken the accolade of having the highest percentage of people in Notts who buy sportswear, and the highest percentage of people who do fuck all sporting-related activity, what with them being too busy cramming half of Iceland into their cakey maws.
Personally, I'm a bit shocked by this. How could an area that closes down its swimming pool and opens up a drive-through KFC across the road possibly fall into such a state? How could this happen in a place where the Greggs has the kind of queues that you used to see on the news whenever there was a bread shortage in Communist Poland? How could a part of town where the only sporting facility the locals ever use is the short-cut across the 'Golfeh' to get to Tesco and the nearest bingo hall (pausing to flick V-signs and scream abuse at anybody about to take a shot, naturally) sink so low? (he wrote, as he bit into the crisp sandwich on the side of his laptop and eyed the remains of the Quality Street tin)
Personally, however, I'm not here to talk about the collective lardiness of the people of that gentle town with its babbling brook (who will be hereafter referred as Bulweebles) - do I look like fucking Trisha or summat? The thing that interests me here is the sportswear aspect. I've been to Bulwell far too many times in my precious, precious life, and it's true; they're all absolutely batcheh for manky sportswear in that place. I'm surprised that NCT didn't add a third rail to the bit of tram network that runs through Bulwell, so it would look like there was a huge adidas stripe across the place on Google Earth.
This might be a little hard for our younger readers to take in, but once upon a time, sportswear was an absolute status symbol. I remember growing up in Top Valley in the 1970s, and being in awe of the Abbs brothers, for the simple fact that two of them wore white Admiral Man United away trackie tops. OK, so maybe they wore them all the time, and by 1978 they absolutely funked, but the fact remained; you could not buy this shit in a shop. God knows how they got hold of them. While our Mams were fobbing us off with Littlewoods long-sleeved t-shirts and claiming they were Forest tops, those two lads were undisputed kings of the street, because they were wearing the exact same thing as Joe Jordan and Gordon McQueen.
(and bear in mind that there was precisely one sports shop in town, the almighty Redmayne & Todd, which was the best shop in Nottingham ever ever EVER and had an absolutely gargantuan Subbuteo section).
I even supported Man United in the 1976 FA Cup final and cried when they lost, just because I wanted a trackie top just like that. Me mam should have disowned me.
By late 1977, I finally got hold of a Forest trackie top, with the logo and everything, and it was my turn to dominate. Nobody - and I mean, nobody - had one, and kids at junior school would beg me to let them wear it for a bit. In fact, my first contact with puberty happened because of that top; I lent it to one lad who was in goal, and when he gave it me back, it absolutely reeked of sweat (I got him back later, when he split his trousers reaching down for a ball and I silently pointed out the massive skid mark in his kecks to everyone else).
By the 80s, Casual Culture (or 'Shadies', as they were known in Notts) kicked the door right in. A gang at our school started calling themselves the Hi-Tec Crew (tsk...rubbish trainers), and people were going to obscene lengths to get hold of a £75 Tacchini trackie top or Pringle jumper (with the resultant effect being that half the kids at school either looked like Games teachers or middle-managers on a golfing weekend). From there, it was a very short jump to Bulwell creating enough static electricity to power five hospitals whenever some indoor whale in a chatty Reebok tracksuit brushes against another gutbucket in a Lonsdale top in another sport shop that doesn't sell anything you could actually play a sport with. Sigh.