Buses; location and locution

I’ve always used public transport to travel into Nottingham to work, because it’s convenient and good value for money and far more relaxing than driving on busy roads and trying to find somewhere to park in the city centre.

Also, I’m intrigued by the habits of people on the bus.

Although in this instance I’m limiting myself to location and locution; mobile phones, littering, vandalism and ingestion/vomiting can wait for another occasion to arrive. Or perhaps three occasions to turn up at the same time.

Location

Regular travellers tend to sit in the same seat or area, particularly on the first part of the route, before the bus gets too busy. Passengers boarding further down the route have less chance of a regular ‘preferred’ seat, so they tend to be less specific about actual seats, but do appear to have a preferred zone of the bus to aim for.

By the time the bus nears the city centre, passengers either take whatever is available or just stand, so regular seat domination is largely confined to people from the outer suburbs.

There is also a regular pattern to the way people spread themselves about the bus as it starts to pick up more passengers along the route; firstly by occupying alternating window seats, then as those seats fill up, people alternate aisle seats, ideally with no one sitting directly in front or behind, or they survey the lower deck and decide there might be more chance of getting a seat to themselves on the upper deck, even if it means negotiating the stairs.

At least when you travel upstairs these days you are no longer in jeopardy of watering eyes, ashtray scented clothing or departing with antique kipper effect lungs.

Locution

My principal nosiness, I mean interest, in the observation of people on public transport is in the greeting or parting comments they make to the driver.

There aren’t so many actual greetings, the occasional “Hello” or “Morning”, even the rare “Areet mi duck”, with a high proportion of people not even bothering to acknowledge the person behind the wheel. However, on alighting there is far more variety.

“Thanks” and “thank you” are obviously the most common parting comments and again a majority of people say nothing and exit quickly without making eye contact. But there are quite a few “Cheers!”, “See you later” and “Thanks mate”; these largely said by younger men.

Now “See you later” and “Thanks mate” seem reasonable exclamations to me, but why would you say “Cheers!” which is a toast for drinking situations? When did it become a colloquialism for “thanks”? If this is a developing trend I’m waiting with some anticipation for alighting passengers to call to the driver “To your health!”, “Chin Chin!” or “Bottoms up!”

I’ve not travelled on a late night bus for a while; I wonder what remarks passengers regale the driver with when they’ve actually been drinking? Probably shouldn’t ask.

The occasional “Thank you driver!” now seems to be dying out, as it’s mainly expressed by older men in cloth caps or women with perms and head scarves.

I’ve recently noticed “Nice one!” or “Nice one mate!” being flung in the direction of the driver, so far this is also only being expressed by young men. Are they just making a general remark or is it a comment on something specific? Perhaps the fine cut of the driver’s uniform, the remarkable cleanliness of the bus or the exquisite view from the top deck?

Once in a blue moon there are exiting (as opposed to exciting) passengers that take the parting remarks to a whole new level. I’ve a fairly regular observation of one person who exits the bus fairly slowly, waving and keeping eye contact with the driver, while uttering a relentless stream of comments alone the lines of “Bye, have a good one, bye, see you, be good, bye, can’t get any worse, bye, don’t work too hard, bye, see you later!”

My usual bus route drops me off literally right outside the office and my own remarks are almost entirely limited to “Morning” and “Thanks”, although if it’s particularly wet or cold, I do occasionally, with a pathetic attempt at humour, ask the driver if they can get any closer to the door.

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Nottingham’s stone lions

Left Hand Lion
Nottingham’s Left Hand Lion

In the heart of Nottingham there are two large art-deco stone lions, resting either side of the Council House steps, guarding the entrance and surveying the historic Old Market Square.

Council House dome
Council House dome

Nottingham’s superlative Council House, with its 200 foot high dome and ten and a half ton bell called Little John, was designed by the architect T Cecil Howitt, but the lions, and much of the sculpture, were by Nottingham sculptor Joseph Else (1874-1955). Joseph Else was the principle of the Nottingham School of Art on Waverley Street between 1923 and 1939.

The lions have been a popular symbol in Nottingham for many years and since 2006 Nottingham City Council has used the lion on some of its promotional

The proud lion
© Nottingham City Council

material, in campaigns and on stationery.

To local people meeting at the ‘Left Lion’ has been an indispensable part of life in Nottingham since the Council House opened in 1929. The ‘Left Lion’ is the one on your left as you face the steps and entrance at the front of the building. A Nottingham arts and listings paper is called the Left Lion.

The two lions are known locally to a few people as Leo and Oscar, although some would say Menelaus and Agamemnon, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone from Nottingham who doesn’t recognize them.

Local legend has it that the lions roar when a virgin walks by.

A poem from the BBC’s ‘A Sense Of Place

Clifton poet Lynn Adgar has written a special poem to allow the lions of Nottingham’s Old Market Square to tell us their story.

Nottingham’s Pride – Lion Watching by Lynn Adgar

Yawn….

I’m tired, tired of sitting here all day, Staring at my brother who has no thoughts of his own

He’s just like stone!

He sits contentedly with his lot – gives not a jot for pigeon poo, graffiti too

Daubed across our stately hue.

I grace the hub of city power, to welcome and guard a host of fame

Dignitaries and royalty, pause before me, caress my mane……

A tour of the city is not complete, unless you meet

The Left Hand Lion looking a little melancholy; winter and stone probably isn’t a good combination
The Left Hand Lion looking a little melancholy; winter and stone probably isn’t a good combination

The Council Lions………….

A pigeon told me

Before we arrived a market thrived,

coster banter filled the air, trading wares.

Mad Harry selling stale cakes cheap

Soap box religion vied with buskers strange.

A man displaying muscle brace would fall on his face

Marking the spot with black chalk on his nose.

I think this shows

Just how needed we were to raise the tone.

1929 So, this was now home, a bland slab square

But something had to be done with this drab looking blur

I craved flowers and music to enhance the grandeur.

Yes, I’ve seen some improvements over the years

Witnessed laughter and tears from my solitary post

Never quite being involved, not that I’m cold

You see,

Nottingham’s Left Hand Lion
Nottingham’s Left Hand Lion

it’s quite simply beneath my station to display elation

be it victory time

or when Little Johns chimes

to herald a new years birth.

Expression mute as I execute my guardian role

But joy touches my soul

And this great heart of mine fills with pride

when the city gathers before me to share the moment.

 

Nottingham Council House’s guardians have a late night chat…

via Nottingham arts and listings paper the Left Lion.

A passing final thought; Nottingham’s lions were designed and sculpted in the ‘Roaring Twenties’.

As you paws by the statues fur a moment, consider their felines; they’ve been lion in the roar cold air in front of the Council House as the mane attraction for many years.

For other information about Nottingham click here

 

MumblingNerd’s Nottingham destination print

If you want to know more about Nottingham’s past there is further information in ‘Events and dates in Nottingham’s history’ and through these websites:

 

The Nottinghamshire Heritage Gateway

The Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire

Nottingham Local Studies Library

 

Exceptional Nottingham

I put the original version of this description of Nottingham on ‘Where I’ve Been’, well, it’s more like an extended list than a description, which is down to my writing skills, lack of that is, but I love living in Nottingham. It’s an outstanding city.

Clumber Street

Nottingham is a vibrant city, with first-class shopping attracting millions of people every year and consistently ranked in the top five UK shopping destinations. There are over 1,300 outlets; independent retailers, designer boutiques and high street favourites, with shoppers spending around £1.8 billion a year.

The city’s famous Old Market Square is the largest public square outside of London and is dominated by the 200 foot high dome of the Council House, the traditional centre for Nottingham City Council.

The left and right stone lions that guard the entrance to the Council House are a popular meeting place for local people.

Theatre Square

There are cosy pubs, stylish bars and vibrant nightclubs, making Nottingham the regional capital for nightlife and live music.

The city has a huge variety of live music venues and a pioneering art and culture scene, there are contemporary and classical theatres, the Capital FM Arena and art galleries such as the Nottingham Contemporary and New Art Exchange.

Castle Gatehouse

Nottingham Castle houses a museum and art gallery and has superb grounds with views across the city and over the Trent valley. There are also museums and spectacular parks at Wollaton Hall and Newstead Abbey, along with many other parks and gardens. The city’s Arboretum was the first designated public park in Nottingham and officially opened on 11 May 1852.

There are all sorts of places to visit and things to do. The fascinating Galleries of Justice Museum is based in Nottingham’s old courthouse and gaol, and takes you through the dark and disturbing past of crime and punishment. There is the award winning City of Caves visitor attraction, exploring the amazing sandstone caves beneath Nottingham city centre, the Museum of Nottingham Life at Brewhouse Yard, depicting the social history of Nottingham over the last 300 years and Green’s Windmill, a popular museum and science centre.

Nottingham has award winning and cosmopolitan cuisine; there are more than 300 cafes and restaurants just in the city centre, offering more international food outlets per square mile than anywhere else in the UK.

Trent University

For anyone interested in sport there are first-rate facilities and entertainment at venues such as Trent Bridge Cricket Ground, Forest’s City Ground and County’s Meadow Lane for football, the National Ice Centre, Nottingham Racecourse, the National Water Sports Centre and the Nottingham Tennis Centre.

Nottingham has two of the country’s foremost universities, Nottingham University and Trent University, and has the third largest student population in England, with more than 55,000 students at the universities alone.

Queen Street
Tram on Cheapside
View of the Lace Market from Castle Rock

 

For other information about Nottingham click here

 

MumblingNerd’s Nottingham destination print

Also some external links:

Nottingham is the least car dependent city in England

Wikipedia article on Nottingham

Experience Nottinghamshire tourism website for Nottingham

Ten Reasons to Love Nottingham

From Nottingham, about Nottingham, for Nottingham (Stefan Savidge)

Why I Randomly Love Nottingham by Al Booth (via Creative Nottingham)

Creative Cities: Nottingham

 

Dweller epithet for Nottingham

Cheapside
Cheapside

There isn’t a name for people who live in Nottingham.

Many other cities and areas have a demonym or gentilic (a term for the residents of a locality); Liverpudlians, Brummies, Mancunians, Geordies, Londoners etc, but not Nottingham.

I hadn’t thought about this before, but Oonagh Robinson has just written a piece in the Nottingham Evening Post on the subject that made me realise what we’re missing out on.

Nottingham doesn’t lend itself to happy abbreviations. Whichever part of the name you extract it doesn’t work in isolation; Notts is the County abbreviation and Notters is too close to Nutters. Tings or Tingers, Hams or Hammers are all too similar to other names and don’t link to Nottingham without the ‘Nott’ bit.

Nottinghamian or Nottinghammers are too clumsy; Nottimers or Nottamers are slightly better, but awkward.

I’m digressing slightly here, but isn’t awkward an awkward word? I must have used it before, but when I put the ‘wkw’ bit down the more I looked at it the less it seemed to be right. I had to use the spell checker and thesaurus twice before I believed it.

Castle Gatehouse and Robin Hood Statue
Castle Gatehouse and Robin Hood Statue

Anyway.

Notties is a bit twee and too close to Nottinghamshire, or to Ken Dodd’s Knottyash.

Nottingham’s original name of Snotengaham (meaning ‘home of Snot’) works better in abbreviation; Snots or Snotties have a contemporary but tenuous and icky link to green issues, but perhaps it snot practical, who nose?

The standard abbreviations for Nottingham (Nottm) and for Nottinghamshire (Notts) are very often confused and incorrectly transposed, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen correspondence addressed to Notts City Council and Nottm County Council, or references to the city of Notts.

Sherwood is too broad an area to refer just to Nottingham, but what about Hooders (obviously not Hoodies), Robins, Outlaws, Merries? No, it’s just not working is it?

Nottnum seems to be an extensively used pronunciation of Nottingham; is that from the spread of Estuary English to the Midlands? So how about Nottnumers?

Actually, looking back over that, Nottimers, Nottamers or Nottnumers are probably about the best of the bunch.

Somebody must have a better idea however; it would be good for the city to have a widely accepted dweller epithet.

If anyone happens to read this, any ideas will be greatly appreciated. I shall be deeply offended, but probably entertained, if they disrespect this great city though.



For other information about Nottingham click here