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A Magazine for Sheffield

A Londoner in Sheffield

DJ and freelance writer Young Lee on moving up to Sheffield.

If Sheffield were an online media platform, I'd share, like and retweet it. I'd stick a huge heart icon where everyone could see. This lovely city gives me that sort of vibe. I realise now that I've subconsciously become its biggest fan.

I moved up to Sheffield from London last March, a random move created out of circumstance. In this instance, chance beat choice.

Before moving to Sheffield, my view of the North, outside of Manchester, was stereotypical of many Londoners. I thought the North was an area of the country where it snows in summer, stuck in some sort of 1960s Ken Loach nightmare. In the North, people moan about the South because they are jealous of our riches. There’s lots of unemployment because the traditional industries have all shut down and you can’t even buy hummus.

I travel back to London fairly frequently and whenever I tell people that I’m now living in Sheffield the usual response is: Where's Sheffield? Why would you live there? Why would you ever leave London?

When you answer that Sheffield is an amazing city, this is followed by a puzzled look and a slow, frustrated frown, like a constipated basset hound.

You become very insulated living in London, probably because it's a great city, possibly one of the best in the world. The longer you live there, the more difficult it becomes to imagine what life outside the city walls should look like. It’s easy to become a ship-wrecked sailor on a desert island. Living here has opened my eyes to a larger world.

People in Sheffield don't appear to be as stressed or in such a rush. When I pass people on the street they're missing that manic, anxious wide-eyed stare I got so used to.

In my new neighbourhood, people often say 'good morning' right out of the blue. Complete strangers have approached me in the park and started a conversation, which was strange at first, but Sheffield has slowly thawed my frostiness.

There's amazing graffiti and street art almost everywhere I look. It reminds me of Shoreditch when Banksy and Pure Evil were bombing the shit out of the place, before all the city dicks moved in and rents went sky high. I pray Sheffield doesn't gentrify and become one big, soulless coffee shop of bland uniformity, as many areas of the capital have.

You are also lucky to have two large universities here. The youth innovate and keep things lively with their beautiful naivety and fearless, uncynical approach to life. They might not wash too well and survive on brown sauce sandwiches, but students add a splash of colour to this city.

I love the fact that there are plenty of independent shops and great places to eat. I can get half a chicken, rice, soup, a beautiful salad and homemade naan bread for £5 at my favourite Kurdish place on London Road. I'm still trying to work out how they make money on this.

There are still a few things I'm trying to get my head around, like chips, gravy and mushy peas, all mixed together. I've seen signs for dripping on toast, which confused me at first. I've found it difficult to find crusty rolls in local bakeries.

I'm still getting to grips with the local dialect. The first time I heard somebody say, 'That's reyt bad,' I had to get them to repeat it several times. I thought 'Mardy' and 'Nesh' were a couple of naughty girls. When someone said, “I'm going down town by me sen,” I thought Sen was a geezer’s name. I've been told this is a Barnsley word, but isn't Barnsley just a small Sheffield suburb?

I love the fact that I don't have to jump onto the Tube with someone’s angry armpit in my face every day. I feel quite grateful to live here and I'm eager to keep on discovering all this wonderful locale has to offer.

Sheffield is like a cool town city with a unique community feeling. It whispers the loudest when you listen carefully.

Next article in issue 107

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