"Let's get one thing straight: there's no such thing as the Bristol sound." I once learnt that one of the best ways to open a feature was to begin with a quote. A quick search of the internet and this was probably the best I could find about a charming city, nestled somewhere between where the M4 becomes the M5, a charming city I call home, Bristol.
The quote by the way is from a lady called Beth Gibbons, she’s the lead singer of a trip hop group called Portishead, they’re a bit of a big deal along with Massive Attack, Tricky, Roni Size and Julio Bashmore for those too young to know better. I’m not really sure what point she was trying to make when she said this but I disagree totally.
The Bristol sound is reflective of the vast wealth of culture and art in the area, it’s what separates us from other cities and cements us as the cultural hub of the South West, probably the best thing west of London. And then there’s Bath.
Bath, for anyone living outside the South West, is bliss and representative of all things English. Home of the Jane Austen museum and purveyors of fine cheeses and craft ales. It’s the sort of place you’d take your Great Aunt for tea and scones or an afternoon at the pictures to see a Colin Firth film.
The first thing that separates Bristol from Bath is that we actually have a club scene, admittedly it’s not what it was and Friday night down the town looks more like a government funded drink awareness campaign, with jivers and shakers moving to their favourite Kiss FM daytime DJs and the latest Flo Rida song, but it’s still a scene. Then you’ve got Motion, the holy grail of rave culture in Bristol, attracting big DJs and big crowds. Me and my mate Ab also saw Will Poulter there, that’s right, before he was playing Jennifer Aniston’s on screen son he was posing for a photo with the boys and being called “that kid from School of Comedy.”
There are two clubs in Bath that I know of, maybe three. I’ve never been on a night out there, I shan’t imagine I ever will, but I've heard nothing but bad things. You hear about the odd decent gig, I think Babyshambles might’ve played there once, but then again Babyshambles also played in Swindon not so long ago.
It’s not just our club scene that triumphs over our West Country next of kin, we’ve got a much better shopping centre. It’s called Cabot Circus, it’s layout isn’t great but it’s got a pretty big cinema and a Nandos. Bath must’ve caught wind of this because not long after they decided to build a very similar looking shopping centre (what a coincidence). We weren’t bothered however because it was pretty small and unimpressive anyway.
Local nutter culture is also rife in Bristol. Over the years we've had them all, from the charlatans to the just plain weird. Take local hero John The Baptist for example, you’ll often find him hanging around Stokes Croft, Bristol’s cultural quarter. He’s got his own Facebook page, he answers to that exact name and I once saw a picture of him covered in black paint - most of Bristol has seen that photo. It’s easy to put these local personalities down to bad crack habit but there’s got to be something a bit more to it, maybe they were just born to perform?
You won’t find any of these characters in Bath, it’s just not that kind of area. There are no local heroes, no town criers, no “got a pound?” man like Bristol, it’s more “did you know Johnny Depp lives on the Crescent and sits on his roof and plays guitar?” or "Nicholas Cage has moved to Bath" but the only time anyone ever saw him was turning on the Christmas lights. Sod that, every city needs those pillars of society, the sort of people to which your mate will ask "how do you know him?" to which you can reply “Everyone knows him! It’s John The bloody Baptist.”
I could go on all day about my home town and why the urban legend that Bath is only really nice to visit in the sun is true, but on a serious note, if you get a chance to visit Bristol you must. It’s a great city with a wealth of history, a suspension bridge, a world renowned music scene, a strong community spirit and two football teams who seem to only hate each other more and more
Bath, I can’t deny that you’re a very pretty city that's been the setting for a few dates in the past, your Jane Austen museum is probably quite informative and your city centre parking is fairly reasonable, but take away those things and Tears For Fears and there’s very little left.
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