Only recently have I started to feel like a local in Plymouth.
Now that I’m essentially working a 9-5 job, I get to see parts of the city I never would as a student. The kebab shops with the neon signs half fizzled out, the “gentle men’s club,” and who could forgot the GIANT HOT DOG STATUE WRAPPED IN AN AMERICAN FLAG which I walk by every single day at 8am on my way to work.
I’ve realized Plymouth isn’t a really…pretty city. People ask me how it compares to Exeter and I’ve usually fumbled for words like, you know, it’s bigger, and poorer, and closer to the ocean, and it rains more…. The easiest way to put it is Plymouth is “grittier.”
In World War II, Plymouth was bombed really badly. Tons of incendiaries landed on the city. Which is bad enough, but then it turned out that when all the local fire trucks came to the rescue, their fire hoses’ nozzles didn’t fit the valves on Plymouth’s fire hydrants. So everyone just watched the city burn down.
Which explains the city’s grey, damp, juxtaposition of new and old. I mean, there’s a burned down skeleton of a cathedral sitting in the roundabout by the city’s giant indoor shopping center. I don’t think there’s anything more quintessentially Plymouth than that.