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Blog: Everything Changes (except The Validators)

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On Friday I had the day off to head NORTH to the fabled East Midlands, where I was due to meet up with the mighty VALIDATORS to celebrate the Big Birthday of our own Tom - THE TIGER - McClure.

I'd booked my train for quite early in the afternoon, partly because it was LUDICROUSLY expensive later on, but also because it would give me some time for a bit of a wander round. A few days ago I'd ready something on The Socials that referred to some documents being held in "The Kimberlin Library". "Oh," I thought, "that was the old Leicester Poly library, it must still be there!" I went to look at it on Google Streetview, and was at this point ASTONISHED to discover how much the area around it had changed. Leicester is FORVER changing, as the council seem to have a decades-long urge to repeatedly knock EVERYTHING down and then put something else there, which a few years later gets knocked down ITSELF (as faithfully documented in the song Leicester's Trying To Tell Me Something, but this level of moving STREETS about was something new. "I'll go and have a look at it in real life on Friday", I thought. So I did!

It formed part of a MASSIVE HIKE around town, taking me as far afield as Narborough Road, where I went to have a look at some of the places I'd lived as a student. That area has NOT changed very much AT ALL, and has very definitely "avoided Gentrification". Pretty much everywhere else, however, had swapped around, with places that used to be pubs now supermarkets, places that used to be banks now pubs, and places that used to be derelict factories now student housing. Crumbs there is a LOT of student housing in Leicester now - there was hardly ANY when I was there, A MILLION YEARS AGO, which is why we all lived in shared houses off the Narborough Road, but now it's EVERYWHERE.

SO many buildings had changed purpose that after a while I began to feel quite DISORIENTATED, as my memories of what USED to be there kept bashing up against what was there now instead. This became particularly disconbobulating when I walked back into town and went in search of A Well Deserved Pint. The very few places that WERE still pubs had changed entirely, with all of the ones I remembered as being NICE now being STINKY - again, this seems to happen a LOT, with Leicester's great blessing of LOADS of lovely pubs being tempered by the fact that they never seem to last very long!

In the end I went to The Globe, which HAS changed a bit inside, especially with the old courtyard being KNOCKED THROUGH, but is basically the same pub it was in 1988 when I had some of my very first PUB experiences there. I was also DELIGHTED to find that Currant Affairs is still very much open, and still selling their vegan sausage rolls!

Eventually it was time to head up New Walk to The Marquis Of Wellington, which turned out to be RAMMED, and also weirdly OLD. I don't know what was going on, but it ws PACKED with people older than ME who were QUEUING at the bar! Happily around this time Tom himself arrived and we agreed it was NOT an ideal situation, so went over the road to The Loaded Dog instead, which was reassuringly MUCH younger and LESS packed. The University Tennis Society seemed to be having a big meeting there too for some reason!

The Pattisons rolled up, and then not too long after that The Fleays too, and a MARVELLOUS evening ensued of BEER and YACK and CURRY and MORE YACKING. As I have often said, it is SO MUCH EASIER to have a get together with CURRY instead of doing an Actual Gig, and it was LOVELY to see everyone without having to lug piles of equipment around and do soundchecks! Leicester itself may have changed but The Validators have not - especially PHYSICALLY as you can see from the below BAND PHOTO taken for us by Mrs J Fleay.

Expect to see this as an ALBUM COVER at some point in the distant future!

After we'd finished our fine dining we strolled back down New Walk to Duffy's, which I remember long ago as The Town Arms but is now more like a mini-Charlotte (which itself, inevitably, is now a supermarket). More BOOZE ensued, more HILARITY and a RUDDY BRILLIANT evening was had. Eventually it was time for The Fleays to go and get their train, after which we all hopped into an UBER, with me and Tom being dropped off at The New Tiger Towers to savour some WHISKY.

It had been a slightly PERPLEXING afternoon, but a FANTASTIC evening - I hope we don't end up waiting for another Big Birthday before we do it again!

posted 20/5/2024 by MJ Hibbett

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Ahh, Leicester! Forever changing, as you say. The Leicester Mercury where I worked for 23 years, is now - mainly - a trampoline park. *sigh*
posted 20/5/2024 by Alex D.

I'm sorry to hear that about the Mercury. That must have been terrible for them. But I'm sure that they'll bounce back.
posted 27/5/2024 by Bing Bong

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