The people of Sunderland aren’t stupid.
We are immensely loyal to our homes, traditions and standards – but the bottom line is that we are paying mediocre people who talk big but continuously fail to improve.
As a child ‘must try harder’ or ‘can do better’ in red pen on your school report was shameful (a bit like being on Jeremy Kyle today). For this council ‘must insist that this is done properly’ and ‘must ask if this is what people want’ should be headings on every bit of paper our councillors shuffle during their endless (but well paid) unproductive meetings.
City of Culture? Well that is two errors in the first three words. City? In name only. We’re a big town. I’ve lived here nearly all my life and I like being a town. You know people, families, areas, bus routes. I like most of my neighbours; they’re friendly, generous and good willed. But it takes more than a minster to make a city.
We have a council dominated by inarticulate sheep, councillors unable to create or contemplate new ideas.
We have council staff who are over-rated and over paid. Though, in fairness, we also have some who are concerned and committed, who care about our town and people. Most of them seem to have been paid off this year. The pass-the-blame-raise the rates yes-men (and women) are still being paid for by us.
Could we ever be a city? Well, we were in the 1800s. Sunderland had elegant buildings, thriving businesses, wealth and ambition, leaders who cared because it was the right thing to do. Hard to believe when you look at the ugly concrete blocks and empty shops today.
So, what about culture? That would be intelligence, appreciating aesthetics, supporting ideas and beauty. (Note to council: Google it or use an old-fashioned dictionary or is that a step too far?)
How far have we moved towards a city of culture? The Empire, The Minster, The Glass Centre. There must be others. Ones that aren’t concrete buildings, abandoned public parks or historically preserved mausoleums.
We could go for the comedy vote by including Ambit. Remember that expensive, rusty iron frame in the river? We paid for that as well.
Some people laughed till they cried.
I love Sunderland. I don’t want to be ashamed of it. We deserve far better. Nil desperandum? Auspice deo? (never despair, put your faith in God) No, Innotescit actiones, non mendacium. (be known by your actions, not false words).