With crowds thronging the streets, the cortege of one history’s (and tellingly, literature’s) greatest villains King Richard III, wound its way to his new resting place at Leicester Cathedral.
I heard on the radio at midday today that queues had been as long as 4 hours and even now (3pm) are still 1-2 hours long. This is a city that has truly taken their royal gift to heart and one hopes will continue to cherish it for the benefit of tourism and indeed the cache that it may generate with regards inward investment.
It has been a long slog to rehabilitate his reputation from what might nowadays be called #PrincesInTowerGate and Shakespeare’s characterisation of the cowardly “poisonous bunch-back’d toad” attempting to flee his last battle, to where he finds himself today – a figure of intense interest internationally and crucially, for the city where he shall rest in peace, locally.
I was brought up in Derbyshire, I live and work in Nottingham and half of my family is from Leicestershire. It is interesting to see close hand how Leicester has grasped this opportunity and indeed fought for it tooth and nail with the folk up in York to keep their new asset. I have hosted business breakfasts with the Leicester community eager to learn how they can help and of course, leverage this legacy – it is great to see such interest and local pride.
Contrast that to what appears to many to be indifference or perhaps complacency here in Nottingham with regards Robin Hood, comfortably the biggest brand Nottingham has when speaking to an international audience – OK, him and Cloughie! The hooded man seems to be tragically underused here. I appreciate there is more to Nottingham than Robin Hood and the powers that be are keen to stress this BUT…why is he not central to efforts?
Maybe he is. I just don’t see the same passion to defend him from the slings and arrows (see what I did there) and to place him centre stage. I know some passionate local business figures have really tried to tackle this and I applaud it warmly. Hopefully Leicester’s example may be the shot in the arm Robin needs here. Otherwise, the tourists landing at East Midlands Airport (not I note Robin Hood airport) may be heading down the M1 for a few junctions, rather than across the A4543.
Also, how does Derby compete with this? Does it have a local hero? Does it need one with such glorious countryside, landmarks and houses?