On Saturday night, I caught a train out of London. I love the capital, but after another week spent embalming my feelings with booze and sneering at the world like a soulless replicant, I longed to be somewhere where people aren't ashamed to let their basic human failings hang out like gunts. My destination? Bradford: a place with a history of violence. As a Channel 4 documentary aired tonight will no doubt show, the problem with Bradford is that people with different coloured skin live there. White, black, Islamic, you name it – they say it's grim up North, but in Bradford you'll find the kind of cosmopolitan human rainbow you just don't get in a place like London. And in London, where everyone is the same, sad shade of grey, there is no violence. But you know what else you don't get in London? This guy:
I started off in a place called Fanny's Warehouse on the outskirts of the city; a macabre Yorkshire mill town boozer, all real ales, old people talking and Aleister Crowley genital art.
But I hadn't come all that way to be confronted with subversive objets d'art. If I'd wanted that, I'd have stayed in London, in my flat, staring at my own collages of penises and tits.
So I made a bolt for it, and somehow wound up watching a Take That tribute act at a bar called The Old Tramshed. They were called 'Take That 2', a name with the refreshing lack of pretence and imagination that I'd hoped to find here.
Unfortunately, the crowd didn't really seem to give a shit about Take That 2. There was one Native American guy in particular who just seemed totally bemused by it.
After enduring that sham for two hours, it was time to get real. Where was the "earthy" Bradford I wish I could see from my bedroom window every day, instead of art students and the Shard? Would it be at an anarchist's birthday party in Bradford town centre? I thought that it probably would be.
I was right, everyone inside was smiling and getting along just fine.
As I was queuing for the bar I met this guy, who told me that his name was Harold. Then, ten minutes later, he apologised and said that his real name wasn't Harold, it was Stuart, but that everyone who knows him thinks his name is Harold."I bet they fucking don't," I said, to which he shrugged, and replied: "I'm a colossal pervert, I'm just not dangerous." Hmm, anarchists are weird.
When I was taking this photo, the guy on the left started singing a song about speed, which made me wish I'd run into this lot later on in the evening. Can you imagine the oversharing these guys do at 5AM when the wrap's been chewed away to nothing and everyone's sat around listening to sad Mike Skinner songs? Because you know that "Dry Your Eyes" is like "Nothing Compares 2 U" for people who do their food shopping listening to the Void/ Faith split.As it was, I'd soon have to move on to my next watering hole. But not before learning that:
a) Anarchist girls don't feel very comfortable posing for photographs unless they have a prop… and b) When the anarchos are pissed off about something, they're not scared to shock the world with their opinions.Bradford is known for its diverse population, and so, wary of overly promoting these extremists, I decided to visit the local Communist social club, Che Bar, named after everyone's favourite beret-sporting Frenchman.
Cheers to Communism. Look at this Comandante, railing against the capitalist patriarchy by turning himself into a living Ken doll. The world was a better place when Ben Elton was pulling stunts like this on the regs.Next stop: Utopia, "Bradford's most exclusive nightclub".
And it really was the most exclusive-feeling place I'd ever been. I felt like I was in a Bond film.
Utopia really put its Funktion-One soundsystem to good use. I've never met someone so happy to be listening to Shania Twain's "That Don't Impress Me Much".
You know what don't impress these girls much? When you ask them if they rode here on their friend's back.
We were lucky enough to meet the venue owner, Nick Bastow ("like bastard with an 'oh' at the end"). He told us about the halcyon days he spent as the frontman of Britpop band Morgan, who "supported Shed 7 once". An impossible dreamer, his spelled out his vision of Utopia for us: "We want to bring The Jam to Bradford." Unfortunately we couldn't hang around long enough to find out if that came to fruition, because we spilt this sixth-former's beer. So we left the Terrorvision spin-off group blasting out the hits at Utopia, and headed for Über: A bar and club for Bradford's Queer community. I guess that, for all the town's diversity, Bradford's gay scene hasn't quite hit boom time yet, because most of what we saw there was more depressingly cisgender than a Uni Lad daydream. Props to this cute couple for keeping the homosexual end up. And with that, it was time for bed. Good night, Bradford! Don't let the bastards grind you down. You're less a city, and more like the fun-loving, culturally tolerant parent I never had.Previously: A Big Saturday Night in… Romford!