Welcome to my home town: Why I never managed to escape my Rutland roots

welcome to my home town why i never managed to escape my rutland roots

During lockdown, many of us made the pilgrimage back to our family homes – and rediscovered them through fresh eyes. Part guide, part love letter, “Home towns” is a new series in which we celebrate where we’re from. After all, it could be a while before we can go anywhere else…

As a teenager growing up in the smaller of Rutland’s two market towns – Uppingham – in the late 1990s, it was the dullest place on Earth. Stuck halfway between Leicester and Peterborough, we were 20 miles from what I deemed “civilisation” – cinemas, bowling alleys, high street shops and fast-food chains – in either direction. If we wanted to visit either of the two “metropolises”, we had to wait an hour for a bus which would then take another hour to get us to our destination. The county town of Oakham, six miles away, at least had a train station and a youth club.

Uppingham was once popular as a trading post because it sits on a crossroad. Lots of people passed through but few stayed. I spent my daily commute – a one-mile walk to school and back – planning my escape. My evenings and weekends were spent washing dishes and cleaning at the town’s boarding school for pocket money, and my only real sense of hometown pride was as a member of the local theatre company…

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