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Spotted: Clint Eastwood Swaggering in Sainsbury’s Featured

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- by Jessica Baggaley

As exams come to an end and the sun is shining down on us all (miraculously – Hallelujah!) students begin to flock en masse from their dark, dingy, revision-associated bedrooms and out into the full glare of the day. Beer gardens come to resemble drug-fuelled hallucinations as we in Leeds take the opportunity to spend long hours dressed up in various outlandish costumes staggering our way through the Otley Run. Finally forgetting all memories of deadlines, exams (and the first pub) we don’t care what we’re wearing, what we look like or in my case, what we’re saying. My own thrown-together fancy dress concoction resembled an outfit which no one in their right mind would wear but worryingly is available for all in a shop near you... That’s Primark for you ladies and gents. Our freedom to sunbathe means Woodhouse Park is absolutely crammed all day every day and you can almost hear the tuts of the locals as BBQ’s, loud music and lots of laughter mingles into the Leeds evening atmosphere.

The city, particularly Leeds (but then I’m admittedly biased) is a great place to live and explore when you have no commitments and the weather is fantastic. But students tend to make plans all the way back in December for those four long glorious months we’re given as freedom and respite, and diaries are full with travel plans, work hours and excursions with friends. So it’s inevitable that one by one the last empty bottle of Koppaberg will be thrown away, the car will be loaded to bursting point and the roads will be full of arms waving from windows as we all say goodbye to our second home until September...

But what happens to that park, those streets and our local pub when our backs are turned?

Personally I imagine student towns and cities as an old black and white ‘Country and Western’ film when all the students leave. You know - deserted bars with the wooden saloon doors hanging off by the hinges, tumbleweed blowing down the road and if you listen really carefully the sound of the wind blowing through and around the empty buildings. Perhaps if you’re lucky you might even spot Clint Eastwood hanging around Hyde Park Sainsbury’s... Of course the reality is far less amusing and entertaining but what can I say – my imagination is a fun place to live. 

I was in Leeds for a weekend last summer and as I got the taxi to the train station (I was feeling particularly flush that day), the driver started to strike up a conversation. This is a rare occurrence at the best of times so as I tried to forget about the banging hangover I was suffering from and I took advantage asking him what Leeds is like over the summer months. I was curious – and I needed the distraction. His answer? “Dead”. He was a straight to the point kind of guy. Just when I thought that was it, he continued: “Quiet. It’s nice. No queues in pubs and less loud music. Not so good for business though”. And just like that the unnamed taxi driver has summed up the advantages and the disadvantages of staying in your university city over the summer.

If what you enjoy is a quiet friend in a bar or pub with your friends, meeting locals and looking around the shops while 50% of the city’s population have gone home then staying at University over the summer could be for you. If you’re worrying about the number of people around then don’t. The clubs aren’t going to be deserted – especially not in cities. Thankfully for us there are many young professional locals hanging around who wear a suit every day and can afford to buy you drinks all night (what better reason to stay could I possible give you?) Summer in big towns and cities are full of exciting events, probably far more exciting than anything occurring in your home town. Leeds alone is kicking off the season of festivities with a big Jubilee celebration. This followed by Olympic inspired events, the notorious Leeds Festival and the promise of blue skies, it seems like there’s nowhere better to be than your own student pad. So instead of running from it, embrace it. Hold your University city close to you like you’re never going to let it go. I can promise you it will reward you with many, many memorable summer days and nights... And maybe Clint Eastwood.

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Jessica Baggaley

I make the incoherent coherent through punctuation, adjectives and irony.

Website: jbwp91.wordpress.com

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