This time the culprit is Nina Stibbe. On page 74 of ‘Love, Nina’ we have this:
Anyway, Brighton is quite nice. Arriving at railway station is good. It’s downhill into town and you feel energetic, striding down to the sea front – as opposed to an uphill walk at the start of a place. But then, before you get anywhere charming, you’re surrounded by W H Smith and Boots and people wanting a haircut and you might as well be in Loughborough.
So much for Leicestershire solidarity. I blame Alan Bennett – he crops up all the time in Stibbe’s book and was probably a bad influence. Remember that in ‘Writing Home’ he said this about a visit to a nondescript place in Russia:
None of us has ever heard of Orel, and when we come out of the station we realise why: it is Loughborough.
I wrote to him at the time to ask why he disliked my home town so much, and got a postcard back explaining that he just used the place as an ‘image of desolation’. Gee, thanks Al.
And of course in the more recent ‘History Boys’ he made the school headmaster say this, when talking about a boy whom he thought had no chance of getting into Oxford:
One oddity: Rudge. And Christchurch of all places! Might get into Loughborough… on a bad year… otherwise all brights!
As E.L. Wisty once, said, prejudice is a terrible thing, and the worst kind of prejudice is prejudice against me. Leave Loughborough alone, snobs of Gloucester Crescent!
(Confession: I once rented a flat round the corner in Regent’s Park Terrace. It was only a basement flat though, and it was dead small. I moved out after four and half months, mainly because it was underneath my then boss’s house and I left for another job while I was living there… awkward…)