Flaaaars fa a paaaand

Several nights ago I found myself wandering through Sheffield's city centre, a city I now know better than the locals I was with, with a Staffordshire University hat on, a few pints down and occasionally blurting out "come on you Rams", for, well, no particular reason. Bar obscene hometown pride.

Unlike the Sheffield Wednesday events of October 2014 in a Derby pub, I didn't throw any chairs, but the more places I see, the more I feel an aggressive pride in calling Derby my hometown.

Between December 4th and 6th, 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie and his army headed from Ashbourne to Derby and subsequently left, choosing to abandon invading England. Although, for their own sake, I wish Scotland had opted for independence at the referendum, I love the country dearly and the only reason I have chosen to recount this tale is because Derby has so little monumental history.

Granted, we pride ourselves in being the hometown of John Hurt, Lucy Spraggan went to our university, and we have the incredible Peregrine Falcons, but there's not that much in the place. We also became a city in the same year Elvis died, and we're home to Jack O'Connell and Lauren Socha.

And Lara Croft.

But none of these reasons are why I'm so proud of Derby. In fact, it's possibly even due to the fact that when a non-local asks what's "special" about Derby, or asked "who's from Derby?" and I'm stumped for an answer, that I realise how proud I am.

We have the lovely man by the old HMV that, religiously, come rain or shine, declares that there are "flowers for a pound". I have never bought these flowers. Once, my friend almost bought some raspberries from there, but she didn't, and that's the closest I've come to it. But it's nice to know that I could, if I wanted to.

I love that Derby has far too many Greggs, to counterbalance the copious amount of Birds. I love that we all call their best selling products "cobs". It's a cob.

I love the fact that we have three Wetherspoons, and that until a few weeks ago I didn't even know where the third was. If Standing Order and Thomas Leaper are next to each other, what else matters?

If your Sunday evening isn't in Derby, it isn't Bless'd. We're also home to The Eagle Market - what you call that building depends on how long you've lived in Derby.

No other city has the characters we have - any local will know the friendly albeit occasionally bizarre personalities that crop up around town, and there is no fight quite like walking up St. Peter's Gate without being attacked.

Whatever you may think of Derby, few other places have a Mosh, and I've never found a double vodka Vimto outside of a Mosh, so I think that's a pretty strong argument in favour of the city you can walk across in sub-20 minutes.

And therefore, even if everyone else may think that Pride Park is a football ground where Derby have lost too many times, I'll still see it as a great place to eat pizza and practice roundabouts in a driving lesson.

Too many might think Derby is a smudge on a map next to Nottingham, but it's not. If you take a map and mark a line directly east of The Wash, and mark one directly north of the Isle of Wight, you'll find Derby. So do me the courtesy of not laughing when I say I'm proud of the place.

Because I know where you can find 85p shots, and a telephone box with a spontaneous ringing phone that asks you bizarre questions.


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