Yes it’s true, Ipswich isn’t Norwich

In her first weekly column as Just a’Ipswich Girl, Lynne Mortimer takes an affectionate and light-hearted look at her home town.

Snowman, Father Christmas, snowman, Father Christmas, snowman, Father Christmas...”

And so we would wend our way along Carr Street, Ipswich, my two-year-old daughter commentating on the overhead Christmas lights.

A toddler would probably find the new Ipswich seasonal decorations more challenging to describe although there is something undeniably magical about the new lights festooned over our main shopping streets. And I love the deconstructed tree with its lack of tree on the Cornhill.

Once upon a time, negotiating Carr Street would be fraught with Yuletide danger. With Father Christmas residing in his Co-op grotto and List’s toy store across the road you could only get past by subterfuge. “Oh look, I think I can see auntie er... thingy up ahead. Let’s see if we can catch up with her,” says mum, fingers crossed. Yes it was a lie but it saved having to queue for Santa and being presented with an eleventh hour demand for the children’s � la Carte kitchen which had pride of place in the toy shop’s window display.

Today, I hazard a guess that children are equally insistent – but what do they crave? A McDonald’s happy meal, perhaps, or are they drawn to the enticing, heady fragrance of Lush, the new clean-and-spruce shop in Tavern Street?

This is entirely conjecture, but I think the appearance of this particular store will lead to Ipswich achieving city status. Virtually every city has a Lush... it can only be a matter of time.

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Last week on the BBC’s tea-time quiz show Pointless, contestants had to name cities beginning with particular initials. One was ‘N’ and one bright spark came up with: “A fine city, Norwich”. The very droll Richard Osman, who co-presents the show, jested that Norwich’s offical slogan might be: “Norwich – it’s not Ipswich.” He quickly added that Norwich was indeed a fine city and a lovely place... “as is Ipswich”.

I generously laughed but also felt a little aggrieved that the outstanding attributes of my home town too often lie unnoticed, overshadowed by noisier neighbours.

What have we got then? Well, along with a self-deprecating sense of humour (it’s essential) we Ipswichians have countless assets. How many choirs? How many amateur dramatic societies? How many keen local historians? How much history? Loads, absolutely low-ads

So I may be just a’ Ipswich girl but I’m proud of my town and respect the people who live in it... with a few exceptions, such as the bloke who shouted obscenities at me in an out-of-town car park when I drove into in the space he had his eye on... mind you, he probably wasn’t from Ipswich at all. His bad luck.

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