Hi everyone, been meaning to do something like this for a long time, its been a busy year. One year ago my friend Jennie Povey, for a joke went on twitter and created the account “ShitChester”. It was intended as a private joke between the two of us but the idea seemed to capture the attention of many Cestrians and soon evolved into a community forum coupled with random quirky photographs of the largely unseen magic on our streets. Our followers were soon going up in the hundreds and it was a great journey making many new friends, and a few enemies along the way. It took a while for the irony of the title to be accepted, but the good will of the Chester public was amazing and we seemed to be getting the attention of the press and media. I threw myself into directing the account, and an idea from a follower Matt Hayes led to the production of T shirts as our cult appeal grew. With each new day I was out on the streets looking for new material and most of the time finding it.. a man in a lion onesie on the back of a canal barge, amusing graffiti on street signs or down the forgotten backstreets, sunsets, the surreal DOGFRIEND advert of Garden Lane, quirky newspaper headlines “man threw snail at car in street row” etc., the werewolf of Upton, Einstein on the side of Tesco Express, crap signs in shop windows, the sanity? fudge boat and “Dave’s sausage” . does it all sound a bit shit? Perhaps you had to be there. For me it was a voyage of discovery.. Like a lot of people I thought Chester was a place in terminal decline at the start of 2013. However from the meaningless beginnings I began to use the account as a means of promoting Chester and realising that Chester was indeed a great place to live. From sunsets over the canal to sunrise behind the Eastgate clock, the mystery of murdered canal side Duck “beaky”, the controversial lovelocks on the suspension bridge, artist John Donnelly and his Dalek pictures, zombie Romans, the joys of the “discount store” pondering the existentialism of the forum and the sadness of the empty Odeon. And I discovered so many new and great places- Harvest moon, Cinderbox coffee, Jaunty Goat, Yo Sushi, went to several shows at the Tip Top theatre (having ignored it for years) , went on a Civil War tour, attended a writers group, went to comedy nights. I had an evening at a burlesque life drawing class and got acquainted with Cheshire Phoenix. I met up with some of the Chester bands, I had never even listened to anything from The Suns. Was great meeting up with them in a warehouse venue in East London : “we are the Suns and we’re from Chester!”. There is really so much talent to be proud of in Chester- Me and Deboe, Queens Minions, The Daymons etc etc. Yes theres no theatre and cinema ( a common and justified moan) but there is a lot going on here, from the brilliant parades at Christmas to things that you really have to look for.
The big row with Mike Jones was perhaps regrettable but was amazing publicity and cemented our place in the Chester social media scene. It is still surreal to think it made the papers and radio. After that it was upwards all the way, barring a few twitter rows…(TM), the guy who accused me of racism for referring to Orks from Lord of the Rings, the Estonian non follower who slammed me for being a disappointment and not being negative enough, the picture theft controversy with Facebook page “spotted in Chester” (they were emailed to us honestly guv), the recent row and bullying claims from Chester chronicles/Chester moments/whatever they’re called, plus the idiot who told me I couldn’t like The Smiths because I was from the wrong generation (get your own band etc)
The Jones row politicised the account like never before and the account became another focal point for criticism of CwaC. I actually made a number of friends within the council, met up with a few and gained another level of understanding of Chester life via the council webcasts. I hope that ShitChester has stimulated the interest and knowledge of local politics, even in a small way. It certainly made me dig a bit deeper into what goes on from planning controversies to the open air toilets, to the successful campaign to catch DAKA. I have always tried to stay politically neutral and present as many sides of the argument as possible, our followers include representatives from all the main parties. I have tried to show that regardless of political affiliation we are all in this together, Chester is for us all, not just students and racegoers ( no offence to our brilliant student population intended). No doubt many of you will have dozed off by this point? Or am I sounding a bit like a knob, I promise I’m not one really! I was particularly with the campaign after the devastation of the bus station and the replacement with the flimsy yellow shacks. It was an honour to be mentioned in a council debate about this issue and to be taken seriously as a forum for the people
The lego elements of the account have proved very popular and I am so happy to get the full model on display courtesy of Funky aardvarks. Building the model of the rows and looking around me at the architecture just woke me up to what a beautiful city we live in. Thanks to everyone for kind words on the lego and to the various local shops you can see my work in now. It has all added to the great community feel and I have been glad to include so many Chester characters in it. I don’t think I would have been inspired to do this without the magical spark of the site creator. It was her flash of creative madness that empowered me to do so much with this account, and I think she knows how much that means.
Its been a tale of many new friendships and really too many to list.. friends in the press, Carmella, Rachel, Neil, Gavin Matthews of Dee 106, Daniel Schott, Bob Hadfield, lego master Ben Hultum ( a top agent of the account), Allie Dickinson, Nia, Emma, Fiona , Geraint, Kate, master of buttons Jamie Hall, Sam Dixon, Mark Williams, Ben Powell, Jill, the Rachels.. loads more I have prob forgotten. Its been so good to be part of the Chester network and to get out and meet / not meet so many nice people.. The brilliant John Murray. Kevin Brackenbury, Russ Hughes etc etc. Thanks to Tri Active, Rolys Fudge, the staff of OVO home and my friends in the real world for supporting the latest madcap schemes!
Its all been about being positive and embracing new friends and experiences and that would be what I have taken from SC in the last year
The last few months have been great, being featured on radio Merseyside, a lovely bit of press coverage for the Lego model, including the Chronicle obituary page, meeting some TV stars at Regal Pawn, meeting up with Radio Blacon negotiating a summer display for the lego model and huddling round the campfire with some eco protectors next to the Farndon test drill. What I’m basically saying with this opening blog is thanks. Life can be pretty messed up, life can be sad but it can still be great. Even in decline and failure we can still see the beauty of it all. I make no secret of the fact that SC has helped me through some very sad times.. I think it taught be to be human again so thanks again to Jennie Povey, and thanks to everyone that follows our/your/the account. THANKS
PS sorry if I have come across as being a complete idiot. Most of the time I’m a victim of circumstance, honest
“we need more shit”