AFTER comedy god Ricky Gervais revealed on Twitter his potential love for Bishop’s Stortford, we’ve come up with 10 things that might entice him to the town.
The 52-year-old award-winning star of TV’s The Office, Extras andDerek spoke of his latent feelings for Stortford in a tweet last week (August 1).
He wrote: “Do you ever wonder what places you haven’t been to are like? I think I’d love Bishop’s Stortford but I have no idea why.”
It came during an exchange on the social media site with Boring Tweeter, who mentioned Stortford in a tweet.
Gervais, who has more than 4.9 million followers on Twitter, asked: “Wow. Have you been to Bishop’s Stortford yourself? If so, what stood out for you?”
Boring Tweeter responded by extolling the virtues of the car park at the Rhodes arts complex – “Great access and clearly marked lines” – and the “cracking” Pizza Hut – “I saw a van parked outside there once. I think it may have been unloading.”
So here’s our 10 reasons for Ricky to give interesting and not-at-all-boring Stortford a shot …
1. As an admirer of such archives as the Cumberland Pencil Museum in Keswick and the British Lawnmower Museum in Southport, Ricky could visit Bishop’s Stortford Museum, which is on the site of the former family home of the town’s most famous son, the ardent colonialist Cecil Rhodes, who was the first ever chairman of diamond company De Beers and the founder of Rhodesia.
2. Bishop’s Stortford is the only town in England recognised by the Department for Transport as being interesting enough to warrant narrowing a motorway. The M11 from London to Cambridge is three lanes in both directions until junction 8, the turn-off for Stortford, where both carriageways are then reduced to two lanes.
3. Stortford has a castle mound. No castle. Just a mound. Soon after local government reorganisation in 1974, East Herts District Council discovered Waytemore Castle had been built without planning permission. A retrospective planning application by the Normans was defeated and the castle was ordered to be pulled down. The mound is out of bounds all year round, except on carnival day, when you can climb the 59 steps to the top and see all the way across the Causeway car park to Waitrose.
4. Stortford is the only town in the world that has failed to sustain a McDonald’s, a KFC and a Pizza Hut, all of which have quit town centre premises in recent years.
5. Like London, Paris, New York, Budapest and many other fine cities around the world, Stortford has a river running through it. Unlike London, Paris, New York, Budapest and many other fine cities around the world, visitors to Stortford wouldn’t know it because it lies hidden as a result of town planners insisting on creating a Grand Canyon effect by allowing high-rise apartment developments along its banks.
6. Stortford was home to the first ever Holland & Barrett store. Hence the abundance of nettles.
7. Glenn Godfrey, lead singer in 1980s New Wave synthpop trio Heaven 17, used to go out with a girl from Stortford and was seen walking along North Street once. Talking of celebs, Nurse Gladys Emmanuel from Open All Hours used to live up Windhill. Russell Brand used to go to school here, too. Jamie Oliver’s been seen in the Sainsbury’s at Thorley Park.
8. Stortford has a multi-storey car park. Well, we say “multi” … it’s got two floors.
9. Stortford has a fine yet dwindling collection of pubs, including the Boar’s Head (popular with kerb-crawling fans of the Rev Spooner), the Tanner’s Arms (hang on … that one’s shut), the George (no, that’s a Prezzo now), the Robin Hood (erm … Indian restaurant) and the Half Moon (yep, that’s still going), which has a brilliant room out the back which would be ideal for a low-key David Brent gig (ask Gemma behind the bar about hire rates).
10. The town’s newspaper, the Herts & Essex Observer, continues to be produced from the same premises where it was first published in 1861, when Queen Victoria was on the throne and Abraham Lincoln was US President. Different news team though … on the whole.