I have grown up less than 100 miles from Bristol, 91 miles to be precise. It’s always been a part of my life, like a distant relative you just know you have but only because they send you cards for Christmas. As a child, I remember visits to Bristol in the evening for gigs. I was mesmerised by the how big and how bright everything was. Because we always visited in the dark, buildings seemed to rise up only in blocks of lights and the city sprawled on forever. For me, a highlight of every trip to Bristol was the Bear Pit roundabout, with the intriguing bear sculpture in the middle and high-rise buildings towering above.
As I grew older, my visits to Bristol grew more frequent and as we would drive through I would imagine myself as one of these people, someone who lived in Bristol. This would quickly descend into “if I lived in Bristol, I would…”. I began to see Bristol as a more than an exciting place where I got to go to see bands play, it became a symbol for an aspiration that I couldn’t put into words. Bristol became the object of my desire to be in a place where things were happening.
Now Bristol is my gateway to music; I fall in love with new bands there, my obsession with Bristol label, Sarah Records, has led me to things I didn’t know were possible, Bristol influences songs that I write. Bristol has become a part of the person I am as much as the music that it has introduced me to.
On September the second of last year, I spent a day in Bristol which had as bigger impact on my life as all of my other visits put together. I spent the day chasing signs with names of Sarah compilations on, buying vinyl and experiencing a life beyond my small Plymouth bubble. I always knew that other places had more vibrant culture than my hometown but the sheer amount surprised me; record stores had poster of bands I loved, there were multiple shows on any given day, there were student ran publications that discussed music and film that i loved too.
Still, the highlight of my day was seeing Alvvays live in the evening at The Fleece. I could ramble on for ages about how amazing they were and how long I had waited to see them but this post isn’t really the place for that. What I really took away from the evening, and that day to be honest, was that I, an ordinary person, could have an interesting life. These people I saw were just like me. This made me think that maybe I could be in a band, run a paper or curate a small gallery. As we drove home that night, my mind was brimming with possibilities of what I could do with my life. It’s funny how just being a small girl in a big city for one day can inspire you so much but I’m glad that I am a small girl in bigger cities.