Confession time: I once (stupidly) moved to London. I didn’t learn a lot in my time spent out in the capital, but one thing I did was that people in the UK have some strange stereotypes about Bristol. Of course, most of them were shocked to learn there were cities outside of the M25. But the rest just thought of us as cider-guzzling, weed-smoking farmers. Well, I’m sick of it! So we’re tackling the Bristol stereotypes that are just plain wrong.
1. We all say ‘gurt lush’
Never ever have I ever heard someone earnestly say this. The phrase seems to only be carted out for TV or people testing out their mock Bristolian accents. Lush? Yeah, I say that all the time! Gurt? Never. Maybe this is a generational divide – it caused quite the disagreement on Facebook – but ‘gurt lush’ just feels like a mockery of Bristol dialect and is quickly fading from our vocabulary.
2. We are all farmers
Another confession: All my grandparents were farmers, but none of them lived in Bristol. Because the West Country isn’t the same as Bristol! Firstly, the accents are markedly different – the Bristol L is distinct and unique from the rest of the South West. Secondly, where are the farms? Yes, there are two lovely innercity farms in Bristol: St Werburghs City Farm and Windmill Hill City Farm But they’re nowhere near big enough for us all to work at! As Sonya Marie said on Facebook: “I wouldn’t have a clue how to milk a cow”.
3. We talk like pirates
Arguably, this Bristol stereotype has nothing to do with us. Blackbeard might be Bristolian, while Bristol has many other pirating links like The Llandoger Inn. But pirates came from all over the world. The main reason it is the pirate accent is associated with us is because of the actor Robert Newton, who was actually from Dorset.
In 1950, he starred in Disney’s first completely live-action film Treasure Island and used his own accent to play Long John Silver. Two years later, he played the title character in Blackbeard the Pirate, before revising the character of Long John Silver in a film of the same name in 1954. But its unlikely any real pirates sounded anything like modern-day Bristolians.
4. Everyone smokes weed
This accusation is maybe the hardest to beat because the West Country smokes more weed than anywhere else in the country. Yes, walk around town and you’ll smell cannabis wafting through the streets most days and a pong that permeates pretty much every park too. The city is far more relaxed about this illegal substance than most. But you still won’t find every man and his nan and her dog with a joint in their hands. Bet this straight, Bristol is not Amsterdam and thinking it is will quickly wind you in jail.
5. Everyone is a hippy
While we’re talking about cannabis, it’s important to stress that not everyone in Bristol is a hippy either. You’ll find crystal shops, sure. Plenty of laidback jugglers and unicyclists, tarot card readers and stoners too. A politically left-leaning edge runs through most establishments. But do you really think Bristol the city would be anything like it is today, if we were all hippies? There are as many anarchists as there are hippies – bankers, builders and bakers too.
6. The only drink is cider
Another Bristol substance association that’s hard to shake, thanks to our lovely historic (and modern) cider pubs and nearby Somerset orchards. But Bristol is a diverse place. That probably has far more beer breweries here than those churning out cider. There are even distilleries making gin and whiskey. Or why not check out one of our amazing cocktail bars? If we stuck to our stereotypes, then Bristol and its flourishing drinks scene would look very different. Anyway, true Bristolians only drink scrumpy.
7. We call it Brizzle
Another hot topic and you can probably tell where I land on it. “My family have lived in Bristol for over 200 years,” said Larry Bennett, “and the last few generations never used ‘Brizzle’. It seems to have come into use over the last 30 years or so.” Some seem to think that it’s an accent thing, but most Bristolians actually call it “Brist-aw”.
Most who say Brizzle often seem to come from outside of the city. There’s even a sign in BrewDog that reads: ‘London. Tokyo. Berlin. Brizzle.’ Which should tell you every you need to know about the name. This recent trend of calling it Brizzle has come out of nowhere, but we think it should quietly disappear.
8. Bristol is a cycling city
The rest of the UK is determined to think that Bristol is in the Netherlands. All these hills? Forget about it! Bristol is small enough to get around on a bike, but there’s a good reason e-scooters have conquered the city in ways they haven’t the rest of the country.
So as you can see all the stereotypes about Bristol are just plain wrong. And while, like lots of people, I enjoy the odd pint of cider, a cycle about the city and a good day out on a farm, these are from things that define Brizzle! This ‘gurt lush’ city can’t be contained in a box.