Outrage at city blog rant

Nichi Hodgson
Nichi Hodgson

A BLOG about Wakefield and its famous rhubarb festival has caused an online stir.

Freelance journalist Nichi Hodgson posted an article on The Guardian’s Comment Is Free website entitled, Rhubarb fools – force yourself to Wakefield this weekend.

Since it was published the Express has been inundated with calls, Facebook messages and tweets from outraged readers.

They were quick to jump to the defence of the city - and its rhubarb heritage - singing its praises in the face of criticism.

In the article she wrote: “By all means trip up to Wakefield this weekend to taste the world’s best forced rhubarb. Just make sure you really, really like the stuff first because you’ll struggle to find something else redeeming about this wilted Yorkshire town.”

She also stated: “They might sing the rhubarb triangle’s praises from Chelsea, but they’d rather not lose themselves in what I suspect is still seen as the culinary equivalent of a coalmine, otherwise they’d discover that young Wakefieldians like me still can’t get to grips with the fact that the stagnant city too many of us have fled is actually being put on the map for something other than its serial killers and social deprivation – and that unfortunately most of us don’t rate rhubarb as a regenerative solution.”

Ms Hodgson, 28, was born in Calder Grove and went to St James Primary School and then Wakefield Girls’ High School.

After university in York she moved to London but her family still live in Wakefield.

This week she gave her response.

Ms Hodgson said: “I would say that I’m overwhelmed by the response to what was merely meant to be a blackly humorous comment piece.

“The piece was not about pouring scorn on my roots, rather about expressing my dismay that Wakefield has, in my opinion, been treated like a second-class city.

“Obviously there are some great things about Wakefield - like the Sculpture Park and the newly opened Hepworth - but there are many egregious oversights.

“If you read the piece I never once criticise local people.

“I have many wonderful friends from the town. I’m actually heartened that people actually rose to protect a city many of them clearly love living in.”

To read the article visit www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/23/rhubarb-fools-force-wakefield

And you can turn to page 24 to read a blog written in response to the article.