The Science of Leicester

#WeAreLeicester | 22 July 2020

Leicester, my home for the last decade, is feisty and eclectic. I’m showing my love for this welcoming city in the best way I can – with geeky wordplay.

An infographic in the style of the Periodic Table. The chemical symbols are replaced by Leicester people, places and things.

Elements of Leicester

1 – Ay – Up me duck

In true Leicester style, our favourite greeting has two very different origins. “Ay up” is an Old Norse salutation, while “m’ Duck” is thought to be Anglo Saxon.

2 – Au – Golden Mile

This stretch of Leicester’s Belgrave Road is famous for its Indian food, fashion and spices. It’s also said to have the highest concentration of Indian jewellery shops in the UK.

3 – Lol – Comedy Festival

Did you know that Leicester Comedy Festival is the largest comedy festival in Europe? The 2020 Festival took place over 19 days and featured 1,600 comedians.

4 – X – Alice Hawkins

Alice Hawkins was a leading English suffragette who worked in Leicester as a machinist. She went to prison five times for her political activity. Her statue is in Market Square.

5 – PL – 5,000 to 1

Vichai. Ranieri. Vardy. Just three of the LCFC heroes who helped the fearless Foxes beat the odds and become Premier League champions in 2015-16.

6 – H2O – Soar

The River Soar, once so polluted by textile chemicals it turned a putrid shade of pink, is now a haven for wildlife. It’s also the centrepiece of the annual Riverside Festival.

7 – Q – Fosse Park

Bet you didn’t know Leicester’s Fosse Park Shopping Centre is owned by the Queen. Difficult to imagine HRH rummaging through the bargains at Primark though.

8 – Dw – Diwali

The festival of Diwali signifies the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. Leicester’s Diwali celebrations are thought to be the biggest outside India.

9 – BA – DMU + UoL

Famous alumni of De Montfort University and The University of Leicester include Bob Mortimer, Charles Dance, Quentin Willson and Eddie the Eagle.

10 – III – Richard

King of England from 1483 until 1485. Died in the Battle of Bosworth. Made famous by Shakespeare. We dug him up out of a city centre car park. That’s just how Leicester rolls.

11 – H – Tigers

Leicester’s rugby club has been playing its home matches at Welford Road Stadium since 1892. It’s one of only four teams never to have been relegated from the top division.

12 – CU@ – The Clock Tower

The Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower in Leicester city centre was erected in 1869. It’s been an iconic meeting point for friends, protesters and musicians ever since.

13 – By – Bla Ender Oad

The suburbs of Blaby, Enderby and Oadby show further evidence of Leicester’s Viking past. The suffix “by” means “farmstead” or “settlement” in Old Norse.

14 – BO – Fan Club

In the words of one online review: “Bouncers were pretty sound. Drinks were cheap. I kept getting lost. Very hot. Can be smelly. Pretty decent night.”

15 – II – Hosiery

The clothing industry in Leicester in the 1930s was so vast, the city was named the second richest in Europe. Names like Corah and Wolsey were world-renowned.

16 – Yum – Caribbean Carnival

Fiery jerk chicken. Fried plantain. Curry goat. Pepperpot, ackee and saltfish. Yes, there’s dancing and music and costumes, but the food is where it’s really at.

17 – EM – Joseph Merrick

Joseph’s deformities caused him lifelong physical and mental suffering, which he tackled with stoic dignity. In his words: “The mind’s the standard of the man”.

18 – Gg – Racecourse

Leicester’s horse races were held at Victoria Park until 1883, when they moved to the current racecourse in Oadby. The racecourse hosts 30 race meetings throughout the year.

19 – Ya – Great Glen

Leicester’s posh little cousin. Home to four pubs, three schools, Engelbert Humperdinck and a Grade II listed telephone box. The phone box has its own Facebook fan page.

20 – OJ – Bradgate Park

The familiar outline of “Old John” is a comforting sight on a walk through this vast public park. The herds of red and fallow deer have been a feature since medieval times.

21 – Luv – Curve

The curved façade of this theatre, in the city’s Cultural Quarter, is made from 1,192 tonnes of steel and 46000m² of glass. Love it or hate it – you can’t miss it.

22 – Hg – News

The Leicester Mercury was founded by James Thompson in 1874. The first issue, published from the paper’s offices at 3 St Martin’s, was just four pages long.

23 – LGBTQ+ – Pride

Live music, dancing, cabaret and rainbows aplenty. Over 10,000 people head to Victoria Park each September for this celebration of equality and diversity.

24 – DNA – Sir Alec Jeffreys

Following a genuine “eureka moment” in his Leicester lab in 1984, Alec invented genetic fingerprinting and DNA profiling. His methods are still used worldwide.

25 – Gaz – Mr Lineker

In a senior career which spanned 16 years and 567 competitive games, this absolute legend scored a total of 330 goals while never receiving a yellow or red card.

26 – Baa – Gorse Hill City Park

Baa. And indeed quack. Not to mention cluck, tweet and neigh. The residents of this working farm will melt your heart. Special shout-out to Alan and Tina the guinea pigs.

27 – Boo – Guildhall

Fact: It’s one of the UK’s best-preserved timber framed halls. Fiction: It’s home to five ghosts, including a lady who “makes her presence felt in the library.”

28 – Pi – Melton Mowbray

Melton Mowbray gives its name to a special pork pie, distinguished by its hand-formed crust. It’s especially popular near Christmas, when sales go through the roof.

29 – BBC – 104.9 FM

Launched in 1967, BBC Radio Leicester was the first local radio station in the UK. Listen to my radio interview about the periodic table’s Leicester makeover.

30 – Ffs – Lockdown

Nuff said.

31 – Ugh – Stilton

“I fancy that Stilton is the best cheese of its type in the world.” So said George Orwell – literary genius, dystopian soothsayer and lover of the stinky blue wedge.

32 – S+V – Walkers

The Walkers site in Leicester is the biggest crisp production plant in the world. It makes over 11 million bags of crisps every day from 800 tons of potatoes.

33 – Hic – Everards

Everards brewery was founded in 1849 as an independent family business. You can now sup on an Everards brew in more than 175 pubs across the East Midlands.

34 – Vg – Market

Leicester’s market is the largest outdoor covered market in Europe. It has over 150 outdoor stalls and 19 units selling fruit, vegetables, haberdashery, bits and bobs.

35 – Oof – Vindaloo

There’s curry… and then there’s Leicester curry. From sensational saags and delicious daals to tremendous tikkas, the city even hosts its own annual Curry Awards.

36 – Le – stah

Leicester is a brave and vibrant city that consistently punches above its weight and defies expectations. We are different. We are diverse. We are Leicester.

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