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  • One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves. Machiavelli Niccolo
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Travel to Nottingham

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Nottingham is not a city to shout about itself. In everything from its long history of iconic clubs (Kool Kat, Venus, the Bomb) to its new status as a Unesco City of Literature (who knew?), Nottingham just seems to get on with being Nottingham, without courting wider fame or validation. It is a city that likes to keep it real – in more ways than one. This is the place that gave us such angry young men as Alan Sillitoe, director Shane Meadows and Sleaford Mods. As the radical bookshop Five Leaves states on its website: “Nottingham is increasingly seeing itself as a ‘rebel city’.”

There is certainly a self-contained, DIY energy to its constantly bubbling music scene, although Nottingham is rarely in the spotlight (Jake Bugg apart). While tipping you off about local talent (Invisible Orchestra, Crosa Rosa, Rob Green, Field Studies), Notts’ creatives extol a scene that, like this small city itself, is tight-knit, collaborative, multicultural. Outside of headline venues such as Stealth and Rock City, there is a teeming substrata of organisations, such as Wigflex, I’m Not From London, Mimm, Truth & Lies, Gringo and Hello Thor, all of whom seem to be simultaneously DJs, musicians, gig/party organisers, record labels and all-round creative catalysts.

The wider arts scene is similarly self-reliant. For its size, Nottingham has an unusually high number of artist-led collectives, small galleries and studios that draw in talent from across the east Midlands. In food and drink, the city has been slower to take control of its own destiny. From the maverick, two-Michelin-star Restaurant Sat Bains to the excellent deli-café, Delilah, it has always had a handful of individual, high-quality independent operators, but only recently, particularly around hip Hockley, has a younger generation – Oscar & Rosie, 200 Degrees, Junkyard, Annie’s Burger Shack – brought some fresh ideas to the table. As ever, modestly, discretely, Nottingham is happening.