Wednesday, 3 August 2011


First published in the Tramlines Times, Sunday 24th July 2011.


Number 3: Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me

Now, as the city's tourist board, we're used to making bold claims. But here's one that's undisputed: Sheffield has the most glorious sunsets on planet Earth.

We don't know really know what causes them. Maybe it's the shape of the city, the hills around us, that means you can always see the point where the sky meets the ground. Who knows? And of course it doesn't happen every evening. There's no way of telling when. But suddenly, out of nowhere, you'll notice the colour pink from the corner of your eye. And from that moment on, all you can do is stand and watch.

Sometimes the sky looks like Super Mario, cartoon blue with perfect pink, popcorn clouds. Sometimes it becomes a vaulted ceiling above the city, like pink bunting. Sometimes it's darker, with heavy bruised clouds like black eyes. And sometimes it seems to magnify the clouds on the other side of the sky, so that they look like mountains hanging over the city. Like Sheffield has been moved to the Alps.

And then the colour balance is turned up, and everything starts to get brighter and brighter, until it looks like a chemical fire, or a new cosmos being born, just out of sight in the Rivelin valley. And then the sun disappears from view, pulling the evening behind it like a blanket, and the sky turns turquoise, then dark blue, then purple like a chocolate wrapper. And then it's over.

All this happens slowly, over a half hour period, like a movement in classical music. Some people will notice, and get out their iphones to take a picture for the kids. Others will carry on regardless, oblivious to the heavens above them.

Of course, it's difficult to market a sunset. We can't really arrange tours. And photos don't do it justice: they have to be seen to be believed. And the Sheffield Publicity Department can't guarantee that you'll see one. It's outside of our remit, alas.

But maybe you'll be lucky. And suddenly, the puddles on the floor will turn pink, and the drab office buildings will light up in gold; and you'll see that this poor, hollowed-out, hollow cheeked city, is rich beyond anybody's wildest dreams.

The sun goes down tonight at 21.14, precisely. Keep your eyes peeled.

With love
Sheffield Publicity Department.

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