Oonagh Robinson: Whatever became of city's long-lost fat children trap?
TODAY, I'd like to ask you to cast your eyes over the small black-and-white photograph accompanying this article.
Now for many, it will simply show a grainy image of a random group of kids and their mums enjoying a rare moment of recreation on a dull afternoon.
Not the sort of picture you would even look twice at.
But for others, myself included, one glimpse of this photo will have immediately transported you back 30 or 40 years to another time and a younger, more innocent Nottingham.
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And perhaps, like me, you may even have felt compelled to rise up from your chair and shout out loud: "OMG – look! It's the Wiggly Thing!"
All right, you may not recognise the exact phrase "Wiggly Thing", but you will have no doubt smiled slightly and perhaps even nudged your other half and said: "Eh, do you remember that?"
And your other half might have looked up from Homes Under the Hammer and gone: "Oh yeah..."
For those of us who lived in Nottingham in the 1970s or the 1980s, the Wiggly Thing – or whatever you happened to call it – was a part of everyday life in the city.
Located inside the Victoria Centre at a thoroughfare accessed via the side entrance (past Zhivago's nightclub), next to the escalators at the area now occupied by Poundworld, I'm not entirely sure how best to describe the Wiggly Thing.
Essentially, it was what passed for a children's play facility in those days, comprising a twisty wire dragon, or possibly crocodile, designed for, well, I guess you'd call it crawl-in entertainment.
Although, as a parent, you might have wanted to think twice about whether your child could actually fit into the contraption before sitting down on those uncomfortable side bits for a crafty fag.
My bloke describes one memorable time when a lad of, shall we say, larger means got stuck fast inside and had to be helped back out by a friendly security guard.
But still. What larks, Pip.
My own memories of the Wiggly Thing are largely confined to sixth-form days when my friends and I broke with local tradition and chose not to meet up for a night out on the town at the Left Lion but instead headed to this iconic spot and lingered there, safe from the elements.
As I recall, the choice of the Wiggly Thing as a meeting spot was agreed because several members of what I will loosely call "our gang" had Saturday jobs at the nearby Tesco.
More importantly, though, look at the other legendary element included in the image here.
That much missed pub-within-a-shopping-centre, the New Vic. How many merry times did you spend in that glamorous establishment? Okay, maybe that was just us – we weren't too fussy back then.
Anyway, the image was posted on Twitter by a certain Ed Dexter – and I would like to thank him from the bottom of my heart for bringing back all sorts of lovely memories of my youth. You're a star.
Next week, the Broadmarsh Centre Frog...