Dundee Matters: ‘Bloody Dundee’ won’t be beaten

© Hufton and CrowV&A Dundee.
V&A Dundee.

Santa may not always deliver the perfect Christmas present but Cammy Day did, this year.

The depute leader of Edinburgh City Council’s benevolence may have been unwitting when he disparagingly referred to “bloody Dundee” being able to bring the V&A to the banks of the Tay.

However, his comments, given in an interview to an Edinburgh newspaper, were an absolute gift for what is often a lean spell for news between Christmas and New Year.

Mr Day had been discussing plans to regenerate a former gas works site in the Granton area of Edinburgh.

While his ambitions for one of the poorer areas of the capital are laudable, his comments about Dundee came across as both dismissive and arrogant — something, in fairness, Mr Day recognised and was quick to apologise for.

Yet, inadvertently, Mr Day may have described Dundee perfectly.

Earlier this year, I wrote about how Dundee needs a new slogan to market itself. While “Bloody Dundee” is not, sadly, ever going to feature on a tourism campaign, it does describe a city that refuses to let itself be written off.

Let’s look, first of all, at the V&A Cammy Day was referring to.

Dundee was not picked at random. The £80 million museum was built because people int the city dared to imagine what its impact could be and then convinced the V&A to get on board.

The planners dared to select Kengo Kuma’s striking design and press ahead when the cost exceeded its original budget.

Amazingly, they pulled it off. Picturing Dundee without the V&A now is to imagine a lesser, greyer place.

Ambition does not stop with a museum.

Dundee is continuing to find ways to reinvent itself, whether through its two universities, both of which have carved out valuable, global, niches or through plans to exploit the port for decommissioning work.

As Scotland’s fourth city, Dundee has long been the butt of jokes but those gags just don’t hold water anymore.

It’s not a perfect city – nowhere is, not even a capital with an arts festival and parliament – but it’s a brilliant one.

Dundee was, for years, in the doldrums. But was never a city that lacked ambition and won’t let itself be defined by its past — or the critics who still live here.

It’s a place that knows it needs to keep moving forward, whatever setbacks may come its way. A place that won’t be beaten.

“Bloody Dundee” indeed.