Look forwards, go forwards, look down, fall down.

I am home. I am home and back in my bed.

There is something dark in going on holiday to somewhere that looks exactly like your hometown. I can only describe it as being like running into your ex, your abusive ex, at a sit-down dinner with a lot of complete strangers.

This was a place that looked exactly like the place that fucked me up. Plastic signs on redbrick terraces, every shop either a takeaway or a bookie’s or a secondhand furniture place. Old pubs with neon signs, vertical drinking in places that could have ben so nice with half as many people, at a quarter of the volume. Cranes and half-gutted container ships looming over everything, little cobles stuck in sandbars that the owners would claim were daily runners but that probably hadn’t been out of the river-mouth in years. Caravan parks like shiny tumours, never quite spilling prosperity out onto the rest of the town. Dusty farmland in tiny patches, clinging on despite the pollution, crisscrossed with tracks from youth on scramble bikes and the police chasing them. Dead factories and scrubby patches of vacant ground, where corrugated tin sheds had been pulled down and left bare as “development opportunities”. And through it all the smell of mud and oil and seawater.

But worse – This looked to me as my old hometown looked to other people. Everyone I’d taken home, had seen… That. In me. Had seen me as part of it, shaped by it, with the stink of it on me. Horrible ugly place that I’d barely survived, and where every last interaction had left a scar, and it was on me.

I felt sick. I wanted to die. I wanted to curl up, put my arms over my head, and never come out.

All else this weekend – The midnight walk out to Haile Fort, losing my shoe in the Humber mud the day after, buying the motorbike, seeing the swallows flocking over the fields before their migration – is lost in that feeling of being back in hell.

But I am home, and back in my bed.

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5 thoughts on “Look forwards, go forwards, look down, fall down.

  1. You hide fab news like “I Haz Brrrrm” in with all the negative waves?
    It’s like body dismorphia. I always worried about my folks place. Dad clutters everything
    Looks like a junk heap.
    My friends just saw a large pretty farm.

  2. There is, for quite a few of us, something indelibly awful about where we grew up.

    You may recall that I grew up in Durham City and I fucking hate the place; now my dad is dead I no longer have to go there and I am glad. However, because of all the cathedral and castle and the rest of the bullshit few people I’ve met can grasp what it was like for some of us to live there (and my experiences were not in the same league as yours, Percy).

    But Cleethorpes? Really, you had to go there? It is pretty dismal, even when the sun shines…

    • Dearest’s Mum has a caravan there, and I’ll admit to being ridiculously fascinated with the sea forts. And walking out to Haile Sands at midnight, under a full moon, was pretty epic.

      Definitely agree with you – Durham has about the same kind of “strong brand” as (for example) Newcastle, so people don’t realise that living there (working there, going to school there, etc) is completely different from going there for a hen night or a cultural afternoon looking at, yep, the cathedral. I sometimes think that the NE’s great branding success has kind of buggered us all.

      • Oh yeah, sea forts are great: most years for the last decade and a half we’ve holidayed on the Suffolk coast (waves to Inky) and find the Martello towers and the like fascinating – drifts off into another reverie about Orford Ness.

        I found Newcastle easier to live in (10 years there) because it didn’t have the same associations as Durham did. But agree with your point about living somewhere as opposed to a quick visit: I love north western Scotland (off there next week), but I really would not want to live there, as mid-Northumberland is as isolated and as far north as I can cope with.

        There is a long discussion to be had about the effects of North Eastern culture on those who do not fit into its stereotypes. One of my bairns could not understand how her mother (a few years younger than me, grew up on the Durham side of the Tyne) could have married and had 2 children before coming out…I had to tell her a bit about what things had been like in the ’60s and ’70s…She seemed to get the idea.

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