Hi. I’m a 38 year old man, living at home with his mum.
(Until she’s recovered from her recent surgery. Probably returning to York this time next week).
Walking through town last night, I squinted until everything was blurry – until it was 1998 again, the last time I lived here. I listened to someone explaining the finer points of making up a rollie. I watched as the side of the church cracked open, spilling buttery light and rosy-cheeked young urchins onto the street (and since my eyes were half-shut I couldn’t see their cigarettes or cans of lager). I squinted at the rebranded kebab shop until its name changed back.
The streets looked too wide – explained by the fact that they’ve recently been widened – and the same shops are constantly in flux while others endure as fixed points in time and space. The latter are a marvel. For every safe, sensible attempt at yet another bakery or grocery store there’s something so wildly nichey that it couldn’t even survive in York (a city that has a shop selling Christmas decorations all year round). At an inaccessible end of the roundabout near St Nicholas’s Church there’s a Fung Shui shop. It’s a shop that sells Fung Shui. In East Yorkshire. To Yorkshire people. And yet somehow it’s survived for at least the last half-decade. I’m fascinated by this Shackleton-like feat of endurance, flying in the face of every commercial law I know. I want to know more. There’s obviously a story there.
Even if I squinted, the boarded-up Amusements along the sea-front stubbornly remained shut. I dimly remember going in Dave’s (above) – distinctly remember walking through the doors, but nothing else, as if I’ve had that memory surgically removed by someone desperately covering their tracks and/or hiding just how bad it was in there. All the amusement arcades are derelict buildings waiting to have their roles reimagined – even the mighty Pastimes. There’s a hint of Pripiat about the place, except it’s not radioactivity, it’s apathy.
Squinting goes some way to hiding all that. But squinting is dishonest, and so very 1998; it reminds me to who I used to be when I’d rather concentrate on who I am now. Also, squinting gives you frown-lines. Being English, I already have enough of them.
So while I’m back here, I’ll open my eyes and see what happens.
Image: the repairman