I grew up believing that native Americans were Indians. I also thought that Inuits were Eskimoes; I was half-right on that one. The reason for these late confessions is that I have just ventured out into a mini Indian summer. The streets of my cosy market town are bathed in the last rays of September’s sun and the populace are moving around in the glow of an idle Wednesday.
Beverley is an old town. It has a very old minster and a wonderful area of common-land that is known as the Westwood. It also had a very secure and ageing set of inhabitants who shuffle around the town in the collective autumns of their lives. Not a bad place to do so.
Our eldest daughter has done the growing-up thing. First came the graduation from university and then the move to London. Her home town has become a little too cosy, and a little too claustrophobic. She hasn’t gone to London yet, that is going to happen in another week, but already her mother is preparing herself. I, the father, am more pragamatic about these things; there is a time to adventure, and that is when you are young. Or, if time allows you, when you are older.
I envy her and can still remember my own introduction to London when I was young.
Indeed, I was younger than my daughter is now. Back then, London was a mythical place for people brought up on the dark horizons of the northern industrial landscapes. The place entranced me and enraged me in equal measures. Being from Yorkshire, I had to be constantly reminded of my harsh pronunciation and the fact that I had just come from t’mill ot t’pit. I also needed to recall my innate stupidity, a product of my birth, and I was called ‘Yorkie’, as if I was a thing or a dog.
Life was fast and pollution was everywhere. On my trips back home I marvelled at the way that my mucus had turned black. So much for sophistication. But I can still see the draw.
And here I am, at this point, looking back. My pension savings tell me that I have wasted my life. Perhaps that is true. But I am writing and publishing in a late return to summer.