Unloved Britain shouts back

It is easy to be blasé about Britain. There is the south, which is mostly nice, but we can laugh at Slough. The North is poor, friendly and used to have factories. Scotland is pretty but has Glasgow, alkies and things fried which shouldn’t be fried. Why go on holiday here and shop for the same produce in the same supermarket, be unimpressed by a ruin of unimportance and get drizzled upon when for the same price or less you could be munching oozing cheese in a pleasingly crumbling château or getting extravagantly drunk and sunburnt on a Spanish beach?

I find Britain fascinating. I have to because I can’t afford to get my passport renewed.

I like to be surprised by an unexpected place-tourist thronged perfection bores me because you cannot see, or write about anything that has not already been said, seen or photographed a million times. I used to live in Bath. This ruined me-I became saturated by beauty, unimpressed by forced history.

I yearn to travel but I have no passport, money or even a driving licence. So I write about what my boyfriend can drive to with a fractious baby in the back. My wings have been clipped so far back they are mere stubs but still I yearn. So I seek to be intrigued by the unknown that is known. I am bored and I want to be surprised.

So dear reader, surprise me. Tell me about somewhere, anywhere but it has to be in Britain. I am angrily envious of those who write in the travel supplements of broadsheets regaling us with their tales of Cambodia-of course that is interesting but many of us can’t sodding afford it. Where have you been in this country, this fascinating country that is pockmarked with industrial estates, Morrisons and suburbia but where true fascination, beauty and history still exists?

It does not have to be pretty. It has to be a memory that stays with you. I went to Nelson, Lancashire on a Northern day ranger train ticket. It was awful but I am happy with the memory of it. It seems cruel and obvious to go to a northern poverty struck town then hark at the horror of it all but it was the only town in the North I have been to and been horrified by.

It was a Wednesday morning, we arrived at ten am. As a recent economic migrant from Bath and having spent the previous five years living in an unfashionable poor area of London, I was used to poverty. But not with such pleasing house prices. The estate agents had houses for thirty grand. Pendle hill, a source of utter fascination for me, being inaccessible on a rail card loomed overhead. There was a swastika spray painted on the train platform. By 11am a riot van had shot up the high street. This was impressive for a Wednesday morning by anywhere’s standards. My boyfriend went to purchase a cheese and onion pie and there was a furious argument about who should serve him by two girls in the shop. Women in saris swept elegantly by. It was the strangest place I have ever been to.

Now dear reader, please tell me about somewhere, anywhere, that you find interesting, it does not have to be obvious, I would prefer it not to be-just write and maybe, just maybe when you look at the familiar through unfamiliar eyes, you will see the utter utter wonder in the everyday.

2 Responses to “Unloved Britain shouts back”

  • The Jazz Teacher Says:

    One Sunday in the 90’s my best-friend and I went to Hull. It was shut. We amused ourselves by pointing out the cream coloured phone boxes and commenting on the smell of fish. That killed about 47 seconds. I understand the arguments against Sunday trading. They’re all massively outweighed by the memory I have of traipsing around Kingston (the town of the King? Really?) upon Hull with a leaking soul, looking for entertainment provided by anyone other than Mr J D Wetherspoon. Actually, I’ve just discovered the person who started the chain took that name from an ineffective schoolteacher he had in New Zealand. Facty.

    We couldn’t even get drunk as my friend had stumbled on a cheap accommodation deal (the reason for choosing Hull as our destination) and this was a drive away. The drive turned out to be the highlight of the trip as it took us over the Humber Bridge, which was magnificent. We were staying in a ‘travel tavern’ type place in New Holland. It’s a place noted for its attractive, flat landscapes, cultural revolutions, liberal attitudes and vibrant nightlife… is Holland. New Holland is part of a flat landscape and there the comparisons sink in the Humber Estuary. It’s a place where even the sheep look pissed off to be there.

    I saw a pictorial in the Weekend Guardian about a month ago showing the interiors of British prison cells. They all looked considerably nicer than our hotel room. We had to separate the two beds, which had been pushed together. All evening I felt unsettled. There was something odd about the employees of our bargainacious surroundings: an edge of amusement in the receptionist’s manner; mocking glances exchanged by the bar staff, even an undercurrent of hostility from our waitress. At least now we could drink freely until the shutters came down on the bar and we headed to bed along dimly-lit, damp-smelling wood panelled corridors.

    That night my friend admitted where he had come across the special offer, 2 for 1 deal that was too good to resist. It was on the back of a box of Milk Tray, advertising romantic breaks for couples. It’s fortunate that this wasn’t our aim as even the most passion and champagne-fuelled newlyweds would have struggled to achieve amour in New Holland.

  • cyberfairy Says:

    I have had a bad night, a very bad night with an evil baby but that made me smile, something I thought I lacked the energy or capacity for. Thanks for sharing-It sounds somewhat similar to Grimsby, where I was forced to spend eight hours with an 11 year old goth once. Thank god for pasties.

Leave a Reply