From the age of four I grew up in a small village, where the nearest town, Huddersfield was a thirty minute bus journey away.
It felt infuriatingly slow and my friends and I devoured everything remotely interesting, growing bored quickly. Very quickly.
In a little town the aging process seemed faster and I never realised that going out and recognising everyone, or knowing the turns of the streets like the back of yr hands, could be a good thing, rather than just a utterly stifling pain in the arse.
At 18 I fled to Brighton – which was geographically about as far as I could get without leaving England. Culturally it was about as far as I could get too. Brighton had the sea, a living breathing music scene, a thriving queer community, streets of designer shops and cafes – a population who could afford to eat in them.
I fucking loved it. And as far as I was concerned I was never going back. I didn’t even return for summer preferring to muck in with the full timers – getting to know the city without students.
In the end I did go back of course. Because after everything I fell in love with a boy from my home town, and anyway I couldn’t afford to live and pay Brighton rents. We lived in coverted places like Hebden Bridge. Which was kinda like coming home, but in other respects really not.
This time I’ve gone and done it – moved to Bradford. As I walked through the generic city centre on a Saturday afternoon where children pushed smaller children in prams and there was nothing but high street shops as far as the eye could see. I panicked with the realisation that I had moved to the town I’d spent my entire life trying to escape.
So why did I do it? What the fuck was I thinking? It was partly practical; sick of being out of the house for 12 hours a day and battle weary commuting. And I could also afford to live here in something other than a bedsit.
Bradford is usually overshadowed by Leeds – recently luxury apartments in the city were advertised with the tagline ‘Live in Bradford, Shop in Leeds’. But in amidst the poverty and tension, the abandoned shops and vacant flats. There is something here. Sometimes when you look up, catch a forgotten architectural gem in just the right light: you see a beauty. I’m not going to make optimistic claims that the city is the sleeping lion of mythology. But there is a definite kicking, a desire and energy to make things happen and the spaces and places to base this activity. I love the sense of humor and lack of pretension which may be the result of the rest of the world writing you off as ‘boring and dangerous’ when you know you are no such thing.
Perhaps I’m growing up,and maybe this involves a return to yr roots. A realisation that perhaps what you hated as a teenager is also part of you. Like spending yr adolescence hating yr parents only to realise later that in the great scheme of things, they really aren’t that bad…
Maybe you even like them now.