A rainy night in York
By Parson Thru
History is flooding back from all directions. The low brick building passed on the bus, boarded-up and abandoned, I’m sure is where my mam and dad took me for the York Model Railway Exhibition 1970. I still have the programme somewhere – in Weston, York or Madrid – written by grey-haired enthusiasts who are still alive (with their societies) in their writing. I even remember some of the layouts, though the programme has probably helped.
I’m sitting facing the bar of a pub. It’s dark and wet outside. The Last Drop Inn. Memories of this place. Pints after the festival of nine lessons and carols with my mam and dad. And wasn’t it once the double-fronted post office in King’s Square? Replete with weighing scale outside the door? And pigeons? I’m drinking farmhouse cider – an import from Somerset if I’m not mistaken, my home for nine years. And glowing by the York Brewery pump I see Mahou: my local Madrileno beer. What’s it called when all these things come together? If I were a town, I’d be Glastonbury.
But York’s a constipated town. It’s people speak with high, strangulated voices about things in the distant past. Their minds are set permanently there. The BBC knows this and gives them what they seek through its local programming.
The bars are filled with men looking into their pints. The skeleton of the man at the bar has moulded itself over years to prop up that few feet of wood. The bar-men talk to him like he’s their mate, but they know more life than him. Men at the table beside me talk about the glory days of Leeds United – long-gone. And a drunk across the room joins Spotify in long-forgotten songs.
What the city needs is visionaries like Hudson, Leeman, Rowntree, Terry and Armstrong, but they’re in short supply today – probably not welcome.
On the last bus home (six o’clock) I know I made the right decision. And the one after, and the one after, etc. Like Dylan’s ’65-’66 tour, I’m sure of what I’ve done and when life tells me to move on again it will be the right time.
Do I drink too much? Yes, maybe. But watching people on this bus heading home to turn on the TV and draw the curtains, I know there are much worse things in life. Like standing still. The demon down inside says “Keep moving on” and I will. Because that’s where life is, and there’s fuck all else.