January blues

Yesterday was Black Monday – apparently the most depressing day in all the year. I don’t know about that. Apart from the mud and the cold winds, January is always an invigorating month for me. It’s February that seems often like spring won’t get here fast enough.

I’m still on my clear-out mission. It’s tough. I have always been a hoarder. As a teenager, I had the bedroom of nightmares. I kept every single thing I ever bought and I was mad for junk purchases. I managed to get this down to six boxes of keepsakes that I have had throughout my life – things I have treasured and things that evoke memories I had long since forgotten. I decided it’s time for a delicate sprucing and have been using this blog post from Slow Your Home to give me motivation. Going through one box the first time, I pulled out anything that I’d forgotten what it meant and threw it away. I guess that happens. You keep a keepsake and it becomes meaningless.

After that it was all the rail tickets for regular journeys I made back home from Sheffield, where I went to university. For the last three years of university, I had a boyfriend back in Manchester. He’d come to visit me every other weekend, and I’d come to visit him in return. Usually, he drove. I didn’t have a car, so it was usually the train for me. That coach trip across the Pennines might have been a couple of quid cheaper, but it was hours longer and used to make me sick as a dog. All those winding roads disagreed with me unspeakably.


Finally, it’s the turn of cinema tickets. Some are films I remember, like seeing Up! with Jake in Bolton one Sunday afternoon. We’d go quite regularly to the Cineworld in Bolton, just the two of us. There’s nothing like going to the pictures to watch cartoons with kids. We loved that dog Doug. Other tickets are for films I vaguely remember. Sometimes I can remember who I saw them with, and sometimes not. Up and Under with Zoe after school one night. Afternoon showings of Cool Runnings and Addams’ Family Values that I saw with three children I babysat during the school holidays. The Crow, that I saw at the cinema in Bury with Phil one Tuesday night in July back in 1994.

Not any of those cinemas are like the most fantastic cinema of my youth: the Mayfair in Whitefield. It was one of those classic old-fashioned cinemas built in the post-war years and then demolished in the the latter part of the 1990s  to make way for a block of flats.

88 Whitefield Mayfair 32

Who’d got off with whom on the back row was always up for discussion on a Monday morning. If you want a trip down Memory Lane, by the way, this guy’s flickr stream is IMMENSE. I love all these old cinemas. The Mayfair was one of these. A new multiplex opened in Bury on a new out-of-town commercial site, but it never had the same feeling. I think that is derelict now if I remember right. Andy’s best friend Paul was the manager there for a few years. It’s sad to see all these old Art Deco and Art Nouveau buildings turned to Kwik Saves and Bingo halls. I don’t care much for the old Pilsworth cinema though. I bet it was only open twenty years or so. Seems a short shelf life for a building. I’ve got some old stubs for the Odeon in Sheffield, though I can’t remember going there much. I think it was under a by-pass. I remember a lot of concrete.

I loved living in Sheffield – it’s a much greener city than Manchester, and much more hilly. I love the Yorkshire-ness of it and the names. Nether Edge. Crookes. Halfway. Greystones. Millhouses. I say it’s much greener, and it is when you are walking out of the city to where the housing becomes affordable and you can find student digs cheap enough. It wasn’t very green in the city centre, though I suppose it is very different now, twenty years later. At the epicentre of all the town’s concrete fly-overs and underpasses, there was this big concrete roundabout. On the first week back at uni, known as Freshers’ Week, there were always warnings about that roundabout. It was quite a magnet for drunks who’d take a dive into it and break their necks in an alcohol-induced stupor. The bit where I did my studies, up Eccleshall Road, is now very gentrified. The Nursery Tavern still looks the same on Google Streetview, but I can see an M&S Simply Food and signs for shops selling artisanal bread. There’s even a Starbucks where my favourite pizza restaurant was.

I’m kind of glad to see that the place I lived are just as scruffy-looking and studenty. What’s the point of being a student if you don’t learn how cold bedrooms can be without your parents to pay for central heating, or how to live on £8 shopping a week? I used to walk everywhere because I was too cheap to pay the bus fare. It was only a half-hour walk each way at the most, but I loved those walks every day. I was kind of glad to see Primark and Poundland occupying stretches of concrete around that weird roundabout world. Some things don’t change.


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