The Long Haul
Where did it all begin? Sometime in my teens I began to have feelings for you. I found myself hanging round in your valleys and woods, sloping off to your rivers with friends on sunlit days. It was as if we were made for each other.
Friends and family didn’t approve. They said you lacked ambition, that you’d hold me back. There were rumours about drugs. Even Ted Hughes put the boot in and that must have hurt. It was just rude, the way he spoke about you: Sodden dreariness? Hopeless old stone trap? He didn’t understand you – he was from Mytholmroyd.
It all got bit intense after I left school. It wasn’t that we weren’t right for each other, we just wanted different things. I was going places and you… you just sat there, between Halifax and Tod, getting greyer by the day. It was stifling – endless quiz nights in the Nutclough, umpteenth frozen Easters watching the Pace Egg. I’d met people from cities. They had better haircuts than me and not one of them wore a cagoule. Maybe Ted Hughes had a point, after all. So we had a talk. “It’s not you it’s me”, I said. You looked like thunder.
After I left, I spent my twenties moving from one city to another. Nightclubs, department stores, beauty salons. Gigs, multiplexes, retail parks. It made me dizzy. I’m not proud of this but I began spending time with other bridges ….your bumpy old hump back certainly had character but it couldn’t compete. The Humber stretched so elegantly across the water. And who would turn down the chance of a walk across the swaying Millennium at sunset?
I came back to visit you from time to time and began to notice small changes. It started with the cappuccino. Coffee shops sprang up on every corner, full of people and not a cagoule in sight. “These are my new friends”, you said. “They work in TV”. Soon they all wanted a piece of you. You even got a part in a couple of films. It was hard to watch as they brought someone in to do up your cobbles. And they put in those wavy steps….. At your age! What were you thinking?
We did a lot of talking. You’d said you’d had enough of the media circus and that nobody knew you like I did - you wanted to take me back. It felt so safe and I was jaded. We agreed to try again and moving back in was like stepping into a pair of comfortable old slippers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still no picnic but we’ve both learnt to compromise. God knows, some days I don’t want another amazing view. And you still insist on making me meet those incessant TV people. It’s hard for you too - you turn a blind eye to my city breaks, but I try to be discreet. We’re working on it. We’re in it for the long haul.