This is “Dirty Old Town,” by Ewan MacColl. As Prospero, the Economist art blog, points out: “Although about Salford, it could be the soundtrack to any industrial town in Northern England.” It looks very much like parts of Leeds, my home turf.
Why am I in nostalgia mode? Because today I’m missing England, and I’ve just finished Jeanette Winterson’s ‘memoir’ (I don’t know what else to call it), Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
Like Winterson, I grew up in a Northern town, in a house with no books but access to a library; I, too, became a writer. I, too, fell in love with a girl in my teens and was shunned. My mother, too, was very religious, and towered over the family and died relatively recently. Unlike Winterson we moved a lot (always in the same city, but never in one house longer than two or three years), and I came from a big family who are all, unquestionably, related rather than adopted. But we both wrote ‘memoirs’. (Though those memoirs are utterly unalike.)
So I’m pondering the relative weight of things like siblings and education, home and church, on temperament and sanity, choices and belonging. I’m dwelling on this notion of ‘normal’. Which makes me introspective. Which means you get a YouTube video.