From Life Up North

The Air Raid

The building shook harder than before. This was the fourth night in a week that Germany’s bombs had been dropped on Leeds. Jenny was terrified, she couldn’t show it. As always she had her children to think of. The first explosion seemed to be a few streets away but the second was much closer. The whole house shook and plaster fell from the wall. She expected there little terraced house to collapse at any minute. Jenny was huddled in the hastily built shelter in the cellar of their small home with her three children held close to her. Some of the…

Daz and His Dog

Daz sat motionless on the old park wall. Tired and cold he was wrapped up all of his layers on. It had been a cold night for early November. His old rucksack at his feet, not much in it. Just some plastic sheets, a sleeping bag and blanket. The dog standing near him gave a long tired stretch reaching forwards. Arching, aching, willing the cold to leave its body. “He’s not rushing I don’t think he can these days. Anyway why should he, he must be getting old. He’s been on the streets nearly as long as me. Ten years, is that…

Don’s Story

“Mum there’s a bloke outside rolling about on the floor I think he’s drunk” “It’s that bloody pub again three fights this week, Bill call the police. “We’re off to the rent office tomorrow. I want a transfer. We are off up Swarcliffe near our Pam,” said Mum She hated it here I knew she did. I suppose only now about to enter my teens did I begin to realise how much. Her large brood of brothers and sisters were always striving to better themselves. Each trying to be better than the rest. Business people, successful people. Where was my…

One Day Soon I’m Going to Cas Vegas

The coach and four bound for Hull winds its way along a ribbon of stone and dirt. Not long departed from The Bull and Mouth in the fledgling city, a hard day of toil ahead. Tolls paid at Halton Dial the traveller’s carriage labours up the leafy tree-lined hill. The new turnpike unfolds through fields and English countryside. A rural idyll. A double-decker 401 to distant Goole, grumbling hot and sweaty out-of-town. Diesel fumes spewing into the wet, grey, winter evening. ‘Home is where the heart is’ and mine is by this noisy tarmac world. A fast-flowing river of cars, trucks, buses, and helicopters chasing sirens. The traffic is fast talking,…

Talk Of A Battle

The gate cold and functional. Hard to sneak into this field unnoticed, scraping of metal and bang! It gets me every time. A muddy leaf strewn path through rain flattened grass. The chapel alone at the heart of the field, its walls grey like the day. Trees rustle, wood smoke drifts on the breeze from the old manor house hidden in the trees. Birds sing busy with autumn chores. A little routine develops throw the ball, take some notes, snap a photo, throw the ball. Cars and vans pass on the nearby country road. I notice the motorway two miles…

The Prospect

High on a city hill they named it ‘The Prospect’. After the view I suppose from its back door. It had to be the view. The Prospect of Leeds an imposing terrace of houses painted white, set against the city skyline. That dark and dirty city skyline. A Inn of some repute, a  rough and ready tavern. A haven for kids in search of fun and under age booze. One of the many Tetley Pubs in Leeds, one on every corner. Drinking came easy, no one stopped or you warned you. Pubs welcomed you, we were all locals at them by…

Time Shift Burst

This working wood, a man-made world. Sky meets earth, trees reach water. No trimmings, frills, coffee or cake. A place to walk and think amongst the dark, sinister ditches. Life supporting, flood preventing arteries. Broad, leafy lanes, threading all around. How England must have looked when William took his throne. No ancient Kings in search of war today. These roads have one true purpose. To transport forestry behemoths, arriving for the cull. A stand of Willow, Oak or Ash may be spared. The lucky few will remain at the end of the day, for now though peace and beauty. Narrow secret paths winding deep into the far…

Ouiji Board

Scaring and daring seemed the way of things in those days. Younger children were fair game for the older lads on our streets. Clive and me were good friends, we had started primary school together two years previously. Clive had an older brother who never hung around with us. We were seven and I think he must have been around ten. On this particular day during the school holiday he must have been at a loose end.. Although we hadn’t had many of them the long summer holidays were wonderful. The 1960’s don’t seem long ago to me sitting here…

Never Pass That Way Again

A simple inscription carved in stone, there for eternity. Young boys destined to be craftsmen, chiseling, and working soft stone. Hours of toil, Jack brought the hammer, George the chisel. Slow laborious work for the unskilled hand and poorly trained eye. The warmth of a summer’s evening. That little street of poor hard-working people, some away fighting, the others resting before a week of toil ahead. Quiet as you can, the neighbours might not want their path carving up. For two mischievous lads just one more adventure in a long hot summer littered with many mad capers. The very best of…

Uncle Charlie

What’s up Dad?” “Uncle Charlie died.” “Whose uncle Charlie?” Turns out he was a quiet man a relative who I never met. A solitary sort of bloke as if he couldn’t or didn’t want to fit in. No one in the His family lost touch and Charlie died alone in his room, no relatives could be found. His death notice appeared in the local paper, too late he had already been buried, alone, an unmarked paupers grave. Pregnant, jobless, homeless. A girl ‘in service,’ what happened? We will never know I suppose. Victorian England was a harsh, unforgiving place. Society still reels from their pompous values. Destitute, young and with…