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Back home from the yearly pilgrimage to my parents' place for χmas. This time it’s been a full year since we’ve seen them last — between them taking a trip to China and various issues with grandparents who are accellerating towards 90, we haven’t had chance to meet up between then and now.

The trains were, as can only be expected, total shit. Our train down was cancelled entirely, and we had to jump on to another company’s train to get into the correct county then begging a lift from my dad. Typical really. The only time I didn’t have trouble with the east coast main line was when it was in public hands. Now they’ve given it to Virgin Trains, a company well known for being unable to run a bath, let alone a functioning rail service. At least York station wasn’t actually underwater at any point…

Anyway. The one thing that I always think about when heading back to Hull is the yawning void outside the windows of the car or train. It’s the kind of deep black that goes on forever, fields with no houses and roads not busy enough for streetlights. If you’re lucky you might see the dots of individual houses or the thin orange of a lit-up road, small enough that they’re miles away, but all that gives is the occasional sense of scale. The East Riding is a flat part of the country, and when you can’t see any lights it’s easy to think of just how far that nothingness might spread, how many miles have no lights in them whatsoever.

You get that in all manner of places, it’s true, but it’s always the ones between York and Hull that I’ll remember, as they’re the ones I’ve spent the most time in. Having seen it in daylight, I know that the world hasn’t put any annoying hills or mountains in the way.

I used to use that dark, back in the day. Long-term readers will remember when I moved back in with my parents in 2003, how I basically spent a year and a half in a massive depressive episode. Across the main road from my grandmother’s house, barely five minutes' walk from my parents, was a big field. People kept horses there, and it had a stand of tress. I used to go to the trees — they blocked out the lights of the road — and use the dark as a place to hide, to smoke, to feel like I was somewhere else. Of course, now I look across the road from my grandmother’s and see a construction site, the field to be replaced by a bunch of new houses. That’s true of so much of the area, yet more faceless new-builds of identical floorplan. Bah.

Outside of that little diversion, it was a family visit like so many others. I finally saw my niece, and saw my nephew for only the second or third time. Took photos of the children, because that’s a form of social contact that doesn’t require actual interaction. Met up with my brother, who is finally about to complete his degree12. Met my grandmothers, one of whom we didn’t think would be here a month ago — Parkinsons can fuck right off — and generally saw people and made ourselves useful. We gave and received gifts because of the time of the year, and all is well with that side of our family.

Small blessings, etc.


  1. He initially went straight into a job with a GNVQ while I was still at university; he got a job a couple of months after I started work at univesity. 

  2. His dissertation involves making a basic ticketing system in fucking Microsoft Access. The only programming is a bit of Visual Basic. And he’s going to get a degree for this, in TYOOL 2016