Long ago…

February 7th 2021

Long, long ago – in a reality far, far away…

I am old, my children. I am so old that I can remember the distant days when we could all go out whenever we wanted – out through the front door, the back door – you could even crawl out of the window if you felt like it! And there would be no-one there to tell you to go back (unless it was your Mum…).

You could walk down the road without carrying a six-foot pole, you could speak to people in the street and they wouldn’t run away – you could even knock on a neighbour’s door, and instead of threatening you with a shotgun from an upper window, they’d OPEN THE DOOR! And maybe even ask you in for a coffee. And you could both sit on the sofa! Ah, those happy days of my far-off youth….

There should be one of those wibbly bits now, like they have in old films, to show you that we’re looking back to the far past. (Don’t look at me like that, I can remember it all quite clearly, as far back as 2019..).

(I know it’s not quite right, but it’s the closest I could find!)

We’d set off over the moorland road in the general direction of “Let’s see where we end up”, like we usually did. That day, where it turned out to be was the top of Holme Moss.. A gentle breeze was riffling the water down in the valley, birds were flying overhead, the sun was making patterns on the hills as far away as Halifax, and we could either go back down to Holmfirth for tea – or head further, to the fleshpots of Glossop…

Away to the left, it seemed that Mount Ackroyd, Oldham’s only remaining volcano, was erupting. That or the moors around Marsden were on fire again.

We toodled along down the hill – into the next county! (There were no border guards in those days. You’d hardly know you’d crossed the border at all, except that they didn’t know how to make a good Yorkshire pudding. But we weren’t going for dinner, so there was no danger there.)

The road led us on, past the reservoirs, around the Devil’s Elbow, past the turning to Royston Vasey, and then we were descending into the exotic town of Glossop, No-one took he slightest bit of notice of the vehicle with alien numberplates. We had tea unmolested – there was cake, and I’m sure there would have been lashings of ginger beer if we’d asked for it. Instead, we drank the national beverage, and then went and bought some quite unnecessary things. In unnecessary shops.

Books, a scarf, sultanas – and a totally essential punnet of strawberries, but no-one was counting, and neither of us got a criminal record because of it. We pottered back over the Moss. Windmills turned lazily over at Royds Moor. The sun was making long, thin, shadow over the land ahead. Mount Ackroyd’s plume was a delicate pink. Emley mast looked as if it was entering itself for a son et lumiere contest, only without the son. Unless a lapwing counted.

It probably did. God’s own county was proving it, in spades.

It was one of those days in England. And when this bloody war is over – I intend to go back to it, just as soon as possible.

Sue Papworth

Huddersfield Times

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