The atmosphere had changed in the house. The air was cold, people’s attitudes had become dismissive and somewhat aggressive, and tensions were rising. I was too young to understand but the whole family was affected by what was going on in the house…whatever it was.
During the final years living in the quiet town of Heckmondwike, strange things started to happen. My brothers and I spent a lot of time in our room playing with old toys, bouncing around on our space hoppers and annoying the parents. My memories are a little skewed but there are a selection of incidents that stand out in that house. I remember once falling from the top of the bunk bed mid-sleep into the upright position into a toy pram that sat below. Exciting things, I tell you! On a darker note, I remember one winter evening drifting off into a pleasant slumber; head tucked up into the pillow wrapped and in a warm thick duvet. I woke suddenly in the middle of the night and was instantly wide awake. I looked up between the bunk bed pillars, waited for my eyes to adjust and saw a dark figure staring back at me. Its face was pressed up against the pillars staring right at me with its deep red eyes. After what seemed like an age, I closed my eyes as tight as I could and lay stiffened like a corpse underneath the duvet. Before I could even try to comprehend what I’d just seen, I fell asleep almost immediately. Now I’m a sucker for a good ghost story but I’m sure there’s a good, simple explanation. It could’ve easily been one of the brothers. The deep red eyes, you ask? I don’t know.
Strange visual sightings weren’t the only strange occurrences happening in the house. People started acting out; behaving differently and experiencing extreme emotional outbreaks, including myself. I remember one night waking suddenly (seemed to happen quite a lot for me), but this time I decided to get up and go for a walk. I climbed down from the bunk bed, walked out of the bedroom, down the corridor and parked myself at the top of the stairs. I don’t recall how long I sat there but i leaned my head against the side of the staircase and peered down into the darkness. Eventually, I decided to get up and go back to bed. I don’t know what possessed me to do such a thing – wake up in the middle of the night, sit on the staircase and stare down into the abyss, but I did it. I later found out, after mentioning this incident to a parent, that the previous owner had fallen down those steps and died. That’s a terrible thing to hear but to make matters worse, why did I do what I did that night? Was i looking for this chap? Was i deluded? Or was it a coincidence? Probably just a dream.
I remember the time my dad accidentally threw a hot jacket potato at my dads head…but that’s a story for another time.
We had an abundance of wild apple trees in our back garden, accompanied by a small pear tree in the top left corner growing over from the neighboring property. It was a modest garden that stretched a great distance with a raised bed toward the back filled with various flowers, both wild and planted.
To the left was a newly built BBQ area with a bench on the outer wall facing the house. Rhubarb grew plentifully beneath the apples trees which father used for crumble as an after dinner treat. My brothers and I often played in the garden; running rings around one another, destroying the plants and wondering what our parents would say if we were to pick the Rhubarb and threw it at each others faces.
I remember riding my first bike. It had stabilizers and shiny tassels hanging from the handle bars just to jazz things up a little bit. I think the bike was pink…or maybe purple, with white wheels and a very uncomfortable seat. After a week of reluctant cycling on a hilly estate, I rode the bike without stabilizers for the first time. The joy I felt on this day is incomparable to anything I’ve felt since.
The hill at the end of the road led to a large field that was often used for firework displays on Bonfire night – my favourite time of the year. My brothers and I often played on the field with the neighboring kids , doing whatever pre-teens used to do in the 90’s. The days were always the same and rarely different, until one event changed the course of our childhood freedom. I was pottering in the field, probably making daisy chains and trudging through dog shit when I turned my head to see a car had stopped at the at the end of the field. My eldest brother, James, stood at the passenger seat window. I don’t remember how long they were stood talking but before I knew it James began to run up to the top of the field toward the house. To my understanding today, the teenagers tried to entice James into the car with treats but thankfully he didn’t take the bait. If ever an event were to raise the guard and change the mind of a weak, young child, this was it.
There were 8 apples trees in the back garden accompanying the lonesome pear tree. The branches crawled toward the center of the garden like old hands in the winter time, and in the spring they gifted us with blossom and inviting scents. Oh, how I miss the apple trees.
It’s not uncommon in Barrowcliff to see dirty mattresses scattered on the streets, toddlers smoking and youths burning bins to the ‘banging tunes’ of the early 2000s. Hot summer days shed light on the perplexed residents of Oxcliff as some head to work while others head to another dimension using the stimuli of drugs and alcohol. I often wish I could join those that have decided to live their days by sitting in a garden drinking 2 litre bottles of Strongbow in a cloud of smoke that could be made up of…anything, but my commitments to the modern life I have succumbed to.
Today I sit in an office typing words on a document. It’s 22 degrees outside in the beautiful seaside town of Scarborough, filled with tourists and locals alike who emphatically pour to the beaches to burn as hot as last night’s lager in my swollen stomach. I wonder what would happen if I were to leave this sad office and take a walk between the crowds of screaming children and lazy parents. I shouldn’t judge. I was once one of those children and will one day become one of those parents.
I have exactly 6 rice cakes to my left sitting next to a half empty bottle of water that has taken me 4 and a bit hours to drink. It’s warm now. I can’t decide if I’m hot or cold so why am I wearing a fleece? I should probably find something to occupy my time at this desk before normality hits me like a sack of shit tomorrow morning when the bank holiday is finally over. Enjoy the sunshine Barrowcliff. Enjoy the sunshine tourists and residents. Enjoy indecision, hangover depression and a rotten stomach Vanessa.
Today i took a picture. It’s not a very good picture, but it’s also not a very bad picture. Today i took a picture.
I’ve been struggling recently to try and find the motivation to go out with my mediocre camera and snap some images. I don’t really know how to work my camera or utilise it to its full potential. This is one the drawbacks.
Another drawback is that i don’t like walking around with a camera in my bag. Every time i do take it with me i rarely use it, and when i do the pictures are terrible and pointless. I’m starting to think i have lost my love for photography.
Maybe i should motivate myself to go for a walk…when the weather’s nice. Maybe i’ll even go a step further and visit some place i’ve never visited before…if i have the money. Maybe i’ll take a walk down to the beach and take a picture of the slow-moving ocean…if i can be bothered.
I guess we’ll see.