Life in a Northern town.

March 20, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I’ve been in Halifax today for the first time since I returned from Asia. It’s a brilliantly sunny day and I needed to do some business so I walked in.  For those who don’t know it the town is a compact little place perched on the side of a hill above the railway station. The industrial revolution and wool trade left it with a wonderful collection of Victorian buildings that it’s managed to hang on to – just. That said,  the town centre is dominated by the modern Halifax building society HQ. I can only assume the architect who designed that had lost his protractor and compass which is why it’s such a brutal collection of straight lines. Still, nearby buildings like the old market, theatre and the Piece Hall more than compensate for it.

 What struck me as I walked around was the contrast in people compared to Asia. I don’t mean ethnicity – I’m talking about size. Young skinny, busy Asians have been replaced with an older, slower group of people, many of whom are palpably overweight. There’s no shortage of people who’ve swapped necks for a multitude of chins and seem perfectly content with the exchange.  Now, I’m no stranger to the image of the formidable Northern granny (I was brought up by one) but this is different. Many of these people have a calendar age far less than their weight; they positively scream ‘onset diabetes’.  When I walked into the main Post Office I took one look at the queue and thought I’d walked into a Doctors surgery by mistake – and that was before I was nearly crippled by a woman on one of those mobility scooters....

It’s not surprising really because that’s the other great contrast to Asia – food. There’s a dearth of anything decent.  Fast food joints abound and fruit and veg shops are as rare as rocking horse shit. The irony is that much of what is described as ‘fast food’ would take far longer to prepare and serve than the fantastic fresh food that you get out in Thailand.

Looking around made me wonder something else. Why do the majority of people whose favourite attire is ‘sportswear’ look like they’d keel over from a heart attack if they ran more than 10 paces?

On the positive side, I don’t have to struggle with an unfamiliar, runish script – all the signs are in English which is why a rather surreal poster advertising the Halifax Courier newspaper caught my eye: ‘Man dies after severing own head’ (no shit Sherlock)!

It’s a funny old world...


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