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Monday, May 05, 2003  

I'm never going back again. This is a good thing

James and I had wondered if maybe we'd over-hyped the shiteness of the place to ourselves, if memory had painted it worse than it had really been, if our unwillingness to be there, if the total wrongness of our presence there had tainted our experience of it. No no no no no! 22 hours back there was long enough to realise that the extreme crapulence of the place was not imagined. And it's actually got worse. Spinadisc has no records left! The vinyl section upstairs has shrunk by 50% at least and the CD sections downstairs were apallingly stocked and arranged. HMV and Virgin less than worthless. How did I ever buy music in tha place? Any one shop in Berwick Street yesterday afternoon had infinitely more worth than Northampton's collected record outlets. Jesus... And the pubs... Even The Hogshead is too classy for Northampton now; it's been replaced by some luminescent green/yellow/pink/orange shitbag named "me; bar". Christ.

We toured the old haunts, walked around the campus, even had a drink in the Pavillion bar. Five years... At a later point I will give more information and though to the minidisc I made. It was gloriously sunny when the train departed Milton Keynes (I had to bus it to there) on Sunday morning, and I listened to Manitoba and felt profound elation to be leaving.

As soon as I got off the train in Northampton my feet fell into the old step, leading me to HMV, then to Virgin, then to Spinadisc, then to The Charles Bradlaugh, as if I'd never left, let alone as if it had been two years since I left. But I nailed it. I nailed the feeling, the dread that comes over me when faced with that town, not God forsaken because God disliked it so much that he refused to exist... Everywhere I stand in Northampton I feel as if I am on top of a hill (literally; this may be something to do with the actual topography of the place) and I get the sensation that the rest of the world is rushing away below me, falling into nothingness, and leaving me stranded. I feel the same standing on the beach at Blackpool, facing away from the promenade, faced with nothing but endless, unfriendly, northern sea. It's the feeling that you can never leave, that the world is gone and the piece remaining on which you stand has no worth. No worth at all. No wonder I was so angry and felt so cheated for six months after I'd left.

But I'm glad I went back. I ran away after exams; results were a fleeting visit, no closure, and I avoided graduation for fear of... Now I've properly said goodbye to the place. I never need go back again. I've reaffirmed the feelings I had that it was, actually, yes, truly, really, a shithole. I was a different, often worse person for three years there.

"It's not you / it's this place / and not knowing where to turn..." The Boo Radleys, Wilder.

I'm not going back. Yay!

5/05/2003 12:00:00 pm


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Nick Southall is Contributing Editor at Stylus Magazine and occasionally writes for various other places on and offline. You can contact him by emailing auspiciousfishNO@SPAMgmail.com

All material © Nick Southall, 2003/2004/2005