Meadow well, the scene of the riots of '91, still carrying the traceries of those days. The Major Years. The serried ranks of red brick and the air of self defeat. Decay from within, although the real story is decay foisted on a populace by the disease of hyper-capitalism. Young lads with the usual, healthy amount of testosterone and the energies of youth sup on tins of supermarket lager and have a slightly bovine look of slaughterhouse prey about them. They alight at Whitley Bay as I do, looking for seascape and perhaps some modicum of holiday from the self. I know I was. They give me a double grin as they see me nettle at the unseasonal March weather, pulling on unwanted shades to keep the solar flare from my medicated pupils. They could smell defeat. They could see in the shuffle the cast of one who had temporarily acceded to life sweeteners and escape. High days and holidays from the self. Whitley Bay.
The English Journey had begun inauspiciously. The wander along the once grand seafront, towards the somnolent North Sea, gently undulating waves, patterns of hypnotic repetition as I scryed about to an fro, looking for an ounce of humanity behind net curtains and empty parked cars. Whitley Bay. I had been here once before, watched an installation, a laser beam affair from the lighthouse. Cultural Olympiad or some other expense sideshow. Bread and circuses circa 2012. 50 grand for a Pink Floyd prism. Pop art for the masses beamed across a beach. Well worth it. Well worth it to just aspire to raising up the area. The area largely patronised by Priestley, condescended to by Orwell and still kicking, still with life in it. I made it to the shores themselves, getting nearer to a nadir that was actually a zenith. Full awareness. I realised I hadn't taken medication in months as rheumatic pains reminded of life in the body instead of the edge-off hazing of painkillers and SSRIs, keeping the self alive with these tapestries of aches. I saw the two Meadow well lads approach and handed over my carry-out blue plastic bag. A gift of sorts. They saw the resignation and joy as I turned away from the shoreline and headed for the walk to the Metro station. I had taken leave of the self. The Not-I laughed at the I, or some other Huxleyian punchline. Well worth it. Pop art for the masses. Tepid lager for the very soul. Another sort of riot.