What’s Worse Than Greased Tea?
Journey. Western Europe. Northern England
Confronting Gray Mr. Dying on a coastal city in Northern England.
I didn’t actually know the music of Morrissey and The Smiths. This was in 1990. I used to be learning English and historical past in Newcastle-upon-Tyne within the North of England. Earlier than arriving in The UK, the one British music I knew was the perfect kind of British music: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin — and even Gerry and the Pacemakers. I used to be additionally from New Jersey. I used to be simply entering into Bruce Springsteen.
Now, at any time when I play The Smith’s, particularly Morrissey’s solo music “Everyday is Like Sunday,” I recall strolling the moist promenade, alone, of the seaside city of South Shields — 3.7 miles downstream from my adopted residence of Newcastle.
I might take the Tyne and Put on Metro to the sting of the universe to confront my fears among the many gray sea consolation. I might board the practice at Monument after which rely the fourteen stops — analyzing everybody — all of us vacationers, proper? — particularly when contemplating how briskly the Earth travels. The logo for the practice was a big black M inside a yellow, nearly orange, field that was surrounded in a rectangle of yellow-jacket yellow.
The cut price black wool trenchcoat I bought at a thrift retailer stored a few of November chilly and mist at bay.
I wasn’t conscious of the time period “emo” then. Maybe it didn’t exist. Again then, I might have been its Poster Boy. I used to be positively feeling “emo” in these days, strolling within the mist, strolling alongside the tough shoreline, strolling and considering of girls I favored however didn’t like me again, and of girls who maybe favored me, however I used to be too silly to know or perceive. I used to be just one and twenty.
And simply what did I would like out of life? Journey — sure. Journey — sure. However was I actually “sucking the marrow” out of life? Was I taking Thoreau’s recommendation? What was I lacking?
“Lonely man walks” throughout Newcastle and its environs have been a part of my repertoire. Maybe my mannequin was Ringo from A Exhausting Day’s Night time when he’s dressed undercover, wandering the streets like a hobo, feeling sorry for himself. However as a substitute of “That Boy” or “Ringo’s Theme Song” playin’ in me ‘ead, I now channel Morrissey’s music from 1988.
Again then, the music was quite present.
Just like the protagonist within the music, I might “trudge slowly over wet sand” and “trudge back over pebbles and sand.” However in contrast to Morrissey, I didn’t have a “disgust over an out of season beach town.” The Artwork Gallery and Museum was closed. The Roman Fort was closed. It could very properly have been a Sunday.
South Shields, to me, symbolizes the place I sought quite than hiding underneath my mattress — or consuming alone in some pub unfrequented. There, I felt linked to the weather and to the universe — like lengthy walks alongside the River Tyne or rambles alongside Hadrian’s Wall: to confront Gray Mr. Dying on a seaside bench or a Roman wall for a pleasant dialog about life.
Now, my garments have been by no means “stolen” — despite the fact that that had been a fear once I was swimming in France and Spain. As a naive American, I simply left my garments on a blanket unprotected — together with my keys for the hostel, I feel. Isn’t that at all times the issue when alone on a seashore? Shouldn’t there be lockers — or — or one thing?
However strolling the solitary walks of South Shields, trying into closed retailers as nightfall was dawning, feeling the winds sweep alongside the promenade, feeling the primary stings of winter, I did really feel that it was “a coastal town that they forgot to close down.”
And once I really feel down, even now, at two-and-fifty, strolling beneath gray skies, I consider the chorus: “Every day is like Sunday. Every day is silent and grey.”
Typically, particularly again then, when homesickness acquired to me, which wasn’t too usually (woman illness acquired to me extra) — I might generally really feel that “everyday-ness.” Would I get as “emo” and cheer on “Armageddon” and a “nuclear bomb?” After all not — that’s simply regular morose Morrissey hyperbole.
There have been occasions I might disguise “on the promenade” and take into consideration “etching on a postcard” the lyrics of some poem I needed to ship to the world. More often than not, in fact, particularly with mates within the pubs and journeys to Bamburgh Castle and Alnwick Castle and Lindisfarne Castle, and full of life lessons with my British college friends, like Steven from Chester and Michael from Manchester, who turned me onto bands like The Charlatans UK and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, I by no means considered writing residence: “How I Dearly Wish I Was Not Here.”
My postcards and letters, as a substitute, have been stuffed with youthful exuberance.
“Everyday is Like Sunday” stays with me when feeling somber and nostalgic — and generally misplaced. Don’t all of us really feel like “strange dust lands on our hands” generally, proper? Like — the place did this come from? How do I cope with this? Who can I speak to? And it’s not solely on our palms, nevertheless it’s now evident on our face for the world to see.
The ache of loneliness can now not be hid. The North of England might be fairly gray and silent — and there may be peace in that, nevertheless it’s not so gray as to cowl that loneliness.
And the very last thing you need is “greased tea.” That’s tea made with onerous water and weak tea. I’m a tea addict. I nonetheless purchase my tea from Eire and England. My caretaker in Newcastle, the mom-like Lorraine, taught me the glories of the electrical kettle, a roiling boil, and robust black tea — however I hate milk and sugar in my tea.
A life unfulfilled — or “unexamined,” nonetheless, is unquestionably worse than greased tea.
Actually, once I got here again from my solo-day journey from South Shields, I made myself a cup of Earl Gray. My mates would name up and ask me the place I went.
“South Shields,” I mentioned.
They regarded perplexed. Why would I’m going to the seashore on such a day? What would I discover there?
In the event that they solely knew. Over pints of Newcastle Brown — or for take-a-ways and kababs and chips whereas watching flicks in Geoffrey’s flat in Jesmond Dene, I attempted telling them. We spoke totally different languages. I spoke English. They spoke Geordie. However they laughed, I suppose. Laughter — that I can translate. I had the fame for being a “poetry boy.” Was that one step nearer to The Emo Boy Cliff Dive?
However Morrissey at all times brings me again to the North Sea. Alone, I confronted these winds and the tough seas — and I actually did like my very own firm — a “Majority of One” as Thoreau would name it. It was as if I used to be staring into Dying — feeling the chilly and the darkness round me — after which saying, “Oh, no, not yet, Mr. Death. Your time will come. But I have so much life to live and love to give.”
Now, that “every day” might be just a few days — and it’s okay to really feel a bit of Morrissey every now and then. However I’d a lot quite have the membership music of New Order or The Chemical Brothers on the kaleidoscopic dance ground in a Newcastle Membership.
And now — a spouse to like — and daughters to like — and good associates and superb beer and writing and Yorkshire Gold Mix Tea.
Now that’s residing.