Hometown

This weekend my brother and I danced to songs I hadn’t danced to for years, and I was reminded of the shabby nightclubs of my teenage years, smelling of cigarette smoke and sexual frustration. We danced under ultraviolet light, round piles of handbags, drank vodka and lime, and hoped we’d get a partner for the final slow dance of the evening. We  always went to the toilets in pairs.

You see, I’m a small town girl, from a place that’s a punchline in a joke about the North. I come from a town of terraced houses and tripe stalls; a town that ripped its own heart out 30 years ago in protest at being destroyed. People are always surprised to hear that’s where I’m from. I left a town that nobody ever leaves, my accent softened, my horizons expanded. I think the town has changed more than I have, though. The pits closed, the community drifted. The old, family run businesses faded away, and the chain stores moved in.

I bet the nightclubs are still shabby, though, and still full of teenage girls hoping to find love in the darkness.

snow melts in the sun
spring tiptoes between the trees
small buds start to swell

A haibun for Mish, at dVerse. Two or three tight paragraphs and a haiku. Pop over to the dVerse bar. They’re serving poetry. I won’t be drinking vodka and lime, though…I added the Youtube video because I suddenly realised where that tiptoeing spring came from. 

23 thoughts on “Hometown

  1. How brilliant that you and your brother can still dance together! My sisters wouldn’t dream of it. I remember so well ‘shabby nightclubs of my teenage years, smelling of cigarette smoke and sexual frustration’ and the ultraviolet light’. But in Cologne we didn’t dance round handbags.I was the one that got away from the town that nobody ever leaves and, if it wasn’t for my husband being one of those who stayed, I would never have met up with him again. I love the ambiguity of the haiku!

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  2. This leaves me wondering just where is this town and what is it called? Shabby nightclubs are always filled with teenage girls looking for princes on white horses!

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  3. Bet it was Barnsley. I feel some of the emotions in your poem, Sarah, and the memories (the vodka and lime especially, and going to the toilet in pairs) and the desperation of people clinging to the awful job of coal mining because that’s all there was.

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      • I went to secondary school in Leeds but I lived in Birstall. The locals felt closer to Bradford than Leeds. The other drink was Southen Comfort. Looking back on it I’m astonished at how much we could put away as teenagers and not even feel sick.

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  4. I do not know enough about small towns in UK to know this… but it’s something I recognize too… the closest is probably the town I lived in when I did my military service… and I do remember the girls there… probably the only difference that there is no one smoking inside any longer…

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  5. It sounds like Scranton, PA, where I did undergraduate studies–the old coal mines closed and the economy tanked. The only entertainment was the bars. My hometown changed, too, for the worse, when the kids discovered drugs. I was long gone then. Sad.

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  6. a very good narrative of a time etched in your mind, a time carefree in the present yet anxious about the future. I love the haiku as it conveyed the emotions of a season so accurately. especially the tiptoe bit. lovely Sarah!

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