Friday, April 8, 2011

Hyperlocal nostalgia

It seems I am Mr Nostalgia as that tag on this young blog is now in the lead (and this post will increase that lead, natch). Actually earlier today i had a sudden feeling of nostalgia as i traveled to work maybe because its territory i have traveled so many thousands of times before.

Although i have traveled to the other side of the world quite a few times i have lived within the same Birmingham postcode area since 1975. Since 2000 in my own house but thats got a postcode only 2 letters away from my parents'. To makes matters worse (if indeed it is a problem) i have spent 15 years at Birmingham City University, my workplace, though the first 5 years as a student. Just for a bit of variety I did spend just over 5 years working in the city centre inbetween graduating and going to work at BCU.

So if you were to trace my movements over the last few decades on a map the lines between Erdington and Perry Barr would now be so thick it would no doubt tear the map or at least destroy the universe.

So why didn't i go anywhere? Although other people did, indeed my best friend now owns most of America, maybe i never felt the need. This is my "territory" that i inhabit. I travel through parts of Witton every day, not far from where my Mum was born. My grandfather worked at a mine in Hamstead so probably traveled through where BCU is located now everyday.

You see the family history is everywhere, i really should write a book on it one day. The church near the Villa ground is where my Nan got married and Mum was Christened. The Edward VII pub i often pass on the Lichfield Road used to one of the family's main hangouts before the war. In the ceremony that overlooks Perry Barr my grandfather and uncle were buried. Sometimes i walk on the playing fields next to the primary school i went to. To get to work every day i pass the site i failed my A levels. You see it just goes on and on.

I could in fact go on and on so shall. Some of my Nan's siblings were (according to the 1901 census) "rubber workers". Its reasonable to assume they worked at Dunlop. If i look out of the window to my right i can see the roof of... Fort Dunlop, now of course a swanky hotel and entertainment hub. When my Mum was young she stayed at an Aunt's for awhile. That Aunt lived in Pype Hayes, thats literally just up the road from where i live. In fact another Aunt is apparently buried in the churchyard just off Erdington High Street.

So this is where my ancestors lived and worked and now i am here too. It does maybe sound a rather insular existence though i am not like the proverbial peasant who never leaves his village. I like going to other places but i like to get back home afterwards much more. Its where i feel comfortable, maybe the only place. Perhaps this area is a magnet drawing me back after i have been dallying elsewhere. I can go away but quickly need to return and recharge.

Its memories, its heritage and it defines me. Nostalgia for a lifetime in one place. Hence i am Mr Nostalgia.

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