Putting it about

Moving to Hebden Bridge is undoubtedly the best thing I ever did, in terms of doing something good for my psyche, soul, health. It’s maybe the first actual “Choice” I ever made.  I went to University in York, which was great, and wonderful, and in some ways awful – but it was a time of life, I was going to go somewhere, and it happened to be York.  I loved York, I still do – though it isn’t the same as it was then.  After that, the tide took me back to my parents’ in Leeds, and then everything was about the big question of life, what are you going to do to make a living? Temporary jobs, cul-de-sacs, finally deciding randomly on this librarianship thing, going back to Uni at Leeds Met., getting a “proper” job.  And along the way, falling in love, following the twists and turns of a new relationship, moving in together, falling out, falling back in, buying a house, getting kittens, and then falling apart again.  And after that all fell apart, and I was in a new relationship, a job I don’t love, living in a place I really didn’t like on any level – I made a choice. Everything else could go, at that point. I had to have something I had no doubt in, no fear of. Something which really gave me joy.

When my ex and I realised we weren’t going to be able to sell the house any time soon, he bought me out, and I needed to find a place to live. Having visited Hebden with increasing frequency, and having a constant eye on the estate agents, I knew I could afford it, knew it was “do-able” in terms of getting to work etc.  but, despite thinking about it for ages, I think I did surprise myself when I actually booked some viewings, and then, while walking down from seeing Stag Cottage in Heptonstall, rang up the agent and said I wanted the house we’d seen first, in Old Town.  (No offence to Stag Cottage – which would have been great 10 years earlier, when I had less crap. Though it is nuts. A big, foot wide beam goes between the living room and kitchenette – at waist height. You have to go over, or under. Very dark as well. The cats would have loved ripping those 17th Century beams to shreds.)  Certainly I surprised my boyfriend, who later admitted that part of him thought I would cop out and go back to North Leeds near my parents.  Sure, if there hadn’t been anything right in Hebden at the key moment, maybe I would have done.  But I’m glad I made the leap.

However. Three years later – I am a little disappointed.  Not with Hebden Bridge, despite some recent changes, I still love the place. But with me.

Part of the deal with myself was that Hebden would be a new begining. That things would change.  That I would live ethically, environmentally consciously, I would keep the house tidy, I would eat less meat, stop getting take aways, eat less, go walking, swimming, exercise more, that I would go out and make new friends, get involved, do new things.  Part of the attraction of Hebden was the sheer volume of “stuff” there is to do, and the ease of finding out about it (see Hebden Diary, over on the right).  There is obviously always a lot going on in cities. But cities are big, and spread out, and stuff is everywhere, and very frequently really difficult to find out about.  So I thought there would be no excuse to not do things.

Silly me.

Maybe it started well. Maybe not.  Drinking, as I have mentioned elsewhere – probably actually increased on coming here, because there are so many nicer places to drink. Every weekend felt like a holiday for a long time.  Still does in a way, especially in Summer.  That plan not to have take aways was ok for a bit, then JK’s chinese opened, which was a bit better than the other one, and somehow that broke the hymen and an orgy of take away food returned. No, that’s not fair, not an orgy. But a fair few one night stands.  Done a few walks, but no where near as many as I should. I can claim some success in the going to the gym, but the swimming has stopped since I stopped going to Todmorden leisure centre.  But the thing that really pisses me off is the “make new friends, get involved, do new things”.

A new town I suppose is hard for anyone.  I don’t make friends easily.  Mainly I suppose because I don’t talk easily.  I can write a gazillion words on nothing at all, I can tweet random bollocks to the ether – but I’m not very good at “small talk”.  Which you need a bit of before the “big talk” that cements relationships and friendships can occur.  I intrinsically think I’m not very interesting, so don’t want to inflict my not very interestingness on anyone who can’t easily escape.  You, dear reader, if you are indeed there, can easily click “back”, or go away some other way. May I recommend one of the other Hebden links on the right.  But it would be rude of you to do it to my face, no?  When I do talk, it’s usually after several drinks – and then, I probably talk too much. And if you catch me in the wrong mood, you might get a severe case of too much information.

Still.  I want to get to know people.  Even if I don’t find me very interesting, I do find others interesting, and I know there are a great many very interesting folk around here to get to know.  So I’ve done a few things – I went to a few book-binding classes at Northlight Art Studios, which were great, but when you’re concentrating on making something, you don’t really make lasting connections I don’t think.  I’ve joined the gym. I go to Slimming World. I’ve been along, and am about to join the W.I., and I went and met a lovely bunch of people at the inaugural Hebden Blog Club.

The last was good – I will blog about it specifically another time, but essentially no one there really knew any of the others, and it’s a topic I’m prepared to talk about.  So I didn’t feel too shy.  Hopefully it will blossom into something really good, but any way it’s nice to do something different.  I keep trying.  Nothing else for it really. Just wish I’d pushed myself harder in the last few years.

Anyway.  Off to the W.I to learn vintage hairstyles.

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HBAF: Choirs in the Chapel

Ars Nova Sacra and Glasgow Madrigirls

The beautiful Wainsgate Chapel in Old Town above Hebden Bridge was the perfect venue for this pair of concerts.  The acoustics of the old Baptist church were well suited to voices raised in harmonious song.  The first group, Ars Nova Sacra, from Budapest – sang classical and early music, beautiful and haunting. Something about choral music is deeply spiritual. It can make you feel a common bond with your fellow human beings. Apparently a cat’s purring can help their wounds heal.  I wonder if there is something about song that does the same for people.  Not being able to understand most of the words, being in latin, german, other languages, the sound is almost like meditative chanting, resonating through the listener, accompanying their thoughts. I found my own mind wandering through some of the sadder places it has within it, but with a greater peace, and perspective than usually the case. Perhaps the music trying to help me heal. Apparently they sang works by “Gibbons, Liszt, Gesualdo, Monteverdi, Kodaly and Bartok amongst others”. I forgot to note down the names of the pieces. They started with the very early works, and moved towards the present through the set. All exquisite, and moving.

The sun was blazing outside, making for a wonderful extended break, where people could partake of refreshments, including magnificent home made cakes. Others brought picnics, and found spots of grass among the gravestones. It is a lovely spot, worth a visit even if the church is not open. They are cultivating parts as a wildlife/wildflower habitat, it would be a lovely setting to spend eternity. The choir came out for a well deserved break too, and entertained us with what we think were Hungarian drinking songs, showing that their talents also extended to the profane, and not just the sacred.

That was apparently the first thought of Dave, the organiser, for the title of the concert – The Sacred and The Profane.  The profane being provided by the Glasgow Madrigirls.

This group of young women (and a couple of men) served up a much needed wake-up call, after the ethereal and hypnotising classical sounds of the first choir.  The group, all associated with the University of Glasgow, sang some amazing and powerful Women’s work songs. Harmonies, rounds, all manner of lively game play with their voices. There were love songs, strike songs, songs to keep rhythm. The liveliness of the session was a nice contrast to the serenity of the first half.  There had been a workshop in the morning, and local attendees joined the choir in singing a song or two. All in all great entertainment, in wonderful surroundings.  Wainsgate may be in need of some TLC, which it will hopefully get in the next year or so. But there’s something beautiful even in the pealing plasterwork, contrasting with the ornate marble altar and fabulous organ.  And of course, how could I forget the grinning frogs of the thingumajig theatre that stare down at the players from the balcony. Something unique, and very special.