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northern england gothic

“it’s grim up north” your southern friend jokes when he visits. the sun hasn’t risen for 50 days and at night, the moon is blood red. the only animals to visit your garden are crows that caw ceaselessly. on the 51st night, blood begins to fall from the sky. this southerner is not your friend. 

 pastry. they like pastry here. pies and pasties are a staple. you get the bus into town one day, and feel a bit peckish, when you notice something strange. there aren’t shops any more. just greggs the bakers. endless greggs the bakers as far as the eye can see. when did this happen? you ask and elderly lady. she squints up at you. her glasses are very thick. but dear, she says, it’s always been like this. 

you visit london. “ohhhh, i love northern accents!” someone tells you. “it sounds like a different language up there, doesn’t it!” you grit your teeth and smile. i’ve laid a curse on your entire family. you say. nobody will live to see the end of the year. she doesn’t understand. she calls you “quaint”. you smile and smile and smile.

it is the 1980s. a conservative MP surveys the constituency map of england on his wall and frowns at the patch of red toward the top of it. “fucking labour” he guffaws, spittle gumming up the corners of his mouth. “the socialist republic of south yorkshire!”. he turns away to hoover up more fat lines of coke. he’s growing complacent. soon we shall rise and consume him. everything will become red. the map will stay on the wall. 

there’s an elderly man living next door to you. he has a flat cap and a whippet and a tweed jacket. he’s very kind, and tells you how much he loves his wife as she sits by him, smiling indulgently. she never speaks and she’s much younger than him. she always dresses like a 1940s land girl. one day he reaches out to pull her close for an embrace and his hand slips right through her. she’s a ghost. I wish someone was still here he says as he rises to let the dog out, and walks right through you too.