Ashington lies just off the northeast coast of England and was once a place where grown men tunnelled in search of coal. Not anymore. Ashington is now a necrotic ulcer on the nether regions of the North East.
It is a place where being ‘hard’ is admired and violence is a mark of a man’s good character. Drain pipes are protected by metal cages to prevent fish-eyed youth from smashing them. Curtains are placed in the windows of empty council flats to deter bricks flying through them.
Violence bubbles in the water supply like carbon dioxide in a cheap bottle of cider. Everyday a new trauma is tattooed on a child’s memory as casually as lighting a dog-end roll up.
Ashington clings onto its footballing history – Bobby and Jackie Charlton or Jackie Milburn, like a dementing man trying to recall his wife’s name.
Colliery rows lie uniform under a battleship grey sky, like a Nuremburg rally without the good humour.
There is no room for idiosyncrasy in Ashington – a crime punishable by the mob. No gays, no goths, no new-romantics. No thinking you are something special. This is fookin Ashintin. I don’t live there now. Thank God.