I must regretfully inform you reader that I have recently returned back to my home town of Bedale, which has recently been placed highly on a poll which lists several of the best market towns in the UK, somehow placed ahead of Mashamand Leyburn. And due to my connections with the town, and evidently by the text you shall soon read, demonstrates my reluctance to return. Perhaps it was my melancholy or merely an impulsive need to rekindle my youth beneath that immovable, charcoal sky. I assume it was mostly likely the pay check.
I must warn ye who take the A684 road from the cut off from the A1, that there be a dreary colony between cross roads the Devil dares not cross.
Bedale is the red and grey brick cyst on the face of the otherwise picturesque Yorkshire dales, cloaked by the mist of vape smoke and due to the lack of catalytic converters. I often wonder, dear reader, what type of market town my home actually is; I am actually unsure. Georgian market? Elizabethan market? Black market? Every Tuesday fish could be sold filled to the gills with copious amounts of drugs and no one would bat an eyelid. I am baffled by the hordes of tourists who flock to this sleepy little town for a good time. Perhaps it is the towns that surround it, or the quite frankly naff architecture such as a church and the ‘Leech House’, or the family fiasco of a day out that is ‘Big Sheep Little Cow.’ They come and go, but never seem to scratch the surface of Pandora’s Box of Northern, suburban life.
The hoodies who once stood proud above the highest skate park ramp, grinning with crooked British smiles at the novelty of the grim future that lay before them, have been replaced with a more youthful, more violent breed. The then stolen pick-a-mix that sat firmly in the swollen knuckles of your friendly neighbourhood chav have now been replaced by a can of Stella Artois, hidden under the sleeve of a Year 8 boy with a shaved head and stick on tattoos, the flicker of his lighter glows as bright and as strong as his chances of survival in this here town. The superior chav races about in his prized, pimped-up chariot – his lime green 1995 Corolla, through the centre of town. The public severely hopes one day he will crash into something, anything to stop the grime flowing poorly out of his crackling speakers.
Chavs follow their fellow ‘droogs’ from off licence to off licence, praying to get that much desired shot of vodka which aids them in their fight against their community and to be seen as ‘cool’. Alleyway to alleyway, snicket to snicket, any back street in Bedale is like a road to hell. I often picture Hades himself, shooing away hoodlums with a large broom, standing on his “HELL SWEET HELL” welcome mat. They scamper away, pit bulls in tow, intimidating dogs with geometric heads, which in reality are as dangerous as the 13 year old holding it ‘at bay’ with a piece of broken Christmas tree light cord.
Perhaps the most humorous thing about Bedale as a somewhat dysfunctional community, for example, is the reaction of the elderly when they hear – if they can hear – the recognisable sound of the rumbling of two plastic tyres and the sound of a light-up sketcher hitting the ground. The scooter sods fly about, rolling over the injured carcass of an elderly person, over whippet’s tails and over themselves if the object is hard enough or if their centre of gravity is poor enough. In addition, an accepted urban legend in Bedale is that a woman died in the beck and now haunts the waters. The water is in fact green and floating about is a stray MacDonald’s wrapper and a rat the size of a dog, due the improper disposal of toxic, industrial waste.
Bizarrely, many aspects of my grouchy little town can be seen as appealing to the older majority, but more likely those of a Southern persuasion. Perhaps it is how we look to them due to such things as the media which contributes to their preconceived ideas of how a true Yorkshire person chooses to live and act. We, as a community, assume that Southerners are snobbish and were born with a silver spoon in their mouths. And as we constantly remind them where to stick it. However, if we were born lucky enough to have a silver spoon, we might use it to cook heroin. They, on the other hand, think we are Thatcher-demonising ruffians, with mining coal still stuck firmly against our palms and a framed picture of Brian Blessed or the Chuckle Brothers by our beds. In reality, of course we demonise Thatcher – but she’s dead now, we are a market town – not a mining town and it’s a framed picture of Leonard Hutton.