York – A return visit
Last weekend I planned a visit to my favourite city in the UK, York. Sadly some idiot parked their suitcase in front of my feet while I was looking for my ticket and I went crashing into the concrete platform at King’s Cross station knees first. There was nothing for it but to hobble the cobbled pavements of York on my arrival. The lift being out of action didn’t help at my lodgings with four flights to tackle but with a drop or two of Yorkshire blood coursing through my veins I was determined to enjoy my visit.
Nothing prepared me for what I encountered. I have never seen so much litter lining the streets of any town or city centre made all the more noticeable due to its narrow streets and snickleways. Much of the area near the minister is pedestrianised now, a change since my last visit over two decades ago. Half of the problem is the lack of bins, the other of course being the streets heaving with tourists and shoppers just throwing things to the ground.
It was as if the motto of York was an invitation to dump your rubbish there. There were sacks of rubbish stacked higher with loose coffee cups and takeaway debris, even the daily clear up in the small hours of the morning couldn’t clear it all before it began again. The vicinity round the minster was about the only area with bins. If there was a binmen strike the city would be knee deep in a week.
I wanted to weep.
My connections to York itself are flimsy really. My father was born and raised in the Yorkshire dales and my brother studied at York university. As a student and later with a partner I have only visited York a handful of times. This trip I took in the Castle Museum, the Original Ghost Walk, a wonderful meal at a South American restaurant that welcomed lone diners, but my main reason for going was the course one of my followers on Twitter ran.
@LesleyBirchart advertises a course of 30 artworks in a day on her website, designed to loosen you up which is why I signed up back in July. She is currently my Artist of the Month on here and the first twitter follower that’s new to me for me to have met. I’d seen a video of her explaining her approach of create and destroy, a process she uses repeatedly to produce her work. Trained as an illustrator I was fascinated as I’m always on the lookout for new approaches and techniques.
We could’ve easily done 30 artworks each but few did as there was the opportunity to explore to do some more considered pieces. The group was wonderful as was Lesley herself who introduced us all to a variety of materials most had not used in combination if at all. She also had books of reference by other artists for inspiration and a very no nonsense down to earth approach which helped. Being a Glaswegian I didn’t expect anything less from her. All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable day which did the trick of loosening me up, making me less afraid of exploring the abstract and having fun mark making which was just the tonic I needed.
Among the other wonderful people I met were the police lining the route of an antivac protest march. I wanted to grab the microphone when they gathered near the minster for speeches and point out that both they hand their pets were most likely vaccinated and innoculated in their formative years. I decided against being lynched and starting a riot though.
Top of my list of lovely Yorkshire folk I chatted to were the homeless, of which I met half a dozen each asking for funds for hostels to stay in overnight. Prices ranged from £5-£18. One I gave clothing too. They were all polite though a couple seemed embarrassed either to chat or by their plight. It’s brought home to me just how desperate these times are for many now and what a contrast to see them among party goers and Christmas shoppers. In the main this is what or rather who I spent my money on although I did succumb to buying too gifts for my sister.
To conclude, please York city council please do be on the threshold of wisdom. My visit has made me proud to straddle Yorkshire, Irish and Southern lineage being born in the south of England. When Yorkshire folk do speak out, they mean business, but at times diplomacy has it’s place too. Knowing which is best for each encounter only comes with wisdom born of experience.