Tag Archives: home

Manchester and the Loneliness of the Long Distance Writer

Guest Post by Barry Crowther

My dad says if you can’t be smart or you can’t be funny then be brief. With that in mind I’m going to be brief, I know your time is important.

While on vacation recently I got to thinking ‘How did I get Here?’ I was on the beach in Santa Barbara. I’m pretty sure at various checkpoints in our lives we all do this.

Even if you’re laying on the couch eating WotSits riding out a massive hangover and wondering what made you get an Aston Villa tattoo.

Doesn’t matter. We all still check in from time to time.

My wife was reading a magazine and starts to tell me that if someone relocates more than five hundred and fifty miles from their hometown then the friends and family they leave behind experience the same trauma as abandonment, on some emotional level at least.

She pulls out the iPhone and presses some app.

“The distance between Los Angeles and Manchester England is five thousand three hundred and three miles.”

“That’s a long long way past the abandonment line.” I tell her.

And I was right. When I think about all we’ve left behind it saddens me. And though my lifestyle is amazing I still crave all things Manchester.

Manchester United are my team. And Manchester City are doing well (finally). I still have lots of friends and family who are City supporters. And Man U and Man C are two financially sound clubs, both are on the up and up. So while I was back in Manchester last Christmas I got a chance to experience a great match at FC United. Never been before but this was a team that’s trying to get up there. And it felt like Home, so very – Mancunian.

That’s why I decided to donate a portion of my book sales to the FC United Development fund and put this team up there with the others. I do this because I want ALL the teams from the North to do well. They might have to wait a while as I’ve only sent them a tenner so far (only kidding).

My hometown is my first love. Please don’t tell the wife … and while you’re at it don’t tell the dog either!
It could be that being so far away for such a long time that it’s the “idea” of Manchester I’ve come to love. I’m sure this is the same kind of emotional trauma my wife mentioned and takes place for anyone who leaves their hometown and doesn’t look back … for a while at least.

Maybe it’s just nostalgia? Baz Luhrmann in the video Suncreen said “Nostalgia is a way of fishing the past from the waste disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.”

The nostalgia I feel is different, it seems to keep Manchester in some kind of time capsule. As my kids are growing older and I hear the music they listen to I hear echoes of my dad within myself. He would be telling me that The Housemartins and The Smiths were ‘bloody crap’ while trying to force a 78rpm Frankie Laine album onto the spindle. All this is very familiar as I’m doing the same with Rhianna and Jay Z (not the Frankie Laine bit of course).
Or maybe it’s the things I enjoy…

Crap jokes, Warburtons Toastie Loaf, A pint of Boddingtons, Chips and gravy, Oasis, Town on a Saturday night, Rotters (maybe not), Regular Heinz baked beans, Greggs sausage rolls, Coronation Street, Peter Kay, Buses, Taxis (slight waft of spew), Local pubs, Take That (maybe not), Tiger Tiger, MEN Arena, The Lowry Hotel….

The list could go on.

Most of all I miss the people and the Northern attitude.

Just to think I gave all that up to live near the beach?! So How did I get here? I’m not entirely sure, I know it took more balls than brains, maybe that’s another Northern thing.

One thing I am sure about though is that even from this distance Home still looks pretty sexy to me.


For more Manchester mayhem with murder, gangsters and an array of crazy characters you might like Missing*. UK Readers Here | US Readers Here

If you fancy some Southern Californian fayre then try Nothing. UK Readers Here | US Readers Here

* A portion of all books sales goes to the FC United Development Fund.


This post originally appeared here on July 8, 2011.

Thank you, Barry!

The other world

Another world intersects with our city world of work, cars, media, shopping.

Our ancestors knew it. Few of us do.

This other world isn’t supernatural. It’s not in another dimension.

It’s where we came from. It’s still here, but we left.

So sometimes it comes to visit.

The squirrel steals the figs off our fig tree. The armadillo roots up our newly planted rosebush. The deer eat our young crepe myrtle down to the roots. The feral sow, with her thirty-six piglets, feeds in our garbage can. The coyote pack, which we hear at night howling at the edge of sleep–howling until the neighborhood dogs yelp in envy–the coyotes disappear our cat. The panther, en route from Colorado to Mexico, growls at us out of the brush at the side of the road when we take our evening walk.

They’re just saying hello. They’re saying, we’re here whether or not you acknowledge us.

They’re saying, come out of your house.

A deer trail angles across our front yard. When we first moved here, we were shocked every time the deer passed through. It was as if someone’s herd of cows was roaming free, browsing on our grass. Fawns are born twenty feet from our front door. They and their mothers bed down at night on our side lawn.

Now, when I go into the city, I’m ill at ease. Something’s missing. Everyone’s human. Where are the other beings?

There’s a legend in this area that a herd of bison once escaped through a break in a fence. A whole herd of bison. No one ever found them.

They’re here, though, living down in Devil’s Hollow. If we hide in one of the caves tonight, we’ll see them pass by.

My third desk

The photo at the beginning of this blog shows my work desk and my writing desk in my office. Now I now have a first draft desk, too, in our converted garage, where I can turn my notes into a first draft in longhand. While writing early in the morning, I can look out into the woods to see the deer crossing the yard and the squirrel raiding the fig tree.