The following is from an email sent by a colleague of mine on 25th January 2000, regarding his feelings about my imminent move to Manchester. I printed a copy to keep and, every time I clear out my filing cabinet, it makes me smile all over again. Thought I’d share the best bits…

“It was with a deep sense of sorrow that I received the news of your departure. Indeed, I can honestly say that I see this as being on a level with the loss of my dear Nova, and you will know that such a comparison cannot lightly be made. As I type, the keyboard is again drenched in my tears, I do hope that it will not be dama&%d.

Being also a displaced person myself, I can appreciate the call of the North to the heart. It draws, like a wolf howling in the night, like a mother’s evening call to her dear children ‘come home, it’s supper time’, like the sound of a greasy cafe opening for business at 6am, the rush of the river as it tumbles down the rocks. Oh yes, it draws and no heart can resist except it be tied to this place of tragedy with strong, strong chains.

I know the feeling, waking up to the mist and the rain and the fog, the bus late and not even thirty shillings in the pocket for a Big Breakfast at Macs. But you think… at least I’m here, I belong, I don’t need to justify it. Yes, you can get pleasure from just opening your eyes and being there… rather than dreaming it, wishing it, pretending…

I won’t go on, I am already unfit now for work, my heart burdened and heavy. At least I have a trip to look forward to on Friday, once again the train will take me through Peterborough, Grantham, Newark, Retford, Doncaster, to Leeds… there I will breathe the Northern air, smell, feel, touch my beloved homeland.

I have yet to work with another person quite as interesting as Maurice.

Image via Phil Jackson‘s Flickr photostream.

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