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Times and Places

Driftway 3

Instead of going Out, we could go In. Turning deeper into the city. The city’s all about signs, some obvious, some less so. Look closely and try to see where it all fitted together. Look up; I’m not being deliberately obtuse, I’m being literal. I remember looking up and suddenly noticing that the terraces around my home were caught up in a spider web of heavy duty cable, twisted and grimy with years of Yorkshire winters, or Yorkshire summers for that matter.

The cables could be a thing to follow. They are relics, the last fragments of the lost TV station experiment, about forty years back, that linked TV set to TV set, all woodgrain, static, and tuning dials.  In my head I feel like I know that those channels are still there, if only I could find the right number on the dial, reconnect the wires, stare into the tube.  

It’s something that needs to exist, that strives to exist; community digital TV stations and YouTube express the same need for connection. And as much as I adore the – well, intimacy I suppose – of being directly wired into the TV studio itself, the same need to express and speak, to quite literally broadcast – we still feel it. Shouting out our ideas, but also listening, talking. Cable webs joining lives together, from the top of the high hills, down into the city, and the studio, down by the secret rivers and tunnels.

In my head, the screen flares alive, phosphor and cathode monochrome, that orange glow and dust smell, the static click when you touch the screen; the station ident is in old English, the logo is a snarling stop motion animation of the Black Shuck that used to haunt the city centre backstreets, where there’s now a Cex and Sainsbury’s – oh, we might assume that the old ghosts are gone, but the staff in Boots didn’t dare used to go into the cellar alone – the screen comes to life.

 It’s twelve minutes past three in the afternoon.  There is sun and silence, dust in the streets, ice cream chimes and the voice of the crow in victory from where they don’t plant scarecrows anymore. It’s the Driftway, it’s the afternoon space, it’s not nostalgia; it’s what we are made of.  Land, and the big sky above, clouds and the winds from the valley that still speak quite clearly.  

I stop and look out of the front windows. This street was once a farm yard.  The stones are warming in the sun, I can see a spider run from the wall, into long grass.  These are dreams.

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