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To be continued… The Caravan

Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire. Photograph taken by my Dad.


Hello.

My name is Anthony Hodgson

and I come from Yorkshire. God’s own country.



I was born on the 15th of December in 1967 in Scarborough Hospital.

My first few years were spent on farms on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. I loved

Those days. Cows in the milk shed, border collies in the farmyard, hens in the back garden.






















Then we moved. I lived at 17 Falcon Terrace in Whitby until I was 14.

You could see the Abbey from the bottom of our road.   

When I was five I started going to St Hilda’s Catholic Primary School.

I remember crying at the end of our street because I wanted to stay at home: we’d

Just gone from running around a farmyard with the moor air in our little lungs to

the terraced streets and cobbled back alleys and washing lines of Whitby.


















At St Hilda’s Catholic Church Iwas an altar boy with my brother Mark. I liked

lighting the candles. And dripping wax on things. I liked lighting the incense

and swinging the thurible. Looking back, it was an amazing, creative space

that church. Huge Victorian paintings, with the Stations of the Cross,

noble statues of local saints gone by (our history, our roots), the beautiful,

dark, carved woodwork. The organ. That old church was a work of art in itself.  


Hild was the abbess of Whitby Abbey in the 600’s when Whitby was called Streonshalh.

She was from the Northumbrian royal family. Northumbria was one of the Anglo-Saxon

Kingdoms that grew after the Romans left. Northumbria was a force at that time:

Edinburgh’s named after Edwin: one of the kings. That’s how far it stretched.    


I liked drawing, making cardboard models out of empty cereal packets,  writing

books about made-up worlds with Mark and watching Dr Who and Tarzan

and Space 1999. In 1977, Dad took Mark and me to see Star Wars. We were bowled over.

That’s where I discovered Princess Leia’s Theme Tune. Afterwards, I went to Woolworths

and bought a record of Science Fiction Theme Tunes with my pocket money.


We had a cat. She was called Mog. We also had  mice. Quite a few, in fact. Some of them

Came to an unfortunate end. My sister’s got squashed under the settee. My sister’s

called Ruth. She also made up planets but we thought hers had daft names, like Popple.

She kidnapped our Action Men once and married them off to her Barbies.

We said that didn’t count because it was forced.  


Every summer, with our Mam, we used to stay with our Granny in Steers (Staithes to outsiders).

We’d spend most days on the beach. When the tide was out, we went looking for sprats

And crabs out on the rocks towards Port Mulgrave. We used to collect winkles, boil them

and sell them to tourists walking past our Granny’s house. She used make toffee

and we’d sell that too, 5p a bag. She was the Toffee Ladyof Staithes. Yorkshire Life

did a story about her once. After Granny’s, we’d get the train from Whitby up

The River Esk to Glaisdale. With rucksacks on our backs we’d trudge up to The Caravan.  


The Caravan was the best. Oaks for climbing, ancient bell pits full of bracken

for making dens in, hazel for making bows and arrows, dead wood all around for our campfire.

The campfire  was for everything: heating up the water, cooking the food,

sitting around at night to sing songs and keeping us warm.  It was truly grand.

Then we moved 4 miles up the Esk to Sleights.


I was 14. I helped my Dad with  the  removal. As we  were unloading the last vanful of furniture

I started crying. I tried not to. But I couldn’t help it. I was tired. And we were leaving Falcon Terrace.

Whitby. Our home. Dad put his arm around me until I felt better.


Sleights was a linear town - I learned that in Geography ‘O’ Level. We lived on Coach Road. Our  

New house was a cottage. It was smaller than our other house but it had a big garden behind

With plum trees. We bought a dog. We called her Tag because she was the runt of the litter.

She was ¾ border collie, ¼ spaniel.  


Up Blue Bank, there was the moors. That’s where I discovered The Bridestones. The Bridestones

Were standing stones. They were very old. Once there’d been a circle of them but now there was

Just a few left. They probably made good gate posts. When one of my dark mood s came

I just went for a long walk on the moor with Tag and I’d come back feeling better.


I made a friend from down the road called Martin Jones. He was very clever. He wasn’t bothered

about trying to look good. His dad was the Methodist pastor. We used to play Dungeons and

Dragons. I loved it. Sometimes we went down to his brother’s in Brigswath. He was married. He used

To play music from someone called Jean Michel Jarre. Oxygene. Equinoxe. I loved that too.

It made me forget where I was.


When we moved from Whitby to Sleights I was in my last year at Caedmon School.  That was where

I had my last fight. When I’d been at St Hilda’s Primary School  I was in lots of fights. Virginia Wade

Won Wimbledon. It was a very hot summer. Vince Brown was my arch enemy. My last fight  was

With Jason Draper. It wasn’t supposed to be a fight. It was just an argument. But they’d always

Make a circle around you and start shouting ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’ And they’d push you together. And

Jase started coming at me and I’d hit him. And then he got more angry and ran at me

and I punched him. Then I just said I wasn’t fighting anymore and walked away.


Jase was one of The Mods. You were either a Mod or a Skin. I wasn’t any. But my friends were Mods.

And the music was better. Madness, The Specials, Bad Manners. And the look was better as well.

Jem Partridge and Damian Carr were skins. Jem was a hardcase but Dame was just his sidekick,

like Batman and Robin.


I did well at Caedmon. The school was divided into houses. Adventure (red), Discovery (yellow),

Endeavour (green) and Resolution (blue). They were named after Captain Cook’s ships. He was an

Explorer in the 18th century who came from Whitby. I was a prefect in Adventure. Then a Vice

Captain. I got to wear a badge. I liked that.


Mr Snape was the headmaster. He was strict. He had a cane. But I liked him because we got to do English with him

 And we made a book in his class about an adventure island called ‘Shipwrecked’.  

I think my favourite teacher was Mr Brook. He taught French. He was gentle and nice.

but he could still control the class without any shouting. That’s a good teacher.

I liked Mr Foster too. He taught art. He was a bit mad as well but I loved the messy art room

with its smells and colours. Assemblies were alright. I ended up on the stage once

’cause Iwas chosen to be on the school team in a spelling bee.

 

Dad worked as a groundsman there. He was good friends with Mr Richardson, the P.E. teacher.

P.E was alright in the summer but doing cross country in the winter was hard - the air

was like ice, burning our throats as we pushed ourselves up the hill and down again in our skimpy shorts and Tee shirts.

Dad and Mr Richardson did drama together. When our school put  on Joseph and His Techni-Coloured Dreamcoat,

They asked Dad if he’d get involved ‘cause they knew he could play guitar and sing and he ended

being the Pharaoh who sounded like Elvis and having to wear a white, sparkly suit. I think he wore a wig as well. Later on, he grew a beard when he was in the Amateur Dramatics Society. They used to put on shows at Whitby Spa.

I went once with Mam to watch him in a cowboy musical but the thing I remember most about the Spa was hearing someone play the piano. It was called ‘To a Wild Rose’ and I never forgot it.