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Aberdeen Harbour

Rushing southward every weekday from this fourth largest city of Scotland, go long express trains carrying the catch of the sturdy North Sea fishermen – herring, halibut, sole, and the like – to the markets of London; for Aberdeen now rivals Grimsby, the great English fishing port, as a centre of the British steam trawling industry.

Aberdeen is situated on a bay of the North Sea, 130 miles north-east of Edinburgh, and is the chief city of northern Scotland. It is sometimes called the “Silver City by the Sea” because of the gleam of its grey granite buildings, especially after a heavy rainfall. In addition to its fisheries and granite quarries it has large manufactures of woollen and linen goods, paper, jams, and preserved foods. There are also large breweries, distilleries, and chemical works.

Aberdeen was already an important place in the 12th century. It was burned by the English king Edward III in 1336, but it was soon rebuilt and extended. Aberdeen University was founded in 1494. The city owns and operates its waterworks, electric light plant, and tramways.

As usual when I’m completely broke, I decide to wander aimlessly around Manchester.

I get caught in a shower of sharp, cold rain, and head for Waterstone’s, where I find five pence on the floor.

When the sun comes out I head off again.

Later, I am strolling past Chetham’s and the Cathedral when a pretty girl catches my eye and smiles. I smile back. She approaches me. “Drunk,” I thought. I think she was, a bit. She was the kind of girl you’d want to get caught in the rain with, you run for cover, perhaps a shop doorway, art gallery or coffee shop, laughing because she’s wet and you’re wet, your eyes meet, she doesn’t look away …

“Excuse me, I’m not a tramp or anything, I’m from Eastbourne … I’m trying to raise £34 to get back there.”

She holds out her hand to reveal she already has five or six pounds in change, enough for a couple of drinks. Perhaps I could invite her to Sinclair’s Oyster Bar or the Wellington? Does she have to get back to Eastbourne today? What do I say?

I look straight at her.

“I’ve got five pee,” I say bluntly and truthfully. “I don’t suppose that’s any use.”

She wanders off.

Coincidentally, I stayed in Eastbourne one summer a few years ago when I was teaching English. What a hole.

So I don’t blame this girl for coming to Manchester in search of thrills.

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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