I've began thinking about something I haven't done in quite a while, and that's taking a holiday. Going off somewhere for a couple of days to...well, I dunno really. Check things out. Soak up a different atmosphere. Be somewhere else. For a long time I've held off on this idea on the grounds that, wherever I go, I'll still be me. I'll still be alone and I'll still be a miserable git. But, there again, it occurs to me that there might at least be some sense of variety in being a miserable git in, say, Edinburgh or Manchester, rather than Newcastle. If nothing else I'll get the chance to feel lonely in different cafes and pubs.
Where to go, though? This is the question. It's probably best not to go somewhere I've been with my ex-wife recently: that leaves out London and York, say...and especially Paris, where we spent a truly wonderful holiday. Ditto Liverpool, though our visit there - a one-night stay for a gig I did at the City Library - can't really be called a holiday. All the places we went to for NASUWT conferences: Brighton, Birmingham and Bournemouth, are out too.
Trying to think of other places to go makes me realise that, of the many places in Britain I have been to without Michelle, many of them I haven't been to in years. Manchester I haven't been to since 2000. Edinburgh I haven't been to since 2003. Leeds I visited once, for a gig, in 2004, but haven't since. That's six years at the least - those places have probably changed immeasurably in that time. Is Affleck's Palace still there? Does Edinburgh still only have four fucking taxi ranks in the entire city? Does Leeds, while pleasant enough by day, still transform into a city-sized recreation of Newcastle's infamous Bigg Market come the night-time? Who knows?
And this is leaving out everywhere in Britain I haven't been. I've never been to Cornwall - though that's probably too far away for a weekend. I haven't been to Carlisle either, though. I haven friends who go to the Lakes on a regular basis, but I myself haven't been there since 1994, for Coleridge's sake. Speaking of literary locations, I haven't even been to Hull. Surely I should go there at least once, to see if it really is that bad?
Maybe big cities aren't the way to go. The way the holiday situation is set-up in my current workplace, all the summer weeks have been booked by the people with kids, to coincide with the school holidays. So I'm going to have to just skoosh off somewhere for a weekend. And, on weekends, most UK cities tend to be filled with heid-the-balls looking for a fuck or a fight, and I have no intention of providing them with either. Maybe I should go somewhere rural. Stay in a B&B (assuming, pace Chris Grayling, that one will have me) in some quiet little village, potter about, visit an old church and the local second-hand bookshop, watch the ducks on the pond...then go completely bugfuck around about four on the Saturday afternoon and slaughter the entire population. No, rural life is not entirely suited to me either. I need a lot of stimulation.
Added to all this is my hatred of the pointless, the random, the unscheduled. If I'm going to go somewhere, I like to be doing something, even if it's just visiting a friend. I like a trip to have a sense of mission, a purpose. This is why I like travelling to gigs so much: you get to go somewhere and do something, then you can knock off and relax. But going somewhere to relax seems kind of odd.
Relax I must though, I think. It's been a hard time lately, what with the demise of the bookshop, a month of unemployment (which, even for someone as well-supported as I, is not the cushy number Ian Duncan Smug seems to think it is), followed by settling into a new job and then being blindsided by the news of Michelle's breast cancer...It would be nice to come into work on Friday with a backpack of travelling gear, clock off at five, take a train somewhere, stow my goods in a hotel, then be somewhere different for Saturday, and have a late return home on sunday evening. Get away from it all, or at least as much as I can, for two nights at least.
But still I find myself thinking...where?