Nostalgia Trip

I still get homesick. Even though my home is here in London and I love it, sometimes I just yearn for Lancashire, for its good ordinariness, its steadier pace, its not trying too hard, nor having to. I’d just like to hear northern voices with flat vowels at the supermarket checkout instead of the chewing gum voices of south London.

Odd though, the things I miss. Wigan had a beautiful Victorian market hall which was the bustling hub of the town and which was demolished in the 1980s to make way for a bleak, airless red brick, high walled shopping centre and although a market was incorporated into the scheme, the town seemed to lose its purpose. My grandmother would take me to the market. It was a place to socialise and gossip: the interminable shifting of weight from one leg to the right while she laughed and sympathised and whispered the latest scandal. She was a glamorous woman and never went out without heels and lipstick and a sharp skirt suit and hat and gloves.

Can’t think where I get it from……

Wigan Market

It’s a cathedral this market hall.

Same thin yellow light.

Same unreachable vaulted roof.

Same feather-quiet hush, at this hour,

disturbed only by bird wings high-flapping against glass.

Fingers of sunlight fan through the wide roof space

gilding dust,

illuminating facia boards and awnings.

Stallholders with faces lined with sleep and nicotine and age

push up shutters and slap back the

heavy rubber curtains hiding

the stuff of market stalls:

buttons, ribbons and elastic,

stockings, nylon lace cardigans stretched over half torsos,

floral house coats attempting prettiness,

plugs, screwdrivers,

liquorice, butterscotch, mint balls.


the sweep of bristle on flagstone,

the clipped click of heels and

the start of conversation:

flat northern vowels and

cigarette smoke blue-curling into the space under glass.


Filed under oddbods, poems, poetry

4 responses to “Nostalgia Trip

  1. We have farmer’s market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I love to stroll about and people watch and relish the community feel. Though I grew up in a big city atmosphere I’m a small town gal and would probably like the village life found in the English novels I read. I scoop up English books by authors like Miss Read and D.E. Stevenson. Familiar with them?
    Blue Skies,

    • We have a farmers’ market too and jolly nice it is but it’s a far cry from the market I knew in Wigan as a child: that market was the real pulsing centre of the town with all the underbelly that goes with it. I think I’d probably like Miss Read’s English village life too! Many thanks for your comments – they’re always a treat! x

  2. Here are some flat vowels for you Claire – how we love the north! But I wouldn’t live there anymore, it’s all become rather a hostile place – especially round Leigh. Nevertheless I do share your nostalgia for those market halls. The one in Bolton is more familiar to me. You’ve captured the waking up of market day beautifully. Jxx

    • I think the homesickness is for people (most of whom are dead) rather than the place itself, which I find quite alien now. I know what you mean about hostile….I feel it too. Cx

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