Drove past Darlington today (home of the very exciting brick train), and was, as always, filled with an impending sense of doom. I'm sure there's lots of lovely people there, but the outer reaches of suburbia (full of boxy housing, windswept playing fields and disreputable pubs) that you drive through to get to the A66 remind me of a fairly horrible year I spent there.
Back in 1997, there wasn't really much of a scene in Darlington. Lots of pubs, the Plastered Parrot (their 10p shots may not have been of the highest quality), a flea pit cinema that closed shortly after we arrived, and some down-at-heel former bingo halls turned discotheques. Oh, and the chippy down by the station that specialised in deep frying sticks of rock. A night out on the tiles was likely to lead to a terrible incident on the tiles, particularly if you were sporting a vaguely non-northern accent.
In between studying journalism, I failed to sell posh shoes in joseph M (where my crimes included not having all the coathangers facing the same way), nearly suffocated with cigarette smoke while working in Ladbrokes (sadly, have completely forgotten the intricacies of betting), had a lovely time shelving cds alphabetically in HMV, and spent a long time photocopying at NEDL. Glamorous it wasn't.
So I fled north to the flesh pots of Newcastle, where at least there was a cinema, lots of places to drink where you could actually hear yourself think, and shops other than the twin peaks of mighty Boyes and posh Binns. Not much to ask, really.