Christmas on Beasley Street

By | December 26, 2019
Reading Time: 4 minutes


There’s no real message in this post, more a stream of consciousness.

“Smile and the whole World smiles with you …”, thus sang Louis Armstrong and many others who covered the song.  When you can’t, or don’t want to face the world, it’s not so easy to see who’s smiling.

The Sunday before Christmas I was smiling, I had a wonderful early morning drive to my old haunts where I picked up all the Christmas food on order at a farm shop that I used to do my weekly shopping.  That’s 160 miles each way.  Why do that ?  Partly convenience of everything in one place and partly trust in the quality.  They raise their own free range turkeys and I’ve never had a bad one yet.  To be there when they opened at 9 am meant setting off at 6 am.


I used to live on the other side of these houses lining the main street

Nothing much to see on the way down that was mostly in darkness, the return journey was rather pleasant.  For a short time on the morning after the Solstice there was bright sunshine.  The Cotswold villages bathed in winter sun radiate warmth from that signature Cotswold stone.  The village green bedecked with a small marquee and figures in red Santa hats supervising kids on ponies walking around the green as part of some charity event.  I can always still envisage the shine and glint of marching Roman legions when I go through Cirencester.

I’d fully intended to bite the bullet and call the father to tell him I’d be down to do the usual Christmas – but I put it off for the umpteenth time this month.

The sore throat, cough and sneezing that’s waxed and waned for a month really came back during the afternoon.  I do wonder if it’s partly psychosomatic that it laid me out for 3 days.  Giving me the easy way out of avoiding going to see the father, even get out of calling him – I know it’s not fair, but I just don’t seem to be able to.

I did have an invitation to spend Christmas day with someone and their family that I would otherwise have taken up – it wasn’t fair to repay that generosity with germs.

I really couldn’t do much on Christmas Day.  Partly the nasty cold and partly a recognition of the depression induced lethargy that’s turned my sleep patterns upside down in that I want to sleep all day and then, of course, can’t sleep at night and read the whole night through.

The good bit is that I’ve caught up on some serious reading.  In 2017 Tim Shipman published ‘All Out War’, the inside story of the Brexit referendum.  It was the Sunday Times book of the year – yeah, okay, Shipman is a Times journalist.  I’d long since bought the followup, ‘Fall Out’ and it had sat unread on my Kindle for a long time.  Barring a break to recharge the Kindle, I read it straight through.  The Thick Of It has nothing on the real life events and exchanges told here – like the image of David Cameron using obscenities every third word face to face with Iain Duncan-Smith accusing him of betrayal after having failed to persuade him not to resign.

It doesn’t matter which side of the argument you lean, these are fascinating insights into how politics and politicians actually operate.  Of course we know the outcome of each event described, yet Shipman still makes them gripping.  I’m sure he thought back in 2015 that it would be a nice little project to write an inside account of the mechanics of the referendum.  Little did he, or we, know just how insane it would all get.  ‘Fall Out’ covers the time from the result of the referendum to early 2018.  Armando Iannucci would never have got this approved as a script as no one would have considered it realistic.  What we now know is that things were about to get really insane (consider that at this time, Boris had yet to resign as Foreign Secretary and everyone considered his political ambitions to be a busted flush) and book three is going to be a doozy.  I’m really looking forward to it.

And that was my excitement for Christmas beyond the necessity of cooking something to eat.

So what did actually make me smile over Christmas ?  I saw a reference to John Cooper Clarke go by and hunted out one of my favourites.  This was from 1980, I knew the Bradford version of Beasley Street and where I live now is less than 10 miles away from Salford – I work with people who still sound like JCC.  I knew these places, I knew the desperation.  JCC’s poetry brings it all back.

And the smile ?  The recognition that whilst I no longer physically live on or near the Beasley Streets of our times, I am much more likely now to visit the mental version of those dark foreboding pits.  JCC wrote not just of a place, but a state of mind.  And that’s where I’ve been at this Christmas.

Feeling rather shit mentally and physically.  Recognising both will pass in their own time, that there are issues I’m burying when I should be dealing with them.

At some point, though not yet, I’ll be ready to go back to and take on board the song of hope from Leonard Cohen.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

(My favourite version, because I was there)



Prompt #129 lists all the prompt topics since #100 and invites catch-ups and followups.  This post kind of touches on several prompts I wrote for, so I’ve linked it.  Lots of good stuff to read if you go back through the prompts.


11 thoughts on “Christmas on Beasley Street

  1. Mrs Fever

    Your ‘busted flush’ comment got me thinking of Travis McGee. Disenchantment was John D McDonald’s muse, McGee his “salvage consultant” whose home was a houseboat called The Busted Flush — the prose is a combination of tough-guy PI dialog and cynical philosophical mental meanderings; being a fan of both Pratchett and Cohen, I wonder – perhaps aimlessly – if you’d like his books.

    Nothing to do with your post, really. But the thought (and the Len C song) made me smile. 🙂

    [First we’ll take the Cotswalds, Then we’ll take Berlin]

    Happy New Year. 🙂

    1. melodyinsights Post author

      For a moment you had me thinking you were talking of a ‘different’ John McDonald 😱 I had a quick look on Wikipedia and may well give them a try. We had a 1932 Rolls Royce in the family that had been ‘Americanised’ when it was owned over there – so the description of his modified Rolls Royce made me wince … lol

      That family Rolls did plenty of outings in the Cotswolds and, indeed, one of the European road trips took in Berlin 👍

      Thank you for commenting and have a great New Year. 🌹🌹

  2. Cousin Pons

    Greatly enjoyed your stream of consciousness. That was quite a drive. I hope you’ve managed to eat some of the wonderful provisions you bought. Get well soon. I too used to think of the Romans as I travelled through Cirencester and at Caerleon near Monmouth. And I know Salford and Manchester very well. My wife’s sister lived in Cheadle but sadly died last Christmas. My favourite places in Manchester are the art gallery, science museum and Heaton Park. My son spent 3 years in Prestwich Hospital and visiting him at Christmas was the saddest time of my life but going with him to the park were moments of happiness. He’s free now and enjoying a new life in Vietnam.
    Sorry, I seem to have strayed a bit. The books sound very interesting and I enjoyed the Cooper Clark and Cohen clips. I’m reading Lowborn by Kerry Hudson. A memoir of her childhood living in poverty. She’s now a succesful author.
    Wishing you all the best for 2020.

    1. melodyinsights Post author

      It’s a small world at times, I work very near Cheadle, about 3/4 mile from the end of the runway. As much development as this country has had over the centuries, there are still many places where the Romans are writ all over the landscape and I always enjoy seeing those places, especially those that are quiet, isolated and even bleak.

      That is a remarkable performance by JCC that still stands up 40 years later. The subtle censorship by the BBC is funny as they blank out the reference to Keith Joseph. I always think that Rik from the Young Ones was written as a wannabe JCC.

      All the best for 2020 to you and yours, I hope your son continues to enjoy life. 🌹

      1. Cousin Pons

        Thanks very much Melody. Your kind thoughts are much appreciated. My son what’s apped me yesterday and we had a good chat. He never enjoyed Christmas so was happy to spend it on his own, though he did meet up later with his Vietnamese friend who showed him the inside of a Christian church. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who appreciates the Romans. Some of my ancestors come from Brampton near Hadrian’s Wall. There can’t have been many bleaker places in the Roman empire.

  3. May

    Ah yes the Christmas book! I did smile at your choice.
    We had a slight chaotic event over xmas but we also had the joy of being in a house in the middle of some woods and two dogs to show us around 😉
    Wishing you a fab 2020 Melody x

    1. melodyinsights Post author

      Woods and dogs sounds rather heavenly. All the very best for you in your 2020 ventures, personal and professional 💋🌹

  4. Floss

    Well you were more productive than me over Christmas, I sat and watched Netflix all day, and just waited for the whole thing to be over. No matter how I try I just do not enjoy this festive season, my anxiety soared right up until Christmas Day and actually I can already feel it receding now it’s over. I think sometimes though indulging it what may seem like small excitements is good, you had a good book, I had endless episode of a tv show about zombies and we’ve both made it through to the other side and 2020 is waiting around the corner for us, I hope it’s a great year for you Melody x

    1. melodyinsights Post author

      I knew you weren’t looking forward to it, this sounds worse than you expected, even if you had set out the coping strategy. Good to hear you already feel it lifting. I really wasn’t expecting to be laid so low by the cold – get run down in one way and it manifests in other ways piling up into a perfect storm.

      Your writing hints at good things for 2020, I got my fingers crossed for you. 🌹💖🌹

  5. eye

    I enjoyed reading this. Particularly since I am currently living to the south of the furthest outcrop of the Cotswolds in an untidy radical small town that sees itself as very different to the huntin’ and shootin’ mob in Ciren, but also spent 7 1/2 years living in Manchester where my children acquired Manc accents to my horror. Christmas brings up so much for us all I am surprised any of us make it out alive!

    1. melodyinsights Post author

      Thank you, eye. You’ve a couple of years on me, so I suspect JCC was part of your early musical fabric. Beasley Street still sends shivers down my spine.

      Cirencester was where Princess Di used to go shopping with friends – says it all. I know roughly where you mean, there’s lots of places like that tucked away from the twee places. I really used to like going to Minchinhampton as the bleakness and isolation reminded me of the moors of the North.

      Glad to see you alive after this part of Christmas. Hope it continues 🌹💖


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