Home: The Boy Returns
As the Humber Bridge rolls past the train window I know, I’m home. Hull not the end of the earth, but you can see it from there. This is where the lonely country meets the sea, or at least the estuary. Beyond is David Hockney country, with the big skies of Holderness and then the North Sea.
It’s 1983, so Hull is still in its “crap city” phase. The fishing industry has collapsed, while rejuvenation is decades away.
At home, a few things had changed. My sister and brothers had grown up. I should have seen that coming. When I'd left home, my brothers were entering their teens, and now both were on the way to being young men.
I made the rounds of relatives, took a trip to Scotland and had a few boozy days in London with friends. It’s great to see everyone, the banter is flowing and the laughs. Yet, there is a niggle.
I’ve got an itch that needs scratching. Alas, I don’t know where to scratch. I’m running 10 miles a day and lifting weights to keep in shape. A distraction that keeps me occupied.
My gratuity is burning a hole in my pocket. Eventually, I place the lot in a government bond and forget about it for 10 ten years.
A bloke in London bores me with his assertions about the MacLennan case. He drones on and on about how MacLennan was killed because he was gay. The Commissioner of Police ordered the killing it to cover up some dark deeds.
He is confident that a secret police hit squad had climbed up the outside of the building. Then these ninjas used MacLennan’s own gun to kill him. They then exited by abseiling away.
Finally, I get a word in edgeways.
“Have you ever been to Hong Kong? Have to even been to the block of flats where the body was found?”
“No, I don’t travel much, except to Wales on holiday. But I read the papers.”
I’m thinking, either I belt the bloke or walk away. Common sense prevailed, so I left him to his conspiracy theory.
I’m soon bored and ready to get back to Hong Kong. My UK based mates have moved on, with most in various stages of domestic life. The common ground that bonded us had evaporated. I soon learnt not to tell my Hong Kong stories. Initial interest waned as eyes glassed over. Conversations soon went back to football or the chances for Hull Kingston Rovers.
One encounter sums it up. I visited my local pub to find three mates at the bar. As I recall they'd been in that same position when I left three years ago. An animated discussion is underway about a rugby league game.
“Long time no see. Where've you been? Gibraltar or somewhere was it?"
"Three years in Hong Kong" I volunteered.
"Mate, I knew it was overseas." And with that, it was back to discussing rugby league.
I'd changed. More than I realised. I’m disconnected from the way things were in the UK. Except for a few close friends in London, I couldn’t relate to my former mates. With family it was different, the bonds that tie are much more profound.
Yet, I was soon ready to be going back to Hong Kong. I was longing for something to do and for a bit of action.