I Grew Up In Harrogate by Richard Harries

I grew up in Harrogate
Affluent
My Dad was rich
A director of ICI
I went to Ashville College
A boarder
Though my home was in town I boarded

My mother died
Then within weeks a stepmother arrived
So fast
I was hurting still
Bewildered
Time passed
And I was not welcome home
Homeless in the holidays
So I went to friends
And relatives
Stayed with them

But then I left school
Grew up
Stayed with my sister for a while
But then
The time came to leave
Stand alone
Dad was now in Belgium
I was not welcome
Got jobs
In bars and hotels

Moved into a bed sit
On Stray Rein
It was dirty
Lonely
Awful
An old woman rented a room
Not a home to me
Not allowed to see her telly
Or sit and speak with her

Her dog shit in the bath
For which she charged ten shillings extra
The bath, not the faeces
She was not surprised by this
When I complained
The final straw
Was when she made me a coffee
(breakfast was included )
There was a dead spider floating on the top
She neither saw it
Nor cared

I gave notice and she tried to screw me
For an extra months rent
Even though
she knew I had nothing
And worked in a bar

It was a dreadful start
To my life as an adult
I left school looking to the future
Excited
Then this
I grew up in Harrogate

You can watch Richard read his poems about homelessness and bedsitland in Harrogate here

Richard Harries, ‘The Bard of Withernsea’ lived in Harrogate, Leeds and now in Withernsea. A performance poet, he has a one-man show around East Yorkshire, in cafes, charity events, older persons homes and at Holiday camps to children. His poems are varied including comedy, anecdotal life stories, children’s poems and historical ones.

I Grew Up In Harrogate by Richard Harries

Harrogate Mysteries by Dev

IMG_8455
Harrogate too has its mysteries,
lurking outside the library,
sitting by the cider bench,
people that don’t get a mention
till they reach the other side.
Then they become beatified,
mourned with many false tears,
feeding the worms through the years.

Harrogate Mysteries by Dev

Harrogate Bridges by Ellie

Society’s staid and structured classes,
each one linked by a steel rickety bridge.
We tell our children, ‘Oh, if you only work hard,
you’ll saunter across and live the dream.’
And, whilst for the favoured few
who were born with beauty, wit or charm,
an easy crossing may be theirs,
far more common, sadly, to find
a grubby child, neglected and old before time,
stood with toe tentatively outreached
on a violently swaying hole-ridden bridge,
never to reach the other side
because of misfortune of birth
and a generation’s lies.

Harrogate Bridges by Ellie

Call for submissions for Haunt anthology

Tunnel

We invite stories or poems from people who have experienced homelessness, or vulnerable housing in Harrogate.

Please send 250 words, or 25 lines of poetry including blank lines, and a 50 word bio about your experiences of homelessness or vulnerable housing. 

Closing date 20th April.

All appropriate submissions will be put on the website and some pieces will be selected for the anthology.

Submissions to haunt.harrogate@gmail.com

More Info

HAUNT /hɔːnt/

v.  To inhabit, visit, or appear to in the form of a ghost.

n.  A place much frequented.

v.  To haunt one’s thoughts or memory.

The history of this town haunts us.

These buildings in which we live are spectres of past opulence.

The healing of this town is not for us.

Harrogate is known for its past as a wealthy spa town, and still has a reputation as a genteel place of tea rooms and flower shows.

This is not the Harrogate of everyone. For some people this idealised history is a haunting presence in their lives. In the fabric of buildings where they live in one room, or the parks where they sleep.  Their experiences are muffled beneath the dominant voice of Harrogate.

Haunt explores how people who are homeless, or bedsit residents, live inside these ghosts of the town’s past. Haunt gives people a place to tell stories not normally heard within the accepted narrative of the town and bring them to a wider audience.

Call for submissions for Haunt anthology