If you believe the earth is flat, you are a moron. Now, normally when I ‘take on’ a group in society, be it a religion or those of a certain political inclination, it is with a sense of good natured humour. I might joke about ‘your imaginary friend in the sky’ or laugh about Nigel ‘most punchable face 2016-18’ Farage, but I’ll never be mean. However, if you consider yourself a flat-earther, you are an idiot.
The reason I’m so viciously attacking those science-hating, friendless wallies (this sentence went through several drafts) is to create something of a distraction and get what I hope is the vast, vast majority of readers on my side. Because my real target for malice this month is another unbelievably flat thing… York itself.
Next month will see the 18th anniversary of my arrival in this fair city. Coming from a place like Doncaster, York was the absolute bee’s knees; so much culture, so much visible history, so many opportunities for fun and adventure. And, coming from Doncaster, it was the first place I’d lived where the locals didn’t actively discriminate against people showing intelligence or creativity. Doncaster: slammed.
I’ve lived here ever since, with a brief sojourn in Scotland for a few months when I tried to get a job in one of my other favourite cities, Edinburgh. Edinburgh is basically a bigger version of York, and the two places match each other in terms of interest, in my opinion. But Edinburgh does something far better than York ever could, and it is something the City of York Council, Make it York, or whoever is in charge of tourism these days could never match: topography.
I love me some topography. The lumps, bumps, hills, and – impressively – mountains of Edinburgh impress the heck out of me, and the many layers of buildings, structures, castles, churches, halls, and sheer rock faces in the city fire my imagination, while also improving my fitness (rushed, panicked Christmas shopping one year, at around 3pm on Christmas Eve, almost did me in, yet made me a better person).
I know what you’re thinking… ‘so Howie prefers Edinburgh to York. Why doesn’t he just sod off and live there, then?’ Well, it’s because I’ve found somewhere better than both places. I write these words less than 24 hours after having swam in the curiously warm waters of the Lake District, surrounded on all sides by hills and mountains to put Arthur’s Seat to shame, not to mention the pathetically weak incline of Holgate Hill. They give good topography in Cumbria. By all the gods, they do.
The fam and I just spent a long weekend staying in a lodge outside Windermere, using our time to cruise between lakes and venture up and over the sweeping hills and valleys. It was bliss, and made me realise what York is missing the most. If we could all pick the city up, and, very carefully, ‘to me, to you’ Chuckle Brothers style, carry it over to Cumbria, to drop it somewhere between Ambleside and Ullswater, I would be truly happy. I feel the citizens of York would benefit from the stunning views and water-based fun, while the Cumbrian locals would welcome the sudden addition of 17 new Costas and a boost to the gene pool. Ladies.
It would be great. Riding the No. 1 bus to Wigginton wouldn’t be a snooze-fest of passing house, shop, field, house etc. but rather a thrill-fest as Haxby Road now followed a winding mountain ravine with views of shimmering lakes, sheer drops, and nervous sheep. Stonegate would have actual stones on it; like, breaking up through the road, and Lord Mayors Walk would be more of a Lord Mayors Climb. Let’s do it.
Another factor that influenced my love of the Lake District was my wife’s matching fondness. Usually we don’t agree on the beauty of places, such as when she told me that the sight of the sea made her feel uneasy, and the thought of living in Norway made her feel sick; both put the kibosh on my plans to build a house on the edge of a remote Norwegian fjord. But she liked Cumbria just as much as I did (although the hot-tub at the lodge, and the abundance of vegan food, and, possibly, the thought of me falling into Lake Windermere and drowning, probably helped improve her attitude toward the place. ‘Tis a complicated relationship, ours).
Perhaps other writers would, at this point in the article, urge others to pay a visit to the Lake District to experience the splendour of the place themselves. But I don’t want you to; you lot would just ruin it.