As I prepare to move the last of my belongings over to Italy I took a few moments to think about how life has been for me this past year in Tunstall. As a retired professional actor I’ve been used to living in all manner of places due to touring. Some good, some bad and one dreadful hovel above a café in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. But for the past four years my life has been on hold, I’ll not go into details here, but suffice to say I had to return back to England in the autumn of 2010 to see an end to the problem that plagued me. Another year later it’s finally over and I can get back to la nostra casa in abruzzo (our house in Abruzzo). I grew up south of Stoke on Trent and have spent this past year north of the city in Tunstall.
Now I don’t want to be too unkind about the area, but it really isn’t a nice place to live and had I had more time to look for somewhere to rent I’m sure I’d have chosen to live somewhere nicer. It’s a litter strewn, dog-mess of a town. People seem to have no pride in their area and without sounding pretentious, there’s quite a few people that I’d struggle to find something in common with. Despite these misgivings I can’t help but believe the town hasn’t always been like this. There must have been a thriving and vibrant community when the pottery factories were open and filled with workers. Is the dereliction of Tunstall symptomatic of the current climate or is the population inherently neglectful? I’d like to think the former, if the people have nothing, see local councils closing amenities and disrepair all around them, how can we expect them to have pride and care for their town.
Last week for the half-term, Funderpark, a travelling fairground had pitched up and as I walked past one afternoon was less than enjoyable the sounds of children enjoying themselves filled the arctic cold air, walking back conveyed an opposite emotion. I walked along the town’s high street, it’s a relatively short street and as I walked I counted 26 empty properties, small shops no longer trading with piles of unopened envelopes sitting beneath their letter-boxes. I realise as I walk past, that I’ve never been into the church grounds, so take a detour. The old building looks imposing against the harsh daylight and despite the graffiti scratched walls where yobs have carved their initials etc. it’s weathered brickwork looks good against the colourless sky. There’s two cars parked behind the church and in the car-park two previous residents, their gravestones still standing.
So with my life back inside boxes and with sixteen days before it is loaded onto the courier’s van, will I miss this part of town?
Sadly the answer is no.