Saddleworth and Whit Friday will always be special to me. I first moved to Saddleworth when Sarah my daughter was two, and whilst walking today we collectively worked out we have walked on Whit Friday every year since.
We have lived in Saddleworth now for thirty-six years. We didn’t walk the first year because we didn’t know what it was. But I learned the hard way. Ann woke me up and said she had heard a shuffling sound in our front garden.
Now being a virile twenty-odd-year-old (wishful thinking) I sprung out of bed naked and I can assure you it was not a pretty sight. I threw the curtains back just in time for the conductor who was stood on my garden wall to strike up the band and the rest of the village in a hymn to welcome us to the village.
Now there are not many people who can say they have flashed the entire village where they live, but unfortunately, I can. I still go red when certain women in the village give you a certain look that makes you feel very inadequate.
I must confess Whit Friday has become a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me, it’s not the fact that our brood assembles at Eccles towers and hoover up most of the natural resources that our planet has to offer or the fact that the weather could be dreadful, (I experienced four seasons in one hour one year on the march down to Uppermill). Its the fact that I have got to an age where I remember what I have lost.
I don’t mean my mobile phone or my car keys, which I do on a regular basis, I mean all the people who I have known throughout my years here. The place where I call home. people who I have laughed and cried with, people who I would love to be here.
Many of these people from my past have gone but I can assure you that they are not forgotten. I always get a lump in my throat on the way into Uppermill, I find myself looking for them in the crowd. I remember where I saw them in years gone by and that hurts a little.
I don’t care that it may be raining, I don’t care that my shoes may give me sore feet on the way back from our communal service in Uppermill. I am still here and I celebrate that fact. Life is short and it is what you make it and I love the fact that I am still here.
So this year with another whit Friday under my belt I think I am very lucky.
So with that thought in mind, I wish everyone who takes part in “the greatest free show on earth” a healthy, safe and prosperous year and hopefully, we can do it all again next year.