A tale o’ Haworth
Autumn always returns me with the lull of an Arcadian charm to the dreams of my childhood and adolescent past. As a child growing up in Liverpool I harboured two loves in my heart: Liverpool Football Club and The Brontes. The pull and push of both meant that the days I skived off school in search of my real education beyond the confines of a uninspiring classroom, found me snug in the sanctuary of the city’s Picton Library, pouring over the words of Emily Bronte before I mooched off to Melwood training ground in search of a glimpse of Kenny Dalglish under the wise guidance of Sir Bob Paisley.
Heading off to Haworth once again in the frosty golden light of Autumn I still feel that tug on the string that connects my heart to its dreams; I am lucky that I live on the border of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire but as I inch ever closer to the “unknown country” I am ever closer to inching towards my dream of living the best of my days in Haworth, deeply immersed in the evocative Brontean landscape that ‘in the flesh’ is only truly captured by the experience of being there in the moment, breathing the air, walking the steps and reading the words that were forged in the candlelight of the Parsonage beneath the rich alchemy of that enigmatic Haworth sky.
The landscape of Haworth has the beguiling capacity to change its complexion in the space of a day, like Cathy it captures with a coquettish smile and then mirroring Heathcliff the hills and cobblestones thunder beneath foreboding clouds that whip ruthlessly across the skies.
My refuge is Branwell’s old watering hole the Black Bull. It would be impossible not to ponder the fate of this wild Brontë boy with his fiery red hair and flaming heart scorched by the passions of his own wilfully poetic tongue. On form Branwell must have made for fine company with his ‘wild whurling’ words jostling around the crackling sparks of the pub fire, and when the glowing embers died and he lurched into melancholic submission, the sight of Emily half carrying home her doomed brother is a tale more dramatic than the books told. And yet when I sit in St Michaels and contemplate those restless shadows of half lights, depression, tuberculosis and unrequited love, and conjure the image of those libertarian hearts that forged tiny words from the bloodstream of Gondal and Angria, I do not read a tale of sadness, solitude and unfulfilled dreams, for ours is such a painfully short time.
We linger longer in memories than we do in present time, and although Haworth has so much to offer beyond the literary borderlands and imaginings of its famous family of literature, ‘Saucy Pat’ and his brood of Brontes return us again and again to the wounded arms of Charlotte’s Rochester, we follow the powerful footsteps of Emily ‘The Major’ with her fingers dusty with bread dough and ink, her heart flamed with the stars of her night sky, we watch Anne mesmerised by the charismatic Willie Weightman and he by her, and we grapple with the gaunt ghost of Branwell as its fearless restless soul challenges the devil to another game of cards.