Some days ideas flow and keep on flowing and, almost better than that, some days I just can’t stop overhearing things and noticing things and I’ve learned to value and celebrate those fertile days because there are days when the ideas refuse to come and the landscape is dull and grey, and then on days like that you can withdraw from the ideas bank you’ve been paying into for ages.
The other day when I went to Mexborough on the 218 bus was one of those creative red letter days when everything seems to invite you to write about it. I was going there to run one of the Creative Rambles I’ve been leading for the wonderful Darts, Doncaster Community Arts.
The concept is simple; members of the public and people from the Mexborough Local History Group gather at various historical sites, like the old Castle Hills site, where a castle that was older than the more famous Conisbrough Castle down the road once stood, and Mexborough railway station, and, on the day in question, Ferryboat Lane, where you used to be able to walk to the side of the canal and get a ferry across to the other side for a penny.
The ferry was run by a man with one leg. Of course it was; Mexborough (and any town of course, if you scratch the surface) is full of tales like that, stories that are brimming with a kind of local magic.
Someone from the local history group (sometimes Margaret, sometimes Bill) tells us a few facts and then Blaise from the brilliant and newly-refurbished Doncaster Museum hands out some ancient objects that we have to wear rubber gloves to touch and then we start to make up some new history, simply because we can.
Even before I got to Mexborough, though, the creativity was happening. As I waited at the bus stop, a woman was chatting to her friend on the phone with the sound turned up and you could hear both sides of the conversation.
The woman in the bus stop said: “He’s gone to work in Raisin Market.” There was a pause. Her mate at the other end said: “Do you mean Market Rasen?” and the bus-stop woman said, with some conviction: “No, it’s definitely Raisin Market!” and suddenly that fairly ordinary Lincolnshire town was transformed into a place of exotic wonder.
It was at that point I knew it was going to be a good day, and the epiphanies and revelations kept on coming.
I went into Mexborough Market to buy a pork pie and I overheard somebody say: “He said it was today’s bread so I pounced on it!” In the toilets someone was singing very loudly in the same key as the hand drier and the drier suddenly stopped and the singer carried on.
I strolled down to Ferryboat Lane with a spring in my step. This was going to be a very creative day!