I had plenty of time to re-acquaint myself with the delights of historic York, while poor Jess had to make the short journey up to the University on a daily basis to earn her crust. My personality is not really suited to full-time labour, or any work come to that – I just like to wander the streets and reflect on things, like a vagrant of the mind.
Thanks to the small inheritance left by my dad I’d escaped one of York’s major employers, the City Council, and what I considered to be the nonsense of targets and worksheets. If I had any kind of definite role it was now that of the traditional ‘housewife’, with the vague expectation that I would conjure from a few fresh and not so fresh ingredients, an evening meal for my beloved.
It’s impossible to live in a place like York and not be aware of all those that have inhabited the city before – to some these are literally ghosts marching as Roman soldiers in the basement of the Treasurer’s House, but mostly the awareness comes from the surviving architectural history, or the rubbish excavated from places like the famous Viking dig.
‘And what did you do today dear ?’
‘I like to forget about my job when I get home’ said Jess wearily.
‘Does any real work go on at that campus ? Apart from folk like the cleaners and cooks.’
‘I guess it’s not heavy engineering or traditional manufacturing; the cutting edge of science and thought perhaps.’
‘I thought it was all students getting pissed and jumping in the lake.’
‘I can’t deny that’s part of it. What have you been up to anyway ?’
‘I strolled across Ouse Bridge, explored the streets off Micklegate.’
‘Not many shopping opportunities where I went; wouldn’t be any good for you.’
‘I once went in the Cock and Bottle over there, it’s supposed to be haunted.’
‘So they say.’
‘Don’t you believe in all that ?’
‘I think most apparitions come from the person’s imagination.’
‘Maybe.....I’m not so sure.’
Even though we had somehow got onto the subject of haunting, Jess seemed a little more cheerful, though always reluctant to talk about her work, as if she was employed at a top-secret military research establishment.
‘This concoction is interesting. Is it yesterday’s lamb ?’
‘Sprinkled with some of those spices we got mail order.’
‘Yes, I can definitely taste something exotic.’
‘That might be the Marmite.’