On moving to Rotherham

It’s nearly three weeks now since Lyn and I moved from Thames Ditton to Rotherham. Since then, it’s been jolly cold, as it seems to have been everywhere in the UK, and full Lockdown in England has been in place until today, when anyone who’s hard(y) and/or desperate enough can go and drink outside (but not inside) a pub. Fortunately, barbers and hairdressers can also now open, which means I no longer have any excuse for looking like a member of the Hair Bear Bunch.

What that all means is that we’ve not been out of the house much. We’ve found a lovely woodland, which contains evidence of human life going back to the Bronze Age. Curiously, it was whilst walking round it last weekend that we bumped into our new neighbours, who are very nice and kind.

I’ve tried several different running routes, chosen by looking at my copy of the A to Z of Sheffield and Rotherham, but what that publication doesn’t show, of course, is the contours of the land. There are no flat roads or paths anyway around here – you’re either climbing a very steep gradient, which I confess I quite like, or going down one, which I don’t like, because I always fear that I might get shin splints unless I put the brakes on. My thighs and ankles have never taken so much punishment in such a short space of time. I’m beginning to sound like the Hunchback of Rother Hame, bellowing ‘The hills, the hills’ to anyone who’ll listen.

I’ve been pondering the socioeconomic differences between Thames Ditton and Rotherham. The tables below, of ONS data for 2016–2018, relate to the local authority areas in which the two places are situated:

 FemaleMale
Elmbridge85.682.3
Rotherham81.877.9
Table 1: Life expectancy from birth
 FemaleMale
Elmbridge22.620.5
Rotherham20.217.9
Table 2: Further life expectancy from age 65 onwards

I can’t be alone in thinking that such marked differences are scandalous. Of the 317 Tier 1 and Tier 2 local authority areas in England in 2019, Rotherham was the 50th most deprived and Elmbridge the 310th. Is anyone foolish enough to believe that our present government truly cares about addressing such inequalities as these? Opinion polls suggest that they are, which makes me very sad. Not that the last Labour government, 19972010, did much to ‘level up’, in today’s parlance, either.

The books I’ve read prior to, and since, our move include: the Collected Poems of Moya Cannon, the simplicity of which have an accumulative power and brilliance; Scouse Mouse, the last volume of George Melly’s memoirs, which is packed full of details and entertaining incidents from his childhood in 1930s Liverpool; and Lydia Kennaway’s superb pamphlet of poems, A History of Walking.

I’ve written nothing new of note for several months now. I suppose that’s to be expected given the move. Yesterday, I did my first reading this year, as part of the Red Door Poets events. It seemed to go well, though apparently the Wi-Fi kept making my voice dip out. Whilst it’s great that online readings (and workshops) can attract people from anyone on the planet, it will be lovely to return to in-person readings – Covid permitting, of course.

4 thoughts on “On moving to Rotherham”

  1. Hi Again – didn’t realise you’d moved up here. Brilliant. Not sure of your exact location, but Wentworth is good for a mooch round, as is Conisborough. Both have interesting histories. Plus Roche Abbey of course. All have good walks around and about. We must have a proper conversation about all this at some point, once you’ve settled in. We’re slightly further North-West so I’m sure there are lots of routes round your way that I don’t know. For a longer run though, you might try the Trans-Pennine Trail – pretty flat, and coast to coast if you cycle.
    Do take care and enjoy exploring!
    Julie x

    1. Hi Julie, We’re about five minutes’ walk south of Rotherham town centre. Thanks for the top tips. Lyn has mentioned Wentworth too, and I’ve seen Conisborough Castle from the train to Doncaster a few years ago, but I haven’t visited either, nor Roche Abbey – lots of exploring to do indeed! I’m also looking forward to following the ‘Ted Hughes Trail’ around Mexborough. Yes, it would be great to have a proper chat some time. Thanks again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s