To happiness, endlessly
I set off from this place I’ve known all my life. I don’t know where I’ll end up, or how I’ll get there. I don’t want to have to decide anything at all.
It was when I found out I was having a baby. I’m twenty, and I’m going to be a Dad. They weren’t tears of joy, we were split up at the time. But it’s going to happen, so I’ve just got to make the most of it. That’s life. We all just want to be happy, don’t we?
The teenagers say they are goths, and that they can always be found either by one of the supermarkets, or here on the grass outside the shopping centre next to the war memorial. There is nothing to do, nowhere to go, so they sit here together. Someone is gently strumming a guitar, and they pass cigarettes around. ‘It could be better’ suggests Liam. ‘Yeah, but it could be worse’ says someone else.
I don’t think things are respected like they used to be, but I don’t know, it might just be me being funny! But there’s some lovely buildings isn’t there? Oh heck, last time I cried?....Can’t remember, can we Millie?
He’s not allowed to play with guns. first one he’s had.
That one from the pound shop’s the
Stephen and Ray are having a with the memories of things have fought for his country. with him. And hopes to be a
pint. Stephen wishes he didn’t have to live he did in the army, but he’s still proud to He dreams of having his daughter living back better person.
Ray is drunk, and says my questions make him shy. ‘You shouldn’t be on your own,’ he tells me. As I leave he slips a piece of paper with his number on it into my hand, ‘I get lonely,’ he says. ‘Text me.’
Edith invites me to what she calls her ‘happy clappy’ church. I am welcomed as a sister, but admit after the service that I’m not exactly practising. Edie says I should really think about it. She says being born again is wonderful. When I find her to say goodbye, Edith gives me a miniature bible. She has written ‘To Hannah, God Bless, Edie’ inside it. I think she hopes I can still be saved.
Oh I don’t do dreams. I just think if you get up the next day it’s a bonus isn’t it, that’s how I look at life, if you get up next day it’s a bonus. There’s no use making plans because you never know what’s around the corner. No, I don’t do dreams. I live for how it is.
John looks after the birds for a friend in the day to keep himself occupied. His good shoes sit on the stove in the shed - he changes out of them when he’s here because his wife doesn’t like the mess anywhere near home. John’s been made redundant after forty years. ‘I’m not bitter. What’s the point in that?’
The sunset was beautiful here last night. Sheila tells me that of all the places sheâ€™s been, the sunsets here have been the best. Itâ€™s possible, she says, smiling, that this place has the best sunsets in the world.
Stuart tells me a little bit about his life. His Mum died two weeks ago aged ninety, and he says really he has been living for her. When he was thirty he came home for a night and pitched his tent in the garden, because he wanted to try it out before setting off on a journey to anywhere, â€˜like a rolling stoneâ€™. That night his Dad died suddenly, and he felt he couldnâ€™t leave his Mum alone. And for almost forty years he never did. Now she has left him. We go to the centre of the dome and clap our hands, where the echo resounds as if to remind that you are here! You are alive! Then we say goodbye like old friends and part company. As I walk up the hill I hear clapping, and when I turn around there is Stuart in the distance, waving.
The family garage is a dusty relic, lined with husks of dying cactuses and tyres piled metres high behind the smudged and fading glass. Mute and ancient cars patiently wait for attention. Steven tells me of his wife who died, and how when he thinks of her he often cries. He’s looking forward to a pint at the end of the day, like every other. ‘The last time was friday night. Memories of the wife. After 33 years you’re bound to aren’t you. I thought I’d got over it but all it takes is some prat to say something and it all comes back. There was no warning, just gone. People say I ought to meet someone else, but no, I don’t think I could, I’m not interested now. I’m too old for it anyhow, sooner have another beer. Yes I’d sooner have beer, less trouble. Cheaper too!’
The boys playing football in the street are angry at whichever government it is.
They haven’t been able to find jobs since leaving school.
wear their frustration in loud voices and tattoos. ‘I want to be famous with loads of money, like a footballer or something. Or I’d fight for my country. I bet I would kill more of them than could kill me.’
It was for love that he moved countries first. When that didnâ€™t work out, and after the divorce, he tried moving cities.
Itâ€™s when the light streams through and all of the things, even the ugly things, are glowing, that I believe that despite everything thatâ€™s happened, it will be alright after all.
To happiness, endlessly is a series of encounters from a journey around England. Curious about this country I’m from, a little lost in my own life, and feeling unable to make decisions, I opted to travel with no planned route or destination. Instead I was led by the suggestions of the people I met, many of whom spoke to me of their dreams and sorrows. With no intention to characterise the English as a nation, or England as a country, the trip was imagined more as a series of disconnected experiences joined by their happening within England’s borders, a melancholic psychological journey, and a visual diary of what I saw, who I met, and where I went. Hannah Jones, London, 2010
‘To happiness, endlessly’ is a line from High Windows by Philip Larkin
64-65 Durham, County Durham
66-67 Bradford, West Yorkshire
70-71 Newcastle, Tyne and Wear
72-73 Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
76-77 Blackpool, Lancashire
12-13 Ravensthorpe, Northampton
14-15 Bus journey from Windermere
to Keswick, Cumbria
Blackpool, Lancashire Blackpool, Lancashire
80-81 Morecambe, Lancashire 82-83 Blackpool, Lancashire 84-85 Dungeness, Kent
16-17 Newquay, Cornwall
88-89 Blackpool, Lancashire
20-21 Newquay, Cornwall
90-91 Durham, County Durham
22-23 Blackpool, Lancashire
92-93 Buxton, Derbyshire
24-25 Durham, County Durham
94-95 Train journey from Sunder
land to London
28-29 Blackpool, Lancashire
30-31 Bath, Somerset
98-99 Northampton, Northampton
32-33 Blackpool, Lancashire
34-35 Newquay, Cornwall
Sunderland, Tyne and Wear
102-3 Newquay, Cornwall
38-39 Blackpool, Lancashire
104-5 Newquay, Cornwall
40-41 Tunbridge Wells
106-7 Tunbridge Wells, Kent
42-43 Newquay, Cornwall
110-11 Durham, County Durham
Durham, County Durham
46-47 Blackpool, Lancashire
48-49 Morecambe, Lancashire
114-15 Sunderland, Tyne and Wear
50-51 Sunderland, Tyne and Wear
116-17 Lydd, Kent
52-53 Morecambe, Lancashire
118-19 Durham, County DurhamW
120-21 Durham, County Durham
56-57 Durham, County Durham 58-59 Newquay, Cornwall 60
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
62-63 Blackpool, Lancashire
Sunderland, Tyne and Wear
122-23 Blackpool, Lancashire
To happiness, endlessly is a series of encounters from a journey around England which had no planned route or destination. With no intention...