Monday, July 6, 2020

Addicted to those old streets

During the Covid lockdown, when we couldn't go anywhere or do anything, I got weirdly hooked on looking at pics of the streets, shops and houses of old home towns I grew up in, especially from the times when I was that kid.

It was surprisingly easy to dig up a bunch of general pics of the towns, using Facebook groups and local council databases to find street scenes from the 1980s and beyond. I went through hundreds of pics, looking for how things have changed, and how the towns and cities I know so well have evolved and grown.

But I mainly just do it to see if I can find pictures of the bookshops I used to haunt, to see if they still matched my increasingly spotty memory. I ache to catch a glimpse of the bulging shelves full of comic books and magazines, because those shelves don't exist any more. They're from a time when people used to read something other than their phones, and I'm always looking for a glimpse of it.

As easy as it was to find pictures of the main street, it takes some real effort to find specific photos. There are tonnes of photos of houses that were ripped down to make way for motorways and bypasses, and whole suburbs categorised in detail, but I can't find a single picture of the corner store in Timaru that has the best selection of comics in town, and were the only place you'd ever find Ann Nocenti's Daredevil comics.

It's probably not healthy, wallowing in this kind of nostalgia. Maybe I'm just a coward, trying to hide from the horrors of 2020 in personal nostalgia. These buildings and bookshops are all long gone, lost in the passage of time, and trying to grasp onto them is a flailing attempt to slow the relentless and remorseless march of time. But what isn't?

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