alternate identity (travelling in Europe)

Philip.Belben at Philip.Belben at
Wed Aug 8 13:29:40 EDT 2001

> Hello - bursting onto the scene...

Welcome to the list, Joe.

> From Philip:
>> I agree with Nat that it is several midlands cities, or possibly even a
totally fictitious one.
>> Birmingham was _far_ bigger than this city, even by 1879.  Certainly
>> didn't have "the railway" and "the canal" any more - it had been a major
>> interchange for at least 50 years.  I also think that the local brick in Brum
>> red, not yellow.  (This is relevant - the canal arches, made of yellow brick,
>> would definitely have used local materials)
> I grew up in Birmingham and can confirm that its bricks are red. I
> think that's true of the whole Midlands, actually. And not only was
> it bigger 120 years ago than Jamie's place, but I would imagine it
> was a whole lot darker, filthier and more alienating.


> That said, I did have a schock of recognition when I read those
> passages (yonks ago now; I'm just going home to recap).
> Something to do with the railway overlaying the canal, and the
> style of the houses. Are there not allotments in Homeward
> Bounders too? So in my mind at least, Jamie's city is cobbled
> together from chunks of Birmingham. But then you read what you
> know, don't you? So it's totally fictitious too, of course.

Well, I think this may be deliberate on DWJ's part.  Jamie claims that a big,
slummy city is home to him, and I think she deliberately includes lots of
features common to a lot of English cities.  I visualise the allotments, for
example, as the ones on the plot next to the (red brick!) church we used to
attend in south London, but they occur everywhere: at least two plots of
allotments have been turned into housing estates within Coalville
(Leicestershire) in the 11 years I've been living there.

So any reader who's spent time in one of our cities will find things to latch

> PS Where else has yellow bricks outside London?

I don't know.  They seem quite popular in building, so the yellow clay must be
fairly plentiful.

I have a very vague mental picture of old mill buildings beside the canal in
Huddersfield being of yellow brick (I must look at my photo of the place).  I
also think that the brick in Manchester is a sort of yellow-brown colour.

But I cannot think of anywhere that has a canal aqueduct on yellow brick arches.


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