High Petergate


Autumn in York is a moment of beauty amongst chaos. The leaves paint the city in beautiful hues of amber, ochre, and bronze under the feet of a plethora of tourists. They represent more countries than I could even name. The Minster stands like an imposing, polylithic guardian watching over the world as it passes by; students counting their pennies, commuters wishing they could walk faster, council workers pulling their jackets closer round themselves all feeling the magnitude of the monument as they careen their way round it.

Today, my dad and I belong to part of that crowd: a worker and his son. I doubt we’d be noticed by many people. How often do you pay attention to the man at the top of the ladder fixing the guttering? It’s earlier than I’m used to seeing the city, and it feels like a completely different place. In one corner is a viking sipping a cup of coffee, his coin purse jangling with each stride, as if the vikings needed to make change. Just out of my sight a violinist serenades the commuters. The sound is coming from the war memorial, and for a moment I bask in the cathartic melancholy. But the day is simply too new to entertain that feeling for too long.

The whole day stretches out in front of me like a recently woken cat and the premise of spending it right here, listening to a violinist, watching people I’ll never get to know, it’s almost perfect. Then, I look up to the top of the ladder and see my dad, watching the world with the same awe I know resides in my eyes, and know I’m wrong. Any day in York with my dad is a completely perfect day.

Dan Baines (Adapted by Lottie Brooke)

Read more You Are Here stories