This imagined country, known by him from memory, for me was always an image on a screen in a darkened auditorium during weekly visits to the local cinemas in Whitley Bay, the town I grew up in.
I can hear his slow voice, America inflected through Cumbria. Hear him talk about Chicago and staying in Cicero, Capone’s neighbourhood. How he never saw that much violence. He’d sometimes begin to talk about vast landscapes, desert colours, then pause, sit silently leaving me to imagine what hadn’t been spoken. Other times he’d evoke the land, drawing it out in a nervous, spidery line. But most of all what I remember is the road.
This journey is structured around significant locations reflected in the story fragments my father left me, tales he told during long walks on the Northumberland coast. Fragments, now imagined as much as remembered; those stories were told years ago, I too forget.