How 1945 Cannery Row Beats 2012 Sheffield
The starfish are simply beautiful, sunning themselves in the warm, tranquil embrace of the Pacific Ocean. Sheffield has no starfish, or if it does, I have been unable to find them, despite wishing for them often.
The service in Lee Chong’s Heavenly Flower Grocery is always delivered with a wry smile of wisdom. This is not always the experience in modern day Sheffield.
Cannery Row is given to bask in loose, effortless sunshine for much of the year.
Whilst Sheffield is far, far less rainy than say, Manchester or Derby, it is rarely given to bask in sunshine.
The sun seeping reflected into littoral pools, deepening into a lifelong memory of orange will warm the hardest heart in Cannery Row. The sun jammed in between White Elephant Towers and a jigsaw of apartment buildings spits shards of glass over the station façade. If care is not taken it can harden the warmest of hearts.
The night time girls at the Bear Flag Restaurant seem kinder, more tender, more hopeful than I am led to believe are the girls in similar establishments in Attercliffe.
Cannery Row has Doc and his Western Biological Laboratory. This is a special place indeed, filled with love in jars and unusual objects sailing on the dusty air like forgotten jewels. And the opposite is also true. Maybe Sheffield has a place like this. I have asked people for directions. No one seems to understand me.
Cannery Row is nestled tightly into the shoulder of California. Sheffield isn’t.
Cannery Row dances to the beat of tolerance; acceptance reclines in the long, dry grasses around the Palace Flophouse and Grill; gentle camaraderie rolls ashore as a brackish gift to be savoured day long. Sheffield is friendly, but tolerance is quiet, acceptance is hard won and camaraderie was discontinued some time ago.
Had I a time machine, or a magic wardrobe, I would very much like to travel back to Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. Doc, Lee Chong, Mack and the boys, Dora Flood and The Chinamen never expressed an urge to travel forwards to 2012 Sheffield.
And these are the reasons why 1945 Cannery Row beats 2012 Sheffield.