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Tom's Column - February/March 24

I’m Being Sent To Coventry Again, Out Of Choice by Tom Beasley

By the time you're reading this article, I'll once again be a Coventrian. After more than six years cramped into a one-bedroom flat in Greater London, my wife and I have finally got the money together to own a home of our own. Just over a year after we got married, it's yet another massive life milestone. All of a sudden, they're coming thick and fast.

A long time ago, I more or less resigned myself – in common with many people of my generation – to never owning property. The media would have you believe that this resignation was because we were too fond of smashed avocado and fancy coffee rather than the result of a dire economic situation, but that's a different topic for a different day. Several years of very careful saving has now got us to the point where we'll be waving goodbye to the Big Smoke and returning to the land of cathedrals, ring roads, and Sky Blue football shirts.

It has been more than a decade since I last lived in this city full-time. But it feels absolutely right to be preparing for the permanent journey back up the M40. In fact, I've been thinking a lot about the lyrics to Frank Turner's 2011 track 'Wessex Boy', in which he looked back at his own childhood in Winchester.

There's something about coming back to your hometown again,
The place where you grew up and where you found your firmest friends,
And though none of them still live here, and I've got nowhere to go,
I'm a Wessex Boy, and when I'm here I'm home.

The song captures perfectly the unusual feeling of returning to your roots after a long time away. Things might look different – certainly the centre of Coventry has shape-shifted considerably since the UK City of Culture crown came about – and people will have come and gone, but the underlying atmosphere is undeniable. As Turner sings later in the song, it's about “the welling of nostalgia and the feeling kind of strange, because despite the little changes, this place still feels the same”. It feels like home.

After so long away, I can't wait to be back in Coventry. I paid my first visit to the CBS Arena in about nine years on Boxing Day to watch the Sky Blues' impressive 2-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday, and I look forward to spending plenty of time on the terraces in the months and years to come. I'll never get tired of watching Tatsuhiro Sakamoto terrify the Championship's left-backs.

But it's not just about football. After six years of enjoying what London has to offer, especially from a career point of view, we're at a point where we want to be close to family and to put down roots. With both me and my wife celebrating our 30th birthdays this year – with apologies to long-term readers of this column who might now feel very old indeed – the timing couldn't be better.

So all this is to say that I am now once again a proud resident of Coventry, which means I'll feel a little less like a fraud writing a column for this magazine. And let's face it, the price of a pint is much more tolerable here. Or at least it was when I left... maybe I shouldn't check.

© 2024 Tom Beasley

Tom Beasley is a freelance film journalist, Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and podcaster
now living in Coventry. He can be reached at tomjbeasley@gmail.com.