A feature in Hull Daily Mail, 4 December 2012
It’s never easy dragging up those painful – and embarrassing – memories from the past.
But when you’re laying to rest ‘a grief so deep’ it was locked away for 20 years, alongside all the ups and down of a fierce first love, the last thing most people would want is to expose it for all the world to see.
Not so for Hull-raised journalist Janet Watson.
In her debut book, Nothing Ever Happens In Wentbridge, the mother- of-three has written candidly about her early life in Hull and all the love, laughs and unexpected tragedy that temporarily caused her world to collapse.
The idea for the memoir was sparked, says the author, when she sought solace in her detailed teenage diaries following her mother’s death.
That opened up a world of repressed emotion that, she says, ‘became impossible not to write about’.
The book has been described as a funny and sensitive account of a young journalist’s life – complete with falling in love and breaking up, but is also tinged with tragedy as Mark, her first boyfriend, was killed in a car crash on the A1.
‘It was a painful process to begin with,’ says Janet, who spent much of her young adult life socialising with friends – and Mark – in Cottingham.
‘But it was also really rewarding. It was a little strange looking back at what my teenage self had written; there was an element of ‘what was I thinking?’
‘But it also made me see things in a new light and maybe put a new perspective on certain incidents.’
Now based in Edinburgh, where she works for The Scotsman newspaper, as well as studying to be a counsellor, the 49-year-old says writing her memoir was therapeutic.
She said: ‘It wasn’t all doom and gloom.
‘They were good days too, with a lot of laughs and good friends. I had a lot of good times in Hull. A lot of my family is still in Hull. I still miss it now.
‘From the moment I sat down at the kitchen table to write I was totally immersed in that period. When it became time to pick the kids up from school I had to haul myself back into the present day and I’d realise I’d been sat there for hours.
‘I didn’t – don’t – really have a problem telling people my innermost secrets from those days.
‘I’m quite an open person so I don’t mind people knowing. I’m not embarrassed by putting my life out there for people to see.
‘I think my problems were problems that most people have experienced at some point in their lives and hopefully that will help them identify with.
‘The reaction to the book so far has been really good, but my 16-year-old son George has said to me, “Mum, I’m not going to read it. I don’t want to know what you got up to when you were my age”.’