Day in My Life 2016 + 2026: Gender neutrality and queerspaces

By Kit Rafe Heyam, Chair, LGBT History Month

2026" 'When I tell the cashier the milk jug is empty, she calls to her colleague, “Can you bring some milk out for this customer, please? They need it for their tea.” I smile at the fact she hasn’t assumed anything about my gender from the way I look: the comprehensive awareness training offered free to every business by the Yorkshire Assembly’s elected trans representative has really taken off'
2026″ ‘When I tell the cashier the milk jug is empty, she calls to her colleague, “Can you bring some milk out for this customer, please? They need it for their tea.” I smile at the fact she hasn’t assumed anything about my gender from the way I look: the comprehensive awareness training offered free to every business by the Yorkshire Assembly’s elected trans representative has really taken off’

2016
As I cycle up Albemarle Road, my heart sinks. That sign saying “City Centre This Way” can only mean one thing: it’s a race day. They always take me by surprise. Hopefully I’ll get into the station before they put the barriers up, but I’ll return to chaos: police tape across the back alley which I need to access to put my bike away, drunk people in fascinators stumbling down my road, standing in a vast queue in the local shop while racegoers drop their money and abuse the shopkeeper, Blossom Street littered with takeaway packets and pools of vomit. And I’ll need earplugs when I go to sleep, because they don’t leave quickly or quietly.

I dash into town to go to the bank and return my library book: it’s a bit of a rush doing it before work, but the crowds thronging Coney Street make the city centre basically unusable on weekends. Today it’s quiet, and I pause to look up at the Minster against an overcast sky. Someone once told me that you’re never “from” York until you can pass the Minster without looking up; I’m not from here, I’m from Lancashire, but it’s my home and I reserve the right to respond to it with childlike wonder.

I pay in my cheque and the bank teller says, “Is there anything else I can help you with, madam?” The wrongly gendered address slams into the pit of my stomach. It’s so unnecessary: why do people feel the need to say anything that implies gender? I grimace, wondering whether to correct her and tell her I’m actually a trans man, but decide it’s not worth the anxiety of how she might respond. I head to the station instead and buy my ticket to Leeds, grimacing afresh at the extortionate price for a 25-minute journey on which I’m far from guaranteed a seat. I dance a little on the platform; I need the loo, but I’d rather wait and use the ungendered toilet on the train than face the frisson of anxiety that comes with using the gents in the station. I’ve not yet had a bad toilet experience, and I count myself lucky compared to the vitriol directed at trans women, but I haven’t lost the fear: it only takes one person to ask me a question, and my voice would give me away. I distract myself and my bladder by watching the gentle bouncing of Northern Rail trains. The first time my husband Alex saw a Pacer, he looked aghast and said, “I’m pretty sure the south threw those out ten years ago…”

The mood at work is one of grim laughter at political chaos. Younger people look askance at older ones, particularly the colleague who ordered champagne on the day of the EU referendum result. I return to York, wrangle my way through the temporary ticket barriers with their exasperated staff, and cycle home along Skeldergate and Terry Avenue to avoid the racegoers. My mood mellows as I pass under the dappled shadows of the trees, swerving around fluffy pyramids of goslings, and I break into a smile as I spot the rainbow flag flying from the ice cream boat by Millennium Bridge: I really must cycle this way more often.

After tea, a couple of queer friends come over for a drink. It makes far more sense than going out. None of us could afford a pint in town; we like the Golden Ball in principle but it doesn’t have a toilet for my non-binary friend or my wheelchair-using friend; and we’re reluctant to go into any of the other local pubs in case they’re the kind of place where everybody stops talking when you walk in. (When Alex and I lived in Leeman Road, we tried out the Leeman and the Jubilee and got that response; we never went back.) Even the designated gay pub in the city centre isn’t a safe space for trans people: it’s frequented by laddish gay men who think it’s okay to grope you in order to work out what’s in your pants, and who drunkenly misgender you on the dancefloor. So we stay in, drink fruit beer and fruit tea, and talk freely. It’s such a relief to be able to free-associate in conversation, to not have to censor my anecdotes in case they make the people around me feel awkward. My chest fills with an almost unbearable rush of love for my queer community. These people have kept me going through anxiety and oppression and seemingly endless gender identity clinic waiting lists. When the state fails to support us, we keep each other going.

2026: 'After catching up with my friend, I return to York, using the station’s gender-neutral toilet and tapping out with my transport pass as I exit the station. I head across Scarborough Bridge to the building formerly owned by Yorkshire Mesmac, now extended into the nearby church and known simply as Queerspace.'
2026: ‘After catching up with my friend, I return to York, using the station’s gender-neutral toilet and tapping out with my transport pass as I exit the station. I head across Scarborough Bridge to the building formerly owned by Yorkshire Mesmac, now extended into the nearby church and known simply as Queerspace.’

2026
I awake to an automated text message reminding me that this Saturday is a race day. I’m grateful for the warning; perhaps I’ll go for a bike ride that afternoon to get away from the noise. It should all be over by 5pm in any case; the racegoers will have walked into town, sobered by the tap water provided by the racecourse to every departing guest, and helped en route by the friendly team of racecourse employees who give directions and clean up mess as it’s left.

I’ve got no commitments until 11, when I’m meeting a group of ten in the Minster library to discuss some sixteenth-century texts, so I cycle into town to read by the river. The riverside area behind the Coney Street shops has been restored and opened to the public, giving every shop a back door as well as a front. Shoppers have two thoroughfares to choose from now, and both are less busy as a result. Islands of decking, set with benches and flowering plants, extend out into the Ouse. I buy a cup of tea – discounted because I brought my own mug – from a cashier wearing a badge that specifies “She/her pronouns please”. When I tell the cashier the milk jug is empty, she calls to her colleague, “Can you bring some milk out for this customer, please? They need it for their tea.” I smile at the fact she hasn’t assumed anything about my gender from the way I look: the comprehensive awareness training offered free to every business by the Yorkshire Assembly’s elected trans representative has really taken off.

My seminar in the library is lively: the students aren’t afraid to speak their minds, having been taught in small discussion groups all the way through secondary school. On my way out of the Minster library I pass a couple of pensioners who have popped in to marvel at a twelfth-century book of hours. I’ve got a few hours before my next work commitment, so I’ve arranged to pop over to Leeds to see a friend. Now that the line has been electrified, it only takes fifteen minutes; from there it would be another half hour to Manchester. One of the first acts of the Yorkshire Assembly (one of several regional governments created soon after the 2016 EU referendum in response to the realisation that northern communities desperately needed more control over their economic situation) had been to take the railways into public ownership. Transport remains a hot political issue, so the representatives know they need to keep the railways in good shape, or their party will risk losing its place as senior partner in the coalition at the next election. I find a seat easily: all the trains are at least six carriages long these days. Along with the low ticket prices and the speed of electrification, this has finally pushed most people into commuting by rail rather than road. The trains that call at smaller stations are of the same quality, meaning towns like Barnsley are desirable places to live for people of all incomes. Neighbourhoods are now mixtures of people from different backgrounds, and people take advantage of the quick, cheap trains to visit other nearby communities in Yorkshire and experience their cultures and ways of life.

After catching up with my friend, I return to York, using the station’s gender-neutral toilet and tapping out with my transport pass as I exit the station. I head across Scarborough Bridge to the building formerly owned by Yorkshire Mesmac, now extended into the nearby church and known simply as Queerspace. I’m employed for two hours a week to offer support in an area where I have medical expertise – an approach that has dramatically cut down the wait to see a GP. The Yorkshire Assembly quickly realised that two overcrowded gender identity clinics in Leeds and Sheffield, and nothing at all in York, weren’t adequate to serve the region’s trans community, and that the best way to approach this issue – and many others – would be to pay existing experts rather than training new ones. This afternoon I have an appointment to meet a young non-binary person who wants to talk through the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy before requesting a prescription from their GP. We look at the Queerspace resources together – crowdsourced from people with direct experience of the issues – and I help them work out what they want, making sure that their consent to any treatment will be fully informed. They leave happy, heading on to another appointment where they will discuss pain management for their disability with another person who deals with chronic pain.

Alex and our cat greet me as I walk into our house, a two-bedroom terrace we’ve owned for a few years now thanks to strict regulation of the housing market and a ban on landlords amassing houses for profit. We spend the evening in a pub chosen simply because it’s local to us, and fall asleep quickly, hearing only the occasional sound of a bike whizzing by.

Day in My Life 2016 + 2026: The changing same

2026: 'We want people to engage locally with us just as we are open to their localities across the world. We build our own translocal community in the wake of the EU referendum. We ask everyone who comes to bring something to share, their language, a dish – and we share with them the complex histories and cultures of York. No visitor can just see York as pretty old buildings any more.'
2026: ‘We want people to engage locally with us just as we are open to their localities across the world. We build our own translocal community in the wake of the EU referendum. We ask everyone who comes to bring something to share, their language, a dish – and we share with them the complex histories and cultures of York. No visitor can just see York as pretty old buildings any more.’

2016
Early and bright. Routines unfold. The towel. The stairs. The shower. Then as the hand slides round, gaining speed towards the precise moment of necessary exit. Then the rush. Teeth cleaning. The keys. Phone. Bag. Out the house. Notice three more houses on the street are for sale. And one more now for let. 17 minutes walk to the station down Cinder Lane.

The changing same. The flowers in a beautiful garden. The broken pattern in the pavement. The hollow sound of my feet on the foot bridge. The back passage between Holgate and Leeman Road once walled, once falling over, now more pragmatically fenced creating a visual connection between the railway maintenance sheds and the trickle of commuters heading for trains to offices in West Yorkshire. Then down the metal steps, across the car park. Nod to the attendant who ensures parking payment is given but also tidies, picks up litter, says hello to the regulars that park and walk across his patch. 4 minutes until the train leaves.

Practiced ticket buying. Muscle memory of the spatial choices needed to get a day return to Leeds. On the platform in time. Early enough (and late enough will do too) to get a seat. The odd public-private space of a commuting train carriage. Mutually respective of need to sleep, eat breakfast, apply make up, of laptop. The many working lives that compel travel and ‘being flexible’, all of us have the ability to focus anywhere and the need to use those 22 minutes to Leeds in some way. I work too and also watch the ripples of the seasons, catch a view of a favourite village, spire, field, sometimes a deer, usually rabbits. Each acting as a kind of visual echo of my childhood, of fields, and sunrise, and mists. My rural past in my present within and between two urban spaces. Then Leeds starts to emerges slowly between the fields and then faster as we enter the station. Happy to not yet entirely have to speak or to listen to others, before an equally happy day at the University of much of both.

Arriving back into York station. Busy train, though it is past commuters most popular home time. Seat on the aisle. Managed to work until after the final signal into the station, another email done and some sense of satisfaction. My day measured out in cups of tea and things struck off scrappy to do lists as well as good conversations and the constant flows of ideas and glimpses of possibilities. The working day over as the train stops. Rush. Laptop in cover. Then in bag. Grab scarf.

My bag is heavy with stuff bought at Marks and Spencer – at a price – at Leeds Station. The penalty of disorganization. The bustle of many people getting off a train and not knowing how to exit the station. But I become free as I head back out the back of the station with those heading to their cars and then the many fewer heading to Holgate or Acomb. The same path. Sometimes here, just before the footbridge over the tracks, I suddenly smell the earth on a damp yet warm day or fragrance of pollen. Over the bridge, past the train spotters. Then back way past the allotments [and fleetingly feel bad about the weeds that are probably growing in mine and my sisters allottment], the bowling club playing in whites, smiling at the dog walkers, down between the terraces and notice the beautiful purple flowery weeds growing in the crevices Victorian wall, never repointed.

Back through the door. Bread and salad plus expensive not-that-great cheese. Discuss the day – or we choose not to. The news. And then the sofa, bit knackered, but watch a television programme and a fictional world to which we have long committed and much discuss: beautifully made, complex, compelling, enriching. Then messing around, familiar jokes, always and every day slightly adjusted with a different texture, tone or context, and door shutting and light turning off, the improvisations of life lived together. Sleep.

2026
The alarm comes and goes. Some days I must get up straight away, and embrace the old routines, adjusted a bit for the greater regularity and speed of trains to Leeds. Yet it still takes 17 minutes to walk, though now Cinder Lane is populated by trees and planting and always alive with singing and movement. One of the most positive things to emerge from York Central has been the National Railway Museum working to keep with the rail industry in York as part of its living heritage approach. The NRM has become a place which connects collections and archive and with a lab for technological and engineering innovation with lots of apprenticeships and tourist actively invited to full engage with and understand all the crucial labour, from clearing to maintenance, which keeps the railways running.

Today, there’s no need to get up. I still love very much teaching but we brokered new contracts which meant we all work fewer hours so that there could be more members of teaching staff, this was part of the free education revolution in higher education which laid the way for student-led and more horizontal and collectivist ways of organizing learning. I am glad we no long grade students (something I have always found painful) but instead we offer students ongoing dialogue and interaction around their thinking and interests, something they also offer to us as staff in abundance. This way of working has radically reduced student anxiety, stress and mental health referrals but has also massive increased the space for students to show initiative, generate their own agendas and ultimately contribute so fully to their communities and places. We hope we will soon be moving to an even more open form, finally and fully realizing the idea of life long learning with Universities working in very strategic and embedded ways with the networks of community libraries that are volunteer run and create nodes and passage point between ideas and bodies of knowledge. Arts, humanities, cultures, philosophy, political theories are be part of everyone’s everyday life as we all also share the other forms of labour that keep the city working.

My big task today is to take part in the York Welcoming Collective. 1000s of us volunteer, as part of the work the city needs, to welcome visitors, tourists they were once called, to the city. Our aim is to develop interpersonal interactions with our visitors from all around the world so they enrich our lives and understanding and we can introduce them in a meaningful and enriched way of the city of York. I’ve learnt so much this way and now many of us have friends in China, Indian, Pakistan, Mexico and Russia as well as across Europe. We want people to engage locally with us just as we are open to their localities across the world. We build our own translocal community in the wake of the EU referendum. We ask everyone who comes to bring something to share, their language, a dish – and we share with them the complex histories and cultures of York. No visitor can just see York as pretty old buildings any more.

This new reciprocal relationship with visitors has been partly to underpin what was once called a tourist tax, but we now call the Visitor Gift. Money from our visitors is important. We now have a living wage service economy, so pubs, hotels, historic sites all pay their staff enough for them to live and thrive living in York. The Visitor Gift is used to invest in free life long education for all who live in York (for however long, Visitors take part too and often run short workshops sharing their cultures), youth groups, active community history and cultural groups and the network of free, open, indoor and outdoor public spaces across the city. It has also been crucial in creating a Housing and Land Trust that builds environmentally sustainable and low energy community housing and has developed older terraced housing which are now completely affordably on the city’s living wage. Funded the same way is a Community Land Trust which has enabled green spaces to be supported both in urban York and on the outskirts. This has updated the Green Belt idea for 21st Century. It has allow new villages with their own community and facilitates to be build and it has enabled a much enhanced and bio-diverse green spaces in between, the green wedge idea extended outwards.

Having welcomed a group of Chinese tourists, I learned a few more Mandarin words and got to practice my basic Mandarin language skills. I introduced them to the both the histories of feminism and the Women’s Liberation Movement in York and a taste of Centurion’s Ghost and Rudgate Ruby Mild. On my back, I stop by the train station which is now a really thriving hub, where we welcome visitors and can buy local food and local bread through outposts of York’s favorite shops. I cycle home, feeling very safe on the generous bike paths down Holgate Road and the Blossom Street.

Pass by Mum and Dad’s house and we walk out to the new woods on the edge of the city. Dad’s been part of the volunteer team researching the new and rich ecosystem and biodiversity created. The A64 seems to get quieter and quieter every time I come out here, as few and few people use cars now. Back to Holgate to see my sister Katie on the allotment (which is full of asparagus, broad beans as well as wildflowers and butterflies).

Head back home via meeting friends in a cooperatively run pub, The Golden Ball has inspired many more across the city. As I walk into the house I appreciate for the 1000th time the cracks and time marks in this house built in 1898 and cared for by only four previously inhabitants. The fitted cupboards made by the first owner, a joiner at the Carriageworks. The familiar pattern of sun coming through the triple glazed back doors open down to the summer, and casting different colours on the tiled floor. Now that housing is no longer a commodity – our terrace street is now one of the co-operatively owned Community Housing Trusts – all there is now is appreciating and working with the grain of the fabric within which your life is caught.

Then TV, thanks to subscription services there are still the richest, long form, dramas. The slow emergent revolution of the last 10 years was not televised as such but there is television in my utopia. Then the happy changing same as we go to bed.

Day in My Life 2016 + 2026: Shared Spaces and Lives

'When I arrive at work the library is already open, offering a space for commuters to come together in the morning for a coffee and a chat. There are spaces like this all over the city now, where it's possible to drop in and spend time together working on projects, having discussions and getting involved with the way the city is run'
2026: ‘When I arrive at work the library is already open, offering a space for commuters to come together in the morning for a coffee and a chat. There are spaces like this all over the city now, where it’s possible to drop in and spend time together working on projects, having discussions and getting involved with the way the city is run’

Day in My Life 2016:
I get up early, just before 6am, and rush around getting ready so I can be on the 6.53am train to York. I live outside of the city now, about 20 miles north. It’s a 10 minute drive and then a 25 minute train journey to work each day. We moved away 2 years ago after living in central York for 8 years. We had been slowly priced out of the private rental market, and also disliked the insecure short term tenancies, the difficulties with letting agents and the way long-term renting is perceived as a kind of personal failure. Now we let our house from a landed estate on a long term assured lease, in a village where this is true of the majority of our neighbours. I learnt to drive at the age of 31 especially so we could move.

I arrive in York around 7.30am and hurry from the station, up over Lendal Bridge towards the Minster. The traffic isn’t too bad yet, though it’s already starting to build up. I grab a coffee from Costa, getting to my desk around 7.40am so I can work in peace and quiet for an hour before the office starts to fill up.

At lunch time I head out into the city for some shopping. It’s busy with visitors and I dodge in and around people taking photographs or consulting maps. It feels very much like a tourist attraction, except for the two homeless people I pass. The man begging in the doorway of the old Robson and Cooper shop is a regular library customer and we greet each other.

Shopping done and it’s back to the office where I eat my lunch at my desk over emails. It’s still too chilly to eat outside in the Museum Gardens and there isn’t any indoor public space I can go for lunch. The benches on the first floor landing of the library are already full of people picnicking on sandwiches.

I catch the 5.40pm train home and the dash to the station is the least favourite part of my day. Lendal Bridge is crammed with traffic, the pavements are heaving and it’s raining. There is a lot of impatient hustling between umbrellas.

I finally arrive home around 6.30pm and am grateful to be out of the city. I let the dog out, following her into the garden, checking the fruit trees for any sign of apples, pears or plums. The air feels so much cleaner and fresher here, and I’m grateful all over again to be so lucky. I don’t mind having to rent or the commute so long as I can have this in return.

Day in My Life 2026:
The alarm goes off at 7am and the dog groans from her bed. She’s getting on a bit now and feels a bit creaky first thing in the morning. We don’t have to be up as early as we used to though. We were able to move back within the City of York boundary a couple of years ago, joining a new housing scheme that means we can have a secure and reasonably priced home in a cooperative community. Each person chooses the home that best suits their way of life, whether that’s a flat or a house, with or without a garden. We have a small contained house with a well sized secure garden for the dog, which backs out onto communal green spaces. The community is built around shared space, including growing spaces, play areas and learning spaces, including a centre with a library and health drop-in. There is a micro-pub down the street in a neighbour’s garage, and many residents have joined the ‘pop-up restaurant’ rotation, taking it in turns to cook for those who want to go out for the evening. There is an excellent balance between public service provision and community action, which is co-produced between the council and the community.

At 8am the tram stop is busy, but since they are every 10 minutes nobody is too concerned. The new eco tramways into and around the city have made it possible for most people to leave their cars at home. Annual passes can be paid for through salary sacrifice schemes making public transport very affordable. Putting the trams in was hugely disruptive but nobody would want to go back to the pollution and traffic jams of ten years ago.

Alternatively there are off-road cycle routes from most areas, as well as well-kept footpaths. Since most of the centre of the town is now pedestrianised and off limits to traffic there are few incentives to take a car anywhere. The outer ring road is almost deserted and sections of it have been closed.

When I arrive at work the library is already open, offering a space for commuters to come together in the morning for a coffee and a chat. There are spaces like this all over the city now, where it’s possible to drop in and spend time together working on projects, having discussions and getting involved with the way the city is run.

At lunch time I nip out to grab my shopping from the local food assembly. I’ve ordered what I need online from local suppliers and producers and it has been brought to one place to pick up. The mini supermarkets are mostly gone now – who needs them when there so much available locally? I chose to pay an additional 10% on top of my shopping bill which goes back into a communal pot that all members of my assembly can draw on if they have a time of need.

Before I go home I head out with friends for an early evening walk around the city. This used to be the worst time in York, when everything shut down early and the streets were full of tomorrow morning’s rubbish and recycling. Now it’s a time for people to relax at the end of the day.

Back at home I pick the dog up from the neighbour who has been looking after her for me. We go down to the library and spend an hour volunteering. The library is open until 10pm and busy with classes, homework clubs and events. Then it’s home again for dinner, after which I chat to family or a friend on the phone for a while. Finally I retreat up to bed with a book I borrowed earlier.

Day in My Life: Building a city-wide brief

'TEXT'
‘Any process of design is actually a more complex process of developing a brief (which sets out what’s wanted) and then a design response to this (which is largely technical). A brief is then the start of a design challenge, for design professionals; one which can still be a conversation – a creative partnership with the community – but one where each party is clear about their opportunities and responsibilities, and the long-term nature of this relationship’

Planning for the future of cities is a complex, dynamic process. Planning professionals in local authorities juggle the difficulties of technical and political demands – and often produce proposals which are contentious, or downright rejected by the public they are designed for. Why is this? Incompetence? Very rarely. Any process of design is actually a more complex process of developing a brief (which sets out what’s wanted) and then a design response to this (which is largely technical). There are two reasons why urban planners, highways engineers and other skilled professionals turn out poor proposals. One is that the briefing stage is handled terribly, with the community poorly engaged and with short-term politics over-riding long-term vision, and the second is that briefing, like design, should be a creative process, but is usually strangled by risk-aversion and lack of faith in the broader public. The minimum number of people are involved, rather than the maximum.

So how do we turn this into something more successful? The first important step is to note the distinction between brief and design; the two are linked (and good design often involves repeatedly revisiting the brief to check it is still completely valid) but distinct. Professionals often fear that inviting the involvement of the community is “getting the public to do our job” when it is nothing of the sort – it’s simply about providing the professionals with a better brief. Being able to plan the shape and structure of a city requires the professionals to know what the community wants to do in that city – how they will use the future buildings and spaces – and planning professionals are rarely actually given this information with any degree of completeness. The second important step is unhitching the briefing process from elected representatives. The cycle of politics – the politician’s “forward horizon” is far too short for strategic planning, and consideration of what will be popular with voters in four years’ time is unlikely to reliably describe what is wise for shaping a city for twenty, thirty, forty years of strategic change.

A third, and important, issue is that producing a good brief isn’t easy; we assume it’s simple, like doing a shopping list for the supermarket. But it’s completely different; it comprises moving beyond consideration of the present into consideration of the future, it involves imagining things being different, and it involves altruism – consideration of what we hand on to others as our lives move elsewhere, or come to an end, or are simply shared with increasing numbers of fellow residents, travellers, workers. This process involves individuals developing a picture of their future lives, based upon their values and wishes, and then bringing together these individual strands into a collective vision of what buildings, places and spaces, what infrastructure (and indeed what governance) needs to provide in our future city.

And this resulting brief is then the start of a design challenge, for design professionals; one which can still be a conversation – a creative partnership with the community – but one where each party is clear about their opportunities and responsibilities, and the long-term nature of this relationship.

Find out more about how share your Day in My Life and to help build a brief for York.

Two Days in the life of me

Sunday 8th of may 2016

Wake up around half 7 am with the sun shining and the birds are tweeting and it’s quiet oh so quiet. As i lay thinking what the day brings My dog decides that I must need a good wash as he is desperate to get my attention and wanting to go for his morning walk. I get up go and quickly do my bathroom Antics before the dog starts to howl and wake up the rest of the house, No time for morning coffee first its out of the door and onto the backies. Clifton backies seems so much nicer first thing on a morning as we pass very few people who also appreciate the open space so early and Sam Is able to meet and greet his friends. After walking the four mile trip ( it seems so big once i say it ) it’s time to head home and the list of things that must be done to fulfil my day. Firstly giving Sam a Drink and his breakfast is priority and getting my first cup of coffee for the day oh that tastes good. Then my music goes on the washing goes in and the floors get swept and moped. Its quickly on to the computer to post on facebook events meetings and projects we have coming up. Then have lunch in the Garden (it is such a nice space now it has been done) that nice i decided that i can do what i need to do online outside and better than sat in a stuffy house when the weather is so lovely. Well that would have been the idea but then i get that look from Sam and he wants to go out again so as i don my walking shoes and off we go again to the backies it’s a little busier at this time of day but Sam doesn’t mind he has more friends to play with although getting him to listen is another matter (too busy having fun). As i start to walk away from him he decides to come bounding up and knock me on my bottom (good job it was on the grass and i have plenty of padding). Hobbled home and went for a bath to soothe it’s nearly tea time before we know it and Richard is making thank goodness don’t think i could manage standing and cooking. After tea its upstairs to watch a little tv before bed time.

 

Sunday 10th of May 2026

Wake up around 8am and the weather is lovely not too hot but definitely not winter thank goodness the house is a little more quieter these days it’s just the two of us at home now. Although we have visitors coming for sunday lunch, Its always nice to see my boys (even though they are fully grown men now) their partners and our First grandson. it’s time to get up and strip the bed ready to go in the washing Machine. Time for some quick updates on Facebook although things are much easier now as we have become more established and wider known. As i quickly do the usual sunday chores of cleaning the house, There is a knock at the door and My Grandson shouting “Nanna” we welcome our visitors in discuss whats been happening and how things are going in general life over a nice pot of tea sit and watch our grandson play in the garden with his toys another knock at the door and its our youngest son with his girlfriend and we are ready to go out for lunch we chose our favorite restaurant its where we celebrated our wedding and many anniversaries thereafter it’s also seen us celebrate our eldest’s 18th, 21st and our youngest’s 16th,18th and 21st. The food has never faltered always delicious and good value for money. Our grandson likes the play area although so many heart in throat moments but he knows no fear just like his dad at that age. Three hours later and we are all pleasantly full time to leave Youngest son and his girlfriend are going straight home as they have many things to do before early to work. We are giving Eldest and family a lift home or so we thought as grandson decided he wants to sleep over at nana and grandads house which we don’t mind he doesn’t go to school yet. So we take dad and mum home and then back to our house for bath time then super and then reading stories before bed (phew forgot how hard little ones are) but wouldn’t change it for the world ah now my own bed beckons me but maybe a little tv time (Snore).

My Present and My Future – Only Separated by 10 Years

My Present and My Future – Only Separated by 10 Years

Sunday May 8th 2016

This morning is the same as most weekday mornings, up between 7-730, usual bathroom routine and then downstairs for a cup of Tea (no better way to start the day in my opinion).

Sat with Drink the computer goes on and I start posting all the information and images I need to upload to Facebook, then it’s logging onto the York Past and Present website for some fine tuning and some editing.

Finally, it’s about 11am and all is finished, for a quiet Sunday it’s not so quiet when you have your youngest son running around the house and your eldest son visiting you and talking about all that’s going on.

Most of my afternoon is filled with sitting in the garden talking to my son and learning about what he has been doing as we exchange what’s been happening in our lives and how things are in general.

4pm comes around and my eldest bids us farewell and heads home to his house and his girlfriend, leaving the 3 of us sitting quietly and enjoying the sunshine for an hour or so, before I turn my computer back on and start to organise some of the things that we have coming up (meetings, Events, gatherings, that sort of thing).

I finish around about 5 and judging by the rumblings in my stomach, I ask the family what they fancy and catch a late dinner.

After washing pots my youngest son goes into his room to play on his Xbox and me? Well I retire into the bedroom to relax on the bed and watch a bit of TV for a few hours before bed and the start of another busy day.

 

Sunday May 8th 2026

My alarm goes off and I get up, it’s about 8:30, I lay in bed for a while looking at the latest news on my phone for 20 mins or so, before I do all the usual bathroom stuff, I get dressed and head downstairs.

Cup of Tea in hand, I retire to the garden to enjoy my drink and enjoy the day, no need to rush to get things done these days, Facebook is as it always has been and the York Past and Present Website is now merged with many other York History websites so there isn’t so much of a rush to get all the latest news and images on there.

After enjoying my drink and my sit down I now start looking at some of the events and meetings we have coming up. I must admit this is a lot easier now than it has been in the past because York Past and Present has grown and become part of a bigger network now we are well known to all and out mission (so to speak) is in full swing with many organisations and groups involved.

I finish just in time for my eldest son to come around with his wife and our first grandchild, it’s great to spend time catching up and watching my grandson play.

It’s now pushing 6pm and after my wife has made something to eat I slip into my slippers and retire to the bedroom to watch some television.

Around 10pm I go downstairs make myself a nice hot chocolate and retire to my bed for an early night and the start of a new day.

Two Days in the Life of…

I decided if I was going to start asking the question, asking it of myself first was only fair. So here are two days.

4th May, 2016

A typical weekday workday; a session on the turbo trainer, and then on to a site visit at Haxby Road school via coffee with a friend at Your Bike Shed. The school meeting is to deal with Listed Building issues as part of changes we’re making to the school – the tricky side of making changes to history. The journey is by bike – I pull up alongside a fellow Environment Forum member at traffic lights in town. It’s the first really warm day of 2016 and we celebrate with a cheery discussion at the front of the traffic queue. From the school it’s onwards via picking up a Good Food Shop stuffed pitta (and narrowly avoiding messy consequences) to the chiropodists in town. Coming out I get a call from the site manager on a job in Fulford – could I call in? A ride down the riverside in the sunshine means it’s no major chore, and I meet an old friend – now retired – who’s just got back to York after a Brompton ride from Howden (“the wind’s a southerly, so I got the train there”), and he tells me he had dinner in the house I’m heading to, sometime back in the eighties. “Bloke drank a lot of port”. Carry on to the site and agree on foundation details which needed  checking, and get a call from the chiropodists – they’d overcharged me accidentally, so could I call back in? Another sunny riverside pedal, and then back to my office – the basement under my home. A couple of hours dealing with emails and phone calls, and a short walk (up the steps in the back yard) to dinner and news of my partner’s day, watching the trains rattle past out of the back window. Another couple of hours preparing stuff for the following day, and then the sofa.

4th May 2026

A typical weekday work-ish day; out from the house across the back yard to the office – I know I said I’d cut back when I got older and greyer but there’s so much happening it seems a missed opportunity to step back. Sort out all the online work information exchange, and then sling the tablet in a rucksack and head for the tram stop. It’s early, and there’s a deer peering out above the crops in the fields. I never thought I’d move out of the town centre but when the chance came up to build on a custom build plot out at Whinthorpe, among like-minded oddballs – well, we signed up. Caroline’s packed up the shop, so sorting this place out is a good long-term project. There’s always someone I know at the tram stop – a chance to chat, gossip. The tram cruises up, we board and head into town – they feel so much more solid and permanent than a bus, I love ‘em. Most of the morning’s in meetings at the York Central design office – whoever finally came up with the idea of establishing a local collective to carry the detail design forward over the lengthy development process was a genius – there’s a real atmosphere of wanting to get it right. A long way off finished of course – another ten years? Maybe, but at least there’s A Plan. Lunch is a short walk into town – every year the weather’s weirder so short walks are good – but today it stays fine and shuffling meetings to tables outside cafes works well – WiFi everywhere so work happens everywhere. At the end of the afternoon it’s still sunny and calm and I regret taking the tram, so take a bike from the hire rank in Parliament Street and after a quick wander round the newly-pedestrian-priority Bishy Road head down the riverside, over the Millennium bridge and out of town along the cycle path. Lots of others out too – cars are so expensive to use that it only takes a whisper of sun for them to get forgotten. Food, and online to catch up with my daughter in London – thanks to technology I get to talk more – phoning was always just that bit too much effort, or maybe now she’s in her thirties she’s just got more time for the elderly!

My present, and My Future York. What’s yours?

Phil Bixby

My Future York: First Planning Meeting

Housing was an issue that surfaced repeatedly, from concern about York's street homelessness, to the need for more social housing and the affordability of private rented accommodation.
Housing was an issue that surfaced repeatedly on the Parliament Street stall, from concern about York’s street homelessness, to the need for more social housing and the affordability of private rented accommodation.

We had our first My Future York planning meeting on 30th April – we identified some emerging themes, clarified what the framework for the project and made some plans for the project’s next steps.

Emerging themes

A key aim of the project is to take really seriously any contribution made and so we began by looking over the postcards that people had left with us at the Parliament Street stall we ran on Good Friday.

We worked out there were some obvious clusters: Housing, Green Spaces, Family Activities, Democracy, valuing York’s heritage, Food, Transport.

These are areas we will develop history projects around and public events to open up new approaches and ideas.

Beyond consultation

A key aim of the My Future York project is to develop different way for publics and communities to be involved in local democracy and local planning. Too often consultation means a choice between two or three options and doesn’t allow the people of an area or city to be involved in shaping the overarching framework.

In the planning meeting one idea crystallized that My Future York was about involving as many people as possible in, in effect, setting the brief for York’s future planning.

This way of thinking about what we’re doing also fully recognizes professional expertise and role. Once a brief is set then there will be a need for the city’s planners, designers and architects to help realize the city’s needs and visions.

A day in your life?

Then we were working out the best way of starting to openly – and with the whole city! – set the brief. We talked a lot about how to start and thought that, rather than ask people more abstract questions about the city as a whole, it might be best to ask people to think about what they do and would like to do.

To experiment a bit we’re just going to pilot with our friends and families two invitations:

2016: Tell the story of a day in your life.

2026: Imagine your ideal day – a work day or a day off – in ten year’s time.

We’ll see if these day-in-a-life invitations work. Any ideas for alternatives – or if you have a day in the life you want to share contact My Future York.