Indulging in some nerdism in Whitby | Jack Marshall's column

I’m a nerd.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 7:00 am
The Whalebone Arch and Whitby Abbey in the background.

I think most of us are in a certain sense: we’re all passionately invested in something or other, constantly thirsty for an evermore thorough immersion in our topic of obsession.

It’s healthy to revel in the odd hobby-induced dopamine hit.

You can immediately tell when you’ve stumbled across someone else’s nerdism because they will start talking quickly and breathlessly, gesticulating frantically with their hands. The mask slips, showcasing their roiling and wonderfully sheer passion.

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It’s genuinely lovely to talk to someone about something they’re passionate about. Their energy radiates off them and it’s hard not to just smile and nod in the face of such effusiveness. It’s that very same effusiveness which we should all be looking for.

My nerdism is books, which is a particularly geeky nerdism but indulge me.

At uni, myself and two mates nerded out so hard on James Joyce that - after graduating - we organised a reunion in Dublin. And don’t get me wrong, we did the Guinness brewery tour, drank in Temple Bar, and even rented a car to drive up to the Giant’s Causeway.

But we also retraced Leopold Bloom’s path across the city from Ulysses and it was an absolutely brilliant day. There we were, walking a city we’d never seen before; our effusiveness had literally fuelled an international trip.

Being in the orbit of someone else’s effusiveness can result in you being pulled by its gravitational pull, too. I once dragged an ex-girlfriend on a mini-tour of London to see the blue plaques of TS Eliot, James Joyce, Henry James, Ezra Pound, and Agatha Christie. Lucky her.

My latest literature-motivated nerdism trip was to Whitby Spotting good weather on the forecast, a friend suggested a walk up from Robin Hood’s Bay via the brewery near the abbey before grabbing some chips. As a Dracula fan, it was too good to pass up.

When holidaying in Whitby, Bram Stoker would stay in lodgings within view of the famous whalebone arch which frames the Whitby Abbey ruins to this day. He’d look down on the ghostly wreck of a schooner driven aground on Tate Hill Beach below the famous 199 steps.

He was inspired. In Dracula, a vessel transporting coffins is shipwrecked in Whitby, a black dog fleeing the wreck before bounding up the 199 steps to the graveyard above. I visited the graveyard, climbed the steps, and passed through the whalebone arch.

The effusive nerd in me had a great time.