JULY  2000

Bolton Abbey Village

The Oldie is a magazine which was set up by Richard Ingrams after he retired as editor of Private Eye. It is not so much for older people as ‘the perfect antidote to today’s preoccupation with ‘yoof’culture and ‘dumbing down’’, as its promotional material has it. It contains an occasional series of articles called Unwrecked England by Candida Lycett Green. (There is a book of some previous articles). In June’s edition there is such an article about Bolton Abbey. The following is an extract from it.


‘On any summer weekend at Bolton Abbey there may be lots of people wandering down the village street or along the winding paths under the hanging beech trees on the banks of the river, but the thing is they are Yorkshire people. That means they are generally nicer than other people. They come out from Leeds, Bradford, Keighley and Harrogate to the county they love and which is their own. There is a sense of peace here that you don’t get in beautiful places in the south of England’.  

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Bolton Priory (Click to enlarge)

On the evening before Midsummer Day the boys and I went to Headingley to watch a Rugby League game between Leeds Rhinos (as they style themselves these days) and Warrington Wolves. Rugby League is a fast game played by very fit professionals and, believe me, is not a game for softies. What makes it different from the Rugby League of the past is that the modern game has imported some of the razzmatazz of American football into an English context. It is interesting to see how this is expressed. It’s done quite well but it’s rather self-conscious and a little embarrassed. At the same time it is a bit tongue-in-cheek. Anyway, Leeds won and we had a good evening together.


As a family we also went to the new film Chicken Run which has been made by the pair who made Wallace and Gromit and as a result put Wensleydale on the world map. Chicken Run is set in the Yorkshire of the 1950s and is an animated version of the Great Escape with chickens escaping from a chicken farm rather than a team of Hollywood stars escaping from Nazi Germany. As well as being great fun, it has the further virtue of making Yorkshire accents familiar to the English-speaking world. As Peter Lord, one of the co-directors said, there will be kids all over America saying ‘I didn’t do owt’.


The Princess, Little London

On a Sunday morning we usually listen to the long-running BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs. The premise of the programme is that the castaway is alone on a desert island and can choose to have with him eight pieces of music, one book and a luxury. The Establishment in the Princess last Friday evening were discussing what records each would take with him. As I had long suspected, England is full of people with their own short-list to use should the BBC ever ask them to guest on the programme. It’s not at all easy limiting oneself to eight pieces of music. Most people choose a mixture of pieces they love and music that reminds them of events in their lives. Garry asked me what my eight would be and this is what I came up with:

·        Manhattan – Ella Fitzgerald

·        Sibelius’s Violin Concerto

·        Pachelbel – Canon

·        Layla – Eric Clapton

·        Temptation – New Order

·        Gershwin’s Concerto in F for piano and orchestra

·        Like a rolling stone – Bob Dylan

·        Ravel – Pavane pour une infante defunte.

But the trouble with that is there is no Richard Wagner, no Frank Sinatra or Peggy Lee, no Puccini, no Genesis. No Tamla-Motown, no Mozart, no Elgar’s Cello Concerto or Jerusalem. It is a pleasant indulgence to choose one’s records in this way (eight only) but never quite satisfactory and the next time you do it the list has changed.

Summer is here. Only the weather has lost the plot. Don’t forget that 1 August is Yorkshire Day (see Yorksview, Trivia, Yorkshire Day).

David Brearley.