According to the inimitable Wharfedale & Airedale Observer, Rawdon firemen had to rescue a Yeadon couple from their garage - or rather what remained of their garage. The pair got into their car, put it into reverse rather than forward gear and demolished the rear wall of the garage which caused the roof to fall on the car trapping them. Neighbours, it is reported, called the emergency services. When, presumably, they’d stopped laughing.



Yeadon Town Hall

A recent report shows that Hallam, west of Sheffield, is the most prosperous constituency outside London and the Home Counties. Home of academics, medics and business people, it is a leafy suburb of largely Victorian and Edwardian houses. (See reference to Broomhill in Sheffield in Places). The survey shows Leeds North East as being not far behind and Leeds Central as being the home of a high proportion of young high earning professionals. No surprise there. Only four out of the fifty most prosperous places are in fact outside the South East.


Bradford Mill

Bradford has applied to be named the 2008 European City of Culture, such is glory. An article about the city in the Times was accompanied by an upbeat piece by the genial Richard Whiteley in which he optimistically wrote that he believed Bradford had turned the corner after five decades of decline. We’ll see. The Times listed Bradford’s economy as based on engineering, printing, chemicals and banking. Crime features pretty big too I’d have thought. In 1841 Bradford processed two-thirds of the country’s wool. The Victorian city fathers created a fine city on the back of its prosperity. That prosperity and pride lasted until the 1950s. I hope Richard Whiteley is right. But I’m not holding my breath.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh came to Yorkshire for the Golden Jubilee. The Duke of Edinburgh visited Bradford Grammar School. He opened the present school buildings in 1949 and it was something of a coup for the School to persuade him to open the new Sixth Form Centre, swimming pool and other buildings now. He got the better deal. The Queen meanwhile visited the set of Emmerdale and met its cast. Poor woman. I bet by the time the Queen and the Duke met up at Harewood House for lunch she’d already had enough but they then had to endure a multi-cultural pageant followed by a concert at Temple Newsam.

Yorkshire Water says we are all mad to buy bottled water which can cost £30 a gallon in some restaurants. Tap water, a report says, is often of higher quality than bottled water which has no health advantages and tastes no better. ‘Yorkshire water is softer and gentler than some mineral waters, it’s purer than bottled waters, and it’s 10,000 times cheaper’, says a spokesman. Yes, fine. But it isn’t fizzy (or shouldn’t be). And let’s not forget that it isn’t many years since Yorkshire Water almost completely ran out of it.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, was described in an article in the Financial Times recently as being ‘as important as any institution dedicated to modern sculpture’. It is at Bretton Hall, an 18th century mansion set in grounds landscaped by Capability Brown. The sculptures include examples of the work of Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Elizabeth Frink, Ronald Rae, Anthony Grimley and many others. The park has this year been extended. For those who like this sort of thing it is, as they say, just what they like.

The government has announced that £263 million (in other words a lot more) is to be spent upgrading to three lane motorway status 29 miles of the A1 in Yorkshire. Another vast amount is to be spent to ‘improve’ the A66 from Scotch Corner. Tens of thousands of acres of Yorkshire will be put to the sword and it really isn’t necessary. It really isn’t.

Pride last year came before a fall. Yorkshire County Cricket Club is in awful trouble. They’ve bought a new stand they can’t afford and are on the verge of bankruptcy. (Whatever became of Yorkshire thrift?). There have been financial irregularities at Headingley; code for money is missing. And the club has had a simply dreadful season, dreadful season, apart from winning the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy Final on the last day of August.

Halifax has a new town crier. The previous town crier, Ben Cordingley, retired in 1908 so the position has been vacant for a while. The new town crier is Les Cutts who has a splendid livery which can be seen at /halifaxtraditions.tripod.com/towncrier.html

My family and I have just had a most enjoyable holiday in California, Melbourne and Queensland. As always the Americans were warm and friendly and the service so good we wonder how Americans cope when they visit Britain and Europe. We’d never been to Australia before but we loved it and the Australians we met were a delight. The Americans and the Australians are our friends. It’s always good to get home but somehow a little less good each time. I have to admit reluctantly that the quality of life in both the USA and Australia is better than here. Big mistakes made since the War, poor central and local government, a decline in manners and behaviour.…as a number of visitors in the Guest Book have said, England is not what it was. Crime particularly is ruining life here. It is far more prevalent than it was and than it seems to be on a day-to-day basis in the Land of the Free and The Lucky Country. I can understand why my younger son says he’s going to work in America or Australia and why our friends have left England for Melbourne.

During her visit to the County, the Queen described Yorkshire people as ‘trenchant, determined and welcoming’. That sounds alright to me. She’s not allowed to say bloody-minded or pig-headed.

Leeds - San Francisco - Los Angeles - Melbourne - Port Douglas, Queensland - Melbourne - Leeds

Although I’d been to California before, my knowledge of Australia was really confined to some A level geography, Dame Edna Everage and fond memories of Jenny Agutter in Walkabout. I learned a lot. Here are a few observations.


For someone terrified of flying, arriving in San Francisco was a relief. Finding ourselves then on the 23rd floor of the Holiday Inn in a city expecting a major earthquake at any time was hardly comforting.

Americans love their history. Unfortunately they don’t have a lot of it and have to make the most of sometimes meagre resources. In Monterey there is the Robert Louis Stevenson House on the town’s Path of History. The house is so-called because in 1879 Stevenson rented a room there for three months.

San Francisco

An advert for salads at a restaurant:

‘We’ve tossed ‘em

They’re awesome’

It loses a bit in English.

Americans always use imperial measures - miles, gallons, pounds, even bushels. They always use the Fahrenheit temperature scale. So why do they drive on the right? They must at some time have changed. Australia drives on the left.

English English and American English have some interesting differences. Announcement over the PA system at Los Angeles airport: ‘You are not required to give money to solicitors. This airport does not sponsor their activities’. There’s a relief.

Radio advert: ‘…so if you don’t know the difference between megabytes and mosquito bites…’

An American sports writer, lamenting America’s lack of interest in the World Cup, said that when it comes to sport America is like Australia is to animals - it has all the weird ones.


The negligence industry has hit Australia in the same way it now dominates life in America and Britain. Safety warnings are given everywhere. Similarly political correctness is making major inroads. But Australians are more direct than we are.

From the front page of the Culture section of The Age, Melbourne’s main newspaper: ‘The film, starring a cast of relative unknowns, … is regarded by many leading film critics as impenetrable, a load of old cobblers and the work of a w * * ker’.

Travel so broadens the mind. By the ninth day of our holiday the boys had watched the Simpsons in three continents. I even caught them watching Bargain Hunt in Santa Barbara.

A book for sale in Australia: ‘The Day My Bum Went Psycho. A story that you and your bum will never forget’.

On the quayside at Port Douglas, Queensland, having just been to the Great Barrier Reef, we bumped into the Bradford Grammar School rugby team, on tour in Australia. Global village indeed.

A major street in Melbourne is Batman Avenue. John Batman founded the city. He lived on Batman Hill.

We visited a store called Barbecues Galore. As you would expect in Australia. It sold items like The Beefmaster and The Turbo Elite, the size of a family car and costing over a thousand pounds. A warning on a bottle of hot barbecue sauce: ‘Keep away from children and paintwork’.

We went to an Aussie Rules match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It is seemingly part rugby league, part Gaelic football and part British Bulldogs.

One certainly feels at home in Melbourne. Among the suburbs are Blackburn, Preston, Doncaster, Canterbury, Kew, Camberwell, Surrey Hills and Manningham.

Bill Bryson’s book about Australia, ‘Down Under’, has the same title in Australia. In America it is titled ‘In a Sunburnt Country’.  Why?