The autumn colours have been particularly vivid and spectacular this year. England this autumn has been like New England in the fall. Yorkshire has been like the Berkshires. Apparently the hot dry summer combined with just sufficient rain has stimulated the anthocyanin and carotene in the leaves. But then you knew that. We’re told that the Chilterns and the Lake District particularly were burnished with red and gold. In late November we were informed of a potential water shortage. True to form it hasn’t stopped raining since.
A sensitive soul in Holmfirth, near Huddersfield, wrote to the Times to suggest that motorway signs reading ‘The North’ and ‘The South’ should be replaced because they are, wait for it, divisive. Oh dear. I suppose that when a term like ‘manhole cover’ can be regarded as politically incorrect we must all take care. However, I rejoice when, after working in London or wherever, I see that welcome sign ‘The North’.
Readers of Conde Nast Traveller magazine have, we learn, voted Leeds England’s favourite city for visitors. The Times describes it as ‘the Knightsbridge of the North’. I think it’s intended to be a compliment. Clearly they don’t know us. A feature praises Leeds’ shops and ‘zillions of zinc-trimmed, late-licensed bars and restaurants’. All I can tell you is that, in spite of, not because of, Harvey Nichols and the like, Leeds continues to be a great place to live and work in. ‘Cooler than London’ gushes the article. Yes, it generally is.
The Calls, Leeds
How often a good thing is hyped to such an extent that it begins to lose its attraction. The story of the ladies of the Women’s Institute in Rylstone, who produced the calendar which made them famous throughout the world, was unexpected, charming and eccentric in an English sort of way. Ordinary people who did something extraordinary. Now they’ve made it into a film. I’m told that Yorkshire looks lovely in the film and the first two-thirds of it is good value but, forgive me, I shan’t be going to see it.
‘Crap Towns’ has been published (see previous diary) and I’ve bought a copy which, of course, is the purpose of the exercise. Hull, I’m sorry to say, was number one. Yorkshire got off lightly, only Keighley and Mirfield being also featured. The book’s targets are 1960s’ architects and developments, grotesque waste of taxpayers’ money, the promoters of modern art and the smugness of the Range Roving classes. It’s mildly entertaining in a rude sort of way.
Stanbury, near Keighley
Aireborough, comprising Rawdon, Yeadon and Guiseley in the West Riding, made the main television news. The 24,600 people who live there, according to the last census, mirror the average for the UK as a whole. The average age is 39, 55% are married, 96% are white British, 77% are homeowners and there are few extremes of wealth and poverty. We are Middle England. It’s rather reassuring.
The government’s latest wheeze to spend our money is a proposed regional assembly for Yorkshire. However, it won’t be Yorkshire proper; it will not include those parts of Yorkshire now in the administrative areas of Durham, Cumbria, Cleveland and, God help us, Lancashire. It will include part of north Lincolnshire which is nothing to do with Yorkshire. I’m confident that the good sense of the people in Yorkshire (and Lincolnshire) will reject it. We have too much, not too little government. And we’d prefer to spend our money ourselves rather than give even more to public authorities to spend. The whole concept is to enable the government to ingratiate itself with the European Union. We are Yorkshire first, English second and Europe…well, honestly.
At St George’s Hall in Bradford in January Brigadoon is on. Don’t miss it. It only comes round every 100 years.
Ripon usually bills its cathedral as England’s oldest. I suppose it depends how much of the fabric you are talking about or whether you mean the church’s foundation. Anyway, just before Michaelmas a corporate black tie dinner for the great and the good was held in the nave. The pews were removed and tables and chairs installed. An evening of good food, fine wines and quiet satisfaction was enjoyed. The purpose, as always nowadays, was to raise money for the repair of the roof; one must sympathise with the needs and motives of those responsible for the cathedral’s well-being. As I have said before, the maintenance of our unequalled heritage of great ecclesiastical and secular buildings should be the State’s function.
St. George's Hall, Bradford
Further to which, at Morrison’s supermarket in York one can get two admission tickets to the Minster for the price of one. I despair.
In the village of Bradfield near Sheffield the local council has got around to erecting road safety signs at either side of the village school. Unfortunately the school closed 18 years ago.
Our local pub, the Princess in Rawdon. closed for three months this autumn following the sad and seemingly accidental death of Peter, the landlord. It was like having the social heart of the village ripped out for those of us used to exchanging news and views there each week. It has now re-opened though its future is not assured. Remember us in your prayers.
Enjoy Advent and Christmas and our best wishes for a happy and peaceful New Year.
The Princess, Rawdon
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