Tag Archives: Whitby

10 Reasons *Some People* Hate Yorkshire

31 Jul

***NB – this blog has been written with a very large slice of Tongue In Cheek. And Indeed – By a Lassie Of The North…***

Yorkshire Yorkshire Yorkshire. It’s all that we ever hear these days. I think that it’s about time that we had a full and frank commentary in relation to the damned place.

So here are 10 good reasons why you should not even contemplate visiting Yorkshire. Or having anything to do with Yorkshire Day.

1. It’s Bigger Than Yours

Try saying something like this to someone from Yorkshire;  ‘Hey – I’ve got an Auntie in Yorkshire. The next time I visit her, I’ll pop by and see you!’  And just watch them do this sort of sardonic sneer and go ‘Ha! Do you actually KNOW how big Yorkshire is?  We’re the biggest county in the UK! It’s not like your London! It’s not like you can jump on the tube and be at Stepney Green in 10 minutes flat. No, lad. You’ll have to climb, hills, valleys, dales for many a year before you can even catch a whiff of yer fish n chips in Whitby, you know…”

2. Tour de France/ Tour de Yorkshire.

They Got Too Giddy

They Got Too Giddy

Say no more.  I mean – how giddy did they get about all of that? Did you see people living in the other parts of the country that hosted the race? Did they get all emotional and start showing off their great tracts of land and all of that? No. Yet again, the Yorkshire folk went over the top and got all up- themselves and no doubt are still riding about on bicycles with yorkshire puddings balanced on their heads. Or whatever weird pastime they’ll be engaging in for the next 100 years as they tell their kids how glorious the nation of Yorkshire is and how a Yorkshireman invented the wheel, or whatever.

3. The Arts

Yorkshire people are simply not content with their lot. Lots of counties would be perfectly happy with the fact that they spawned Emmerdale, Last Of The Summer Wine or Heartbeat. But no. The tykes want to prove that they can do more than mass TV appeal. They start getting all la-di-dah about being literary and all of that. Like – “Oooh – we have the Brontes, Simon Armitage, Barbara Hepworth, Alan Bennett, David Hockney. the Yorkshire Sculpture Park nad oooh have you ever visited Hebden Bridge? It’s SO bo-ho y’know!”

4. They inject their Extremism into Neighbouring Territories

Not content with brainwashing their own offspring into their regionalist bigotry, they are now mounting covert campaigning over the border. Now me – I’m a Manchester, Lancashire born lass – but do you hear people from Lancashire wittering on about the red rose? About being ‘Proud to be from Lancashire!’  No. But there is now a disturbing trend of Lancashire folk who we all *think* to be living in Lancashire…. but who are wanna-be Yorkies. Get this folks – thanks to border confusion/changes – Oldham Council (a Lancashirebased Council!) actually supports – nay – champions Yorkshire Day and seems to be PROUD of the fact that many folk in the Saddleworth area feel strongly that they live in the west Riding of Yorkshire. They even have their own White Rose Society! There is still quite a lot of wrangling/consternation about this whole issue – but one thing is for sure –  travel around these Lancashire villages (according to the UK government) at the moment and see them bedecked in the white rose.

I ask you. Where will it all end? Pity the poor children of those part of Oldham who are already growing up all of a muddle about whether they are Lankys or not. If we aren’t too careful – these innocent kids will soon be neglecting their Eccles cakes in favour of a Fat Rascal.

5. They are Hugely Endowed

I feel sorry for the kids. It's all "Ooh! Look at our Yorkshire hills! Aren't you proud To be Yorkshire, eh?"

I feel sorry for the kids. It’s all “Ooh! Look at our Yorkshire hills! Aren’t you proud To be Yorkshire, eh?”

The hills, I mean. They have hills. Bloody great big buggers. Much better than the silly, roly-poly things that pass for ‘hills’ down south. And I mean – do we ever hear the end of this? So yeah, we all then have to agree that they do have the most stunning countryside in the country. And on top of that they have the seaside resorts, the moorlands, Bolton Abbey, the North York railways etc. etc. But I bet those tykes are all too tight to pay for the petrol for those *vast distances* involved for them in travelling there…

6.Nosh

The Yorkshire folk seem to think that they do the best food and drink in the country. They’re off there – spouting about their pork pies and their fish and chips and don’t even get them onto tearooms! It’s all ‘Betty and Taylors’ this and ‘Dark Woods poshest coffee in the world’ that.  As though when they turn the pig into bacon it has a white rose running through the middle of it! As though they grew the coffee beans in their own last remaining Yorkshire coal mine!  They’d probably lay claim to having invented Lancashire hot pot or making the first ever pan of Scouse, if you let them.

7. Historical claims

Recently, I read a most frightening little book (or should I say ‘propaganda’) named ‘Yorkshire’s Strangest Tales’ that stated that Robin Hood was not from Nottingham – but was a Yorkshire man. Along with Dick Turpin! And the author (this dreadful woman named Leonora Rustamova)  also waxed lyrical about the fact that Britain’s road network was invented by this dude named ‘Blind Jack’. From Knaresborough in Yorkshire. Or course. He probably invented the Concord, back in 1772, as well, didn’t he?Yorkshire strange tales

There is also much talk about Yorkshire being the base for the Saints – the first Celtic Christians that came to England. They also refer to their county as ‘God’s Own Country.’ Blasphemy! Utter blasphemy!

And I bet you that they reckon that Buddha had a flat in 1960’s Bradford, as well.

8. House Prices

So those Yorkshire folk, they sit there, all full of it lording it over the rest of us “Eee – I can own Harewood House, a yacht off Filey and a block of luxury flats in city centre Leeds – for the price of that cat-flap what you live in, in that London.”

And I think that this is due to something more than Yorkshire – tightness. There’s even a business group called ‘The Yorkshire Mafia’ and … call me a conspiracy theorist if you will – but I reckon its more than just a name!

9. Lost In Their Own Identity

Recently I have heard several famous people/pop stars etc claim “I’m Yorkshire, I am.” Or along those lines. I mean, have you ever heard someone say; “I’m Worcestershire” or “I’m London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, me I am.”

Exactly. The arrogance of these people is growing to monstrous proportions.

10.  Possible Neglect of Animals

I just find it strange… that Yorkshire people will pull anything out of their flat cap and claim it to be theirs – or to be better at anything and everything – than the rest of us. But think on this my friend. When was the last time you heard them getting excited about Yorkshire Terriers? No, indeed. There seems to be some kind of deep-rooted shame in the psyche of Yorkshire people when it comes to mentioning these small but hairy pooches.

In fact, I would go as far to say that Yorkshire Terriers are suffering from abject neglect when it comes to the marketing of Yorkshire.  The Yorkie terrier is the lost innocent in all of this madness!

A furry victim of prejudice? or simple neglect?

A furry victim of prejudice? Or simple neglect?

So dear reader – whilst certain commentators or politicians would like to see your concerns over extremism and issues of race and nationality being directed towards refugees, asylum seekers, muslims and the scottish – I think that we all need to look a lot closer to home.

Beware of Yorkshire Day, I say! These people are serious and they mean to take over the world…

 

 

(NB – if you got this far, finished the blog and still think that I am anti-Yorkshire, then you truly don’t get northern humour! And I feel pretty sure that Leonora Rustamova. Saddleworth White Rose Society and the Yorkshire Mafia will ‘get the plot’ too. But I do extend apologies to all Yorkshire Terriers everywhere. Because you deserve more PR than you are currently getting and I don’t mean to make light of this dreadful situation for you.)

 

*note* – this blog was inspired by a REAL conversation that I overheard. Thank you Crazy People On The Train!

Bicycles … Yorkshire … Africa?

19 May

Me. Fresh as a daisy! Yeah, right.

Back from sub-saharan Africa … a houseswap … a work-related project … and a ‘holiday’ (employing inverted commas here because is it *ever* a holiday when accompanied by humans under the age of 21 who happen to be your own, delightful offspring?)

So much to report on  and to ruminate over after our little jaunt to The Motherland. To begin with – how we dealt with such an enormous lack of internet, cell phones, a TV, doorbells and immediate neighbours (none within a mile …)

All of this was utterly weird at first. And then it became incredibly wonderful.  And I am missing it already. After the first few hours of adjustment, we began to see it all as a bit like a gift from the big guy upstairs (NB – apologies to my Brit next-door neighbour, Lisa  – who really shouldn’t take offence at the above paragraph. Our Lisa is welcome anytime of the day at our slum – especially if the cuppas are accompanied by our usual bitch-fest with regards to certain Kirklees household refuse collectors!)

But one thing that I am really noticing since we got back is the sheer volume of giddiness with regards to Le Tour Yorkshire here in The Valleys.

Don’t get me wrong – I am chuffed to mintballs about the fact that Le Tour is going to be wheeling it’s way through God’s Own Country. Many of our local writer-sorts worked their batties off in order to get a teensy bit of grant-funding so that we could mix n’ mash writing and the arts and expose the usual wheely-obsessed sorts to our local scribbling talent (YOU GO Holme village and the Yurt and our postcard project!)

But having had many conversations with desperately poor people in southern Africa as to the the tiny things that would improve their lives, I cannot help but have a slightly different perspective on things on my return home.  Apart from food, healthcare and education – one of the things that cropped up time and again was ‘transport’.

“Just a bicycle to share between our families, would really make such a difference,” was something that we heard an awful lot…

Owning a bicycle would mean that those people in Namibia, in rural Botswana, Zambia, Zim or South Africa – those who might live out in the former townships and who are the fortunate ones to have jobs out in the towns – don’t have to spend one-fifth of their meagre wages on transport. Owning a bicycle would mean access to emergency help when problems arise. Owning a bicycle would mean true independence – a foothold on the ladder to dignity. Owning a bicycle would mean having enough food in order to stop your children from dying of malnutrition.

And really, I am not exaggerating this last point. I’ve just arrived back home to the UK. I witnessed a deterioration in circumstances for the poorest people in Namibia since only a few years ago, when I lived there myself. I saw what a difference just a few pennies a week can make. In terms of life and death amongst the bairns in the Kalahari…

But more on that, later.

So. for now.  Let’s celebrate our marvellous chance to show the world how Yorkshire Rocks in terms of our hills and valleys – but let’s also have a serious think about how we can turn some of the media spotlight and the inevitable money involved in Le Tour – into something that will actually benefit the world’s poor.

And yeah. I am inviting Answers and Ideas On A Postcard. Please!

Le Tour Yorkshire – and indeed Holmfirth – came with us. But we would have loved to have left a permanent legacy in a land that so desperately needs two-wheelers…

 

Gothic Go-ers….Revisited

22 Oct
"I can't believe you came out here, dressed like that. You're no daughter of mine!"

“I can’t believe you came out here, dressed like that. You’re no daughter of mine!”

If you are reading this blog from overseas (or perish the thought,, from Down South…) you might not know that much about Yorkshire.

Beyond The Usual, that is.  Castle Howard, The Brontes, James Herriot, Yorkshire Tea, Alan Bennett… the usual Dalesy/ North Yorks stuff.

And this is a shame. Because as I said below – Yorkshire is actually THE BIGGEST COUNTY in the UK.  Yes – hear me brag. Yorkshire has its North. It’s South. East n West. Never mind the weirdy in-between bits.

And one of the best freaky-frequentor places to visit on the tourist trail is right here – where I sit a-blogging right now. The backdrop behind me? A foreboding, ruined Abbey. Overlooking the stone-cold North sea.

Interestingly (and with true, honest serendipity) I have trucked up here again this year – just as the town reaches the cusp of Goth Week. Halloween brings out the Not Quite Dead.

So in celebration of all things just a little bit dark and unhinged, I am re-posting my blog on Whitby and Goths from nearly a year ago….

It still stands. Whitby and Goths Rock.

_________________________________________________________

Whitby.

You may think Fish. Or Chips.

But, there is also a very strong chance indeed that you will guess the People who feel such a strong ‘yearning’ to BE – to simply, as they would say it – to BE THEMSELVES in this place.

It all began yesterday morning when my 4 year old boy screeched at me as we walked past Pannet Park.

“Mummy! Look! That man is wearing a SKIRT!”. I looked. It was more of a kilt to be honest . A fine, sturdy black affair, bedecked in silver studs. The Whitby Wind wasn’t going to reveal what the chappie was wearing under it. It was a Serious Kilt. But to the eyes of my 4 year old boy, a Skirt is a Skirt is a Skirt….

This was followed by my 7 year old, exclaiming with more than a little consternation:

“And look at THAT person! He’s wearing a gas mask! What on earth is that all about? Is he joining the army or something? Bonkers!”

And a few moments later. My husband groaning;

“Oh God. It’s Goth weekend. Can you believe this? Of all weekends to have booked a couple of family days away in Whitby – and its GOTH weekend!”

Of course, I say that my husband was groaning but I suspect that he wasn’t in the slightest bit put-out by it. (He likes to pretend that he has a sense of moral outrage. Although its usually directed at Radio 4 plays in the afternoon that exercise indiscriminate bad language in front of certain little ears. Or at people who drive too fast down our lane..)

In fact, we were all very much enjoying ourselves by the time the four of us had plumped our posteriors in our favourite ‘Not For Tourists’ café at the back of the harbour. After both children had glued their faces against the café window and created snot and saliva streaks, we all occupied ourselves with gawping at Goth Fest, with our youngest declaring that he was;

“Counting all the Well Scarwy Weirdo Ones with the Freaky Mask Fings”.

His sister, these days the more diplomatic child was:

“Waving at the people who have the most interesting costumes on. I’m counting how many of them I can make smile and wave back at me!”

I told her that this was an excellent idea, as most Goths are perceived to be miserable swines and that it would certainly be an interesting piece of social research if nothing else. I turned to my husband to ask him what he thought of this and he clearly hadn’t been listening. Another bevvie of black-bedecked beauties – busting out of their corsets bustled by.

I didn’t need to ask him what HE was counting. I suspected it was in double figures though.

As for me – I decided to count how many (normally dressed) people had the courage to simply stop and snap a photo of the Gothically Fashioned Ones. I was desperate to get my own camera out. But it just felt…well. A shade too touristy somehow.

In response to this, my husband commented;

“Oh come on. They don’t mind. None of them do! I mean – you dress like that to attract attention don’t you? You want people to look at you and to comment about you. Personally I find it all a bit tragic though. You talk to a Goth and they say ‘oh but we’re different than everyone else’. But these days its all Designer Gothdom. They’re hardly unusual or unique. Especially when they all truck up to the same place at the same bloody time.”

I was inclined to agree with his political take on the situation in relation to how Goth-ism has become just a little bit too much of a Capitalist Alternative. Black Consumerism Gone Mad perhaps. And also – harking back to the 80’s – I had a sudden yearning for a time when being ‘Gothic’ meant a bit of scruffily applied eyeliner, listening to Siouxsie and the Banshees and your brother beating you up because you put his boxers in with your best black frocks and the whole wash came out a nasty grey sludgy colour…

It was interesting though, to see how most shoppers reacted to the Great Goth Republic of Whitby. Most people trailing around the town for their fish n chips or for their Saturday Mooch were thoroughly enjoying the spectacle. Some of the costumes were stunning – both those of the men, and of the women. The occasional person I noticed, did have something bitchy or yobbish to say to the more outlandish figures. But as my 7 year old pointed out

“Well I just think this: if it bothers someone– people dressing a bit madly I mean – then maybe the person who feels all bothered about it are the ones who are a bit mad in the head!”

Nicely put Our Kid. So, in the main – it was all a bit of harmless, unusual and good fun. Albeit with a bizarre ‘edge’ to it.

Many More Like This!

Something did begin to bother me though. At least three hundred Goths had passed us on our first morning down by the harbour. And although I am quite sure that a lot of them had gotten out the palest Boots No 7 foundation that they could lay their fingerless gloved hands on…no amount of make up (or talc as it would have been back in 1982) could disguise the fact that I had not seen a single black or brown face. So – was being a Goth some kind of exclusive white movement? I could just about remember it being a bit of a white working-class phenomenon back in the days or yore. But was it really so unappealing (or excluding) of people who were non-white? As the weekend wore on, this feature began to niggle at me more and more. I wanted to stop random Goths and ask them about this, but quite frankly – I didn’t have the guts.

Finally, on Saturday afternoon, this gloomy mindset was reversed. I had just taken my first photograph of the weekend. It was a bloody great big shiny hearse. A Leisure-Hearse if you like. Complete with black feathered plumage waving aloft the roof of the hearse in an interesting parody of the old Victoriana Funeral Cart and Horses. But the best bit for us voyeuristic sorts was the see- through glass coffin. No Snow White here though. It containing a very dead-looking skeleton. Tasteful, like.

The hearse was parked outside of The Co-op in Whitby. I noticed that the vehicle had one of those little NCP Car Park sticker-tickets adhered to the driver’s side window. From this (with a very Gothically inspired Sherlock Holmes-esque inspiration) I deduced that its occupants (the live ones – not the poor dead sod) had clearly paid to park there. So, this frighteningly expensive and disturbingly artistic display was nestling amidst a dull-as-ditchwater dirge of Volvos and Citroens. Whilst its Darkly Obsessed Owners had nipped into The Co-op for Quorn, Lentils and Vats of Virgin Blood (no doubt on ‘Buy One Get One Free’ offer).

All of this made me smile. In a grim kind of way. Hardly black-hearted rebels the wee NCP parking ticket was saying to me. And despite it being quite a scene in itself, the hearse was receiving typical Yorkshire-Attention (i.e. I was the only person amongst the chocca-ful car park who seemed to think that it merited a snapshot). I couldn’t help but think to myself that; “If this was in London – there would be a dozen crappy TV stations out here, covering it as NEWS content. And before you know it – Simon Cowell would be conducting some new bloody-awful-talent show i.e. ‘X for the UNDEAD Factor’which would be performed on the roof of the sodding hearse’.

But the hearse is not the final nail in the coffin of this gentle diatribe. After crossing the road again (using the obligingly Gothic Whitby Harbour Zebra Crossing…yes – its amazing in how many places you can notice the contrast between Light and Dark when you are being culturally primed to think in those terms)… I FINALLY met my first ever non-white Goth. Bumped into the bloke. Quite literally. He was smoking a fag outside the pub opposite The Co-op and I wasn’t looking ahead of myself (busy checking to see if the skeleton had shown up properly in my quickly-snatched photograph.)

But there he was. As real as the Frigidly Cold Morning Daylight. The man whose toes I stepped on happened to be a very tall and very well-built black guy. He was attired in the usual Gothically bedecked Victorian morning suit. With top hat and a silver cane. He blew out a long stream of smoke and waved away my apologies, grinning with ease and obvious delight as I tried to disguise my surprise at encountering an much more unusual looking ‘Goth’ than the others that I had been ogling in the town.

And then, he managed to ‘top the bill’ for me. Bowling me over with an even more surprising Geordie-lilted “Nay Worries Lass!”, he reminded me yet again what a Glorious Place This Vast Tract of Land called Yorkshire is.

Whether Goth, North Yorkshire Biker Blokes or Bronte-Bores. Whether its folks who Hallow the Ground of Hepworth, Hughes or Herriot – or if its something as outlandish as Leeds Pride or as conservative and as ‘villagey’ a feel as the Longwood Sing … whether its Good Ol’ Compo or Norah Batty-Botherers…..

This paragraph could go on forever – but as THE biggest County in England, with an accompanying sleight of so-called ‘disadvantaged areas’ – us Yorkshire folk need to work longer and harder than ever before to stress the fact that despite experiencing some social problems and a lack of income per head, the UK economy, businesses and culture is finally accepting that Yorkshire leads the way! The mind-blowing BOOM of Goths In Whitby is just one tiny example of where we are creating a crazy-but-cool lead for the rest of the country.

I don’t mean for this missive to finish on a Tourist Board note, but as someone who has lived in many different regions of both the UK and the World, I can honestly state that there IS nowhere else in these Glorious Isles that can lay claim to such an eclectic, bizarre, friendly and accepting group of People – as Yorkshire.

We are a people who have the most fascinating ideas, outlandish business initiatives and artistic talents – to which the rest of the UK should really be learning from and mirroring….

Like Whitby, this Yorkshire Place has always been the Land of Anything Goes, where People truly make The Place. We don’t need Pride or Charity. Just bob up north and check up the (odd) event like Goth Weekend. It says it all…

The Hearse parked outside The Co-op. You can see that the poor sod inside had been waiting for ages for his pal who had nipped into the shop to fetch him a Cornish Pasty…

NB – ‘Goth photo’ with thanks to http://www.whitbygothphotos.co.uk

Darkly Fishy…

30 Apr

If I tell you the place?

Whitby.

You may think Fish. Or Chips.

But, there is also a very strong chance indeed that you will guess the People who feel such a strong ‘yearning’ to BE – to simply, as they would say it – to BE THEMSELVES in this place.

It all began yesterday morning when my 4 year old boy screeched at me as we walked past Pannet Park.

“Mummy! Look! That man is wearing a SKIRT!”. I looked. It was more of a kilt to be honest . A fine, sturdy black affair, bedecked in silver studs. The Whitby Wind wasn’t going to reveal what the chappie was wearing under it. It was a Serious Kilt. But to the eyes of my 4 year old boy, a Skirt is a Skirt is a Skirt….

This was followed by my 7 year old, exclaiming with more than a little consternation:

“And look at THAT person! He’s wearing a gas mask! What on earth is that all about? Is he joining the army or something? Bonkers!”

And a few moments later. My husband groaning;

“Oh God. It’s Goth weekend. Can you believe this? Of all weekends to have booked a couple of family days away in Whitby – and its GOTH weekend!”

Of course, I say that my husband was groaning but I suspect that he wasn’t in the slightest bit put-out by it. (He likes to pretend that he has a sense of moral outrage. Although its usually directed at Radio 4 plays in the afternoon that exercise indiscriminate bad language in front of certain little ears. Or at people who drive too fast down our lane..)

In fact, we were all very much enjoying ourselves by the time the four of us had plumped our posteriors in our favourite ‘Not For Tourists’ café at the back of the harbour. After both children had glued their faces against the café window and created snot and saliva streaks, we all occupied ourselves with gawping at Goth Fest, with our youngest declaring that he was;

“Counting all the Well Scarwy Weirdo Ones with the Freaky Mask Fings”.

His sister, these days the more diplomatic child was:

“Waving at the people who have the most interesting costumes on. I’m counting how many of them I can make smile and wave back at me!”

I told her that this was an excellent idea, as most Goths are perceived to be miserable swines and that it would certainly be an interesting piece of social research if nothing else. I turned to my husband to ask him what he thought of this and he clearly hadn’t been listening. Another bevvie of black-bedecked beauties – busting out of their corsets bustled by.

I didn’t need to ask him what HE was counting. I suspected it was in double figures though.

As for me – I decided to count how many (normally dressed) people had the courage to simply stop and snap a photo of the Gothically Fashioned Ones. I was desperate to get my own camera out. But it just felt…well. A shade too touristy somehow.

In response to this, my husband commented;

“Oh come on. They don’t mind. None of them do! I mean – you dress like that to attract attention don’t you? You want people to look at you and to comment about you. Personally I find it all a bit tragic though. You talk to a Goth and they say ‘oh but we’re different than everyone else’. But these days its all Designer Gothdom. They’re hardly unusual or unique. Especially when they all truck up to the same place at the same bloody time.”

I was inclined to agree with his political take on the situation in relation to how Goth-ism has become just a little bit too much of a Capitalist Alternative. Black Consumerism Gone Mad perhaps. And also – harking back to the 80’s – I had a sudden yearning for a time when being ‘Gothic’ meant a bit of scruffily applied eyeliner, listening to Siouxsie and the Banshees and your brother beating you up because you put his boxers in with your best black frocks and the whole wash came out a nasty grey sludgy colour…

It was interesting though, to see how most shoppers reacted to the Great Goth Republic of Whitby. Most people trailing around the town for their fish n chips or for their Saturday Mooch were thoroughly enjoying the spectacle. Some of the costumes were stunning – both those of the men, and of the women. The occasional person I noticed, did have something bitchy or yobbish to say to the more outlandish figures. But as my 7 year old pointed out

“Well I just think this: if it bothers someone– people dressing a bit madly I mean – then maybe the person who feels all bothered about it are the ones who are a bit mad in the head!”

Nicely put Our Kid. So, in the main – it was all a bit of harmless, unusual and good fun. Albeit with a bizarre ‘edge’ to it.

Many More Like This!

Something did begin to bother me though. At least three hundred Goths had passed us on our first morning down by the harbour. And although I am quite sure that a lot of them had gotten out the palest Boots No 7 foundation that they could lay their fingerless gloved hands on…no amount of make up (or talc as it would have been back in 1982) could disguise the fact that I had not seen a single black or brown face. So – was being a Goth some kind of exclusive white movement? I could just about remember it being a bit of a white working-class phenomenon back in the days or yore. But was it really so unappealing (or excluding) of people who were non-white? As the weekend wore on, this feature began to niggle at me more and more. I wanted to stop random Goths and ask them about this, but quite frankly – I didn’t have the guts.

Finally, on Saturday afternoon, this gloomy mindset was reversed. I had just taken my first photograph of the weekend. It was a bloody great big shiny hearse. A Leisure-Hearse if you like. Complete with black feathered plumage waving aloft the roof of the hearse in an interesting parody of the old Victoriana Funeral Cart and Horses. But the best bit for us voyeuristic sorts was the see- through glass coffin. No Snow White here though. It containing a very dead-looking skeleton. Tasteful, like.

The hearse was parked outside of The Co-op in Whitby. I noticed that the vehicle had one of those little NCP Car Park sticker-tickets adhered to the driver’s side window. From this (with a very Gothically inspired Sherlock Holmes-esque inspiration) I deduced that its occupants (the live ones – not the poor dead sod) had clearly paid to park there. So, this frighteningly expensive and disturbingly artistic display was nestling amidst a dull-as-ditchwater dirge of Volvos and Citroens. Whilst its Darkly Obsessed Owners had nipped into The Co-op for Quorn, Lentils and Vats of Virgin Blood (no doubt on ‘Buy One Get One Free’ offer).

All of this made me smile. In a grim kind of way. Hardly black-hearted rebels the wee NCP parking ticket was saying to me. And despite it being quite a scene in itself, the hearse was receiving typical Yorkshire-Attention (i.e. I was the only person amongst the chocca-ful car park who seemed to think that it merited a snapshot). I couldn’t help but think to myself that; “If this was in London – there would be a dozen crappy TV stations out here, covering it as NEWS content. And before you know it – Simon Cowell would be conducting some new bloody-awful-talent show i.e. ‘X for the UNDEAD Factor’which would be performed on the roof of the sodding hearse’.

But the hearse is not the final nail in the coffin of this gentle diatribe. After crossing the road again (using the obligingly Gothic Whitby Harbour Zebra Crossing…yes – its amazing in how many places you can notice the contrast between Light and Dark when you are being culturally primed to think in those terms)… I FINALLY met my first ever non-white Goth. Bumped into the bloke. Quite literally. I He was smoking a fag outside the pub opposite The Co-op and I wasn’t looking ahead of myself (busy checking to see if the skeleton had shown up properly in my quickly-snatched photograph.)

But there he was. As real as the Frigidly Cold Morning Daylight. The man whose toes I stepped on happened to be a very tall and very well-built black guy. He was attired in the usual Gothically bedecked Victorian morning suit. With top hat and a silver cane. He blew out a long stream of smoke and waved away my apologies, grinning with ease and obvious delight as I tried to disguise my surprise at encountering an much more unusual looking ‘Goth’ than the others that I had been ogling in the town.

And then, he managed to ‘top the bill’ for me. Bowling me over with an even more surprising Geordie-lilted “Nay Worries Lass!”, he reminded me yet again what a Glorious Place This Vast Tract of Land called Yorkshire is.

Whether Goth, North Yorkshire Biker Blokes or Bronte-Bores. Whether its folks who Hallow the Ground of Hepworth, Hughes or Herriot – or if its something as outlandish as Leeds Pride or as conservative and as ‘villagey’ a feel as the Longwood Sing … whether its Good Ol’ Compo or Norah Batty-Botherers…..

This paragraph could go on forever – but as THE biggest County in England, with an accompanying sleight of so-called ‘disadvantaged areas’ – us Yorkshire folk need to work longer and harder than ever before to stress the fact that despite experiencing some social problems and a lack of income per head, the UK economy, businesses and culture is finally accepting that Yorkshire leads the way! The mind-blowing BOOM of Goths In Whitby is just one tiny example of where we are creating a crazy-but-cool lead for the rest of the country.

I don’t mean for this missive to finish on a Tourist Board note, but as someone who has lived in many different regions of both the UK and the World, I can honestly state that there IS nowhere else in these Glorious Isles that can lay claim to such an eclectic, bizarre, friendly and accepting group of People – as Yorkshire.

We are a people who have the most fascinating ideas, outlandish business initiatives and artistic talents – to which the rest of the UK should really be learning from and mirroring….

Like Whitby, this Yorkshire Place has always been the Land of Anything Goes, where People truly make The Place. We don’t need Pride or Charity. Just bob up north and check up the (odd) event like Goth Weekend. It says it all…

The Hearse parked outside The Co-op. You can see that the poor sod inside had been waiting for ages for his pal who had nipped into the shop to fetch him a Cornish Pasty...

NB – ‘Goth photo’ with thanks to http://www.whitbygothphotos.co.uk

Dragons with Heart and Ethics

7 Aug

We have less money, more freedom, crapper clothes...But more friends. Probably.

Many of our friends and business/ charitable contacts know that myself and ‘that Ian’ have set up some very ground-breaking social enterprises. Stuff that has captured a hell of a lot of attention from around the world – i.e.  www.oromocoffee.org http://www.lyf.org.uk/programmes/ ….We have set this kind of thing up on zero funding – just a shoestring and calling in favours from people.  But the thrust of everything that we do has been about supporting developing countries to create sustainable livelihoods – whilst at the same time giving communities from disadvantaged areas in the UK the knowledge and experience to utilise their entrepreneurial talents.

We don’t really ‘do’ TV promo. We tend not to work with successful entrepreneurs who want to get their name ‘out there’.   But we DO like to watch Dragon’s Den and rant (at the Dragons) for being so bloody money and profit minded. For being so non-community and non-global-good obsessed. My own personal, frothing at the mouth moment was when Monsieur Theo ticked off an entrepreneur and creater of the You Doo doll (Sarah Lu) for using her Auntie to stitch the dolls (as opposed to outsourcing to the Far East). Silly girl!! I t would have added an enormous profit percentage for her if only she had exploited the desperately poor of the world in this way….

(Sheesh Theo! You might have snazzy specs and a swanky suit, but how the hell do you sleep at night??)

Us? I’m afraid that we are the entrepreneurs that the BBC doesn’t throw big wads of moolah at in order to draft in the TV viewers in their millions.  We tend to shop at the local hospice charity shops as opposed to Harvey Nicks or some London Fashion House.   Our kids are so used to second hand birthday presents that they complain if they have to unwrap anything that is wrapped in cellophane.  We choose to spend our holidays – sans Nanny –  in  a damp cottage rented off poverty stricken nuns in Whitby – rather than jet round the world, topping up  the carbon footprint nicely every time we draw breath.

Hey, we might be a *tad* self righteous. But at least we’re trying…’

Anyway. I just suggested to Ian that one of us should be the LATEST Dragon.  We mutually choked on our dinners and suggested that our standard line, would sadly have to be;

“I love your idea, I think your business plan is very sound.  I’d love to invest. But I’m poor as buggery. And I’m a bit more into making money for everyone else other than me. Call me an Idiot if you will.  Maybe my kids will hate me when my Last Will and Testament is finally read.  But I imagine that they will be in the slums of Calcutta, washing filthy beggars and being as happy as Larry.  So.  For that reason. I’m out.”

Launch of the OCC - Bishop of Manchester, James Purnell (then Sec of State for Work and Pensions) and members of the Oromo Community in the UK