Tag Archives: Yorkshire

Flying WHOSE Flag?

3 Feb

I wouldn’t really consider myself a huge fan of national symbols. I can’t stand all of the jingoistic flag waving and ‘Ooh I’m so proud of my country me-I-am’ stuff. I tend to take the attitude of ‘accident of birth – what’s there to feel so chuffed about?’  Yes, if you ask me what I love the most about my own country of origin, I’d say ‘the hills’ and ‘our freedom to be able to think for ourselves.’

I genuinely don’t feel competitive with any other nation, superior to any other country or inferior to any other peoples (unless we start talking more on the parochial level and then I get all sniffy about the folk who live in Hebden Bridge.)

But I’m not averse to anyone feeling that they appreciate where they live and the sort of community that they dwell amongst. And I do have to confess that I enjoy seeing the white rose of Yorkshire paraded about our streets and towns (although I’m often struck with a fear of being found out … as my birth certificate clearly states that I was born just a few miles over the border in red rose land. Don’t tell anyone though.)

British Pride? Or 1981 embarrassment?

British Pride? Or 1981 embarrassment at being born in Lancashire?

And I have also been heard to say (see previous blog where I bemoaned the geography syllabus in schools today) that it truly is a shame that kids today aren’t taught as much about countries, capital cities and national symbols in the same way that we had it rammed down our throat in the past.

But this week I had to swallow my words as it was a person from the older generation who caused me to stop in my tracks and to gape in astonishment.

In search of a tacky tourist giftie for my kids, I wandered into a little shop in North Wales. After grabbing the inevitable Welsh dragon keyrings, a lady steamed ahead of me and beat me to the till. Looking to be in her early 70’s, she was smartly dressed, had a well-spoken (English) accent and had a small pile of flags in her hand. You know the sort – nylon, A4 sized, attached to a wooden stick.

“Right,” she said to the young chappie at the till. “I’ll have these. Let me just check that I’ve got them all.”

She rattled off a couple of countries and plonked each item down and then I really began to pay attention when she laid out a red and white flag and said;

“And England, of course.”

“Er, no,” replied the young man.  “That’s not England.”

“Of course it is! What do you mean?”

“It’s Switzerland – that one. See – the English flag is a big red cross all the way over it.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. That’s definitely Switzerland. And we’ve run out of English ones.”

I mean, come on! It's the total opposite of St. George's!

Come on! It’s the total opposite of St. George’s!

“Oh, well. Never mind. I’ll get one from a petrol station or somewhere near a council estate.”  The woman continued with her final purchase, adding; “And then to finish with, we’ve got France.”

“Er, no. That’s not France.”

“Yes it is. It’s France. See – red white and blue stripes.”

“No. That’s the Netherlands.”

“Where?”

“Netherlands – you know – Holland. France has the same colours, but the stripes are vertical for France.”

“Really? Well. Can you get me a French flag then?”

“Sorry, no. We ran out of them last week.”

“Oh. Oh well. I can’t imagine I’ll be able to find one anywhere else. No one seems to be that keen on the French. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I don’t imagine for a minute that anyone will notice that it isn’t France.”

A confused version of France?

A confused version of France?

And with that, she paid up and left the shop.  I purchased my little dragons and made eye contact with the guy behind the counter. He was shaking his head as he said to me;

“You know, these older people – you always think that they know more than we do – but they do make you wonder sometimes …”

After leaving the shop, I recounted the tale to my husband. He being a keen fan of ‘traditional geographical learning’ and being an all-round smart-arse when it comes to flags and countries, had a good old chuckle. about the flag exchange.

“It’s the Six Nations this week,” Mr Rugby-Fan informed me. “She’ll have been stocking up on them for a party or something.”

I found all of this to be deeply ironic. Because he has always tried to steer our children away from any interest in football. Telling them that  rugby is a far more skilful game than football, that the game retains a much more ethical attitude to money and celebrity and that rugby fans are more intelligent and less rowdy than footie followers.

And yet the lady flag-purchaser was either all too aware that her party guests might not be the most educated individuals – or –  that her guests would be so drunk that they wouldn’t notice that the Six Nations has become the Eight Nations and now includes those well-known rugby fixated countries of Switzerland and Holland.

 

 

Bored. Watching Paint Dry Season.

2 Jan

I keep getting nudged as to why I haven’t blogged for a while. But this is the beauty of having your own blog – of having no one to actually pay you, as you offer up your nuggets of wisdom to the rest of the unsuspecting world. It means that can keep your hand in only as and when you feel that you’ve got something to say.  Unless of course, you’re of the opinion that you NEED to blog. But let’s face it, there’s enough guff and frippery out there, clogging up the internet-waves. So in 2016, I’m promising only to blog when I feel The Muse – true inspiration – ministering itself in my general direction.

Oh crap. I’ve broken that little resolution already. I’m going to blog about being bored. And, therefore, not-blogging.

Because the last few weeks see – have been really boring. V v. dull. Like a teenager’s diary – where you just scribble stuff like ‘BOOOORED!’ and ‘BOOOORING’ and ‘My Fam are like, soooo booooooring!’ And ‘this town is like, so boooring and I like, just wanna DIE.’

But – interestingly – and paradoxically. I’ve been experiencing a really funky kind of boring. Now  – because I’m rarely bored –  I’ve never had any sympathy with people who claim to be experiencing this sensation. This is mainly because I’m a hyper-sorta person who always has a zillion things on the go. Protestant work ethic gone mad. Yet recently, I’ve seen the light. I’ve seen the fun-side of Boredom and yes yes yes – I’m actively encouraging others to embrace my own evangelical zeal.

boring rainbow

A boring rainbow. Turned double a bit later. Progressively boring.

Boredom was thrust upon me. The most recent project that I’ve been involved with involved a great deal of dull, mind-numbingly, requiring patience type of tasks. And patience ain’t one of the attributes that I’ve been blessed with. But I didn’t had a choice. I *had* to participate in the kind of activities that led to a row in B and Q (me stomping out after shrieking; “‘RABBIT’S FOOT? ‘BISCUIT SURPRISE’? HOW MANY STUPID NAMES CAN ONE COMPANY CREATE FOR THE WORD ‘BEIGE’, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD?’)

But after selecting ‘Coffee La Creme’, a pax was created. Or perhaps rather, my will was broken.

I painted. I waited for it to dry. I actually enjoyed watching the damned wall drying. And I’m getting excited about the next layer.

And the new thrill-a-minute addiction seems to have been adopted by the kids. Regular readers of this blog will know that we aren’t the kind of family that go overboard on pressies and consumerist trappings. We’re not the totally anti-gadget, you-only-get-to-play-with-Mum’s-garlic-crusher sort of folks – but we don’t do excess. Mainly because – as previously said – we have so much stuff, so many interests on the go.

But over the last few weeks, even the kids have had a pleasant exposure to boredom. During the festive period, the 11 year old has barely watched any telly other than, “That brilliant, old St Trinian’s film – and ‘Carry on Cleo’. And Chas and Dave. I still reckon they’re Australian though, with those weird accents. And I loved Jimmy Cricket. Even though you said all that stuff would be boring. It wasn’t.”

New Year’s Day was declared by the 7 year old to be “The best day ever! We walked a dog, played in the rain at Scammonden and then got well-scared ’cause all those freaky-lapwing-birds thing appeared over our heads and we thought they would peck our eyes out with their beaks. And then this well-cool rainbow appeared. And we drove through it in the car.”

“Yup,” I said. “Sounds like the perfect day. So you weren’t bored at all?”

“Well – only nice-bored,” he goes. “Till you ruined it. ‘Cause you wouldn’t let us go and find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. ‘Cause you were going on about needing to go and paint walls.”

Sharing the Joy. Watching Paint Dry.

Sharing the Joy. Watching Paint Dry.

 

 

 

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!

Be Enterprising. But don’t be Too Literal …

6 Jul

My day job involves fostering enterprise and ethical trading. Meaning that yesterday, I was all smiles when I saw a few of the locals in Addingham selling food and drink over their garden walls – to the thousands of people who have descended upon Yorkshire for the first leg of the Tour de France here.

I was gagging for a drink and had forgotten to pack my water bottle. So I nudged my 9 yr old (who is dyslexic and who also has a dab of dyscalculia – like her dear old mum) to accompany me to make a wee purchase and work out the change da dee dah.

We approached a local chappie who had set out a little table on the side of the street.

DAUGHTER: A bottle of water please. Is it fair trade water?

MAN: Dunno, actually. Can you get fair trade water?

DAUGHTER: Oh, believe me. You can get fair trade anything! So, if it isn’t … and if it’s a bad company what harms people with their water … my dad’ll have ’em for it – yeah?

MAN: Right… That’s 70 pence, my love.

DAUGHTER: (hands over correct money!) There you go.

MAN: Ta. Tell all your friends won’t you?

DAUGHTER: I will do. But it’s probably a bit pointless because it’ll be Monday- when I’m back at school. And none of them are old enough to come to Addingham on their own. And anyway – are you still going to be sitting here then? Selling water?

(Moral of the Story – Tell the world that dyslexic people tend to take things very literally …)

Stop! The water we have here in our Yorkshire taps is far nicer and cheaper than your bottled stuff!

Stop! The water we have here in our Yorkshire taps is far nicer and cheaper than your bottled stuff!

 

 

 

David and Victoria Beckham. See you over the Cornflakes. Okay?

4 Jul

We are currently holed-up in a (‘well-posh’) caravan.  Here in the Yorkshire Dales. We come to this wee hidey-hole very often. And this weekend we are up for a double treat. Because the Tour de France is heading – literally – past the end of our lane. Twice! On Saturday 5th and then again on Sunday 6th.

Now normally, I would happily provide a broad clue as to our exact whereabouts.  i.e. ‘everyone should know about this – this is THE most stunningly beautiful location in the world!’

But today, I got confirmation that a certain David and Victoria Beckham are staying only a few hundred yards away, in one of the swankiest yorkshire hotels known to man and to beast.

So I am tying to create a blog that  meets my own ever-burning need to remind the world that ‘if you live in the UK and have never spent time in its biggest county – YORKSHIRE – then you have never lived…’ as well as proclaiming a big welcome to the Beckhams for Le Tour de France. And sure, I want to protect the whereabouts of the B Family.  So, in an attempt to make the Beckhams feel at home in the Dales – here is my wee missive:

“Dave and Vicky – we’re only a 10 minute walk away from you. But if you want to dodge the security and the press,  just shove a fleece on yourselves and travel in the Fiat Panda. We’ve left it at the end of the hotel’s drive – with the keys under the front right tyre. They’ll never recognise you in a custard-coloured yellow Panda!

We’re at the nicest caravan  on the site. The one next to the stream with the home-made herb garden. And we have a load of post-England World Cup Carlsberg that needs necking. We’ve sorted out the fold down bed in the living room area for you (the springs no longer poke-through as badly as they did last year.) So, yeah. Just pitch up whenever you feel like it. And the only things that you need to be aware of is a) that Dave wouldn’t be allowed to kick a ball about on site. And b)  it would really naff the rest of us off if he spent ages in the teensy bathroom – doing his hair and posing about in his underpants, and all of that. But yeah – otherwise! See you tomorrow over brekkie! As well as the cornflakes, we’ve got muesli and some f those french pain au chocolat thingies from Morrisons!”

A Yorkshire caravan site good enough for any of us - and the Beckhams too!

A Yorkshire caravan site good enough for any of us – and the Beckhams too!

 

 

So exclusive in fact, that I have just heard that

The only thing GRIM is the humour …

3 Jul

Very nice to see my mugshot and book cover in the biggest and bestselling mag for anyone in the UK who writes – ‘Writing Magazine.’  Wa-hey!

The title of the article was ‘It’s not so grim up north’ and this got me to thinking about why we associate the North with being ‘grim’ anyway.  Personally, I can’t think of anywhere less grim (apart from London, that is.) And I grew up in east Manchester, for Gawd’s sake!

Many of you know that I’ve been wittering on about street children in Africa in between having my head stuck in boxes of books and getting all giddy about my launch (photos of me in a FROCK coming soon folks!) But beyond all of that, there have been many light-hearted moments. Honest, guv!

So, I thought I would scribble ye a blog that contains some of the very un-grim chunnerings that have occurred over the last few weeks in our community.

One of my favourite magazines. Telling the world that we ain't grim!

One of my favourite magazines. Telling he world that we ain’t grim!

Un-Grim Scenario 1:

Daughter with dyslexia presents daddy with a ‘Hapy Fartrs Day’ card.  Yes. We said nothing. She gets very touchy about her spelling.

Un-Grim Scenario 2:

Walking the kids to school. Our next door neighbour slows down in her car and says ‘Do you want a lift?’ I reply ‘No! Go away with your flashy BMW, we’re walking! We’re a healthy family we are! Not like you lardy lot!’  Neighbour pulls away and gives us the finger. Just as one of the teachers from school crosses the road in time to see it.

Un-Grim Scenario 3:

Visiting our local Co-op shop. Note – we’ve always thought that wherever you live, in west Yorkshire – the Co-op tends to employ really …. hmmm…. ‘unusual’ people. I mean, they’re all really quite *nice* (apart from that pervy bloke that reminds me of a slug. In in the-village-that-cannot-be-named). But. They’re just sort of … different.  And recently, I’ve begun to suspect that our local Co-op staff have been on the Happy Pills. Perhaps senior managers have created a new staff incenctive scheme. Anyway, I was there, trying to rifle through the reduced items (they had mini pork pies AND sausage rolls) and my quest for the best bargain was being accompanied by a woman who was singing away as she cleaned the fridge section out. ‘You sound happy!’ I said. ‘Yeah!’ she goes. ‘I love cleaning the fridges. Actually – it’s my day off and I came in today ’cause I was bored and I like cleaning the fridges here. Can’t stand doing my own one, at home though. Well boring.’  I had noticed that she wasn’t wearing any uniform. ‘Hey – will you do mine for me?’ I asked her. ‘Only if it’s industrial-sized,’ she says. ‘They don’t do it for me, otherwise.’

Un-Grim Scenario 4:

DAUGHTER:  MUM! Guess what happened today? One of the dinnerladies told me that she’d read your book!

ME: Wow. That’s great. So what did she say about it?

DAUGHTER: Nowt. Just that she’d read it.

ME: Oh – okay.

DAUGHTER: But don’t worry. You know what people are like round here. If she’d thought it were right bobbins, she would have said so!

Un-Grim Scenario 5:

On being told that we had to leave early from the Yorkshire Yurt Festival at the foot of Holme Moss

SON (aged 6):  It’s not fair! We never get to stay in yurts! Everybody else can stay in a yurt forever! But not us! And Father Christmas never gets me what I want. And all my other friends have the best Skylander LEGO Chima Ninja whatever – but not me! We are so poor! I want to stay in the yurt! Everyone else in the world can stay in yurts! I hate this family! I want to live with another family!

A yurt that provoked yorkshire wrath ...

A yurt that provoked yorkshire wrath …

Un-Grim Scenario 6:

On being asked by my daughter (9) to sign a form so that she can join in with a new class at school which is all about  something mysterious called ‘Living and Growing.’ She seemed to think that this was the big “bleugh bleugh – word beginning with ‘S’ Education’ lesson stuff. I was trying to convince her that  the lessons would probably be about plants and animals. And general lessons about life. Nothing too hideous for the kids’ delicate little ears.  She wasn’t having any of this though (I mean, what the hell do parents know, anyway?) She became more and more insistent and animated and then shrieked something at the top of her voice. I was very shocked. And confused. But tried to stay calm when I said;

ME:    What do you mean, they ‘teach the lessons to us by using a cock’?  I don’t understand. Where on earth did you hear that from?

DAUGHTER: ‘I didn’t say ‘cock’. I said ‘cop’. A cop. From Huddersfield police station.  To teach us about dangers and drugs and things. Why would a cockeral teach us about Living and Growing? You’re so weird, mum!”

Sex education in the Victorian way. Never mind the cocks - there IS a fowl in the classroom here!

Sex education in the Victorian way. Never mind the cocks – spot the fowl in the classroom here!

Un-Grim Scenario 7:

DAUGHTER: Hope it’s alright mum, but we’re doing about drugs now at school, so I’ve taken the envelope of drugs in to show everyone in my class.

ME: What?

DAUGHTER: You know. The envelope by the back door which says ‘Drugs from Eric the dodgy policeman.’

ME: What? No! Those are flower seeds from Uncle Eric. For us to plant in the garden!

DAUGHTER: Well. Why did you write something so stupid on it then?

ME: Because …. we thought that it was funny. He’s a policeman. And he gave us an envelope with seeds to plant. It just seemed amusing …

DAUGHTER: Well it wasn’t. And he’s a policeman. So he should have known better. It would  have been really embarrassing if I’d brought drugs to show everyone at school and they turned out to be rubbish flower seeds.

 

 

 

WUDE WORDS FOR WORLD BOOK DAY

6 Mar

Everyone in our house enjoys World Book Day. Even more so this year!

The 5 year old’s school requested him to dress up as a character from his favourite book (disappointing me somewhat…I was hoping that he wanted to go as something rather literary, rather serious – such as Aslan the Lion, but no….bloody Spiderman. Again.)

My 9 year old had to bring her ‘favourite book’ into school and talk about it.  She told her teacher “Well, really – my favourite book is my mum’s new book. Sort of. I’m not really allowed to read it as it’s got rude words in it. But mum reckoned the teachers would like it as they read even dirtier things all of the time, when they go home…”

Cheers m’dears.  Happy reading folks!

Find my book here!

The Book Has Left The Building…

5 Mar

It’s finally up there for people to buy.  My first fiction book. You can find it on Amazon here.

I allowed myself a small, self-indulgent moment when the first dribblings of tweets and publicity trails arrived.

I felt good about the fact that I’m honestly not out to make money from this book. It’s always been  about the process of creation for me. About the fact that I finally listened to my inner voice …. that I simply had a story that I wanted to tell and to share with others.

I smiled and I pondered as I looked out upon our beautiful valley here. It really has been a mammoth task – but so satisfying and so uplifting an experience.

So, I got ready to go out, to meet my fellow writers and to bask in the warm glow of their support and artistic inspiration.

And then my husband said; “I hope you’re not going out like that. The budgie shat in your hair and you never even noticed.”

Mind Games & Ministers by Chris L Longden (now available at Amazon and soon to be on all of the others of course...)

Mind Games & Ministers by Chris L Longden (now available at Amazon and soon to be on all of the others of course…)

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