Thursday, July 17, 2008

Up North with Ailric

Three men were aiming shotguns at me the first time I stepped out of my hotel in Wakefield. A small crowd was egging them on. I took it well, casting a cold eye on life  on death, and smiling with the kind of cool unconcern that Yul Bryner did so well in The Magnificent Seven. In the event, they fired but I did not die. These were electronic shot guns and they were aiming not at my head but at a plastic version of the clay pigeon. It was all part of a Yorkshire Water management jolly. But the hotel being in Walton Hall, violence was always going to be in the air. From here Chieftain Ailric began his campaign of resistance against the Normans. It's also on an island in the middle of a lake. I was puzzled at first to see two blokes pushing a raft towards the hotel - Normans? - but it turned out they were restocking the bar. The whole mise en scene - fake guns, management jolly, Ailric, rafted booze - was so northern I burst out laughing. I was brought up in the north, but, as a child, I wouldn't have noticed its eccentricities. These slowly dawned on me when I went to Cambridge and found myself being mocked by Nige among others for my accent and for my habit of keeping coal in the bath and pigeons in cages in the garden. I did neither, though I did build rafts. The wonder of the north is that in spite of everything - motorways, superstores etc - it remains so defiantly northern. Standing in the rain, Ailric is still resisting the Normans and telling anybody who cares to listen that we're having no summer again this year and he just had a go with an electronic shotgun. 

11 comments:

  1. It was the whippets really - and the Park Drive fags...

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  2. ...and the tripe....oh dear, it's truly offal, enough to turn a stomach

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  3. I want to go up north (in England). Who can read a novel by a Bronte and not wish to?

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  4. Don't listen to these now living in the home counties, ex northern ( since when was Manchester in the true north) bunch of shandy drinking pansies susan, the fly over people we call them. Bronte country is a myth, Cookson country is where it's at. Leeks sixty two metres long, greyhounds like cheetahs, all of the men look like the cast of Butch Cassidy, no, not the bike, wimmen like, well, proper wimmen, smoking, drinking, spitting, calling their aunt Fred, every home with a picture of Lloyd George on a horse on the wall, every street called Albert or Victoria or Atlee, the ideal location : above a pub, next door to a bookies and across the road from a chip shop. If you wish to use a Guinness label as a tax disc, nobody will shop you. In other words, a labour stronghold.

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  5. Yes my wife's Yorkshire relatives seem to bang on about Vikings and Saxons a lot, but probably people do too in Dorset for all I know. Never mind Iran Bryan, have you noticed how long a box of staples lasts, even if you use them regularly.

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  6. Yorkshire Water management jolly? Am I paying for this?

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  7. And I'm minded to reflect on the way they do these things in France - live rounds ...

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  8. As a proper Northerner, who left West Yorkshire only to head further north to Durham for university, and only lately 'down south' to Manchester, i can proudly say i hate London, everyone in London, and think York is the true capital of England, thank you very much.

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  9. You're so right about the staples Captain B. It's uncanny.

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  10. If it wasn't for the M62 elberry you might still be sitting atop your west Yorkshire Neuswanstien, counting your staples.

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