You may or may not be aware that, though I now lived in London and previously lived in Edinburgh, I’m originally from South Yorkshire. Since I visited my parents this weekend for my father’s 60th birthday*, I though I’d take a moment to talk about a couple of Yorkshire related titbits which have crossed my mind recently.
The first is the fact that no matter how far you go from your your roots, they have a way of inserting themselves into your life in unexpected places. The other day (or “t’other day” if we’re going to be properly Yorkshire about this) I was walking through Waterloo train station on my way to meet some friends for dinner. There’s a theatre attached to the station which is showing “The Railway Children”, and thus it has been named “The Yorkshire Theatre”. Next to the theatre is a booth organised by “Visit Yorkshire”, which is essentially the Yorkshire Tourist Board. As is often the case with these booths, it has a couple of large posters showing sights intended to entice you to… well… visit Yorkshire.
So far, so normal, but the beautiful yet ruined abbey in one of the pictures looked very familiar indeed. In fact, it looked a lot like the very beautiful yet ruined abbey just outside my otherwise almost entirely unremarkable home town. A little bit of Googling later and I confirmed that, sure enough, there was a great big picture of Roche Abbey sitting in Waterloo train station. See for yourself:
Maltby was once a proud coal mining town, but those days are very much gone. Now it’s mostly a hub for people who commute into the surrounding larger towns and cities. There’s not a lot here. To my knowledge, not even a Starbucks or Subway. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise to see one of the local sights held up next to the Jorvic Viking Centre as one of the main attractions in Yorkshire. Go us.
Something which is potentially less of an attraction in Yorkshire is the people. They’re not unfriendly, but but they can seem a little cold, and don’t aways warm to a person as quickly as they might. Know this, though: if I Yorkshireman calls you friend, he means it**. There is also strong streak on competitiveness in the Yorkshire folk, and a fierce pride in working class roots, though it feels as though this is being eroded in Yorkshire as it is everywhere in the UK. Some years ago, Monty Python sent this up almost perfectly in what I consider to be the finest comedy sketch every written:
(There’s also an alternative version here)
I say best written because the performance does not, in my opinion, quite live up to the writing. The delivery is fantastic, but most of the accents aren’t quite right. But still, beggars can’t me choosers. Also: waste not, want not, and close your mouth, there’s a bus coming.
* This makes me feel old, but I suspect it makes him feel older…
** The same, of course, goes for the ladies of Yorkshire, but “Yorkshireman” scans so much better than any unisex pronoun I could think of.