TODAY is Yorkshire Day. There isn’t an equivalent day for people born in Bristol who lived south of Manchester for a while, then decamped to London for student life and a post-student decade, before moving to York 27 years ago on a passing whim.
That passing whim became a life, as happens, and here I am parked outside the back entrance of York Station, waiting for our York-born daughter to return from university in Newcastle.
We are kindly allowing her back into the house, having kept the weekend free of Airbnb guests. Her bedroom is hers again. I drive her back home and tell her things that she already knows because I have written about them here. Sometimes I forget what I have delved into while writing about life on this ledge. Some blogs and columns that stray into family territory explore the rows and domestic dingdongs, but we don’t have many of those, so are disappointing value on the home storm front.
Now a day later and it is Yorkshire Day, as the daughter reminded me just now as we were having coffee. Yorkshire is a fine and wonderful part of the country and I feel honoured to be a long-term guest, having lived here longer than anywhere else in a mildly nomadic life. But something about Yorkshire Day strikes me as odd. If you want to dabble in stereotypes, Yorkshire people are bluff, amusing, spade-calling types whose pride in where they live goes without saying. So the fact that Yorkshire Day is full of people going on about how great Yorkshire is seems a little unnecessary.
The idea for the day came about during a meeting of the Yorkshire Ridings Society in 1974, apparently. According to the BBC website, Yorkshire Day celebrates everything Yorkshire. As a visitor who stayed, I’d rather celebrate Yorkshire by getting blown about in the Yorkshire Dales and then going for a pint in pub where there’s a log fire even if it is August.
In her Guardian column today, the York-born Sophie Heawood remembers when my old newspaper, now much truncated in its title but then called the Yorkshire Evening Press, got hot under the colour when Fergie and Andrew, Duke and Duchess of York, had their first baby and he took her a bunch of red roses instead of white – evil Lancastrian roses instead pure white Yorkshire ones.
As Sophie recalls: “There was outrage, which struck me as quite brilliant: who could fail to be impressed by a county that was still determined, in 1988, to enjoy a war that had begun in 1455?”
Well, me in a way. I had just started on the paper and, with a headful of London ways, I was still not up to speed when it came to proud and ancient grudges.
Incidentally, it is a great wheeze of York Art Gallery to reopen on Yorkshire Day – and to insist on charging everyone £7.50 to get in, including the locals. As Yorkshiremen and women are famed for their willingness to part with money, that is sure to be a great success.
FUNNY FOOTNOTE: Cycling through the station car park, I spot a man standing next to a suitcase and trying to attract the attention of three women some distance off. I wonder if he might be a taxi driver. As I approach the women, I say to one of them: “There’s a man back there shouting at you.” She smiles and says: “That’s my husband, he’s always doing that.” I’m still chuckling to myself as I cycle up the ramp.