Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The horse's mouth

I can't pretend that controversy has exactly raged on this site so far. I hope that it's proving useful as a bibliography, and I very much appreciate the corrections which have all gone to the publisher. But I'd been expecting that the Grim North Brigade would march into action with drums beating out a dirge. Not a bit of it. They're skulking in their tents. This has been the case even to the extent that the Today programme on Radio 4 had real trouble finding anyone to debate with me until good old Arthur Smith stepped up to the line. Maybe people don't think it's still grim after all? If only. One of the spurs to writing the book was the nervous reluctance of southerners to move north, and the nonsensical images many still have of the region, which I have heard with my own ears.
There is to be debating, however. I've given quite a few talks since publication including - swoon - a Yorkshire Post Literary Lunch was was always regarded as the ultimate proof of an author making it when I was a boy. (It was always said, too, that the editor at the time, Sir Linton Andrews, insisted on publishing only gushing reviews, for the sound commercial reason that the name of the Post would then appear on all the book jacket blurbs, as it did). Anyway, here are some pending gigs: Friday, 19 February, at 8pm in Bollington Arts Centre, Wellington Road, Bollington (the fabled 'Happy Valley' of affluent Cheshire). Monday, 15 March, Huddersfield Civic Society agm at 9.45 in Kirklees College, New North Road (you may have to join the HCS for this, but wouldn't that be a good thing?). Saturday 20th March at 3pm in the Yorkshire College of Music, Shire Oak Lane, Leeds, as part of Headingley LitFest. And 16 April at Saltburn Community Arts Centre in Saltburnby the Sea, a lovely place not to be missed. Time to be arranged.
I've added pictures of Saltburn's pier and wondrous cliff lift, and of White Nancy above Happy Valley to further entice you to come.


  1. I quote:-

    "I have always liked Leeds’ hype and irrepressibility - compared to, say, Sheffield which has changed in recent times, thank God, but used to be so downbeat."

    As someone who lives in Leeds but comes from Sheffield I never thought of the city of my birth as being downbeat - what it is is self deprecating but full of people who are fiercely proud of being a Sheffielder. Sheffield is also a friendlier place and - frankly - not up its own arse.

  2. Hi there - sorry for delay in coming back to you. I'm on sabbatical (a blessed Guardian institution which I hope survives correct financial challenges...) and have been meeting loads of new relations (via my older son's marriage) in Sri Lanka.

    That's also why I'm appearing as 'Anonymous' - I've got rusty in how to do this in my own name, while away.

    I'm glad you've found Sheffielders loyal and proud and I take that on board. My conclusion, though, is that their failure to talk up the city has been partly responsible for its falling so far behind Leeds. I agree that modesty and self-deprecation are more attractive than trumpet-blowing but as W S Gilbert said:

    "If you wish in this world to advance,
    Your merits you're bound to enhance;
    You must stir it and stump it,
    And blow your own trumpet,
    Or trust me, you haven't a chance.

    And I think that's what Sheffield, and Bradford, and pre-bomb Manchester, and to some extent the North in general has been bad at.

    I absolutely agree about the merits of Sheffield as place to live, a landscape and the home of very friendly people.

    All warm wishes, Martin W