The tourist season opens


Welcome back on board everyone! I hope you had a good break at the services, and are feeling ready for the next exciting adventure on our itinerary, which is where we are about to arrive. Our next stop will be the Village! I am very excited to introduce you to this particular destination as it’s one of my personal favourites. This is the part of the tour where we enable you to experience authentic rural Yorkshire, but before you leave the coach let me just pass on a few tips about how to enjoy your visit

As you may know, the local population in this part of the Island of the Mighty has a reputation for being a little gruff. The natives may appear a little grim, but are in fact mostly harmless.

Also the language spoken around this area is quite different from elsewhere in the country and you may be a little confused if approached by a native. If in doubt simply nod slowly and say “Aye!” drawing the syllables out as long as possible. That’s “aye” to rhyme with “pie”, not “aye” to rhyme with “pay”.

There are also a number of temporary inhabitants in the area attracted by seasonal work over the summer months. Generally they are exotics from Eastern Europe, visiting for the summer months to pay for college, but may come only from as far away as Middlesbrough. For those of you not familiar with the geography involved, Eastern Europe is on the continental mainland, and Middlesbrough is the other side of the Moors. Both are effectively foreign by local definition. In fact, anyone not born and raised in the Village is defined as foreign, even if they come from the next village along the lane less than two miles away. .

The Village itself comprises a church, a pub, and a village hall, renowned for its indoor bowls team and the monthly quizzes penned by a local inhabitant referred to only as “EBL”. Unfortunately you will not be able to meet EBL because she has an international fanbase to manage and can’t spare time for our coach party today.

castlehowardThis is where she lives though and if you use a telephoto lens to peer intrusively through her windows you may catch her working at her computer. Just make sure she does not catch you. Not after the incident with the coach party in March…but let’s not dwell on sad memories. We’re here to have a great day out!

The church will be of interest to those history buffs among you. The foundation stones are robbed out Saxon gravestones with parts of their original inscriptions still showing at ground level, although they are thankfully eroding since being uncovered some years back and so will no longer bring pagan shame to this house of God. The church was refurbished as recently as a hundred years ago and has some very interesting wood carvings inside.

Life in the Village is pretty hectic as anyone will tell you. The post office is available until 1pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, and as if that wasn’t enough the fish and chip van calls every Wednesday evening at 7.30 for up to 15 minutes. Although the Library van has been cancelled due to savage government cutbacks, leaving a number of elderly housebound inhabitants without recourse to the printed word and utterly dependant on daytime television for mental stimulation, the locals are not down-hearted. Oh no! They hold a bingo night every month as well as the quiz I mentioned earlier, and a barbecue every August whether it rains or not.

Another popular local activity is going to the pub. There is a traditional pub in the Village, as is required by law for any English settlement with more than two households comprising at least one adult of drinking age (for the purposes of the law, “drinking age” is 14 and above). If you decide to visit this particular establishment I must caution you not to offer to buy Dennis a drink. He has been dead for two years but still consumes copious amounts of beer and wins the raffle at the quiz at least every other month. The police are becoming concerned that he is disturbing the other lads in the lock-up if they have to pick him up for being drunk and disembodied, while regional healthcare professionals have noted a marked decrease in drunkenness amongst the population with whom he has shared a cell for the night. Hearsay evidence claims that they “don’t want to spend another night with that weirdo again”. Fortunately Dennis takes such comments in his stride and speaks ill of no one.

At certain times of the year you might be lucky enough to observe the local hunt in full colours, meandering about aimlessly in the middle of the road now that they can’t harass foxes. We are not expecting to see them today, but you will see the racehorses exercising on the Gallops if you follow the lane down there. Racing is part of the lifeblood of this community and racehorses will hold up traffic and trample small children with perfect immunity in this dedicated constituency. Apparently this is the kind of attitude that makes the locals proud to be British.

Finally, do not be alarmed by that man over there with the writhing trousers. He has a ferret named Sheila who lives in his pocket and gets a bit lively if she hears a coach arrive. She will bite, but only if you are prepared to pay for it. It is recommended as an authentic part of the Yorkshire Village Experience but costs are not included in the price of this trip. However you can get a 10% discount by quoting the code “Ah’m not fram rownd ‘ere” when paying her human.

Please enjoy your visit and be back at the coach by 4 pm as we have to get back to the hotel in time for the evening entertainment. Tonight the local schoolchildren will be putting on a series of humorous sketches including “The Four Yorkshiremen” in original dialect. Thank you.


NaNoWriMo Day 11 – looking back in love

Day 11 was a good day for writing. I stuck with my new approach of listening to the voices in my head, which I know sounds suspect, and it worked. Over 3500 words in a couple of hours, the actual numbers being 3,546 and 35,910. I am almost at the denouement now; I had to hold off writing it last night because I knew I wouldn’t have time before going out in the evening.

The theme of the day was Love, love of many kinds, expressed in many ways. Perhaps it is always the theme of the day if we could only recognise it.

After my writing frenzy, which I performed while Sigoth went swimming, we had to write the pub quiz for the evening. We had got behind with that so spent the rest of the morning producing 40 killer questions. We write these every couple of weeks, and I am amazed people still turn out for them. They are insatiable! But it raises money for the Village Hall, and people enjoy themselves, even if only in shouting at us, so it’s worthwhile. It is a form of love.

In the afternoon we had two things to achieve: taking rubbish to the dump, and visiting the offspring with the new house. In preparation for the latter I decided to bake some scones and take them to have with a cup of tea. Scones don’t take long. You can make them quicker than you can eat them. They only need 10-15 minutes in the oven. I knew all that and I vowed not to get distracted by writing any more until they were done.

Friends, I failed, and I want to say to say it was for love too, because I am in love with writing just now. In reality I am worried I have caught dementia from my mother. Honestly, could I not sit and remember the scones for ten minutes? Could I not ignore the voices for that long, or tell them to wait? Apparently not. And so an underlying neurosis is uncovered, that I am going senile rather than crumbling to the normal pressure of daily living like an normal human. It has to be more catastrophic and epic than just messing up. Yet in the back of my mind is another little voice, not a character this time, but maybe a devil, niggling and whispering that now I am 50 I should be looking for the early signs of dementia.

Anyway, the worst thing I did was burn the scones. I seem to have invented a new form of biscuit in the process, and we enjoyed those instead. And offspring in the new house enjoyed entertaining the parents too. So that was some more love, right there.

On the way we called at the dump and Sigoth had his very own disaster by losing the car keys just as our load of rubbish vanished into the machine’s maw. Horror ensued. The officials reversed the machine and raked it out but no key was found. We searched all the parts of the dump that Sigoth had traversed taking various items to various skips. In the end I managed to find my spare keys and off we went, resigned to having to pay out for a new key for Sigoth the next day, and trying to drown out the niggly voice now fairly shouting about Early Signs.

At offspring’s new house Sigoth made an exciting discovery of a whole extra pocket in his coat that he had not known existed. Magically it contained a car key, clearly placed there by the Car Key Fairy. Given the burnt scones (singed on the altar of NaNoWriMo, need I remind you, so not nearly so culpable as lost car keys) I was hardly able to torment him too badly. Not that I let that stop me of course. Although the voice remained. And the worry remains, and I seem to be prepared to believe dementia is catching rather than that we are both actually quite stressed. However, I still love Sigoth and that, my dears, is several other forms of love entirely.

The call and duty of love prevented me writing more words yesterday, but refreshed my soul in other, important ways, and who can ask for more.

I hope your day is filled with nothing worse.