Ee Bah Gum

On Ilkley Moor: The Story of an English Town

Picador 304pp £16 order from our bookshop

Yorkshiremen fall into two categories. There are those who, like myself, were born in God’s own county, live in it and intend to die in it; we know who and what we are and do not feel the need to unburden ourselves on the subject to the wider world. Then there are Yorkshiremen in exile. Torn from their roots in childhood or, more frequently, having voluntarily fled the county when they reached the age of reason, they are unable to sever the umbilical cord and they devote the rest of their lives to public displays of navel-gazing. From the safe distance of the leafy metropolitan suburb where they now reside (and which they have no intention of leaving), they proclaim that Yorkshire made them what they are. They look back with sepia-tinted, cliché-ridden nostalgia to a period that owes more to television advertisements for bread and beer than to genuine memory. A time when men were men and women were in the kitchen. Life was hard but Yorkshiremen had hearts of gold, even if they did not have brass in their pockets.

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