Ian McMil­lan

THE BARD OF BARNS­LEY PRO­VIDES HIS WHIM­SI­CAL LOOK AT YORK­SHIRE LIFE

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Front Page -

PEO­PLE say that us York­shire folk (al­ways “York­shire folk”, note; not “York­shire peo­ple”) can be iden­ti­fied with ease. They say that they can tell we’re from York­shire by the way we speak, the way we dress, the way we com­plain about the price of things, the way we get sen­ti­men­tal at the thought of curd tart. Well, yes, these are all true to an ex­tent, but they are ob­vi­ous and well­worn, in­deed al­most thread­bare, signs of York­shire­ness; I’d like to dig a lit­tle deeper to look for more sub­tle ways of think­ing about how you can spot a per­son from York­shire a mile off. I’ll just pause a minute, though, while I think about curd tart. Ah, curd tart. Have you got a hanky? I’m get­ting a lit­tle tear­ful.

The first way you can spot a York­shire per­son is by the way they climb stairs,airs, es­pe­cially if there’s the op­tion of an n es­ca­la­tor avail­able, like in a shop­ping ing mall or a sta­tion. York­shire peo­ple e com­mand the stairs, they as­cend them as though they’re on stage or r as though they’re climb­ing the last t few feet to the top of Ever­est with­out out oxy­gen. They some­times take them m two at a time, show­ing off. The im­por­tan­tant word here is “take”; we take the stair­sairs like an in­vad­ing army might take a castle. And then we stand at the top and gaze round ex­pec­tantly, glanc­ing at the lightweights who’ve let the es­ca­la­tor do the work, as though we’re ex­pect­ing ap­plause. Which, to be fair, we some­times get. But only from fel­low York­shire­men and women.

The sec­ond way you can tell that a per­son is from York­shire is by the way they pour their tea from the pot into the cup. Ob­serve this next time you’re in a cafe. Be­fore the pour­ing the lid of the teapot is taken off and the tea is in­spected; some­times it is sniffed as though at some kind of tast­ing cer­e­mony. The tea is stirred with a spoon. The tea is left to mash. Then the teapot is lifted, with the same sense of theatre that the stairs were as­cended ear­lier. The pourer looks around be­cause they hope they are be­ing ob­served. They lift the teapot higher and higher, some­times stand­ing up at the cafe ta­ble, and you re­alise that this York­shire per­son, like all York­shire folk, wants to see how high in the air they can pour the tea with­out spilling any, like a high-diver div­ing into an ex­act spot in a pool me­tres be­low. The tea is poured, fall­ing through the air in a per­fect stream and land­ing in the cup with barely a splash. That’s York­shire pour­ing, ladies and gen­tle gen­tle­men. Come on, we’ve all done it. Or perh per­haps it’s only me.

The third way you can tell that some­one i is from York­shire is by ob­serv­ing them hav­ing the last word. Some­body will say “Good­night” and the York­shire p per­son will say “Good­night”. The first p per­son will say it again and the York­shire p per­son will say it again and they’ll insi in­sist on be­ing the last per­son to say it beca be­cause we al­ways, al­ways have to have the la last word. See if y you can spot all three to­day, in t the same lo­ca­tion: the stairsc climber, the tea-pourer, the l last-word ut­terer. T Then you’ll k know you’re in Y York­shire, and th that’s my last word on the sub­ject. Tea, anyo any­one? I’ll pour. From up here.

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