Ian McMillan

THE BARD OF BARNS­LEY PRO­VIDES HIS WHIM­SI­CAL LOOK AT YORK­SHIRE LIFE

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Front Page -

HIS­TORY is full of big events, of huge earth­shak­ing mo­ments that changed lives for­ever and put the earth on a dif­fer­ent course; th­ese are the kinds of his­tor­i­cal in­stants that are taught in school and dis­cussed in seminars in uni­ver­si­ties, but I’d like to raise a glass to those more in­ti­mate mo­ments in peo­ple’s lives that shape them and the world around them in pro­found ways and help them to learn lessons about who they are and their place in the world. Real his­tory, I reckon. We’ve all had th­ese times: the mo­ment of pro­found em­bar­rass­ment, the mo­ment of un­ex­pected hi­lar­ity when you made the loud noise in the quiet place, the mo­ment when you dropped the house keys down a grate. I’ve got loads of them, and I’ll de­tail two for you.

My first such mo­ment is The Mo­ment ment The Milk Crate Fell Off Mr Cow­ard’s d’s Milk Float. I would have been aboutut seven years old and I was walk­ing down Barns­ley Road with my Aun­tie tie to buy a comic. My life was happy and se­cure, and would be even more happy and se­cure once I’d got my hands on a Beezer. Mr. Cow­ard’s milk float at hummed and clinked down the road oad be­hind us, mak­ing min­i­mal­ist mu­sic. sic. My Aun­tie made a pro­found state­ment:nt: ‘He’s go­ing fast’ she said. ‘Who does he think he is, Stir­ling Moss?’ Maybe he did, in his milk­man dreams. He took the cor­ner into Nanny Marr Road far too quickly and, in a few sec­onds of his­tory tat­tooed on my mind for­ever, half a dozen milk crates fell off the back and sides of the float and bot­tles chat­tered ev­ery­where, spilling and spout­ing milk. Mr Cow­ard looked at the milk-lake. ‘Does tha want any milk?’ he asked, chuck­ling. And the les­son from that mo­ment in his­tory: don’t go too fast in a milk float.

My sec­ond mo­ment is The Mo­ment Just Be­fore My Dad Came In From The Gar­den And The En­cy­clopae­dia Fell On His Head. I wish this mo­ment had never hap­pened, to be hon­est, but it did. I’d be about ten years old this time, and I’d seen Den­nis the Men­ace do this trick in The Beano. Climb up on a chair with a heavy book and bal­ance the book on top of a door slightly ajar. When the un­sus­pect­ing adult comes in from out­side the book will fall on their head and they’ll go ‘Ow!’ and laugh­ter will en­sue. At least that was the the­ory. My dad was in the gar­den pot­ter­ing and chat­ting to Mr Page over the fence. I got a chair and Vol­ume One of Arthur Mee’s Chil­dren’s En­cy­clopae­dia, and with a lot of ef­fort pl placed it care­fully on the edge of the door. I It teetered on its own ful­crum, it al­most sw swayed in the still room. My dad came in to watch the news and as he opened the door I changed my mind. I didn’t wa want my dad to have a book crash­ing o onto his head; it felt stupid, not funny. I ra ran to the door to try and stop my dad co com­ing through and the book fall­ing and I suc­ceeded in nei­ther. He did say ‘Ow’, b but there was no laugh­ter. He just looked sad. And th the les­son from this mo­ment in h his­tory? Don’t buy im­prov­ing b books for your chil­dren. E Es­pe­cially h hard­back ones.

I think I’ll write a his­tory book. ‘S ‘Small Mo­ments Th That Didn’t Quite Chan Change The World.’ I’d bu buy it!

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