I’m going to define the essence of this sprawling place as best I can. I’m going to start here, in this village, and radiate out like a ripple in a pond. I don’t want to go to the obvious places, either; I want to be like a bus driver on my first morning on the job, getting gloriously lost, turning up where I shouldn’t. I’m going to confirm or deny the clichés, holding them up to see where the light gets in. Yorkshire people are tight. Yorkshire people are arrogant. Yorkshire people eat a Yorkshire pudding before every meal. Yorkshire people solder a t’ before every word they use....
If there were such a thing as a professional Yorkshireman, Ian McMillan would be it. He’s regularly consulted as a homegrown expert, and southerners comment archly on his ‘fruity Yorkshire brogue’. But he has been keeping a secret. His dad was from Lanarkshire, Scotland, making him, as he puts it, only ‘half tyke’. So Ian is worried; is he Yorkshire enough?
To try to understand what this means, Ian embarks on a journey around the county, starting in the village has lived in his entire life. With contributions from the Cudworth Probus Club, a kazoo-playing train guard, Mad Geoff the barber and four Saddleworth council workers looking for a mattress, Ian tries to discover what lies at the heart of Britain’s most distinct county and its people, as well as finding out whether the Yorkshire Pudding is worthy of becoming a UNESCO Intangible Heritage Site, if Harrogate is really, really in Yorkshire and, of course, who knocks up the knocker up?
As a Yorkshire man I can truly say this is worth listening to. Furthermore, as a Yorkshireman who just spent a few months not in Yorkshire I can say this book got me through that time. It's good when a book reminds you of home. Not only that but despite his hesitate nature Ian has something to say, I especially enjoyed the small periods where he spoke about Yorkshire Independence. I am now on the train back home and it's been too long. Buy this book, I recommend it but if you don't then have a little Yorkshire adventure of your own, just remember to wear a hat.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Absolutely loved it. Made me feel nostalgic for my home county and provided me with a detailed and rich experience of visiting Yorkshire itself. Can't wait to listen to it again.
I like Ian McMillan. I like his poetry. I like his voice, albeit an oral caricature of Yorkshireness. I especially liked the BBC radio 4 comedy ‘The Blackburn Files’ that was a great vehicle for his working class, laid-back wit; different from Peter Kaye, but from the same stable. So, you might wonder why I have given this only three stars. I think there are two reasons. First, that it seemed a bit patchy, so there were times when he ground the life out of a humorous situation, as if trying to squeeze a few extra words towards the finishing line of his book. The second reason is that I think I like Mr McMillan best in small portions, or when collaborating with others.
The book itself is a celebration of all things Yorkshire (perhaps it should have been sub-titled Yorkshire Pride). It’s focus is Ian’s take on, and experience of, what might be considered the mundane or commonplace aspects of Yorkshire life, with a fondness for the eccentric. I suspect that it will be enjoyed, moaned about, and secretly admired by Yorkshire people in equal measure. I was going to say that for the rest of us it may be a curates egg, good in parts. However, when I looked up ‘curates egg’ it had a meaning of mainly bad but good in parts and I think this is the opposite of what I feel ( i.e. it is mainly good, but I would have edited some bits to make it shorter).
I am glad that I bought this book, but for those who are unfamiliar with Ian McMillan’s work then I recommend a preview (prelisten?) before making up your mind.