Drawing on experience to reflect on glory of Yorkshire

Harold Mason, 81, has illustrated a new book called Reflections by a group of 50 pensioners
Harold Mason, 81, has illustrated a new book called Reflections by a group of 50 pensioners
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WHEN a group of pensioners in an East Riding village succeeded in publishing a book five years ago, they thought it would be their one and only foray into print.

But now they are back with their second colourful, proud and sometimes whimsical take on their native county.

For like the earlier Autumn Leaves, which recorded in prose and poetry their stories of life, love and Yorkshire, the new book, Reflections, is also a homage to God’s Own County. And the group, from Rawcliffe, near Goole, may be an inspiration to others.

Frustrated by the social and artistic opportunities for older people, they formed the Thursday Club, determined not to wither on the vine through lack of stimulation.

That was 37 years ago and their membership of about 50 remains the same, although some new faces have been added along the way.

They say their new book, which will raise money for charity, would make an ideal stocking filler and sales are already going well with a third of the 700 copies having already being snapped up.

The verses are again punctuated by the superb watercolours of club founder Harold Mason, a bricklayer by trade.

In his youth he had wanted to go to art college, but was dissuaded by his headteacher at Goole Grammar School.

“He said, ‘it’s a good hobby but a risky profession’ and I took his advice,” he said.

Included are some of his favourite Yorkshire scenes, from the railway at Goathland to a misty Hebden Bridge, Thornton-le-Dale, winter at Hutton-le-Hole, and Robin Hood’s Bay.

Some are even paintings of photographs published in the Yorkshire Post.

Only two people get their own portrait – “Fiery” Fred Trueman and the Queen in her Diamond Jubilee year.

The poets are identified by first name only. Margaret, for example, provides a two-stanza ode to her home, Our House.

She writes: “Our home is not a stately home/With rooms of gold and blue/But just a simple farmhouse/Where all our dreams come true.”

Mr Mason said that although some aspects of Yorkshire had changed over the years, its essential character and people had not. “The dialect hasn’t changed much,” he said. “Words my granddad used are still current today.

“In this part of Yorkshire people used to talk about if you were earning money you were addling money. My grandad used to say ‘We haven’t addled a shilling 
yet’.

“A lot of words I still hear youngsters using.

“We mash tea – other people brew it.

“I think Yorkshire people 
are Yorkshire people, they 
don’t alter, they call a spade a spade.”

He added: “I love the Dales and the Moors, they are picturesque aren’t they?

“Ours (East Riding) is a flat area but it’s not without its beauty and you get some glorious sunsets.

“As someone said, within Yorkshire you’ve got an area that represents our country, from the estuary to the big industrial cities, the fishing communities and seaside towns. Our holiday resorts are as good as anything.”

The 81-year-old said he would like to see more efforts to engage older people, and more older people taking part in activities.

Recalling the launch of the Thursday Club, he said: “There wasn’t a lot for older people to do.

“The Darby and Joan club was on its knees and all they did was spend an hour playing bingo so we decided to try a club of our own to do things that present a bit of a challenge.

“If people are good at poetry encourage them to do a poem or recite a poem and make it challenging to older people.

“We were only in mid-life then.

“I have to say some of those old people’s homes where they are sitting about with nothing to do, there’s something missing.

“There’s one near where I live and I’ve been going to see some of the people.

“They have food, they are warm and have all of the comforts but they have nothing to stimulate them and their minds just go and a lot of them aren’t as old as me.

“If only there was somebody there to encourage them to do things. It’s not too difficult to write a little poem or do something worthwhile.”

Although he is largely self-taught, Mr Mason is full of praise for the advice he gets at a weekly art class in Snaith run by Maggie Berkley.

And what of that other Yorkshire artist who found his muse in the county of his birth, David Hockney?

“It’s not my cup of tea,” said Mr Mason. “But he can make a living out of his work, I can’t make one out of mine.”