What’s your first Yorkshire memory? Eating porridge from a bowl with my name written on it in a back-to-back house in Mount, Huddersfield. As far as I remember, it rained horizontally and we had barely an hour of daylight for the duration of the time we lived there. I was about five years old and it was the first place I lived in Yorkshire. I’m a comer-in.
What’s your favourite part of the county and why? Huddersfield, because that’s where my house is and all my favourite things are there. It’s a bit cluttered if I’m honest and sometimes I’ll trip over a favourite thing and curse it which can lead to a conflict of emotions.
What’s your idea of a perfect weekend/day out in Yorkshire? I rarely get free weekends in my job but I’d love to recreate those I spent with my mum, dad and sister in Chapel-le-Dale, near Ingleton, in the 70s and 80s. They were idyllic. My dad claimed, justifiably I think, that the cake shop in Ingleton produced the best Eccles cakes in Britain and he’d phone ahead to order a hundred at a time. We’d bring them back for the enormous chest freezer in the garage. Sadly, the cake shop is long gone, it’s a tattoo studio called Inkleton now.
Do you have a favourite walk, or view? We regularly walk around Digley reservoir, above Holmfirth: stunning moorland scenery, oystercatchers, curlews and a cuckoo once too. Not too strenuous so great for young and old. I remember my granddad teaching me to catch a ball up there when I was small. We had a picnic and I got cross with a Salvation Army officer for squashing a beetle.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star (past or present) would you like to take for lunch, and why? I’ve really struggled with this one. The idea of me taking a star of stage or screen out to lunch just seems too far-fetched. I think Julian Barratt is funny, I’ll take him.
If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what or where would it be? There are so many, it’s kind of what I write about – mind you, not everybody shares my definition of ‘gem’. One of my favourites would have to be the garden of an unassuming terrace house on one of my post rounds years ago. It was planted directly on top of the entrance/exit to a railway tunnel and it was absolutely beautiful—big artichoke thistles and hollyhocks. Every so often there’d be a rumble and a whoosh and a train would appear from under your feet.
What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity? Geography, righteous indignation, and a bit of regional stereotyping.
Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub? I grew up in Holmfirth and my nights in the Nook are the source of some of my fondest memories: good atmosphere, good company, good music, good beer. It’s still a great pub but I don’t get over there as often as I’d like. These days I frequent the Grove at Springwood in Huddersfield which combines excellent beer and eccentric taxidermy to superb effect. Coffee Evolution is a great independent Huddersfield institution too; fantastic coffee and their bacon and egg bagel is probably my all-time favourite ‘sandwich’. Restaurant wise, Ox Club in Leeds takes some beating.
Do you have a favourite food shop? The newsagent on Northumberland Street of course. A lovely bloke, he’s kept me in Mini Cheddars for a good few years. I was gutted when he sold the business and moved on just after Christmas but the new proprietor has extended the Black Friday deal on flapjacks (two for a pound!) so all may not be lost.
Do you ever find yourself ‘selling’ Yorkshire to others? Yes, now.
Who is the Yorkshire man or woman you most admire, and why? This one’s tricky. For the sake of argument I’m going to say Jarvis Cocker because he’s great and he has been for ages.
How has Yorkshire influenced your work? It all goes in: The moors, the weather, the wildlife, the language, the derelict fridges, the Skoda Fabias, the purple anoraks, the wheelie bin pavements, the polythene flapping in the trees, the frost damaged garden statuettes of the Buddha…
Who is your favourite Yorkshire author/artist/performer? I’m going to say Sally Timms from the Mekons because she’s got an incredible voice and nobody ever gives her or the rest of the band the credit they deserve. They started out all DIY punk in the late 70s and philosophically they haven’t really changed much – which I suspect is why they as interesting as they ever were. I bought their most recent album, Existentialism, a few weeks ago and it’s another beauty. Few bands have remained so relevant for so long.
What are you working on at the moment? Uniformbooks are publishing an edition of my journal/photographs covering the period 2010-2017. I couldn’t be happier about this because I’ve been a fan for ages; all their books are very beautifully put together. I’m very excited. It will be out in March, called Round About Town.