Michael Parkinson's death reminded me of other famous Yorkshire greats - Ian McMillan
Later, as I was finishing my espresso, she came back and said ‘I’ve just realised, you’re not Barry, you’re Ian’ and I said that I was. Then she said ‘Did you see much of that Parkinson knocking about, then?’ and I had to say that I didn’t.
She seemed disappointed and went back to her mates at another table. I ordered another espresso and pondered who Barry was and why she thought I bumped into Sir Michael a lot. (I’ve just realised, by the way, that Sir Michaelalot could be a Knight of the Round Table. What an amazing thing language is.)
My pondering took me back to my younger days when I sincerely believed that all the BBC Newsreaders like Richard Baker and Kenneth Kendall and Moira Stuart all lived in the same house, a kind of rented BBC place that they would wander from to go to the TV studio when required.
I always assumed that this idea was mine and mine alone but the woman in the café had convinced me that maybe it wasn’t. Perhaps she thought that I was the late Barry Hines, Barnsley-born author of A Kestrel for a Knave, and that him and Michael Parkinson lived in the Famous Folk From Barnsley equivalent of that house full of newsreaders. Imagine the kitchen! All those famous Barnsley folks past and present!
There’s Barry Hines at the cooker, making hearty soup to put in a flask for that afternoon’s Barnsley FC match at Oakwell. There’s the actor and sometime wrestler Brian Glover mixing some Yorkshire puddings with a giant fork and his big brawny arms.
There’s Kate Rusby singing to the actor Shaun Dooley and there’s Joanne Harris and Joann Fletcher comparing notes on the spellings of their name. Sir Michael Parkinson is writing down beautifully funny and wise sentences on an old percussive typewriter.
Oh, and that’s Harry Tufnell, the man who scored the winning goal for Barnsley in the FA Cup Final of 1912, eating a boiled egg and soldiers. Maybe this is a cosier version of fame that the one we have nowadays.
Just like every town should have a museum and a theatre and a library and a sports stadium, maybe every town could have the equivalent of a guest house where the people in the public eye from that town should live, then they could always be available, not just for Hollywood casting calls or meetings with literary agents but also for the opening of a village fete because somebody’s dropped out.
Picture the scene: everybody is sitting around in the House of Fame, as we’ll call it, watching TV. There’s a knock at the door and it’s someone needing a ribbon-snipper for the opening of a new artisan bakery in the middle of town.
There’s a moment’s hesitation and then Brian Glover says ‘Go on then, I’m not doing owt else this afternoon’ and off he goes, coming back later with some oven-bottomers and a sliced loaf.
I know that I’ve been weaving some kind of fantasy here but I reckon it could work, you know. What a great idea: the Famous Folks Bank that you can draw on anytime.
What time’s the next bus to the Patent Office?