Yorkshire Prose: Yorkshire poet and Navy officer on great comedy from Early Doors to Peter Kay

Poet Ben Taylor was the headline performer for the launch of Our Year – Wakefield District 24.

Ben was born in the city, and writes dialect poetry under his pen name of Yorkshire Prose. Ben is a serving Petty Officer in the Royal Navy, and lives in Wakefield with his wife Steff and their three-year-old daughter, Betsy.

I’m currently reading:

A wonderful book by the Libyan writer Hisham Matar, called In the Country of Men.

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The Yorkshire Prose, Ben TaylorThe Yorkshire Prose, Ben Taylor
The Yorkshire Prose, Ben Taylor

It’s a very powerful novel set in Tripoli at the time of Qadaffi, and the main character is a lad called Suleiman, just nine years old, whose father is very much opposed to that regime (which of course makes him a target of them) and whose mother is terrified that something terrible will happen to her husband.

She resorts to drink to bury her anxieties. I was with the Navy, on HMS Ocean, when we were off the coast of Libya, and I became fascinated by both the country, its history and its people, I’m also a great fan of the Irish writer Claire Keegan, who is known for her short story collections.

I read a lot on board ship, and, while I do prefer a good old-fashioned book where I can turn the pages, a Kindle is a necessity these days, because there isn’t room in a cabin for a sackload of literature.

My own writing comes from the walks I have, out and about and near home, with the family dog, Barbara – I don’t jot things down on my phone, which is the modern equivalent of the author’s writing paper of old.

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Looking back, when I first started writing, and it came out on board that it was dialect poetry, I did get a bit of good-natured mickey-taking, but no-one takes a blind bit of notice these days.

I’ve been listening to:

An awful lot, because I’m currently serving on HMS Heron, in Somerset, and that’s a long way to drive to, and and a long way back, as well. Some 200 miles and more, and there’s music or podcasts on all the way.

Recently there’s been a lot of Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash. Who knows what it’ll be next, probably Motown and Rhythm and Blues.

I’ve also taken out a subscription to Audible, and I’ve discovered a writer called Ed Conway, who is an expert on geopolitical matters. Some of which is very interesting, other bits of which are very dry. I tend to skip the latter.

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The other music in my life comes from Betsy, and her love of nursery rhymes, and I’ve caught myself humming the tunes, or singing along, on board ship.

One of my good mates on board also has a daughter, she’s about two and a half, and the other day I was humming along to ‘Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns’ as I went to the mess, and he joined in. We both knew where the tune came from.

On TV, I’ve been watching:

The telly is always on in the mess, nearly always comedy series, such as Comedy Nights and Early Doors.

When I’m at home with Betsy, her preferences are for anything with a princess in it – her cousins are slightly older than she is, so she gets a lot of their party frocks handed on to her, and she’s got an entire rack of them.

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She’s a huge fan of things like Frozen, of course, and of Beauty and the Beast. She’ll commandeer me to play along, and I am always cast as The Beast when she acts out her stories.

The live performance I’d recommend is:

Steph and I managed to get tickets to Peter Kay in Leeds recently, at the Arena, and it was a great night out, made even more agreeable by having a few pots in Whitelock’s, beforehand.

Mr. Kay had lost so much weight that, at first, we thought we were watching a tribute act.

He made a joke of it, and actually showed some “before” pictures at the end of the show. The next big event for me will be going down to Wembley in June, to see the Challenge Cup final.

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I play loose forward for Stanley Rangers ARLFC, and a whole gang of us go down for a couple of days.

My next box set will be (or my last boxed set was….):

It’s going to be Succession, which I’ve heard a lot about, but not yet caught up with. That’s a must, for me.

The App I couldn’t be without is:

Google Maps, and also Ordnance Survey Maps, which are so useful when I’m out with the dog. I’ve also got podcasts on there, and the one I’ve been enjoying is Stephen Fry’s memoirs. He’s very much a lover of new technology, and gadgets, and, like me, marvels of what is achievable these days – who could imagine, 20 years back, what a huge part WhatsApp would play in our lives.

What is right at the top of your “To do” Bucket list?:

I speak a little German, but I’d long to be fluent in the language, so that’s one goal, and, since I also play Rugby League for the RN team, we’ll be going back to Australia in a few months, for a match in Sydney, which will be on their ANZAC Day. Now that is definitely going to be interesting.

Visit ouryear24.com/24in24 for a full list of events

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