Adventures In Ilkley, West Yorkshire

Reggie: Wheear ‘ast tha bin sin’ ah saw thee?

Andrew: On Ilkley Moor, with my hat. The Mountain Equipment one that kept me warm in Norway. It’s a very fetching bright blue.

Reggie: Wheear ‘ast tha bin sin’ ah saw thee, ah saw thee?

Andrew: I just said; on Ilkley Moor, with (not without) my hat. Is there an echo in here?

Reggie: Tha’s been a cooartin’ Mary Jane.

Andrew: No I haven’t. I came alone. Apart from those two old ladies in the café in the Waterstone’s in Bradford, I haven’t spoken to anyone. Anyway, who’s Mary Jane?

Reggie: Tha’s bahn’ to catch thy deeath o’ cowd

Andrew: Cold? No, I’m well wrapped up but it was raining a bit on the moor.

Reggie: Then us’ll ha’ to bury thee.

Andrew: Don’t be silly. It wasn’t that wild!

Reggie: Then t’worms’ll come an’ eyt thee up.

Andrew: Well I suppose they would. As a humanist I don’t have issues with that.

Reggie: Then t’ducks’ll come an’ eyt up t’worms.

Andrew: Well, yes… (Where is this going?) Survival of the fittest duck! Talking of which, Charles Darwin stayed here in the period immediately prior to the publication of On The Origin of the Species. I think he might have been hiding from the religious types.

Reggie: Then us’ll go an’ eyt up t’ducks.

Andrew: Yes… Although I think the local council might have something to say if you go up to the moor and start pilfering ducks in order to provide yourself with a nice evening meal.

Reggie: Then us’ll all ha’ etten thee. That’s wheear we get us ooan back.

Andrew: Have you been drinking Reggie? Cue the photos:

Interestingly… “According to tradition… [I’m copying this from the finest source of local history to be found in most British towns: the walls of Wetherspoons] …the words [of the famous song] were composed by members of a Halifax [my home town] church choir on an outing to Ilkley Moor.

For those of you not familiar with Yorkshire dialect: “The song tells of a lover courting the object of his affections, Mary Jane, on Ilkley Moor without a hat. The singer chides the lover for his lack of headwear – for in the cold winds of Ilkley Moor this will mean his death from exposure.

The reason of my visit to Ilkley was not to visit the moor – that was just a very pleasant extra – but to attend a couple of talks organised by the Ilkley Literature Festival. Earlier it was Ranulph Fiennes – an interesting chap with a sledge load of anecdotes although I can’t help thinking that he might annoy me if I were to share an adventure with him (and vice versa) – and later this evening I return to the main venue to listen to the Snows, Peter and Dan, discuss the Battle of Waterloo. Having visited Waterloo with Kevin Mayne earlier in the year as I cycled from Tarifa to Nordkapp, this will feature in my own upcoming book so I’ll be talking notes. Well I assume it is a talk about the battle. It could be the father and son team’s mutual appreciation of ABBA songs or indeed an exposé of winners of the Eurovision Song Contest in the 1970s. Who knows?

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