Ivor Cliche…Football Manager.

Saturday afternoon. A football ground. Somewhere in England. Kick off is approaching; a hush has descended on the changing room and it’s just the lads and me. Or “moi,” as Arsene would say. Ivor Cliché, the gaffer. The chips are down, push has come to shove and it’s time to rally the troops before they go into battle. I speak. “Look, lads. We all know it’s a level playing field, even though we’re on hallowed turf, on home ground. But let me just say this, it’s not about fun and games. The name of the game is that we need to hang on in there. If we fail to impress, I won’t have it said that we lacked the killer instinct. If I smell a whiff of that, some of you will be in for the long walk, the early bath. Resting on your laurels is not an option. I don’t expect us to win by a ballpark figure but I do expect you to keep your eyes on the ball. Remember to touch base with each other. You’re all team players, you’re all fighting fit and we’re in with a sporting chance. With a bit of ducking and diving we’ll be able to hit them where it hurts. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. I don’t want them being saved by the final whistle or we’ll be back to square one. Make sure they’re out for the count. Needless to say, it’s a game of two halves and we’ve everything to play for but getting a result means giving it your best shot. The fans have suffered enough and I want to see them over the moon, not sick as parrots. The ball is in your court and when push comes to shove, stick with the game plan. Be quick off the mark and we’ll see off the opposition, have them over a barrel. We’re on a winning streak and if we play our cards right, we’ll come up trumps, even if the chips are down. All you need to do is to sit tight and believe that this is the only game in town and remember, the buck stops here. Now go out there and bite the bullet. Failure is not an option.” The room begins to fill with light. I can hear the roar of the crowd and then, curiously, my wife’s voice spoke to me. “Wake up it’s morning. You’re talking in your sleep.” “What?” “Never mind where the buck stops, when are you going to fix that garden fence?” “One job at a time, my little barracuda, one job at a time.”

“Make it so.”

If one of the talented Huddersfield Town Academy’s graduate players inflicts any damage on the Clarets today, a man closely linked to the Academy can be found in a theatre dressing room on Broadway, New York and held partly responsible.

Perhaps better known for sitting in his Captain’s chair commanding the Starship, the USS Enterprise as Jean Luc-Picard, the famous British actor and lifelong Huddersfield Town fan, Sir Patrick Stewart, can be found there appearing in the Samuel Beckett play, “”Waiting for Godot.”

A few years ago, as the Chancellor of Huddersfield University, Sir Patrick presented Huddersfield Town legend, Andy Booth, with an Honorary Fellowship from the University and recently named the players of the 1925/6 squad as his favourite Huddersfield side, a team that won the league that year for the third time.

Hedging his bets, he named Alex Smithies, Ray Wilson, Mark Lillis, Vic Metcalfe, Denis Law, Jordan Rhodes and, of course, Andy Booth as substitutes.

The popular actor is now President of Town’s Academy and in his youth, no mean footballer himself.

I played alongside him in a team I organised while we were both acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the late 60’s.

A muscular, bustling, full back capable of tackling opposing wingers with all the ferocity of a Staffordshire bull terrier, Patrick was a formidable opponent.

He wore contact lenses to play and brought a match to a standstill one Sunday morning by shouting, “Stop,” in that deep, commanding voice that has helped make him into such a fine Shakespearean actor.

A bewildered referee asked him what the problem was and Patrick announced that he’d lost a contact lens as he was heading the ball.

Miraculously, a search of the muddy pitch by both teams, the referee and the linesmen, found it.

Patrick spat on it to clean it, popped it back in, blinked a few times and we played on.

Not long after, his vision fully restored, he crunched into the opposition’s winger with such force that, much to Patrick’s dismay, the winger never recovered enough to continue.

Somewhere, maybe, in the video files of the BBC, a copy exists of a programme made in 1970 by the sports writer, Brian Glanville called, “One Pair of Eyes, “ which looked at the phenomenon of Sunday morning footballers.

Patrick and I kicked off a game on Hackney Marshes in London to the sound of a helicopter filming overhead, capturing a view of the 88 full size pitches laid out there, every one with a match on it. An astonishing sight but the chances of getting a hot shower at the end of the game with around 2000 others fighting for the same privilege is daunting, to say the least.

I’ve no doubt that Sir Patrick, thanks to modern technology; will be keeping his eye on today’s match, sitting alongside his co-star, the Burnley born, Sir Ian McKellen.

I once listened, in a hotel room in America, to a home game at Turf Moor, courtesy of Clarets Player, when I was on tour there, Phil Bird’s northern accent filling me with nostalgia. Wonderful.

One Sunday morning, many years ago, like Sir Patrick appearing in the Big Apple, I bought a copy of the New York Times, found the “Soccer” results (not easy) and read, “Burnley 1 Preston 12.”

I spent the rest of the day praying that it must be a misprint, hoped that it was 1-1 and by nightfall, was willing to settle for losing 2-1, anything but 1-12.

Sitting in New York this New Year’s Day, playing a role that is light years away from Jean Luc-Picard, Sir Patrick will be wanting a Huddersfield win. I can almost hear him muttering, “Make it so,” as he stares at his mobile.

In the event of Huddersfield going behind, one can only hope that he doesn’t get himself beamed down to Turf Moor during the game.

I wouldn’t wish him loose on any Burnley players. I still wince when I remember those Sunday morning tackles.

 

The only way to stop him would be to, “Set phasers to stun.”

 

Christmas Tangerines.

Once upon a bitterly cold Christmas, not far from Turf Moor, there were polar bears prowling Burnley’s snow covered, cobbled backstreets.

Or so my uncle told me.

With gob-stopper wide eyes and shallow breath, the five year old me, claret and blue scarf wrapped round my ears, shivered fearfully inside an igloo built against our back-yard wall in the great winter of 1947.

The few tiny, spluttering night-lights in jam jars inside the igloo were small comfort, as I could quite clearly hear, on the cold, late afternoon air, the chilling sound of one (or was it two, or MORE!) giant polar bears scratching and snuffling on the frozen, snow covered, cobbles outside the entrance to my den. I was about to be eaten but worse still, I’d miss Christmas.

Rescued by my Grandma who was only a few yards away, feeding bread to some hungry sparrows, I later told her, safe in front of a hissing coal fire, how there were HUNDREDS of bears out there and one of them had a laugh just like my uncles.

1947 was a memorable winter but nowadays, like the great Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, I can’t remember, “Whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was 12, or twelve days and twelve nights when I was 6.”

Shortly after my Grandma had seen off the bears (and, no doubt, my uncle), Britain,  (still an austere, rationed, country) emerged into the post-war years and the Football League returned to its pre-war divisions. First, Second and Third (North and South.)

In fact, Burnley played today’s  tangerine opponents on the 2nd of December, 1944 at Blackpool in what was then the Football League (North), courtesy of an Air Commodore, no less, Bloomfield Road having been requisitioned by the RAF during the war.

By 1948, I was occasionally taken on the Turf, in spite of maternal misgivings.

There I am, a small boy carrying a large, wooden, war-time rattle painted claret and blue, alongside my Granddad who made me a stool which enabled me to gain an extra foot of height just before kick-off, peering excitedly over the trilby’s and flat caps of the 30/35000 fans that used to stand crammed in to Turf Moor in football’s post-war boom years.

Games watched through a fog of acrid, blue cigarette and pipe smoke and, at Christmas, a heady whiff of cheap whisky or brandy emanating from thousands of Thermos flasks opened at half time.

There was tea in there too but in what proportions one dreads to think. No doubt it had medicinal qualities. It was Bovril for me.

Burnley played Blackpool, home and away, after Christmas, on the 26th and 27th, 1949.

I don’t remember any snow (or bears) but Christmas it was and I’d learnt all the words of, “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,” and, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth,” from the radio.

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve (no floodlights in those days), Burnley beat Bolton away, 1-0.

We didn’t go because this year, joy of joys, we were off for a short stay in Blackpool, where we spent Christmas Day going up the promenade on a tram, marvelling at the Illuminations, or at least, the remains of them, unlit but back again earlier in the autumn for the first time since the war.

Boxing Day saw us on a packed steam train heading for a Turf Moor over-flowing with 49,000 spectators to witness a goal-less draw.

The following day, we were back in Blackpool for a 2.15 kick off at wind-swept Bloomfield Road (Blackpool’s ground since 1900), to watch them put two winning goals past us in front of a mere 31,000.

I remember nothing of the game but I was mightily impressed by a huge advert for Dutton’s, “O Be Joyful,” ale, (brewed in Blackburn), written across the roof of one of the stands.

I would have seen the two great Blackpool Stan’s, Matthews and Mortenson in a fine side that would often finish ahead of Burnley in seasons to come.

The side that Blackpool manager, Joe Smith, was to manage for 23 years had been Cup Final losers to Matt Busby’s, Manchester United in 1948 and later in 1951, finished third in the League before losing to Newcastle in the Cup Final. They went on to win the Final, in 1953, beating Bolton 4-3 after coming back from being 3-1 down in an epic match with performances to match from Matthews and Mortenson.

Sadly, I remember nothing of those Christmas derbies but I do remember being surrounded by warmth, security and happiness.

In that respect, little has changed and if you look around the ground today, you’ll see many a child, sitting with their families, acquiring their own Christmas memories of when they were taken on to see Burnley play Blackpool just before Christmas, 2013. Even if, when they’re getting on a bit, they can’t remember much about it.

Although, they might remember that on their way home in the dark, their uncle told them that HUGE polar bears once used to pad along Burnley’s streets, particularly at Christmas time.

“Order, order.”

On the evening of the 18th of May 1882 at the Bull Hotel in the centre of Burnley, a special committee meeting of a local rugby team called Burnley Rovers was called.

The Bull was a fine establishment, its façade lit by “Old Gawmless,” the lamp in the centre of the street outside, some say because of its “dim” performance, others because it was standing in the middle of the road.
They could have chosen to meet in almost any of the nearly 200 inns, hotels, taverns and beerhouses that had grown up in the hard-working town (despite the efforts of the Temperance Movement) but they chose The Bull because it was the town’s leading hotel, known for its “magnificence” but nick-named “The Folly” by the locals because of its ambitious 40 bedrooms.
Some of the committee members would have arrived on one of the new fangled steam trams introduced into the town the previous year, hissing and clanging along cobbled streets described as, “the most heavily bill posted in the country,” passing Thomas Hoghton’s grocers shop, who advertised on his paper bags that, “Trams pass the door every 15 minutes.”
There’s entrepreneurship for you but he still hedged his traditional bets by having, on the same bag, a picture of an elegant couple arriving at his shop in an open hansom cab.
One or two of the committee might have been late, as there had been a bit of a dispute about the use of steam on certain streets and the new trams had to be pulled by horses for some of the way. If a member had walked from nearby Stoneyholme he’d have passed under the shadow of a giant, three-tier gasholder, only the second to be built in England.
Others perhaps chose to arrive by horse-drawn Cab, oil lamps winking in the fading light.
With the meeting called to order, the evening’s business began.
“It hasn’t been a bad season,” the Rover’s Treasurer told them,” And were it not for our changing facilities being blown down and the access bridge to the ground being washed away, the balance sheet might have presented a different aspect.”
There was applause and the balance sheet adopted unanimously. Two penny or three penny cigars were puffed on, purchased from Joshua Duckworth’s a couple of doors away.
Then, under the yellow light of flickering gas mantles, committee member Mr. Ernest Bradshaw stood up and spoke,
“ I move that the rugby club, in future, play under Association Football rules.”
Without more ado, for I suspect Burnley folk had acquired a reputation for bluntness even then, the motion was passed and a celebratory round of Grimshaw’s Ale was probably ordered.
A few days later, in order to forestall anyone else having the idea, the name of the new venture was changed to “Burnley Football Club”.
The club would play its first match at Turf Moor (still its ground in 2013) on Saturday, 17th of February 1883. A proud day, except that their opponents, neighboring Rawtenstall, ran off winners, beating Burnley Football Club, 6-3.
The first result might have disappointed but if there was ever any sunshine to be sought under the mill town’s sulphuric, rain-soaked skies, the Club’s committee was determined to find it.

In 1888 Burnley Football Club proudly became one of the founder members of the Football League, along with, Accrington, Aston Villa, Blackburn, Bolton, Derby, Everton, Notts. County, Preston, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Burnley. Cotton. Football.
The last two words would come to define the town, sometimes to its annoyance but more often to its advantage for decades to come.

125 years later, Burnley Football Club has an established place in the history of professional football and you can tell them that with pride, even in the Copacabana Stadium in Brazil.

Pressure

I was introduced to the concept of pressure in the early 1950’s when my dad and I arrived home at the end of a cold January afternoon watching the Clarets lose one nil to Huddersfield at Turf Moor, a game they were expected to win.

Whatever pressure the players had felt themselves to be under paled into insignificance matched against the pressure that had forced the lid off my mum’s new fangled pressure cooker and deposited our tea all over the kitchen ceiling.

Pressure is a word we hear a lot of these days, which is more than you can say for pressure cookers. Ours was consigned to the dustbin.

Jamie Redknapp once said that he’d felt pressured every day as a footballer and watching his dad, ‘Arry twitch his way through a game, one might almost think it was a family trait. At least ex-player Jamie doesn’t have to face the pressure any more, unless he gets a bit tense modelling clothes for Marks and Spencer’s.

Liverpool’s late, great, Bill Shankly, a man made of sterner stuff had a different attitude.

“”Pressure is not the European Cup, “ growled Shanks,” Or the Championship, or the Cup Final, those are the rewards. Pressure is working down the pit, pressure is having no work at all.”

What he was saying, of course, is that champions are able to do what they do best under stress, that pressure is a normal part of the game. In the end it’s how a team responds to it that counts.

Often pressure is self-inflicted and is linked to two things, which at first glance seem to be opposites. They’re not; they’re just two sides of the same coin, the fear of failure and the fear of success. Both of which can prevent a team from playing to the best of their ability.

But failure as a learning process can be a great teacher. You fail, you win, you learn, you grow.

Fear of failure is a waste of time.

Fear of success is too and it can be just as inhibiting to a team. Success brings its own responsibilities and some teams bend under the apparent weight of it.

One thing is certain, without pressure there would be no rewards and over a season or two, the teams who cope with it best are the ones who win more often than they lose, who come back from defeats, who make the play-offs, or gain promotion.

They’re the ones who think they can win.

Every team that’s done something worthwhile is a team that has collectively overcome their nerves, who deal with the pressures of failure and success.

Pressure presents teams with an opportunity to excel, an environment in which preparation and training meets with the chance of coming out on top.

What’s more, the old chestnut really is true; “It’s only one game at a time.” There’s nearly always another chance.

When footballers, like all public performers, learn to rise above their fears of failure and success and as a result maybe touch greatness on match days, they raise our hearts because, in a way perhaps, they remind us that we all have a bit of greatness tucked away inside of us.

We’re all dreamers; fans, players, managers, coaches, backroom staff, even those sometimes maligned ones in the board room who are fans just like the rest of us.

We all feel the pressure as we kick and head every ball.

But what we want from our footballing heroes (sometimes unfairly) is for them to embrace the pressure and run with it, have fun even, keep tackling, keep passing, keep shooting and above all, believe in themselves.

An American coach once said that pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.

Most players do, it’s only those twin apparitions, fear of failure and fear of success that sometimes get in the way.

Pressure? Bring it on. Enjoy it. As tennis champion Billie Jean King said, “Pressure is a privilege.”

Cricketer, Keith Miller, who in his time was regarded as Australia’s greatest all-rounder, served as a fighter pilot in World War 2, flying combat missions over Germany, was once asked a question about match day pressure.
Miller responded, “ Pressure? I’ll tell you what pressure is. Pressure is having a Messerschmitt up your arse. Playing sport is not.”

(Published in Burnley Football Club’s match day programme, 26th February 2013)

Shakespeare’s friends in the North.

Friends in the North.
Shakespeare in Lancashire.

“What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen, what old December’s bareness everywhere”.

December 1580 and Lancashire shivers under an icy mantle of bitingly cold, bleak weather, an east wind bringing plummeting temperatures and blizzard conditions.

After the day’s heavy snowfall, the late afternoon is clear and frosty with big stars beginning to shine over the silent, white fields.

Candles flare in the windows of Rufford Hall, a large timber framed manor house near Ormskirk, home to the aristocratic Hesketh family.

It is Christmas Eve and the great house is being made ready for celebrations that will last until Twelfth Night. The kitchen is a hive of activity, oxen slowly roasting on revolving spits, hand turned by perspiring, red-faced servants. On the Hall’s stone flagged floors, the long oak tables are ready for the feast and behind the exuberantly carved wooden screen at the rear of the hall, the players can be heard tuning voices, violins, virginals, flutes and tabors ready for an evening’s entertainment of drama, music and dancing, singing, tumbling, dumb-shows and noise, duels and wrestling, of pageant and poetry, of witches, fairies, ghosts and goblins.

Outside the house, the tenant farmers and their families, whose livelihoods depend upon the Lord of the Manor, Sir Thomas Hesketh, move slowly through the white landscape, sometimes stopping to beat their hands on their chests and stamp their feet in an effort to keep warm. Luckier ones, wearing every item of clothing they can find, huddle together on carts pulled by shire horses crunching through the snow, their warm breath condensing into icy droplets as they haul logs destined for the open fire of the Great Hall.

Icicles hang inside the Manor’s bedrooms but the “Dyninge chamber” must be kept warm for the coming celebrations.

On the low-lying fields, once marshland, a shepherd huddles in a rough shelter watching over his master’s flock.

A red nosed milkmaid slithers and totters along carrying pails of frozen milk to the kitchen.

Crows perch silently in the bare trees and herds of deer, unable to forage, clatter gingerly across the hard ground towards the house, hoping to be fed scraps by hand from wicker baskets held by excited, pink faced children.

In the 16th century Britain was experiencing a little “Ice Age,” when even the widest rivers froze solid for weeks on end and became venues for, “Ice Fairs.” Tented villages to have a grand day out at before returning to the warmth of the great Hall to be entertained by the players and the musicians at banqueting tables groaning with festive fare.

Then as the night grew on, clustering together for warmth and companionship round the open fire, not daring to venture alone up the dark staircases and along the dimly lit passageways. Spooky places, whose atmosphere could creep into one’s “sinful” heart and fill it with a mixture of apprehension and terror. A state easily achieved when the Catholic concepts of purgatory and hell were held to be absolute truths and drummed into you in childhood

A Tudor house like Rufford—now open to the public and owned by the National Trust—is bound to accumulate its fair share of “ghosts” and things that go bump in the night and the Old Hall is no exception.

A door that will never keep open or shut, the sound of a spinning wheel, an axe, a cry, a sigh, a footstep or, worse still, a rattling of chains.

A “Grey lady”, haunts Rufford. Nay, even Gloriana herself, Queen Elizabeth the First has been known to make a bejewelled appearance. There have certainly been enough creepy carryings-on to attract the producers of the paranormal TV series, “Most Haunted.”

Now, whether “Spirits” are doomed to walk the night, bringing with them airs from heaven or a fiery blast from hell, is a matter for conjecture.

Certainly, if you’re inclined to believe in these things, hanging about at cock crow on Rufford’s mossy lawns only to hear sounds of lamentation and regret as hordes of wandering ghosts troop miserably home to their wormy beds, is probably not a good idea.

I mean, how many hard luck stories are you prepared to listen to?

Personally, I wouldn’t mind my having my ear bent a bit if I could be absolutely certain of cracking a mystery that has haunted me for some time. A sensible spectre might be able to solve it once and for all. Male or female, I don’t really mind. In any case, gender might not matter once one has shuffled off this mortal coil. I don’t think I’d be too scared. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if my informant had a certain presence, no self-respecting ghost should be without one but I don’t want to waste time having to put up with a load of sorrowful, self accusatory wailing and remembrance of things past, when I have a couple of simple questions to ask before Aurora’s beams start to tint the topiary squirrels on Rufford’s elegant lawns and the ghostly wandering turns into a stampede as the moaning Minnies all rush home before sunrise.

First question.

“Rufford Hall, your starter for 10. Were you alive and around the old Hall in 1580? A thumbs up will do, please don’t nod your head, it might have been removed in the 16th century and could easily fall off again.”

If a quivering grey thumbs-up is offered, then on to the second question.

The Biggy.

What used to be called, the $64,000 question until “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” came along.

“Did William Shakespeare really live and work at Rufford hall?”

“Shake—shafte?”

“No, no. Shake—speare. William Shakespeare. Became a playwright and…. please stop worrying about the lengthening shadows and what looks like a tint of orange beginning to kiss the dew drops.”

“Shakeshafte did. William Shakeshafte. I used to call him little Willie, really annoyed him. I always found him a bit sensitive. Wrote sonnets, that kind of thing. Not very good in my opinion. He was here all right, friends in high places, if you know what I mean? Him and, Fulk Gyllome. Good actor, Fulk, couldn’t tell him from a woman once he had a dress on. I wonder what happened to him? Look, I’m sorry but I must dash, I’ve got to be under six foot of loam in the next five minutes or the wife will be giving me the cold shoulder. Shakeshafte, that’s who you need to be looking for. Merry Christmas to you. It’s back to darkness and the burning lake for me. At least it’ll be a lot warmer than here. Lancashire, eh? Why couldn’t I have died in the Bermudas? Anon, anon and all that. See you sooooooon!”

It’s at this point that I normally wake up in a cold sweat.

As you can see, the question is, was it the young William Shakespeare who lived and worked at Rufford Hall in 1580 or was it William Shakeshafte? Aye, there’s the rub must give us pause.
He could, just as easily, have used dozens of other variants of his family name. The Elizabethans weren’t as pedantic as we are about spelling and regional variations abound as they wrote out of the sound of their own dialects.
He could have been, Sakspere, Schakosper, Schackspere, Saxper, Schaftspere, Shakstaf, Chacksper or even, Shasspeere.
In Stratford alone, documents of the period show twenty different and separate spellings.

If you haven’t come across the story before, here are the bare bones of it.

It would appear that the 16-year-old Shakespeare, whose family had fallen on difficult times, almost certainly linked to their Catholic connections, was recommended by his Stratford schoolmaster, John Cottam, a Lancashire man from Tarnacre, to teach or help teach the children at Hoghton Towers, a fortified manor house near Preston, ancestral home of the noble Hoghton family, probably as an “usher,” an assistant.

That the young Shakespeare was a teacher of some kind is affirmed by the 17th century gossip, John Aubrey, who wrote, “Shakespeare had been, in his younger years, a schoolmaster in the country.”
Aubrey claimed to have heard this from a man whose father, a well-known actor, had worked in Shakespeare’s own London Company in Shakespeare’s lifetime.

Leaving home at that age might well have been an emotional experience, reflected perhaps in a scene from, “Two Gentleman of Verona” where Launce, laying the dust with his tears, describes a tearful family farewell that had his grandma and his mother weeping, his father wailing, their maid howling, even the cat wringing its hands.

Another member of the Hoghton family he was to join up north was called, Alexander and lived at nearby Lea Hall.
Alexander kept a company of players and in his will left his stock of “play-clothes” (costumes) and all his musical instruments to his brother, Thomas or, “If he did not choose to keep players, to Sir Thomas Hesketh of Rufford Hall” and he added, “And I most heartily require the said Sir Thomas to be friendly unto Fulk Gyllome and William Shakeshafte, now dwelling with me and either to take them into his service or else help them to some good master, as my trust is, he will.”

Hoghton also left 40 shillings each to Gyllome and Shakeshafte, a considerable amount, perhaps £5000 in today’s earnings.

Could Shakespeare really have lived and worked in Lancashire before he became famous in London?

The answer is more than likely, yes.

Many scholars now agree that there is a strong case that the young Shakespeare, using his grandfather’s surname–common at that time in Lancashire—and his family’s Catholic connections, lived, worked and travelled around the county, first as a schoolmaster and then probably as a player, starting at Houghton Towers, moving on to Lea Hall and Rufford and later on joining the household of a greater and more theatrically influential family, the earls of Derby, one of whom, Lord Strange, kept a company of players whose skills were to take them to London.
It is at least possible that this youthful acquaintance with Strange’s professionally ambitious players was made in the north of England by 1581.
It is certainly true that the principal players of Lord Strange’s Men, as they were known, Will Kempe, Thomas Pope, John Heminges, Augustine Philips and George Bryan, later formed the core of the London company which the mature Shakespeare would come to be associated with, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men.
Intriguingly, there still exists a copy of “Holinshed’s Chronicle’s” a history book used extensively as a source by Shakespeare in some of his plays, that is annotated in what looks to be his own handwriting. A book that was jointly owned by the Hoghton and Hesketh families.

Young William’s stay in Lancashire proved fruitful over the years. They probably didn’t call it networking then but that’s what he seemed to be doing, benefiting from his Catholic connections.
The Rufford link pops up again when the highly successful Shakespeare and four colleagues started to build the Globe Theatre in London. Acting as an important trustee for them was a goldsmith by the name of, Thomas Savage. Savage was not only a native of Rufford but he was related, by marriage, to the Hesketh family.
By 1582, the 18-year-old Shakespeare had left Lancashire and returned to Stratford where, on a summer’s day he met a farmer’s daughter, “more lovely and more fair,” perhaps? The 26 years old, Ann Hathaway. By November they were married. Six months later, their daughter, Susanna was born.
One would like to think that they were able to wet the baby’s head by using some of the 40 Lancastrian shillings lovingly left to young William Shakeshafte by Alexander Hoghton, one of his many friends in the North.

Board Meeting.

In 2008, much to my surprise, I was asked if I would be interested in becoming the Chairman of Leeds United and invited to a meeting in London where tentative discussions would take place before the moneymen became involved.

As fate would have it, I was otherwise engaged, or I might have found myself playing the role of Leeds Utd Chairman, Manny Cussins in the film of David Peace’s excellent but controversial book, “The Damned Utd,” based on Brian Clough’s stormy manager ship of Leeds in 1974.

Manny, a Leeds businessman famously dispensed with Cloughy’s services after an acrimonious 44 days.

As it turned out, the part of Manny went to Henry Goodman who, as far as I know, has no interest in football whatsoever.

Not that that would necessarily disqualify him from running a football club in some quarters.

Not at Burnley, of course, where who’ve been blessed over many years with chair and board members who are fans as well as executives.

As an actor, I’ve had several brushes with football over the years.

In 1957, in my Burnley AmDram days, I played young footballer, Percy Brown in Glen Melvyn’s play, “The Love Match.” It’d earlier been made into a film with comedian, Arthur Askey.

In the late 60’s, I was cast as Irish football hero, Harry Heegan in an RSC version of Sean O’Casey’s 1927 anti-war play, “The Silver Tassie.”

Alongside me were Patrick Stewart, a Huddersfield fan and a young Helen Mirren whose appearance as a nurse caused many a male heart to beat faster.

Patrick and I were members of an actor’s football team at the time. Our moment of glory coming in a cup final played out on Wormwood Scrubs in London, under the shadow of the prison walls, which we won 2-1.

The opposition were the cast of, “The Changing Room,” David Storey’s fine 1971 Rugby League play which takes place before a match, at half time and after the final whistle.

This called for a lot of uninhibited disrobing on the part of the all male cast, a display of masculinity impossible to avoid in London’s small Royal Court Theatre.

A female critic noted that she was surprised to notice that there weren’t any Jewish Rugby League players.

Shortly after, I nearly found myself in football management again having to discipline Vinnie Jones in the 2001 British prison football film, “The Mean Machine.”

The part of the prison governor finally went to David Hemmings and I never got to shout at Vinnie.

One of the earliest football films (1939) is, “The Arsenal Stadium Mystery,” a murder story starring several Arsenal players of the time in non-speaking roles although their manager, George Allison, did get a word or two in.

The film was adapted from a novel. As indeed was a favourite football movie of mine, “Fever Pitch,” starring Colin Firth.

Nick Hornby was the writer, adapting his own book for the screen and again it involves Arsenal, concentrating on the 88-89 First Division season when the Gunners beat Liverpool 2-0 to win the title.

Hornby was of the opinion that most football fans spend their lives in a state of terminal disappointment, a shrewd insight.

Interestingly, the scenes of fans on the Highbury terraces were shot at Fulham’s Craven Cottage.

Dramatic license is also exercised in the 1996, “When Saturday Comes,” which has a “young,” Sean Bean being signed on by Sheffield Utd.

“Young” Sean was apparently 36 when the film was made.

Sean eventually became a director of his beloved “Blades,” but he was back on the terraces when Burnley beat them at Wembley in the 2009 Play Off Final.

Other football films?

Well, there’s the 2002, “Bend it like Beckham,” made for $6m but grossing a match winning $76,583,333 and making an unlikely footballer of Keira Knightley.

There’s, “Escape to Victory,” (1981) with the footballing talents of Michel Caine and Sylvester Stallone, mercifully “doubled” on the pitch by Ipswich Town’s, Kevin Beattie and Paul Cooper.

There are plenty more, just Google, “Football Films,” you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

A favourite of mine is “The Cup,” a 1999 comedy directed by a Tibetan Llama called Khyentse Norbu involving two young, football crazy, novice Tibetan monks who desperately try to get a television for the monastery to watch the 1998 World Cup Final.

It’s a delightful film and every time I watch it I’m reminded of what I really like about the beautiful game.

I did get to Leeds Utd eventually.

Not as chairman but in an attempt to have a knee problem sorted out by the genial, Alan Sutton, one of Utd’s most experienced physios.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you, lad, he said gently,” But your footballing days are over.”

“Fortunately for me, Alan, “ I said, “Actors, unlike footballers never have to retire. Not as long as we can learn our lines and not bump into the furniture.”

After that?

 Well, I could become a pundit. I mean, how hard is that ?

 

 

 

Shakespeare’s friends in the north.

“What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen, what old December’s bareness everywhere”.

December 1580 and Lancashire shivers under an icy mantle of bitingly cold, bleak weather, an east wind bringing plummeting temperatures and blizzard conditions.

After the day’s heavy snowfall, the late afternoon is clear and frosty with big stars beginning to shine over the silent, white fields.

Candles flare in the windows of Rufford Hall, a large timber framed manor house near Ormskirk, home to the aristocratic Hesketh family.

It is Christmas Eve and the great house is being made ready for celebrations that will last until Twelfth Night. The kitchen is a hive of activity, oxen slowly roasting on revolving spits, hand turned by perspiring, red-faced servants. On the Hall’s stone flagged floors, the long oak tables are ready for the feast and behind the exuberantly carved wooden screen at the rear of the hall, the players can be heard tuning voices, violins, virginals, flutes and tabors ready for an evening’s entertainment of drama, music and dancing, singing, tumbling, dumb-shows and noise, duels and wrestling, of pageant and poetry, of witches, fairies, ghosts and goblins.

Outside the house, the tenant farmers and their families, whose livelihoods depend upon the Lord of the Manor, Sir Thomas Hesketh, move slowly through the white landscape, sometimes stopping to beat their hands on their chests and stamp their feet in an effort to keep warm. Luckier ones, wearing every item of clothing they can find, huddle together on carts pulled by shire horses crunching through the snow, their warm breath condensing into icy droplets as they haul logs destined for the open fire of the Great Hall.

Icicles hang inside the Manor’s bedrooms but the “Dyninge chamber” must be kept warm for the coming celebrations.

On the low-lying fields, once marshland, a shepherd huddles in a rough shelter watching over his master’s flock.

A red nosed milkmaid slithers and totters along carrying pails of frozen milk to the kitchen.

Crows perch silently in the bare trees and herds of deer, unable to forage, clatter gingerly across the hard ground towards the house, hoping to be fed scraps by hand from wicker baskets held by excited, pink faced children.

In the 16th century Britain was experiencing a little “Ice Age,” when even the widest rivers froze solid for weeks on end and became venues for, “Ice Fairs.” Tented villages to have a grand day out at before returning to the warmth of the great Hall to be entertained by the players and the musicians at banqueting tables groaning with festive fare.

Then as the night grew on, clustering together for warmth and companionship round the open fire, not daring to venture alone up the dark staircases and along the dimly lit passageways. Spooky places, whose atmosphere could creep into one’s “sinful” heart and fill it with a mixture of apprehension and terror. A state easily achieved when the Catholic concepts of purgatory and hell were held to be absolute truths and drummed into you in childhood

A Tudor house like Rufford—now open to the public and owned by the National Trust—is bound to accumulate its fair share of  “ghosts” and things that go bump in the night and the Old Hall is no exception.

A door that will never keep open or shut, the sound of a spinning wheel, an axe, a cry, a sigh, a footstep or, worse still, a rattling of chains.

A “Grey lady”, haunts Rufford. Nay, even Gloriana herself, Queen Elizabeth the First has been known to make a bejewelled appearance. There have certainly been enough creepy carryings-on to attract the producers of the paranormal TV series, “Most Haunted.”

Now, whether “Spirits” are doomed to walk the night, bringing with them airs from heaven or a fiery blast from hell, is a matter for conjecture.

Certainly, if you’re inclined to believe in these things, hanging about at cock crow on Rufford’s mossy lawns only to hear sounds of lamentation and regret as hordes of wandering ghosts troop miserably home to their wormy beds, is probably not a good idea.

I mean, how many hard luck stories are you prepared to listen to?

Personally, I wouldn’t mind my having my ear bent a bit if I could be absolutely certain of cracking a mystery that has haunted me for some time. A sensible spectre might be able to solve it once and for all. Male or female, I don’t really mind. In any case, gender might not matter once one has shuffled off this mortal coil. I don’t think I’d be too scared. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if my informant had a certain presence, no self-respecting ghost should be without one but I don’t want to waste time having to put up with a load of sorrowful, self accusatory wailing and remembrance of things past, when I have a couple of simple questions to ask before Aurora’s beams start to tint the topiary squirrels on Rufford’s elegant lawns and the ghostly wandering turns into a stampede as the moaning Minnies all rush home before sunrise.

First question.

“Rufford Hall, your starter for 10. Were you alive and around the old Hall in 1580? A thumbs up will do, please don’t nod your head, it might have been removed in the 16th century and could easily fall off again.”

If a quivering grey thumbs-up is offered, then on to the second question.

The Biggy.

What used to be called, the $64,000 question until “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” came along.

“Did William Shakespeare really live and work at Rufford hall?”

“Shake—shafte?”

“No, no. Shake—speare. William Shakespeare. Became a playwright and…. please stop worrying about the lengthening shadows and what looks like a tint of orange beginning to kiss the dew drops.”

“Shakeshafte did. William Shakeshafte. I used to call him little Willie, really annoyed him. I always found him a bit sensitive. Wrote sonnets, that kind of thing. Not very good in my opinion. He was here all right, friends in high places, if you know what I mean? Him and, Fulk Gyllome. Good actor, Fulk, couldn’t tell him from a woman once he had a dress on. I wonder what happened to him? Look, I’m sorry but I must dash, I’ve got to be under six foot of loam in the next five minutes or the wife will be giving me the cold shoulder. Shakeshafte, that’s who you need to be looking for. Merry Christmas to you. It’s back to darkness and the burning lake for me. At least it’ll be a lot warmer than here. Lancashire, eh? Why couldn’t I have died in the Bermudas? Anon, anon and all that.  See you sooooooon!”

It’s at this point that I normally wake up in a cold sweat.

As you can see, the question is, was it the young William Shakespeare who lived and worked at Rufford Hall in 1580 or was it William Shakeshafte? Aye, there’s the rub must give us pause.

He could, just as easily, have used dozens of other variants of his family name. The Elizabethans weren’t as pedantic as we are about spelling and regional variations abound as they wrote out of the sound of their own dialects.

He could have been, Sakspere, Schakosper, Schackspere, Saxper, Schaftspere, Shakstaf, Chacksper or even, Shasspeere.

In Stratford alone, documents of the period show twenty different and separate spellings.

If you haven’t come across the story before, here are the bare bones of it.

It would appear that the 16-year-old Shakespeare, whose family had fallen on difficult times, almost certainly linked to their Catholic connections, was recommended by his Stratford schoolmaster, John Cottam, a Lancashire man from Tarnacre, to teach or help teach the children at Hoghton Towers, a fortified manor house near Preston, ancestral home of the noble Hoghton family, probably as an “usher,” an assistant.

That the young Shakespeare was a teacher of some kind is affirmed by the 17th century gossip, John Aubrey, who wrote, “Shakespeare had been, in his younger years, a schoolmaster in the country.”

Aubrey claimed to have heard this from a man whose father, a well-known actor, had worked in Shakespeare’s own London Company in Shakespeare’s lifetime.

Leaving home at that age might well have been an emotional experience, reflected perhaps in a scene from, “Two Gentleman of Verona” where Launce, laying the dust with his tears, describes a tearful family farewell that had his grandma and his mother weeping, his father wailing, their maid howling, even the cat wringing its hands.

Another member of the Hoghton family he was to join up north was called, Alexander and lived at nearby Lea Hall.

Alexander kept a company of players and in his will left his stock of “play-clothes” (costumes) and all his musical instruments to his brother, Thomas or, “If he did not choose to keep players, to Sir Thomas Hesketh of Rufford Hall” and he added, “And I most heartily require the said Sir Thomas to be friendly unto Fulk Gyllome and William Shakeshafte, now dwelling with me and either to take them into his service or else help them to some good master, as my trust is, he will.”

Hoghton also left 40 shillings each to Gyllome and Shakeshafte, a considerable amount, perhaps  £5000 in today’s earnings.

Could Shakespeare really have lived and worked in Lancashire before he became famous in London?

The answer is more than likely, yes.

Many scholars now agree that there is a strong case that the young Shakespeare, using his grandfather’s surname–common at that time in Lancashire—and his family’s Catholic connections, lived, worked and travelled around the county, first as a schoolmaster and then probably as a player, starting at Houghton Towers, moving on to Lea Hall and Rufford and later on joining the household of a greater and more theatrically influential family, the earls of Derby, one of whom, Lord Strange, kept a company of players whose skills were to take them to London.

It is at least possible that this youthful acquaintance with Strange’s professionally ambitious players was made in the north of England by 1581.

It is certainly true that the principal players of Lord Strange’s Men, as they were known, Will Kempe, Thomas Pope, John Heminges, Augustine Philips and George Bryan, later formed the core of the London company which the mature Shakespeare would come to be associated with, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men.

Intriguingly, there still exists a copy of “Holinshed’s Chronicle’s” a history book used extensively as a source by Shakespeare in some of his plays, that is annotated in what looks to be his own handwriting. A book that was jointly owned by the Hoghton and Hesketh families.

Young William’s stay in Lancashire proved fruitful over the years. They probably didn’t call it networking then but that’s what he seemed to be doing, benefiting from his Catholic connections.

The Rufford link pops up again when the highly successful Shakespeare and four colleagues started to build the Globe Theatre in London. Acting as an important trustee for them was a goldsmith by the name of, Thomas Savage. Savage was not only a native of Rufford but he was related, by marriage, to the Hesketh family.

By 1582, the 18-year-old Shakespeare had left Lancashire and returned to Stratford where, on a summer’s day he met a farmer’s daughter, “more lovely and more fair,” perhaps?  The 26 years old, Ann Hathaway. By November they were married. Six months later, their daughter, Susanna was born.

One would like to think that they were able to wet the baby’s head by using some of the 40 Lancastrian shillings lovingly left to young William Shakeshafte by Alexander Hoghton, one of his many friends in the North.

Moving to Cornwall.

The Cornish sun shone out of a Wedgwood blue sky smudged with clouds and through the open windows of the car, came the intoxicating coconut scent of yellow gorse. Gulls floated over a sea flecked with whitecaps. Diamonds of light, reflected from rock pools down on the beach, sparkled up at us.Northern life

 

A friend’s generosity had brought my wife and I to Cornwall, at the end of a journey through Asia, Australia, New Zealand and America, with a last stop in a snowbound New York.

 

By the time we’d arrived back in Manchester – luggage in London – we discovered that “we” were pregnant. It’s not often one can implicate a New York blizzard in these matters but Mother Nature works in mysterious ways.

I say, “we” because the nurse at the clinic, the kind of woman one didn’t argue with, looked me straight between the eyes and said, “Congratulations, you’re pregnant.”

Filled with delight, we walked down Manchester’s, Oxford Street in the rain, as its rooftops shone, glistened and were transmuted into gold by the winter sunset.

Manchester had never looked more beautiful.

 

The next day, with serendipitous timing, I was offered the part of, “Frank,” in the   play, “Educating Rita.”

Michael Caine did it in the film.

 

I was also offered something in the next production, an adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s, “Far from the Madding Crowd,” which turned out to be so dire that the cast, huddling together for comfort, nicknamed it, “Five Go Mad In Wessex.”

Peter Finch played my part in the film.

It would be nice to think that I’d have got the parts in both films if the producers had known that I was available.  Of course, pigs can be seen flying.

 

Also in the cast of the Thomas Hardy was an actor who became an instant friend and it was he that brought us to live in Cornwall.

He lived with his wife and children, along with a red setter called Polly and a couple of cats in a renovated, old watermill in North Cornwall, not far from Padstow

When the curtain fell on the Wessex saga, my new actor friend was to work for a couple of months on a television series about the Apostles to be filmed in Morocco, taking his family with him and he wondered whether we would we consider looking after the Mill in their absence. No rent, just keep the Aga going, feed the cats, run the dog and cut the grass from time to time, a thoughtful and generous offer, impossible to refuse.

With our pregnancy proceeding apace, I think he had visions of us being homeless at Christmas and having to lodge in a stable.

 

What he didn’t mention about the Mill was that the grass was not only greener, (as other men’s grass invariably is) but also overgrown, knee-high and covered an area the size of a football pitch before finally running down a slope into a stream.

There was, he told me, a large scythe for the tricky bits.

 

Still, half a day’s work once a week, looking like the grim reaper, was a small price to pay for free board and lodging and the prospects of a summer, maybe even longer, in Cornwall.

 

The Thomas Hardy play came to an end and somehow we’d all managed to keep our sanity. Our benefactor returned to Cornwall to get ready to leave for Morocco while we bought a pale blue, second-hand VW Beetle and set off to join him and his family a week later, so we could overlap and learn the ropes.

 

Important things like where to buy the best Cornish Pasties.

 

Our host’s main concern was not pasties or indeed the animals but not letting the Aga go out. One got the impression that it’d been lit for so many years; no one knew how to light it again if it did.

One morning, after they had left, only a whole packet of firelighters saved us from the ignominy of telling him and his family that we’d failed them.

 

We found the mill down a narrow lane, passing a little church, visited by John Betjeman on his bicycle and described in his long, beautifully written, autobiographical poem, “Summoned by Bells,” in which he paints an idyllic picture of a childhood spent regularly at Rock, a short ferry ride across the estuary from nearby Padstow, where he’d arrive by steam train from London, Paddington.

Betjeman, the Poet Laureate, visited the area all his life. His resting place is amongst the sand dunes at the pretty church of St Enedoc near Rock.

I spoke to one of the ferrymen that took him across the estuary and he told me that Betjeman once pointed to a cloud and said that it looked like a horses head.

“And do you know, “ he said, “It did, that’s ‘cause he were a poet, you see.”

 

The road to the mill led down to a stream, now dried up, that had been diverted along a leat at the back of the house,.

The house was long and squat with old grey roof tiles that had been repaired by skimming them over with a coating of cement, known in Cornwall as a, “Proper job.” It had been three separate cottages, one up, one down, housing large families behind small deeply recessed windows.

 I met one of the original occupants, called George, a sprightly man of 92 who’d lived there in the 1920’s and who used to walk about the village with Dennis, his young pal of 84.

I asked him why the windows were so small in such a beautiful spot.

When the two of them had stopped laughing, coughing and wiping their eyes, he said, “Well, sir, when you’m been oot working’ in the fields from morn ‘til night, the last thing you want is a view.”

At which point, they both exploded into laughter again.

I got the impression that I’d made their day.

 

It was a beautiful spot and at dusk in midsummer, you could lie awake and see from out of one of those small windows, a perpetual light flickering in the stained glass windows of the church up the hill.

We’d fall asleep to the sound of moths fluttering against the windows and owls hooting in the darkness.

 

If you ever decide to uproot and live,  “Down South,” maybe in Cornwall, you’ll probably drive down on the A30 following your removal van. There is another route via Plymouth but by a strange quirk of nature it invariably rains as you cross over the Tamar Bridge, so I’d stick to the A30, that way you might stand a chance of arriving in sunshine. Not a guarantee you understand, there’s a lot of Atlantic out west and the weather is as changeable as it is in the Pennines.

You’ll cross the border into Cornwall on a bridge over the River Tamar near Launceston, pronounced locally as “Lahnson.”

You will know you’re there, even if the voice on your SatNav doesn’t tell you because there’s a sign, which reads, “Cornwall.”

Sometimes, the sign isn’t there. It’s regularly removed by Pixies, pesky little devils who like getting tourists lost for a bit of fun.

It’s called, “Being pixilated.”

 

As you cross the Tamar into Cornwall (“Kernow” in Cornish) you enter another country, literally and another way of life, at first only glimpsed out of the corner of your eye, something older, more mysterious and perhaps not what you expected.

You’ll not find it in Newquay with its bars and surfing but it’s there, below the surface, in the woods and the fields, in the villages and the hamlets and the moors. It’s there too on dark nights when the sea rolls in from across the Atlantic and battles with the land.

Most likely, you won’t see it when you first arrive, your spirit will still be on the motorway, preoccupied with your northern past and worried about your future but if you let it, it will begin to work its magic on you.

 

Being English and perhaps, possessed of just a touch of genteel conceit, (sometimes we’re not as nice as we think) you might arrive wanting to conquer Cornwall, take possession of it for yourself, use it, as it were.

Don’t worry, we English have always done this, our colonialist nature has become part of what we are.  It doesn’t, necessarily, make us bad people.

 

Once you’ve crossed the border at Launceston (“Lahnson”) you can stop and see the castle the English invaders built as they put their boots on Cornish soil and prepared to rule it.

When they got braver and felt easier crossing Bodmin Moor, they established an administration in Bodmin with magistrate’s courts, military barracks and a jail. Gradually over the years, they moved on until now Truro has become the administrative centre of a Nation that is now called a county.

 

At this moment, you are an,” Emmet,” or an, “In-comer,” although you wouldn’t be expected to know this, nor is it necessarily expressed unkindly by the indigenous locals.

 

If you have the good sense to keep a low profile, (the best way is to consider yourself a guest in someone’s house), you will eventually be accepted into the community, by which time, although you will still be an “Incomer”, you will not be an “Emmet” any more.

 

You will, however, never be Cornish.

 

A friend of mine, a Bodmin boy, with an accent thicker than clotted cream, told me a salutary tale. His is family name is of French origin.

“Thing is, Richard,” he said, “ We’m coom ‘ere to live in Corn’all in 1066 and ‘tis not long enough for some Cornish folk.”

 

Our own two children, the one conceived in that New York blizzard and eventually born in Truro and the other who arrived in St Austell  (“Snozzle,”) can both rightly claim to be Cornish by birth but the native Cornish, proud Celts, will smile and say, “Not quite, my ‘ansome.”

Well, they won’t, they’re too polite but they might well think it.

You see, the “Conquered Celts,” the Cornish, the Welsh, the Scots and the Irish are innately suspicious of our English intentions and can you blame them?

 

If you want to be accepted in Cornwall by the Cornish, you’ll have to learn to be patient.

That sometimes doesn’t come easily to us Northerners. We Lancashire and Yorkshire folk are of a blunt disposition. Culturally, we are, at least on the surface, a confident, out-spoken, pugnacious lot, brought up in communities where taking a firm stand and speaking our minds is a way of life.

We might not always want to put the world to right and wag our fingers at it when it won’t conform but we do tend to wear our thoughts on our sleeves, don’t you think?

As a young actor, fresh from the north, I saw nothing wrong in being outspoken, if I thought a scene wasn’t working in rehearsal.

It took a kind director to take me on one side and tell me that although I had a good instinct about these things and might well be “right,” there were subtler ways of going about it.

The Cornish, on the other hand, prefer to be approached gently by new arrivals, like one might approach a horse, one slow step at a time. Think of yourself as a Cornish horse whisperer and you’ll be on the right track.

 

You won’t have these problems with your fellow immigrants, of course and should you feel lonely, you’ll be able to find many a northern incomer like yourself. You’ll be able to swap stories with lots of “Brummies” and listen to the sometimes over loud accent of south east England, “Estuarine English.”

But you’d be unwise to linger long amongst them, good people though they may be, less you start to moan.

 

The Australians have long had a phrase for that. “Whinging Poms,” immigrants that grumble about their adopted home the minute they step foot on its soil.

You wouldn’t want to be one of those malcontents, who go on about how they do things up north, would you?

 

 

So if you decide to live in Cornwall, go with an open heart and a mind ready to learn. Cornwall is not just another place, it’s an attitude and it may well take you a while to sense and adjust to it.

Maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll feel that your move was a mistake and that you’re a northern plant, raised on limestone, whose roots are uncomfortable in Cornish granite and decide to move back north.

Why not? The pull of one’s roots is a strong and the hills and dales of Lancashire and Yorkshire are full of great natural beauty.

 

But one May day, when the wind is blowing over the Pennines from the southwest, bringing a hint of Spring and you spot a gull against a Wedgewood blue sky and see sunlight sparkling on a northern tarn, you may find that a sweet wave of nostalgia will wash over your soul like the foaming tongues of an incoming tide and you’ll realise that Cornwall is calling you back again.