Peter Rhodes on a Yorkshire poet, echoes of the Restoration and an encounter with The Hound
Read today's column by Peter Rhodes.
I REFERRED recently to the Icelandic volcano drama of 2010 which forced the cancellation of more than 100,000 flights. Living under a flight path to Birmingham Airport during that crisis, we couldn't help noticing that the skies, free of vapour trails, were not only blissfully silent but strikingly blue. When you give Mother Nature a break, she heals herself.
SO farewell, Game of Thrones which ended its epic run this week. I never watched a single episode but once, a couple of years ago, I missed the ferry to a remote Scottish island and was given a lift across the water by an impossibly tall, dark and handsome young actor called Rory who appeared in the series. Thrones fans are surprised when I casually mention that once, long ago and far away, I sailed with The Hound.
ANYONE else detect a whiff of the Restoration about today's political stalemate? Imagine that the EU Referendum in 2016 was a bloodless re-run of the English Civil Wars of 1642-51 with the nation divided between Remainer Roundheads and Brexit Cavaliers. But the referendum / war solved nothing. People are dissatisfied, life is glum and all the joy and energy seems to be sucked out of our national life. And one day we realise we are so miserable that any new leader with a spark of humour, happiness and style would be better than the bunch we have now, or the grey ones lining up to take their place. And thus Charles II, decked in all his finery with a jolly roar of laughter and a train of mistresses, took the throne and everyone rejoiced at the Restoration, even though, deep down, they knew he was a total wazzock. If you had asked me six months ago I'd have said there was no possible scenario which would see Boris Johnson in Downing Street. I would no longer bet against him becoming the Charles II of our age. Even though, forsooth, he's still a total wazzock.
"HUDDERSFIELD is not New York . . . but it's got everything I need." So says the new Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage. It is a reminder of the golden age of provincial life when a man, or woman, could build a satisfying and prosperous life, career and reputation in a single town or small city without feeling the need to head to London.
IN the 20th century the growth of London drained much talent from the provinces. Let's hope the 21st century will see this corrosive process reversed with the re-flowering of the Midlands and the North. A Yorkshire poet laureate is a good start.
SCRAPPING HS2, that mighty funnel for sucking people into London, would be another step in the right direction, and it's also easy to rhyme: HS2 / We don't want you. Over to you, Mr Armitage.
GREAT poetical puzzles of our age. Nothing rhymes with laureate.