Archive | Books Club & Literary Work

God’s Own County Book Club selections, anecdotes, comment and literary works

The Halifax Slasher not Barkisland and Ripponden Slasher

Halifax folk dancing Stick men not Sword men

In November 1938 Gertie Watts and Mary Gledhill, were attacked by a man while walking in Old Bank Lane, between Barkisland and Ripponden. Local papers at the time christened it the Halifax Slasher case probably because the Barkisland and Ripponden Slasher wasn’t punchy enough (that is the old tabloid/broadsheet press for you).

In 2017 that true case formed the basis for a new book by Benjamin Myers
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These Darkening Days by Benjamin Myers a modern tale with ‘a series of unexplained vicious attacks occuring in a small northern town renowned for being a bohemian backwater.’ We can all guess where that is supposed to be. The story has a bachground from research into the Halifax Slasher and has been called part of the ‘rural noir genre’

Quoted sources include, The Haunts of the  Halifax Slasher by Tim Chapman published in the ‘Strange Attractor’ journal and ‘Weird Calderdale’. Do not get hysterical about the Halifax Slasher because it is believed that most if not all the original cases were based on group hysteria.

I have just finished reading the book and it is on the way to the chrity shop. I think someone else will also get enjoyment from this light but entertaining read.


Rotherham’s Serious Crimes

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  • For fourteen years Jayne Senior tried to help girls from Rotherham who had been groomed, raped, tortured, pimped and threatened with violence by sex traffickers. Only by becoming  a whistleblower, sharing confidential documents to expose the scandal for The Times investigative reporter Andrew Norfolk, was any action taken.
  • As the manager of Risky Business, which was set up to work with vulnerable teens, she heard heartbreaking and shocking stories of abuse and assiduously kept notes and details of the perpetrators, passing information on to the authorities
  • She describes a life spent working to protect Rotherham’s girls, the pressure put on her to stop rocking the boat and why she risked prison in the hope that she could help end the appalling child exploitation in the town is told in the book.
  • The report by Professor Alexis Jay said there were “collective failures” of political, police and social care leadership over the first 12 years the inquiry covered.

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  • The scale of the Rotherham child protection scandal has led professionals responsible for safeguarding children in other regions to recognise the extent of child abuse in their area
  • Drawing on lessons learned from key case reviews professionals must consider how to react and respond. Failing to take on the concerns of child sexual exploitation will lead to other Rotherhams.
  • The authors of ‘Sexual Exploitation After Rotherham’   present recommendations for improvements at strategic management and frontline practitioner levels.

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  • Violated is an uncomfortable story about the  sex abuse scandal in Rotherham that sent shockwaves through the nation.  Sarah Wilson one of many victims tells her story in the hope that other young girls will not fall prey to the same evil that she endured and that more care and responce will be provided by the powers that be.
  • Sarah was just eleven years old when she was befriended by a group of older men. She ‘escaped’ from rape and addiction when she became too old for the men at nearly sixteen.
  • Professors Jays report estimated that  up to 1,400 young girls in the town had been regularly abused by sex gangs, predominantly comprised of Pakistani men.

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Harrogate’s Great War Terriers

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Interesting Comment and Facts about The Harrogate Terriers

  • A Roll of Honour and medal lists of 2,000 officers and men known to have served during the war to end all wars is contained in the book.
  • General Haig accused the Terriers of being “too sleepy” to fight well on the Somme
  • Excelling at the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, and then again at Passchendaele in 1917 General Haig could no longer use them as a convenient scapegoats for his own failures.
  • John Sheehan’s book ‘Harrogate Terriers’ traces individual stories of tragedy and heroism during the Great War. In the book he uses personal and military diaries, with hundreds of carefully selected newspaper extracts, letters and photographs
  • The terriers included all trades and groups including teachers, tradesmen, apprentices, lawyers, musicians, sportsmen and whole families.
  • Other battles included  the Battle of Aubers Ridge, Ypres  a rear-guard action on the Menin Road, Second Battle of Kemmel Ridge, and action at Cambrai and Valenciennes.
  • Corporal Harry Holmes from St. Mary’s Walk in Harrogate was wounded in 2015 declared missing at the Battle of The Somme where he died on 28th September 2016. For more see Harrogate Advertiser

The Shepherd Lord Fact or Fiction

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A Bank holiday read or a book for Fathers Day, this Faction is an interesting cross between fact and fiction. The historical embellishments are entertaining.

Product Description from Amazon
‘Young Henry Clifford, heir to vast estates in the North of England, is spirited away after the Battle of Towton for fear that the Yorkists will take his life in reprisal against his father’s actions. He is brought up as a simple shepherd boy so that his noble background does not betray his true identity. Narrated by the shepherd that raised him until it was safe to reveal his true identity and reclaim his birthright, this is a riveting tale contrasting a life on the run against an idyllic pastoral backdrop. It is a tale of identity, roots and nurture one of an unbreakable and everlasting bond that develops between two people from very different backgrounds. A true story, that has been all but ignored for centuries and is now bursting to be told.’

From the Publisher
The Shepherd Lord is a fascinating, but largely forgotten episode from medieval English history, rummaged from the shadows of two dusty poems and brought back to life. Set in the 15th century, against the backdrop of the Wars of the Roses, it is the story of Henry Clifford, the aristocrat who was raised as a shepherd.

This is a work of fiction but set on a firm basis of well-researched historical fact. The important issue in this type of novel is how well the author has rendered the tale as a dramatic adventure. The answer, in this case, is very well indeed. It’s an involving and deeply human story of danger, companionship, high emotions and all the other elements required of a gripping tale.


More Books than Bookings for Mike Pannett

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He may have been a great copper for 20 years until he took up writing, about the police, about his life and crimes in the Yorkshire Countryside. However his books are coming to book shops thick and fast and he is likely to publish more titles than criminals he booked.

I have just taken ‘Just The Job, Lad’ from our local library and notice that ‘Up Beat and Down Dale: Life and Crimes in the Yorkshire Countryside’ by Mike Pannett will be out in Paperback on 19 Jul 2012. At least he is getting away from being a ‘Lad’ with this new title.
This new book features a night-time operation in an empty museum and the harrowing business of taking three children into care against their mother’s wishes. I am sure Mike’s loyal fans can hardly wait.
Previous titles by Mike Pannett include ‘Now Then, Lad,’ ‘You’re Coming With Me, Lad,”Not On My Patch, Lad’ and ‘Just the Job, Lad.’

Quotable Quotes from ‘Just The Job, Lad’

….three young looking lads who seemed to be wearing identical light-coloured wooly hats. ‘They look well dodgy. Lets get after ’em!’
Sommat I picked up in the Met.
They’re getting a tune out of that old banger (when chasing a stolen car)
Lissen you numpty, long-haired, idle, cack-handed pillock.

Not the Only Bobby on the Beat

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What’s Tha Up To?: Memories of a Yorkshire Bobby by Martyn Johnson

Also by the same retired copper, Martyn Johnson, are similarly entitled volumes:
What’s Tha Up To? Memories of a Sheffield Bobby
What’s Tha Up To? Memories of an Attercliff Bobby
It is great that Yorkshire has produced two literary bobbies come authors who have opted for such variety in their choice of book titles.

Fictional Heartbeat at least manages a weak pun but then tends to wear out its story lines. Still you can join our pressure group to ‘Bring Back Heartbeat’. We want to know what has happened to David, Ginna, Bernie and even Oscar.


What is it about Scarborough and Fiction

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The Last Train to Scarborough is a Jim Stringer Steam Detective novel by Andrew Martin.

Hot on the heels of our review of the murders in Scarborough in ‘The Other Child’ by Charlotte Link is another book in Andrew Martin’s railway detective excursion into the Edwardian past. The Last Train to Scarborough has his ex-railway-worker-turned-detective Jim Stringer tackling an uncomfortable assignment from lodgings in a wet and gloomy off-season Scarborough.

Andrew Martin’s following is growing as his obvious love of the period and trains becomes clear to his loyal and new readers alike. Not everyone’s cup of tea you either fall for the books or not but give one a chance as they are worth reading on a long holiday train journey. Martin’s ability to summon up the Edwardian era provides an interesting atmosphere ‘as if you have gone back in a time machine and you are actually there’.

Some of the other titles in this 8 book series include The Blackpool Highflyer, The Necropolis Railway, Murder at Deviation Junction and The Baghdad Railway Club which is the latest Jim Stringer Steam Detective novel due to be published this week (June 2012)

The Bristolian near Woodley
Credit The Bristolian near Woodley by NH53 CC BY 2.0

Also on the Scarborough theme we shouldn’t forget Scarborough born lass Susan Hill CBE who has been riding high in the best seller lists with The Woman in Black.
Scarborough Fair by Chris Scott Wilson is a fictionalised version of the Battle of Flamborough Head explored from the American and British perspective. (not quite what I had in mind.)


In the Shoes of J B Priestley

Bradford has a tradition when it comes to the shoe trade based around Stylo which was founded in 1935.
The Stylo business grew in the 1960’s by buying Barratts and in the 1990’s when they bought Priceless. Unfortunately that record is badly tarnished by receiverships, administrations, redundancies and liquidations. Barratts shoes, Priceless, Stylo, Shutopia and Dolcis have been ‘rationalised out of existence’.
Three times the same executive management of Michael Ziff and family have tried the shoe trade on for size. Let us hope that they are more successful this time around having just bought the latest, much reduced, business from the liquidators.

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With this as a background I found it interesting to see Bradfordian J B Priestley was being used in the Bata-ville shoe context by the folk at No Way To Make A Living. In ‘Bata in Essex and the Decline of the Third England’ they record

‘When J. B. Priestley wrote Eng­lish Jour­ney he was exer­cised by some trouble­some 1930s women: lip­sticked, dressed up to the nines to ape Hol­ly­wood glam­our on light industry wages. These were the women of the third England.

“the Eng­land of arter­ial and by-pass roads, of filling sta­tions and factor­ies that look like exhib­i­tion build­ings, of giant cinemas and dance-halls and cafes, bun­ga­lows with tiny gar­ages, cock­tail bars, Wool­worths, motor-coaches, wire­less, hik­ing, fact­ory girls look­ing like act­resses, grey­hound racing and dirt tracks, swim­ming pools, and everything given away for cigar­ette coupons.”

Priestley, J. B. (1984[1934]) Eng­lish Jour­ney, Pen­guin Books.’

These fact­ory girls were an object of con­cern and scru­tiny, troub­ling the estab­lished cat­egor­ies of class with their out­spoken, per­formed fem­in­in­ity. A new, light, indus­trial labour force destabil­ised the estab­lished under­stand­ings of gender and class. The Bata fact­ory in East Tilbury was staffed, in part, by this kind of woman: mak­ing shoes in order to pay for new shoes and hand­bags and lip­sticks. And to keep their fam­il­ies: women’s work is not all about pin money and frivolity, J. B.’
Read the full ‘Bata in Essex and the Decline of the Third England’

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J B Priestley and English Journey from Amazon

What Would J B Priestley Make of This

  • Stylo Shoes is now a sound business based in Pakistan becoming the largest selling ladies’ shoes brand in Pakistan and the largest ladies shoes retail network in the country with 57 outlets in 30 cities.
  • Bradford’s Shoe business could be three time losers with the Ziff family.
  • The ‘English Journey’ is being used in academic texts about the decline of the third England.

Images of Yorkshire Moors & Wolds

Moor & heath

Yorkshire is blessed with dramatic and unrivaled scenery. From the East coast through Moors, Dales and Wolds there are umpteen images to catch the imagination.
You can access these images via short or long distance walks, from car windows, glossy books, old postcards or surfing the internet as you are currently doing.

On to Ilkley Moor

Roman road roam’n’ all over the place?
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‘The Yorkshire Moors and Wolds’ Book by Mark Denton

A collection of wonderful panoramic Yorkshire images of Moors and Wolds. These are two very different landscapes separated by the Vale of Pickering and encompassing forests, remote farmlands, dramatic rocky landscapes and gently rolling hills.

The Beauty of Trees. Thixendale,Yorkshire Wolds. UK.


The Beauty of Trees. Thixendale,Yorkshire Wolds. UK. by Philip Ed CC BY-NC 2.0


Maeve Binchy 1940- 2012

Maeve Binchy the best-selling Irish author has died aged 72 after a short illness.
Ian Rankin has tweeted “Maeve Binchy was a gregarious, larger than life, ebullient recorder of human foibles and wonderment.” She was a great story teller who knew where she stood in the pantheon of Dublin writers.
“I was very pleased, obviously, to have outsold great writers. But I’m not insane – I do realise that I am a popular writer who people buy to take on vacation.” Maeve Binchy

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Maeve published 16 novels  Minding Frankie – was published in 2010.
Minding Frankie is about a motherless female child and a story about unconventional Dublin families and relationships which aren’t quite what they seem. Baby Frankie is born into an unusual family. Her mother is desperate to find someone to take care of her child and she doesn’t have much time. Noel doesn’t seem to be the most promising of fathers but despite everything, he could well be Frankie’s best hope.

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Other Key Maeve Binchy Works include
Light a Penny Candle, The Lilac Bus as well as Tara Road, Heart and Soul and Circle of Friends.
Firefly Summer is warm, humorous, sad and happy.
Victoria Line, Central Line is a nice collection of short stories.
Many of Maeve’s books were translated into 37 languages and all told she sold more than 40 million copies worldwide


Gore Vidal – Homosexuality & Transexuality

During the late 1940’s and early 50’s Gore Vidal was producing challenging books. This included Myra Breckinridge (sunsequently made into a film) and The City And The Pillar with a hint of autobiographical politics and homosexuality.
Gore Vidal died on 1st August 2012 age 86 with 24 books and numerous screen plays to his name.

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The City And The Pillar
‘Jim Willard, former high-school athlete and clean-cut boy-next-door-, is haunted by the memory of a romanctic adolescent encounter with his friend Bob Ford. As Jim pursues his first love, in awe of the very same masculinity he possesses himself, his progress through the secret gay world of 1940’s America unveils surreptitious Hollywood affairs, the hidden life of the military in the Second World War and the underworld bar culture of New York City.’ Amazon says Gore Vidals book based on homosexuality ‘remains not only an authentic and profoundly important social document but also a serious exploration of the nature of idealistic love.’
The publication of The City and the Pillar in 1948 shocked the American public but did not damage his personal appeal as he remained a controversial but well connected figure in US political and social life.

Myra Breckinridge
Gore Vidal novel of the same name, in which a gay man, Myron Breckinridge undergoes a sex-change operation before setting of – as Myra Breckinridge – on a mission to Hollywood to “destroy the American male in all its particulars”. A successful book that was made into a film starring Raquel Welsh, Mae West and John Huston.

‘It is a risky (and risque) business becoming ‘Woman Triumphant’ – exercising total power over men like Rusty Godowski. Rusty just wants to be a Hollywood star like everyone else at Buck Loner’s academy, but now that Buck’s niece, Myra Breckinridge, has arrived, the curriculum is taking a wildly strange turn. Willing to risk all to be superb and unique, Myra means to prove to her old friend Dr Montag that it is possible to work out in life all one’s fantasies – and survive.
‘From Myra’s fist appearance on the page she was a megastar’, explains her creator, Gore Vidal. Myra caused a second furore when she returned in Myron to battle it out with her eponymous alter ego, a drab little man fallen into marriage and a job in Chinese catering. Theirs is a contest of hormonal roulette, with glorious Myra off on time-travelling missions of mercy back to 1948 to try to change cinema history and to introduce her own radical theories of popuation control. Meanwhile Myron tries desperately to stay in the present as inconspicuously as Mrya will allow.’

Gore Vidal Selected Quotes

There is no such thing as a homosexual or a heterosexual person. There are only homo- or heterosexual acts.
It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.
The United States was founded by the brightest people in the country — and we haven’t seen them since.
Andy Warhol is the only genius I’ve ever known with an I.Q. of 60.
‘George W Bush was the stupidest man in the USA’ and Gore Vidal couldn’t be a conspiracy theorist as ‘the administration were not clever enough to pull it off.’


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