30 April 2022


Stained glass window reflecting historical  link with Rowley, Massachusetts

Another trip to see Simon in hospital today. He was lying peacefully on his bed with a feeding tube and saline drip attached. He hasn't been able to find the energy necessary to take a shower in the bathroom which is located right next to his corner of the four bed ward. I brought him shaving gel, a book of crosswords and some small lemon sweets to suck. He told me he hasn't read a word in the last five days. His situation is of course depressing. There's talk of a stent to aid his breathing and of course he knows that he should have vacated his rental cottage by today. I will be phoning his landlady tomorrow morning.

A view of Skidby Village Hall

I left him at 2pm and then Clint transported me to the nearby village of Skidby ahead of a three hour walk.  My circle  included Risby, Little Weighton, Rowley and Westfield Farm.  That area is on the edge of chalk downs known as The Yorkshire Wolds. It is good arable land but the fields are dotted with billions of pieces of chalk and flint.

As I walked along I noticed how dry the landscape was. It must have been one of the driest Aprils on record in this part of the world. Whatever happened to those April showers?

Rapeseed flowering on the Yorkshire Wolds - near Little Weighton

Rowley Church sits in splendid isolation up on the wolds. Fortunately it was unlocked this afternoon so I went inside. The church was in existence before The Normans arrived on these shores during the reign of William the Conqueror. I took a photograph of a stained glass window that is evidence of the church's special link with the town of Rowley in Massachusetts - between Boston and Newburyport. It was founded in 1638 by the Reverend Ezekiel Rogers who led a group of non-conformists to New England having previously been the vicar of Rowley parish here in Yorkshire.

St Peter's Church, Rowley

29 April 2022


Perhaps I am just a heartless guy, but I must admit that I do not care a fig about the bitter legal endgame in Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's unlovely marriage. They are not even British citizens - they are Americans. Despite that, in British print media and in national TV news channels we have been asked to follow every twist and turn as their unsuccessful marriage suffers an ugly disintegration in a court of law.

Marriages end every day so why on earth should we be remotely interested in the "he said"/"she said" epilogue to Depp and Heard's troubled life together? It is just not worth thinking about 

There are many important newsworthy matters that get very little attention - such as the ongoing conflict in Yemen and the parts played by Saudi Arabia and The West in that forgotten country's decimation. Why should that matter less than the fine details of a drunken row in Depp and Heard's marital bed chamber?

Those who pick "The News" wrongly imagine that little people like us are obsessed with celebrities and what they get up to. However, I am sure that I am by no means the only objector to all this celebrity nonsense masquerading as proper news. We just don't care.

If Johnny Depp and Amber Heard were dropped  in The Gobi Desert with a tent and some basic supplies,  I would be happy because then I wouldn't have to hear another goddamn thing about who said what and who did what. So boring. Besides, it is all so startlingly obvious that their court room drama - played out in front of millions - is all about the money. That's all.

28 April 2022


On Tuesday, after leaving Simon in the hospital, I travelled homeward via the M62 and M18 motorways. Feeling thirsty and hungry, I decided to break the journey with a detour into a town called Goole.

It sits by The River Ouse and is an inland port for moderately sized shipping. The flat surrounding landscape ensures that Goole can be seen long before you reach it. The town's most prominent landmarks are two water towers that sit side by side. The brick tower on the left was erected in 1885 and the larger tower on the right was constructed in 1927. Locally, they are known affectionately as "the salt and pepper pots".

I parked Clint near the town's most significant church - St John's  and then wandered into the forlorn pedestrianised high street. I found a cafe that was open - "Razzers" - just off that high street and there I ordered a mug of tea with a very late lunch - sausages, chips (American: fries), a fried egg and some baked beans.

I noticed several mobility scooter riders  and cigarette smokers passing by.  From my experience, such sights are indicators of poverty. Goole has certainly seen better days. Below, you can see the clock tower roundabout and Goole Market Hall. The town council has made some effort to beautify the place with flowers.

My older brother Robin was born in Goole in 1951 and it's where Tasker Dunham. author of "A Yorkshire Memoir", went to school many years ago - just before Noah built The Ark.
The latest on Simon is that he has had a feeding tube fitted via his nose  and earlier today he panicked when an attempt was made to insert a second endoscopic tube. Maybe they'll try again tomorrow but they are pushing the instrument down an inflamed gullet swollen with cancer at the point where it enters the stomach. No wonder he panicked. It was awful the first time.

27 April 2022


I am about to say something highly controversial. In my ever so humble opinion, I think that when sitting in the Houses of Parliament in London, Members of Parliament should be following whatever debate is in progress. They should not be on their mobile phones checking stuff out, e-mailing,  booking holidays or even blogging

And they should certainly not be drooling over their favourite porn sites. Apart from anything else, The House of Commons is a workplace and in a workplace you are, surprisingly enough, meant to be working.

I sometimes tune into BBC Parliament on our television and on many occasions I have observed MP's using their smartphones right behind colleagues who are making points, asking questions or delivering speeches. Perhaps I have turned into an old fuddy duddy but I think this is outrageous.

The careless habit is surely sending out a message to schoolchildren and university students alike that when you are in a lesson or a lecture it's okay to use your mobile phone. After all, the people who are meant to be running this country do it all the time so it must be all right. Mustn't it?

Earlier today, news broke that an unnamed Conservative M.P. had been observed by women in his own political party looking at pornography on his phone while sitting in the chamber of The House of Commons. I agree entirely with Kirsty Blackman of the Scottish Nationalists who said very straightforwardly. "They have been elected to represent their constituents not to sit in that chamber and watch porn."

Some schools have sought to combat the scourge of mobile phones in classrooms by instructing children to leave their phones at home or at the school's main reception desk. I think it is a tactic that should apply to The House of Commons too. No phones in the chamber. After all, before mobile phones were invented, MP's conducted their Commons duties perfectly well without them.

Rant over.

26 April 2022


Groyne with spume at Hornsea this morning

This morning, before transporting Simon to hospital, I took the opportunity to revisit the little seaside town of Hornsea on the East Yorkshire coast. It is only six miles from my childhood home and figured significantly in my formative years. Besides, I had not seen the sea in many months.

Clint and I were there by eight o'clock on what was a mild and promising morning. The bitter wind from the east was no longer blowing and as I walked along the beach, I left my coat unbuttoned. That section of the coast is prone to erosion and since the Romans left these shores, numerous villages have been consumed by The North Sea. Their names ring out like funeral bells - Out Newton, Northorpe, Dimlington, Colden Parva, Sand-le-Mere, Ravenser Odd and a dozen others. It is so sad. Every winter more land is lost.

I passed The Floral Hall where I saw several significant musical acts in the late sixties/early seventies including Roxy Music, Tim Hardin, UFO,  Mott the Hoople, Wishbone Ash and Van der Graaf Generator. Like those lost village bells, I only had to close my eyes to hear echoes of that music and see once more the faces of  old Hornsea friends and acquaintances - when we were so young.

A chunk of wall shaped by the sea

There were a few dog walkers around and gulls rested on wooden groyne posts. As well as sea-tossed pebbles and rocks on the beach there were bricks that have also been shaped by the sea. I have a few at home here in Sheffield and those with holes in make excellent pen holders. The tide was going out and by the farthest groyne, the ever churning sea had created spume, like nature's bath foam.

I turned back and headed to  a visitors' shop on the seafront near The Marine Hotel. It was open early and  sold colourful beach balls, tacky souvenirs, sticks of sugary seaside rock and - thankfully - a bacon sandwich and a regular latte too. I took them to a bench that looked out towards The Netherlands - far beyond that marine horizon.

Just before nine, I kick-started Clint and we motored back inland to pick up Simon who was annoyingly critical of my careful driving even though I was doing him a big favour. Because of his cancer and prognosis, I forced myself not to respond.

At the hospital, we waited in  the Ward 14 "day room" for an hour and spent a further hour by his hospital bed in the side room allocated Nothing had happened and I realised that if  Simon had been forewarned I could have just driven over from Sheffield this morning. After two and a half hours, I shook his hand and wished him the best of luck.

It was nice not to have a driving examiner in the passenger seat as I steered Clint homeward. I could be as careful and cautious as I wished, obeying all speed limits and other road signs without any harrumphing. 

25 April 2022


Near Eske, East Yorkshire last Friday afternoon

It is Monday evening and I am about to head back to East Yorkshire. Simon finally saw  the consultant this morning and now has to spend a few days in a hospital bed - beginning tomorrow morning. He will be fed through a tube. I think the idea is build up his strength a little before he undergoes a second endoscopic investigation. I am not sure if, during his long-awaited consultation, there was any reference to the earlier plan - to remove one of his kidneys because of a tumour discovered there.

In England, visitors have to pay to leave a vehicle in a hospital car park so that's partly why I will be taking Simon to hospital tomorrow. This afternoon, he was heading to the coastal town of Hornsea to purchase some pyjamas before his hospital stay. Tonight, I will be sleeping in "The New Inn" once again. It's a hundred yards down the street from Simon's little cottage.

At last, something is happening!

24 April 2022


In 1805, the digging of a canal was completed. It ran for three and half miles from The River Hull right into the heart of the East Yorkshire village where Simon and I were born and raised. The chief sponsor, Mrs Charlotta Bethell, imagined the canal would be a shrewd investment - bringing in coal and taking out grain and other agricultural products.
Of course, the canal has not been used for commercial purposes in many decades. But it is still there as a leisure asset. It attracts many anglers and near Sandholme Bridge - show below - there is a caravan settlement. A public footpath runs all the way to The River Hull where the canal meets the river at Leven Lock. 
At the village end of the canal there were two substantial warehouses. One was built to receive coal and the other housed grain and other crops ready for transportation by sailing barges. One of those warehouses has now been converted into a private residence and it has been lowered. Annoyingly, this project caused the public footpath to be diverted for a couple of hundred yards so you no longer get to see the old canal basin. Here's an iron boss I spotted on the side of the former warehouse - as you can see, it is dated 1825:-
When we were boys, the canal was like a playground.for village children. We swam there, pinched rowing boats, observed swans and other water birds, fished, noticed water boatmen and caddis flies and we chucked green algae around or built primitive dens. Legendary pike fish swam below the lily pads. The very name "pike" was enough to send a shudder up your spine.

Later, when we were teenagers, there was canoodling to do and I had my first puffs of marijuana "reefers" down  there too.
For the first time in many a long year, I walked alongside the canal on Friday evening. Memories flooded back of happy childhood days. There was not enough time to walk all the way to Leven Lock and turn back. Near the point where I did turn back, I saw a gap in the hedgerow and this view of a lone tree on Harrison Hill though Ordnance Survey mapping has labelled  it Bracken Hill for some reason. It was never Bracken Hill to us.

23 April 2022


My younger brother, Simon, is in a bad way. I saw him last evening and this morning too - in the village where we were both born. He lives in a humble old cottage  just across the road from our mutual birthplace. The rented  one bedroom cottage is badly in need of modernisation. In fact, the owners have given Simon notice to leave because they want to proceed with vital improvements which will see the interior completely gutted.

But that is not his number one issue right now because, to put it bluntly,  his very existence is now in jeopardy.

For a few years, Simon has worked with a team of sub-contractors on the water supply infrastructure - maintaining small reservoirs and enacting vital repairs here and there. He was still doing this work last December when he noticed that he was having trouble swallowing food and keeping it down. He has often referred to "acid reflux".

I met with him in the motorway services off the M18 just before Christmas to exchange presents. He seemed his usual self. He had been to see his doctor about his health concerns and was waiting in limbo for some sort of follow-up  - which ought to involve a hospital referral.

How slowly cogs can turn and of course the ongoing COVID pandemic has not helped. Last month, he had an endoscopy and  last week a CT scan. And yet, he has still to see the associated specialist to receive a definitive verdict and a care plan.  He was already being investigated with regard to a tumour on one of his kidneys.

He remains in limbo and is now painfully thin. We know it is oesophageal cancer (English spelling)  because after the endoscopy one of the nurses said so. Because Simon can no longer eat, he has been prescribed high-energy drinks to fill the nutritional void. 

He is getting weaker each day, finds it hard to sleep and now spends his time trying to keep warm in his draughty old cottage. The decline in his health has been rapid but I can't help suspecting that what he is now going through is directly related to his  lifelong smoking  habit.

Two bright spots in this grimness are firstly - he is finally going to meet up with the hospital consultant who is dealing with his case. Fingers crossed, he will receive an honest diagnosis and some expert guidance about "What happens next?". That meeting is scheduled for Monday morning. Secondly, it seems that the local housing authority have pinpointed a flat in a sheltered unit in Beverley that Simon might be able to move into. Personally, I think he should grab this opportunity with both hands but of course he is dithering about it.

I have reassured him that Shirley and I are ready and willing to help him with the move. Frankly, I am not sure how much life he has left in him. He is sixty six years old. Hopefully, Monday will bring much more clarity. At this juncture, it would be nice if an angel could appear with a magic wand.

21 April 2022


Solitary oak tree near Adwick-le-Street

Clint came down with COVID three days ago so of course he is still testing negative. Consequently, I had to choose an alternative form of transport to reach my walking destination. I chose the train - paying just £8.50 for an off-peak return ticket to Adwick-le-Street north of Doncaster.

I was up bright and early with my backpack sorted and porridge bubbling in the microwave like a volcanic mudpool. Shirley offered to give me a lift to the railway station but I had plenty of time so I caught a number 82 into the city centre and when I got there I began to saunter down to the station. And that is when a thunderbolt struck me.

Green path near Toll Bar 

Not a large-scale thunderbolt like one that Almighty God might mete out when he hasn't had his porridge but a small-scale one like a cheap rocket on Bonfire Night. I had forgotten to put my camera in the backpack. What a silly ass! Fortunately, I  realised my error before boarding the Doncaster train and headed straight back home on a Number 88 bus.

Quick check of the "National Rail Enquiries" website and then back on a bus with plenty of time to catch the 11.11 train to Doncaster. Instead of waiting an hour for the connecting train to Adwick-le-Street I just walked out of Doncaster station and headed north towards Bentley and then on to Toll Bar and finally Adwick-le Street. By the way, if you didn't know it already, the name Doncaster is a reminder of Roman occupation - it means "castle by the River Don".

Toll Bar Grill

It was a great day for walking in spite of the false start. On more than one occasion, Toll Bar has been in the national news because the village is very susceptible to flooding but today it was basking in sunshine and surrounding fields and drains were very dry for April. We have had so little rain in recent weeks.

Bandstand in Bentley Park

I estimate that I walked nine miles today and I was back home for five thirty - ready to make The Duchess of Yorkshire a nice evening meal involving fresh linguine, fresh pesto sauce, fried onion, sliced courgette, parmesan cheese, plum tomatoes, mushrooms and pieces of chicken. Easy to bring together but tasty and filling.

Raggedy little horse near Bentley

19 April 2022


Basher Eyre

Basher Eyre describes himself as a "Church crawler, Pevsnerian, Wikipedian, Groundhopper, Steam Nut and Supply Teacher". He is a prolific contributor to the Geograph site that I am also addicted to. Since 2009, I have contributed 16,387 images to Geograph but Basher Eyre has contributed 160,669 images. That is quite an astonishing  difference.

Basher lives in Hampshire and when he arrives in a place he gets clicking with his camera. He is especially fond of clicking in and around churches. Notice that he describes himself as a "Pevsnerian" after the great architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner (1902-1983) who painstakingly judged the merits of all significant ecclesiastical buildings in England and indeed many other secular buildings with true architectural merit.

Recently, Basher Eyre has been out and about in a large Hampshire village called Liss. Like a fisherman returning to port, he hauled in dozens of photos of Liss and to give you a flavour of Basher's unique photographic style, here are three of his Liss images:-
The bus stop on Mill Road

Looking from Forest Road into Briar Wood

Lamp post on Forest Road

Personally, I doubt that "Basher" is Mr Eyre's actual first name. I suspect it is just a nickname but if that is the case, it is a highly appropriate one for a man whose recent income has mostly come from supply teaching! 

I have never had a nickname apart from the one I gave myself for the purposes of this blog  - Yorkshire Pudding - sometimes altered to YP, Pud, Yorkie 0r Puddingman. However, if I were to select a proper nickname for myself  I might also choose Basher. It is kind of cool and co-incidentally  Mr Eyre  and I look rather like brothers!

If you were to pick a nickname for yourself, what would it be and why?
Dear Basher Eyre,
If you have stumbled upon this blogpost at some point in the future, I hope you are not offended by it. That was certainly not my intention. I hope you are still submitting images to Geograph. 160,669 is an amazing number - a photographic fecundity which leaves me in a state of slack-jawed admiration.
Best wishes,
Yorkshire Pudding

18 April 2022



He died in our local hospice at 6.37pm yesterday evening. I knew him for thirty three years. Like many Irishmen before him, he came over to England in his late teens to join the building industry. Like me, he met a nurse and married her. They had three children together and were as happy as pigs in muck. We know the family very well.

He was an upbeat kind of guy. He didn't appear to take life too seriously and he loved the ambience of English pubs. He wasn't one of those maudlin Irish immigrants who longed for the old country all the time. He loved Sheffield and Yorkshire as much as he loved his family, including two beautiful grandchildren. However, when it came to sport, especially rugby, he was Ireland's number one fan.

He died too young. He was 64 years and 364 days old. One day short of his 65th birthday. Many will miss him and I am amongst them. I just wrote this poem in honour of him:-


Dear Pat

It’s over now
The music of life
Sounds of drilling and birds
And children yelling, “It’s not fair!”
And Radio 2 on The Parkway
And getting pints topped up.
It’s over now
The laughter and the remembering
Wage packet on kitchen table
Meat pie in oven
Early morning starts
“Dad’s Army” on the telly
“I love that me”.
It’s over now
Millions of fags
Two false hips
“God bless the NHS!”
Oxygen cylinder by the bed
And  you  so often said
“Our Jennifer…our James…
Our Declan…”
You loved them.
It’s over now
Watching the rugby
“Come on Ireland!”
Phone calls to siblings
St Luke’s  like a boutique hotel
April sun upon your pillow
“They’re all really lovely”,
So lovely.
It’s over now
After the coughing
Appears the coffin.
It happens to us all.
At least
You got to say your goodbyes
And you, you were surely one of the best
So may you find eternal rest...

17 April 2022


All I have to share with you this Easter Sunday night is a bunch of photos of our darling granddaughter now that she has reached the age of fifteen months. How Little Phoebe  has developed! She walks pretty confidently now and is forming words. One of her favourite things to do is to sit on grandpa's knee watching animated characters on YouTube singing children's songs or nursery rhymes. In fact, we have to ration her visits to the computer screen as there are other things in life apart from  puppets singing "The Wheels On The Bus" or "Wind the Bobbin Up". 

Phoebe and her parents have just been away for two nights  - staying in a tiny cottage in Ulverston in The Lake District. It is where Stan Laurel hailed from. When she came into our house again, it was clear that she was genuinely happy to see her grandparents once more. Previously there was often a kind of puzzlement as if she had forgotten who we were. She has brought such joy and brightness into our lives and we love her very much.

16 April 2022


During the hours of darkness, it used to be the case that towns and cities in Great Britain were illuminated by low pressure sodium lamps. They created a strange orangey glow in the sky that could be seen from miles around and impaired viewing of the heavens above.

Five or six years ago, Sheffield City Council began to remove sodium streetlighting, opting instead for LED lighting. Now it is pretty much citywide. This project was undertaken for two main reasons. Firstly, LED lighting is kinder to the planet as LED bulbs use significantly less electricity than sodium lamps. Secondly, the quality of light produced by LED bulbs is more natural, closer to daylight, reducing accidents on urban roads and pavements (American: "sidewalks").

At this time of year, many of Sheffield's street trees are in full blossom, waiting for a big wind to blow the petals away as bees and other pollinators work as quickly as they can to maximise fertilisation. Sadly, the gaudy display of blossom rarely lasts for long.

Last night, just before bedtime, I noticed a blooming cherry tree near our house captured in the white LED street light and made a mental note to remember to go out and photograph it tonight. Of course, this is also the night when we greet April's full moon but at the time I took these pictures, it had still not appeared above the rooftops.

15 April 2022


Good Friday. Good Friday was , well, good. The sun shone and Clint (shown above) transported me to a Yorkshire village I had never previously visited - Burghwallis. I had already worked out another long walking route.

Before parking in Burghwallis, I made a detour to a larger village called Campsall in order to see a Grade I listed church dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. Unfortunately, there was a Good Friday service in progress so I didn't get to look round the interior. However I snapped this picture of the magnificent west door which dates back to the twelfth century.:-
Also in Campsall, this street sign caught my eye. It says "No Road" but it was a road with several houses on each side. Strange:-

On my circular walk from Burghwallis, I noticed this very strange hut in the village of Sutton. It was beneath some electricity lines and connected with the old Yorkshire Electricity Board. It is too narrow to be a lavatorial facility. I have never seen such a hut before:-
At All Saints Church, Owston, I noticed these tenacious daisies appearing from a crack in the stone path:-
When I returned to Burghwallis after three hours of steady plodding, I intended co take a couple of pictures of the village church - dedicated to  St Helen. However, clouds were thwarting my plan at that point so I sat on an old  platform grave and drank some water from my flask as well as chomping a juicy red apple. Patience often has its rewards and after five minutes the lovely old church with its ancient construction history was duly illuminated to my satisfaction:-

14 April 2022


Home Secretary Patel and Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Vincent Biruta  shake hands over their "bold new partnership".

It seems like a notion from some dystopian novel. The British government have been hatching plans to fly uninvited asylum seekers, migrants and refugees to a processing facility in Rwanda, Africa. PM Johnson and his hapless Home Secretary seem to imagine that this will disrupt the activities of people smugglers and staunch the flow of queue-jumping migrants into our country. Yesterday, a reported six hundred of them came over from France in inflatable boats. Thousands more are bound to follow this summer.

The government haven't talked through their half-baked ideas in The Houses of Parliament. They have just announced the scheme. Some cynics have suggested that this is all about Johnson distracting the public and the media from his own domestic woes. Like Sunak, he has received a fixed penalty notice for partying during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and  he is likely to receive two further fines. Ironically, he broke his own rules. You just couldn't make this stuff up.

Rwandan national flag

Compared with many African countries, Rwanda seems more prosperous, settled and forward looking. However, is it the right place to process thousands of would-be migrants who have left their homes in search of a better life? Will the migrants be imprisoned? How will they be treated? And what is to stop them from leaving Rwanda and making new attempts to get into Britain?

There are so many questions to be asked about this arrangement, not least - how can it possibly succeed? How much will it all cost? How will the Rwandan people react?  Will there be teams of translators? Will Ukrainian migrants be sent to Rwanda with everyone else? Are there no better ways of tackling the continuing migrant crisis?

Personally, I would rather see Johnson, Patel and Sunak sent to Rwanda.  Apparently, matoke (green bananas)  occupy one third of Rwanda's farmland. I feel sure they could secure manual jobs in the matoke plantations or join mountain gorilla viewing expeditions in The Volcanoes National Park.

Transporting matoke in Rwanda

13 April 2022


Ordinary people have little to no opportunity of evading the taxman. We are obliged to pay our dues. In any case, paying one's required taxes is surely part and parcel of being an honest citizen. Those roads, that hospital, those schools, that air force, those services - they all cost money and it is surely only right that we should each pay our fair share.

However, this kind of egalitarian thinking seems to be an anathema to a lot of seriously wealthy people. They appear to believe that it is their God-given right to bend the tax rules, to evade, to dodge, to sequester, to utilise tax havens. They walk a narrow line between lawfulness and illegality - often employing fancy lawyers and consultants to exploit loopholes. It is an unpleasant kind of social irresponsibility though some might simply call it selfishness or greed. Thank heavens not all wealthy people conduct their financial affairs in this reprehensible manner.

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer is a fellow called Rishi Sunak - at least I think that is how his first name is spelt. It could easily be Richy given his personal wealth. In the last few weeks, it has transpired that Sunak and his wife have been using several devices to reduce their tax bills. It seems that an anonymous whistleblower has flagged up their connivance and Sunak is apparently furious about this. He has demanded an enquiry and got one!

I find this utterly flabbergasting. It's like a bank robber complaining about being grassed up by a police informer. Instead of getting all antsy about being found out, Sunak should be apologising to the nation and maybe doing the right thing by resigning from high office. Incidentally, yesterday he was issued with a fine by the London Metropolitan Police Service for attending at least one illegal party at Number 10 Downing Street during the height of COVID restrictions in the summer of 2020.

Until very recently, Sunak was being touted as our next prime minister after Johnson inevitably bites the dust. Given recent tax revelations, it now seems highly improbable that he will ever be allowed to rise to the top.

12 April 2022


One of Sheffield's most famous sons is Jarvis Cocker. He was the frontman of the band Pulp that achieved enormous success in the mid nineteen nineties.

As I drove along Ecclesall Road yesterday afternoon, I noticed a new piece of street art near the shopping centre known as Berkeley Precinct. Tonight, as I was visiting the local "Tesco" to pick up a few things, I nipped round the corner onto Snuff Mill Lane to take the picture shown above.

Of course one of Pulp's most famous anthems was "Common People"  which is what the mural is referencing. It was an unusual and clever song that tried to say something meaningful about ordinary urban lives as many of Jarvis's self-penned lyrics did:-

You wanna live like common people
You wanna see whatever common people see
Wanna sleep with common people
You wanna sleep with common people
Like me
But she didn't understand
She just smiled and held my hand

11 April 2022


Office of  "The Montrail County Promoter" on Main Street

There's a small city in North Dakota called Stanley. You may not have heard of it but one visitor to this blog knows it well because it was where he was born and raised. Unlike Lebanon in Kansas, Stanley is a relatively prosperous place  with its population now gradually rising. Stanley is the principal  town in Mountrail County - named after Joseph Mountraille "a half breed mail carrier" who explored the region in the 1840's.

The brand new City Hall on Main Street

Significant oil reserves in the vicinity of Stanley are now being exploited which may explain its growing prosperity. However, 10% of the population live below the poverty line. Incidentally, 98.8% of Stanley's 2655 citizens describe themselves as "white".  This is pretty typical of small towns in The Mid West.

Google Streetview Airways transported me to Stanley this morning and I had a good look around but I hardly saw any people. It was like a ghost town but I did see one man nipping into an office building. The imagery had been gathered on a bright but cool afternoon last October.

Households in Stanley enjoy a lot of surrounding space and  on Main Street things look a lot healthier than in Lebanon KS. There are places to eat and drink and a good range of services.

Small house and church in Stanley

The main cities in North Dakota are Fargo (125,900) and Bismarck (73,622). Stanley is 280 miles from Fargo and 129 miles from Bismarck which is the state capital. In terms of population, North Dakota  is the 47th most populous state in the USA - beaten to the bottom prize by Alaska, Vermont and finally Wyoming.

As far as I know, nobody famous ever came out of Stanley apart from the blogger known as Catalyst - who now resides like a prickly cactus in the desert warmth of Arizona. However, local legend has it that Lee Harvey Oswald  lived in Stanley with his mother in the summer of 1953. He would have been thirteen years old at the time. The colourful rumours surrounding this mystery sojourn have proven impossible to verify.

A typical residential corner in Stanley

Stanley has a town website that operates out of the new City Hall building. The homepage welcomes visitors in this exact manner:-

"Stanley is a wonderful community with a charm that intertwines the traditions of our past with the progress of the future. Our aim is to make all citizens and visitors feel that they are part of and welcome in this community. If you are seeking a new place to live, looking for a business site, or considering a place to retire, you’ll find what you are looking for in Stanley."
Stanley High School - Home of "The Blue Jays"

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