Right Up Your Street –
The Express Columns Volume One
By Ian Clayton
Route Publishing – £9.99
In the flower shop there is a chalk board and it has a nice little adage on it. It says, ‘Advice from a tree… Remember your roots, stay close to the earth, go out on a limb at times and drink plenty of water.’
(‘On the streets where we live’)
Right Up Your Street – The Express Columns Volume One, really is a book to warm and inspire both the heart as well as the mind.
As the book’s secondary title suggests, it consists of a compendium of columns that over the years, Ian Clayton has been writing for his local paper, The Pontefract and Castelford Express. Each one of which shoots straight from the hip of resolute localism and community. Quintessential qualities that do so much with regards the (perhaps subliminal) promotion of ones’ own sense of well-being.
To be sure, given today’s inexorable penchant for homogenized sameness and beige meandering blandness throughout many a town centres, Clayton bequeaths the reader with a reassuring reminder that civic, geographical pride and a dab of independence, if not inadvertent eccentricity, is something to be rightly proud of.
Something to embrace.
Something to celebrate.
A prime example being the above opening quote which continues: ”Now that seems like good advice to live by. Peter in the butcher’s has his own theories on rejuvenation. ‘I’d be happy if I saw a butchers, bakers and candlestick makers back in action.’ Let’s add to that flowers every day, theatres to feed our minds, a job that we don’t have to travel too far to and a trip to the seaside now and again. We all might be happier for it.”
We would indeed be ”happier for it.”
The mere prospect of there being ”theatres to feed our minds,” is something that surely needs to be seriously, wholeheartedly addressed by each and every (terrible) council the length and breadth of the land. Although it won’t be. An abundance of (desperately needed) theatres just isn’t going to happen. Not so long as gluttonous developers – replete with portfolios – continue to wreak havoc by way ransacking every bit of architectural heritage and beauty from our town centres.
Same applies to libraries.
In fact, just about anything that invariably involves (pure) thought and individuality.
This explains why Right Up Your Street really is something of a literary pearl; even if just to behold the following gem: ”Back to Wimbledon […] from the third day of play. A young American ‘summariser’ said, ‘The weather forecast was for a period of heavy rain in the late afternoon, but that didn’t eventuate.’ I nearly did what my granddad did during the miners’ strike when Margaret Thatcher said that the miners were the enemy within, that’s take my slipper off and chuck it at the screen.”
Simultaneously amusing and charming, this has to be one of the most appropriate and readable of books on local community in the UK I’ve read in a long, long time.