Pain And Suffering In Downtown Halifax Part II

This was one of the first posts I ever put up on my blog, I posted it fifteen years ago in 2006. It came to mind because …. this morning started with a visit to the dentist! Actually, in the intervening fifteen years the dentist has moved, even closer to the town centre. Whist waiting for pain and suffering in downtown Halifax Part II to commence, I took a walk, and, of course, took some photographs. 

I took some photographs here back in the 1960s and when I got home I looked some of them out…..

As it turned out, there was no pain and suffering on this occasion: the dentist took one look and booked me in for another appointment to do a filling in a few weeks time. Keep a look out for Pain And Suffering In Downtown Halifax Part III

New Normality

A day out in Skipton – a return to normality of types. I am sure, however, that normality used to involve wild parties, exotic travel and racing through the sun-soaked countryside in an open-top E-type. Ah well, we had a cup of tea and shared a chocolate muffin and then came home for a snooze. New normality.

Reclining Figure, Halifax 1970

One of the least known of Henry Moore’s monumental sculptures is his 1970 Reclining Figure which has been on permanent display in Halifax for the last fifty years. In order to overcome the civic antipathy to major arts projects, Moore cleverly disguised the sculpture as an overpass.

Spot The Difference

Social Media is full of memes proclaiming “You have an IQ of over 150 if you can spot the difference between these two pictures!” You don’t need an IQ the size of Wainhouse Tower to spot the differences here, but you could probably host a seminar on the social, cultural and photographic differences on display. The first picture is a contemporary Google Streetview screen grab, the second was taken by me around 35 years ago.

Besides The Seaside

Another lockdown milestone. We went to the seaside yesterday, a day trip to Whitby to meet up with my son and his family who are spending a week there. Going for day trips to the seaside has always been a normal part of my life. As a child we would climb aboard my fathers’ various vans and cars and visit Bridlington or Scarborough. When my son was small we would do the same, and even when more exotic locations turned our heads, we would still regularly undertake the two hour drive to the seaside. Lockdown brought an end to such adventures, and the forced separation from the salt-sprayed, vinegar-chipped British seaside only served to increase its attractiveness. It was great to see the family, it was great to be back besides the seaside.

A Return To The Shoulder Of Mutton

We took a walk yesterday down the Shibden Valley with some friends, and finished up at the Shoulder Of Mutton pub in Northowram, which was open for outdoor service. We had a pleasant drink and some excellent food and eventually the discussions got around to the pub itself and its history. Google eventually led me in the direction of a piece I must have written eleven years ago and had completely forgotten about. Even though I say it myself, it was worth a second read, and therefore I am giving it a second post.


FROM GREAT YORKSHIRE PUBS (2010)

The Shoulder of Mutton is situated in the village of Northowram, a couple of miles north of Halifax. This is the village I grew up in, and I remember passing the Shoulder many times as a child and wondering what secrets those child-free rooms held. For one reason or another, I never visited the Shoulder during that short window of opportunity between my looking old enough to get served in a pub and my leaving the village for ever. And so my recent visit to such a familiar landmark was my first to the pub. After offering up a short prayer to Bacchus for having kept the place open long enough for my visit, I gathered all my childhood memories around me and entered this fine Yorkshire village pub.

As you can see from my photograph, the pub spreads over three, conjoint buildings. On the right is the somewhat formal lines of what, in the eighteenth century, was known as Priestley Hall (built by Nathanial Priestley in 1723). The middle building – which was most likely originally a farmhouse – is probably the oldest and incorporates a stone lintel which is dated 1622. The building on the left looks as though it was grafted on to the farmhouse at some indeterminate date, long lost to memory.

And my impressions of the visit to the pub have almost been long-lost to memory as well, because I forgot to write them up when I returned home. So the following notes are taken straight from my notebook, but on re-reading them they seem to give an accurate taste of the place.

“Note the address – evocative: the phrase “Mutton Fold” should have a wider currency. How pleasant to discover a pub that has not been “themed”. Tables and chairs look as though they have emerged over time rather than been imported from a warehouse. The beers are not too beery, there is a jukebox and there is a pool table. Some walls have been knocked down, but still possible to see the lay-out of the old houses set on different levels. Beamed ceilings, but not low beams nor over-ancient beams, nor fake beams. Pleasant but empty, like touring the British Museum on a wet Tuesday morning. You want people to be here, you want gossip, you want neighborly chatter, you want romance – you want life. There is music somewhere in the background : a pulsating bass line with tendrils of voice flirting with meaning. Is this ale making me poetic? If so the culprit is Timothy Taylor Golden Best : beery with distinct notes of beer. I shared the pint with a good honest packet of Seabrook’s Potato Crisps and I am reminded that crisp must be one of the finest inventions of the entire twentieth century. Soon the pubs will be closed, the beer transformed into ice-cold tasteless lager, and crisps will be banned as junk food. Sad”

I may have got slightly carried away, but the Shoulder Of Mutton is a good, honest village pub and a visit there should be made a compulsory part of the school curriculum. If it had been so in my youth I wouldn’t have had to wait fifty years to enter its doors.