Dear Reader: Haunted by Knaresborough Mummers + Experiencing The Club

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.
The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

I'm not complaining but I’ve rarely got time these days to pop into the Coach and Horses, one of Harrogate’s finest independent pubs.

Knaresborough Mummers.

Knaresborough Mummers.

But one Tuesday each year in December in the run-up to Christmas I usually manage to grab the chance to have a drink or two in this wonderful little haunt with one of my oldest friends.

And each time I grab the chance to have a drink or two in this wonderful little haunt with one of my oldest friends one Tuesday each year in December in the run-up to Christmas the Knaresborough Mummers turn up.

This jovial group of performers in patchwork jackets and hats have been bringing their short play The Blue Stots to pubs in Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripley, Dacre and Darley and a whole host of other places across North Yorkshire on an annual basis since 1981.

Stots is the Scandanvian name for bullocks, by the way.

It’s hard to deny that plenty of revellers enjoy watching them perform the story of King George and Beelzebub and King Slasher and Old Molly on their annual tour of pubs.

I have to say I’m glad this group of determined traditionalists do what they do to keep a part of folk tradition alive.

It’s also true that a wide range of local charities get a welcome boost as a result of the Mummers’ performances of The Blue Stots.

But I only go to the Coach and Horses on one, solitary, single night in December.

And so do Knaresborough Mummers.

The year of 2016 began in fierce storms and there’s been turbulence at home and abroad ever since.

That’s without even mentioning the shocking toll of celebrity deaths in a year which seems to have been blighted from the start.

Sometimes to go forward, it pays to look back.

In that spirit I met one of Harrogate’s most successful musical entrepreneurs recently, perhaps Harrogate’s only musical entrepreneur.

It was the week before Christmas and the location was Harrogate’s most historic members-only club called, handily, The Club.

First founded in 1857, one of The Club’s most regular visitors was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who liked to take a break from people pestering him to bring back Sherlock Holmes by playing snooker amid its elegant, traditional surroundings.

Ninety years on, the magnificent snooker table is still there but the venue was playing host merely to myself and Jason Odle of Ont’ Sofa productions, someone I’ve known for years but never really had the chance to chat to much.

Sitting in The Club’s plush leather seats we talked and talked.

No one else was around and the street outside was as quiet as a field of snow.

In the glow of the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree, a whole five hours soon passed.

It felt like Christmas.