Dear Reader: The dog who writes + I briefly join an indie band!
A weekly column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.
I thought I’d seen it all in my time in newspapers (and websites and Facebook and Twitter) until a pleasant-looking retired gentleman from Ripon visited our office the other week.
“I’d like you to write about this book,” he said. “My dog wrote it,” he added.
Of course, this nice old man’s English Springer didn’t really write Mollie -The Early Years In Her Own Words, even if the book is named after her and tells her stories in the first person.
One conclusion I’ve come to after all these years is that hidden talent lies behind almost every door.
In total, I must have met and interviewed five or six local authors in the last month or so.
No sooner has one little known local author sprung out of the woodwork than another appears as if from nowhere, then another, then one or two more.
All of them created books which have actually been published in print, rather than being vanity projects or online only.
Some are likely to sell a handful of copies, other hundreds and others still thousands.
The subject matters vary wildly, too, from shop girls in the gritty north of the 1930s to architectural relics of the Nazi era in present-day Germany to a Dickensian-like saga set in 19th century Harrogate.
But only one of the books was written by a dog.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been a judge at a battle of the bands in Harrogate, York or Leeds.
As a huge lover of music from childhood, I’ve wondered from time-to-time what it would be like to be on stage myself, one of the judged rather than a judge.
The other weekend fate intervened when I was attending the amazing jamboree of indie bands that is Live at Leeds fest.
Last year I’d managed to squeeze in 12 different bands in 12 different venues in 12 hours.
This year I decided to take it easy and actually relax a bit.
But the plan was derailed almost as soon as the second band of the day hit the stage.
Who knew the lead singer of this incredibly young and noisy post-punk, jazz-funk outfit would decide to leap into the crowd?
Who knew he would end up sprawled out on the floor in front of me?
Who knew the band would keep on playing wildly as the singer disappeared to goodness knows where?
Being British, the crowd around me tried to ignore the microphone the singer had left lying on the wooden floorboards.
Nothing was happening so I opted to pick the damn thing up. Then I realised I would have to do something with it.
For two minutes I shrieked and wailed like Yoko Ono at her best – or worst.
The crowd seemed to be lapping it up but, after a couple of minutes, I got a bit tired of my role as temporary lead singer.
I won’t bore you with any more details but I can say I learned at least two things from this unexpected experience.
I’m no singer and never pick up a microphone.