Dear Reader: New women's political party + my cricket disaster

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Friday, 23rd February 2018, 4:09 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd February 2018, 4:20 pm
Womens Equality Party leader Sophie Walker surrounded by members of the Harrogate branch.

I had the great pleasure of meeting three members of the Harrogate branch of the Women’s Equality Party on Monday lunchtime at the Bean & Bud, one of my favourite Harrogate independent cafes,.Britain’s newest national political party, it was only launched by broadcaster Sandi Toksvig and journalist Catherine Mayer, in 2015 but can already boast 76 branches.Although the Harrogate and Yorkshire Dales branch has only been going for just over 12 months, it’s rapidly become one of this fledgling party’s strongest outposts.So much so, in fact, that the party leader Sophie Walker even made a visit to the town at the end of last year.The one thing which Harrogate branch leader Viviane Morris and her colleagues Jean Laight and Helen Shay seemed to share most strongly was sheer disillusion about how mainstream politicians have done so little in practice in recent years over issues such as the gender pay gap and child care.Everything they said made perfect sense to me, In fact, it scarcely seemed ‘political’ at all.And, by the way, the Women’s Equality Party is open to all genders.

I had the great pleasure of welcoming thoroughly nice retired Ripon couple Michael and Jean Bell to the Harrogate Advertiser office earlier this week.The pretext was a chat about a new book by this late bloomer, his fifth to date.This tome is about the final years of his beloved English springer spaniel – written from the pet’s point of view.Actually, some readers might recognise the now retired Michael better as ‘Mick.’That’s what this popular character was always known as during his many years as a successful cricket coach.Not that I like hearing that word, ‘cricket’.My industrial home town was big on both football and rugby union but, until I moved to England following a job, I had not once experienced the smack of willow on leather.What’s more I didn’t know anyone else who had, either.Flashforward from those long-gone school days to the early 1990s.Such was the more relaxed style of that era, the newspaper had its own cricket team which played friendlies regularly against teachers in Harrogate schools.I once enjoyed a ‘knock’ of eight runs, which to me was the same as hitting a century, though I suspect I got away with a few obvious lbws.My forte, if, indeed, I had one, was fielding.But enthusiasm has its drawbacks as I discovered during one sun-soaked match at Ashville College when I tracked an airborn shot and backed, backed, backed all the way into the nets at the end of the field where I lay tangled up and floundering like a kipper.

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