Dear Reader: Marshalling a wet Guy Fawkes 10 + Bob Harris in Harrogate
A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers
I volunteered to be a race marshall on Sunday morning on the wind and sleet swept hills high above Ripley.As a member of the club organising the event, I had no choice, really.As the weather turned nasty, I took my place with the other 100 or so volunteers from Nidd Valley Runners Club who organise the popular Guy Fawkes 10 mile race each year from a starting point at Ripley Castle.There was precious little to do at my spot at the top of Clint Bank Lane as I waited for the first of the 1,000-strong field to arrive at the two-mile mark.That was it until a veteran farmer pulled up in an old Land Rover.In five minutes flat he had all the sheep in a nearby field rounded up into an organised group.All it took was a little bit of whistling on his part and a lot of scurrying around by his sheepdog. Amazing.Then they got back in the weather-beaten Land Rover and motored away leaving the flock standing there.As for the actual race, nothing much happened except for some very good performances by bedraggled runners.No one needed my ‘extensive’ marshalling skills and the drivers of cars sharing the route proved considerate enough not to cause any problems.Soon my small part in the day came to an end, as did the rain.As I prepared to get back in my car, a rainbow started to spread across the horizon.
One of Harrogate’s musical must-see events of the entire year took place recently and hardly anyone knew about it.The acts for this invitation-only gig at Warehouse Studios were chosen by Bob Harris, who has an interest in this newly-opened recording studio and has become a bit of a regular visitor.Best known for the Old Grey Whistle Test in the 1970s and his long-running BBC Radio 2 country and Americana show in the current era, the quietly spoken Harris is without doubt the single most influential music broadcaster of the past 50 years in Britain with the exception of John Peel.And here he was in Harrogate at a fabulously intimate gig introducing some fab musicians, including Harrogate’s own Holly Rose Webber.I’d met ‘Whispering Bob’ before in the days when I had the privilege to run the Fringe for Harrogate International Festivals. I’d been trying to bring him to Harrogate Theatre for a special event but, in the end, had left it all a bit late and was forced to cancel the show.It was the embarrassing lowpoint of an otherwise fruitful time at the Fringe.One of the happier moments was when I persuaded Gruff Rhys, the award-winning leader of Welsh psychedelic wizards Super Furry Animals, to come here to perform in 2011.Despite it being his birthday, the show did happen and it went very well.At the time it felt quite a radical step bringing Gruff to a spa town.Now here was Bob Harris himself in Harrogate. Again.