A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers
I make no claims to be a slick, professional public speaker but I’ve been invited to give a talk on journalism a few times each year since my first job in the industry back in the days of clattering typewriters and smoke-filled news rooms.
Even though I’ve always there by invitation, my great fear remains the same - that I turn into Joseph Cotton in The Third Man, the wrong man in the wrong place addressing the wrong crowd on the wrong subject.
It soon became obvious Ripon Writers Circle were a talented bunch when I stood before them last Wednesday in the Old Deanery restaurant.
That in itself was no surprise. Our district is awash in good writers, some of them successfully published, others happy to make an impact quietly in local groups such as Harrogate Writers Circle or Poems, Prose and Pints based in Harrogate’s North Bar.
The reason I was there is because I’d been asked to assess the entries in the Ripon group’s quarterly writing competition.
The subject wasn’t that promising – “home” – but every single one of the finished articles was intelligently written from start to finish.
I’ve never really been certain how critical my feedback ought to be in these situations.
I am sure there’s no point in offering bland praise.
I tell myself that this is the result of my belief that you have to ai
m high, that aiming low is no way to achieve anything.
And that’s what got me sacked as one of the judges in the Young Farmers Club’s annual public speaking contest a few years back.
Before the sun had risen far enough in the sky to bring sunbathers to the Stray on what was a glorious early summer on Saturday, I decided to march down the hill to buy a newspaper.
On my way to the shops I bumped into Vincent Staunton, amiable business development manager of Harrogate’s Daleside brewery.
“You’re up early for a bank holiday,” I said, a little rudely, perhaps.
“I’m off to play golf,” he replied.
It made sense. As a sport, it’s a marathon rather than a sprint and, if you don’t want to wipe out your whole day, it pays to tee off early.
He also reminded me that Daleside had a big role in a forthcoming charity ‘do’ – the first-ever Henshaws Beer Festival set to take place on Saturday, May 11 at Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre in Knaresborough.
The famous independent brewers based in Starbeck has linked up with three other successful independents for the first time – Cold Bath Brewing, Roosters, Harrogate Brewing Co for this special event.
I think there’s 21 craft beers in total to choose from.
The aim is to raise money in this increasingly competitive age for charities to enable Henshaws to do its good work supporting people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to go beyond expectations.
Okay, it’s not riding a static bike non-stop for eight hours in a shopping centre.
Or climbing Kilimanjaro or doing a 100 marathons in 100 days.
But it is in a good cause and I don’t mind doing my bit.