A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers
The calm before the storm, I sat for a pint and a pause last Saturday inside a Harrogate bar on King’s Road that’s not scared by the thought of the UCI Road World Championships.
In fact, Cold Bath Brewing Co has linked up with Zwift, an official supplier to the UCIs, to turn itself into a hub for cycling fans.
Ten months ago I sat in exactly the same spot as Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and his entourage swept past on the other side of the road on their way to a political rally at Harrogate Convention Centre.
The same location in just two days time will present a rather different view as hundreds of thousands of cycling fans pour in from Holland and Italy and Germany and Sweden.
Yet the grumbles from some persist, from residents having to apply for access permits to drive into their own streets to businesses claiming all the food and drink vendors at the Fan Zone on the Stray are from Manchester.
Getting a cab home the other week, a grumpy driver told me most of the taxi ranks where they pick up customers were being closed off during the UCIs.
Now I do remember having to walk all the way into town when public transport was swamped by Tour De France fans in Harrogate in 2104.
But this is different.
How different can be judged by the sheer size and spectacular nature of the Fan Zone which is about ten times as big as the Tour de France’s and a whole lot more impressive.
Trying to ignore the UCIs is like laughing in the face of a tidal wave.
There was a time when a headline in a national newspaper at the weekend following the theft of a golden loo at Blenheim Palace would have tickled me enormously.
“The police have nothing to go on,” it read.
In the old days of sub-editors at this newspaper, we would pride ourselves on such ‘witty’ headlines.
Eventually in my then capacity as chief sub-editor I came to realise this sort of ‘clever’ punning didn’t necessarily do anything for the story or impress the readers.
I took against such nonsense and, from then on, tried to discourage it.
On Saturday afternoon I found myself at one of Harrogate’s coolest little galleries, RedHouse Originals, for the launch of a new exhibition by Yorkshire artist Dudley Edwards, a man so important to design and art in the Swinging Sixties he featured prominently in a new movie on the subject last year helmed by the great Michael Caine.
There was Dudley surrounded by his stunning new artworks influenced by Picasso’s Cubism and Matisse’s paper cuts talking to me and a couple of Harrogate art curators about how he had been at Bradford Art College as a young student under the same tutor as David Hockney and, how during the 13 days in 1962 Kennedy squared up to Krushchev over Cuba, they had all been convinced world-wide nuclear war was about to break out.
In an instant an idea flashed into my head, which I obviously had to share.
“It was the Cubist Missile Crisis,” I blurted out ever the sub-editor.