Dear Reader: Remembering Charles Kennedy

Graham Chalmers.
Graham Chalmers.

Column by Graham Chalmers

I remember well the day the late Charles Kennedy visited our newspaper.

The Lib Dem leader had turned up for a meeting with our editor in her office but I managed to grab a quick chat as he enjoyed a tour of our print works.

Bearing in mind his position, I obviously knew a lot about him. People back then were saying exactly the same things about him as leading public figures having been saying all this week after the shock of his passing.

Intelligent, witty, likable, different.

Our conversation didn’t last that long but I felt disappointed.

What came across most in person was how ordinary he was.

Typically, I’d missed the point. As a politician it was that ordinariness which made Charles Kennedy extraordinary.

It maybe true that one man’s art is another man’s vandalism but one thing is clear about the graffiti which appeared overnight in the Cheltenham Mount area of Harrogate last week – it could only happen in Harrogate.

We may never know what possessed the culprits to spray an obscure philosophical phrase by an avant-garde art movement of the early 20th century on the side of a wall but, whatever you think of them, they are certainly well-read.

It’s not the only example of this sort of thing to appear in the town recently. Take a walk from the centre of Harrogate to Skipton Road via the narrow shortcut that is Park Chase and you will see some badly scrawled political graffiti accompanied with a stencil of a Banksy-like rat.

It’s all a bit ‘urban’ and, for a second, it’s possible to forget you’re actually in Harrogate until the moment you emerge from the shadows of this hidden little rat run.

Suddenly the vista expands to reveal the lush green of The Stray as far as the eye can see.