So today, 1st August, has been designated as Yorkshire Day, as ickledot's Facebook timeline seems to be repeatedly reminding me. Until this time last year I don't think I'd ever heard of it until my heroic brother told me how his epic cycle trip from Land's End to John O'Groats had been routed eastwards of the orthodox route to be in Leeds on Yorkshire Day. He and a number of others were cycling to raise money for Brain Tumour Research Across Yorkshire (still needing funds - give generously!). ickledot was there and it was a momentous day as the little group met the Lady Mayor of Leeds before heading north towards the day's destination, Stockton. It was also a very sad day, as the leading light of this expedition and many others, Ian Meek, passed away. ickledot never met Ian but, if descriptions from said heroic brother and others are anywhere near accurate, he was a truly inspirational figure.
Echoes of a darker past have also emerged today. The thirty years rule has allowed the release of Cabinet papers from 1983. They reveal how the government was writing speeches for the Queen to give in the event of nuclear attack. Nuclear war was very much in the air at the time. Remember TV's Threads (1984) and Sting's song Russians (1985)? "In Europe and America / There's a growing feeling of hysteria." (a great rhyme from a time when mainstream rockers dared to comment on politics). The Raymond Briggs graphic novel When The Wind Blows (1982), which poked grim fun at the ludicrousness of the government's booklet Protect and Survive came out around then as did Robert Swindells' nuclear holocaust novel for teenagers, Brother in the Land (also set in Yorkshire and recently discussed on Radio 4's Book Club).
The government was also preparing for the coal miner's strike, we are told. How many lives were to be turned upside down by that particular conflict, just a year later? Many individuals and communities still haven't recovered.
Finally, Yorkshire has a great deal to look forward to in coming months. Le Tour is coming to Yorkshire! An opportunity for this oft-beleaguered county to show itself off to France, Europe and the world. So, from this particular Yorkshireman in Europe, have a great Yorkshire Day and donate some money to a great Yorkshire charity!
You can see more shots of the epic cycle ride here.