This morning, upon my arrival at the breakfast table, my mother announced forecasters were predicting imminent adverse meteorological conditions in the north of England. Exposure to snow, high winds and risk of polar bear attack just some of the unpleasantness apparently heading the way of us northerners. 

I’m assuming her source was a qualified weather forecaster, not an unreliable prophecy from old Joe from the East Ardsley Conservative (Connie) Club. A local gent who spends a large part of his existence forecasting, predicting and wildly guessing the area’s upcoming existential events.

An eccentric local man, Joseph (as he’s know to people who call him Joseph) enjoys nothing more than spreading his erratic sooth-saying amongst villagers. Forecasts ordinarily undertaken in the Connie club tap room while accompanied by his muckers and a very reasonably priced pint of Theakstones bitter.

Examples of his foresight including predicting the 1978 Great Tingley Jumble Sale, along with the 1982 Thorpe Jamboree – Events that did come to pass as foreseen. That being said, though, as his wife organised both events, villagers weren’t slow at brandishing accusations his foresight was attained through insider knowledge; not the result of any extrasensory perception on his part.

In 1983, two weeks before it came to pass, he also forecast the terrorising of locals by the Giant Fox of Moor Knoll. A huge animal which walked East Ardsley on hind legs, intimidating villagers with it’s confrontational growling and violent chicken theft from Binks butcher shop.

This was a fractious time in East Ardsley. An era where Joe had to fight stoically to defend himself against villager’s gossip – Sceptics who didn’t belief his assertions that a fox suit hanging on his washing line the day after every ‘attack’ wasn’t his.

An era when, unable to supply viable reasons for the suit’s presence or a freezer burgeoning with unplucked chickens, some locals felt moved to ostracise the idiosyncratic fellow (pictured below).

See the source image

Time, though, is a great healer and in these contemporary times the soothsayer is a highly respected member of the community. These forgiving West Yorkshire people, whose working class roots were forged during the Industrial Revolution by the area’s railways, coal industry and textile mills, now often seek Joe’s company in the communal comfort that’s awash in the Connie Club bars.

This a popularity that would’ve been even more stellar with drinking buddies if the club steward had been gullible enough to believe Joe’s prediction of impending Tory doom should beer prices not get lowered by 20%.

In some ways I hope the eccentric prophet was the bearer of my mother’s bulletin about impending meteorological unpleasantness. After all, the West Yorkshireman’s ‘sage-like’ proffering of inclement weather bears less chance of coming to pass than Met Office forecasters.

Incidentally, my scepticism isn’t born from mistrust of or disbelief in everyone claiming to foresee future events. Like most topics, I maintain an open mind about the subject. My tongue-in-cheek comments above merely a mischievous swipe at the trade’s more eccentric and unconvincing exponents. 

That being said. I suppose I’m slightly puzzled why those who claim to have foresight don’t win the lottery jackpot every week, or appear to suffer an equitable number of avoidable accidents as those of us bereft of ESP…… I’m additionally puzzled by of all the soothsayers I’ve met (of which there aren’t many I hasten to add) not one of them has ever uttered the word sooth! 

Earlier, I’d cause to walk to my local convenience store, which incorporated a bracing amble up Moor Knoll Lane. It’s safe to say that whoever provided mater’s weather forecast source weren’t wrong when predicting northern England impending icy temperatures.