I spent the predominant period of my weekend a few miles away in West Yorkshire’s Gawthorpe village; located on Ossett’s outskirts. Despite the care home where my mother passed in October of last year sitting within its boundaries, through a close friendship with one of its residents (Sarah), it’s a borough of which I’ve become fond.

This enamour for the place has grown to such an extent I can posit without fear of contradiction it’s now my favourite Yorkshire village rhyming with Tawthorpe….. Well, apart from Hawthorpe….. Oh, and Dawthorpe…… And not forgetting Crawthorpe.

Actually, coming to think of it, there’s loads of places in England’s largest county rhyming with Tawthorpe which, if truth be told< I prefer to the village in Ossett’s suburbs….. Looks like I went too early with my initial observation yours truly couldn’t be contradicted.

Seriously, though, courtesy of the towns annual Maypole Procession an inspiriting buzz emanated around Gawthorpe’s village green, avenues and alleyways throughout Saturday afternoon and early evening.

Apparently this was the 148th occasion this uplifting clambake had taken place – The first recorded instance was in 1875.

The iconic Maypole, which along with a huge water tower takes village centre stage, originally built by the Normans…. Incidentally, I’m referring to local men Norman Swithenbank and Norman Woodbine; not the 10th century invaders to the UK from West France’s Normandy area,

On Saturday, most of congregating spectators gathered around the village green where the large Maypole proudly stands. The huge posts red and white markings, I concluded, giving the edifice a look of a bloody big barbers pole….. Unless of course I was mistaken and a barbershop’s opened on the green.

In an act Freud would most probably opine as concerning, my initial comment to Sarah months ago (upon my inaugural witnessing of this structure) was to point out “Maypoles have a very phallic appearance, don’t they?!” A query to which she answered “Not really….. Personally, I think they look more like big willies!”

Although, apparently not aware of phallic’s meaning, my fragrant female buddy has been in reasonable spirits of late. This borne from learning Ossett finest’s infamous potty mouth had finally paid dividends after it emerged, for the foreseeable future, her swear box contains enough cash to cover her newly hiked gas and electricity prices.

Anyhow, upon its commencement, the procession treated the assembled crowd with views of several floats occupied by schools, musical, dance and theatre groups. The narrow village roads also travelled by classic old cars, a marching band and cheerleading groups. Consequently, Gawthorpe was awash with waves of chromatic outfits, bunting and kaleidoscopic float decorations.

Witnessing a passing marching band took me back to a wonderfully comedic scene in Woody Allen’s 1970’s movie ‘Take The Money And Run’. This celluloid landscape showing Allen playing double bass in a marching band.

While his bandmates march on playing their more traditional and practical instruments, Woody playing two bars on his huge double base prior to standing, moving his chair a few feet before sitting down again to play another couple of bars and replicating the idiosyncratic seat move. The gap between him and marching bandmates growing ever larger as this scene evolves.

Quite clearly, and a little sadly, there wasn’t anything quite as comedic playing out as Saturday’s band march past me aside the village green.

It’s gotta be said, there’s something quite heartwarming about witnessing this old school procession. The motorcaded floats and ‘foot soldiers’ keeping this former mining area’s centuries old traditions and heritage alive.

Not that I want great credit for my input, but yours truly likes to think I later contributed to maintaining these rituals by popping into the pub adjacent to the green and getting absolutely s***faced…… There’s no need to thank me!!

A marching band, minus a double bass player.

Leave a Reply