January 2013


My brother rang up at noon to warn me that the snow was going to close in. To be fair Guildford my be under 8 foot of the stuff but I saw no more than the lightest dusting on my trip to visit my mother in hospital.

East Surrey are now open to visitors, but with restricted hours, which I got wrong.Ii arrived an hour too early, but the ward sister let me have ten minutes, so so I managed to do the shopping and get a pint before the sun went down; and I still had time to put her church’s number on her mobile, and check that she had enough credit (£20,05).

Mother seemed really perky, though there was blood on that pillow was changed because of bleeding this morning; she banged her head on Tuesday; and she has suffered from low iron levels for decades.

At less than a day’s notice the cheapest rail way to London today was Grand Central. £24 for the 15.37 Bradford Interchange to Kings Cross is a good price. The WiFi usually does not work, so their free WiFi is like me offering you free use of my car, great if I had a car! The beer is also better than East Coast (Withins IPA, or Black Sheep, in bottles) but it feels like a long drag if nobody is there to talk to, or they cannot be arsed talking.

Ma phoned. She has had some hair and dried blood cut off! I did not realise how bad the bleeding from her head wound was.

Fans of Bradford writer J.B.Priestley and pies are in for a treat on the first Saturday in February when the Pie & Priestley Night returns to the New Bradford Playhouse.

The Pie & Priestley Night features pie and peas for those who book in advance, and features the work of J.B.Priestley performed by Bradford based poet, writer and showman Glyn Watkins. Works include When We Are Married; An English Journey; The Good Companions as well as a radio broadcast that made a Bradford meat and potato pie shop famous around the world.

J.B.Priestley did weekly morale boosting short talks on the BBC during the first years of the Second World War. In one of the most famous he talked about coming back to his home town of Bradford in 1940 after it had been bombed.

He had been told that a famous meat and potato pie shop that had a massive, steaming pie in the window had been destroyed. To his delight he found that the shop had been damaged but the pie was still there steaming defiance at: ‘Hitler, Goering and the whole gang of them. It was glorious.’ .

Not only was Priestley born in Bradford but he and his family were involved in the founding of the old Bradford Playhouse. The connection continues as J.B.Priestley’s son Tom has sent his best wishes to both the show and the New Playhouse.

The show also features projected images of Priestley’s Bradford and Playhouse.

Saturday 2nd February. Starts at 7.30 pm. Tickets are £12 and includes a pie and pea supper (meat & potato or vegetarian option) if bought in advance. Phone the New Bradford Playhouse on 01274 308727.

Bring Back St. Blaise’s Festival

The event is the start of the Bring Back St. Blaise’s Festival which is aiming to revive what was Bradford’s biggest celebration. Bishop Blaise’s was the patron saint of woolcombers and every seven years his day, 3rd February, was marked by a massive procession around the town; unfortunately there has not been one since 1825! This year is small scale with a view to make it much bigger and happier next year.

The Bring Back St. Blaise’s Festival walk (a short journey through some hidden histories of Bradford)

There are two walks one after the others, with a break for refreshment between.

First Walk: Gather at the Sir Titus Salts, Morley Street from 12.30 (the pub is open form 08.00) . Light refreshments should be available for walkers with tickets.
Start 13.00. 1.5 miles to The Sparrow Bier Cafe, North Parade, where refreshments will be provided.

Second Walk. Leaves the Sparrow at 14.30. 1.5 miles to the New Bradford Playhouse for games (including Hat Throwing), refreshments and possibly a short presentation on the Playhouse and walk.

Tickets are £2 from the Playhouse 01274 308727. Includes some refreshments and an ‘info pack’.

People can do either or both parts. Both parts involve steps with and alternative, non-stepped route available. The second part is slightly easier for wheelchair access, with Church Bank being the alternative to the ‘Church steps’.

If the weather is bad the walk will be shortened and more time will be spent inside.

Please support either or both of these. If they both work I will be better set and there is a chance of the St. Blaise Festival coming back to Bradford next year.

Glyn Watins outside the New Bradford Playhouse with his Priestley Pie

Glyn Watins outside the New Bradford Playhouse with his Priestley Pie

Ma is back in hospital after fainting and banging her head when on a shopping trip with Basil. No bones broken and seemingly no immediate danger but I guess she will be in for a while, while they ‘experiment’ with her many drugs to see if they played a part.

Weather permitting I will be visiting her soon but will be back in good time for the Pie & Priestley Show and Bring Back St. Blaise’s Festival.

The extraction wound from the wisdom tooth stopped bleeding Friday morning but it is still letting me know I have lost something.

I got my hot water back on, and it is still working, so I can go wild hand have hot water two or three times every week!

Ma’s cracked rib seems to have healed.

It snowed this morning. A quartre inch deep followed by some thawing, so if it freezes tonight it might get nasty on the roads.

Monty’s beer house is shut for good. A real shame.

I still do not have an official start place for the Bring Back St. Blaise’s Festival walk! I have walked the whole lot 4 times, and had company on 3 occasions, and it is a brilliant route; so I am not going to change the bulk of it; but I want it to start under cover, at one of a Sunday afternoon on the 3rd Feb. I have had promises, and do have a fall back venue, but would prefer to start at a promised place.

The Sparrow Bier Cafe will put on some food for people who complete the first part of the walk, and the New Bradford Playhouse will have some refreshment for those that complete the second part (and I will give certificates to those that do the whole lot) so enough people have committed to make it work.

Funding applications are getting needlessly complex, but there is still some prospect of support. If I do not get any I will have to pay for everything, so there will not be very much, especially in my bank account!

Tickets for the Pie & Priestley Show, and the walk, are available from 01274 308727 .

I came across this diesel locomotive when searching for images of St. Blaise.

With help from my brother I found it was named after the parish church of St. Blazey in Cornwell. I phoned it up and had a nice chat with Reeta the church warden. Turns out that they make a big day of St. Blaise’s Day, with a procession and a hog roast. All the images of the saint at the church however show him with crossed candles, which is a far more common symbol than the wool comb that made him Bradford’s saint.

The loco got the name takes to some phone calls made by the train spotting vicar. Good for him!

Finally had the broken wisdom tooth taken out at the dentists in Saltaire. The removal was quick and painless but me arrive very early, and bleeding afterwards, meant I had no food or insulin for near 12 hours, and my blood sugar reached its second highest recorded! I fixed that with more insulin.

The bloody immersion heater stopped again last week. I have just spent hours trying to fix it. It turns out that the reset button is not the big red one but a button so small I thought it was a spot of dirt! Still, I did check all the switches and found an earth cable had come loose. I also rewired a light switch that had been giving trouble. All I have to do now is put the circuit’s fuse back in and see it the water gets hot.

I introduced Doug, leader of How do? magazine and last chairman of the old Bradford Playhouse to Jono and Clair of the New Bradford Playhouse. We then sat down and went through what will be happening on the Bring Back St. Blaise’s Festival. It was one of the most productive meetings I have ever had, and the day will be far better because of it.

The walk has changed. I will be probably be starting in a pub at noon on Sunday 3rd Feb. but the official start of the walk is likely to be the Delius Centre at the bottom of Great Horton Road at 13.00.

The walk will be ticketed, £2 to cover the cost of the info pack, and will be in two stages. People can join me from the beginning for the full 3 miles or wait at the second pub and just do the second half.

The first stage will be from Great Horton Road, via the hidden path over Bradford Beck, down Thronton Road, across the City Park, to the Wool Exchange to look at the St Blaise statue, then up to a second pub at the top of town.

The second and easier part of the walk will set off at 14.30 and go to the New Bradford Playhouse via the Cathedral and Paper Hall. There will be a few people in costume helping and I will be pointing and talking the whole while. History, travel, architecture, industry, things that annoy me, things I like, things that have happened to me, and any passing wildlife, especially if I see a squirrel! The Sieges of Bradford, the wool trade and J.B.Priestley will feature.

Tickets will be available from the New Bradford Playhouse, and do not forget they also have Pie & Priestley tickets on sale. Ring 01274 308727

I have just got home after a drink filled test of the St. Blaise walk route with Joe, though not in the order I will be walking it on the day (if I get the funding for a map then anyone following the map can start wherever they like; if I do not get funding then you will have to turn up at the New Bradford Playhouse and follow me whilst I talk and point).

I am waiting on a national charity’s local chairman to get back to me about Hat Throwing in City Park (after the motion is passed by the committee), but I have given so little time I doubt I will get an answer soon enough. I am leaving it open, but am assuming I will be at the New Bradford Playhouse on St. Blaise’s Day, Sunday 3rd February, and starting the walk following the route of the procession from there, at around 15.00 (time to be confirmed).

The route should then be:

New Bradford Playhouse, Chapel St.

Down Chapel St to Leeds Rd. Right to the ‘Urban Park’ by the Wastefield building site.

Through the ‘Park’ to the end of Broadway and up to the clock tower at the end of the Wool Exchange on Market St. On the left of the tower is a statue of Saint Blaise holding the wool comb that, legend has, was used to scrape his skin off.

Down Market St and across Centenry Square and to the right of the ‘mirror pool’ and across the road to Thornton Road, taking in the Odeon.

Up Thornton Road as far as Westholme St (which will pass the site of Bradford’s first steam powered mill, but seeing the plaque has gone, and the council ain’t bothered about any history, where that was now hangs in the mists of history).

Up Westholme St, taking a look at Bradford Beck crossing the bridge, then up the steep steps to the left.

The steps look like nobody has ever used them, but if you walk to the top and keep going you will walk along a narrow, corridor with concrete on one side and building site, white boarding on the other, until get to two locked doors, at which point you go up the steps and turn left to get to the top of Westbrook St, and then turn left on Charlton St.

If Delius Lived Next Door gives me money then: right on Great Horton Rd, left on Claremont, in the pub, left on Morley St. Down and around to the Delius Centre.

(If Delius l.n.d do not cough up then left at the end of Charlton St, down Great Horton Rd to the Delius Centre.)

Down to the bottom of The Alhambra, then left along the front of The Odeon, across Thornton Rd, up Godwin St to the traffic lights.

Diagonally across the junction and down Kirkgate

Pause at the junction of Kirkgate, Ivegate and Westgate. The site of Bradford’s oldest market, and the site of the Bull’s Head Inn (just above the multinational sandwich shop) where the 1825 procession started.

On down Kirkgate.

Left at Darley St.

Up along North Parade, past the Sparrow.

Around the ‘Old Penny Bank’ and down Manor Row.

Across Manor Row and down the cobbled alleyway towards Forster Square station (unless the Midland give me sponsorship, they have not promised, unlike the Westleigh Hotel, lying toerag).

Sharp turn to walk through St Blaise Way, across the front of the tax office, and along the bottom end of the Midland.

Left at Lower Kirkgate (there are no signs to tell you the road name).

Walk in front of the ‘new’ Post Office and across Canal Rd and Bolton Rd to the meadaeval looking Cathedral steps.

Up steps, up past the Cathedral, out through the little iron gate to the right on to Stott Hill, turn right.

Left up Church Hill – Barkerend Road to Paper Hall.

Across Barkerend Rd, back down a little way and left down Upper Park Gate.

Right, down Burnett St.

Left at the cobbled Carter St and under the arch with ‘Old Quaker School’ in iron above.

Left at Chapel St, just as far as the stone armchair, sit on the chair and get photo.

Back down Chapel St to the New Bradford Playhouse.

The end. Beer deserved, especially by me if I have taken you all the way round, and probably by you if you stuck it all out.

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