More thoughts from Thirsk
When we were building the team for Thirsk, I stressed that what we were looking for were “people persons”, because our task is about people. Travelling can be an anxious thing, and a word of advice and reassurance can take the sting out of it for infrequent rail passengers. My memories are all of the people we have met; hung over groups of wedding guests or shooting parties, usually raucous and not entirely in command of their surroundings. Occasional celebrities – a retired Archbishop of Canterbury, on his way back from a retreat with the community of Stanbrook Abbey, various generations of “Yorkshire Vets” Jamie Wight on his way to London to see the casting of his father James Heriott's statue; the current star of the show Peter Wright, the author Ian Curteis, the prolific writer of television scripts, and famous as the author of “The Falklands Play”, notorious in some political circles for not being critical of Mrs Thatcher, and now custodian (with his wife Lady Deidre of the medieval Markenfield Hall, near Ripon) . I remember a humorous conversation with the driver of a large Skoda saloon, carrying a cardboard sign identifying him as from Mulgrave Castle. He pointed out a feature of his gleaming limousine “Her Ladyship really likes – umbrellas in pockets inside the back doors”.
I asked if he meant “Her Ladyship” literally, or in the sense of “Her Indoors”, he swelled to his full height, and said “Her Ladyship is Lady Normanby”! Very Downton Abbey, which was supposed to be set near Thirsk!
All that, and the closeness to nature at a station well outside the town, with hedgerows and farmland around; enlivened by one of my duty companions occasionally a retired Reverend Canon in the Church of England, with an encyclopedic knowledge of the bird life.
Chris Purser, Thirsk.