Ian Clayton column: More thoughts on the year

Ledsham fair - The Leeds Morris Dancers at Ledsham
Ledsham fair - The Leeds Morris Dancers at Ledsham

I did an unusual job at the beginning of July. I was asked to run a creative writing workshop at a Next warehouse at Bradford.

A lot of good education work is being done by the unions in all sorts of places these days, with many workers being encouraged to take part in creative learning.

So, amongst conveyor belts full of coats and trousers and frocks we wrote our stories. I found a young Polish man who had been to a prestigious university back home and a young Pakistani woman who told me that she was writing something down for the first time in her life. It was a grand day of laughing and learning.

The day after I visited the D H Lawrence Collections at Nottingham University. I also went to the AGM of the D H Lawrence Society where I was invited to become a member.

My reading this year has involved a lot of Lawrence. I am in the thrall of this miner’s son from Eastwood who wrote some of the best modernist prose of the 20th century and he has taken up a lot of my time in the moments between getting into bed and dropping off to sleep.

I have woken more than a few times this last few months with his books on my face. I’ve also made a few visits this year to my own literary hero, Barry Hines.

Barry is not well now and resides in a nursing home. I try to make him laugh by telling him stories in the Yorkshire dialect. There’s a lot of “theeing” and “thying” when we meet.

In August I went for an endoscopy or what is usually referred to round here as “the camera down.” I’ve been having a bit of trouble with indigestion and I’m on a tablet called lanzoprozole which my doctor tells me is one of this country’s most prescribed drugs.

People who have had this procedure told me all sorts of tales and by the time I got to the clinic I was sweating cobs, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be.

One of my new year resolutions will have to be to watch what I’m eating and that will be a first, because as my old gran used to say “our Ian can eat two more taties than a pig.”

In September I flew down to Devon for a week’s work at another power station, this time near Plymouth.

My job coincided with the annual Plymouth firework festival, where the top firework manufacturers from all over the UK go to show off their wares.

It was a spectacular event over two nights and the sky over Plymouth Hoe was filled with the most exciting kaleidoscope of patterns I’ve ever seen.

I visited Ledsham Fair in September and I had a lovely time. There are three villages round here that I have an affinity with.

One is Wragby, because I always associate it with Saturday morning walks with my grandad to The Spread Eagle, another is Saxton, because I’ve been going to The Greyhound pub there for many years and I like to look to see if the swallows have nested again in the outside lavatory and the third is Ledsham. I feel happy when I walk round there.

My new book, Song for my Father, came out recently. I’m pleased with it and pleased with the nice things people have said to me about it.

Last year I went to visit my dad not long before he died. They were strange visits because I realised I hardly knew him. I had barely seen him in the 40 years since he and my mam divorced. There was no meaningful reconciliation, he just acted daft and told jokes, but it all made me think.

I decided to put my thoughts into a book. We did just 500 numbered and signed hard back copies. They have nearly all gone now and the paperback is out.

If anybody wants one, they have them at North Featherstone Post Office and Seen and Heard Record shop in Pontefract and The Junction pub at Castleford. I’ll be in Seen and Heard on Saturday morning, so if you want a signed one as a Christmas present for somebody, you know where to find me. Have a lovely festive time.