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Third series, episode 24

All 116 episodes are available here on the HebWeb.

Episode 24 is a Happy Valley special, including 007 in the dentist's, a poetry slam at the Trades, the mind's eye on the radio, Hippy Valley in the Sunday Times Home section, The Sun knocks Hebden Bridge, the duck bill platypus in ancestry and philosophy, whisky George, shaggy dogs and The Todmorden Triangle.

007 at the dentists

Jude had his teeth checked by his favourite dentist, and the diazepam he took beforehand made him quite confident and chatty. After her inspection, the dentist asked him what presents he got for Christmas.

"A set of all the Bond films."

"Which one is your favourite?"

"I think … Goldeneye. And my favourite Bond girl is Halle Berry."

Then he glanced in my direction and told the dentist I looked cool … like a character in a film.

"Ooh, which one Jude?"

"Hannibal Lecter."

The Poetry of it all

Here's Cath Shaw, MC, performer and organiser at the 'Poetry of it all' charity event at the Trades. It was a new experience for me, with many of the performers from across the country using the rapid rhythms of Hip Hop as inspiration for a variety of funny, political, sweary and full hearted turns.

The packed room was buzzing, we were united in a good cause.

Three mates from the Tod Wednesday Writers Group had a table at the front, so I joined them. I enjoyed the headline acts, including slower deliveries from Birchcliffe Bard and former spin bowler, Zaffar Kunial.

I picked up on the frequent onstage greetings of 'Welcome to Happy Valley!' by reciting The Todmorden Triangle, surfing along on the laughter. In the interval, a young feller told me my poem was "the dog's bollocks," which I'm told is a term of approval, although I won't adopt it myself, dogged as I am by having a very visual imagination.

Aphantasia …

On Radio 4 I caught a snatch of a programme about this condition, which is an inability to visualise objects which aren't there (such as a dog's dangly bits). I'd read about it a few years back, in an article by journalist Dominic Lawson, who is Nigel's son, Nigella's brother. As Dom has spent his entire career not being able to imagine how the other half lives, his ownership of the condition didn't come as much of a shock.

More surprising was an admission by Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar, that, 'my mind's eye is blind.' Ed only discovered this inability to visualise when a yoga teacher advised him to enhance his meditation skills by picturing a circle in his mind. Ed couldn't do it. He discovered that other creative artists at Pixar had the same inability to visualise.

Writers have reported the same trait, but authors and Pixar people alike reckon aphantasia actually frees them to think more creatively, the lack of a mind's eye allowing them to use a wider range of lateral thinking when creating.

Hyperphantasia is the opposite: an acute ability to conjure up imagined worlds. This ability is owned by most us, and its a facility I'm glad I share. But I also love the unbidden, hyper-realistic imagery of dreams – odd and unstructured as most of them seem.

This week I dreamt of sunny times in hippy valley, back in the 70s. My younger, long haired self, visited New Age friends who were living in abandoned or auctioned farm houses below the moors, their Wild kids glimpsed as they ran through calf high grass, waded in river shallows and leapt from tree swings. It was a verdant vision, after the crumbling, monochrome Remains of Elmet captured in Ted Hughes and Fay Godwin's collaboration.

My dreaming mind conjured up both real and imagined people, hearing their self-confident talk, whilst feeling I was always on the fringes of their clan, being wary of drugs, and bound to the security of job, family, mortgage and far off pension, after the insecurity of my youth.

Still enchanted for a few minutes after waking, I wondered if our local hippies ever imagined that their allotments, veganism and green ways might one day become a policy to save the world? They probably did.

Taking notes: Philosophy


Reading Klein and Cathcart's Plato and a platypus go into a bar: understanding philosophy through jokes (2007) and the chapter on Kant's philosophy that we can only understand the world through our senses, I was reminded of recent times spent in pharmacies and hospital waiting rooms.

Assistant: There's an invisible man in the waiting room.

Doctor: Tell him I can't see him.


From the 50s, philosophers pondered ethical questions, such as what does it mean to say an action is good? Reading this coincided with the enquiry into Nadhim Zahawi's tax affairs:

'A man wrote a letter to the tax authorities saying, "I have been unable to sleep knowing that I have cheated on my income tax. I have understated my taxable income and have enclosed a cheque for £150. If I still can't sleep, I'll send the rest."

The Doomsday Clock

The time on this clock has moved closer to midnight. NATO has decided to send a third of the tanks the Ukrainians asked for, whilst the Russians are reminding us of their nukes. Perhaps the Americans don't want a quick and outright victory?

Jude has bought Simon Sharma's History of the British Isles boxset, and while watching the episode on Edward Longshanks, I reckoned that most of the great figures in our island's history have been ruthless bastards, measuring their greatness by their invasion and conquest of weaker nations. Longshanks was our Putin.


Was the headline in The Sun, in response to the popularity of Sally Wainwright's saga. The article focuses quite narrowly on Hebden Bridge, rather than the rest of the spreadeagled locations in the show, and was subtitled: "Second home owners have turned our Happy Valley town into a woke nightmare where pints cost £7."

Apparently, the town is now 'a woke playground, where pricey cafes and £7 pints are driving out ordinary families.' Well, woke is the damning go-to word of right wing rags, but pricey cafes and £7 pints?

They quote a stall holder who has to clear up smashed bottles and glasses before he opens his stall of a morning. As usual, teenagers, who hang out at the park and at the market in the evening, are blamed. If the reporter had asked a few more locals, he might have found that it's groups of visiting, tanked up, middle aged men, who are causing us most trouble, especially at weekends.

The stall-holder continued, "It's a bit too woke for my liking, with everything acceptable." Which sounds like the reporter has led him to use his paper's pet hate word in a contradictory fashion. The usual complaint against 'woke' people is that we are too censorious, rather than too easy going. Fair enough, however, for the reporter to point back to the 2009 documentary, Shed your tears and walk away, by Jez Lewis, as an inspiration for Wainwright to expose the drug problems that 'lurk underneath a place considered to be idyllic.'

Later in the piece, the journalist collects more positive views. A young mum states, "We stay here because the town is so beautiful. There is so much to do on a weekend … it feels like you are on holiday."

Duck billed platypus my bro

In the Journal of Cell Science, a paper suggests that the arrival of mammals, and thus humans, was due to a mutation in a platypus, leading to the formation of platelets. 120 million years later, the first live births arrived.

Dr John Martin, of University College London and Yale, explains, "If you want to produce something with a bigger brain then you have to keep the baby inside a uterus with lots of high nutrition to build the fatty part of the brain … but you have to separate the placenta from the uterus without the mother bleeding to death."

The platypus is key to the theory, because they lay eggs, but then suckle their young with milk. Doc Martin (not that one) admits that the downside of blood clotting is the danger of heart attacks and strokes.

Keep on running

In 2016, despite breaking her shoulder in a cycle crash the day before a Costa Rican triathlon in 40C heat, Lesley Paterson won the 25 mile women's race. The five times world champion needed the five-figure prize money to pay for an option payment on the remake of All Quiet on the Western Front, based on the 1928 novel by Erich Maria Remarque.

She first read the novel in school. She wrote her debut script with her husband. They received hundreds of noes from producers and studios, and Lesley had to keep winning races in order to keep the exclusive option, until the Director Edward Berger translated their script, after which Netflix took an interest. Now it's the leading contender for Baftas, after receiving 14 nominations, and equal second in the nominations for Oscars. I've been extolling its virtues since seeing it: 'once seen, never forgotten.' The first big screen adaptation of the novel won an Oscar back in 1930. And, not before time, I'm going to read the novel.

Whisky George

The day after Burns Night, seeing two visitors looking lost, I was explaining to them how to get to the marina, when who should approach us on the canal bridge than Whisky George, who by weird coincidence, gave them a little map showing how to find the charity shop on the marina where the tourist centre used to be.

Once he'd sent the couple on their way, he presented me with a sample of a delightful, newly blended whisky. Having warmed my synapses with that he gave me a small bottle of another one of his concoctions, prepared specially for me. The stuck on label listed the ingredients, which I won't divulge, but on the other side was a note saying, "Thanks for the entertainment." I was touched.

PW, who is in the wars at the moment, couldn't join me when I quaffed the contents on Saturday evening, reliving Jack Nicholson's toast to DH Lawrence, "Yah! Nick, Nick, Nick," in Easy Rider. Thankfully, the knockout power of the first sip was followed by the compensatory reward of complex taste and heat vapours welling up into my noodle, and for a few moments all was right with the world.

The ADHD footballer

After bringing Jude back from his supported living place in Elland, I parked my car in Crown Street with his disabled parking clock on the dashboard and, after quaffing a coffee with him at the White Lion, I walked home, supported by my cane, through the wind and rain. On arrival, PW asked me where Jude's medicine and bags were. Good question. So, I tottered back through the January squall to Crown Street.

My faux pas pales in comparison with the gaffe former footballer Jermaine Pennant owned up to in Good Morning Britain. He once flew back from a holiday on the continent to meet the owners of a top football club who were after his services and forgot until he was in the air that his brand new Porsche was still parked on a Mediterranean quayside.

Pennant has recently been diagnosed with ADHD, an incurable condition thought to arise from a genetic mutation, and he said that the diagnosis helped him realise why his life had formerly been governed by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. He had always found it difficult to focus because he had '12 different video screens' running in his head. His new coping strategy included going over his approach to the Good Morning Britain interview twice before he arrived at the studio, to be in control of his responses. He takes melatonin tablets at night to help him cope with his insomnia. Glancing up from typing this, I noticed that it was 4.38am.

Shaggy Dogs

Photo by Tristan Langlois

Here's Christine McMahon, leading light of Shaggy Dog Storytellers for the past quarter century.

Listening to the ancient tales at Stubbing Wharf on Friday evening I was struck by the surrealism, violence and sexual perversion of tales retold around the cosy fireside setting, including couplings with horses, hangings and heads getting lopped off, although the most common characteristic of the tales was humour.

I recited my UFO tale (again!), to coincide with the final season of Happy Valley, and even got applauded when I announced it. Afterwards, new audience members, Allie and Loz told me it was good to hear a contemporary tale. I said folk tales started off in one person's head, but soon, if they are any good, they belong to everybody. I didn't say, 'Monologues are a different matter altogether.'

Master storyteller Rod Dimbleby of Brighouse once adjudicated in a competition for the best monologue performer, and told me that 70% of the contestants recited Albert and the Lion.

Hippy Valley in the Sunday Times Home section

Here, who's nicked my title? Apart from an estate agent saying, "Hebden Bridge has always been known for its hippy charm and eclectic mix of people," the article actually focused on housing stock around here, with examples ranging from £1 million for a former mill owner's house in Heptonstall and a two bedroom mid terrace house priced at £225,000 in lovely Luddenden.

Elsewhere in the paper, Rosie Kitchen (good estate agent's name, but she's in the News section) argued that the men in Happy Valley are all psychos or drips. Although, being a drip, I'm rooting for Ryan to become the hero next Sunday, rescuing his granny from his dad. After which, Sarah will solve the Ripponden murder case before making up with her sister and driving off to a happy holiday romance in the Himalayas with Curly Watts.

PW thinks the lass that performed the mercy killing of her own son in Series 2, will also have a role to play. I'm hoping the PC who believes in ET will be there when he's needed – perhaps with the assistance of back up aliens.

You never know with Wainwright's scripts. The reason the ending of series 2 was so shocking was the mixture of humour as Sergeant Cawood admitted she hadn't done the training on persuading suicide risks not to jump and the murdering detective had to explain the best approach for her to use before he leapt backwards. The shock of the death was enhanced by the humour leading up to it.

Also in the Sunday Times, regular columnist Terri White visited Hebden Bridge Picture House, "… an independent cinema with one screen, showing one film (Tar, if you're curious)." Three hours later she walked out … "not only completely overtaken by the film, but with a newly energised love of single-screen cinemas, of putting yourself in the programmer's hands. Of zero choice."

And finally

Apparently, the actors in Happy Valley have recorded four different versions of the closing scenes in next week's final episode. So, I hope it's not a plot spoiler to pick up on the UFO strand in the story, with this recording I made at home before the clocks were put back.

The Todmorden Triangle

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