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The Winding Stair

From Morley Boy to Westminster Knight

by Sir Rodney Brooke

“Few, if any, public servants can match Sir Rodney Brooke’s 60-year record … six decades of unbroken service across local government, the NHS, education, utilities and beyond surely give him a unique perspective…” – The Guardian

Sir Rodney Brooke has had an eventful life at the sharp end – thanks to a career that led him from 15-year-old school-leaver in Yorkshire to the corridors of power at Westminster… and all points in between. In The Winding Stair, his sparkling collection of memoirs, he takes readers through its highs and lows – beginning as a reporter on his hometown Morley Observer newspaper and ending with a CBE, knighthood and honours from five more countries. In so doing, he reveals hitherto unknown details behind six decades’ worth of controversial headline moments and colourful personalities.

As a former chief executive of West Yorkshire County Council, he shares fascinating background into the mysterious death of Helen Smith in Jeddah; the Bradford City fire, in which 56 people were killed; and the handling of the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper.

As Emergency Controller in the event of nuclear war, he was told to shelter in a Pennine underground lair – and restore order as Geiger counters said to emerge. Read how Halifax invented the guillotine; why dogs could bark at night in Otley but not Ossett; how the law told householders in Huddersfield to whiten their doorsteps before 8.00am or be fined five shillings; and why the press camped on his Ilkley lawn after he resigned over the notorious ‘Homes for Votes’ episode – when Dame Shirley Porter was surcharged £42.5m.

Accounts of how he organised the final reading of the Riot Act and interviewed a talking dog with Mrs Thatcher’s press spokesman, Sir Bernard Ingham, are found among tales of Princess Diana’s underwear in Roundhay Park, Princess Margaret and the cakes at Leeds/Bradford airport, sex and the Poll Tax, the murky Dolphin Square scandals and how Trafalgar Square very nearly became Nelson Mandela Square. For anyone interested in current affairs and the reality behind politics, The Winding Stair – From Morley Boy to Westminster Knight is not to be missed.

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Beware of the Bull – The Enigmatic Genius of Jake Thackray

‘The labour and the love seep from every page. For Old Molly Metcalfe, for Leopold Alcocks, for Sister Josephine, but mostly for yourself, if your hands aren’t too encumbered, gather a book or two for Jake…”Jon Richardson

“A timely paean to a velvet larynxed, storytelling wonderman…”Cerys Matthews

by Paul Thompson and John Watterson

Beware of the Bull – The Enigmatic Genius of Jake Thackray is the first, much-anticipated biography of the late, great Yorkshire singer-songwriter.

Admired by Neil Gaiman, Cerys Matthews, Alex Turner and Jon Richardson, among others, Jake is increasingly recognised as one of the greatest and most original artists of the twentieth century; a unique talent and master storyteller, whose songs are full of wit, poetry, irreverence and humanity.

The book reveals a life as extraordinary as his writing: the difficult upbringing in the terraces of Leeds; strict Catholic education and transformative experiences in France and Algeria; first career as an inspirational, unorthodox and highly creative teacher; Jake’s meteoric development as a writer and performer, and subsequent discovery by the BBC; the Abbey Road recordings and his unexpected influence on The Beatles; the fame and fortune brought by a remarkable television career… and Jake’s rejection of it all.

This is the story of a complex, charismatic and self-effacing man whom many loved, but few understood. Beware of the Bull has been written with the full support of the Thackray family. Granted exclusive access to personal papers, it shares a wealth of previously unpublished lyrics, poetry and letters, and is illustrated with rare and never-before-seen photographs. Through it all, Jake’s unique voice is heard afresh and his life and work better understood.

Hardback – 480 pages

*Postage and packing included with UK orders only. Overseas customers may call us direct on 00 44 113 225 9797 during UK office hours, or order via this site and we will then reply to quote the required amount of postage for your country

 

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Sandy’s Great Northern Cookbook

70 Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion to Capture the Essence of the North

with Bake Off’s Sandy Docherty

Rarely seen without a rolling pin, Sandy Docherty appeared on The Great British Bake-Off in 2015 and has been a regular guest on local radio and Channel 4 since – talking especially about food from the land of her birth. She achieved GBBO’s legendary ‘Hollywood Handshake’ for her rich chocolate-indulgent Yorkist Tart – among the recipes featured in this, her first collection of culinary treasures specific to northern English traditions. Each mouthwatering suggestion comes with a little potted history and instructions for deliciously moreish creations perfect for any time of day, whether for solo indulgence or enjoyably shared with family and friends. Learn how to make Leeds soup, Swaledale lamb and mint pies, Whitby chowder, Helvellyn butter, Batley truffle, Moggy and so much more… Plus, of course, the definitive recipe for Yorkshire Puddings in a book designed to evoke the sounds and smells of Sandy’s mother’s kitchen.

“Full of classy Yorkshire fodder. I look forward to trying them all!” – Julian Norton, The Yorkshire Vet

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Descent into Silence: Cawthorne’s Forgotten Tragedy

The untold story of Cawthorne’s long forgotten tragedy…

by DAVID HINCHLIFFE

No-one gave a second’s thought to the victims of a mining disaster near the small Yorkshire village of Cawthorne in 1821, even though two of them were children just eight years of age. Former MP David Hinchliffe’s exploration of his family history inadvertently led to the discovery of his collier ancestors’ involvement in the barely recorded and long-forgotten pit tragedy, which occurred amidst the turbulence of the Industrial Revolution. The exploration of these intertwined strands – and a passionate interest in local history – has allowed Hinchliffe to reveal the full details of a melancholy event that devastated the families of the ten who were killed but caused barely a ripple further afield. Using contemporary reports to help piece the jigsaw together, plus historical context and detailed genealogical research into the backgrounds of those involved, Descent into Silence offers fascinating insight into the lives of working class families across the period, when children as young as five were forced to work underground in order to supplement household incomes. The author’s research also illustrates how the split between the businessmen who operated the local pits and landowners like the Spencer-Stanhopes of Cawthorne’s Cannon Hall led to an apparent disregard for the safety and wellbeing of the workforce. The inhumanity of the age is underlined by how the local ‘Overseers of the Poor’ endeavoured to eject two of the victims’ families from the area after the disaster, when they fell on hard times. And, most tellingly of all, how the lauded death of Sir Walter Spencer-Stanhope is recorded in the parish register directly opposite that of the young and – until now – unheralded John Hinchliffe.

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Mr. Nicholls

A Brontë Story

By Juliet Heslewood

An old man is asked to remember the Brontës. Wasn’t he taught by the famous sisters in school? John looks back and recalls how, as a young boy, he liked to spy on the family from his secret post, high in Haworth’s church tower, opposite their home.

His own village is one mile away, across the moors. He lives with his shoemaker father and his sisters who work in the local woolen mills. Things change here when Mr. Nicholls, the Haworth curate, builds a small church for its Anglican residents.

John gets to know him. When he does well at school, John is given extra lessons by Mr. Nicholls. The two become close – not only through their work, but because John learns that his master is deeply in love with Charlotte Brontë. John is surprised to learn that she, and her sisters, have become famous writers. For him they are familiar individuals.

He encourages Mr. Nicholls to pursue Charlotte, especially when she loses her siblings and now lives alone with her father. But Mr. Brontë is against Mr. Nicholls, despite his good work in the parish. When it seems he must leave – perhaps to go to the other side of the world – John is alarmed. Yet he has learned much about affection. Over the years he too has become fond of a girl in his village.

The story is based on known events in the lives of the Brontës and the role John played in witnessing Mr. Nicholls’s anguish, as well as his final success.

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