CHURCHILL described Russia “as an enigma wrapped inside a riddle”. I feel the same about Keighley.
That might be a strange admission to make about a town that is just 13 miles away from Halifax.
But despite its proximity, Keighley has always seemed a rather alien place. What sort of accent do the people speak in? Which gods do they worship? Do they sanction polygamy?
To draw another international comparison, someone once said that Belgium was a place you drove through to get to Germany.
Well, Keighley is a place you drive through to get to the Dales. In a longish lifetime of driving through Keighley – and getting held up on its main drag – I don’t think I have ever stood on Keighley soil or Keighley pavement.
I do happen to know that Yorkshire people used to tell Keighley jokes (in the same way that the English, lamentably, tell Irish jokes; or the Germans tell Polish jokes etc).
Two samples, from the 1880s: A Keighley man, refusing to buy goods from an importunate salesman, says: “ ‘Ah wodn’t buy it if thah’d gi’ ma’t fer nowt’”
During an election in Keighley, canvassers called on a male voter, but his wife said: ‘Well, ah’m sorry he’s aht, but if he’d been at hoam ah feel sewer he’d ha geen ya his promise, for he’s geen it to all ‘at’s been so far!”
There seems to have been a belief that Keighley people had their own warped sense of logic. Are they still that way?
We may soon get the chance to find out, for Keighley has been chosen as one of the 60 towns and cities that are candidates for a new local television service.
Halifax has been snubbed, so presumably we will have to tune in to programmes like “This is Keighley!” or maybe a soap opera acted out in Keighley dialect.
I’m on the edge of my sofa already.