I have just read the article on the Halifax Courier website about the Pride in Elland campaign and thought I’d write a small piece for it.
When I was a child I walked past the sign that bears the declaration that the small town of Elland is twinned with an equally small town in Riorges, France with a sense of wonderment.
I did this daily, hundreds of times, until I was about eight and remarked to some other – more knowledgeable – soul how much I would like to visit our town’s twin, and walk these familiar streets in an unfamiliar place.
It was only when they snorted with derision at my naivety that I learned that to be twinned with another town does not mean to replicate it on foreign lands but rather to share a bond, a link between countries and counties – a rather boring reality, in my opinion.
However, now I think about it I wonder how I could have ever conceived of Elland’s landscape being replicated anywhere but here in England.
Not because of the logical impracticalities (although there are many) but because it is so quintessentially English – where else would one find a Victorian swimming bath, complete with marble water fountain that harks back to times past when horses and carriages walked the streets?
Where else a century old theatre that still maintains the tradition of an interval with an ice-cream seller and organ accompaniment in 2011 when most others have become bland, extortionately priced franchises?
Even looking beyond the buildings – although one glance around will demonstrate just how rooted in history this small town is when so many bear the dates of their creation proudly atop their doorways – one can see green hills covered in trees all around.
This daily reminder that we live in such close proximity to one of this country’s defining features - what is England without its countryside after all? – is easily ignored; but one look skyward is enough to remind you that, should you so wish, within minutes you could be traipsing through Elland Wood or walking by a beautifully serene canal, breathing in that fresh Yorkshire air.
So, let us take a moment to remind ourselves why Elland is unique, irreplaceable and a town to be proud of – a microcosmic reflection of England as a whole, complete with remnants of a historic past and hope for a bright future – a place of architecture, bars, restaurants and - most importantly – a place to call home.