Your Letters

Taking a peek at you from the pub

Letter of the Week: Tim Wood, landlord and Pokemon Battleground town guide, Mirfield

Dear Sir,

Two days before the schools broke up for the summer holidays, I observed a most unusual and bizarre series of happenings right on my own doorstep.

The local 202 bus pulled up at the stop at the bottom of our car park entrance, and almost all of the passengers, which were school students, got off and had their picture taken with their chums, next to the war memorial, which lies in our grounds.

The arrival of more groups of teens and youngsters throughout the evening, all doing various tasks on their phones, led me to the conclusion that they were doing a school project, possibly on the First World War, which is in the news right now.

The next few days saw a further steady stream of youthful phone-toting people arrive, then over the weekend families coming in for Sunday lunch all going down to the memorial and out came their  iPhones, with plenty taking pictures.

Was it patriotism returning to Britain following Brexit, or was it that we had just won the National Pub in Bloom Award for the fourth year in a row?

No, I was completely wrong.

I pointed this unusual phenomenon out to one of my bar staff, who said: “Don’t you know that this site is an official Pokemon Gym, where other Pokemon teams come and do battle and take it over?

Thank the Lord above; for a few brief days I thought we had almost become popular.

Not a bad idea; an app on your phone that gets you out and about and takes youngsters actually away from their Xboxes, PlayStations and computer screens, looking for cyberspace battlegrounds.

Perhaps I should open a Star Wars bar and compete for the beautiful Mirfield millionaires in-crowd.

When I was a youngster we didn’t have mobile phones, and growing up on Dewsbury’s Lees Holm and Pilgrim estates, if you wanted to make a call you had to find a phone box which hadn’t become a recycling centre for Joshua Tetley or Samuel Webster products.

We had street games like squat can, we went hedgehopping, scrumping and chumping; jumpers for goalposts and sticks for wickets.

We didn’t realise the hidden dangers of jumping off lock gates and swimming in the canal, or how to make a penny twice the size, courtesy of the 12.42 from Wellington Road Station.

Generations apart, and watching a group of teens trying to take over our Pokemon Gym, one walked smack into the telegraph post at the bottom of our driveway.

I’ve seen dozens fall off the kerb and into the road. What’s it all about?

Somebody must be making a fortune out of it; I only wish I was clever enough to invent an app that gets people to do battle with their mouths on our Sunday lunches and other meals, and enjoy a good pint of real ale – but in reality, not in cyberspace.

I would gladly turn back the clock and swap cyber space for cider space, and Pokemon for Pintaman.

I can predict in the not too distant future there will be an app on your phone that delivers an electronic charge to your brain cells that mimics the euphoric feeling of 12 pints of Best, you wait, just you wait and see.

I won’t be far wrong.


MPs’ debate

From: Steve Cass, Mirfield 

Dear Sir,

I’ve emailed our Labour MP Paula Sherriff on a number of occasions to seek clarification of her oft-proclaimed belief in ‘the benefits of diversity’, just as in the past I emailed our then MP pretend Conservative Simon Reevell to seek clarification of his oft-proclaimed belief in ‘the benefits of immigration’.

Neither was willing to put their cards on the table.

To give Mr Reevell his due, he at least did reply, and I recall a lengthy series of back-and-forth emails when I did my best to get Mr Reevell to spit it out, and he did his best to keep his trap shut.

Of course I was on to a loser. But even that was more than I’ve managed to get out of Ms Sherriff, who has refused to budge beyond the automated response. What’s stopping her?

If ‘A’ wants to convince ‘B’ of something is it not logical of ‘A’ to spell out precisely to ‘B’ its advantages? That’s how it works isn’t it?

Yet in spite of all Ms Sherriff’s noise about ‘diversity’ being so beneficial, to my knowledge she’s never actually said what those benefits are.

One could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps she may not be as convinced by her own words as she expects the rest of us to be.

What other reason can there be to explain her reluctance to argue her case?

Admittedly her case gets increasingly difficult to support, especially now that the ‘disbenefits of diversity’ are hitting home big time, the Nice horror being the latest example in a long line.

But surely that’s an argument for Ms Sherriff’s intervention rather than against it.

What we need now from her is a definitive statement of all the many, many benefits that she says ‘diversity’ bestows on us; what better way to put her constituents’ minds at ease in these troubled times?


Friend to slaves

From: Zerbanoo Gifford, via email

Dear Sir,

Your recent article about the abolionist Rev Jeffery and his Methodist church’s campaign against slavery was fascinating.

The Press is right to highlight his life and that Rev Jeffery needs to be remembered by a plaque in his home town.

As former director of the oldest human rights organisation in the world, Anti-Slavery International, I researched and wrote the book on Thomas Clarkson and the campaign against slavery.

Clarkson, like Batley’s Thomas Jeffery and his wife, were a bred of devout Christians that fought the inhumanity of the trans-Atlantic slavery in the 19th century with the dedication that consumed their whole lives. They were heroic and inspirational.

Some years back we managed to have a plaque installed in Westminster Abbey to Thomas Clarkson near the statue of another great Yorkshire fighter against slavery, the Hull MP William Wilberforce.

Recently I was at Westminster Abbey for a Commonwealth celebration and there was a bunch of wild flowers left by the memorial to Thomas Clarkson.

It simply read “A friend to slaves.” I was deeply moved.

Our own Jo Cox, who was recently so brutally killed, was also a friend to slaves.

She campaigned against slavery that is still rampant in our modern world.

She highlighted the plight of millions of children forced to work in factories, farms, mines and brothels who are deprived of a future and care they deserve.

Jo was loved by all she served, whether in Batley and Spen or around the world.

In the minds of so many of us who work to fight injustices in its many ugly forms, Jo is associated with the special Yorkshire bigheartedness that knows no boundaries when it comes to being kind, generous and practical.



From: Wendy Senior, Hanging Heaton

Dear Sir,

How do we save Dewsbury Museum? How do we save Dewsbury Hospital services? It looks like we will shortly lose both, we may have some extra time to save our museum but our hospital services will change this September.

I do not know if this decision is lawful, to remove our intensive care unit and downgrade our A&E department when our hospital was paid for by public donations to both build and run it.

I have lots of information to prove this, also the plaques with the names of people who donated money and the amounts they gave are on display in Dewsbury Town Hall.

When Dewsbury Infirmary on Moorlands Road was demolished we were promised a bigger hospital with better services, and look what we have now, people turning up for clinic appointments with no doctors there. That happened to me last year.

I hope people remember the names of the members of the CCG and the Mid Yorkshire Trust who are responsible for the downgrading of Dewsbury Hospital services. I have written to former Prime Minister David Cameron, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS England and they tell me they have nothing to do with decisions taken for our hospital, the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust and the CCG are responsible for this.


Museum future

From: Imelda Marsden, life member of the Bronte Society 

Dear Sir,

With the recent cuts at Kirklees Council, care in the community comes first.

The last time the cuts came I, with others, fought tooth and nail to keep Red House Museum in Gomersal open.

I, with others, support Oakwell Hall in Birstall.

It’s an Elizabethan manor house from the time of the civil war with Bronte connections, gardens and children’s play area.

There’s a lot to offer the visitor, lots to do for the family and it raises funds from the weddings booked for a couple of years ahead, bringing income into the museum.

Red House Museum is not the same as when Charlotte Bronte visited and when the last residents, Lord Shaw and family, lived there.

His mother sold the house to Spenborough Council then was taken over when Kirklees Council came in.

The house became a museum in some of the downstairs rooms and upstairs was a flat for the then curator.

The house had a new back wall, roof and floors in the 1980s and it’s not the same as when the Taylors lived there.

It’s common sense to see Oakwell Hall and Bagshaw Museum staying open. I hope that Tolson Museum in Huddersfield can find a way to stay open.

As for Dewsbury Museum, the inside roof is falling in and a certain Dewsbury councillor tried to close it several years ago.

It ought to go back to when people used have their wedding receptions there and the bride could have super photos by the lake. A good income could be made by returning to this.


Wrecking crew

From: John Appleyard, Liversedge

Dear Sir,

Instead of judging Tory Prime Minister Theresa May as a woman we should be looking at her policies.

In her first weeks in charge her government has brought in policies to force struggling families needing welfare support to call a premium rate number.

It is difficult enough as it is living on disability benefits without being charged 45p a minute to call the Department of Work and Pensions.

Theresa May has also abolished the Department for Energy and Climate Change, which is a signal that the post --Brexit UK will be a disaster for the environment.

May has ignored a government report that urgent action is needed to protect Britain from flooding, deadly heat waves, and water shortages caused by global warming.

Theresa May and her Cabinet are shaping up to be nothing less than an environment wrecking crew.

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