Thundering claims are quaint

First published in Spectator's Notes
Last updated

ASPOTLIGHT fell on Thirsk this week with it being named in a national newspaper’s 30 best towns to live in England.

Spectator wouldn’t argue with The Times’ assessment that the market town’s attractiveness ranks alongside Chipping Norton, Amersham and Downham Market.

Certainly, it is one of the North of England’s most underestimated communities.

But The Times’ justification for including the town on its list is somewhat quaint.

There’s an obligatory reference to it being the home of James Herriot, and then its closeness to the North York Moors “makes it a magnet for outdoorsey types”. Oh and “nearby Sowerby has a cinema and swimming pool”.

But quite how The Thunderer made its judgment about these towns isn’t entirely clear. The article makes reference to history, housing, amenities and looks, plus house price data. On that basis, one would have thought Barnard Castle, Richmond, Northallerton, Yarm, Guisborough, Stokesley, Ripon and Helmsley could all have had a place in the list.

In fact the only other town in Yorkshire and the North-East that merits a mention is Alnwick. The previous day, the august journal had published its 30 coolest places to live in Britain. Not one community in this part of the world made the list. That may, of course, be a recommendation in itself.

Brewing up EVERY business has cottoned on to the fact that way to an easy profit these days is selling tea and coffee. The mark-up is extraordinary.

So every garden centre/bookshop/ filling station/supermarket has a cafe. And then there are the actual cafes too. Tea and coffee retailing is the one sector of the economy that has continued to boom. Spectator was strolling through the Queen Street arcade in Darlington which is certainly struggling (Superdrug is on the point of de-camping to the Cornmill Centre) and noticed that The Bag Shop (handbags etc) has its own little cafe in the front window. Desperate measures indeed.

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