Just back from the Grove Bookshop in Ilkley (one of the best small independent bookshops I’ve ever visited, and (incidentally) one of Alan Bennet’s favourites). As part of the celebration of Ilkleys new status as a ‘Walkers are Welcome’ town (see here for more information), they hosted Bill Mitchell, the legendary former editor of the Dalesman, who talked about his new biography of Alf White (better known as James Herriot!). The attendance was about 30 people, and there were drinks and nibbles in abundance. Bill comes across while he talking as a slightly less polished version of Gervase Phinn – lots of funny stories, and occasional hints of a bit more depth – a story about taking JB Priestley to the Dalesman offices, for example (he worried that his car might crash on a particularly dangerous stretch of dales road, and he’d go down in history as the man who killed JB Priestley…)
The book – ‘Herriot – A Vet’s Life’ isn’t a full biography (that was written by Alf Wright’s son Jim in 2000), but the photos alone make it worth getting hold of if you’re a fan of Herriot, or the Dales – and it’s beautifully written, as you’d expect from someone who’s being doing it as long as Bill!