The sight of a very tearful Dickie Bird on TV talking about the loss of his friend Michael Parkinson had me in tears myself. Dickie and Michael went back a lot of years.
No idea why some people in town seem so ready to knock our famous Barnsley folk. Don’t we in Barnsley get enough of that from outside without doing it to our own? Michael ‘did nowt for Barnsley’ said someone. Did he have to? Was he obliged to? He dissed his school – is that the worst of his crimes? I’m sure he's not alone in that. If his experience was that his school was rubbish, why wasn’t he allowed to say as much?
He never lost his accent in a time when Northern voices weren’t sought after like they are now. And didn’t he show people what it is possible to achieve if you set out to follow your dreams, however lowly your background, however much the odds are against you? Is it somehow illegal to leave Barnsley – you’d think so by some people’s comments.
Dickie has never left Barnsley of course and I was delighted to see a lot of love out there for him following his outpouring of sadness. People who worked at the building society he used, people who served him at the Asda petrol kiosk, people who worked with him at cricket events, even a lady who used to go into a café with her young son after picking him up from nursery and when Dickie was there, he’d buy a bun for the little boy, telling him it was to make him strong enough to bat for Yorkshire.
He’s never lost his accent either, he’s a season ticket holder of Barnsley FC, he shops in town. He’s helped numerous young cricketers buy kit – young players who have come up through the ranks, including one quite famous one who couldn’t even be bothered saying thank you for the leg up. And of course he’s donated well over a million pounds to children’s charities. When anyone meets him and asks for a photo or just wants to say hello, you can see how genuinely chuffed he is and is always pleasant to chat to. An absolute gent, known the world over. How rightly proud we should be of such an ambassador.
The letter from ‘Distressed’ in last week’s Chron was a sad read. This person was talking about the deterioration and death of their 97 year old father. ‘They shoot horses don’t they’ the letter began, before going on to relate how painfully lingering the last weeks of their father’s life were as they waited for death to finally come and release them.
It brought some memories back to me that I never wanted to store because I did the same with my own father. We knew there was no hope and I was sitting at his side just watching for any signs of pain so I could rush out and find a nurse to top up his meds – total needless suffering. And yet I have taken animals to the vet and watch them drift off painlessly in my arms – how death should be. ‘These days horses get a better deal’ said the letter writer and I have to agree.
These discussions need to happen, they should no longer be taboo but the government seem terrified of the subject. Give me a party to follow who has some flaming guts. Surely we are due one.