A Yorkshire Lad

Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire Nature Diary, Monday, 22nd March 2010

Gervase Phinn at Rickaro

Gervase PhinnPhinnGERVASE PHINN visited the Rickaro Bookshop in Horbury this afternoon to sign copies of his autobiography, launched today, Road to the Dales subtitled The Story of a Yorkshire Lad. Gervase doesn't sound like a likely lad's name for someone born in Yorkshire in the 1950s; 'everyone around me seemed to be called Terry or Tony or Trevor or Tom,' he recalls, 'As a child you want to be one of the crowd, like everyone else, just ordinary. Being called Gervase in post-war Rotherham certainly set me apart.'

'Isn't there a temptation,' I asked him, 'in writing an autobiography, to settle old scores?'

There is, he admitted, but in the book he's only done it once. I won't spoil the story for you, but I can see why in that one case he should still feel a sense of injustice about what happened, even after all these years.

PhinnPhinnI photograph him in storytelling mode for the bookshop website, forgetting that it's asking the anti-shake device in my new camera too much to cope with my shaky hands. I soon revert to drawing. He's got quite a following locally - not least amongst teachers and former teachers (he has written about his years as a school inspector) - and the bookshop is packed, which is quite a feat on a dull drizzly afternoon, especially as half the shops on the High Street are closed on Mondays, taking a break after the weekend. He soon gets people laughing and he takes quite a while to get through the queue of people waiting for books signing as he talks to every one of them . . . and occasionally bursts into song too.

PhinnPhinnWhen the rush has died down I sketch him looking a little more serious (right) as he signs some extra copies for the bookshop stock. And, afer all that, he has to sign one last copy for Barbara and I.