Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire Nature Diary, Good Friday, 2nd April 2010
THIS IS a corner of the Otley Chevin trail map that I've been colouring today using the paint-bucket tool in Photoshop 7. It's the last piece of artwork that I've been asked to draw for the leaflet that I've been designing.
Good Friday seems an appropriate time to end this project as on the ridge at the Chevin there's a large wooden cross. I'm not keen on powerful symbols being placed in a landscape - I'd always rather that the landscape could just be left to be itself without in-your-face metaphorical signposts - but I have to admit that its position, overlooking the small town of Otley, does correspond with my childhood image of the Easter hymn we always sang as children:
'There is a green hill far away,
without a city wall,
Where the dear Lord was crucified
who died to save us all.'
I notice that versions of the lyrics of this hymn on the internet use 'outside a city a wall' but we definitely sang 'without a city wall' because the phrase had to be explained to us, as it begs the question 'why would any green hill have a city wall in the first place?'
Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895), who composed it, could turn a good phrase (so she would never have used 'outside a city wall' as the second syllable is too weak). She also composed All Things Bright and Beautiful, a hymn whose lines supplied the titles for a number of James Herriot's novels . . . All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Wise and Wonderful and The Lord God Made Them All.
Last Saturday Barbara and I went to an 18th birthday party . . . but it wasn't anyone we know. Well not exactly; it was the daughter of an old friend and this was the first time we'd met her. It was a chance to catch up with the little crowd who we used to meet up with 30 years ago, on Thursday night's at Dolly Grey's on Westgate, Wakefield.
As you might guess, they haven't changed a bit! (although the girl who worked behind the bar there does blame the loudness of the music in Dolly's for the occasional tinnitus she is troubled by these days). I've still got most of the sketches I did of them all those years ago, except for the little portraits that I drew on peeled-off beer-mats that people would pop in their pockets and take home.
I must have been more generous with my artwork in those days.