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PREDICTIONS FOR YORKSHIRE

Who would have predicted many of the events of the last couple of years in Yorkshire? Certainly not me, if you look at my prophecies in this magazine in issues past. Every year I attempt to guess what might occur in God’s Own Country and I’m not going to give up now. You know what they say, you throw enough muck at the wall and some of it will stick. 

And, with that attitude firmly in mind, I follow in the footsteps of my fellow alumnus of the School of English at the University of Leeds, Mystic Meg, and I coat my crystal balls in Mr Sheen and buff them up before staring at them for a while and putting finger to keyboard. 

Here’s what is definitely going to happen in 2022 in Yorkshire… maybe. 

JANUARY 

There is trouble in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire in January as the unveiling of a statue to commemorate Last of the Summer Wine goes awry. The long running TV show was filmed in the town between 1973 and 2010, and locals had hoped to honour the memory of its most beloved character with a monument in the shape of Compo in a bathtub, sliding down the side of the moor. 

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Unfortunately, life imitates art and, as the mayor of Kirklees cuts the ribbon on a drizzly day, the statue slips and heads down towards the town. Unfortunately, whereas in the TV show this scenario ends in hilarious consequences, the real event causes many thousands of pounds worth of damage and the surviving cast members are subsequently barred from Sid’s Cafe for life as punishment. 

APRIL 

Shooting begins on the remake of the 1990s hit romantic comedy Pretty Woman. However, with profits ravaged by the recent pandemic, the studio scales back the operation and films in Beverley, East Yorkshire, rather than Beverly Hills. 

In the new Yorkshire version, Viv stays with Ted at the presidential suite at the Premier Inn Beverley Town Centre and one of the film’s best loved scenes sees her take the £20 Ted gave her for some new threads to the local Boyes, only to be demeaned by the snobbish staff for her downmarket outfit. She returns the next day dressed up in her finery to inform the commission-based salesperson that she made a “big mistake! Big! Huge!” and flounces off towards Bonmarché. 

When the film is released, it is such a success that the East Riding market town becomes a popular location for film crews from around the world. One of the most well-received productions is a detective show featuring a well known British soul singer who solves crimes in the area after gigs. Beverley Knight’s Beverley Nights wins a record 32 Emmy Awards at the ceremony in 2023. 

 JULY 

There is a diplomatic crisis in the summer as it is revealed a man from Sheffield has been incrementally pushing the boundary between Yorkshire and Derbyshire further south. Amos Shuttleworth of Lowedges admits to police that he is a patriotic Yorkshireman and was hoping that by moving the signs marking the county line five centimetres into Derbyshire every day he was helping to expand the empire. Shuttleworth tells police that his aim was to annex Dronfield by halfway through 2063. 

South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis is forced to apologise to his Derbyshire counterpart for the actions of his fellow countyman and Shuttleworth is made to dig up the road signs and move them back to their original locations at a televised event. 

One public commentator from Chesterfield is outraged that the infraction was allowed to happen, stating “Why do they need more room, me duck? They’re the biggest county in the country, me duck. We should be seeking damages, me duck.” 

AUGUST 

Staying in Sheffield and there is uproar from Owls fans as squad members fall out on the eve of the new football season and split into seven different factions. The teams, named Sheffield Monday, Sheffield Tuesday, Sheffield Thursday, Sheffield Friday, Sheffield Saturday and Sheffield Sunday agree to start the new campaign as separate clubs, alongside the original Sheffield Wednesday. A perplexed Football League executive allows it to happen due to it being “too much trouble to try and sort out this mess.” 

The seven clubs enter intense negotiations with the team that runs Hillsborough, each staking a claim to the stadium for one day a week. Confusingly, after the ground supervisor listens to each party’s requirements, they come to the agreement that Sheffield Monday will use the stadium on a Wednesday, Sheffield Tuesday have access on a Monday, Sheffield Wednesday get Sunday, Sheffield Thursday have it on a Saturday, Sheffield Friday play home matches on a Thursday, Sheffield Saturday must schedule fixtures for a Tuesday and Sheffield Sunday host matches on a Friday. 

Clubs in the same division eventually sue the South Yorkshire teams for compensation after ticket office staff around the country take mass-confusion-based compassionate leave from struggling to deal with requests for tickets to games against the seven outfits from fans. 

OCTOBER 

Organisers of the Whitby Goth Weekend come under fire for suggesting that, after a couple of tough years for everyone, their event should focus on something a little bit more cheerful for a change. The annual shindig, timed to coincide with Halloween and to celebrate the seaside town’s connections with the Dracula story, takes a last-minute pivot and rebrands itself as the Whitby Mr Blobby Weekend. 

Visitors are asked to eschew the usual black clothes, dark lace and white face make-up, and replace it with a yellow and pink colour scheme in honour of the popular, bumbling mascot of Noel’s House Party. 

Although many enter into the spirit of the new angle, with hundreds turning out to hear the original Blobby recite his 1993 Christmas number one on stage on the Saturday night, a large number of others are extremely unimpressed. However, this has very little effect, as it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between a goth being happy and being cross. 

The weekend rounds off with a motivational speech on stage at the Whitby Pavilion by 2005 X Factor contestant Chico.

PREDICTIONS FOR LANCASHIRE

Benjamin Franklin said that the only things certain in life were death and taxes, and I wouldn’t usually argue with the esteemed political and scientific heavyweight. But I have quite a lot of space to fill in this magazine so I’m going to have a go at predicting a number of other events too. 

The last couple of years in Lancashire have been topsy turvy and rollercoaster-esque so, let’s face it, who is to say that the stuff I’m about to extract from my crystal ball aren’t going to happen? Let’s meet up in 12 months’ time and see how accurate I was. 

So here we go, it’s Northern Life’s now-traditional predictions for the upcoming year in Lancashire. 

JANUARY 

Martha and Graham Bradshaw of Padiham cause a ruckus in the Burnley district by refusing to recognise the traditional end of the festive season. The saga begins at sunrise on Thursday 6th January, as the Bradshaws’ neighbours realise the family’s decorations, including the ten-foot inflatable Santa in their front garden that sings ‘Jingle Bells’, are still very much on display, despite it being the day after twelfth night. 

Talking to the local newspaper, the pair declare they are going on strike and will not return to normal life, demanding that Lancashire declares itself the UK’s first perma-festive county. Three weeks later, a spokesperson for Lancashire County Council is forced to address the ongoing crisis by dismissing the Bradshaws’ demands as “unworkable” and “a little bit odd”. She also reminds Martha that sticking fake mutton chops on her face, glueing hand mirrors to her hat and knocking on doors in the neighbourhood and shouting “IT’S CHRRRIIISSSSTTTTMMMAAAAAAAASSSS” in a Noddy Holder style is considered anti-social behavior. 

Graham loses his job as an undertaker in late February when he turns up for work dressed in just a pair of Rudolph boxer shorts. The couple are eventually forced to end their protest in April, having watched every Bond film at least three times and after suffering from extreme indigestion following more than a hundred turkey dinners with all the trimmings.

MARCH 

There is uproar in March when a lost manuscript comes to light, proving that Lancaster actually belongs to Portugal. The invoice, inspected and verified by Britain’s most important and trustworthy professors, shows that Henry of Monmouth, the last Duke of Lancaster, lost the city in a drunken game of I Spy with the Portuguese King John the First in 1412. However, the Iberian regent mislaid the slip when the pair moved on to Strip Charades later that night and forgot all about the transaction in the fog of his hangover the next morning. 

Current Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa apologises to the UK, but declares his intention to rule over the Lancaster district as is, he believes, his right. The city’s previously English inhabitants have to adjust to life as a province ruled by Lisbon, rather than London, with many delighted to see two branches of Nandos opening soon afterwards. 

League One Morecambe FC are caught unawares when their home match against Oxford United later that month is cancelled and replaced by an away tie at Benfica, in front of 55,000 fans at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa. 

AUGUST 

Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty of electro-art band the KLF undertake a tour of Lancashire, apologising for referencing many of its towns and cities in their 1991 song It’s Grim Up North. The pair book out community centres and theatres in each of the Lancastrian locations mentioned in the rave tune, namely Accrington, Burnley, Chorley, Clitheroe, Colne, Lancaster, Lytham St Annes, Morecambe, Nelson, Ormskirk, Preston and Skelmersdale. 

During the shows, the musicians give a full and frank declaration of their sorrow for besmirching the names of the towns before taking questions from the audience. At least one person on every night of the tour asks them if they really did burn a million pounds on a Scottish island. Each time it is met with eye rolls from the duo and a curt “next question please”. 

The event rounds off with a rendition of their remixed tune, called ‘Actually, There Are Some Lovely Bits of the North and the Sense of Community is Strong Which is Really the Most Important Thing When You Think About It’. 

 NOVEMBER 

Strictly Come Dancing returns to the Blackpool Tower Ballroom for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic, but viewers notice a few unexpected changes from series gone by. Management of the ballroom admit in a statement that, given the absence of the BBC1 favourite, they have had to maximise the profitability of the venue and have, in fact, given half of the floor space to a lucrative soft play centre. 

Still, the celebrity dancers make the most of it, and Saturday night TV audiences are treated to the thrilling sight of chanteuse Jane McDonald performing a Paso Doble down a slide resembling a dinosaur’s tongue and newsreader Michael Buerk attempting a charleston in a unicorn ball pit. 

Craig Revel Horwood almosts quits the show live on air after being asked to deliver his comments whilst bouncing on a trampoline and there is panic amongst production staff when chief judge Shirley Ballas has her number 10 score paddle stolen by a five-year-old from Fleetwood with chocolate all over his fingers and snot running down his face. 

The BBC instantly strikes a deal to broadcast the entire 2023 series from Blackpool. 

DECEMBER 

All eyes are on Padiham as locals feverishly speculate about Martha and Graham Bradshaw’s display for the upcoming Christmas period. A crowd of 80 onlookers gather at the garden fence in the early hours of the 1st December with speculation running rife. 

However, the curtains remain drawn and there is little sign of life from within. Just as people are considering dispersing at 11:15am, the couple’s ten-year-old daughter opens the door, ambles towards them and announces that the family thank them for their interest, but there is nothing to see. The locals are dejected, but the girl breaks into a smile, shouts “not really!” and points towards the front door of the suburban semi. 

Emanating from the house is a fog of dry ice. The crowd watches in awe as the opening notes of Last Christmas play, followed by Martha and Graham bursting into the garden, dressed as George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, and giving a hearty rendition of the festive favourite for the assembled audience. 

Somewhere in the depths of County Hall in Preston, a beleaguered spokesperson sighs and cancels all of their annual leave for that month. 

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