It’s WORLD BOOK DAY today!
With the rain coming out of the sky again, I wonder how many of you will be buying a new book or re-reading a favourite book?
Jack Hargreaves was a great lover of words and books. He read and wrote a lot, but most of us remember him in his TV programmes, Out of Town and Old Country.
Jack had an amazing ability to weave a story from the most ordinary of scenes.
He saw and knew things about the people and workings of the countryside, and long before ‘green’ issues were highlighted, he understood the threats that modern life was bringing to the environment.
This understanding was rooted in the deep love of the countryside that he developed as a child, a love that he discovered due to the wise actions of his mother.
In the book Jack’s Country the author Paul Peacock writes about Jack’s troubled childhood days:
‘Jack seemed unable to settle down, obey orders or even behave in a civilised manner and his father was simply unable to understand him. Toys would be thrown, windows smashed and every attempt to correct this seemed doomed to failure, resulting in yet more delinquency. The situation was exacerbated by his father’s reaction to Jack, which he misunderstood to be proof of his dislike for him. Jack’s brother, Ron, suggested there might be a medical problem. Psychiatry was often the only recourse for the middle classes to deal with unusual behaviour. This was still the age of family committals to mental institutions and something prompted Jack’s mother to see if anything medical could be done. In her desperation, she took Jack to see a psychiatrist.
The visit was of little benefit. Jack was an extremely unhappy child and he did not respond favourably to being addressed by a stuffy old psychiatrist. He would probably have remained so if his mother had dismissed an inkling of something special she saw in him. Jack frequently spent long hours, even as a very young boy, wandering the lanes and fields of what has now become known as West Yorkshire’s Last of the Summer Wine country, exploring fields and scaling hills.
It was this knowledge that brought her to believe he might enjoy a holiday on a farm. The family had a long term friendship with a south country farmer and so at length he became a guest of a friend of the family at the farm of Victor Pargeter. This man was to become one of the key influences for a character referred to as the ‘Old Man’ in Jack’s later writings.’