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VINE VOICEon 21 March 2010
Some people can be very scathing about Yorkshire & see it as an insular, miserable place (For instance, Jack Dee does a rather amusing rant about "Go to Yawrkshire & have Yawrkshire Tea & Yawrkshire Pudding with Yawrkshire Sauce!")

Truth is though that, for all its shortcomings, Yorkshire has a lot of Character & charm and its people make for interesting stories. This book contains 7 such stories from the prolific pen of Country Vet James Herriot. It only took me 3 hours to read it & it provides a good sample of his more memorable stories.

The first story ('The Girl in Green Trousers') is very short & is about on of those country lasses you meet who are hardworking yet also good people to hang round with.

Story two ('The Farmer's Hospitality') is one of those enjoyable village pub yarns where a farmer introduces the vet to his own home-brewed wines, including such flavours as Elderflower & Blackberry. The Farmer also adds in a mysterious ingredient which makes all the drinks taste better, but leads to interesting results when he is called out to a Teetotal Methodists home...

Story 3 ('The Old Retainers') follows the age-old debate about whether large-scale farmers have any affection for their animals, or just see them as £££.

Story 4 ('A Case of Poisoning') is a Dark tale about a strychnine poisoner around Darrowby. As Herriot says, "when I looked back at my life in Darrowby I was inclined to bathe [it] in a warm glow, but occasionally the unhappy things came to mind".

Story 5 ('There's Soap - and Soap') is a more light-hearted story about how, after messy veterinary work with animals, every farmer in the 50's would offer him a Hessian sack, instead of a towel. Not the most interesting tale, but it's curious how little things can make a big difference...

Story 6 ('The Little Incidents of Life') is a compendium of some of the more minor things that happened to him in his Yorkshire travels, such as meeting one of those hardy collies that prefers living outdoors & an amusing story about two rival farmers.

Story 7 ('Christmas Day') is a little predictable but nonetheless cockle-warming tale about two contrasting call-outs he had one Christmas Day & how they effected his view of farmers in general.

Although these 7 tales won't give you a full impression of Yorkshire (or James Herriot), they do provide a brief glimpse into a part of the country often dismissed by the phrase "It's Grim up North". To see the 'humour, vivacity & poignancy' of Yorkshire (to quote the back cover) is 3 hours well spent and I just wish that more of these Penguin 60's had been produced, as the ones I've read so far have all been spot-on.
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