Guest Blogger Ralph Dartford writes about his relationship with Ossett.
I’m from Essex. A southern softy if you will.
I came here to live in Ossett four years ago. I came here for love, ambition and change. It’s been a long haul to be honest.
In those first two years or so, I found this little town a tough baptism of fire. Things were different here from where I was from. Respect in West Yorkshire is hard earned and not given cheaply like it is in that London and its shabby suburbs. This is a place where every boy is a boy about town, where every girl has a harder tale to tell than you will ever have, even if that tale is a lie. Striking a conversation was difficult when your accent is odd and you have the walk of a ridiculous cockney ‘ducker and diver’. I become the stranger in my own psyche, and also in the town’s own wary suspicious mist. My partner Jacqui warned me of all of this before I came up the M1. She said that you had to search long for any cultural engagement, to find like-minded souls, or at the very least, get a decent cappuccino. I’m glad I held my nerve, because two years later on it’s all turning out ok I think.
There was a key moment that changed things. A do or die hour that occurred over breakfast one rainy Sunday morning at our house on Kingsway. The beleaguered trinity of Ossett, Jacqui and myself decided to gave each other one final chance, an ultimatum where something had to give.
Like me, Jacqui had begun to be become disillusioned with the town, and she was finding difficult to make any headway to a satisfied state of play. We both decided that we had to seek something more in this place or it was time for us to cut loose, to run away for good. For this to happen, we needed to dig deep beneath the surface of Ossett, take a huge gamble and find new people who were precious, people who cared about the same things that made both our hearts beat faster. People who lived for art, culture, decency, and a sense of community.
And we did find them! It all started in a little cafe in the town, Eller Coffee in Station Road to be exact. Mark Elleker, a like-minded misfit who owns the gaff (excellent Cappuccino) threw open his doors to us, and let an ambitious cell of the like minded from Ossett make things happen. We found out that there were many of us who did not know each other, even though we had passed each other in the street many times, and we all believed in the same creative things. The blue touch paper had been lit and we could now never go back. We all exhaled a deep breath in the recognition that all of us were not alone.
In a short amount of time there was a ‘Tweet Up’, a Facebook group, a knitting posse, a ukulele club, an organising committe… There was Kylie, Caitlin, Cassandra, Leda, Louise and her children. Irene, Sharon and Tony, and many, many others that I want to mention, but can’t because it would go on and on. The response to an idea was fantastic!
So what we have here now is a movement, a will, and mandate for change. This Saturday is a huge statement for the creative people from Ossett. This is the day that we host ’Flock to Ossett’, a daylong celebration of culture made from within our town and by its people. There will be a parade of giant and colourful sheep made by all the schools in the area, a brass and samba band, storytelling, a creative swap shop, barber shop quartets in local hairdressing establishments and naturally, Torvil and Dean’s classic Bolero. If the sun shines it will a great day indeed, a statement of intent of what can really happen if people are allowed come together to share their passions. To flock.
I’m an Essex boy with an Ossett passport. I have many friends now, as well as pursuits. I hold my head up high. I’ve found a kind of loving. Right here in the town of Ossett.