In Praise of Flock To Ossett, Sheep and John Cooper Clarke.

Hi everyone, my name is Matt Abbott and I’m a 23-year-old writer from South Ossett (a very important distinction of course). Apart from a brief spell down London a short while ago I’ve lived here since I was 11, and so it’s safe to say that I’ve spent my most important formative years here.

Ossett is naturally a place that I’ll always feel a great affinity towards, and it wasn’t until I moved back here that I realised how much it meant to me. You can change your clothes, hairstyle, music tastes, friends, postal address and spouse but the one thing you can’t change is the place that you rightfully call home. When so many of your memories and experiences are ingrained in one place, it ultimately becomes a part of who you are and in my opinion that’s something you can never change, even if you emigrate to the other side of the world.

My first job was at Ossett Newsagents before I spent a couple of years working at Hitch Newsagents on Dale Street. I spent seven years down at Ossett School, the last two of which were in their then brand new Sixth Form building, and I also spent a year following Ossett Albion around the North of England in their glorious title-winning season of 2003/04 before working behind the bar in the Cricket Club. There are some unsavoury memories of course but I shall keep it clean for the purpose of this blog!

Anyway, my point is that every single area of Ossett contains a whole batch of memories from my teenage years and I don’t think it’ll be possible to quite replicate the same level of attachment anywhere else. It’s for this reason that my night at The Red Lion means an awful lot to me, and why I don’t think I’ll have quite performed anywhere before that has such a level of personal significance.

I have a great deal of admiration and respect for the Flock To Ossett campaign and there’s no doubt that we’re blessed in having someone like Jacqui at the epicentre of the town’s activities. She’ll be reading this before posting it to her site so I don’t want to go too far of course, but her level of passion, dedication, drive, ambition, determination and most of all her selflessness and patience when it comes to helping others is absolutely outstanding. It’s been wonderful seeing how many people have emerged and shared Jacqui’s level of enthusiasm upon hearing about Flock To Ossett – right from when it was first conceived and on a daily basis ever since – and I don’t think even Jacqui herself anticipated the response that she’s received.

For the most part I’ve been happy just observing and admiring the campaign slowly gather pace, whether it’s sitting amongst an army of knitters or chatting for a while in Eller Coffee, but on Saturday 16th it’s my turn to bring something to the table and be actively involved within Flock To Ossett.

An Evening with Skint & Demoralised will primarily focus around an acoustic performance of some S&D material. The reason I’ve chosen to do this is because the acoustic format really allows the lyrics to take centre stage and highlights the storytelling nature of the songs, which was first and foremost the reason that S&D started. In this sense it’ll feel more intimate, alongside the fact that it’s in the back room of a pub, and I’m looking forward to the fact that it’ll bridge the gap between performer and audience and therefore capture what the whole night is about.

The songs aren’t about Ossett specifically but from the perspective of a young lad who’s grown up in the area and written about his life honestly, and so therefore it’s something that most will be able to relate to. I’ve always attempted to highlight the importance of giving narrative to a song in order to bring at least some sense of purpose, and when people catch on to your narrative and respond to it, there’s no greater satisfaction for me personally as a lyricist.

I’ll also be performing some spoken word poetry. Now I know that there’s a certain stigma attached to performance poetry and I fully expect people to groan and grimace when I mention this, but mine is a style that was written and developed specifically to be performed at Indie gigs and in pubs, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to win most people over. If you watched the ‘Evidently John Cooper Clarke’ documentary on BBC4 last week then you’ll see the man who influenced me in all his glory: a unique form of “punk poetry” with machine-gun delivery and slightly unorthodox subject matters. The poems are passionate, political and occasionally humorous, and this is where I first started out back at the tender age of 17.

Throughout the night I shall encourage people to take the microphone and share their stories and experiences from living in Ossett. If you’re reading this and you plan on coming to The Red Lion then please bear this in mind because it’d be great to have people involved. What does Ossett mean to you? What are your favourite memories from Ossett? Which places in particular are particularly fond of? If we all start thinking about Ossett in this way then nostalgia will soon sweep over us along with the alcohol and hopefully it’ll cement our emotional attachment to Flock To Ossett as a whole.

Finally, I’ll be exhibiting some of my Dad’s paintings. He’s a wonderfully talented man but is more than happy painting in our dining room and taking his work no further, and I think it’d be fantastic to showcase his abilities to a wider audience. It’ll certainly mean the world to me anyway.

Right, well I’m approaching a thousand words now so I’d better stop because I do have a tendency to ramble. But I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog, and if you are coming on the 16th then please don’t feel shy about chatting about Ossett on the mic because it’s one thing that we all have in common and sharing these nuggets of creativity and information is what Flock To Ossett is all about.

All the best,



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *