What’s that noise? Ah, its my dyed-in-the-wool (pun not intended) Yorkshire ancestors (workers all in mills and mines) turning in their graves in Dewsbury as they learn of the local lad who left the streets where they once lived to pursue his job of choice in blowing himself and other people to smithereens.This is not the Yorkshire where they lived and toiled. This is not the Dewsbury (heart of the Bronte country) that bred the salt-of-the-earth workers upon which so much of the Industrial Revolution was built.
A visit there in recent times was intended to be a stroll in the footsteps of my grandparents and their parents and their parents before them. But it turned into one of the scariest experiences of all time.
Menacing glares greeted us as we drove down streets where my family once lived, with houses interspersed not by pubs and corner stores but by mosques and meeting rooms where groups huddled in secret converse.
Most frightening of all was the moment we drove into a cul-de-sac and needed to turn the car around and clusters of robed men advanced towards us with far from friendly or helpful intent, faces glaring, arms raised. Never has a three point turn been completed in faster time.
Dewsbury, with its heavy industrial base of mills and nearby mines, was never the most attractive town. But it had a heart that beat with centuries of solid Yorkshire (and English) grit and humanity; a community that might squabble among itself, go into battle against the oppressive bosses and mill-owners or get blathered at the pub on Saturday night. But never strap a bomb to one’s body and set out to kill the innocent and blameless in the name of ideology.
Little wonder that there are continual cries to halt the uncontrolled tide of incomers intent on imposing their rules, attitudes and cultures on a lifestyle that has existed for centuries.
Dewsbury is but one once proud town that has been diminished and destroyed and seen those whose roots were there leave in droves.
I mourn our heritage.