Between 1976 and 1983 we lived in Harrogate - a lovely town to visit, though no longer our most fondly-remembered home town.

Our lack of fondness for the town came in the main. I suppose, from the feeling of being surrounded by a body of disgruntled citizens who, though apparently well catered for in this world's goods, appeared to suffer from a permanent dissatisfaction with life and all its countless blessings. In a town deservedly noted for an abundance of trees and flowers there were constant complaints in the local press about matters which to us seemed trivial in comparison - such as the intention of the local council to make a pedestrian area in the town centre (for some reason unwelcome to people who were for the most part getting on in years); the state of the pavements; the brute licentious soldiery who came in on Saturday night from the Penny Pot camp and, granted, made a certain amount of noise. And so on, and so on.

So I wrote this verse, and sent it to the Harrogate Advertiser, not for a moment supposing that they would publish it. But they did, and I had the happy experience of being thanked by a number of friends for voicing their own sentiments. So the town, it would seem, is not past praying for.


There are bombs in Northern Ireland; there's famine in the world,
And the economic situation's grey;
On the mat below the letter-box there lie the usual bills,
But - the daffodils ate out along the Stray !

If I were realistic, I'm told, I'd feel depressed
And despair would be the order of the day;
But the sun is out this morning, and the air is clear and cold,
And the daffodils are out along the Stray !

So you moan about the Centre, you fret about the rates,
And the broken paving-stones along the way;
You'll forgive me if I turn my mind to more important things,
Like the daffodils that bloom along the Stray.

Yes, I know these daily trials are enduring facts of life,
The dragons we are called upon to slay;
But we fight with better courage when our spirits are sustained
By the daffodils that bloom along the Stray.

And when the strife is over, and we know as we are known,
And the trivial cares of living fall away,
Do you think that Gabriel's horn will furnish half so brave a sight
As that blaze of golden trumpets on the Stray ?