Dear Reader: I get a pint thrown on me + trouble in Harrogate's Oxford Street

Live music at the Blues Bar in Harrogate - scene of many a Gig Scene review in the 1990s in particular.
Live music at the Blues Bar in Harrogate - scene of many a Gig Scene review in the 1990s in particular.

A weekly column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Over the decades, there haven’t been many things I’ve regretted writing, though there has been the odd spelling mistake along the way, usually in haste.

But I do regret some of the ‘gig’ reviews I wrote in the 1990s as part of Gig Scene.

At the time I thought I was being honest and bold and, hopefully, entertaining.

The singers and bands I was writing about at pubs in Harrogate and Knaresborough and Ripon and Pateley and Wetherby didn’t always see it that way.

In my defence I was new to the game of ‘music journalism’ and determined to make an impression.

Still, I was threatened a few times by angry musicians.

In the process I learned something I should have known already - local journalism isn’t the same as national.

Organisations like the Harrogate Advertiser Series try not throw mud for the sake of easy popularity.

We live and breathe in the communities we serve.

Journalists in the local press are still trained to strict standards, both ethical and professional.

Although times are changing fast, we also resist being drawn into the wild west that exists in much of the online world.

It’s true that like our bigger, more powerful, brothers in London, part of our role is to expose and reveal.

But the essence of local news is supporting the community.

I remember at one point in the rough and tumble days of the 1990s when I would do one or two live reviews each week someone actually threw a pint of beer over me.

I probably deserved it.

Would you walk down Oxford Street in Harrogate after midnight?

It’s the sort of cheap, provocative line the nationals would use without much thought.

As it happens, I do walk down Oxford Street in Harrogate after midnight on the way home occasionally and I have to say I’ve never seen a scrap of trouble.

That doesn’t mean to say there aren’t complaints over anti-social behaviour.

In fact, they’ve been growing over the atmosphere at night-time on this Jekyll and Hyde street which runs from McDonalds and Halifax Building Society at one end, Harrogate Theatre and M&S at the other and The Champagne Concept and Norse restaurant in between.

Concern is such that Harrogate Borough Council and the Police have got involved.

The troublesome gatherings seem to attract youngsters, alcoholics, passing revellers and the homeless.

Who’s to blame is hard to say. Everyone is reluctant, naturally, to create any scapegoats.

Oxford Street is hardly a no-go area but that’s no consolation to the ambitious and high quality businesses who operate there.

When persons unknown start bringing inflatable double bed li-lows to get comfy in the back customer entrance at M&S, something does, probably, need to be done.