Dear Reader: 'Kim Jong-un' at Knaresborough Bed Race + togetherness matters

Fundraising at last years Knaresborough Bed Race.
Fundraising at last years Knaresborough Bed Race.

A weekly column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

I tend to be loyal to my banks.

In fact, I’ve only had two in the last 30 years or more.

For obvious reasons I can’t tell you I’m with Lloyds.

I like the Harrogate branch partly because the staff are always helpful but mainly because they’re usually chatty and I like to chat.

Which is how I learnt earlier this week that a member of the bank’s staff is bravely taking part in this Saturday’s Knaresborough Bed Race.

This glorious annual event, brilliantly organised by Knaresborough Lions and a small army of volunteers, is the biggest and most popular community event in the whole of North Yorkshire – and the most gruelling for the competitors who hail from Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon and beyond.

My friend in Lloyds was saying she was also preparing to attempt the Three Peaks Challenge shortly – no mean feat.

Still, it was the Bed Race she was really worried about.

For any of the 25,000 people or so who will be watching on Saturday, it’s all about the fun.

Though designed to raise money for charity, the Bed Race also tends to bring out a bit of daftness in everyone.

Inspired by this year’s theme of Heroes and Villains, I hear one of this weekend’s teams is getting ready to don Kim Jong-un masks en masse.

This week I got a glimpse of what might turn out to be all our futures in my own street in Harrogate in the form of a piece of cable.

The thick length of tubing was snaking its way from the front door of a neighbour’s house to the car parked outside, a plug-in hybrid car to be precise, caught in the act of being recharged.

At the moment, driving is still out of the question for me, whether that’s petrol or electric.

I’m getting around mainly by bus, just me and a pair of walking sticks given to me by Harrogate Hospital.

The two simple pieces of wood with the curled ends offer more than practical support.

They’re also quietly symbolic.

By using them, I seemed to have joined a different club, albeit temporarily.

When I’m hobbling onto the cosy single-decker no 1 bus on my way from Knaresborough to Harrogate, pensioners tend to beckon me towards one of those special seats near the front, then start chatting to me.

When I accidentally dropped one of my sticks on the pavement outside M&S last Thursday, a complete stranger stepped in and kindly picked it up before I could say a word.

Perhaps it’s not the internet or sport that’s the great leveller? Perhaps it’s ill health?

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from the whole experience of going into hospital and its aftermath, it’s that everyone really is in the same boat.

In the fast-paced, competitive world we all live in today, it’s possible to try to ignore that idea but it doesn’t stop it being true.