Dear Reader - Those grumbles over UCI cycling + Harrogate's greatest event

One of the world's greatest-selling authors, James Patterson signing books for fans in Harrogate.
One of the world's greatest-selling authors, James Patterson signing books for fans in Harrogate.

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

While the rest of the world competes for the lucrative honour of hosting the UCI Road World Championships, having secured it, Harrogate appears to be in two minds about wanting it now.

Everyone realises this is a great opportunity for the town - and district - even more than the glorious Tour de France weekend of 2104 was.

But the causes behind the concern of some people are not hard to fathom.

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Partly, it’s cycling-fatigue, especially among those for whom lyrca and peletons hold little appeal.

Mainly, however, it’s the thought of disruption and road closures not for a weekend but for nine whole days.

In our heart of hearts, we all know the UC is going to provide a huge opportunity.

But I think it is possible to welcome the event while, at the same time, worrying about its effects on daily life.

That isn’t the same as sitting on the fence or, in this case, handle bars.

So I say bring it on.

Let’s not turn a giant positive into a weary negative.

Let’s give a proper Yorkshire welcome to the UCI Road World Championships and the administrators, fans and famous riders when they arrive from every cycling nation on the planet.

Then let’s cross our fingers that it’s a good long while before they return.

I have to say I have sat behind many famous celebrities in my time.

John Cleese and the cast of the hit movie A Fish Called Wanda, to name one.

David Byrne of rock band Talking Heads and his family.

Roland Gift of 80s popsters Fine Young Cannibals.

I even sat just inches from actress Britt Ekland once, close enough to touch her long blonde hair. Don’t worry, I didn’t.

Last Thursday saw luck strike again when I found myself at Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival’s award night in the Old Swan Hotel sitting not very far at all from bestselling Scottish author Val McDermid.

Presented by broadcaster Mark Lawson, the highlight was the acceptance speech by American author James Patterson after receiving the Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.

Witty, clever and cool, it was like something out of the Academy Awards - on a good night.

To be fair, the atmosphere was so great it could have been at the Academy Awards.Well, almost.

Then, this hugely popular event has been a success from the very first turn of the page.

This year it did seem to hit a new level of great, however.

Presented by Harrogate International Festivals, it has become a truly world class event.

Its relaxed mix of an intelligent appreciation of literature with a sense of fun simply works.

I even got the chance to have a chat with Ian Rankin, the writer who invented Rebus.

Not that there was anything special about that at this event which is now in its 16th year.

Crime writers seem to be more at home with their fans than any other kind of artist.

That alone makes our Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival special.

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