A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers
Saturday afternoon in Harrogate town centre was particularly miserable, dank and dreich.
Whether you agree with the political points they were making or not, it must say something about the times we live in that not one but two local campaign groups were out in the cold, canvassing shoppers.
On one side there was a mini gazebo containing members of North Yorkshire For Europe, the locally-based anti-Brexiteer group.
A couple of yards away, lay another mini-gazebo gaving some shelter to members of the Save The Pupil Referral Service.
Not a name that rolls of the tongue but what they are campaiging about involves real lives, those of young people with a range of problems who receive specialist education.
Or, at least, they did.
But the afore-mentioned PRUs are now under threat of closure by North Yorkshire County Council.
In particular this will effect Grove Academy in Harrogate.
The age of austerity may be officially over at Parliament but there’s no signs of the financial squeeze easing on the ground.
North Yorkshire County Council’s deputy leader was quoted this week as saying he would welcome more cash from the Government.
But he added a caveat. Society would, he said, have to get used to a new culture of “working together and looking after their own.”
Perhaps tight times have continued so long, most people have taken the slogan “keep calm and carry on” to heart.
The lonely band of protesters in Saturday afternoon’s drizzle think they know a better way.
I spent a pleasant hour nursing a couple of Americanos recently in one of Harrogate’s new breed of independent cafes. Not everyone has heard of No 35. It only opened earlier this year , tucked away on the corner of a major traffic intersection between Cheltenham Parade and Kings Road.
I hadn’t meant to be there at all but when I booked my car for its MOT in an independent Harrogate garage on Ripon Road I had no real idea where it was - or just how long Ripon Road goes on for.
The garage itself was fair enough, a real hive of activity.
But it felt like a fridge inside and there was no waiting room.
I’d sooner brave the cold while walking, I thought, so I walked and walked until I found somewhere worth stopping for.
Sipping my coffee in No. 35 I realised I’d managed to go quite a distance with no obvious signs of strain on my new pair of hips from Harrogate Hospital.
Next up, Parkrun before Christmas! Five kilometres round the Stray will surely be a proper test?
Mind you, I’m probably banned after the sentiments I expressed in an old column about the effect of running shoes on the daffodils round the Stray.
You know what? I wouldn’t blame them.