A word in your ear with Jon Rhodes - March 17, 2011

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I received a rather unexpected email the other day and one which instantly brought a smile to my face.

No, it is not the one advertising Yorkshire Airlines – “the airline that flies where it bloomin’ well wants to. . . as long as it’s in Yorkshire” or that one of a tabby cat recreating the classic Christine Keeler chair pose.

No, this was a rather unexpected communication from an old friend of mine, Lovejoy Thorpe MBE.

Lovejoy, because of his love of antiques and ability to sniff out a piece of pottery that would more than “wipe its face” at auction, MBE because he was given one a few years ago by the Queen for services to all things Yorkshire.

Straight talking, wide knowledge of thriftiness, possession of a small-legged dog and an ability to never wave when someone lets them through at road works. You get my drift, a true Yorkshireman.

“Afternoon, Mr Rhodes ... you never know who keeps an eye on folk they knew, or once worked with ‘mate’! I read your A Word in Your Ear most weeks.”

I don’t know what stunned me more, the fact Lovejoy Thorpe MBE still took a keen interest in my weekly witterings, given it is almost 10 years since we worked together, or he still has to mention the M word.

Lovejoy, and I hope he forgives me with such familiarity as using only his first monicker, is one of those people who hates the use of the word ‘mate’.

“Alright mate”, “Get a move on mate” and the scouse classic “what youse looking at. . . mate.”

Given my own Merseyside persuasion, using the word as a general greeting rather than a term of affection is as much part of my DNA as it is for Yorkshiremen of a certain age to get a sudden limp and develop a slowness of the legs when within three yards of a licensed bar.

His protestations and yearning for the correct usage of the word, (after all, this is the man who came up with the phrases “the great unwashed”, presumably to describe anyone who lived outside Yorkshire, and “chemical test pilot” for anyone who may have experimented with something more mind-altering than Tetley Tea (pre-round bags, of course) show no signs of abating.

Anyhow, he was writing to comment on last week’s column about the demise of the tie from the male wardrobe.

He wrote: “I founded the Outrageous Tie Club. I’m president, chairman, secretary and the only member.

“My ties make a statement – they are outrageously colourful and hand painted on Chinese silk by a lady in Derby, who I found on the internet.

“You may remember I once went into work wearing my morning dress – the one I used when I went to Buck House to pick up my MBE.”

I told you Lovejoy was proud of the gong, and so he should be, given it was awarded for his sterling charity work, and no, it was not to raise cash for Yorkshire antique dealers down to their last one million bits of brass in th’ pocket.

A true character and one I am still pleased to call a mate – and not only because it annoys him.