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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You can always tell a Yorkshireman - but not much

Last night's Richard Macer documentary on BBC Four was about Milner's, a tiny department store in the Yorkshire Dales town of Leyburn. Milner's specialises in garments with elastic waists for farmer's wives in their sixties and fitted curtains and blinds for their houses. The film, which is one of a short series, was also about the always poignant business of generations changing hands. Here boss David Milner had to be driven towards retirement to allow his daughter and son-in-law to take over.

But what kept me glued was its unflinching depiction of that readiness to squabble that seems so much part of the disposition of a lot of people in Yorkshire. David and his family were capable of arguing about the most trivial matters. The angle of a light, the precise wording on an invoice, the number of chairs they needed for their fashion show. All families can do that. But only in Yorkshire are people so determined to pursue their point no matter how much embarrassment is caused that they are prepared to let a man with a camera stand right between them as they have a raging fight about a matter so trifling that it's clear it's merely a cipher for a struggle that goes much deeper.

I'd recommend "The Department Store", particularly for anyone who's enjoyed the films of Molly Dineen.