Dear Reader - Fear and Loathing in Harrogate

Graham Chalmers.
Graham Chalmers.
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By Graham Chalmers

It may feel like an eternity since we last saw summer sun but the glow of last year’s Tour de France weekend shows no signs of fading.

Who would have thought, for instance, that Harrogate would be the star of a BBC Radio 4 show inspired by ‘gonzo’ journalist Hunter S Thompson?

Recorded in the town during the day of The Grand Depart, Fear and Loathing in Harrogate aired to the nation on Sunday night and featured, among others, John Cooper Clarke and Phill Jupitus.

Not that it came as a surprise to me. For my wife, Mrs Chalmers, who’d volunteered to be a Tour Maker, was standing right beside them on Ripon Road on the big day purely by chance.

Being at the right place at the right time is a key skill for a journalist. I like to think it’s one I can claim.

For example, by good luck I was in Berlin the weekend The Wall was first breached.

I once had a half-hour chat with The Beatles’ first manager after I spotted him waiting for a plane at St Petersburg airport.

And, last year, I bumped into ex-Coronation Street actor Reece Dinsdale.

Sometimes it feels like the authorities look on the motor car as the enemy, a strange state of affairs bearing in mind the authorities probably rely as much on their cars as we do on ours.

I mention this after making the epic 11-mile journey to Ripon to watch a movie at the weekend.

The Harrogate Odeon was closer but the Curzon in Ripon is a fantastic cinema. More importantly, the film I wanted to see wasn’t showing anywhere else.

All-in-all I’m glad I made the trip except for one thing. The parking.

I had to drive in and out of three different car parks before I found one which permitted me to stay long enough not to have to leave before the end.

And I had to pay. On a Sunday. How I envied the title character of the film in question - Birdman.