On April 1st, 1974, the historic county of Yorkshire ceased to exist. A victim of the Boundary Commission and the Local Government Act, it became a name without an object, snipped into pieces to be stitched together with remnants of its former rivals. Roy Hattersley, a native of my home town, Sheffield, and who later became the British Foreign Secretary and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, wrote an elergy, Goodbye to Yorkshire (Victor Gollancz, 1976). Part historical and cultural guide to the county, but larger part autobiography, the book looks back to the Yorkshire of Hattersley's boyhood, telling of brass bands, foundries, Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, non-conformity and socialism.
In 1974 Roy Hattersley was a little older than I am today. He viewed the county's loss of identity with sentimental acquiescence. In 1974 I was 15 and to me it was an outrage. Years later, when I read Goodbye to Yorkshire, Hattersley almost convinced me that the political entity didn't matter as much as the spiritual one. But I also learned how different my Sheffield, and my Yorkshire, were to Hattersley's, a quarter of a century on. In this hypertext web of autobiographical fragments, I follow some threads of my life between 1968 and 1977, from age 9 to 18, and though few of those fragments are about Sheffield, the links I offer into that web illustrates how my world was different from Hattersley's. Here he describes a British institution of his day - the eleven-plus:
The eleven-plus was virtually invented in Sheffield by the Labour Councillors who had formed the City's government since before I was born. On two mornings every May, the so-called brightest and the supposed best were selected for a superior sort of education. The 'scholarship' was designed to give the working class a chance. It was the scholarship that had sent me off in green cap and blazer to the Sheffield City Grammar School... The idea of giving boys and girls like me a 'secondary education' could only have come to extra-ordinary men and could only have been made reality by extra-ordinary politicains. Time has altered the enlightened judgement about what equality really means. We know now that competition between the determined suburbs and the demoralized slums is hardly competition at all, and nothing to do with equality..." (Goodbye to Yorkshire, p 183)Note: Every fragment of this autobiography provides two hyperlinks to other fragments. On this page, the links, " eleven-plus" and "Sheffield", lead to pages that say more about those two subjects in my life. So your path through this tangle is determined by your choice of link at each page. It's stream of consciousness autobiography -- the associative links reflect my stream of consciousness, but the choice of one or the other reflects yours!