Review of ‘Tales from Litterdale’, by John Morrison

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on (unknown), and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

TALES FROM LITTERDALE
by John Morrison

Perhaps you haven't heard of Litterdale, a small village 'smack in the middle of the Peak District National Park'. Well, before you start looking on the map I should tell you that Litterdale is born of the fertile imagination of John Morrison, in what he describes as 'an attempt to seduce the fickle mistress that is comedy'.

Some might view his seduction technique as typically English. No hurry and the humour never piled on with a trowel, just a subtle style gathering pace as one season follows another around the turn of the millennium. With a sometimes skewed look at Peakland life, he voices real concerns - off-roading and traffic jams for a start, while making amusing observations of people resembling our own neighbours, from pub landlords and female catering staff to tractor drivers and farmers. One of the funniest lines in the book is attributed to the village chemist. As for scruffy Mandy - 'even her laugh is infectious'. In any other village John Morrison's descriptions would be libellous.

The National Park Authority has its critics too. (What, even here in Litterdale?) The author evens things out by putting in a good word and well he might, for the introduction to his book is written by Roly Smith, no stranger to the workings of the real-life Peak District National Park.

Some of the author's off-beat musings almost make sense as he considers such matters as conservation-grade meat, outerwear which 'breathes' and farmers' ideas of Christmas presents for their wives. At one point we are asked who would really want to watch the local amateur dramatic group performing King Lear? After all, in this part of the world we already know what it's like to bring up ungrateful kids in adverse weather conditions. 'All's Well That's Tideswell' might be something to look forward to though! Sharp word-play gives us a village eco-worrier and a TV programme called 'You've Been Farmed'. Could John Morrison be getting something out of his system through the voices of characters like Bob, whose kids 'treat this house like a hotel'? Maybe he even relates to pub regulars who 'tuck their shirt into their underpants' - surely not!

Tales from Litterdale is published by Halsgrove, price £12.95. In local bookshops or to order, quoting ISBN 1-84114-215-8.

Review by Julie Bunting

Ed: 'Tales from Litterdale' is (or used to be) a regular feature in Peak District Magazine (a Dalesman Publication), and for me, one of the best parts of it! It does for Derbyshire's Peak District what the 1970s 'Yes Minister' TV Series did for the Civil Service - that is, make fun of its foibles in the nicest possible way!
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