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Sweeping up the Street - Jim Jarratt

Thursday, 19 May 2022

It's 1990. After almost a decade of mixed fortunes, one time Countryside Warden Jim Franklin is still looking for a permanent job! His present employer has just placed him on a 4 day week, and now with a family to provide for, he is struggling to make ends meet.

Lay off is looming around the corner, and after blowing the whistle about MSC schemes in the Guardian, he lives in fear of being 'Restart'ed onto yet another temporary job creation scheme. It's no use dreaming about art and life!

Something's gotta be found – now! A real job! In desperation he applies for the first feasible job he can find – A Street Orderly – which is about as low as you can get! But street cleaning is not what most people imagine it to be, least of all Jim, and what starts out as yet another 'stop-gap' job, ultimately turns out to be the kind of occupation he has long sought!

On the mean streets of CalderVale, Jim finds not only litter, follies, foibles, and eccentricities, but also independence and fellowship in the realities he encounters – Sweeping up The Street!

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About the Author

Jim Jarratt is a writer, songwriter, multi instrumental performer, occasional actor and Northern regionalist with a keen interest in history.

Born in Bradford in 1950 this one time actor and countryside ranger has had a somewhat colourful career, doing Shakespeare at school while playing Working Men's Clubs in a 'beat group' at the tender age of 16! During those years he was active in two youth theatre groups, Barnstormers and the West Riding Youth Theatre where he got a good grounding in performing arts.

After sixth form, Jim spent three years at St Katharine's College in Liverpool. There he fell in love with the then burgeoning local folk scene driven by the Spinners and Jackie and Bridie, but decided against becoming a teacher.

Returning to Yorkshire, Jim spent time in and out of work, gigging here and there as a club performer playing in a Country and Western band! In the mid seventies, he was lucky enough to work with folksinger Bob Pegg of 'Mr. Fox' fame, with whom he appeared on television in 'Secret Diaries' and at the Ilkley Literature Festival.

It was around this time that he began writing his highly distinctive local songs and monologues, some of which were published by the Arvon Foundation in 1975 and showcased on BBC Radio Leeds with the Waggoners Folk Group in Bradford.

Jim began seriously writing in the 1980s when working as a Countryside Ranger, and wrote various features and articles appearing in the Guardian, Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Journal and Pennine Magazine. One of his Guardian pieces, 'Government Surplus' ended up as the centrepiece of the O.U. s foundation course module in social sciences.

His first two countryside guidebooks The Fielden Trail and The Watersheds Walk were published by Smith Settle in 1988, and 1994 saw the publication of his Ivory Towers and Dressed Stones (Cicerone Press), two themed walkers' guides to the follies and curiosities of Yorkshire and Lancashire respectively., which he promoted on YTV's 'Dales Diary' with Luke Casey.

Throughout the nineties and into the millennium, Jim worked as a mobile street orderly with the local council, a job he dovetailed with occasional freelance proofreading, sub-editing for Macmillan Educational and Kogan Page, none of which got in the way of his musical/ theatrical interests. At the end of the nineties, Jim returned to the theatre playing his wide range of musical instruments in local productions of Catherine Cookson's The Fifteen Streets and Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Jim retired from his day job in 2013. He still writes songs and records and sells CDs of his work, having made 16 albums to date, which he promotes with a prolific music video presence on You Tube. He still performs too, folk gigs and not too long ago in 'Dancehall of Dreams', a 'Performance Ensemble' production by Community Arts and Ensemble Theatre guru Alan Lyddiard, which ended up at the Leeds Playhouse.

These days, he spends much of his time consolidating the large amount of written work he has accrued throughout his busy life. Despite this however he still has further writing projects on his 'bucket list!' – there's life in the old dog yet!

Jim lives in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire with his wife, tucked away deep in the Pennine Hills he loves.