CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT : Daring Darren... much too gritty...and cracking up

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The Independent Online
SPLENDID news! A new year, a new hero! An English fast bowler who takes wickets! Darren Gough, Yorkshireman! Corks popped and streamers were flung as giddy congas made their way down streets across the nation in a spontaneous eruption of thankful emotion. Column inches were filled to overflowing, and Darren even got to be interviewed by News at Ten, live.

It was a Yorkshire Man sort of performance, on News at Ten. There was Darren, blond and big and ruddy, not saying much, resolutely unimpressed by all t'fuss. Yorkshire Man is famously unimpressed by anything. It is his defining quality. He is proud of it. The Encyclopaedia Britannica refers tactfully to his "rugged independence of character''. Most of them are descended from Norwegians and Danes, you know, which makes them a bit, well, different.

Nothing wrong with that, in my view. Gaiety, curiosity, delight and impulsiveness are not the only virtues. It is true, though, that some have not taken to Yorkshire Man. Sydney Smith: "My living in Yorkshire was so far out of the way that I was actually12 miles from a lemon.'' Sir Ranulph Twistleton-Wickham-Fiennes refuses to take them on expeditions. Von Ribbentrop lodged with one, and look what happened after that. And there is always Marco Pierre White.

But what has always worried me is the absence of humour. Yorkshire comics? Laurence Sterne, Ernie Wise and Sooty. Lancashire, that's the place for whimsy, I thought. You can be whimsical in a balmy land sheltered by the Pennines. Until I discovered (in this new book, Up North, by Charles Jennings) that Frankie Howerd was a Yorkshire Man. Changes your outlook, does that. Ooh, no, missus. Titter ye not. Appen. Tha knows. Any road, go on, name 10 funny Yorkshiremen.