CHURCHGOERS, St Michael’s, Carleton Village, Pontefract 1991.

I was driving through the village of Carleton one Sunday morning when I noticed these three ladies walking towards St Michael’s church. After parking up, I explained that I was currently putting together a collection of photographs of local people for an upcoming exhibition. 

The lovely lady in the beret asked, “Oh, do you mean you’re taking photographs of local characters?”. Before I could reply, her friend in the middle of the shot barked, “May I remind you all that there aren’t any characters left in this district since my father died.”

I didn’t have the heart to contradict the leader of the gang to let her know that, among others, I’d recently photographed the following gentlemen in the space of a few months:

  • ‘Mad Frank,’ who, when he wasn’t squatting like an Apache Indian whilst smoking a roll-up, could be seen in the town centre dressed like a chicken;
  • Paul ‘Fuff’ Schofield, whose latest craze and ambition at the time was to juggle his multi-coloured balls whilst riding a unicycle under the influence of LSD;
  • Ken ‘Tonto’ Booth, whose mode of dress was more akin to John Wayne’s classic western movies than the current fashions and style of modern day Pontefract;
  • Tony Cramer, a man who allegedly counted the Kray twins among his acquaintances, and whose idea of sartorial elegance was to wear a T-shirt displaying two fornicating pigs under the caption, Makin’ Bacon;
  • Adrian, whose vocal gymnastics and pirouetting through the streets of the town could be seen and heard before, during and after the opening hours of the licensed premises he loved to frequent so much;
  • Big Red, a bearded mountain of a man who wore a grass skirt and once claimed to be a horse.

So, I can only say that if the lady who claimed there were no characters left in the district since her father died was right, he must have been a sensation and the cause of a bleedin’ riot at the annual village garden party.