January 17th, 2019 –a sad day for Calderdale for our speakers, Peter Thornton and Ray Riches, the Powell and Pressburger of the Calder Valley, announced their retirement from film-making.
But not before they had given themselves a very fine send-off and U3A Todmorden a double act worth a guinea a minute.
Peter remarked that they usually got decent audiences because people had heard how many cock-ups they made. By the end of the afternoon, it was clear what they really meant was they were masters of badinage, anecdote and bonhomie.
What more would you expect from men whose walks through, round and over the valleys, hills and moors of Calderdale, be they rural-urban or urban-rural, habitually begin with a toasted tea-cake and end with a pint?
Since 2000 when they produced their seminal ‘A Walk on t’Cut’ followed the next year by the equally aptly named ‘A Walk on t’Long Cut’, they have made a range of local films.
These have included, randomly, the Brontes, the Mary Towneley Loop, Halifax, the Luddenden Valley, Shibden, and Hebden Bridge. And, of course, Hardcastle Crags (home of the tongue-twistingly difficult ‘Great Northern Hairy’ – and aggressive – ‘Wood Ant’).
Their last outing with the camera encompassed Ray’s beloved Heptonstall and Colden in which they highlight empty farmsteads, Barbara Miskin’s pottery, Colden village, Lumb Bank, Dawson City, bellringing and the famous Pace Egg Play – cue Ray’s revival of his role as St George.
Memorable Thornton and Riches lines might include Ray’s remark about taking direction from the camera man on an obscure track on the way to Rishworth: ‘Go through them brambles, he said’. And May’s Aladdin’s Cave in Colden was ‘the smallest supermarket in the world’.
They tried to elicit the secret of black pudding making from a master pudding maker. The reply was a cracker of Lancashire humour: ‘I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.’ (And doubtless that would have resulted in a vintage pud.)
Explaining to a gentleman in Luddenden that they were making a film about the valley, their interlocutor was dumbfounded. ‘Why?’ he said.
All the same, a good question.
Simple answer. If you are making films about then and now, your own films become the then of the future and contribute to the richness of Calderdale’s local history, identity and self-belief. Not much could be more important.
Ray and Peter are two men who have richly filled their days in a land they love. The Valley will, surely, want to congratulate them on and thank them for their valuable, life-enhancing work, and wish them a happy ‘retirement’ from the camera.
U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, February 21st, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45.
Our speaker will be Philip Caine whose topic will be ‘From Barrow to Baghdad and Back’.
Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), firstname.lastname@example.org(email), or 01422 886021 (phone).