Let’s move to Ripon, North Yorkshire: where all seems right in the world

There’s a flawless cityscape, damn fine tearooms and even an ancient hornblower

What’s going for it? One can snigger at local customs – you know, the Ye Olde Knee-Painting Ceremony of Nuneaton, that kind of thing. But I think there’s something just fabulous about Ripon’s ancient hornblower, who blows his horn (stop sniggering at the back) at the four corners of the obelisk in the Market Square, every night at 9pm. First of all, someone still bothers to blow a horn four times every night, even when it’s throwing it down, even when there’s something good on the telly. Second, I do love a custom that takes us back to a distant past, when much of the country was ruled by Vikings and Danes. Alfred the Great is said to have given the horn to the people of Ripon to be blown for reassurance that no pesky Vikings were lurking, poised to pillage. These days the horn has its own website, YouTube videos and everything. It says much about this handsome, independent city of ancient history, modern twists, a flawless cityscape and damn fine tearooms. All seems right in the world here under the bunting on Kirkgate, which, considering all is very much not right in the world, is quite an achievement. One thing’s for sure: when the hornblower stops blowing, the end is nigh.

The case against Some might find it a bit dull. There’s local culture aplenty, but not enough to keep the cool cats among you satisfied. Where do you think this is, Halifax?

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