Dear Reader column

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.
The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

By Graham Chalmers

Once upon a time an Englishman’s home was his castle, now it’s more like his theme park.

A humble house on St Andrew’s Walk in Harrogate is currently attracting hundreds of visitors, as it’s done every Christmas for quite a few years.

I say humble, well this semi-detached off Knaresborough Road is humble in most ways except one - its festive lights.

Forget the Griswalds (a reference to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, for people not familiar with the movies of Chevy Chase), the Borehams have covered their house in a dazzling display - an incredible 16,000 lights in total.

It may be the season of peace on earth and goodwill to all men but, in another way, Christmas truly is the great leveller.

While it’s impossible for all of us to boast of having the most expensive postcode, you can have the best Christmas House.

I had to laugh at the Old Bell Tavern the other week - I had no choice.

Myself and fellow colleagues from the Harrogate Advertiser were having a ‘pre-match’ drink at this superb traditional pub before heading off on our annual Christmas ‘do’.

As anyone who knows me well will testify, I’ve never exactly been in the advance guard of the social media revolution, though I do tend to catch up eventually. But even I felt capable of sending a quick text while ordering a round of drinks at the bar.

“I’m not serving you unless you put your mobile phone away,” the manager told me.

I looked him squarely in the eye. It was a Mexican stand-off or a Belgian wheat beer one in this case.

The last time I’d seen that look was on the five-a-side pitch when an opponent reacted fairly badly to another one of my appalling ly dirty tackles.

The manager wasn’t joking. The dilemma was simple - send a trivial message in the cyber world or buy a drink in the real one.