Tom Wrigglesworth - why I moved to the Peak District

Tom Wrigglesworth

Tom Wrigglesworth - Credit: not Archant

In the first of his new series of regular columns, the Sheffield-born comedian recalls how he (almost) moved back home

It all started about June 2015, at least that’s when I first felt it. It’s possible that something was already bubbling under the surface way before then, like a twinge in the knee that you know one day will require surgery, but in my mind it was June. At the time I was happily living in east London, had been for the last 10 years and had spent a lot of time in cafes with inner city poverty to my left, the financial power house to my right, and an over priced, exotically named coffee in front of me.

Working as a stand-up comedian means I do spend my time all over the country, and a typical run of gigs meant I was staying with friends in Bingley, Yorkshire. I was sitting in what I thought was their front garden which, confusingly, was later confirmed to be the back garden. Apparently, one day in the early eighties they took delivery of a large and unwieldy telephone table that was plonked down in the hall and although it opened up channels of communications in one sense, it physically blocked off easy access to the front door and caused the back door to take responsibility of being the main entrance. Imagine that, one piece of furniture completely undermining the architect’s dream and reversing the entire blue print. I suppose if flying cars ever take off, the chimney might one day become the main access point and it’s anyone’s guess what the scraps of land either side of a property will be called. But for now at least, it’s mainly referred to as t’ patio. And it was from here with hills to the left, mills to the right, and my sixth cup of tea in front of me that the bubbling feeling or lightening bolt of realisation came into sharp focus and I realised I wanted to move back to Yorkshire.

A lot of people I know have agonised over a decision like this for months, years even, but due to a heady mix of stubbornness and charisma, I’d managed to convince the wife that a move up North was exactly what was needed. On reflection, I might have just been selfish but nevertheless, five weeks later, contracts were signed and I was navigating tight, dry stoned corners through the village of Hathersage in the biggest transit van I could legally drive. A journey made more terrifying thanks to my risk-taking trait kicking in and deciding not to take the option of waiving the £1,000 damage excess.

Hathersage is not in Yorkshire, so in a sense I’ve not actually achieved my goal, but I’ve always had a flexible relationship with the county boundaries. I was born and raised in an area that until about 80 years ago, wasn’t actually in Yorkshire. In this case, a newly commissioned telephone exchange rather than telephone table was responsible for the seismic shift, at least according to my Grandad. He told me that one day, he and my ancestors were suddenly forced to adopt the prefix ‘Yorkshireman’, having so far flown safely under the radar of geographic stereotypes by living in the personality-ambiguous Derbyshire. Fast forward to now and I don’t think I’ve read a review or description of my work as a stand-up that didn’t contain ‘Yorkshireman’ in the first 10 words.

But in my mind, Hathersage is close enough, you can easily see Yorkshire from its stunning vantage points, and its industrial roots germinated from the steel industry so you can’t get more Sheffield than that. Also, I get my broadband from Plus Net and my Yorkshire tea drinking levels have returned to a regionally acceptable level of no less than 15 cups a day, so you really can’t accuse me of not trying. And all in all, it’s good to be back.

You can follow Tom on twitter at @tomwriggleswort