'It was not until he was dead and I was forty that I realised my father was once in Holy Orders,' Roy Hattersley tells us in the opening pages of A YORKSHIRE BOYHOOD; so setting the tone for an elegant, continually surprising book. A somewhat precocious only child, Roy grew up surrounded by protective, ever-anxious adults, equally determined to expose him to books and to shield him from germs -- second-hand books were decontaminated by a sharp session in the oven. Uncle Ernest, a timber merchant's clerk celebrated for his skill at 'fretwork and the manipulation of Indian clubs'; a ten-year feud with the next-door neighbours; unwavering devotion to Sheffield Wednesday - all the pleasures and pangs of northern working-class childhood are magnificently evoked as Roy Hattersley takes us through the hardships of the Thirties and the Blitz; and into the 1940s, the 11-plus examination and Grammar School. Completely updated, A YORKSHIRE BOYHOOD is an autobiographical essay of unusual wit, eloquence and candour.
Lord Hattersley of Sparkbrook was a Labour MP for over thirty years, and served in each of Harold Wilson's governments as well as Jim Callaghan's Cabinet before becoming deputy leader of the Labour Party in 1983. He is now an award- winning journalist and author.