By Helen Gavaghan. Posted Saturday 25th May 2019.

There were majorettes in the streets of Todmorden this morning. Just opposite Lidl. Todmorden Brass Band in bright blue uniforms took their place at the head of the parade. Perched on a wall a citizen journalist shot the scene. Parked up to my right West Yorkshire fire brigade waited to bring up the rear. I waved. They waved back cheerfully. A drum beat sounded. A couple of bored looking police officers checked the road was closed. Did they not understand how momentous what was about to happen was? Only a week before I had careened round a corner in Halifax well nigh colliding with members of a West Yorkshire Police Brass band headed away from the centre. They had just played at a ceremony commmorating the Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding).

Today's small parade mattered just as much. The mayor and his consort followed the band, as it walked smartly, but silently, down the Burnley Road. When would the bugles start to blow? There was the Judo club, and there the obligatory food "bank" van. Not sure which charitable dispenser of food it was. Are you not marching, I asked one of the staff (or she might have been an owner) from an Indian or Pakistani take away? "I do enough marching in there," she said, gesturing to the shop. By now the road was open again, and I caught the bus back to Mytholmroyd.

Last night we had a Beetle Drive in the village, and raised money for a homeless charity. Meanwhile the Crane still dominates the landscape in that part of the Valley. The Environment Agency is remodelling the centre of the Village, following the floods which ravaged the Calder Valley in 2016***. Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Sowerby Bridge. Flood waters swept the Valley with unnerving ferocity. I still have the video footage on my phone which I shot when Burnley Road become a river. I still sense and feel in memory the power in that water. Three and a half year's later the Brass Band marches in Todmorden. And on the 16th June there will be a Marching Brass Band Competition through Hebden Bridge.

Eat your heart out, King Canute!


***The flood was, of course, the end of 2015. A typo by me, which I ascribe to getting used to my new keyboard. I shot the footage of the Burnley Road as a river from the wall at the side of the Fire Station in Mytholmroyd. I, like my neighbours, was cut off, and I could not get to visit a sick family member. Others had their own worries.

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