In The Hotseat with Mike Harding

Mike Harding
Mike Harding

After more than 15 years off the road, folk comedian Mike Harding, once dubbed The Grandfather of Alternative Comedy, is taking to the road on a 20-night tour around the country.

A regular at Whitby Folk Week in days gone by, and no stranger to the town’s fish and chips followed by a pint or two in the Elsinore, Mike began visiting the Himalayas for long periods of time trekking and climbing and started writing books about his travels.

His guitar took a back seat but he is back and you can see him at York’s Grand Opera House on Saturday 26 November.

With guitars and more than 40 years of material to draw on, Mike will lead you into his own comic world with stories and songs that have had audiences collapsing with laughter from South Shields to Sydney.

Thanks to the lovely Celestine at the Grand Opera House, editor Jon Stokoe was able to track Mike down in Ireland to ask him this week’s 20 questions.

1 What are your first memories of Whitby?

Coming to the wonderful Whitby Folk Festival in the late 60s and early 70s – I brought the kids too and the whole family had a brilliant time

2 What makes Whitby special to you?

It’s a proper Yorkshire seaside town.

3 Life’s highlight?

My grandsons Toby and Felix now aged 8 and 6.

4 Biggest regret?

Not kissing Sheila Bevin when she asked me to ... we were nine at the time in St Anne’s Primary School, Crumpsall Manchester.

5 What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Irish soda bread toasted

with honey and butter – I’m in Connemara, West Galway at the moment.

6 What is your favourite eating place?

The Little House in Settle.

7 What is your favourite pub?

The Helwith Bridge in Ribblesdale.

8 Where are the best fish and chips?

Forgotten its name – bottom of the Abbey Steps Whitby.

Turn left keep going and it’s on the corner.

Haddock and chips, tea, bread and butter – best in the world.

9 What is your worst habit?

I’m intolerant of right wingers.

10 Where was your last holiday?

I’m in Connemara now – in the rain and mist with two small boys playing with Lego and looking out at the islands off the coast coming and going in the grey murk.

11 When was the last time you cried?

When my youngest daughter was very sick – happily she recovered.

12 What would be your ideal day in Whitby?

Morning on the beach followed by fish and chips, a good sing song in the Elsinore followed by dinner at Bagdale Hall.

13 What was your first job?

In a ball bearing warehouse brewing up and getting in trouble.

14 What is your favourite film?

A Taste of Honey – wonderful story and I was born and bred and buttered in those murky streets.

15 What is your favourite book?

At the moment – The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. It explains perfectly the history of the past 70 years; how we’ve all been duped and exploited by economists and politicians and how they do it again and again.

16 If you won the Lottery, what would you do?

I’d make sure there was enough for my grandkids’ education, buy a VW Spliti Campervan, some more Lego for the grandkids and probably set up some kind of foundation or trust to do with taking kids into the countryside.

17 Dracula or Captain Cook?

Neither – Dracula for obvious reasons and Captain Cook?

Just look what he did for Australia and the Aborigines.

18 What is your signature dish?

Thai curry with king prawns

19 Favourite drink?

Timothy Taylor’s Landlord

20 What would be your epitaph?

At least he tried.