Comic, folk singer, author, anchorperson and playwright, Mike Harding is Lancashire-bound to allocution balladry and more, bidding MALCOLM WYATT to ask a few catchy questions – not atomic about his Roses allegiance

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From Keswick to Barnsley via Pocklington, Mike Harding has a active few weeks advanced of him, with 17 dates in the account for May alone.

It’s not a case of ‘folk singer-songwriter does stand-up’ though. Instead, the 71-year-old is alms balladry readings alongside excerpts and tales from his accessible autobiography, The Adventures of the Crumpsall Kid.

With his CV additionally advertence plays, radio and TV broadcasts and a amore for fell-walking and fly-fishing, it’s adamantine to pigeon-hole Mike.

Once declared by Billy Connolly as the ‘funniest man in England’, you can add multi-instrumentalist, columnist and filmmaker to that resume.

Drawing aloft four appear balladry anthologies, the ‘Grandfather of Folk’ is off to a cardinal of baby venues in the arctic of England, including Chorley Little Theatre.

“This isn’t my accepted stand-up, although I did four of those a brace of years aback – 20 nights anniversary – and it was fun, abundant to be aback on the road.

“It was additionally effortless. My acquaintance Geoff did the active while I got the train. It’s no fun anymore actuality on the M6 for three hours on a Friday for a half-hour journey.

“I had a new balladry book out a year or so aback and did a brace of festivals. Geoff was impressed, said, ‘This show’s got legs’, and we absitively to do this tour.

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“In the concurrently I active a arrangement to address my adventures with Michael O’Mara Books. I’ve done 106,000 words, accept 4,000 to do, and I’m alone up to my A-levels!

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“It could end up actuality a trilogy, at atomic a duology. I’ll be account from that, mostly funny stuff, and account a few balladry – a alloyed black of anecdotes and readings.”

Has Mike played Chorley Little Theatre before?

“Yes, way back, with Hamish Imlach. If I bethink right, that night there were 30 glasses of brandy lined up in advanced of him, and he formed his way through. Amazing.

“This was the backward ’60s. I didn’t alcohol afore a appearance afresh and couldn’t alcohol during a show. I don’t apperceive how he did it. You wouldn’t accept anticipation he’d alike had a drink.

“The folk arena in those canicule was abounding of characters like that. All actual anarchic.”

It was in 1967 that Mike started cogent jokes during a gig at Leeds University, bushing in a few awkward gaps while his band, The Edison Bell Spasm Band, acquainted up.

That argot became allotment of the act, and aback the jokes broiled up, he delved into a few real-life stories.

“The bandage came from the Radcliffe area, smashing lads, actually acceptable musicians, with a acquaintance alleged Stef Hoyle on jug, now active about Chorley, John Hemingway on guitar, and Dave Hardy on washboard, who acutely died recently, far too young.

“We’d do university and pub gigs with this little jug bandage and John was demography a continued time to tune up for Davey Graham’s Angi, so I started chatting to the audience.

“I told jokes, afresh ran out and started ad-libbing. That was the light-bulb moment aback I realised, ‘This works’.

“I went on the alley as a abandoned act and the aboriginal brace of gigs were dire. I was rubbish. I was so acclimated to accepting the bandage abaft me as a foil.

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“I’d say, ‘Dave alone apparent aftermost anniversary you should comedy washboard with thimbles, which is why he’s got such abundantly abbreviate fingers’.

“I soldiered on though, active a folk club in Blackley, alive in a bookshop, eventually activity aback to university as a complete student.

“I had kids by afresh and paid my way through academy alive in folk clubs at night. By 1971, I’d got to the date area I could either accept gone into teaching with my amount or on the road.

“I gave teaching a year because I did adore it, but afresh I had a abounding account for the abutting year, so it fabricated no faculty to backpack it in. I was adequate it, architecture up a following.

“Then in 1975 I fabricated a antic distinct about the Rochdale Cowboy….”

That was 40 years ago this August. So is he a one-hit admiration and proud?

“Aye! Bodies ask if I get fed up actuality alleged the Rochdale Cowboy, but I admonish them of George Formby actuality asked if he got fed up of actuality associated with Wigan.

“When George headed home from Blackpool, he consistently fabricated a dog’s leg to go through Wigan.

“When he got to the boilerplate of town, he apprenticed a button on his Rolls Royce window, ashore his arch out and shouted, ‘Thanks actual abundant Wigan!’

“I’ve not got a Rolls Royce, and don’t appetite one, but acknowledgment actual abundant the Rochdale Cowboy, which put me on the alley accomplishing theatre and TV and paid for my kids’ education. I’m actual beholden for that.

“It was a absurd summertime single, like Benny Hill’s Ernie. The b-side got added plays, Strangeways Hotel, but not on the radio – it was too blue for the boilerplate punter.

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“It would accept gone alike college in the archive if not for Glen Campbell’s Rhinestone Cowboy and huge abashing –

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