I thought it was quite instructive, the comment made by the companionable man at breakfast. He folded the hotel copy of the Daily Mail onto his table and after sharing with me a news item he'd been reading, about cockroaches in a Rochdale hospital, he stood up, faced the door and said, "Oh, well, off to fight another day." To fight another day... he's at odds with it before it's hardly begun.
And I thought it was quite instructive, the comments made by the chatty ladies who'd made and served my breakfast, when I asked them what I could see in a morning in Batley. Silence, then: "Nothing much." Nothing much... they believe that there's little worth seeing in the place where they live and work and have their being.
Here is what I found worth seeing in Batley in just a couple of hours of wandering:
The Irish Democratic League Club, a thriving social centre with links back to Michael Davitt, 'a world figure in the cause of freedom [who] raised his voice and pen on behalf of the oppressed, irrespective of race or creed';
The head office and manufacturing centre for Fox's Biscuits, making Batley people the producers of Rich Tea Creams and Jam Creams, Nice and Ginger biscuits, and those wonderful chocolate Classics, for which a nation is grateful;
A young man wearing elasticated headgear leaning against a side wall of Fox's, on a break, indicating that the company is investing in its local people and training them in time-honoured fashion;
The Neoclassical style civic centre, shining in soft local stone: the Town Hall, a Carnegie Library and Art Gallery facing across a cobblestone square, and below, the imposing Zion Chapel, placing Methodism at the heart of Batley;
Four black huts on the high street, one with door ajar and appearing to contain a scattering of colourful clothes. I wondered if these had some religious significance: prayer huts, for instance, but could not bring myself to ask any passers-by;
The cobblestone crescent sweeping uphill to the railway station, its buildings awaiting some imaginative redevelopment but impressive - as the 1848 station itself - nevertheless;
Big bats at a busy traffic junction on a gothic arch in York Stone, which turns out to be the creation of Chloe Cookson and Rory McNally, a truly jolly and imaginative addition to the town's public space;
A busy Tesco's built on the stepped town centre's lower tier, in a massive space where once a mill perhaps may have stood - impressive footbridge from the high street pavement, a full cafe, a shelf full of Asian film, women's and lifestyle magazines (being ignored by the Asian shoppers), young men driving electric vehicles towing trolleys around the car park;
White and Asian adults passing by peaceably but generally without recognition; white and Asian schoolchildren talking, playing together;
An Assemblies of God Church next to The White Hart, a Working Mens Club and Institute, a couple of Mosques and the union flag flying Wellington pub;
Plenty worth seeing, then, from my perspective; plenty to take with me on the forward journey which turned out to involve some messing about on motorway bridges and recording ghosts [mp3] on a hidden footpath sandwiched between IKEA and the M62, Birstall.