IN many northern cities, you can walk past someone in the street and not give them a second thought. Yet the story of how they arrived could fill a book.

Such cities have rich cultural tapestries, and this year sees some significant anniversaries. It is, for example, the 70th anniversary of the ‘Windrush generation’; the first wave of post-war West Indian immigrants who arrived in 1948. Many of those first post-war immigrants were employed in the NHS, public sector and key industries helping to re-build Britain.

This year is also the 70th anniversary of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain. I once interviewed an elderly Ukrainian woman who, as a child, survived the Holodomor, the mass famine in Soviet Ukraine of 1932–33 which killed around seven million people.

Hiding with her family, she lived on berries and the kindness of strangers. As a teenager she was sent to a forced labour camp in Berlin, ripped from her family by Nazi soldiers and bundled into a cattle-truck.

She made a dramatic escape, with the man who became her husband, and the couple settled in Yorkshire after the war. To anyone walking past her, she was just another old lady - yet her life story was remarkable.

As intolerance and division continues to rage, now is the time to celebrate those who endured what many of us can’t even imagine to make this region their home.

NOBODY’S called Thyme, and even if they were, they wouldn’t meet someone called Rosemary. That was my problem with TV’s Rosemary and Thyme, a daft crime drama about a pair of gardening detectives forever unearthing bodies in lavender bushes.

Now there’s to be a second series of BBC1’s Shakespeare & Hathaway, about an unlikely crime-fighting partnership - a hardboiled private investigator and his rookie sidekick - set in, you guessed it, Stratford-upon-Avon.

The nation has an insatiable appetite for crime dramas, and it seems the more contrived the better. Particularly tiresome is ITV’s Marcella, which has a central character so Scandi-Noir it hurts. Marcella isn’t just a detective – she’s a maverick detective. We know this because she stomps around in an over-sized Army coat and chunky knit jumpers resembling hand-me-downs from The Killing’s Sarah Lund. And along with most TV female detectives, she has a “hectic home life”.

Marcella is unlikeable and unlikely. But I guess if she and other TV cops were credible they wouldn’t be worth watching. Crime dramas, even smug, gritty ones, tend to require a generous suspension of disbelief from the humble viewer.

THE food of childhood stays with us. My mouth still waters at the memory of my grandad’s cheese and onion pie.

Now children are invited to share family recipes in a competition, and 50 will end up in a cookbook. Recipes can be passed down, or a new dish a family has created together.

It’s part of a campaign led by the National Literacy Trust, which says children who eat as a family are more confident communicators than those who don’t. Catching up round the dinner table is a valuable aspect of family life, and, it seems, crucial for literacy skills too.