The first recorded Lord Mayor of York took office in 1217.
Yet we are sure that an interview with the present Lord Mayor released this month is the most bizarre in the 799-year history of this hallowed office.
And the most entertaining.
The interviewer: Richard Herring. The interviewee: Cllr Dave Taylor, Lord Mayor of York since May. The venue: the Rotunda on Parliament Street during the Great Yorkshire Fringe.
Stand up star Richard recorded the chat in July as part of his very popular Leicester Square Podcast series, and the result was released at the start of October.
Born in Pocklington, Richard describes himself as “the world’s most famous York City supporter apart from Guy Mowbray” in his introduction.
Then he introduced Cllr Taylor as “a man best known for the IT work he did in Warrington”.
What follows is Richard asking some very strange questions, and the Lord Mayor showing refreshing humour and honesty in his answers.
You can listen to the full thing below but here are a few highlights… (Warning: much stronger language than you’d usually expect from a Lord Mayor.)
Listen to it all
The punk, green mayor
6 mins 30 secs
Richard begins by comparing the Lord Mayor’s distinctive hairstyle as a “reverse mohican”. And he goes on to compare his and Dave’s different attempts to reclaim Nazi iconography, Dave as a punk rocker in a band called Untermensch, and Richard for wearing a Hitler moustache for a year for a comedy show.
9 mins 10 secs
Dave confirms he is the first Green Lord Mayor and since he took office “the environment’s gone to shit”. Richard agrees: “God definitely hates York, right, because he blew up the Minster that time” and then sent the floods last Christmas.
Mark Addy and Lord Mayor Dave Taylor were excellent value. Thanks to them both for putting themselves through the experience!
— Richard K Herring (@Herring1967) July 26, 2016
10 mins 59 secs
Although Dave concedes that the role of the Lord Mayor is largely ceremonial, it can help get things done. “Power can sometimes be illusory, can’t it? You can wave your bling about and say, ‘I think we should do such-and-such’ and hope people pick that up.”
Richard replies: “If you turn up with that hat and the chains – especially if there’s nothing else – people will do what you say.”
13 mins 10 secs
Dave tells the story of his one ‘green’ journey as Lord Mayor, when he and the civic party swapped the limo for a bike.
“Six of us on a bike, cycling up to the University of York… fucking long way I can tell you. I don’t think we’re going to do that again.”
I’m going to bomb Rochdale
Admitting that he hails from Rochdale on the wrong side of the Pennines, Dave explains that he came here in to York in 1993 on a temporary IT contract for York city council. But this is the city with a reputation for causing “the death of ambition”.
“A lot of people come here and they say, ‘this is great. Maybe I’ll just leave the next step on my career ladder, stay here and just coast a bit…’,” says Dave. “Twenty-odd years later I’m the fucking Lord Mayor of York!”
“Do they let anyone be Lord Mayor in York?” asks Richard. “Next year I’m going for it. I’m going to get nuclear weapons in York and I’m going to bomb Rochdale.”
17 mins 40 secs
Does the previous Lord Mayor have to be dead before a new one takes over, muses Richard? “Or do you regenerate into the next one? They seem to have gone Sylvester McCoy this year…”
Richard has a list of emergency questions he asks his interviewees when the chat starts to flag.
“This could be on the front of the York Press tomorrow,” Richard says, before launching into a question that we’re not going to put into print (but you can here it at 19 mins 14 secs).
It concerns whether the Lord Mayor has ever attempted a particular physical act. “I have a terrible bad back,” is Dave’s diplomatic reply.
29 mins 33 secs
In another emergency question, the Lord Mayor of York was asked to choose between a hand made of ham, that he could snack on, or an armpit that dispensed suncream. He chose the ham hand.
34 mins 48 secs
Cllr Taylor plugs his special Great Yorkshire Fringe show, the Lord Mayor’s Secret Ball.
“I thought you had a secret testicle you kept somewhere else,” Richard confesses. “I thought it was going to be a very different story: ‘I’ve got my two normal testicles and my secret Lord Mayor testicle…'”
The art strike
35 mins 47 secs
Richard asks Dave about the ‘art strike’ staged in summer 2015 that he took part in.
“We managed to piss off the York Museums Trust considerably last year,” said Dave, explaining the action taken against the introduction of charges at York Art Gallery.
“At the end of the day, the council threw a bit more money at the Museums Trust. So some poor people now can get in for free. And some young people up to the age of 25 can get in for free.
“But everybody else has is paying £7.50. Unless you’re a York resident and you buy this museums card, and then you can get some money off.”
“So that sounds like a successful strike,” says Richard.
40 mins 50 secs
Another emergency question – “Would you prefer to have a tit which dispenses talcum powder, or a finger that can travel through time?”
Dave doesn’t know what he’d do with all that talcum powder. But he has always wanted to travel through time, even if it was just his finger that could go. This leads into a discussion about the old telly time travel show Quantum Leap.
There is then another question, relating to a rumour involving former PM David Cameron and a pig, that we won’t transcribe here, but you can catch it at about 44 mins and 20 seconds.
46 mins 10 seconds
Richard thanks the Lord Mayor for being his guest on the podcast. Cllr Taylor describes says the experience “probably is the weirdest thing I’ve done this year”.
Richard says he wishes Dave was the Lord Mayor of Shepherd’s Bush in London where he lives. “One day – today York, tomorrow Shepherd’s Bush!” says Dave.
46 mins 30
Do you think York should have the bones of Richard III, asks the host? “Bloody too right they should! Bloody Leicester??” responds York’s Lord Mayor.
“If some tourist came here from Leicester and got murdered would we keep his body? What was all that about?”
Maybe we should do that, suggests Richard. The Lord Mayor of York is adamant though: “We shouldn’t murder tourists from Leicester.”
Robin Hood was also from round here, Richard says – “they nick everything off you. And you just sit back and take it. Come on, let’s rise up York!
“We should not accept that York City went down last season. They should turn up and play in League Division 2…”
And with that suggestion, and a deserved round of applause for Cllr Dave Taylor, Lord Mayor of York, the podcast is over.