A WELL-known former businessman who splits his time between England and France has put pen to paper to examine the countries’ contrasting cultures.

Thomas Black takes an affectionate look at life on both sides of the Channel in Vive La Difference: Lu et Approuvé.

And the book opens a new chapter in unconventionality.

Individual sprigs of lavender and heather are attached to the front cover.

An envelope contains an array of French memorabilia, including an old coin.

And there are pertinent, hand-written comments in the margins from Thomas’ son Ben and his friend Graham Gilbert.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this book,” said Thomas, former joint chairman of Peter Black Holdings, which was one of Keighley’s biggest employers.

“It is an affectionate, if at times outspoken, look at the very idiosyncratic French way of life.

“I hope very much that the book strikes a chord with everyone who enjoys life in either Yorkshire or France.

“I’ve been lucky enough to absorb both cultures and to appreciate what they have to offer.

“Hopefully I convey this enthusiasm and love of life in my book. I believe I do.”

Thomas – who when not at his home in Ilkley stays at Tarn, south-west France – is delighted with the book, whose full title is a reference to the French expression which translated means Read and Approved.

“It is certainly unconventional with the photos in the envelope, tear stains, the botanical flourish on the front and the not-always-kind comments in the margins from Ben and Graham,” he said.

“It’s thinking out of the box – and all the better for that.

“I don’t think anyone has created anything quite like it!”

Thomas is also proud that whilst much of the book is about France, it is a totally Yorkshire production.

Companies involved included Primary Colour Graphic Design of Baildon, Guiseley-based Highlight Type Bureau, Fretwell Print and Direct Mail of Keighley and Smith Settle Printing and Bookbinding of Yeadon.

Thomas, a keen anti-litter campaigner whose films promoting the message have proved an internet hit, is ploughing all profits from the book into further initiatives.

Vive La Difference retails at £27.50 and is available on Amazon and from Thomas@blackfamilyinvestments.co.uk.