The Beestonian is: Scott Bennett – Yorkshireman

Beeston-based Stand-up Comedian Scott Bennett, writes the regular “Yorkshireman Speaks” column, normally from the relative comfort of his shed. Insulated, with three power points, electricity and superfast broadband, it’s been the perfect portal to broadcast his ill thought opinions on society.

Scott has worked as a writer for The Chris Ramsey show on Comedy Central and the BBC News Quiz on Radio 4. As a stand-up he has supported Rob Brydon on his nationwide tour. He also writes and produces his own pilots with his supremely talented wife Jemma. Their mockumentary “Caravan of Love” made the official selection for the Beeston Film Festival in 2018. You can also hear his actual voice on the Scott Bennett Pubcast on Itunes, with some other Beestonian regulars.

He’s an English Comedian of the Year runner up and can be found most weekends slogging up and down the nation’s roads, spreading mirth to places as exotic and as far afield as Hull.

Twitter: @scottbcomedyuk
scottbennettcomedy.co.uk

The Beestonian is: Tim Pollard – Robin Hood

Just to be clear, I don’t actually think I’m Robin Hood.

My heroes are James Bond or Captain Kirk but bizarrely Robin Hooding is genuinely my full time job – although it’s more fun than work, meeting incredible people and VIP’s, guiding tours, supporting charities and doing lots of very silly things!

I married my beloved and brilliant wife (and Maid Marian) Dr Sally Pollard in September 2016 but heartbreakingly she died of breast cancer in June 2017, aged just 39 – so these days I concentrate more on bringing up our beautiful four-year old daughter Scarlett than pretending to be a hero – except in Scarlett’s eyes, and now that’s what really counts.

The Beestonian is: Daisy Leverington – Motherhood

Daisy had a baby in 2011. She’s still trying to get over it. Daisy doesn’t think she’s entirely adult enough yet, despite being on the wrong side of 35. She wrote for Standard Issue Magazine for 3 years before Matt granted her honourary citizenship of the Isle of Beeston. She is currently trying to type this while her 6 year old asks her whether colour exists. She doesn’t know. She doesn’t feel like she knows much anymore. Daisy tries to be funny on Scott Bennett’s pubcast but is mostly just tired.

DL

The Beestonian is: Matthew Jones – Co-founder/Resident Don

Matt has lived in and around Beeston for 14 years and founded the Beestonian with Matt. Since then he’s stayed involved with the magazine (can actually almost call it that without infringing any trade description issues!) in one-way or another. He reads it occasionally, and edits the ramblings of Prof J and other contributors from the university. Matt is excited, and secretly a little proud, by seeing the Beestonian take its next steps.

Motherhood #6: Testing Times

Spring is trying to arrive and our 6 year old is in full swing with her SATS exams at school.

A thoroughly pointless hoop-jumping time of year which does little more than assess how well the school teaches kids remember what >, %, £ and < mean and how phonemes can affect common exception words. (Your guess is as good as mine.) My kid thought the symbols were old fashioned emojis but whatever. As much as my husband and I have little motivation to exhaust our anxious little hard-worker, we have been really surprised with just how competitive she’s become. Seriously, she’s like a Year 2 Terminator. Her teacher commented on how she relishes a difficult test sheet and is super happy when it’s exam time. We’re currently looking into hospital records from 2011 to see if we brought the wrong one home.

Given that she cares so much about her assessment results, we have started to jump on the competitive band wagon and have become her cheerleading squad. She delights in telling us that she got 5 out of 5 on her weekly spelling test or all her homework questions correct, and we make a fuss of her hard work each time. We’ve always held the opinion that rewards are for behaviour and effort, rather than results, so we are still careful not to spoil her when she nails a new maths theory. But I want to, I want to launch glitter-canons in the streets and shout about how clever she is, but it’s wound in and packaged as a ‘that’s great babe, you worked really hard on it’ instead.

As parents we have a couple of degrees and a PhD between us, so we were expecting her to do okay at school. She’s one of the youngest in her class, so we were also aware that she would be almost a year behind her classmates, both socially and academically, but she’s overtaken everything we hoped for and is now an Uber Geek of the highest order, and we are (quietly) really proud.

So, little lady, go and smash those exams. Those silly tests which could be better spent outside digging up worms or making dens. If she’s happy, we’re happy. And if you come top of the class, we might just buy you an ice cream on the way home. If it ever warms up.

DL

The Yorkshireman Speaks: Having kids

You’re stressed? Course you are, you’ve got kids!

There is a simple fact that children have a much bigger impact on your quality of life than say smoking or drinking. But when you buy those products there are warnings on the packaging for the consequences to your health. They should do that on the stuff you buy when you are trying to get pregnant, imagine walking into Boots, picking up a packet of Folic acid and on the back is a picture of a couple having a lie in, that would make you abandon the idea in an instant. There are probably other images you could use, but how do you capture in a photograph someone strangling your dreams?

Having children is stressful, there is no doubt about that. But you have to work very hard to not let that stress affect those members of society who haven’t got children and that’s easier said than done, because you despise these people. Watching them dance through their lives without a care in the world, it’s like looking at who you once were; free, happy and blissfully selfish.

“What shall we do today, we have no responsibilities, no ties, don’t you feel energised after that twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep?”

All you want to do is just take your pushchair and ram it into the back of their smug heels, just to release that tension, to bleed the valve on the pressure cooker that is parenting.

But there are many occasions where you can’t contain it, where it explodes, like some sort of social terrorism, here are some of my favourite examples.

The family meal out

Is there anyone who enjoys a meal out with the family? You do it because you feel like you should. The only meal out I enjoy with my kids is when I am in the supermarket, they are hungry and I open a loaf of bread and give them a slice, basically when I treat our kids like ducks, that’s a stress free meal out.

You have visions of that perfect Utopia, the children sitting there happily, with angelic faces, “We’ll eat anything daddy, you know us we are not fussy, order what you like, we are just thrilled to be all together.”

But that illusion is washed away in a tsunami of blackcurrant Fruit Shoot as soon as you walk in the place.

You see the other parents in their own private hell, holding phone screens up to kids’ faces, every time it’s pulled it away the kid starts to scream, it’s like a medic treating a wounded soldier on a battlefield.

There isn’t a table, it doesn’t matter. You find the people who are on their desserts and stand next to them and make them feel so uncomfortable that they speed up, “he’s just looking at that cheesecake, just move!” you help them put their coats on, you basically evict them from that table.

Once the kids are sat down the pressure is on. The first thing is to get the crayons and activity sheets, god forbid that the kids have to occupy themselves for five minutes. Why the obsession with stationary?!?

You may as well just have a picnic in Rymans.

When the waiter arrives you’re just angry.

“Are you ready to order guys?”

Course you’re ready to order, you were ready last Wednesday, you just wish they’d stop wasting time. You begin to lose your temper:

“When you bring the food, just bring the bill too, this hell needs to end. In fact, forget the cutlery or plates mate just get the chef to pop out of the kitchen with a catapult and fire the food directly into our miserable mouths!”

The waiter just stands there stunned, it’s all so awkward. This tension isn’t helped by the fact that you are so ashamed that you have left that table in such a disgusting state, that they only have two choices, claim on the insurance or set fire to it.

Find The Scott Bennett Podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes.

Somewhere in Beestonia…continued

Somewhere in the University of Beestonia Dr. Chewtaar sighed. It was a long and audible sigh directed towards his office ceiling, and it had at its center a less audible, but critical, growl. It had been a funny few months and, between him and his ceiling, Ainsley was feeling a little broke.

The spring term hadn’t felt particularly springy. It was particularly daft calling it the spring term this year anyway, having already finished by the time British Summer Time had started (more potential confusion there…), but mulling over it there didn’t seem to be a particularly good alternative. The ‘grey, cold few months when lots of people are a bit miserable’ term didn’t seem particularly catchy, and certainly didn’t fit into the University of Beestonia branding particularly well.  He’d had a Great Aunt called Hilary, he seemed to remember, that was a nice name, and apparently one she’d shared with a French saint …

Reality was returned with a sharp knock on the door. “Sorry to bother you…” for a second Ainsley drifted back to his Great Aunt, he had this vague recollection of her at some odd meal held in honour of an important wedding anniversary of his paternal grandparents, “… could I come and see you some time this week about my coursework?”

Ah the vacation, those long sprawling oceans of free time, which family members and people you meet randomly in shops think you have off because you work in an educational establishment. If only. In fact having them off isn’t the goal, having them free would be good enough. Free to think (?!), create and push back those intellectual boundaries one increment at a time.

“No worries, let me just check my diary,” Ainsley smiled back. In his more cynical moments he remembered that the Office for Students was drilling down into its spreadsheets, making sure the curvature of his smile was above the minimum standard required, but most of the time he enjoyed teaching the students that came each year to the University of Beestonia. They were generally nice kids and kept him on his toes. If all he’d had to do was help them learn and push an occasional boundary a little bit closer to its next increment the term would have been a lot more springier.

 I didn’t get much sleep…

Prof J

Somewhere in Beestonia…

The Office for Students (OfFS); an Orwellian curiosity located within its carbon-neutral, architectural award winning, many windowed new complex down Diagon Alley.

In the penthouse twelve carefully selected volunteers sit around their roundtable overseen by a mysterious and dangerous sounding overlord. Never seen, this Master of the Twelve exists behind a set of beautifully carved wooden doors which if opened eject plumes of green smoke which legend has it will melt you in seconds (the reality is a fairly normal looking fellow sat in front of a bank of spreadsheets – but perception is everything dear reader).

Out of town a renegade band of academics, feeding off scraps of research funding, shelter in dark, cold corners whispering about how they could make themselves heard. “Where is our champion?” they shout into the wilderness, the words swallowed in the wind before anyone can hear them.

This is not a good combination; conflict is inevitable. A war fought on many fronts for the soul of what should be a ‘higher’ education. Or perhaps it’s more than that, battles for actual souls.

Questions remain on both sides however if the enemy is really the other, or if there may be some greater force, a common enemy to which their energies should really be pointed. For a grey, slightly damp, autumn is coming. Hidden behind a wall of call centres and satisfaction surveys, something is stirring; no-one knows what.

It was against this background that Ass Prof Ainsley Chewtaar peddled his way into work one fine winter’s morning. He’d had a reasonable night’s sleep after reviewing some piss poor attempt at a paper that he’d meant to get back to the journal six weeks ago. He was feeling rather smug about his cryptic ‘anonymous’ comments to the authors and slightly lighter in the shoulder area having had a good rant to the editor about how the subject never really progressed, and how these authors in particular should know better.

The story will continue (once I’ve had a bit more sleep)…

“What? Pensions you say? Sorry, no idea mate, is something going off?”…

Prof J

The Yorkshireman Speaks: The only daddy in day care

This month our Yorkshireman talks about being the only daddy at playgroup…

Recently I gave up my day job to follow my dream to be a stand-up comedian. Part of the deal of my wife going back to work was that we would share the childcare. This meant that I was launched into this new world of the playgroup.

I’ve realised that kid’s clubs and playgroups are a lifeline for modern parents. Like the soup kitchens for the homeless or Ikea for couples who like to argue, it’s an essential part of your life.

This is why there are so many kids clubs available, covering all sorts of weird and wonderful activities. You can take your baby for a massage, presumably this is because babies are highly stressed individuals. They probably are experiencing stress levels akin to those of a doctor in the NHS. Just look at their days, they only get 14 hours sleep, someone to dress and bath them, even dinner time is a high-pressure decision, will it be the right breast or the left one? No wonder their Chakra’s are all out of whack. To be clear I am talking about babies here, not doctors.

For the toddlers there is pottery class, painting, and even cake making. Although frankly if you are willing to eat a cake made by a toddler you’re braver than I am. Personal hygiene is never top of their priorities list, I’d rather play Russian roulette with a cat litter tray and a packet of chocolate raisins than tuck into Poppy’s Bakewell tart.

I’ve spoken to so many parents, with their children it’s all about killing time, an hour here, forty-five minutes there, anything to fill the days. This isn’t parenting, it’s the mindset of a prisoner on death row?

At the local playgroup I am the only dad there. My wife said to me before, now don’t you go flirting with all those mummies. Flirting? I’m in a church hall at midday with a hand full of wet wipes and poo under my fingernails, I’m hardly on my A game love.

I have realised that I have quite simply used up all my empathy on my own two children, so I find myself scraping the reserves for other people’s kids.

I found it hard initially. Kids would come up to me, “are you my daddy?” one of them just came and sat on my knee during the biscuit break, which incidentally is one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever witnessed. Children swarming around a plate of chocolate digestives like a pack of lions circling a wounded Zebra. Wet fingers claw at the chocolate, children put back half-finished attempts, with the coating licked off. Other children pick these up like biscuit batons and carry on munching. Within five minutes there is more DNA swapped than a corrupt copper at a crime scene.

What do you do when a random kid sits on your knee? I’m the only dad there and at the time I’d been there only two weeks. It’s a tricky decision, throw them off and look like a bully, allow them to perch there and look like something way worse.

I have realised that I have quite simply used up all my empathy on my own two children, so I find myself scraping the reserves for other people’s kids. I stand there just mentally judging other people’s children and brutally predicting their futures, it’s a game I call Pregnant or Prison.

There are some horrible kids. There’s this one, he’s got a furrowed brow, wears a neckerchief that catches his saliva, which I think is the bile and hate leaving his body. What is it with toddlers? These kids leak, they are like cullenders in dungarees. Some parents don’t attend to the nose, they just leave the kid as it runs into their mouths, recycling this ectoplasm fountain. They run at you and you panic, they may as well be holding a handful of anthrax.

They all fight over this one car. One day my daughter was in it, and this kid came over, the neckerchief down over his mouth, he looked like an outlaw in the wild west and he opened the door and shoved her out.

I was about to go over to this little carjacker, I was ready to bundle him through the window, like an American cop, but just then his mum arrived and gave him a pushchair with a baby in, it’s almost as if she was saying, there you go, you have responsibilities now, sort your life out.

Being at playgroup makes you realise just what a visceral and raw experience parenting actually is.

The place always smells of poo, it always does, I’ve been on nicer smelling farms. I’ve noticed that as a parent you can’t just go up and discreetly look in their nappy, this isn’t the way at playgroup. The correct method is what’s known as the lift and sniff!

I’ve learnt that the main thing to remember with this technique is to be careful not to do this in any doorways where you can bump their heads and secondly, make sure you are always picking up your kid.

You see parents everywhere holding their children aloft like Simba in the Lion King, taking deep breaths, then they put them back down “It’s not mine this time.” But parents develop those skills, they know when it’s the family brand, it’s like a fine wine, “Ahh, this is a 9.35am Farley’s rusk, full bodied, plenty of nose, baked for three hours under corduroy trousers in little tykes’ car.

Forget sniffer dogs to detect drugs at customs, you just need to bring Janice a mother of four from Ilkeston, she’d nail it in a second, she’d just lift up the accused, “The drugs are up his bum, next!”

One week I went, the smell wasn’t coming from the kid, it was traced to one of the Grandma’s, she’d just broken wind and they were just leaking out of her as he walked around the room, but no one had the guts to say anything.

Find The Scott Bennett Podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes

SB

Motherhood #5: Life and Death

2016 and 2017 took some of our best loved celebrities, David Bowie, Charles Manson, Tinky Winky, Glenn and Abraham from The Walking Dead. The list is long. The nation has collectively exhaled and wrung their hands at the losses which seemed to dominate the news.

It’s a strange sadness to mourn the loss of someone you didn’t know personally, a grief which must feel something like a child feels when an adult dies who they didn’t know particularly well. Over the last year 3 of my good friends have died, and my daughter has observed my grief from the sidelines, a news report featuring familiar faces but ultimately unconnected to the emotion which I was trying not to display overtly.

Death is such a huge and unknown quantity, forever is a ridiculous idea linked to thoughts of summer while they wait inside on rainy days or how long it will take until they are allowed pudding. Time is elastic and mouldable, an element they can control with enough pleading and wishing. Forever is laughable. Mummy getting upset because she misses a friend is such a remote and strange thing to our daughter.

We’ve always been very honest with our child, she’s very intelligent and knows when we aren’t telling her the whole story. She knows our friends died through illnesses which the doctors couldn’t give them medicine for. She has realised all of us can get these illnesses and that people don’t always die when they are old. We don’t have a faith, so we can’t tell her we believe that they are in any kind of ‘better place’ or that they are happier now that they aren’t suffering. We don’t lie to her about ‘heaven’ or ask her to blindly believe what we do, she knows she’s free to believe in which ever God she chooses. (She’s currently leaning towards Hinduism because the Monkey King is ‘awesome’).

She’s seen the reality of death this year and knows it’s ugly and sad and has given her bad dreams about losing her dad and I. We’ve tried to reassure her that we are healthy and unlikely to be going anywhere soon, but I feel like something has been taken from her with the deaths of my friends. Not ‘innocence’ or anything that profound, but maybe the idea that ‘forever’ is a Thing. Parents can leave one day and not come back, and doctors can’t cure everything. People are fallible and temporary, and time is permanent and can’t be reasoned with. It’s a sad but important lesson, and hopefully she will learn to see that the good parts outweigh the horrid parts and that there’s really no point in being mean when we can choose to be kind. Maybe she’ll grow up with a little more tolerance as a result. Or maybe she’ll just ask for more pudding, because, in the end, why not?

DL

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