Megan Taylor

I have always been a great that believer in the idea that Beeston is made up of some fantastic people. Occasionally, however I have the bizarre experience of meeting someone who really does stand out from the crowd. This month I had the great pleasure to meet one of our greatest local writers, Megan Taylor, to chat about her work.

What makes Megan stand out quite as much as she did for me is not only her work but mainly that she is by far one of the sweetest people I have ever met, a characteristic that, despite making the interview and beer we have had since very enjoyable, I find just a little bit suspicious.

I’m sure that at this moment, dear reader, that you have someone similar in mind; we have all met someone who is just too nice at some point in our lives. What’s the catch, you may be asking? I will come back to that.

So, putting any notions of suspicion aside, conversation quickly began to flow. Megan explained that having work and lived in London for most of her life she was the proud recipient of a BA in English from Goldsmiths University of London (“la de da” I said, as a lowly Trent Poly student) which began a lifelong passion for all thing literary. In 1999, she relocated North, finally settling here in Beeston (having quickly realised that West Bridgford was not quite all it’s cracked up to be).

It was here that things really started to take off. Her first novel ‘How We Were Lost’, an edgy coming-of-age story, was published by Flame Books in 2007 after coming second in the Yeovile Prize 2006.  Deciding that perhaps she was ready to pursue her writing career with all the vigour of a true Beestonian, Megan enrolled herself on a distance learning Masters in creative writing from Manchester Metropolitan University during which time she continued writing, eventually publishing her work ‘The Dawning’ in 2010. Since then Megan has gone from strength to strength, next came the utterly gripping ‘The Lives of Ghosts’ in 2012.

Then, in 2014, she published her first short story collection ‘The Woman Under the Ground’. To top it off, Megan also contributed to the highly successful ‘These Seven’, an anthology of short stories combined and published by Nottingham’s own Five Leaves, to showcase the diversity of writing and communities that our fair city has to offer.

In order to explain how I have finally come to terms and laid aside my initial “she seems too nice” discomfort I took to Megan’s latest novel ‘The Lives of Ghosts’ for some answers and boy did I find them. For the sake of brevity, I will say only that this story was one of the most gripping I have read in a very long time, comparable with so few other but most readily writers such as Joyce Carol Oates but with the emotional engagement displayed by the likes of Stephen King. The narrative may initially appear daunting to some, alternating chapters between our protagonist Libery Fuller as a grown woman and as her 12-year-old self, but Megan has masterfully interwoven these two perspective to offer a level of depth that most author struggle with their whole careers. The story follows Liberty as she returns to her childhood home, an eerie loch-side house in rural Scotland, and attempts to confront the ghosts that have haunted her for 25 years. The dark insight into a number of traumatic events and the attempt to resolve the effects of them give the story a dark, almost sadistic, sense of suspense which combined with a twist that I did not see coming, makes this a novel that I genuinely could not put down.

Having read many of her short stories as well as her latest novel, all the pieces began to fall into place. Why is Megan such a genuinely lovely woman? Because she is able to express the darker side of herself so poignantly in her writing, creating worlds and characters that strike a chord with everyone who reads them.

Her works speak for themselves but be warned, they are to be read on a dark evening, ideally by candlelight. Megan’s work is available through the usual channels: the Five Leaves bookshop, from her own website and Amazon.

Darren Kirkbride

Beeston Beats

After five weeks of a whopping 50 percent deafness in the wake of Download, I pioneer on like the trooper I am, in the quest for all things different, carrying the flag for the good ship Beestonia…

Firstly, the Ryland’s suffered a blow as legendary venue the Plessey closed its doors after an almighty send off – which I attended – and can report that the nostalgia was running high. Regulars joined forces with curious passersby to celebrate this historic focal point and its rich background. Many a family party had graced the function room with entertainment ranging from live acts to bingo, Northern Soul or blues nights to name a few.  After moving to the Beeston area I have spent many a night putting the world to rights or enjoying a cold one at ‘ode ‘Plessah’: a sad time indeed.

Quickly regaining my composure, I took a change of scenery to the Froth Cafe over at the Creative Quarter.  Fear not those with an aversion to non alcoholic drinks, as the night hosted a gorgeous cocktail menu for a cracking 2 for £8 washed down with a side of Live Music of course.

The night in question classical music masterminds The Warp Trio made their debut in the tiny space usually allocated for Mish Mash gallery. Surrounded by stunning realistic portraits, and abstract canvases adorning the walls the mood was set by flickering candles and the gentle hum of chatter.

Formed back in 2014 the highly talented musicians splice together familiar popular classical music with an edgy twist. Josh Henderson introduces his two accomplices as pianist Mikael Darmaine and Ju Young Lee handling the cello.

Within a few bars of their opening piece, the sheer expertise was immediately apparent as the three musicians masterfully flirted between styles from subtle jazz influences to aspects of funk with an enviable ease. Throughout the evening, passion and energy exuded from the artists, during either their renditions of Chopin or original compositions – the experience was completely rewarding even for classical music novices such as me.

That’s it for another issue. I shall keep my eyes extra peeled for musical gems lurking in our vicinity, (that is not a euphemism for Pokémon Go!). Till next time….

Lulu Davenport

Beeston Parents

When I was four years old, I was a fantastic artist.

You could ask me to draw anything: real, imaginary, or a mix of the two, and I would just get on with it. I would use anything available that makes marks. Things like:

  • chewed-up biros – in those days they had a death cap on them that was a serious choking hazard. No strategically-placed airhole in the seventies;
  • stubby pock-marked crayons with or without the paper wrapping. It was a bonus if I could see what colour the crayon was meant to be;
  • felt tips – if they were dried up I would just lick the end;
  • broken pencil nibs. Not the pencil bit, just the broken-off bit. I did have very small hands all those years ago and could hold the 7mm length quite comfortably;
  • paint, with strange nylon brushes that always pointed out in a multitude of directions, so each line painted would come with an echo;
  • Plasticine – yes, it left greasy faint marks on the page;
  • Most shockingly, I found that matches had a lovely red bit on the end that I could draw with – not for long, and not without the pain of an important lesson on how not to use matches;
  • My Mum’s makeup – I loved lipstick.

Not only could I use an impressive range of media to make the marks, I could create my works of art almost anywhere:

  • The skirting board going up the stairs was brilliant. It went on and on, and I loved making a wiggly continuous line along it. It was a stunning landscape – mountains, valleys, hills, hummocks and some sheer cliff edges. It was enhanced by being on the diagonal, rising upwards.
  • My parents painted the living room a wonderful shade of lilac. I really loved sneaking in and making hand prints in the wet paint. My parents preserved the hand print art by hiding it behind the sofa. Not sure that they loved it as much as I did.
  • Steamed up windows – how could anybody resist drawing on those? It was extra special when there was ice too. It curved up beautifully in the corners, like a Victorian illustration, and added extra sensory crunch to my artistic creations. It was such fun to draw with my fingers in the condensation, leaving cold drips streaming from the trails I drew.
  • Paper – so many wonderful textures, colours, surfaces. I really liked to use the sugar paper at school. It was mysterious to me – we didn’t have anything like it at home. It was brightly-coloured, rough on one side and smooth as ice on the other. When I folded it the folds stood proud and didn’t dissolve back into the surface. It was even more fascinating to tear it and create rough, irregular frayed edges. I found the perfect combination of media when I was allowed to use pastels. Degas created masterpieces using just the pure pigment of pastels and his fingers. I’m off now to get some chalky, densely-pigmented pastels and some lovely, rough sugar paper. The children at nursery will love that.

But what happened? When did my unbridled joy in creating art and pictures turn into fear and embarrassment? Pablo Picasso said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

I strongly believe that when we draw for children, cut things out for them, give them colouring sheets and dotted lines, we chip away at their childish joy. The joy they feel in just drawing, painting, exploring, experimenting and creating. We are telling them that they are doing it wrong and that they cannot do it the right way. We are teaching them that a house has to be a square with a triangle for a roof and a door set smack bang in the middle of it.

To encourage our children to be creative, we have to let them be creative and create what they see, what they feel and what they can imagine. If they want to draw themselves as three times the height of your car, that’s fine. If they want to make a snowman with three eyes and two mouths – fine. Who says that snowmen have to look a certain way? If they want to put their hands in the paint and swirl all the colours together into one slurry, then slowly and systematically cover every square inch of the paper, or piece of foil, or box, with that colour, then fine.

Let them enjoy the process and learn how to make marks, how to enjoy making art and how to take pride in their work. There is plenty of time for them to conform when they are older and when they want to. Imagine if Degas had been told not to use his fingers and to stay within the lines.

Roopnam Carroll

 

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