Sing, Baby Sing

Not only is the Beestonian celebrating its tenth birthday this year, but the same number of candles have been blown out on a cake belonging to the Beeston Mum’s Choir. Unless you are a parent of a baby or toddler, you may not have heard of this local group, who get together to sing songs, whilst their offspring play to their heart’s content. I contacted Rose Norman, after seeing her post on Beeston Updated about the groups’ anniversary. She in turn contacted the choir’s musical director Sarah Taylor, who answered all my questions, and some of the choir met me for a quick photo. From the left are Kate, Rose Norman, Sarah Taylor, Emma-Jayne, Rose S and Emily.

I asked Sarah, when did the choir start, who started it and why? “The choir was created in February 2011 by myself and a good friend. We both had young babies and were missing singing in choirs, as we weren’t able to get out in the evenings to conventional choir rehearsals. I had been involved in running choirs since we were at university together and she asked if I could make us a choir where we could bring our babies, but sing for us, not for them”.

How many members do you currently have? “Membership is quite fluid, as many people join us for a few months whilst on maternity leave and then must go back to work. Others plan their return to work, so they can still sing with us, and some come back for a second (or third) time, as they have more babies! Usually, we will have between 15 and 20 singers at a rehearsal (and that means 20+ babies and toddlers). Regular numbers have gone down slightly over this past year or so as Zoom choir singing is not for everyone. We’re hoping to be back to regular in person rehearsals from September, so hopefully numbers will pick up again”.

How have you all still managed to keep going since lockdown? “We’ve kept going throughout the last 16 months online, and actually had two rehearsals per week for most of that time. One at our usual 10am time and one at 8pm, because Zoom with a toddler in the house is hard! We’ve actually managed an in-person rehearsal on Monday 19th July, just as a one off before the summer holidays. It was wonderful to be back together and to sing together again. It’s not the same being at home singing on your own”.

What sort of songs do you sing? Is there a favourite amongst the group? “The only rule we have in terms of songs is no nursery rhymes! That’s what makes us different from other singing baby groups; the singing is for the mums (but the kids do enjoy it and pick up a lot of the songs themselves). We sing a real mixture of music from classical and folk songs, to songs from the shows and the usual pop tunes. We’re usually in two or three part harmony, but everything is taught by ear, so there’s no need to be able to read music. I think if you asked the members, they would all name a different song, but our signature tune is probably ‘Bella Mamma’, which incidentally, we have just released as a virtual choir recording to mark our 10th anniversary. We sing it as a warm up at the start of every rehearsal. It’s a really simple round which sounds glorious when it’s in full flow and the words mean Beautiful Mother. Quite apt for us”.

Are dads allowed in the choir? “This is a question we keep asking ourselves. But in truth, no dads have ever asked! In theory there’s no reason fathers can’t join us. However, the music we sing is arranged for upper voices, so they might find some of it a bit high! If we did find out that we had a group of dads who wanted to join I guess I’d have to find some new music with lower parts”.

Have you ever performed in public? Any inclination to do Beeston’s Oxjam for example? “We generally do two main concerts per year, and other performances to support local events, such as at the Canalside Heritage Centre and fundraisers for OpenHouse Nottingham, the charity we support. in December 2019 we were also lucky enough to provide ‘backing vocals’ for Jonny and the Raindrops’ Christmas gigs. That was totally different for us and loads of fun. We’ve never done Oxjam. I’m not sure why but we would be keen to be involved”.

Are any members of the mum’s choir, in say the Beeston Rock Choir? “I’m not sure about Beeston Rock Choir, but we have had members who also sing with Beeston Voices. It seems to be the choir members will move on to once they can get back out in the evening”.

Where do you meet, and how often? “We generally meet on Mondays at 10am during term time in central Beeston. We need to confirm our venue for September onwards, so details will be on the choir’s Facebook page”.

If there are any new parents that like what they’ve just read, and are considering joining, then please contact the group through their Facebook page,

www.facebook.com/beestonmumschoir

And as Sarah mentioned, you’ll also be able to find out where their meeting space will be when the group reconvenes in the autumn.

CDF

Re-emergence of Live Music

Howdy readers, make yourself comfortable, pull up a pew, grab a brew and cosy on in, Beeston Beats is about to get rather loud and live. Yey!! At last!! For the first time ever in my life I can actually count how many bands I have seen in the last year on one hand, pre-covid (remember that?) I caught as many as three gigs a week with Rock City feeling like my second home. The dreadful C word has forced me into temporary musical retirement, but before I yammer into ‘back in my day’ spiel about the wonders of life pre-2020, I have to take time to say how much I have reconnected differently with certain aspects of music.

Let me explain, the rise of online streaming has introduced me to Twitch, mainly used for gaming but a quality platform for live DJs, where I listen to the banter and call outs by DJs like I used to via radio many moons ago (I was a huge John Peel fan), with services like Spotify and Youtube you can forget there can be a more personal side of music. There’s the Old Skool Rave stories told by DJ Brisk, to supporting the music by virtually buying them a pint. Checking in with shows over the weeks has been fun. I catch Hardy T for my R’n’b and soulful needs on Saturday 3 till 5 pm on The Music Galaxy Radio (he really is the nicest guy). If am still alive I listen in to DJ Zee from Ilkeston based Apollo radio – usually an 8pm start has also regularly started on a Friday night from 7.30pm. He plays a mix of allsorts but Fridays is more party and hi-energy dance stuff to fuel up the weekend. But this schedule is going to be thrown into disarray – yes, lurking on the horizon is live music faintly making its way back to us!

My first glimpse of anything remotely live was at The Victoria Hotel. At first I was unsuccessful in managing to secure a seat outside but luckily there was some football match or other on, and people began to disperse to watch the big game. We grabbed a table and for an hour sat dreamily supping a pint while Kelly’s Heroes poured beautiful renditions of ‘Dirty Old Town’ and ‘Whiskey in the jar’ into my awaiting ear holes. Creeping up in the live calendar is also Richie Muir on September 12th and The Brace Friday 24th September.

Please note that I do not have a crystal ball and there is a possibility that things may move or get cancelled, I guess what I am saying is correct at the time of going to print.

But wait, theres more! Schuggie who organises Ceilidhs and has been entertaining us throughout the lockdowns with online events is returning to hosting actual events at the Boat and Horses. The events are dance at your own risk as it is close proximity dancing, however there will be hand sanitizer and those attending will be encouraged to track and trace. For more information search for ‘Schuggies Ceilidhs’.

Local Beeston band CodeOut are set to perform ‘Covers that people usually hide under’ when they play at Vat and Fiddle Nottingham for their upcoming shindig festival. It is usually a ticketed event, at the time of writing there is no details yet on entrance fees.

Phewww, isn’t it nice to be getting social again? I feel like a cautionary word is in order, play nice, play fair and play safe, till next time.

LD

Mega Extra Beasty Beats Edition

Confession time. I have had a major crush on records for most of my entire life, although I am not able to tell you why or how it happened, I was drawn to record shops like Orbit Records in Long Eaton or Selectadisc in Nottingham like a moth to a flame. I have spent many a day idly scanning the treasures in Rob’s Records while also trying to ignore the OCD in me that screams that there needs some kind of order to his hectic ongoing collection. It’s the artwork, the ownership, the fact that records are living a well over due resurgence. I decided to chat with fellow local record enthusiast Rory James about love, life, his 10 most influential albums and all things musical…

“First vinyl I ever bought. I am not fully sure, as I have been collecting since I was about 8-10 years old. I think it was a second hand copy of Metallica’s Master of Puppets. Metallica had come on my horizon and I thought wow, who are they? Then played them so much that I killed them beyond repair. My first ever purchases of music were actually tapes. 

I was living in Hull where I was born and had really started to focus on music. It was the late 70’s/early 80’s and music had caught my attention massively with Toyah and Adam and the Ants, as well as many other new wave/punk and electro acts of the time mostly via TV. 

I had been saving my money to buy myself some music and I bought three albums all on tape as my first ever music purchase. These were The Beatles ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, ZZ Top ‘Eliminator’ and The Cars ‘Greatest Hits’. I still own the tapes even now.

Music was actually in the blood for me without me knowing it. Mum was a massive fan of The Doors and many other bands from back in the 60’s and 70’s, my dad played guitar in a band and sang and they named me in part after his guitar hero Rory Gallagher. 

I was heavily influenced by the whole hippy rock thing my parents were into. My actual earliest memory of owning vinyl would have been a record I still own now. It’s not the original copy from back then, but I re-found it in recent years as a collector, which massively brought memories flooding back. It was a Disney record for Mickey Mouse’s Christmas. 

I also remember before moving from primary school to secondary school when electro music and hip hop hit the airwaves. At that age I was trying to work out my own identity. I got massively into Michael Jackson for a short while, then discovered Metallica, WASP, Sabbat, Bon Jovi, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Def Leppard and so on. 

My mate at the time who lived not too far away was a huge rock and metal fan. Alister was his name, he showed me WASP records and lots of skater thrash bands and that was it. I was hooked on the whole thrash metal scene. Oh yeah, and then came along Iron Maiden with their images of Eddie. I bought myself a denim jacket, lots of band patches mainly of Maiden and grew my hair long.

By the time I was 15 we moved to Nottingham. I’d watched a documentary on TV by Arena all about the UK rock and metal scene, had seen Rock City on it and a load of head bangers moshing around the dance floor and ‘I thought I want to go there one day’. Let’s just say I lived in Rock City from the age of about 17 right through into my early 30’s. So music and vinyl have been massive parts of my life.

Musically, vinyl was always in the house as a kid, I loved the sound, the crackles and the pops. The other reason I loved it and still do is the artwork, that fact you had something to look at, read, explore, work out what was engraved on the run out in the centre of the record and the messages you could find from the bands to the fans. It was and always has been a journey.

I moved away from vinyl and tapes in the 90’s, had a brief but limited journey with CD’s but got into downloading music when the internet came along. But by that point I had already amassed quite a large collection. But I returned to vinyl around 10/15 years ago, when I started buying second hand from charity shops,

I then started going to markets and charity shop warehouses, offering cash for larger job lots, often walking away with tubs full of vinyl for not much money. Then with the resurgence in vinyl for bands and collectors I started buying new vinyl. The first one I can remember buying was David Bowie’s ‘Black Star’, which was a massive deal as he passed away literally 2 days later. It was at that point I saw the value in vinyl. I bought the LP for £25 brand new online, and if I remember rightly, the day he died the value went up to at least £100.

So I have many, many stories all music related through all the years of buying vinyl, from meeting bands, sitting in recording studios, working with the drummer from Sabbath in Long Eaton, working for Ferocious Dog (I built their first website and did photography for them for a time). I have even done photography once at Rock City for the Levellers, oh yeah and I was DJing in town, mainly at the Maze and Albert’s in between bands until COVID hit.

I have roughly 6-9,000 records, CD and Tapes in my collection. I also regularly buy new vinyl online, usually limited editions. My most recent purchase that was delivered was Gary Numan’s new album ‘Intruder’. Great album and great artist. I am waiting for the delivery later in the year of the latest Fear Factory LP (back to my metal thrasher routes).

So where do we go from here…I have been gifted or bought friends and family’s entire collections many times because I am well known for collecting and selling the odd bit also. I have built up a very wide collection of genres and knowledge to go with it. I always wanted to end up working in the music industry, in a shop or as a roadie or something but as much as I have delved in a slightly it never happened. I currently work for Public Health England as an admin manager helping fight COVID, its funny where you end up isn’t it? I’d still love to head into the music industry especially with the skills and knowledge I have built up.

10 most influential albums of my journey:

So it has to be my first 3 tapes – Beatles – ‘Sgt Pepper’, ZZ Top – ‘Eliminator’, The Cars – ‘Greatest Hits’.

Then Pink Floyd – ‘Wish You Were Here’ (always makes me think of my dad in Australia)

Metallica – ‘Master of Puppets’ (my door way into rock and Metal) \m/

Tool – ‘10,000 days’ – such an amazing album, every time I listen to it, it puts me right in the same place, it’s very dark in places, atmospheric and when I am really feeling quite low it really helps me process the darkness inside and empowers me to let it go.

Fields of The Nephilim – ‘The Nephilim’ – If you don’t know this album then you’re really missing out.

More recently my most loved and cherished album is by a band called Heilung and the LP is called ‘Ofnir’. This is Pagan/Viking music played with many traditional instruments including bones. It may sound crazy to some but take a listen and watch them online, if you can go see them live, it’s very earthy and grounding music.

Electronic music was (and still is) a huge part of my musical journey, and none more than The Prodigy. I would be straight on any dance floor or anywhere I could (including illegal raves in the 1990’s) when they came onto the speakers. I have loved them right from the start of the ‘Experienced’ LP but have to say the best LP was and always will be ‘Music for the Jilted Generation’. I actually own one of only a few original prints from the artist that produced the artwork for that album, framed on my office wall. I am so proud of that print and everything it says about music and society. I have never told my partner how much that cost me to get hold of, but to me it’s priceless.

Lastly is one considered a flop for the artist. I only own a copy on CD as the vinyl copy is quite hard to find (especially in mint or near mint condition). It is Billy Idol’s ‘Cyberpunk’ record. I love the fusion of rock/punk and electro, and this has to be my fave type of music nowadays the fusion of rock instruments with electro. This album also added in for me my crazy love of sci-fi. I believe even Billy Idol himself considers this LP to be a flop for himself mostly financially, but for me regardless this has to be one of his best.

Oh…one more…one more to add! Number 11…and I really, really could just keep going…the last has to be Daft Punk’s ‘Tron Legacy’. OMG what an album, what a film! 

I also run my own Facebook page called Dark-Side Records – yes it’s my love of Star Wars and sci-fi crossed with my love of music. I use it to share anything musical I find that I want to share with others. Also to sell a few bits when I don’t want them or people use it to contact me if they have collections the want to offer. It’s a bit of fun most of the time but it’s who I am. I use it when I DJ either out at gigs, club nights in venues or when I DJ online. Basically it’s my way of sharing my musical journey with others. Music brings us all together.”

LD

It’s my un-party, and I’ll cry if I want to…

Ahhh admit it, you know the words to the poptastic hit made famous by Lesley Gore from back in 1963, or its other various forms which include a cover by Drake and Rhianna in “Take Care”. Or maybe the American Metalcore version by Motionless in White? With their additional lyrics “Die if I want too?” on their track “Necessary Evil”? Of course you do.

This brings me nicely to my point in hand, it actually was my party. Well kind of. Being a November baby I celebrate my birthmas in this month and have celebrated this occasion over the years with parties in nightclubs, bars, catching legendary performers – The Prodigy, (No Tourists Tour 2018), Alice Cooper (Spend The Night Tour 2017). This year I spent the day in at home, drinking copious amounts of rum and coke and binge-watching music documentaries. The contrast is stark, however I am a happy bear. Don’t get me wrong, I miss the pounding in my heart of live, ridiculously loud and heart-trembling bass, but the inner optimist in me is beginning to revel in this new life. I shall explain…

While we gloriously sugarcoat the good old days when we could do stuff with rose-tinted heart-shaped glasses, there are so many aspects I don’t miss. Rock City toilets for example. Only those with a strong stomach dare enter, the mix of two-pint beers and drunkenness make for a sorry state. I feel for the ladies who spend all night in there selling lollipops and the like. Don’t get me started on The Emporium Nightclub; I will leave that one there, only to say Rock City would be an upgrade…

There is more I don’t really miss about gig life, I don’t miss being five foot two and always, always being stood behind the tallest person in the venue. Don’t ask me how but they find me then barge past me to stand that close, I wonder if we should exchange phone numbers.

I don’t miss the smell, sweaty and nasty, being in a club and seeing someone I know who has been in the mosh pit. They smell like one and that is from across the room, they make eye contact and oh dear god no they are heading over for a hug. It is too late, I try not to breathe, smile and wander off to find air.

I don’t miss the queues. The night even begins with one to get in. An hour in the cold and people who know people have joined the queue ahead of you, as you try not to get too annoyed five of their mates have joined the joiners. Finally in the venue and there’s a queue for the cloakroom yey! Ok, in you go and get a drink from the bar? Good luck with that, its 5 people deep and no one ever knows what they want. Who needed to see any of the support acts anyway?

My personal favourite pet hate is trying to remember where you were stood in a gig or festival, after a loo trip or bar run, now trying to find your mates in low lights while holding plastic cups filled with beer and bouncing bodies are everywhere, at seven pound a pint trying not to cry when Betty Knobhead decides to start a mosh pit and you realise why the floor is so sticky. Still, fourteen pounds for two empty plastic cups, bargain!

And more than anything, the expense! It is an expensive hobby. A friend and I booked tickets for Hip-Hop “Insane in the Brain” band Cypress Hill back in 2018 – the tickets were £60, the hotel (the gig was in Leeds) was £120, so that was £180 not including train tickets food, drinks, taxi to the venue and back to the hotel. The gig was fabulous but the cost of a trip abroad, and the band were barely on stage an hour.

All these reasons swirled around my head as I sat on my comfy(ish) sofa on my birthday, as I poured myself a drink without having to queue, from a bottle of rum that barely cost me twenty good old pounds with mixer, with a lemon wedge plonked in for good luck. In a club that money could barely stretch to two rounds, and I had whole lotta rum for my money. Bargain. The only tall weirdos that will get in my view are not really that tall and already live with me. There’s no sweaty encounters with drunken acquaintances and the restroom is free of gross uninhibited strangers and features a clean porcelain toilet to use at my desecration. This is the life!

My conclusion is this, while ‘Rona has changed every person’s life this year, we have to find the silver lining. I have enough gig experience to tide me over, I can wait, it ain’t gonna be forever, and while I wait I try and look at the positives. Don’t get me wrong, as soon as this is over I will be at ALL the gigs, festivals, raves et al, but until then, pass me a drink and I will party at home in my pyjamas. Of course, I am still watching Netflix but what else have I to do?! Christmas? That’s sorted – bring it on, no unnecessary family trips and extra time in my pants singing “It’s my parrrrrrttttehhh!” Oh, by the way you are not invited…

LD

How a pair of Beeston creatives joined forces to keep the flame flickering

We are, as this and every previous issue will attest to, a wildly creative town. Artists, musicians, crafters, writers et al keep kicking out staggeringly super work which we happily try and inform you of.

A global pandemic and fundamental shift in how the world works isn’t a reason for despair, it’s a chance to innovate. Say hello to Nottingham Stories: Separation and Serenade.

When she realised that the third annual Nottingham Chamber Music Festival was not going to be going ahead due to lockdown, the festival’s director Beestonian violist Carmen Flores didn’t just retire her instrument and bow while it went on. She instead picked up the phone and rang a local professional filmmaker, Tim Bassford of Turbine Creative. Together, they cooked up a brilliant idea.

Like the best ideas, it’s startlingly simple. They would visit a well-known Nottingham building, closed due to lockdown, and film Carmen performing Bach within. As Carmen rings out beautiful music to fill the empty spaces, Tim’s camera provides an accompaniment, highlighting the locations beauty. It’s not a film about music, It’s not music with film. It’s a synthesis. Carmen may be performing solo, but the overall feeling is a duet of eye and ear. Nottingham Council House, Delilahs, The Royal Concert Hall, St Mary’s In The Lace Market, Nottingham Contemporary and the High School all feature, each familiar, each filmed in ways that make you see them anew.

During the film’s individual premieres, donations to the Help Musicians charity (https://www.helpmusicians.org.uk/support-our-work/make-a-donation) were encouraged, to support musicians who have struggled to earn a living while the COVID crisis grinds on.

The videos were shot in July and released on a thrice-weekly basis during September. They proved to be, as the best music does, able to bring out emotions you weren’t previously aware existed. Personally, I felt initial melancholy – I missed these places – hope. While the empty buildings still wait to fill and surge with life again, a flame of creativity burns, and it burns bright.

The films are available to watch for free here.

MT

Unsocial distancing

Corona blah-blah virus continues to strike, quickly destroying 2020 like the alcoholic drink with twice the strength, and all of the hangover.

In fact, if 2020 was a drink it wouldn’t actually be the fortified wine of the Mad Dog variety, it would, in fact, be warm cheap tequila reminiscent of supermarket hand sanitizer. I was horrified to learn the American company have actually brought out a special limited edition Gold flavour to celebrate its year and namesake, I don’t think sales are going well…

Well, I can assure you this tale does actually have a happy ending, (it’s 2020 I take what I can ) as I indeed went to a festival this year, continuing my 16-year reign of at least once a year retreating to a tent after sampling an array of music. This one wasn’t even on my original plan for this year but as most know by now, even the best-laid plans…

The future of festivals and large scale events is still undecided, for me the feeling of chatting to strangers and sat in a field with a drink in hand, live music and sun on my face, is still my happy place; my mental health has been hit hard by the continual negativity and hardships this year has inflicted. People talk about the new normal, I quite liked the old one, and I struggle to get to grips with zoom meetings, face-mask rules, new etiquette regarding hugging, elbows? And pay by app? Pay at the bar? Don’t stand at the bar, masks on for the loo, one-way system, no way system, no cash? Only cash? Track and trace forms, hand sanitiser, but not no-touch dispensers, the possibilities have been endless, I long for the old way this new world is hard and confusing.

While I was endlessly scrolling Social Media I saw a socially distanced and legal Responsible reboot festival to be held on 8th August, hosted by Barking Mad festivals and held at the Vic Inn bikers club. A limited number of 60 tickets were sold at £10 and camping an extra £10 each, I would have probably have given them a kidney to actually get a chance to go, £20 quid seemed very cheap, we brought the tickets online and waited hoping it wasn’t cancelled or postponed.

On the day we rocked up nice and early, I pitched up the tent on the grassy bit of the car park at the back as instructed and found the guy on the door, quite ingeniously they decided to give away a safe pack with every ticket, no close contact hand stamps or wristbands, no they decided to stamp the name of the festival on face-masks which had to be worn when going into the pub, which was marked out with one-way directions and Perspex behind the bar, so far so good, also was a handy bottle of hand sanitiser with the festival name on a sticker attached to the front, earplugs and a few sweets and freebie badges, these packs had been vac sealed as well, very thoughtful and practical!

“I am all for a good time but not when so much is at risk.”

The music was to be on the outdoor stage, people had tables to sit at, with limiting tickets and strictly no walk-ins, the event was to be all in line with all the latest advice. Starting early afternoon The Jellyfish Are Calling hit the stage and immediately I got shivers, they could have been the worst band in the world but I was happy, I had waited all year for this.

The line up was a mix of punk with Noose, rock and roll with The Blue Carpet Band and a sprinkling of ska with Kid Klumsy. It was all going so well until high energy rap metal and rock and roll band Dog Rotten, a mixture of alcohol, lowered inhibitions and good music led to a surge at the front of the band and a mosh pit was formed. Myself and a friend looked on in horror – it was all way too much. Drinks were being thrown and even the local photographer and reviewer dived in!

Don’t in any way get me wrong, this time last year we probably would have been straight in too, but it was all too intense and worrying. My friend headed to find the promoter – no sign. Leaving no option but to go to the pub landlord who immediately got the p/a Mr BadAxe to announce about social distancing and the one-way system which was being pretty much ignored at this point, the band finished their set and immediately the tension went away, the crowd of moshers too drunk to care, headed off to call it a night, leaving the rest of us to relax and enjoy the evening safe in the knowledge we had done all we can to not get the place shut down. I am all for a good time but not when so much is at risk.

Verdict- I loved the music however it is too early, I could immediately see why festivals and big events haven’t got the go-ahead, after a few drinks all the health and safety went out the window, till next year it is!!

LD

All work and no play makes Lulu a dull girl

It is day one million and three since the pubs shut their doors. I’m not even exaggerating it has definitely been that long (I have the emotional scars). The last few establishments I visited was way, way, back on the 17th March, for the annual St Patricks Day jaunt I go on every year with some Irish friends. The Pandemic was yet to fully engulf the Country in full lockdown (that hit in full on the 23rd) and it was only advisory not to go to the pubs. The general unease and quietness of every place we visited made for a short day (even the notoriously busy O’Neil’s was dead as the dodo) but we went, hand sanitizer in hand, (as it were), donning silly oversized Guinness hats and stupid fake beards, this was to be my last pub visit. We sat in the Royal Children pub after being out a few hours and called it a day, the atmosphere was teetering on the eerie it was that quiet.

Even thinking back to then, it seems like a lifetime ago. People either seem to have embraced their new life by becoming the next Joe Wicks, or quite the opposite of aiming for the potato body shape and eating a packet of cookies for breakfast (no guessing which path I took). After a token bike ride out one day from Trent Lock along the river I was walking bike in hand past the Beeston Marina when a sight caught my eye. A plastic pint glass filled with amber liquid. My heart quickened as I franticly looked around, to be confronted by the sight of another in the hands of a man with the biggest smile I have ever seen. Lo and behold, at the entrance to the pub was a table and they were serving pints, it wasn’t a mirage.

“For those who have worked, the thought of catching up with friends over a drink or meal is all that has kept us going.”

A man queued in front of me and said as soon as he heard, he came down. Keeping a 2m distance, I waited as he was served. When my time came I headed to the table and ordered a Fosters, £3 a pint jobs a good un. I asked the lady how long they were doing this and she said that it depended if people were sensible and took their beer and went. I received my goods and walked further down the river finding a spot away from everyone and I can tell you right now that was the best pint I have ever had. In some ways, it was a cruel mirage, a taste of the life we had, but for 20 minutes the world felt normal again. We took so much for granted. For those who have worked, the thought of catching up with friends over a drink or meal is all that has kept us going.

The dream of spending a few hours talking rubbish with long lost friends without a care in the world seemed such a far off idea, and then lo and behold B.J announced on the 23rd of June that pubs and restaurants could open from July 4th, a day that should be now known as IndePubnance day! However, the venues must take strict precautions. Rescue Rooms in Nottingham is operating a booking system, based on 2.5-hour slots, staggered entry time, ordering drinks and food on an app, face masks when not at the table, household only tables, hand sanitizer and strict 2m distancing, one way systems and, COVID-19 compliance checks. Now doesn’t that sound like a barrel of laughs?

Many of the pubs I spoke to were hanging onto the announcement to put ideas into action. With the clock ticking many are planning like there’s no tomorrow, the lovely Berliner, however, got back to me to say this:

“We’re opening on the 4th with an extended beer garden, and revised opening hours (TBC). Our extended beer garden gives us a large open space, with different zones to aid social distancing protocols, and we have gazebos in case of rain! We’ll be serving a new food menu and we will be offering live music at 7 pm – 10 pm every Saturday”.

Fabulous, I shall have an Espresso Martini in no time! All I can say is best of luck to every pub and bar. Some will find things easier than others due to layouts and space etc.

Next issue could quite possibly be me attempting a pub visit!

LD

Some kind of normal

Back in the day, I started off in a career in retail back at good ole Woollies, yes Woolworth’s. Ahh, the memories! Guarding the pick n mix sweets with eagle eye detection from tea leaves. Ahh, I leave it off my C.V. though, as trying not to pull the plug on the repetitive JML adverts and swearing the ultimate destruction of the endless novelty Christmas Toys isn’t up there with a master’s degree in biochemical studies. Over the years I have been a retail tart, bouncing round the big stores like a greedy kid in many a cake shop. I have seen so much from naughty flings, fallings out, fights, accidental store lock-ins, not so accidental store live-ins, sleazy managers, excessively sleazy managers and break downs, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you…

It’s the people I stay for, the banter between colleagues, the humour, the chatting to that one person who hasn’t spoke to a single person all day, the 96-year old whose life advice is to drink gin and listen to jazz, the regulars who join in the fun and brighten up the day. I’ve been threatened, hit on, slapped, yelled at, and ultimately cried in the loo cuz that’s the only place you can escape. I stayed in retail, I never set out to stay, at some point, the repetitiveness and the fact it paid the bills became normal for me, but that’s the whole point of this piece currently there is no normal, everything I thought I knew is wrong I can tell you that even with an extensive retail background I have never seen anything quite like it.

A colleague told me she was close to tears as she was thanked by a customer for continuing to work; being appreciated goes a long way. The sheer panic for self-care and fear of catching it or spreading it, no one wants to be at risk, meticulously washing hands to the point of giving ourselves dermatitis. Everybody is scared we are scared, it’s far from an ideal situation I’m not going to lie, the sheer anxiety while performing even the simplest of jobs has reduced me to a nervous wreck. The safety guidelines of a 2m distance are there to protect everyone I cannot stress the need to follow this enough. We understand it’s difficult and the sheer frustration at this being inconvenient however we are risking everything in enabling helping to be able to provide your family with essentials. No Sandra, that doesn’t mean going shopping in for Pringles and pineapple Jaffa cakes cuz there’s nowhere else to go and boredom has set in.

We are in unknown waters I really couldn’t have guessed the massive bog roll shortage or the fact so few people eat pot noodles even through a pandemic has stripped all the other shelves. Currently, I feel like a kid who is grounded only allowed out to go to work, if everyone behaves maybe we can get back to some kind of normal, even if that entails taking up cross knit, macramé or pigeon counting at least there’s a chance to be bored, stay in, be safe, and play nice!

LD

Curiouser and curiouser!

Alreet my lovelies, how the devil are ya all? This is my first writing for the magazine this year and boy where do I start with 2020? , The crap weather? the flooding? Or maybe even the endless traffic due to that pesky Clifton Bridge? Or the endless colds? To top it all off with a big beautiful cherry, am day 1 million 645 on the sober train, It might be a teeny, tiny, exaggeration but still you get the gist. To stop me from becoming a completely grumpy, cantankerous hermit till at least mid-spring, a friend suggested heading over to The Berliner for a cheeky mid-week outing, at the Curious Cabaret being in a sum what quite cheery mood that day and the promise of cake I said yes.

Described as ‘a monthly evening of magic, stand up comedy and poetry’, the night is designed to give a platform for both new and experienced performers on every third Wednesday of the month. With high hopes, I headed to the bar on High road nice and early to grab a table (at the back obvs) and await the entertainment. As Alice once said, Curiouser and Curiouser!

I didn’t quite know what to expect for the evening, the venue was buzzing with people taking advantage of the bars 2 for 1 offer on cocktails before 9 pm and I even convinced a friend to try the Calpol shot, yup that right, the childhood medicine we all pretended we were ill for, is back in alcohol form. Priced at £2 the pick me up drink doesn’t even require convincing ya mum you’re poorly, result! I promptly ordered one for my friend while I opted for the ginger spice mocktail which was lush at £3.50. 8 pm was lights up time, compere and host for the evening Chris Wilder, introduced a night of magic, mind readers and manipulators. I was a little nervous as my experiences with magic include watching Tommy Cooper on the telebox, kid’s entertainers at friends’ parties at American Adventure and watching the 2006 Illusionist film with Edward Norton in it, none of which makes me any kind of expert on the world of illusions and trickery.

The air filled with tenseness as the first act talked us through a trick with a Rubik’s cube, his dash of comedy eased the atmosphere as people stood eager to see. The acts ranged from card tricks and psychological illusion with Marc Oberon to audience participation and Chinese coin trickery with Canning Circus’ Rob Soane, even some mind-reading with Dean O Dell, last spot of the night went to Chris Benkin, a magic circle member who uses horror stories, rock music and eerie magic reveals to engage the audience.

All in all a fabulous evening right on Beeston’s doorstep, the event is free with an option, later on, to contribute to the performers and future nights, which will be March 18th, I even learnt a bit myself, I worked on my disappearing wedges trick, JUST LIKE THAT!! Ooo…Why did the magician decide to quit drinking? Because every time he walked down the street he turned into a bar!! I will show myself out…

LD

Beeston Beats: a not so Merry New Year

Evening all, Let me tell you a tale so ghastly, you will wonder why it wasn’t included in our super scary 666 Halloween special, draw the curtains, stick ‘eatin on (that’s Central Heating for non Mainlanders) grab a brew, while I relay a tale that is worse than popping down shops for a pint of milk in January sales.

I’ve always loved a tipple, from the dash of rum added by my gran, to tea to keep cold out as a nipper, to teen years swigging god awful 20-20 (unapologetic new year pun) and finally nursing a proper real ale or flavoured porter with a sneaky few banana shots at the end of the night, ahh. After a pretty heavy session that included all of the above I woke up feeling like the arse end of a circus donkey (looking a lot like one too), I decided after a monumental hangover to give the old drinky poos a rest for a bit, before this starts to feel like a self-indulgent piece, bear with me. The true horror here is being Sober at Christmas and even worse a Sober New YEARS EVE!!! EKKKKKK!! Told ya it was gonna get scary.

I actually found not drinking didn’t faze me one bit, in fact, people were surprised that I was enjoying it, still going out to gigs, pub crawls and everything exactly the same, including the cost, a night on the softies can be just as expensive. Just as I was adjusting to life on the quieter side, the world descended into festive chaos, the Crimbo party invites descended like an avalanche, office party, staff party, don’t forget the festive jumpers! I overheard two girls chatting with one saying “everyone drinks at Christmas even those who don’t drink”. This leads me to my problem. Explaining to anyone this time of year that you simply don’t drink is a nightmare, and always leads to, ‘ahh go on its Christmas!’ Like an annoying Mrs Doyle on loop. It gets worse. New Year is the mecca of booze-fuelled intoxicated merriment if you will. So the ultimate night of the year, what to do? Here’s my guide to how to see in the New Year. These may or not have happened to me during my life, I cannot confirm nor deny…

Options

Go large! Hit Nottingham, see someone get kicked out of the pub by noon, wait at the bar for the rest of your life while two maybe three bartenders serve on one of the busiest nights of the year, die of thirst by the time you get served. Pay a fortune for a taxi only to end up in the local in Beeston.

Go Mega large! Hit London Baby Yeah! Realise that drinking in the street laws don’t apply on NYE and you’re the only sober one there. Spend the night wading through broken bottles and avoiding breathing as everywhere smells of wee.

Stay in! No queues and drunken idiots, only ones you know! Wait in while all said friends have gone to a cooler more awesome party leaving you to get bored and stare at other peoples fireworks.

Go for a walk! Watch the big displays over the marina, while a drunken man fires off fireworks from his boat while blaring out Bing Crosby and hitting the stone bridge (who put that there) head home as its January and freezing.

Go to someone else’s party! Turn up with a four-pack of Tesco value and drink all the Desperados, struggle to hear anyone talk as the music’s blaring, no one complains on NYE right? Pass out in the bath while all said party launch a search party, wake up in an empty house go home to 100 missed calls and messages.

Go local! Buy a ticket for a lock-in at the Local, invite all friends, half of them are pissed by the time they get there. There’s a couple who decided to split up that night, someone’s been dumped, everyone’s sighing while looking at the clock and some twats brought party poppers.

All options in, I just can’t decide, there’s always so much expectation with New Year, wherever you go, have fun, be safe and leave me being sober for the festivities alone or I am coming after you in Jan when everyone’s drying out, what was that? You wanted a triple jager?! Ahhh, Go on then…

  • 1
  • 2
  • 5