Rhymes with Purple: Review

An evening with the beats…

Until I got asked to review it, I didn’t know that this monthly poetry event even existed. It was set up by The Beestonian’s very own Darren Kirkbride, as a replacement for the Flying Goose event which ended a year ago. He mentioned the idea to Alan Baker when he interviewed him for the January issue, and, with the additional support of Sarah Jackson and John Lucas (the man behind the Flying Goose events) he was able to set it up. There have only been three events so far, including the one I attended, and guests for each have been Alan Baker, Rory Waterman (coincidentally my former dissertation tutor) and Graham Caveney. The event is held at The White Lion, and commences at 7pm.

The event was slow to start, with only a few attendees present at the start time. However, eventually people started to filter in, and there was a good turnout for when Graham Caveney, the guest speaker, began his talk. Graham is a biographer of Alan Ginsberg and William Burroughs, and when listening to him, I found the English Literature student in me was satisfied. It was almost like being in an especially interesting lecture. I admit I’ve never read any Ginsberg or Burroughs, but I have had Burroughs’ Naked Lunch on my bookshelf for a couple of years, waiting until I get round to reading it. And why was this month’s subject on The Beats? It is 60 years since Ginsberg’s poetry collection HOWL was published.

Anyone who finds themselves in a pub on a wet Wednesday in Beeston probably owes that presence to this bunch of psychiatric casualties, self-styled outlaws, and, occasionally, brilliant, inspiring poets.

The talk lasted just under half an hour but covered lots of ground, and many different areas of the Beats and Beat poets. I found out that their influence was far greater than I initially thought, and collided with other well-known figures from modernists to musicians. Graham mentioned that ‘Burroughs coined the term Heavy Metal’, and ended his talk with an apt observation. He said ‘that anyone who finds themselves in a pub on a wet Wednesday in Beeston probably owes that presence to this bunch of psychiatric casualties, self-styled outlaws, and, occasionally, brilliant, inspiring poets.’ This set the tone perfectly for opening the floor to questions.

I’m used to these moments being filled with silence and awkwardness, from my experience in lectures at uni, but here, there were plenty of questions to be asked. Since I felt I was learning about the Beats, I decided to listen to the questions and answers rather than contribute one myself. After the Q&A there were a series of clips from Youtube lined up for us to watch. These included a visual interpretation of Ginsberg’s poem ‘A Supermarket in California’, video footage of Burroughs giving a speech (I really liked this one; there’s something strangely satisfying from having heard about someone, and then actually seeing what they look like. He didn’t disappoint).

At this point, we took a break. I heard many Beat-related conversations going on around me, and I took in the ever-cosy atmosphere and looked forward to the next part of the night: Poetry Readings. The brief was to ‘bring along your favourite Beats inspired poem as well as read your own work’. The readings began with a reading from Tony Challis of one of Ginsberg’s poems, and then a poem he’d written in the fashion of Ginsberg’s. Next, Russell Christie read out another Beat poem, followed by an extract from his novel The Queer Diary of Mordred Vienna. More reading’s ensued, ranging from poems inspired by travelling, to humorous haiku, Primark, and the love of cheese.

All the money raised from the evening was donated to helping the migrant crisis in Calais. All in all, it was worth going. Unfortunately, the event won’t be running over the summer, but I have it on good authority that the next one will take place on September 27.

Jade Moore

 

Beeston Parents

Do you remember “Blockbusters”, that cheesy gameshow hosted by the very lovely Bob Holness? It was bright and breezy, with young students pitted against each other in a battle to be the first to say “Can I have a ‘P’ please Bob?” The whole thing was accompanied by mascots perched atop desks, and frantic hand jiving to the opening and closing “da da da da” – type theme music.

Well, in the mid-nineties, I was a teaching student in Leeds, and open to any light relief from the intense round of assignments, teaching practice and general student shenanigans. My friend Claire asked if I wanted to go to an audition. Of course I did. I’d loved Blockbusters in school.

So we attended a very dismal audition in a hotel in Leeds, where we had to stand up and tell everyone something about ourselves. I was very witty, amiable and articulate (probably) and a month later, we had a phone call to say we were on! The researcher was a bit stern – “it’s grown-up, BBC2 daytime TV, so no mascots, no whacky t-shirts, no hand-jiving, and the host is Michael Aspell”.

I revised hard for the quiz show by sitting in the pub impressing boys with my second-hand copy of “The Blockbusters Quiz Book”. Must have worked – I’m married to one of them now. And I had my hair cut because I was going to be on TV.

On the day, we joined about 50 other adults, ranging in age from 18 to 70 at Granada Studios. It was very exciting, because there were lots of Corrie stars walking about, getting cups of coffee from the vending machine. I didn’t recognize them, because I was an EastEnders fan, but they looked as if I should know them. I caught a glimpse of some filming going on in a neighbouring studio and was proud to report that I’d seen Matt Lucas, who I knew as the Drummer from Vic and Bob, and the Bloke from the Renault Megane advert.

Now, if you’ve seen Blockbusters, you know that it is a strange beast, with a team of two players against a solo player. Claire and I were in a pair, and our opponent was an extremely tall geeky boy from Bristol called Steve. The filming started, and I eagerly answered the first question, incorrectly. Steve answered a couple, Claire answered a couple, and I was inwardly crying about my quiz annihilation.

“What  E is the real name of actor Martin Sheen?” – I knew this – Emilio Estevez is his son! So I proudly whacked the buzzer, shouted Estevez, and I was in the game.

We won the first game, and paused for some awkward chit chat with Aspell. I mumbled something about wanting to work with street children, Claire talked about white-water rafting, and Steve declared that he wrote comedy and wanted to be a DJ. Oh dear.

Thankfully the torture ceased, and we recommenced the game. I was in the zone! I realized that this was what I was born to do – to answer random questions, and beat opponents. I raced through the second game, and then with victory within my grasp, and one solitary letter flashing on the board, Aspell announced that it was a cliffhanger, and we stopped filming.

The next day we were taxied back to the studio, more hair and makeup, fresh clothes, microphones attached, and won the round. Yippee! Steve was duly dispatched, and I stepped up to The Hotspot for a Gold Run. I swiftly worked my way across the board: POO(!) = Point of Order; PAP = Pret A Porter, SW=Snow White etc. And Bam! We had won a prize. The voiceover started off well, “we know you enjoy travelling…” but then went on to “so here are some travel books”. Oh.

So we beat the next contestant, a lovely little old lady, and won Gold Run number 2, with Helicopter flying lessons as the prize (much better). Aspell alarmingly called us “The Thelma and Louise of Blockbusters”.  We then had a difficult few rounds with a Liverpudlian with very shiny white teeth, beat him, won Gold Run number 3, with a prize of a trip to Reykjavik.

Lovely.

Unfortunately, the juggernaut that was Roopam and Claire had to be stopped, because on the BBC version, you had to retire after three Gold Runs.

The show aired a few weeks later in between some cricket on daytime BBC2. Most people I knew missed it, so I taped all three episodes on VHS, which I would occasionally bring out to bore people with, then that was it. My life as a TV quiz superstar fizzled out, and I went back to being a trainee teacher, never to see any of my fellow contestants again…

Until ten years later. I was watching “The Office” when The Oggmonster came on came on and I realised it was Steve, the tall geeky chap from Blockbusters. I dug my VHS tape out and then uploaded it to Youtube.

Stephen Merchant’s obsessive fans got me on his Radio 6 show for a chat, which went:

“You beat me at Blockbusters, but how many BAFTA’s have you got”

Guess he got to live his dream of writing comedy and being a DJ.

Roopnam Carroll

 

 

Bob’s Rock

Around 550 metres to the west of the start of Ewe Lamb Lane, is the prominent natural feature known as Bob’s Rock. It is roughly located between the cemetery, to the south, and Wesley Place, to the north.  This large sandstone outcrop, which commands wide views to the north over the Erewash valley, is according to Earp (1990) ‘the third largest stone in Nottinghamshire’.

In Mellor’s book ‘An address to the young folks of Stapleford, (1906), he interestingly mentions the geology of the area and of Bob’s Rock:

“In “The Geology of Stapleford and Sandiacre” Mr. J. Shipman says:—” I know of no similar area where so much work for the field geologist is crowded into such a small space.” He shows how the rocks have been shattered and displaced by faults, and pushed up or let down, “as to remind one of a patchwork quilt or Mosaic pavement.” He then refers to the millstone grit on Stony Clouds, to the Bunter pebble beds, the Waterstones, the Coal measures, the glacial drift deposits, the alluvial deposits of the Erewash, etc., all of which I am not competent to discuss, but I suggest you should form classes for the study of them.

As evidence of the glacial period, he gives a picture of the boulder clay, much Contorted, resting on crumpled-up upper keuper shales, at Wilsthorpe Brickyard, Sandiacre, in 1883. He says that “both parishes are just on the southern edge of the great Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Yorkshire coalfields. North of a line drawn east and west through the north side of these villages stretch the coal measures and lower carboniferous rocks, which have been forced up into a great saddle-back, or anti-clinical ridge, now known as the Pennine Chain. South of this east and west line the new Red Sandstone strata have been faulted down two or three hundred feet.” He speaks of a deposit of drift close to Bob’s Rock resting “against an old cliff of Bunter Sandstone much fissured and weathered, which formed a sheltered nook in which the sand was deposited when the country was submerged during one of the stages of the glacial period.”

Another interesting story connected with the stone is that of John Wesley (1703-91). It is ‘supposed’ that Wesley preached at the stone in 1774.

John Wesley was an English theologian, evangelist, and founder of The Methodist religious movement. The established Anglican church was hostile to Methodism and most of the parish churches were closed to him. Wesley’s friend, the evangelist George Whitefield, was also excluded from churches and preached in the open air, in February, 1739, to a company of miners. Wesley hesitated to accept Whitefield’s earnest request to copy this bold step. Overcoming his scruples, he preached his first sermon in the open air, near Bristol, in April of that year. He was still unhappy about the idea of field preaching, and would have thought, ’till very lately,’ such a method of saving souls as ‘almost a sin.’

These open-air services were very successful; and he never again hesitated to preach in any place where an assembly could be got together, more than once using his father’s tombstone at Epworth as a pulpit. He continued for fifty years, entering churches when he was invited, taking his stand in the fields, in halls, cottages, and chapels, when the churches would not receive him.

The Wesley Place Chapel in Stapleford was built afterwards near this spot where John Wesley preached in 1774. He used the natural sandstone outcrop (Bob’s Rock) which stood next to a quarry.

Joe Earp

Greetings from The Postcard Poet

A Beeston writer discovers what home really means

Recently, I’ve got back into writing letters. I got myself a pen pal via the social media platform Instagram, and started writing. Then, I noticed that my pen pal was also writing to someone called ‘thepostcardpoet’, and being a collector of postcards and a poet, I checked out her Instagram account. Here, I was faced with a colourful array of photos of various postcards. I clicked on one and saw the address the postcard had been sent to. Beeston. I thought, ‘Wow! That’s where I live!’ and I left her a comment telling her this.

So, why was a girl from Beeston receiving postcards from all over the world? I decided to meet her and find out. We met for coffee in The Bean…

Emily Richards is currently doing an MA in Writing at Warwick University, but has moved to Beeston with her boyfriend Pete to go on to do a PHD in Creative Writing at the Uni of Nottingham. On asking her where she had received postcards from so far, I was told a multitude of countries and towns that are best illustrated by the map of the world that Emily keeps on her bedroom wall and updates with every postcard she receives. But, for your interest, here are some of the brilliant places they have arrived from: Montreal, Canada; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Cape Town, South Africa; Brisbane and Warriewood, Australia. And in the UK: Brighton, Birmingham, London, Newtown, Coventry, Dublin, Durham, Devon, Sheffield, Preston…and of course, Beeston (I sent her one!)

‘The project started,’ she tells me, ‘because my poetry teacher, Jonathan Skinner, showed us all the small press poetry books he’d made and received in his life. Lots of them were poetry zines shared by post, and one was a collection of postcards from poets in Boston.’ The idea of using the postal service to share poetry appealed to her, and she goes on to tell me that she’d been listening to a poet ‘talking about how William Wordsworth used Dorothy Wordsworth’s diary to create his poetry.’ The combination of sharing poetry via the post, using other people’s words, and being inspired by your home ‘all fed into the idea,’ she says.

The project took me all the way to the other side of the world then back to Beeston.

The project’s aim is to ‘collate worldwide perspectives on home’ and I asked her if the project had turned out the way she thought it would when she first began it. Originally, she wanted to create a collection of poetry by taking lines from the postcards, but once postcards started arriving, she discovered something different. Rather than reading poetic lines, she was reading about people. Regarding the theme of ‘home’, she discovered that ‘everyone has the same opinion of what home is, no matter where they live or how old they are. Home is a state of mind, a place where they feel comfortable.’ As a response to this, rather than asking people to write about what home means to them, she asks that they write about themselves and where they live. ‘This gets more personal answers,’ she says. It means that rather than finding poetic inspiration, she has found the voices of other people. After I had initially contacted her, telling her I was from Beeston, she said: “It’s amazing the project took me all the way to the other side of the world then back to Beeston.”

During our meeting, amid discussions of home and what home means, I asked her what Beeston as a home means to her since she moved here. As someone who has lived here my whole life, I was curious to know what Beeston is like through the eyes of an outsider. Since one of her hobbies is walking, she’s found that wherever she is ‘walking around makes me feel at home’, but Beeston (and the surrounding area) specifically? She enjoys ‘walking and running around Highfields’ and she and Pete did a café crawl on which they discovered Greenhood Coffee House. Emily also tells me how much she enjoys the pub quiz at the Crown.

Towards the end of our meeting, we had an unexpected visitor…her boyfriend Pete turned up, so we both wasted no time asking him what he thinks of Beeston as his new home. He said that what makes him feel at home is ‘having regular places to go, shop and eat. Getting a familiar routine associated with a place.’ This routine can be as simple as ‘shopping at supermarkets and figuring out the bus routes’.

Emily is keen to get more people from Beeston to send her postcards, in the hope of finding that people might have different perspectives on the same place. If you want to find out more, then visit Emily’s blog at: poetryinpink.com or follow her Instagram account dedicated to the project where you will find a link to a blog post containing all the info you’ll need: @thepostcardpoet

Jade Moore

Motion Picture Mayhem

It seems that every few weeks our local media announce the imminent arrival of a cinema in Beeston. The large empty space where the fire station / Blockbuster / that dead cheap offy once stood is, we’re told, dead close to getting a place to watch flicks.

We’re not, at least, not yet. No deal has been signed, and, even if it was, building on the site (known as ‘Phase 2’) would not begin for some time. What seems to be happening is no more than testing the water, gauging opinion.

You can already catch a film in Beeston: the wonderful Beeston Film Festival is planning its third incarnation; The White Lion puts on occasional film nights and one day soon we’re hoping to get our arse in gear and restart the Café Roya Film Club. The popularity and diversity of these events suggest we could happily welcome something more permanent and regular.

This issue, then, celebrates cinema and its connection to Beeston. We have interviews with some local stars, an examination on Beeston’s crucial contribution to films over the years, some words of advice for cinema goers and more. Plus, the usual pic n’ mix of great writing, lovely design and general Beestonian excellence. Now, top up that popcorn, slurp that coke and settle down to the main feature…

Bow Selecta…films, films, films

I love film and films – although not, it should be said, many of the Robin Hood films out there. Most are sadly a bit bland and uninspiring and the only one I find infinitely rewatchable is the classic 1938 Errol Flynn version (the one with the green tights, ‘Robin Hood hat’ and a real sense of cinema and adventure, rather than any ‘dark, gritty reimaging’ – I’m looking at you, Russell Crowe).

Nottingham was lucky enough to have a shared premiere of Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, jointly shared with Nottingham and the Cannes film Festival, although who knows why Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett decided to go to the sunny south of France rather than the Cornerhouse in Nottingham? Sal and I got to go to the Nottingham premiere in their place though, which was actually more fun than the film itself.

As noted elsewhere in this issue, Nottingham and Beeston have a great cinematic history and it’s something we can all be proud of – whilst we wait to see if we’re going to get a ‘proper’ cinema in the vast wasteland next to the tram station we have several independent cinema clubs, not least those run by our previous editor Matt at the White Lion and Café Roya. Matt was also a driving force behind Beestonia: The Movie which was a fabulous celebration of all things local and I even got to have a cameo in it, which
was great fun.

In fact over the past few years I’ve done quite a bit of filming, mainly promotional videos for Nottingham in my guise as Robin but also, strangely enough, for a couple of ‘proper’ films…

We were actually on the red carpet alongside Daniel Craig, which really was astoundingly fun

Being a bloke of a certain age I love James Bond films (well, most of them anyway, I could live without Never Say Never Again and A View To A Kill and for my money On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Casino Royale are the best). Anyway, via an internet Bond fan group I became friends with a group in Chicago in the US who buy, restore and look after loads of the vehicles used in previous films and I’ve travelled over there a couple of times to visit both the vehicles and my American friends – it’s great fun to sit inside amongst other vehicles the huge red Mustang from Diamonds Are Forever, the Aston Martin from The Living Daylights or some of the boats from Live and Let Die. In fact speaking of premieres it was via this group that Sal and I got to attend the Royal Premiere of Skyfall at the Royal Albert Hall in London, where we were actually on the red carpet alongside Daniel Craig, which really was astoundingly fun.

One of the friends I met in the US (some of whom are now such good friends they’re travelling over for Sal and my wedding later this year) is a film-maker specialising in low-budget horror films. He thought it would be fun to have an English actor ‘introduce’ the films and so he asked me to create a character named ‘Lord Victor Fleming’, supposedly a ‘master of the macabre and historian of the occult’. This meant I had to smarten myself up, put on my DJ and try to generate some gravitas as I intoned dire warnings about the terrible story and horrific scenes contained in the film. With Sal as
my camerawoman we decorated our front room to look like an Edwardian-period drawing room and set to filming. We even did some location shooting at Wollaton Hall, carefully cutting scenes to look like the interior scenes we’d shot were actually done inside the Hall. So you can say both Batman and Robin have now filmed there!

So if you ever get the chance to watch the masterful cinematic classics that are James Baack’s Dracula’s Orgy of the Damned or the equally terrifying (for any number of reasons) sequel Werewolf Massacre at Hell’s Gate (both available on DVD from Amazon US) then you’ll know that at least part of them were shot in our own home town of Beeston – which makes it even weirder than a number of online reviewers commented on my ‘phony English accent’. It seems that as with Robin Hood films, there’s just no pleasing some people…

Tim Pollard
Nottingham’s Official Robin Hood

10 films (sort of) about Beeston

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Our round-up of films with links to Beeston…

GANDHI:

Not only was Richard Attenborough’s family from Beeston (well, that bit to the South with all the water), but Gandhi himself came a waltzin’ here way back in the 30’s to have a look round. The late Dickie somehow left this crucial moment out of the blockbusting biopic. A remake perhaps, mostly set round the Rylands?

BATMAN:

Right this is a big one, so strap in. You’re probably going to assume that as the latest Batman (not the one with him pointlessly fighting Superman) was filmed up at Wollaton Hall, we’re going to go for that. Nah, too easy. We’d like Wooly Park and Hall to be part of Beeston, but selfishly Wollaton rather prefers to keep it. So we won’t go with that.

Perhaps the Gotham link, then? Just over the Trent is the village where Batman’s home city was named (it’s a long story, but it’s not a coincidence: all about fools, kings, and nicknames for New York). Maybe we can ride on the coattails there? Too easy.

So perhaps, we could look at the 1989 film version of Batman, directed by senescent withered goth Tim Burton? As everyone surely knows, the crook who becomes the latex-friendly vigilante’s first victim is played by the actor Christopher Fairbank. That’s Christopher Fairbank, who played Scouse carpenter Moxey in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Which, as previously reported here, was filmed in Beeston. But no. He was also in Alien 3 and The Fifth Element, so too easy.

Let’s instead look at Alfred, Batman’s butler. Michael Caine covers the role, but beneath that oaky cockney veneer lies a secret. Caine is a secret aficionado of avant-garde chill out tunes. No really. On Desert Island Discs a few years ago, he chose as a favourite track ‘Swollen’ by Beeston band Bent, who we featured a couple of years ago. Caine also released an album of chill out music called, wonderfully, Cained. Go on, check. Have a look at the track listing while you’re there. Oh, see track 14? Beeston through and through.

There are other links but unfortunately we only have 16 pages so we’ll leave it there.

THIS IS ENGLAND / DEAD MAN’S SHOES / ETC:

Beeston hasn’t directly featured in any of Shane Meadow’s major films (though a chunk of TIE was filmed in Bramcote), but the director has made this place his home and regularly turns up at local events. Vicky McClure, who has gone stratospheric is also a local lass, living close to the terminus the tram named after her frequently pulls up at. Rumours that This Is Beeston, an epic feature about the adventures of the staff on a local magazine, are not yet founded.

PORRIDGE:

The Movie: Sitcoms that aspire to movie form are always crap. The recent, turgid attempt to put Dad’s Army on the big screen is the latest example in a long line of rubbish. On The Buses. Are You Being Served? The Inbetweeners. Admittedly the first two were crap anyway, but rather than even attempt to polish the proverbial turd, the films just added more turd. Porridge: The Movie is a very rare example of excellence, a film that instead of throwing a ton of gimmicks into the mix, actually has an engrossing story. It’s grittier than the series, and has the ironic device of prisoners trying to break in to jail underpinning it. Ronnie Barker and Beeston’s Richard Beckinsale shine, their chemistry fizzing. Sadly, Beckinsale’s film career was thwarted by a fatal heart attack that killed him suddenly aged just 31, a fortnight after filming was completed. However, the name lives on….

UNDERWORLD:

Kate Beckinsale is of course a brilliant actor in her own right and the Underworld series proves it. She’s had an astonishingly successful career, but took time out from filming a few years back to visit Beeston and unveil a blue plaque in memorial of her father. She also bought along her friend David Walliams, the father of her child and top-notch thespian Michael Sheen, and her then husband, the Hollywood producer Len Wiseman. That’s Len Wiseman, not Len Goodman. If a certain former editor of this magazine actually got the two mixed up when he met him, then we’re not going to talk about that here.

RUSH HOUR / TROPIC THUNDER /SMALL SOLDIERS/ LOADS MORE:

All used the ultimate protest anthem “WAR” by Edwin Starr, a resident of Chilwell until his death in 2003.

LORD OF THE RINGS:

Yeah, it was filmed down the Weir Field, wannit? No we’re joking, but we do have a connection: the film’s star, diddy Elijah Wood, released a single with Beeston band The Sound Carriers a few years back, the psychedelic “This is Normal”. It’s rather long, but unlike those films with the little lads running round on hairy feet, quite superb.

WITHNAIL AND I:

Every person whose life has ever lurched towards the dissolute is a fan of this staggeringly funny period piece. The tale of two unemployed actors at the arse end of the sixties who go on holiday by mistake is one for repeated viewings. Little known is its connection to Beeston. Y’see, Withnail was based on a real character, the actor and ‘splenetic wastrel of a fop’ Viv MacKerrell. Many in Beeston still recall the times MacKerrell would stalk the pubs of Beeston, never shy to give up his opinions or accept a drink. Sadly, the drink caught up with him, and he died in 1995 aged just 50.  Also, the film stars Michael Elphick as a Cumbrian poacher – that’s Michael Elphick who starred in Boon, largely filmed in Beeston.

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY:

This supremely tense and talent-stuffed film version of John Le Carré’s novel is a must see, and as well as starring This Is England’s Stephen Graham, was also released in a limited edition reprint of the novel designed by Beeston stripe-specialist Sir Paul Smith. Also, Barry Foster, aka TV’s Van Der Valk, was in an earlier film about the spy unit in 1982’s Smiley’s People.

BEESTONIA:

Come on, did you really think we weren’t going to mention this underrated gem? Written by Lord Beestonia and his faithful whip Christian, masterfully directed by Melvyn Rawlinson, and starring Beeston’s answer to Jonathan Meades, Jamie Claydon. It took us a year to make. That’s twelve months of; dragging around camera equipment; chasing sunlight like we had vitamin D deficiency; fighting with the public, carpark security guards, and ducks (we’re still not sure which was worse); smacking our heads against an editing suite; and of course having tons of fun as well! The sequel is coming. No amount of family, paid work, or global annihilation (Trump?!) will stop us. 3-5 years tops!

MT

The Shane Meadows interview

An evening with Shane Meadows…

The nerves are starting to build as I sip on a red wine at Middle Street Resource Centre. In a few minutes, Britain’s best film / TV director will be arriving for a night of film, followed by a Q+A, which I’ve been asked to compere. Of course, I couldn’t refuse, but as my stomach flips again despite the best efforts of the booze, I start to question my judgement.

I’ve met Shane on several occasions, and he’s disarmingly lovely each time. A relaxed, funny, friendly chap who never acts starry -you won’t see his legs clad in leather trousers, his eyes will never be hidden behind £900 Oakleys – nevertheless, he’s an artist who has cut a unique swathe through British film over the last two decades. He probably has Spielberg and Scorsese on speed dial.

He arrives, I chat to his wife and tell her of my nerves. “Oh, don’t worry. He’s really nervous tonight”. As he’d been on the telly a few days before receiving a BAFTA in front of the UK’s finest, this is both baffling and consoling.

He’s here for a fundraiser. Beeston Resource Centre has had a rocky time in the past, with funding always uncertain and closure often looming. However, it’s wonderfully wavered all storms, due to the invaluable support it gives many. We are never less than amazed when we visit at the sheer amount of stuff they do there: it’s an incredible resource, hence the name. However, the charity that runs it, Beeston Community Resource, can’t be too complacent, so when Shane offered to help out with a themed evening, there was no hesitation in their response. And here we are, with Shane putting together a fantastic set of films.

He had been spending time recently viewing some of his early short films – two had snapped in the projector so he realised he needed to digitise them for archive purposes, doing a bit of tidying up on the way. At the Centre he treated the audience of eighty to an insight into some of his earlier work: ‘The Datsun Collection’, made in 1994 was, he said, the second film only he had made and the first to feature other people! From 1995 he showed ‘The Zombie Squad’, a film completed and shown in a single day, and which had never had another public viewing. Having given himself the challenge of ‘a film in a day’  far more volunteers turned up to be in the film than he had expected and his solution was to create a group of zombies who didn’t need to learn any lines. A surprise for many of us was that Shane himself appeared as actor in these two early shorts, and in the scatalogical ‘Le Donk and His Arsebag’ featuring the comic genius of his good friend, Paddy Considine.

A break for wee and wine, and we’re back for the Q+A. Any nerves dissolve as Shane joins me in front of the audience. He recalls when I gave him a Beestonian t-shirt at a Café Roya Film Club “I’ve still got it. You gave me one in small. I’ll get into it one day”.

Our family growing up never made it on the telly -well, Crimewatch maybe…

I ask about his appeal, his unique touch “back in my childhood I remember being able to shifting from belly laughs to utter fright in no time at all. That ‘light and dark’ has subconsciously made its way into what I do” He tells of how when making Dead Man’s Shoes, perhaps one of the most terrifying revenge films ever made, the cast and crew would be belly laughing off camera throughout.

That’s his favourite film, as well “I was really depressed at the time. I’d made a bad mistake and had a horrendous experience trying to make a big, celebrity driven piece, rather than go with my instinct (he’s referring to Once Upon a Time in the Midlands) . Y’know how there is that saying “the phone stopped ringing”, well, that’s very true, it literally didn’t ring”.

“I knew I had to trust my instincts and make a film that was mine. We made Dead Man’s Shoes for just £700,000, not a lot in film. I threw myself into it, and it worked”.

He talks about his previous ambitions as a singer -he was in a band with Considine, who talk the duties behind the drums – and looked perplexed when I asked him what he’d have done if he’d not made film making such a success.

What does his two young boys think of daddy’s fame “They’re just starting to realise that I do a strange job. It’s not the fame, I don’t think that is apparent, but they see me on telly and that makes them sit up. It’s strange. Our family growing up never made it on the telly -well, Crimewatch maybe….”

There are some real surprises thrown in. The incredibly complex scene in This is England ’90, where Vicky McClure’s Lol confesses to murdering her father round the dining table, was done in one take, using a complex nine camera set up “You should have seen what that room looked like. Looked like the TARDIS”. There is the very real chance of another instalment of the This Is England story, but not on the telly “It might be interesting to do a film sometime along the line. Get the characters together. Whatever year we do, we’ll show it in that many cinemas…who knows?”

More likely to appear soon is his much delayed biopic about legendary British cyclist Tom Simpson, who -spoiler alert – died while tacking a mountain on riding the Tour de France. The project, working with the brilliant screenwriter William Ivory, has been on the cards for some time, delayed in the past when Shane was invited to film the return of The Stone Roses, which became the rockumentary -thank you – Made of Stone.

That would be a departure from his past work, but that’s what makes Shane such a fascinating director: his obvious pleasure in having the chance to follow his interests and his instincts. We are very lucky to have him in our midst.

The night finishes with a vote of thanks courtesy of Radio Nottingham’s John Holmes, and a final glass of wine. A great night had by all, and £1,000 in the Resource Centre’s coffers. Cheers Shane. CUT!

Matt Turpin & Colin Tucker

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

 

Citizens Advice

We talk to a valuable service at the heart of our town

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On a Friday morning in March, I was sat on the chairs reserved for those waiting for a meeting with Citizens Advice Broxtowe. There was one other person there. Then a few more people turned up, and started handing out cards with numbers on. I politely declined. I wasn’t there for advice. I was there to meet Sally Bestwick, a friendly woman who gave me a wealth of information, on account of being a brilliant talker! She is the current Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Broxtowe, a service that is available to anyone and, says Sally, “advises on absolutely anything.” She emphasises that people might not be aware that Citizens Advice is a charity and relies entirely on donations and funding in order to keep going.

In April CAB hosted a fundraising concert with BeVox, a community choir which frequently performs to raise funds for various charities. This is “one of the biggest fundraisers [Citizens Advice has] done” says Sally. She hopes that it will raise a lot of money and give CAB the chance to make sure people know that they are “a small, independent charity that could be gone in a flash.” Sally emphasises to me how vital their services are, stating that “once the CAB is gone you don’t get it.” Derby suffered this fate. Let’s not allow Beeston’s CAB to go the same way.

For those of you who aren’t clued up on the history of Citizens Advice, it was set up in 1936 “in response to the start of the war,” Sally tells me. With the men going off to fight in the war, the women “were left struggling financially [and] didn’t know what they were entitled to in terms of any benefits or help from the army,” says Sally. So, where did it actually start? Surprisingly, it wasn’t somewhere official like our Beeston Offices, but “really bizarre places like people’s front rooms or horse boxes.” I laugh at this, surprised but pleased to realise that CAB is a service that was set up very much in the spirit of Keep Calm and Carry On, by people that were “willing to volunteer and help each other.” Since its beginning, “it’s evolved into [a] massive, volunteer-led organisation.” This is something even I didn’t know until, whilst waiting for my meeting with Sally, I saw the volunteers arrive. They seemed a cheerful and friendly bunch, ready to offer quality advice to those who need it.

Just to keep going the charity needs “approximately £350,000 a year.”

Gone then are the days of horse boxes, so I asked Sally where you can go for advice today. For us Beestonians, we can of course go to the Council Offices and find CAB on the ground floor. You can also find Outreach services in Stapleford Heath Clinic, which is open three days a week, Kimberley Health Clinic on a Monday morning, Hope on Boundary Road on a Wednesday morning, and also at Tesco Toton on a Tuesday Morning. Again, I was surprised. Citizens Advice in a supermarket! Sally states that the opening of an outreach service in Tesco Toton is “the first of its kind”, a new initiative that emphases how important it is for CAB to reach as many people as they can.

Sometimes, people will be in need of help and advice, but won’t take that first step to get it, so having this service in a local supermarket means that you can be discreet, do your shopping, and get some advice too. If CAB doesn’t receive enough funding, it simply isn’t possible for them to run these kinds of services.

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Just to keep going the charity needs “approximately £350,000 a year.” Most comes from lottery grants, Nott’s County Council, and Broxtowe Council, and as CEO a lot of Sally’s time is spent fundraising, making applications and doing funding bids to try to reach that yearly amount. Some money comes from donations, but these are usually small so fundraising events are vital. They also help CAB to connect with the community, and in the past they have attended Beeston Carnival to do this as well as raise funds.

Sally emphasises that Citizens Advice is a professional business with both paid and volunteering staff. “The volunteers,” she says “get paid in tea and biscuits” but mainly the money that comes in is spent on wages for the paid staff, and the rest on infrastructure to ensure they have certain things in place like good IT, which they rely on heavily to give the quality of advice that they offer. To train the volunteers it costs £1600 per individual. There are currently 60 such volunteers, and CAB employs a trainer and two service managers to ensure the volunteers are well trained.

However, they are facing challenges at the moment due to the growing demand for the service and the need to raise the funds to accommodate this. Sally tells me that “welfare reform and universal credit is only just coming into Broxtowe, so the demand for the service is going to increase in the next 18 months.” This is because as soon as universal credit starts to hit families “they are going to struggle and there will probably be delays in their payments as well,” she says. “The welfare reform is supported by Citizens Advice, but it’s the way they’re implementing it that worries us.”

After concluding the interview, we carried on talking, and Sally is very keen to stay in contact, and has hinted at the potential for another article about the friends of Citizen’s Advice, and how you can get involved. In the meantime, be mindful of the service we have at the heart of Beeston, and don’t be afraid to use it!

You can learn more about CAB at http://www.broxtowe.gov.uk in the Advice Help & Support section.

Jade Moore

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