Top Trumps

I’d like to think I’m something of a dab hand at Top Trumps, having definitely been one of the better players at Stevenson Junior School in the early eighties.

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Not many could walk away unscathed from my mastery of First Division footballers, a stack of red-faced, blue-legged men with universal awful hairstyles and expressions that bordered on the Neanderthal. Being pretty awful at most other sports, I took pride in this.

So when I find out a Top Trumps Champion is living in Beeston, I jump at the chance to interview him, and challenge him to a game. He accepts, and so I meet Alex Clements, 9, a pupil at Roundhill. We face each other at a table, and his steely gaze tells me this might not be the walkover I expected.

He selects the pack: Animals, appropriately enough, as he recently took part in The Top Trumps Championship at Chester Zoo. As he deals, he lets me know he’s been playing since he was 3, an obvious attempt to demoralise me before we even begin. I tell him that while that is young, I’ve played, on and off, for four decades. The first card goes down. He flukes a win.

He knows around six complete packs off by heart which is the key to being a Top Trumps champ.

He then flukes another, and a further seven more and I’m just about to cry ‘FIX!’ (or just cry) when I beat him as my Sumatran Orangutan has a higher Risk of Extinction rating than his rhino. ‘YES!’ I cry, punching the air. I’m very sorry the Sumatran Orangutan is disappearing because of man’s greed…but a win’s a win.

He tells me that his favourite pack is Awesome Animals, and his favourite card Scruffy the Monkey, who has a brilliant mischief rating. He knows around six complete packs off by heart, which, he tells me, is the key to being a Top Trumps champ. He gets another strong run, taking my meerkats, giraffe and aardvark. I’m in trouble now. Desperately, I try and distract him by asking him what he wants to be when he grows up. ‘A professional Top Trumps Player,’ he tells me, but is encouraged to think again by a disapproving noise from his mother. ‘Ok,’ he says, reconsidering. ‘A ninja’.

If ruthlessness is a necessary quality in ninja studies, then Alex has it, ripping through my final few cards and claiming an easy win over his shocked opponent, who can only ask if he is going to have another crack at the title next year, after coming third – better than Murray at Wimbledon and the English football team EVER – in June. ‘No, but I am going to coach other players to be good enough to make it to the finals,’ he explains. As I sit, bereft of cards, thoroughly trounced, I realise I’m in the presence of a card master, and was a fool to think I stood a chance.

Next issue: Lord Beestonia loses a game of darts to a new born.

MT

Buzzword Poetry Competition

Here’s all you need to know before taking up your pen/pencil/keyboard/quill:

The winner will win £100, a trophy, inclusion in an anthology and much more.
Under 16s will win £50 as well as the other stuff. Judging alongside our editor Christian Fox will be a panel of professional poets:

• Tommy Farmyard, organiser of Hockley Hustle and Nottingham Poetry Festival
• Jenny Swann, co-owner of Candlestick Press
• Alan Baker, editor of the poetry publisher Leafe Press

It is free to enter, and you can send as many poems in as you like.

The winners will be announced on National Poetry Day (28 September) at a special event.

HOW TO ENTER:

Email your entry to: buzzwordpoem@gmail.com
Or alternatively, send it to: The Beestonian, 145 Meadow Lane, Beeston, Notts, NG9 5AJ
Submitted poems consent to future publication in The Beestonian. Please state name, contact details and if under 16 to ensure entry into correct competition.

DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES: THURSDAY 14 SEPTEMBER

Our poems to get you thinking:

The home I’ve always known,
the place that’s changed almost
as much as I’ve grown:
sufficient to make a difference,
but not enough
to lose its touch.
Jade Moore

Here’s an Oxjam stage with an artiste on;
Station platform, has no arriviste on;
There’s the parish church aisle with a priest on
And a playground with kids just released on –
Beeston:
What a sight here for our eyes to feast on!
Colin Tucker

I like Beeston,
I like the bees.
Last weekend I burnt my knees.
I wasn’t wearing any sun cream,
and now I can’t wear shorts.
Because it’s embarrassing.
Dan Cullen

Beeston, it’s never about bees,
Nor is it ever about Dan’s knees.
Lots of places for beer,
Pottle to the weir.
Though don’t get me started on Breeze.
Darren Kirkbride

JM

What does Beeston mean to you?

What does Beeston mean to you? Is it your home or a place you’re visiting (and if you live here is it somewhere you’ve been for a few months, a year, decades or your entire life)?

When you look at photos of ‘old’ Beeston from last century (maybe on one of the excellent Beeston Facebook pages) do you remember how it was, or is Beeston’s current incarnation your only experience – and how do you see, live in, use and enjoy Beeston these days?

Lots of questions, I know – but the reason I ask is I’ve recently become much more aware that ‘my’ Beeston isn’t the same as your Beeston – the places I frequent you may never visit and vice-versa. Places I think are great and make our town new, exciting and vibrant may be places you’d never dream of entering and there are plenty of local shops and venues I really should try for the first time.

I recently had an interesting and eye-opening conversation on one of those Beeston Facebook pages about the possibility of late-night noise pollution from a (very good) restaurant near my house which has applied for much extended licensing hours. Most replies thought I was concerned over nothing as it wouldn’t affect many people and the benefits would outweigh the potential disruption to the few locals who it did – and maybe they had a point, maybe the needs of the many do outweigh the needs of the few (to quote Mr Spock from ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’). But again, it got me thinking about what different people want from our town; for instance a good night out, an excellent and profitable business or a good night’s sleep uninterrupted by loud and protracted conversations right outside your house at closing time.

My view of Beeston changed when we had our daughter Scarlett

So, what makes your Beeston?

Over the past few months I’ve written a lot about my wife Sal’s advanced and incurable breast cancer, which is weird, because I’d never have thought I’d write about it, let alone have it published. I certainly had no intention of writing an ‘Our Cancer Diary’-type column, partly because it just feels a bit wrong but mainly because it makes it a bit tricky to drop jokes into; Bad Cancer is hardly a laugh a minute subject for anyone.

But in the same way my view of Beeston changed when we had our daughter Scarlett and I suddenly discovered Beeston had a great medical centre, soft play areas and parks that I’d really not bothered about before I now know what great at home and on-call medical services Beeston has – and after Sal finally made it out of the house on her borrowed electric wheelchair what utterly dreadful pavements and roads we have, as well as what places are easy to get into and around, something yet again I’d not really thought about until I had to.

The biggest change for me though is where all of these things come together.

As I said, I never intended to write about our experience of Sal’s cancer. Hell, neither of us want it, we want a long and happy and pain-free life of course – but the other day I had a truly wonderful email from someone who’s relatively new to Beeston, someone we’ve never met but had initially read about Sal and me on the ‘Beeston Updated’ Facebook site and just wanted to send both of us best wishes and support. We were genuinely touched, humbled and astounded as it was a truly lovely thought and gesture. We ended up talking about why their family had moved here (it turns out they love Beeston and couldn’t be happier to have moved) and I realised that for us the reason Beeston is such a great place to live isn’t just our friends and family (awesome as they are) or the facilities, shops, services or even late night restaurants – it’s the brilliant, wonderful and caring people we have here.

Beeston, you are awesome, thank you.

Tim Pollard
Nottingham’s Official Robin Hood

An interview with…Giselle Leeb

A couple of years ago when I was still an undergraduate, I found myself being taught how to do HTML and WordPress with a select bunch of other writers. Our teacher was Giselle Leeb, 47, website developer, IT trainer and writer. She’s lived in Beeston for two and a half years but grew up in South Africa. I caught up with her to find out what she’s up to and how her writing career is going.

Giselle has had 20 short stories published so far. They have appeared in publications such as Reckoning, Litro, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Mslexia, The Stockholm Review, and Firewords Quarterly among others. She has recently become assistant editor at Reckoning, an annual journal of creative writing on environmental justice, who published her short story Wolfinia in December 2016.

The secret behind getting her stories published is to always write and constantly submit. “I write every day except for weekends,” says Giselle. “I’ve got enough short stories to try and put some into a collection, I’ve got the stories and the manuscript ready.”

For someone who usually submits short stories to publications, putting together a collection would seem like the natural progression. I ask her which publishers she has in mind for the collection.

“There’s quite a few good indie publishers, but it’s very hard to get short story collections published if you’re a relatively unknown writer.”

Giselle submits stories as much as she writes them, and doing so has revealed new things about her writing style and capabilities that even she didn’t realise. The last story she had published was ‘The Dog’s Aren’t Barking’ which appears in Supernatural Tales. She wrote it and submitted it despite it not being her preferred genre.

“I don’t normally write supernatural stories,” she reveals. “That’s the longest short story I’ve written (about 6,500 words). I was a bit unsure because it’s not my usual genre. I wasn’t sure if they would publish it but I was very chuffed.”

She describes her usual genre as ‘literary slipstream’, an area of fiction I’d never heard of until that moment. “It’s a bit like magic realism or weird tales,” she explains. “It’s a literary story setting in a real town but there’s some strange element to it.”

It’s absolutely essential to have feedback from a group

Although I write fiction and poetry, I hardly ever submit them to competitions or publications, but Giselle believes that submitting work helps with the motivation to write.

“I’ll try out competition themes and sometimes they spark something off. You can get too distracted by it, addicted,” she laughs.

She also makes use of websites that can help with tracking submissions such as Duotrope and The (Submissions) Grinder. “I’ve got about 20 stories I’m sending out at the moment so it’s quite important. It’s really easy to forget where you’ve sent a story.”

For anyone who has never submitted creative work before and doesn’t know where to start, the answer is simple: Google it.

“Look at competitions,” says Giselle. “It will always be there, it’s not like anyone is going to take it away or do the exact same stories!”

In issue 47 of The Beestonian we featured an interview with Beeston author Megan Taylor, who is Giselle’s partner. They met through both being members of the same fiction group, and had known one another two years before they got together. Giselle explains the benefits of being in a relationship with another writer.

“We write quite differently but I think we’ve got a good appreciation of each other’s work. We definitely bounce ideas off each other but it’s never rivalrous. For me, it’s absolutely essential to have feedback from a group or from Megan.”

In the near future Giselle is hoping to so some workshops with Writing East Midlands, but for now she is enjoying going through the slash pile of unsolicited submissions at Reckoning, and getting an idea of what it feels like to be on the other side.

It was announced recently that Giselle will have one of her stories published in Best British Short Stories 2017 by Salt Publishing. The anthology will be available on 15 June and is available to pre-order now from Amazon and Waterstones.

You can find out more about Giselle’s writing and publications on her website: giselleleeb.com

JM

Nottingham Poetry Festival

Anne 2

This year’s poetry festival, which lasted for one week from 21 – 30 April took over from what was Nottingham Festival of Literature and was organised by the comedian, writer and poet Henry Normal.

The programme for the festival was full to the brim with over 50 events featuring a wide range of poets, both from inside and outside Nottingham, and featured big names in poetry such as Carol Ann Duffy and John Cooper Clarke. I attended the following events which showcased the breadth of poetic talent in our city.

On Saturday 22, a poetry slam took place at Nottingham Mechanics, judged by poet and facilitator Jim Hall, whose only criteria was that the poems made him feel something.

There were performances from Panya Banjoko, and former Mouthy poets, Joshua Judson, Matt Miller and Neal Pike, as well as other familiar faces from the poetry scene.

In the end, Jim chose a wonderful poet Gloria for third place, whose soft-spoken poems made an impression on the judge and audience alike. Second place went to emerging performance poet Jake Wildeman, with first place awarded to Matt Miller, whose poems about love and home were poignant enough to win him £30 in prize money.

Jim, who was assisted by Jeremy, the chair of Nottingham Poetry Society, said, ‘[Matt] really thought about the time limit. It was a whole journey within three minutes and I learnt a lot about him. It was quite a clear one for me.’

On Sunday 23, Rough Trade was the home of Book Off, which began with a workshop in ‘found poetry’ whereby participants used magazines to create poems by cutting or blacking out selected words. The day continued with a performance poetry workshop by Jamie Thrasivoulou and Sophie Sparham, which covered issues such as heckling, performing politically sensitive poems and the best way to introduce yourself to your audience.

Bridie hit her teammate Joshua’s face with a wet teabag to demonstrate schadenfreude

At this point, sportswear-clad poets began to assemble for Poetercize: the Poetry Game Show hosted by Stephen Thomas. This round was the decider between Bridie Squires and Joshua Judson vs Chris McLoughlin and Milla Tebbs. The event was delayed due to technical problems, but was handled with humour. The show featured That Welsh Woman, interpretive dance and audience participation.

Bridie hit her teammate Joshua’s face with a wet teabag to demonstrate schadenfreude, and Chris ate orange peel in a desperate bid to be the best…but in the end it was Chris and Milla who were crowned champions.

On Tuesday 25, Debbie Bryan in the Lace Market welcomed Some Poets from Big White Shed for an evening of performances from poets that have been published by BWS and poets that they would like to see published.

The event celebrated what Anne describes as ‘peer publishing’ and featured poems from Neal Pike, Stephen Thomas, Midnight Shelley, Trevor Wright and Jim Hall among many others.

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Continuing the celebration of publishing was Mud Press on Friday 28 at the launch of their latest anthology Woman. Mud Press is a publishing house which was set up by Georgina Wilding.

The event took place at Cobden Chambers and replicated the festival vibe but on a smaller scale. There were live artists, music, face painting and a poetry kissing booth.

I’ve only covered a tiny portion of the poetry festival, and my experience was exactly what I wanted it to be. It was a week of celebration that both poets and poetry lovers could appreciate.

JM

We gotta wear shades

Is Beeston in for its best summer in living memory? Of course we’d say it was, as the trumpeter of all that is ace about our town.

But check out the evidence before you dismiss this as simple hyperbole:

  • The Canalside Heritage Centre opens in June: see the feature on Page 3.
  • Oxjam returns! There was doubt on its return, but we can confirm it all kicks off with the Unplugged event on July 1st.
  • A week later, Beeston Carnival is back for its twelfth year.
  • The Street Art Festival that will be brightening up some local walls.
  • More beer festivals than you can drunkenly shake a stick at.
  • Beeston Library reopens in August after a huge refit.
  • The ABC Art Trail returns, showing off the best in Beeston artistic flair on the 3rd and 4th.
  • TONS MORE! Really. For a town of our size, we certainly punch above our own weight. The Beestonian is always keen to hear about (and subsequently promote) exciting local stuff, so don’t hesitate to drop us an email at thebeestonian@gmail.com

We also have a big project to launch, which we’ll tell you more about soon. As we now have joined the nineties and got ourselves a website, you’ll be wise to keep an eye out there: https://beestonian.com/. Now, open up this magazine and find just a slice of the talent stuffed cake that is Beestonia…

MT

What A Relief!

Hello, good citizen of Beeston, how are you this lovely spring day?

Very well, thank you – the sun is shining, the Crown has been refurbished and… hang on a minute, you don’t normally start your turgid ramblings with an individual greeting, what’s going on?

Ah. Bother, you noticed. Weeeell… this column is a bit different. It tackles some… er… odd subject matter. I just thought I’d warn you. Don’t read it out loud, m’kay? Especially in the pub.

As some of you may know, my lovely wife Sal is really quite poorly with a scary and incurable breast cancer which has spread to her bones, liver and brain. She’s coping with it reasonably well though, for the most part she’s in good spirits and we have our beautiful three year old daughter to keep us laughing which helps a lot. Moreover, thanks to the enormous generosity of a considerable number of very lovely people we recently had our garage converted into a downstairs bedroom for her as (just after we got married last September) Sal lost the use of her legs and partially because of this is unfortunately now quite often in considerable pain.

I’d promised her and her best friend Lou a spa break before Sal’s diagnosis nearly two years ago as who wouldn’t enjoy a champagne filled weekend of pampering, relaxation and massage? Because of her condition though it appears almost impossible now as there don’t appear to be many hotel/spa resorts that will treat clients with advanced cancer (insurance issues I guess). So I thought I’d see if there was anyone locally who could help, not only for Sal and her pain but also for me as I do a lot of lifting these days and Sal keeps insisting, probably very sensibly, that I need to look after myself as well as her.

So I went online and Googled ‘Beeston Massage’.

Wow.

Wow? Why ‘Wow’?

Erm… look, I’m not hopelessly naïve, nor do I imagine Beeston is a haven of purity, decency and light (after all, our town topped the list of ‘Places People Have Extra-marital Affairs’ a couple of years ago) but one of the first links I found was to a site that reviews the… ahem… professional services of ‘Ladies of Transactional Affection’, so to speak.

Come again?

Very funny. Imagine a ‘TripAdvisor for Personal Services’ with a very in-depth and detailed review of the ‘goings on’ at the (now already closed) new massage parlour on Regent Street, as well as a many other locations. It was, to quote Star Trek’s Mr Spock, “Fascinating”. I read sections of the reviews out to Sal, her Mum and a group of friends when they were round and we were all laughing fit to burst (which was actually great therapy in itself).

I find that hard to swallow…

Stop that now. Anyway, it just got me thinking about the ‘darker’ side of Beeston, what goes on behind closed doors and how much of a good or bad thing it was. As I said, I’m not that naïve to think it doesn’t happen everywhere and Beeston is surely no exception – so I’m not sure why the Broadgate establishment only lasted a few weeks before closing…

Maybe they’ll wait fifteen minutes and try again?  

You’re just being silly now. But as I said, maybe Beeston is packed full of naughtiness – or is demand drooping (sorry, dropping)? Was the closure due to local pressure, lack of demand or not paying the right business rates? Might it simply be that Beeston is no longer the illicit nookie capital of the UK, (and if not should we be pleased or disappointed)?

No idea, I’m going to the pub for a stiff one.

Oh suit yourself, I can tell you’re not taking this seriously. The really sad thing is Sal and I still haven’t found somewhere who can provide a nice, soothing and entirely respectable massage.

Oh, that’s a real shame. I do so love a happy ending…. 

Tim Pollard

Stephan Collishaw: Interview

We caught up with Stephan to find out about his latest novel and how Beeston played a role in his writing career…

Front Cover

If you’d have told a young Stephan Collishaw that one day he would be a published author he probably wouldn’t have believed you. Yet his third novel The Song of the Stork has recently been released by Legend Press, and he’s set up Noir Press, which is the only publishing house in the UK dedicated to Lithuanian Literature. Not bad for a man who failed his GCSEs twice.

Collishaw, 49, who currently lives in Colwick, grew up in Basford and attended Ellis Guilford, and despite failing his exams, he did leave school with a love of literature.

“They introduced me to Guy de Maupassant, which is the only thing school did for me,” he reminisces. “My poor mother was at her wits end and got me onto a Youth Training Scheme back in the 1980s. I went to work at a bookkeepers and lasted there 6 months until I got sacked.” However, this proved to be a crucial moment in his life.

“At that point in time, I decided I wanted to be a writer. So I started reading as much as I possibly could,” he says, “but when I was at work the cleaning lady caught me going to the toilets with Jane Austen and cup of tea.” We laugh at the memory. “She reported me to the manager who didn’t think it was appropriate, and sacked me.”

In 1995 he decided to go on a whim to Lithuania after teaching for two years in Radford, and that decision has made his life what it is today. “I’d gone with the start of a novel stuffed in my backpack,” he says, “and when I got there, life was far too much fun to be writing a novel. I ended up getting married to a Lithuanian.”

Now, he has three children, speaks Lithuanian and visits the country regularly. “When you explore a country, one of the things you want to do is explore the writing,” states Collishaw. “It’s almost impossible to actually read Lithuanian novelists,” he adds.

It was this that became the driving force behind Noir Press, which he set up about a year ago. “Until this moment in time,” he tells me, “there was only one living Lithuanian novelist in translation in the UK and that’s the one I published. It’s the only one.”

So far, Noir Press has published Breathing into Marble by Laura Sintija Černiauskaitė which won the European Union Prize for Literature. The publishing house is also set to release three books this year: The Easiest by Rasa Aškinytė; Shtetl Romance by Grigory Kanovich; The Music Teacher by Renata Šerelytė.

“All the books that we’re publishing have been award winning or in the top five books in Lithuania,” he tells me. “The concept is not to do more than one of each writer so that we build up a showcase. This is Lithuanian fiction as it stands at this moment in time.”

I ask him about his latest book Song of the Stork, a historical fiction novel set during the 1940s amid the Second World War which tells the story of a fifteen year old Jewish girl, Yael. While on the run, she meets a village outcast who is mute and they form a relationship.

“Before I’d started writing it,” explains Collishaw, “I hadn’t thought about how you would develop a relationship between two characters who can’t speak to each other. But in some ways that was a powerful, energetic part of the novel because I had to think how I was going to develop that relationship rather than falling back on normal tropes of writing.”

Although he doesn’t live in Beeston, Collishaw does have links to our town particularly with the Flying Goose Café along Chilwell Road. “I’ll be doing a reading there,” he reveals, “and at the moment Hilary [Cook] is very kindly selling my books in preparation for the talk.”

Beeston was one of the first places I was taken seriously as a writer

It’s not just recently that Flying Goose has played a part in his writing career, as he explains: “Years ago I did one of my first ever readings as a novelist at her café back in 2001-2, so for me it’s a special place. That was when I first felt as though I was a proper writer and had any kind of identity as a writer.” It’s not just the café he likes to visit when he comes to Beeston. Jen Glover who set up the micro-brewery A Pottle of Blues is one of his former colleagues. “We worked together for many years at a school in Radford and it was enough to send us all off crazy,” he laughs, “so for Jen it provided the impetus for her escaping from teaching and living a dream of hers; opening a bar is the most appropriate thing she could possibly have done.”

The Beeston-based publisher Shoestring Press also holds a place in his heart, not only because he considers John Lucas a “godfather of literature” but because his first published collection was a Shoestring edition.

Collishaw explains: “I entered East Midlands Writers Awards and won. They published it with Shoestring, so I was first published by a Beeston publisher and it was the first time I’d ever made it into a proper publication.” He adds, “Beeston was one of the first places I was taken seriously as a writer.”

Stephen will be at the Flying Goose Café on Wednesday April 12 where he will be reading from Song of the Stork.

To find out more about Noir Press and upcoming publications, visit: www.noirpress.co.uk

Jade Moore

Chris McLoughlin: Interview

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeiran Ganiyeva

We met a Beeston performance poet who is breaking down the boundaries of mental health…

Breakdown

It’s very rare that I cry after reading a book or poem. But one Beeston-based performance poet succeeded in opening the floodgates when I read one of ten poems in his collection Breakdown. The man in question is Chris McLoughlin, 28, who has been writing for two and a half years, ever since he moved to the area.

His chapbook was published in July 2016 by Big White Shed, a Nottingham-based business run by Anne Holloway, which acts as an enabler to help poets such as Chris realise their ambitions, such as writing a book.

After reading his collection, I couldn’t wait to meet him and it turns out we have a lot more in common than expected, i.e. we both have anxiety. I begin by asking him about the subject matter of his poems. He says, ‘They predominantly cover the mental health spectrum and grief.’  It is by nature a personal subject, so I asked him what his poems mean to him, in terms of their content and writing them. He tells me that ‘they are a way for me to process what I’m going through, but in performance and by publishing they are a way that I hope other people can process what they are going through.’

As a Beeston poet myself, I wondered whether he has ever been inspired by our home-town. He says: ‘I write about Beeston quite a lot. You know the concrete steam towers? When you get the train in just before the station? I’ve written about them loads. Every time I reach them I’m home, and they’re the signifier.’

At this point we turn to the subject of performance. Chris tells me that he has a background in drama and is a trained actor. He says, ‘I’m more of a stage poet than I am a page poet. The difference for me is when you read a powerful poem, it will tend to reach people for longer but not in the same way. Whereas when I perform, I perform to people not just at them.’

I walk into the audience and get them to cram around me as tight as they can, and it’s trying to teach them what anxiety is.

Chris has performed at a number of festivals including Luton International Carnival, Nottingham Poetry festival, and Greenwich & Docklands Festival. He provides me with an insight into how someone expressing mental health problems transfers that to an audience: ‘There’s one poem called Ghosts which I do at festivals,’ he says, ‘and usually you tend to get quite a lot of “traditional” poets who read and look like professors. But in Ghosts, I walk into the audience and get them to cram around me as tight as they can, and it’s trying to teach them what anxiety is.’ I tell him what a great idea it is, to combine his acting skills with being a poet, and he recalls a performance he did at Das Kino in Nottingham. ‘They’ve got a big mirror at the back which you perform in front of,’ he tells me, ‘and that’s so horrible! If I perform in front of that, everyone is going to be like “whatever”, so I got everyone to turn around and face the mirror, and I faced the mirror and said, “this is what anxiety looks like.”’

I tell him I need to see him perform.

To tell me what message he wants to convey to his readers through the written word he begins by explaining the writing process of his book’s blurb: ‘We [him and Anne] took three hours to write the blurb, and it’s two sentences. It’s because we didn’t know what we meant, and it was always stuff like “Chris McLoughlin is a blah blah blah” and in the end I just wrote “he kinda wants you to buy this book, or whatever, but really he just hopes these poems help you feel less alone”. And that’s exactly it, I just want someone to hear the poem and go “oh, me too.”’

I was meant to interview Chris for the last issue, and touch on his role with the Mouthy Poets, a poetry collective that run weekly workshop sessions to explore poetry in terms of performance. But in December 2016 they split up, so I decide to ask Chris, who was their Artistic Director, about the reasons behind the split. He tells me ‘we got caught in a catch 22 where our funding got so low we could barely afford to pay our staff, and we needed our staff to be doing funding stuff. Eventually we decided rather than impact our participants negatively we’d say “we’ve done a lot and that’s that.”’ He informs me that the average running course of an arts organisation is five years, and the Mouthy Poets had been on its sixth year.

It’s not all bad news, however, as participants from Mouthy have branched out and created new projects such as a writing collective and an editing circle. Chris adds that although he doesn’t see Mouthy coming back together, he wouldn’t rule it out completely.

After reading Breakdown I’m eager for more, so I ask him if he is working on anything at the moment. ‘I’ve just finished my first full collection, called Underneath the Almond Tree. It covers my life from three months before my mother passed away from breast cancer up until the present day.’ As he wants his collection in the hands of more people, he’ll be sending it off to publishers such as Faber and Carcanet, and it’ll be another two years or so until the collection is out.

But for now, you can buy Breakdown from Chris’ website:  http://www.pijaykin.com

Or see his featured poem below, taken from his upcoming collection.

 Dodo

I want to be big, flightless, and tasty
for explorers. When I walk into a room
parrots will squawk Who’s a pretty boy
then? I want a beak, for pecking,
grabbing, but not chewing.
I don’t want to chew anymore.
I want to swallow things
whole

or leave them alone.

Chris McLoughlin

Jade Moore

Berliner Bubbles

Ey yup Beestonites, don’t you just love the New Year?

The new found gym bunnies are slogging it away for a few weeks pounding away those turkey/biscuit/ and/or pudding pounds, leaving the pubs and bars virtually secluded: no waiting for Dave and the office lot to make up their mind on their tipple of choice during their annual excursion to the local boozeries.

There’s also a mad scramble of offers to lure us into eateries – ten pounds off here, get a free 10p sweetie mix there and luckily for us even brand spanking new establishments for our leisure pleasure.

First on the agenda, The Berliner, located on the high road. Local lads James and James of the Froth coffee shop venture have yet again joined forces to bring you a venue which combines two great foodstuffs, pizza and err cocktails with a dash of live music in the form of late night deejays and live bands in the pipeline. Achingly trendy the bar’s decor is inspired by trips to Berlin aiming to provide a hangout for students and shoppers alike.

Myself and newbie Beeston Beats fellow contributor Donna Bentley, headed off to perform an undercover report with two accounts of the same bar – that’s twice the feedback without leaving your armchair. While I supped away on a few cheeky cocktails, Donna actually did some reviewing…. The mid-January lull has hit hard. Payday seems an unreasonable number of miles away, and the dark evenings still creep up on us like the bogey man. In amongst the lingering sense of January malaise I had a bit of respite as I was quite excited to learn of a new venue arriving in Beeston.

I saw this as chance to break up the usual routine of real ale pubs. As much as I love nothing more than a craft beer and a scotch egg (or several, as determined by the magnitude of beer consumption), it’s not always what I am in the mood for. Beeston needed something new.

So, furnished with a fresh 20 in my pocket I wandered out into the evening chill and headed (with Lulu) towards Chilwell High Road, filled with curious anticipation. As we entered the bar I immediately felt the buzz. The place already looked well established and distinctly reminded me of the vibe you get when out in the city.This place was most certainly fresh and edgy, a welcome break from the plethora of traditional pubs that dominates the Beeston drinking scene.

I had the privilege of being away some time in Berlin, and could clearly see where the inspiration for the bar came from: creative, contemporary décor, with a bit of cool thrown in for good measure. The Berliner seemed like an oasis of fresh vibe and activity when compared with the calm quiet of the night outside. It almost didn’t seem to fit into Beeston, but I was very glad it was there. The crowd was full of new faces, with a diverse and refreshing age range of clientele. I clocked the D.j setting up in the corner and wondered what the order of the day was in terms of music. The smell of pizza was incredibly alluring, but I refrained.

This challenge, a raging battle between my stomach and my brain, (which was also in conflict with itself) was exacerbated when I noticed several tables furnished with punters all enjoying the pizza. I really did feel tempted. I stayed strong and made a mental note to come back for the 2 for 1 pizza deal before 5pm.

As we got to the bar we realised that we had arrived at 8.45pm, just in time to take advantage of the cocktail happy hour: 2 cocktails for £8 before 9pm – it seemed impolite not to. The bar was busy, but it was also very well staffed and we managed to get both our drinks orders in, just in time.The cocktail menu comprised of some well-known old favourites and a few newbies, with the addition of the Long Eaton Ice Tea, presumably a fresh spin on an old classic.

I wasn’t quite sure what a Bubble Bath was but Lulu and I decided to take the plunge, and so round 1 was bought. Getting distracted by the hub of the bar I didn’t notice what exactly went into a Bubble Bath. I snapped back to attention when a nice lady in the queue allowed me to jump in front.

An order for a Long Eaton Ice Tea was made and Lulu and I challenged the bar staff to a cocktail shake-off. Drinks were made in a timely manner and it wasn’t long before the Bubble Bath, complete with passion fruit float, was catching the eyes of nearby bystanders. By which time, the DJ was set up and ready to go. Mellow house music filled the bar. The volume was audible but not so loud to the point where you couldn’t talk.

Drinks were going down well and the evening was lost in conversation. Overall if you haven’t yet had a chance to get to the Berliner, the upcoming ‘unlimited pizza’ nights and cocktail masterclass alone are valid reasons; add on live bands and acts and we definitely recommend you pay the bar a visit. Lulus input- ‘ummm Bubble Bath cocktail nom nom (reads cocktail menu) wait a min RAW EGG??

Better line us up another Long Eaton Ice Tea…

Lulu