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

A Genuine Beestonian Accent

Our resident Robin Hood talks propah…

Over the years Sal and I have had a lot of weird things happen to us: watching the birth of our daughter become the top story on the BBC news website; being mentioned in a question on a national TV quiz show and recently discovering someone had written us into a play where the ‘real’ Robin and Marian appear in modern day Nottingham and bump into us, meaning we are genuinely characters in someone else’s play (which on reflection may explain a lot).

Performance-wise I have done a few other things over the years; some TV work, music videos and even a proper play (for most of which I had to stay hidden under a huge pile of empty beer cans, pizza boxes and other detritus so I could ‘amusingly’ emerge halfway through proclaiming ‘Great party, man’ which didn’t require quality acting skills so much as the ability to stay awake). And several years ago I was also hired to dress as a vicar and act out a marriage service for a couple of people who wanted it to be filmed; I still have no idea at all what that was about.

I’ve also been in a couple of movies – not huge, big budget epics or lavish musicals but more what you’d call ‘very low budget horror movies’, the splendidly titled ‘Dracula’s Orgy of the Damned’ and ‘Werewolf Massacre at Hell’s Gate’ written, directed and produced by my old friend James Baack in and around his home in Chicago (and even now available on DVD from Amazon in the US).

A few years ago James asked me if I’d like to appear in his films to narrate/introduce as ‘Lord Victor Fleming’, a collector of arcane and mysterious stories. Wearing evening dress and having dressed our living room look as much like a 19th century gentleman’s club as possible Sally filmed me setting the scene for the film (“The story you are about to see is a tale of terror that will freeze your very soul” etc.) including some filming at Wollaton Hall to imply it was Victor Fleming’s ancestral home. We both enjoyed the experience greatly and were delighted to get copies of the final, finished film(s) several months later.

And then reviews of the movies began turning up online, and oddly the one thing all the reviews had in common were comments on the narrator’s ‘fake English accent’, which amused us all greatly. I can maybe see why American reviewers watching a film mainly shot in America with American actors might assume my accent was fake (and to be fair my ‘posh’ voice may not be entirely consistent anyway) but when I jokingly replied to one such reviewer on the Amazon US site recently,  pointing out I was genuinely English in what I hoped was an amusingly and vaguely sarcastic way, the Nottingham Post got involved and ran a story ‘Robin Hood slammed for ‘fake English accent’’, and that really was weird.

Although it was quite fun, albeit presumably on a slow news day, it also got me thinking. Much like Russell Crowe I know I’ve never spoken in a ‘Nottingham accent’ but I’m not sure what my accent is. I’m sure I do have some Nottingham influence but I don’t think it’s very strong (I’m sure growing up listening to a lot of Radio 4 has affected it much more) but that led me to further wonder – is there  ‘Beeston accent’? I don’t think there is, but is that due to the excellent cosmopolitan makeup of the town, with so many varying languages, people and cultures all mixing together?  Are there any particular words or phrases that we can claim as our own? Because if I’m going to be castigated for having a fake English accent I’d like to console myself with knowing I have a genuine Beestonian one…

Tim Pollard

Nottingham’s Official Robin Hood

Super Kitchen

Reasons why we should eat together…

“Taking the time to sit down together over a meal helps to create social networks that in turn have profound effects on our physical and mental health, our happiness and wellbeing, and even our sense of purpose in life.”

The above quote is taken from Breaking Bread, a report published by the University of Oxford, which focuses on the results from a National Survey for The Big Lunch. The report features an array of statistics and graphs that work to illustrate the way many of us feel about mealtimes and life in general. The research proves that there is a strong correlation between eating meals with other people and feeling positive about life. The report also highlights the various physical effects that eating together causes in our bodies, for example, eating with others ‘triggers the endorphin system in the brain’ which provides us with positive and healthy eating experience.

scoff

But what has this got to do with Beeston? A brilliant business called Super Kitchen. The ideas raised in the Breaking Bread report make up part of the driving force behind the community café business, and later on this year, Beeston will be saying hello to our very own Super Kitchen! I met up with Marsha Smith, founder and project director, for a friendly endorphin-inducing chat over coffee, hot chocolate and shortbread, to find out more…

Many people are busy, have children, or are on a tight budget when it comes to socialising and organising meals for the family.

Back in 2010, Marsha set up a small community café in Sneinton where she cooked a soup, a main, and a pudding three times a week. It might not sound like much, but ‘that was actually really popular,’ she tells me, ‘people really appreciate fresh food, and if the food is good then they’re quite happy to not have so many choices. I just made the food I wanted to make and asked people to come and eat it.’ This is where the seed of Super Kitchen began to grow.

‘It dawned on me,’ Marsha continues, ‘that our pubs, working men’s clubs and social spaces have diminished over time.’ This is a sound observation when you consider how times are moving on, and what it means to be social nowadays. Many people are busy, have children, or are on a tight budget when it comes to socialising and organising meals for the family. Marsha goes on to say that she ‘recognised there was a real gap in the market, especially if you don’t want to go to the pub when you’ve got children, or don’t want the cost of going out to a formal restaurant.’

At this point, as the café we sat in was getting ever busier with people meeting up for a chat, I started realise how little thought and consideration I had given to the importance of mealtimes, and eating as a family. Marsha pointed out that hungry children had been turning up to her social eating events. ‘I wanted to at least have a go at trying to use the business model for social good, so I repositioned my business as a charity and applied for funding,’ she says, ‘I then ran a year’s project called Family Café. It was a pay as you feel model that ran on surplus food from FareShare.’ FareShare is an organisation that aims to tackle food poverty by saving good food and sending it to charities and community groups like Marsha’s so that it can be turned into delicious and nutritious meals. Working with organisations such as FareShare ensures that the meals are cheaply sourced, which makes them ‘as affordable as possible and economically viable,’ states Marsha.

It was at the end of the Family Café project that various groups started getting in contact, saying “We love your model, but how do you do it?” At which point, in April 2014, Super Kitchen was set up formally. ‘What we did was we said, “we’ve got a replicable model, and we’ll give you our model and help you with food hygiene certification, support, guidance, and a link to FareShare food,”’ explains Marsha. Super Kitchen became like an umbrella, or banner, under which various cafes operate under. They pay an annual membership which covers the cost of everything including the food. ‘That’s how Super Kitchen was built.’

kitchen prep

Within two years, they have gone from one to over forty Super Kitchens, mainly in Nottinghamshire, but there are also some located in Warwickshire, Derbyshire and Leicester. So, what about our Beeston Super Kitchen? ‘We’ll be setting one up at Middle Street Resource Centre,’ she tells me. ‘There will be a monthly social eating event, and you can expect a two or three course meal for about £2.50. It’s probably going to be vegetarian.’

With that in mind, conversation turned back to the core inspiration behind the business, and what positive effects social eating can have for us as human beings. So if you’re wondering what a social eating event is like, Marsha told me exactly what you can expect…

‘People should expect a really affordable, sociable meal that’s got loads of love in it and has been cooked by somebody and hasn’t just been pinged in a microwave. It’s just like a family dinner only on a bigger, more social setting.’

“Making time for and joining in communal meals is perhaps the single most important thing we could do – both for our own health and wellbeing and for community cohesion.” – Breaking Bread.

Visit the website at: http://superkitchen.org/

Jade Moore

Frustrated No More

During early April, potential diners walking along Chilwell High Road were encouraged by the emergence of the latest outlet – welcoming leaflets on the table outside, exciting social media promises and beautiful smells coming out of the kitchen.

The Library restaurant on Wollaton Road, which closed a few years ago, gained an excellent reputation and has been much missed – so the news that the same highly experienced and skilled chef who cooked there (and previously at La Toque), Mattias Karlsson, was coming back to cook in Beeston. He has now set up an establishment along with Patrick De Souza, a local talented home chef and this has been greeted with much excitement.

The Frustrated Chef has been pretty much packed out since its opening on 14th April. Since then many people have had excellent experiences and have been pleased to share the news on Facebook, and across the garden fence. It has now extended opening hours to include lunchtimes and will start a special Sunday service on 19th June.

The Frustrated Chef’s offer is World Tapas and the ever changing menu features a diverse range of dishes with multi-national inspiration from nibbles such as delicious hummus with smoked paprika and fried broad beans, goat cheese parcels with sweet chilli, piquillo peppers with feta, olives and orange to more substantial meat and fish dishes such as Swedish meatballs and mussels with white wine and harissa, alongside salads and breads and specials every night. The desserts were also highly enjoyable – pistachio shortbread with rum and cinnamon chocolate sauce was yummy. It is fantastic to go around the world from Chilwell High Road!

For every morsel consumed and cocktail drunk I think we should spare a thought for the team behind Relish. Their vision to make a café out of three rather unloved shop units and hard work to establish it lies beneath this exciting new restaurant.

I hope Mattias and Patrick are frustrated no more!

Karen Allwood

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

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