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

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

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