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

The Miracle Man

A couple of months ago, Beeston Film Club had a special screening of ‘I Believe in Miracles’, a superb documentary about the astounding success of the Forest side of the late 70s/early 80s. Taking in place in the upstairs room of The White Lion, a great night was had by all.

The film is very accessible to fans of Forest and those of other clubs (and even people not that into footy), mixing archive footage of games and interviews, together with plenty of commentary of the stars of that time. An added bonus at the showing was the presence of one of the key men, striker Garry Birtles. He very generously gave up his time after a long trip down from covering a match at Sunderland (he now works as a pundit/co-commentator for Sky), in order to come.

Garry is a local lad, having lived in the Long Eaton and Chilwell areas for the majority of his life. Definitely had no trouble navigating his way to a pub in the middle of Beeston! Forest signed him from lowly Long Eaton United as a young man (you just have to say ‘young man’ in a Cloughie voice!), and after a few years he had won a bagful of medals, including two European Cups.  He was also capped by England on three occasions.

I am slightly too young to remember Garry in his pomp as part of that amazing Forest side at the time. I was also brought up elsewhere in the country supporting a different team. They happen to be the side where Cloughie cut his managerial teeth though, so I like to think that without the gritty experience of managing Hartlepool United, he never would have enjoyed the success he did. Therefore, I Believe in Miracles filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge about the astonishing rise of a middling, unfashionable second tier side who went on to become the best side in Europe within a couple of years.

After the film finished, the questions and answers began. Garry was an absolute star, pulling no punches with the answers to a variety of questions. I managed to rile him unintentionally by asking how he would compare the exploits of Leicester City to what Forest achieved. He quite rightly pointed out that people in the media now tend to have fairly short memories, and that football definitely existed before the birth of the Premier League in the early 1990s. Perhaps if Leicester win the European Champions League next year they can start to see if they might measure up.

I often thought that I might have affected his game, but now I realise that I maybe just ruined his marriage and made him sell his house.

Perhaps the funniest moment of the night came when a member of the audience didn’t ask a question, but instead issued an apology. Ace local carpenter Peter Urbacz confessed to being the little scrote who used to ride his skateboard down Garry’s drive at various antisocial times! I asked Peter about this afterwards, and he explained in full.

“In my teenage mind, Blenheim Drive in Chilwell was like one of those wide Californian streets. The banked concrete driveways with a channel of steps were steep enough to skate and a perfect obstacle to do a backside kickflip. Every morning and often very late at night I would pass his house. I would skate down there and do a Frontside Ollie over his channel of steps.

I must point out that the trend then was to have very hard and small wheels, so it would have been proper loud. I often thought that I might have affected his game, but now I realise that I maybe just ruined his marriage and made him sell his house.”

I managed to catch up with Garry whilst he was covering the Euros in France. Over the phone I hasten to add – I did fancy a trip over there to see him in person, but it would have been a bit dearer than the cost of a day ticket on the tram and a couple of pints.

He very kindly spared some of his time during a hectic schedule, chatting about the success and popularity of the film, what a great time he had as a player, and how there is no comparison to be made between NG9 and France. Also how badly run Forest are at present, in sharp contrast to his time there, when Clough and his assistant Peter Taylor were thoroughly trusted to do what they thought best.

He also talked about his time at Manchester United, when he wasn’t able to buy a house in the north west due to difficulties in selling his home in Long Eaton. This really struck me as indicative of the vast wealth players of today enjoy. When explaining to my wife who Garry is and what he achieved, it made me think of what he would have been worth these days.

A bang average Premiership player these days is more or less guaranteed to be a millionaire if they have a career in the top flight lasting 5 or so years. The monetary rewards are now astonishing for those winning a sackful of trophies and playing for England.

Garry lived in a modest house, drank in his local – ‘The Cadland used to be a truly great pub’ – and is still an incredibly down-to-earth and approachable bloke. I for one am really glad that the film has shone a spotlight on the achievements of Garry and the rest of that Forest side, and together with the success of Leicester City, proves that the beautiful game doesn’t have to be all about the biggest clubs with the most money.

JC

The 2016 Beeston Pub Crawl: the conclusion

Last issue we took it upon ourselves in the name of cutting edge, hard-working journalism, to survey all Beeston’s pubs by drinking in them all.

Tough work, but we were up for it. Surprisingly, when the job of doing this Herculean task was put out, virtually every one of our volunteered. This doesn’t happen when you want someone to write about the Toton Sewage Reclamation Works.

We gave ourselves 9 hours, stuck to halves, and still couldn’t get round. You simply can’t do them all in one night. That is a pretty glorious thing.

Yet we are professional and thorough. We also like pubs. So this issue we decided to do the ones we never got round to….

THE CHEQUERS:

The Chequers was given a good fettling a while back, and is now a smart looking pub with decent ale, strangely all Scottish. The football (Wales vs Slovakia) is on, and the place is full of temporary Celts cheering on Bale and co. It’s a great place for a warm summer pint. Its new terrace is a fine suntrap and you can also smell the gorgeousness of Gill’s chippy next door. GOOD FOR: the tram (stop nearby); Scottish beer fans; Welsh football fans.

BEST QUOTE: “You can smell Gill’s from here” “You can smell girls?”

THE HOP POLE:

I swear this happened. As we walk in, Duelling Banjos, the redneck National Anthem, comes on the stereo. Jimmy Wiggins, our sometimes music writer and Hop Pole bar stalwart, finds this incredibly amusing. The Hop Pole is a long term favourite of The Beestonian for so many reasons; Karen the hugely respected landlady; Harvey the taciturn ginger pub cat; The music (live bands each week, plus a music festival and an annual song writing competition). We ask Wiggins why it’s his favourite pub: “It’s the only pub in the world where you can walk in for a pint and get given a car”. That doesn’t happen to us, but it has that element of chaos that the best pubs have. Hurray for the Hop! GOOD FOR: music, fans of pubs, decent ale, worryingly odd regulars.

BEST QUOTE: “Ainsley Harriot always struck me as a bit of a groper”

THE BAR:

As its name suggests, The Bar is a bar. Not a pub. Chrome, open, airy. The barman juggles with glasses and pours us a beer. An England match is about to kick off, so the place is rammed and loud. We find a comfy leather sofa on which to sip our ale, overseen by a huge painting of Brian Clough. This used to a bit of an intimidating place, a suburban Yates, but tonight it’s a good place to be as the excitement of the football builds. However, we have to move on. GOOD FOR: football; fans of Brian Golbey, country music legend who bafflingly chooses here as his local.

BEST QUOTE: “The Wurzels never struck me as the people who you’d like to have in charge of the UK’s food production”

THE COMMERCIAL:

Last issue The Commercial was closed with pessimistic predictions being made regarding its future. The general consensus was that a once great, long struggling pub would finally bow out and become a restaurant much like the Durham Ox. It recently reopened, so this is our first nosey round. As we walk in, the place has that saliva-triggering scent of Indian food; aromas of frying garlic, sweet coriander and rich cumin. Yes, it is a restaurant, but also a pub and it works really well. The place is organised well to offer the best of both worlds. Soon we can’t help but order and helpings of high quality, good value curry come rolling onto the table. This beats the usual pub fare by miles. Tucking into the most delicious garlic naan I’ve ever had makes the thought of ever having a Wetherspoons burger again completely disappear. Pub? Restaurant? Who cares. Beeston has a new gem in its pub treasure chest. GOOD FOR: Food. Utterly wonderful food. Service: we get double helpings of those post-food warm wet napkins to clean down our mucky chops.

BEST QUOTE: “I don’t do poppadoms. They’re like elephant scabs to me”

THE CRICKETERS:

Our last pub, our final hurdle, our stagger – literally – to the finish line. The Cricketers always seems like the last of the rough Beeston pubs, since the demise of The Prince of Wales and The Royal Oak. But it’s actually alright, good value beer, lively atmosphere (the England match is now in full swing, with England a goal up). Our table is a bit shaky and we’re lucky to catch our drinks before they spill on the tartan carpet, but y’know, horses for courses. The football finishes, stupidly loud music kicks in, and we finish our drinks. And with them the Great Beeston Pub Survey. GOOD FOR: Pool, proximity to Sainsbury’s, sport, hearing loss.

BEST QUOTE: Not a quote, but an anecdote involving one of our writers and a famous comedy sidekick. See the back page for more….

CONCLUSION: We’ve got a fine set of pubs. So fine, we’re now existing on a diet composed solely of Lucozade and Rennies.

LB, WITH ADDITIONAL MATERIAL FROM ROOPAM, JOHN AND DARREN.

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

Beeston Players

She invites me inside, makes a drink, and I ask how last night went. She sips her tea and smiles proudly.

“It went really well. I thought it was the best they’ve ever done it.”

Well, only six hours later, when I’m watching Barbara and the Beeston Players’ second performance of Caught in The Net, I can’t agree more. But we’re not there yet. It’s still just Barbara and me sat on her sofa, drinking tea.

When I asked to speak to the most longstanding member of The Beeston Players I didn’t realise just how far back they went. The troupe started in the late sixties, with Barbara joining in 1970 after being invited by a friend named Elson to see them do Noel Coward’s Red Peppers.

“We used to go drinking in the Crown. Elson was in there. He was in the group, we got chatting, and he asked us if we’d like to go see it, and I really enjoyed it!”

It seemed Barbara was smitten, with the theatre at first anyway. “Red Peppers was very funny! It was just two people, Elson and Anette in the main parts. There was singing and lots of arguing. It was a lovely play.”

Shortly after, Elson invited Barbara to get involved.

“I dragged my sister along because I didn’t want to go alone, but we were welcomed with open arms.”

Why was that?

“Well, I had a sowing machine and she was a commercial artist.” She laughs. “Within a week we’d already got jobs backstage. I was doing costumes and she was painting sets. We fitted in quite well!”

That was the beginning of a passion for all aspects of theatre that lasts to this day. Barely a year later in 1971 Barbara was given her first part, playing a 14 year old schoolgirl (she was 23 at the time!) in Peter Shaffer’s Five Finger Exercise.

“I just loved it,” she says.

Later I’m sat in the hall of Round Hill School, looking out over a packed crowd and I have to say, I’m excited. Then there’s silence as the curtain rise slices through it. I’m not going to go into detail about the plot (this isn’t a review of the play, but I loved it), but as a comedy farce, Caught in The Net is full of slapstick, mistaken identity, word play, and more twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan movie.

For the better part of two hours, I laugh and snort and even have my heartstrings pulled, and then as the final curtain drops I join in with the humongous applause

The whole play is superb. Samuel Williams is excellent as father John Smith caught out in a lie and trying desperately to cover himself. Noreen Boyle is eerily good at playing his 15 year old daughter Vicki, veering perfectly from sweetness to temper tantrums at the flick of a hat. Sue Frost, Jill Griffiths, Alistair Hudson and Kai Robbins are equally funny in their roles as well. But the standout for me is Gary Frost who, whilst not being the central character, carried much of the play himself. Gary is an absolute joy to watch as “uncle” Stanley Gardener, Smith’s hapless but thoroughly likeable best friend.

For the better part of two hours, I laugh and snort and even have my heartstrings pulled, and then as the final curtain drops I join in with the humongous applause. Out of five stars? I give it a… Wait, I said this wasn’t a review didn’t I? Ah screw it. Five out of five!

So it’s hours earlier and Barbara has positively wowed me (as the play will later on). Since joining in 1970 she has been everything from costume maker, set designer, front of house, group secretary (which she still is), right through to actor and director. It was even through the Beeston Players that she met and married her husband Elson Barton, on September 15th 1976.

There have of course been highs and lows, stellar performances and bad ones, members come and gone, high turnouts and low turnouts. I ask Barbara for a highlight of her long career. She’s not sure if it’s a highlight, but the memory of one memorable evening springs quickly to mind.

“It was ’95. We were doing J.B. Priestley’s Dangerous Corner, and we had a superb actor for the major role; Robert Caplan. Well, on the first night he seemed fine. The second night he said he didn’t feel too good. The third night I had a phone call from his wife to say ‘He’s got a temperature of 104 and won’t be able to come.’”

“I remember looking at Elson and saying ‘What are we going to do?’ We didn’t have anybody else. No understudy. Elson said ‘You’ll have to do it.’

“’What me? I can’t be a man!’”

“’Yes you can. Put on your trouser suit, and get out there with your book.’”

“We couldn’t cancel it. I suppose it was logical. I’d directed the play, so I knew where Robert needed to be, where everybody else was, and I did know all the words. So that’s what I did! But after the first five minutes I really started to enjoy it, and somebody in the audience said afterwards that after the first five minutes they didn’t even notice!”

What a story! With that Barbara says goodbye. She’s planning on spending the afternoon with her grandson before tonight’s performance. I hope I can make it, I wonder if it’ll be any good?

The Beeston Players will return in November with Disposing of The Body.

www.beestonplayers.org

CF

Trailer Trash: Scott Bennett on the cinema experience

Last month, one afternoon in Manchester I had time to kill so I did something I haven’t done before, I went to the cinema alone, and it was bliss.

Well, it got me thinking about some of the cinema experiences I have had, both as an adult and a young moviegoer. So here in no particular order are some of the most memorable:

Terminator 2 (1991) Wakefield ABC Cinema (Now demolished) Certificate 15

As an Austrian body builder with zero acting range, a cyborg that is unable to covey any emotion was the role Arnie was born to play. I remember the hype around this film, everyone at school wanted to see and there was always a lad at school who claimed he had already seen all of the blockbusters years before. He had an uncle in America who had a camcorder and sent back recordings to his dad hidden in the belly of a Care Bear on a British Airways flight into Leeds Bradford airport.

Of course this was in the days where camera technology wasn’t very advanced, they were massive for starters, they looked like something you’d win on Bullseye. Smuggling a family sized bag of Maltesers is one thing but a 3-foot Sanyo camera that weighs the best part of a sack of gravel would’ve been impossible. It was a false economy anyway; £10 to watch the back of a blokes head, and the awkward moment when he whispers that he needs the toilet and you are forced to watch him taking a leak.

Terminator 2 was a certificate 15. My dad took a friend and me, we were both 12, but he was lucky enough to have a face ravaged by puberty. Surprisingly getting me in was okay; I just tucked in behind my father, strode confidently and remembered to keep puffing on the cigarette.

Marley and Me (2008) Nottingham Showcase Cinema

Many films are classed as date movies, which often means a film which I have no interest in seeing but will see to appease my wife. Marley and Me was one such movie. Owen Wilson has all the charisma of a dish cloth and Friends star Jennifer Aniston frankly reminds me too much of Iggy Pop. It was a film about a family who buy a dog, the dog becomes part of the family and then the dog dies. Now we have never owned a dog, we’ve never wanted a dog, yet my wife was inconsolable. Even my offer of nachos or a hot dog (not the greatest suggestion on reflection) could distract her from her grief.

I’m not totally unfeeling don’t get me wrong. I understood why she was moved to tears. There are many films that often turn me into a gibbering wreck with puffy eyes, like Rocky 4. Sylvester Stallone’s’ heartfelt speech at the end, clumsily delivered, full of anti-Russian sentiment and blundering American pride, often makes me want to grab a US flag, order a burger and weep like a baby.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) Curzion Cinema Loughborough

When I was a student the local Cinema in Loughborough would offer a student night where you could go and see the latest releases for £2.50. Amazing value. One night we decided to have a night off from studying (drinking) to see Saving Private Ryan. We sat there passing down snacks, which we’d smuggled in, and then settled down as the film started.

Now those first twenty opening minutes are probably some of the most raw and visceral things I’ve ever witnessed, they took your breath away. I remember looking round at that packed cinema and noticing absolute silence, we were all spellbound and remained so for the entire film. That’s the power of cinema, a total immersive experience. I love it.

50 Shades of Grey (2015) Leeds Odeon Certificate 18

One of the most anticipated films of last year and nearly two hours of my life I will never get back. My wife wanted to see it. I was concerned. I’d heard Christian Grey converted his own basement into a dungeon. DIY isn’t my forte. It took me two weeks to put up some shelves. I think a dungeon is beyond me, and it’s not like I could ring my dad for help.

My wife said stop being ridiculous, we were all adults and that we were going to go on a double date with my brother and his girlfriend. We sat in couples to make things less uncomfortable, because the last thing you want during the sex scenes is to see your own brother.

Pulling off the Heimlich manoeuvre during in erotic thriller would have been awkward to say the least

I had another worry during the screening too. I get involuntary muscular spasms; it mainly affects me at night before I go to sleep. But we were at the concession stand buying popcorn. As I was about to pay I had a muscular twitch and chucked about £8 change into the popcorn. Things were tense enough. Now every mouthful she took I worried she was going to choke on a pound coin, and pulling off the Heimlich manoeuvre during in erotic thriller would have been awkward to say the least.

The film is dreadful and one of the most confusingly misogynistic films I’ve ever had the misfortune to see. The message seems to be if a bloke’s obscenely rich, good looking and buys you things, then happily sign up to be his slave. I’m sure the attraction to Christian Grey wouldn’t have been the same if he was a fat lorry driver from Wigan who took you to his mum’s when she was at Bingo to spank you on the bum with a Gregg’s Steak Bake.

SB

Bendigo: Part 2

In our last issue we wrote about Bendigo, the Beeston based boxer and campaigner. Local historian Alan Dance, who has researched Bendigo for a new book (out soon!) contacted us to tell us how some of the things we know of Bendigo might have been the product of some artful image manipulation from the giant pugilist himself. Read on, as Alan explains all…

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I thoroughly enjoyed the article in issue 44 about Bendigo – real name William Thompson – but I’d like to take this opportunity to correct some of the details shown. I have recently been doing some in-depth research into his life in preparation for a forthcoming book – Bendigo, the Right Fist of God – of which more anon. Much has been written about him over the years, most of it, apparently, based on a newspaper article published in 1874. In that year James Greenwood, a London journalist, interviewed Bendigo. Perhaps he was not too clever with dates and numbers and other facts about his life; perhaps he was prone to exaggeration or just liked to spin a good yarn. And he had spent over twenty years in the ring, and had consumed more than his share of Nottingham ale.

Perhaps  the first thing that trainee reporters are told is Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. It certainly seems to have been the case with Greenwood’s article, for this sowed the seeds for the myths that are still being perpetuated. So, let’s look at some of these.

The best known two are that Bendigo was the youngest of 21 children and that he was one of triplets, whose mother gave them the nicknames of Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego, after the three men thrown in the ‘fiery furnace’ on the orders of King Nebuchadnezzar (Book of Daniel, Chapter 3).

Mmm. Really? OK, let’s examine the records. These show that Benjamin Thompson and Mary Levers were married at St. Mary’s Church Nottingham on 12th July 1805. Their first child, Rebecca, was born three months after their wedding and was baptised at St. Mary’s on 11th October 1805. Then came Thomas (baptised 30th May 1807) and John (20th November 1809). Then we come to William. In later life, William appears never to have mentioned the other two of the alleged triplets. Not surprising, since the Parish Registers clearly show that on 16th October 1811, Richard and William, the twin sons of Benjamin & Mary Thompson were baptised. No mention of triplets. Not only that, but just 12 days later, on to the 28th October, Richard was buried. He had perhaps lived for less than 3 weeks.

Bendigo, of course, had a glittering career as a pugilist, but died in his cottage in Beeston in August 1880

Now, triplets are fairly rare, but it is possible that Mary did give birth to three boys. The only possible explanation is that one died at, or very soon after his birth. No record exists of either a baptism or burial, but in 1811 there was no legal requirement to register either. If there was a third child, then it must have been quietly disposed of, possibly by the midwife. Only one child survived, so why would his mother need to think up three nicknames?

So, after six years of marriage, Mary had given birth to 5 children (possibly six). Yet Bendigo claimed to be the youngest of 21. He definitely wasn’t, for on 8th January 1815, another child, Mary, was baptised. However, she too died young, being buried on 3rd July 1818. William was almost seven at the time of his sister’s death, so he ought to have remembered her. But as she was the last child of this marriage, it is true to say that William was the youngest surviving child; but of six, not 21.

Much could be said about Bendigo’s family. His father was reputedly a mechanical genius, but a bit too fond of the ale (he dropped down dead in the Kings Arms in Chapel bar in 1827); Bendigo’s brother John became a respected optician with his own business; his nephew William (son of Thomas), killed his wife in 1876 at their home in Sheffield and was tried at Leeds for her manslaughter (he was found not guilty).

Bendigo, of course, had a glittering career as a pugilist, but died in his cottage in Beeston in August 1880. But even after death the myths continued, for it was soon claimed that he had been buried in his mother’s grave. The truth is, she had died in September 1854 and rests in the General Cemetery, almost a mile from Bendigo’s grave in Sneinton. Ironically, she is the only occupant of the grave, and there would have been room for Bendigo to join her.

So just how do these myths come about? No doubt celebrity status plays its part, the desire to exaggerate, and of course the tendency for newspapers to print what they believe will sell.

I mentioned earlier a forthcoming book. Bendigo – The Right Fist of God will be published later this year. This is a novel based around his astonishing life story, and has been jointly written by myself and David Field, (author of In Ludd’s Name, reviewed in Beestonian Issue 44). You may wonder how we dealt with the truth and fiction surrounding his life. Since we are both keen historians who are reluctant to perpetuate myths, we have not repeated any of the untruths. We think, however, that we have dealt ingeniously with these anomalies, but just how, you will have to wait for the book’s publication to find out!

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The Shane Meadows interview

An evening with Shane Meadows…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Turpin & Colin Tucker

Hivemind 46

+++ A sad start to this issues snippets, with news that local legend ‘Speedy’ had died. While loads of people knew him, at the time of going to press we don’t have a great deal of info about his life, other than he was a genuinely lovely man, a long term fixture in and around Beeston as he walked between his allotments. Here, he was in his element, an expert in growing anything and everything. An effortlessly polite, charming and immaculately coiffured gentleman, if anyone knew him well then we’d really like to run a piece on him, as a tribute. Let us know if you can provide +++

+++ In Vino Veritas! Much fun was had as we completed the Beestonian pub crawl / survey recently – see inside for more details. Our favourite discovery was finding out that our columnist Roopam was once on Blockbusters, where she beat a gawky Bristolian and
went on to scoop THREE Gold Runs. Her lanky opponent? Stephen Merchant, he of The Office and Extras fame. Yeah, you won a load of BAFTAS, Merchant, but you never got to write for this magazine, so bah to you +++

+++ If Stephen Merchant WOULD like to write for this magazine, please get in touch +++

+++ Also on the survey, we rhapsodised on the resurrection of The Commercial. With smashing food, great ale and service so thorough our beer seemed to arrive before it was ordered, you’d think our party of reviewers would be a happy bunch. But no. One of our team had a mard at the menu containing a smattering of spelling errors and refused to join us in stuffing curry into our faces. As punishment, the unnamed reviewer will have his name misspelt somewhere in this issue +++

+++ Actually, Darren Kirkebride, I can’t find a good place to do this to you so ignore that threat. Ta. +++

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+++ Are we getting a new MP? Just a year on from Anna Soubry’s re-election, and she’s in a spot of bother as Notts Police investigate her election expense claims after Channel 4 News found that there might have been a bit of diddling with the figures. Of course, if they are found to be dodgy, she could simply pass the buck to her agent. Who just happens to be, as far as we can tell, Councillor Richard Jackson. Y’know, the head of Broxtowe Borough Council. Ready those polling booths! +++

+++ Cheers for all those who have attended a run of film-based fund-raisers The Beestonian has been involved with lately: in association with Nottingham Alternative Film Network we raised several hundred pounds for a family in Yemen stricken by the
bloody, interminable civil war there; over £400 was made and donated straight to The Teenage Cancer Trust when we had Forest legend Garry Birtles introduce a special showing of the sublime football documentary “I Believe in Miracles”; and Shane Meadows’ generous appearance at Middle Street Resource Centre for a charity showing of some of his early and unseen work, followed by a Q+A from our former editor (see inside for a report) raised a nifty chunk to keep one of our greatest local, erm, resources thriving. Beeston: you’re a generous bunch. +++

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