Beestonia: State Limits

So where is Beestonia? Ah, its not so much a place as a state of mind, innit? Sorry, no. Cartography does not map abstractions, and on a more practical basis, I can hardly campaign to be Lord of somewhere you are thinking about. Makes the taxation system tricky.

So Beeston’s present borders are as such: the University West entrance, along Woodside Road to the Priory, round the roundabout and down the A52 to just shy of Cow Lane, and all enclosed. To the South, the Trent forms a natural barrier, which runs West through fields and is less distinct, and East towards Attenborough, easily measured by the DMR (Daily Mail Rate) which starts to ping off the scale somewhere round The Beekeeper. Centrally, Castle College is a pretty good marker of where Beeston slips into the wild lands of Chilwell. We’ll have that, it looks pretty smart  now, unlike when I stumbled through two years of A-Levels there, when its shabby exterior matched the blunted ambitions of it students.

But Beestonia will be a little bit more ambitious. The first annexe will be the University. Long referred to as ‘Beeston Poly’, its time to draw this fine land to our Beestonian breast. Replete with a lovely allegedly pike-filled lake (still the warning from my dad, when taking as out boating that the pike there would snap at your fingers if we trailed our digits in the murky depth, and that many a duck now struggled along with one leg after an attack-presumably swimming in confused circles, still the warnings ring true to the extent that when cycling by, I’m mindful to beware of any fish attack that may result in my getting too close to the edge), stunning Portland-stone architecture, tennis courts, gyms, libraries and billions of other facilities that would be useful to our independence. It even has a meadow. With flowers. Go and have a look. Its rock hard to find.

Attenborough is also vital to Beeston. The Nature Reserve, which the BBC designated the ninth best eco-destination in THE WORLD a few years back ( -not as good as Namibia’s Damaraland or the Il N’Gwesi Lodge in Kenya, but shits on the Grecian Ionian Eco Village in Zakynthos) is ace. Many an afternoon has been spent perching on my bike taking rubbish 3mp camera phone pics of bushes and indifferent ducks. Its 250 acres of beauty, and even has, right in its middle, some Highland cattle. Bet you can’t find them. Try, after you find the elusive Notts. Uni campus meadow. It will be ours, as the river is vital as a natural defence. A checkpoint will be set up at Trent Lock, where Sawley will become Britain again. The inhabitants  of Attenborough Village? I’d hate to sound all class warrior by suggesting that they would be first against the wall, Ive met some and they’re not all evil capitalist running dogs. However, residents  of the Strand who opposed the flood wall, preferring to flood the good people of the Rylands than take a few quid off their already overpriced house-prices, they are to be moved to a set of prefabs built around the concrete platform of Beeston Weir. Without towels or tumble-driers.

All golf courses to be nationalised and turned into big parks, possibly with go-carts and definitely with death-slides. Golfers are invited to move to West Bridgford, an appropriate place of exile for these evil, evil men.

I like Chilwell. There, I said it. Seen by some as a bit rough and a bit shabby, especially round Inham Nook, has led many to overlook the fact that it is full of parklands and pleasingly quiet streets. The far end backs onto the fields that seperate the area from St. Apleford and Brian Clough Way. If you’ve never rode the dirt-track that runs from the A52 bridge down to Bardills on a bouncy mountain bike on a meltingly beautiful summer’s dusk with perhaps a little too much cider bouncing in your guts, then I’m afraid you haven’t lived. Its the Cresta Runon dust. And for this fact alone, a further annexe is Chilwell and outlying fields, to Baulk Lane in Bramcote.  Yes, thats the whole of St. George’s park and Blubell Woods. Do my ambitions know no bounds??

That pretty much sums it up. I will allow Beestonian Embassies to exist in other towns, my dearest ex-pats, and you may apply for these forthwith. These will be subject to the usual Ambassadorial privelidges, including freedom from local taxation, diplomatic immunity and extremely moreish yet tacky chocolate treats.  Anywhere I’ve missed? Do tell, this is an essential debate. OnceI have your views, I’ll phone GoogleEarth and inform them. Tarah, ducks.

Beestonia and the Recession

Ever ready to jump on a bandwagon, lets have a look at the, ahem, economic downturn. I personally have had little problem with the whole thing: I was poor, am still poor, and will no doubt remain poor unless a revolution does kick off and I am instated as Lord Beeston, and tax stuff to fund my lavish lifestyle befitting a Benign Dictator. This will possibly involve a zoo, cos Twycross is just a bit to far to drive to. However, thats not quite happened yet, so I digress.

We didn’t have a Woolies, so its collapse didn’t hit us hard, but the High Street has shown some fraying. First, the pie shop that wasn’t Greggs collapsed, possibly cos its name, Horsepools, was far to close to Horsepoo in the minds of scatalogical residents. Greenlees closed, which was a shame, as me gran loved a breakfast fry-up there, but its been swiftly replaced by Belle and Jerome, an upmarket wine bar that does smell of paint but is knocking out its wines at nothing cheaper than £3.95 a glass. And thats Merlot. If you like Shiraz, you’re leaving with less limbs. This goes rather against the idea for this article.

There have been redundancies at Boots and Siemens, but both companies have been in the process of slimming down workforces over the last few years. Boots, cos it can find cheaper workers elsewhere, and Siemens due to some long term. top-level managerial idiocy over the last few years. Ok, so a surf shop closed and was replaced by Cash Converters, but even I have a greater desire to purchase tatty gold than garish shorts designed for a beach absent in a land-locked county.

So where are these signs of a return to the dark days of the seventies? Well, my haircut and fashion sense…but where else?

I strap on my reporters pith-helmet and have a look round Beeston.

I’m down Queens Road, a place Beestonians dont really go to unless they’re in a car and speeding towards town or Long Eaton, and heavens! A pound shop! Decay has hit! Apocalypse NOW! I decide on this evidence alone Western Civilization has collapsed, decide to buy one thousand cheap tins to hole up with then realise its actually been developed where previously there was a toilet block. Ah. Well, that’s a step up, surely?

Middle street, and the greatest loss is the pubs that once stood proud. One razed, one a mere boarded up shell. One due to the Tesco development, one due to…well, it wasn’t very good. I once bought a PS2 off a bloke in the car park of The Cow, and once I sobered up I realised it was, err, a PS1, and a broken one at that. That experience obviously has made me biased, but still, no great loss.

Other pubs in Beeston seem OK. I go into Wetherspooons , to see how the chilly economic conditions have hit his business. After fighting my way to the bar, I ask the barman if I could speak to the manager

“Whats wrong?”
“Errr, nothing, I was just wondering..”
“If its the Abbot we’ve changed the barell, so its alright now”
“No, I was just wondering if buisness in Beeston’s biggest pub has taken a hit of late”

A vein pops up in his forehead, and he extravagantly waves his arms around at the amassed crowds fighting to throw twenty pound notes at the harassed staff. ‘What do you think?” I order a lime and soda and don’t bother badgering his superior further.

So onwards. The demographic of Beeston from street level is pleasingly mixed; little old ladies pottering shop to shop, families with Sainsburys ubiquitous orange bags swinging from pushchair-handles, little groups of students, indigenous and from much far off lands, idly laughing at jokes I’m far too uncool to understand. I decide to Vox Pop.

Vox Pop, how I despise thee. I spent an inglorious year at Media College (and was thrown out before I swore allegiance to the Evening Post/ Radio Trent), and frequently vox-popped (sorry, verb creation is an insidious beast) the residents of Clifton via camera, notepad or tape recorder, and had to keep a straight face as I listened to the torrent of ill-informed opinion shite that would issue forth from those who chose to stop. Those who didn’t choose to stop were the people who possibly were not show-offs, or opinionated, or desperate to foist their voice/face/words onto me, and therefore represented a fair minded, truly representative chunk of society. By the time I worked at the BBC, I saw how the radio journalists pragmatically realised this, and would frequently get me to provide a ‘balanced’ opinion against the gobshites of Tunbridge Wells had exclusively proffered their rabid opinions on matters. Ther frequent call of ‘Matt, say something nice about the council/young people/immigrants’ was answered with a freshly coined accent to rectify the imbalance of this hideous media conceit.

So I stand outside WHSmiths, and seek the Vox of the Pop. First up, an elderly couple wearing matching shades of beige, a recessionary colour if I ever saw one. I introduce myself, and ask if they have noticed the recession in Beeston.

“Well, nothings getting cheaper, is it?’

I point out this is a truism of modern economies, that until inflation slips into deflation nothing is ever cheaper, and the indicator of recession on a base level is when the cost of living spirals from the income of an individual thus leading to a reduced quality of life, a depression that is compounded by the general societal austerity foisted upon us, a consequence of the greed of bankers who created a false dream of boom that relied on the increasing strained confidence of lenders, that once punctured, led to the domino effect, except the first domino in the rally was ten foot high and kicked down at Mach 8, of rapid collapse, a collapse that sent a Tsunami (I am liking how that has, since the tragedies of December 2004, this is the media buzzword that has usurped ‘shockwaves’) through theworlds economies, leading to a new realisation in states that we have, quite literally, ran out of money, and now have to realise that the bubble has popped, the dream is over, we cannot live in a hyper-credit, hyper-expansive life anymore, and as there are far too many who are unwilling to submit to this new austerity we are DOOMED, DOOMED, ITS YOU ALONE, TAKE SHELTER OR DIE, TAKE SHELTER OR DIE’

I look at them, imploringly, and desperate for a better answer. The little old lady looks at me, pats my arm, and says ‘Good luck with the article dear’

Still, one must find recession here. I’ve just set up this blog, and amongst the many post-it notes I’ve attached to my monitor ( which is a laptop so they keep dropping off when I relocate, bah) is one which says ‘ BEESTON: ITS REALATIONSHIP TO THE REST OF EXISTENCE’.

Onto the window of a post office. Not the main one next to ‘Spoons, but the one opposite Broadgate Park. Its rife with cards advertising surfaces. Here, surely, I will find desperate calls for work for food, loan sharks, people selling kidneys…ouch. Nothing. Theres a room for rent for the a staggering £25 a week, thats it. The rest shows a healthy populace selling unwanted Christmas gifts, students looking for housemates, and thriving local businesses looking for trade. Nothing. No meat for me to sink my jaws into and shout that we should be building bunkers and buying shotguns.

I go for a coffee, defeated in my mission. The barista  listens sympathetically to my woes, and throws some new leads to chase

‘Theres a Mecca Bingo opening, surely thats a sign of decay, when a town is desperate, a town gambles’. I nod with thanks, but no, a Mecca Bingo is not a sign of collapse, its a sign of hope. Previously there stood a Tradex, hardly an aspirational venue of riches, now stands a shining beacon of disposable income frittered not out of desperation, but an example of the realisation that here was a town that had money to fritter, money that is not spent with the fevered grimness of a lottery scratchcard dispensing unit, rather a social club for people who like to chuck a few quid in for a laugh.

So, my conclusions. Either my journalistic instincts are blunted or Beeston, with its optimism, autonomy, and natural University-flowing cash is remarkably robust in these times of national collapse. I choose, out of ego more than anything, the latter.

Do comment, oh flush Beestonians. And if you have a few quid kicking around, which you evidentally do, theres a future Leader of your new Republic that is a little short on shoe leather, ok?

Lets roll (or cob, if you prefer)

Ayup! A few of you may have stumbled here through my rather rubbish attempts at self-publicity (Im still waiting for the sandwich boards to arrive).

I am, I confess, not originally from Beeston, having grown up in the lovely little suburb of Beeston, St. Apleford, and only moved/ sought asylum here in 1995. Yet I am a naturalised Beestonian, me mum knew Paul Smith and my dad, a Chilwellian, knew Richard Beckinsale from their mutual education at Chilwell Comp. A decade and a half of fascination has manifested itself within me, thus this blog. What other town can be so rife in talent, coffee shops and weirdness? To the casual visitor, it may seem just another tiny node on the backside of a notorious Midland’s city, but scratch the surface and there is so, so much more. Many writers and philosophers have been urgent to alert us to the the wonder close examination of the seemingly mundane can reveal, and that is what I intend to apply here. Tell me about what Beestonia means to you, good or bad, I shall give air to your opinions. Where do you drink? Who do you see round town? Are you an ex-pat craving for a pint at the Crown? A newcomer at the Uni still a bit baffled by the fact we have a statue with a nose-ring as our symbo,l and a town with  a habit of sticking bees on everything despite having no history of Apiarism? Get involved then. Beeston has just become part of Web 2.0. Start up your hovercars, leave the housework to the housewifebots, and become part of the FUTURE, right here.

Hello, Beestonians and Beestoniphiles.

Hello, and do welcome to the only dedicated site to the centre of the Modern World, Beestonia, part of Nottinghamshire, and the as-yet unknown centre and melting pot of all that is staggering in Noughties Britain.

I’m new to this blogging stuff, and realise i’m a few years late, so bear with me while I try and potter my way through this.