Bits and Bobs…

No big, rambling article, you will be delighted to hear, but heres a few chunks of news, updates and mildly rabid opinion for you to indulge in:

*Tesco vs Butterfly Reserve: A few days after I wrote about the useless development, and my preference to leave it as a reserve for a little bit of urban wildlife to enjoy, the bulldozers moved in and flattened a big chunk of the site. Cheers, Tesco, I never knew you were so sensitive. I got some positive feedback from the Beeston Express and Nick Palmer, however, both would be keen for you to know that they have to maintain a neutral position on the issue, as it falls outside their respective mandates. Nice to see the Beeston Express publish a similar idea through Jack Smith’s ‘Wildlife Watching’ column (always a sublimely informative and intelligent read). In no way can I claim I influenced this, it was probably written and submitted before my post, but more a sign, and let my preen somewhat here, that great minds do indeed think alike. Hopefully we’re not the only two people to see this is a great idea.

*The Crown diaspora: as mentioned here before, The Crown has closed, and the locals, a lovable bunch who are similar to Ferrero Rocher: rough on the outside, soft in the middle, and every so slightly reminiscent of eighties fashions, have had to find new settlements. Walking home from the station the other day, I was waved into the Greyhound by some ex-pats, and hilariously, every other table was full of displaced Crownophiles. Some Crown friends, the wonderful Luke and Lottie (they get a mention for also being the most hospitable couple in Beeston, despite leading me into that old bad habit of post-pub boozing round their lovely house, often to hours normally set aside for getting OUT of bed, rather than into), Sainsbury’sInformant (of who more later) and possibly most importantly, the dual Wonders of Beestonia: The Crown Pub Quiz and The Crown Card Bingo. A wonderful, near seamless transistion. Get your arses down there, and NOW. Well not now, its half eleven on a Sunday so you’re liable to be refused entrance. But tomorrow. I believe they open at eleven.

*Beestonia’s Throne has Moved: yes, no longer will people walk by my window on route to Sainsburys up Derby Street, and see my custom-made Beestonia T-shirt hanging in the window, and will now have to travel to Marlborough Road for the privelidge. Its very nice, and to celebrate, In shall be throwing a party soon. If you wish to attend, drop me an  email at mattgoold23@hotmailcom, or simply through here, and I shall tell you more. It’ll be a barbecue, and will be the chance to discuss Beestonia. Not me, the concept. And there will be beer. Sweet sweet beer.

*Honoury Beestonian’s Award: I’m starting a new medal for those who are Beestonian’s by spirit, rather than geography. My first gong goes to Mr Jeremy Agar, of this obscure country called the United States of America. Jeremy is in Texas, but originally from NY state, and was once a Bramcotian, coming over here in the very early eighties on a family exchange and became a very good friend of mine. We had virtually no contact for decades, until he found me via Facebook, making up for the people I never liked from school also ‘finding’ me, and he has proved to be someone who can pick up a friendship after thirty years with no awkwardness, a true friend, a true Beestonian.

* Talking of medals…I dont wish to appear glib by following the last bit with this. Far from. But it seems a natural continuum to mention here Karen Upton, wife and widow of Sergant Major Sean Upton, who was killed in Helmand Province a few weeks ago. She is a resident of Beeston Rylands, and is the first recipitant of the new ‘Elizabeth Cross’ medal, awarded to next of kin of armed forces personnel killed on active service, in recognition of their loss. Whatever your thoughts on the war, to me it seems a stupid war, yet fought admirably by those over there. Im a long-term pacifist, yet my dad was in the military, I dont believe these position contradict. Its a real pointless war, a horribly lingering hangover from the Blair/Bush love-in, but all he same, the troops are lions led by donkeys, and we should respect that. More then ever now that a Beestonian has been a victim of this silliness.

*Facebook Hate: Im not going to publish the group in question by giving any details, but an idiot has set up a group dissing a very easy target in Beeston. I checked earlier to see, that despite many complaints to FB, if the group was still up, and disappointingly it was. Terribly, some very badly spelt comments have been left by Notts Uni students. If you hate hate,  then email me and I’ll tell you more and you can register your disapproval, and maybe FB will shut it down. Beestonia is no place for such terrible bigotry.

*Talking of bigotry: Broxtowe Town Council has long been spared the awfullness of Sadie Grahame, BNP counciller and hate-monger, as she was so ineffective she was expelled from the council for non-attendance. Now shes been charged by the police, and became a major thorn in the side of the BNP by being one of the two people who are suspected of leaking the BNP membership list. This was not a Road to Damascus conversion, more her frustration at a failed coup within the British Nazi Party to displace Nick Griffin, who they felt had drifted to far to the left (make your own ironic joke here). Typical of fascists who get power anywhere, they are dangerous, evil, must be resisted but given a smidgen of power, self destruct. Its Broxtowe’s own Hitler-in-the-Bunker moment.

*Woooooh, a bit serious for far too long. Lets move onto an incredibly frivolous story, that of a cautionary tale of what happens when I’m left alone on a friday night without an invite to the pub. I must point out that this story is totally true. Worryingly true.

I decide to offer an incentive to get people offering invites to parties full of champagne pools, the best music ever known and cheese and pineapple skewers: they get a joke posted a my status update every few minutes if I stay home.

No one phones. No one texts. I get emails, but Im more interested in drinking with friends in a local pub than increasing the length of my manhood or helping out a Nigerian Prince in exile. So the jokes roll. Then one seems to gather some interest. I then see a significant chunk of Facebook are using my joke as a staus update. Then I get told it had hit Twitter, and was spreading like syphillus at an orgy. Its still going. Im not going to tell you what it is, you’ll get it soon. Its not even funny. But regular readers of this blog will realise Im hardly the best judge of what is or isn’t….

Interesting Times…

The Chinese nailed the concept of the backhanded wish many a year ago. While we were crudely, and smugly seeing off our nemesis with the wish ‘ See You Next Tuesday’, they were ingeniously wishing that dull times would not visit you, knowing full well that ‘interesting’ was a curse that seeped through the very fabric of your existence, while ‘dull’ would leave less than a greasy stain.

To live in interesting times is a cursed thing. I grew up in the time of power cuts, water-rationing, and clothes made from fibres that sparked if rubbed together. One of my first memories is 1976, aged three, being taken to a LAKE to be washed. A little later, I recall watching the Muppet Show on TV and the whole house suddenly sinking into darkness, kaput. My gran, ever resourceful, didn’t miss a beat, and employed her right hand as Kermit and her left as Fozzie Bear and managed the interruption with a skill I can only credit those who lived with black-out curtains and doodlebugs dropping out the sky to really ruin a night in.

The eighties, the decade where I suddenly realised the world was a great deal larger than the circuit round the estate I take my Raleigh Elf , gaped open with terrifying  portents of doom. The realisation that nuclear bombs could rain down any minute if some politician fumbled a speech left me  in a decade-long perpetual terror. I remember being in Beeston, with my aforementioned Gran, waiting for a bus to Stapleford to visit , in order, the chippy, the bingo hall, Hyper, and as we stood, I saw a plume of smoke on the horizon, mushroomed shape. This is it, I thought, and grabbed my gran and urged her to ‘duck and cover’. She, ever wise, saw my error, and pointed out that occasionally, certain weather conditions made the output of Radcliffe-on-Soar power station (a rather dominating apparition on the horizon as you crest the hill Toton is built on) made the steam look toadstool-esque. Nuclear annhiliation was in fact a litle bit of nice weather settling.

Ironically, that output is possibly more likely to kill us than any nuclear arsenal raining down, but that wouldn’t have cooled my paranoia. I made contingency plans to deal with the aftermath, digging bases in Bramcote Woods, which probably survive today. They’ll be dug up by a future archaelogist who will marvel at the price of Heinz Beans in 1985 and the hairiness of eightie’s porn. We had long figured that- and I can’t disagree that my thinking was slightly hormonally skewed- that if all the woman died we’d need some relief from symptoms even more pressing than radiation sickness. Looking back, we really should sue. That’s no way to be looking at life.

Then in 1989, the Berlin Wall failed, the USSR became the lot more cutesy Russia, then the idiot right-wing philospher Francis Fukuyama pronounced the end of history, and I walzted into adulthood and the nineties with a carefree attitude. September 11th happened, and stuff hotted up again, and once again Interesting Times descended, and once again,  until Obama took the crown, an anxiety gripped, in common with the world, my wellbeing.

Now, after that tirade, the following cannot sound anything but glib. To mitigate, I dont write about global events, but they are useful to preface more local issues. And,  by Jiminy, are we living in interesting times.

Beeston is so subject to change right I’ve had to relocate, albeit briefly, to Bristol to get a grip. Only from a distance can I settle my thoughts, and even with that distance I’m still so overwhelmed its all I can do to stop this post descending into pure gibberish as I let the landslide overwhelm me. Time for some bullets.

  • Tesco. If you don’t know, check out my last article below. I’m bringing it up again however due to the positive responses since I published it: all anti, but many who can only say that off-record. The heart is about to be transpanted in Beeston, in a manner that would make  Christiaan Barnard weep. I do not bear a grudge against Tesco per se: Sainsbury’s expansion is also a blot on those inhabitants of Derby Street who will endure even noisier dawn deliveries. But at least they are expanding on ugly areas, not on to the serendipitous nature reserve that has sprang up. Read below this post, and look further, cos I will spit my teeth out should I dwell longer on this issue.
  • The Tram. I’m not going to voice my view here. To be honest, I’m  a bit lost. Yes, I would love a clean, regular transport system to the city, but then again the inner conservative, and that’s with a small c, never the evil big C, is a little afraid of the route as it passes through a slice of lovely rural nothingness that cushions Chilwell from Stabbo.  On the whole though, if it annoys BJ Mann, I’m game.
  • The Crown closing down. Pubs have been dying as if hit by a new virus ever since the smoking ban and supermarkets-I’m not going to bring up Tesco here, dont worry-discounting to the extent that pubs have been deserted by the usual clientele who now drink at home, losing the sense of society that would exist standing by the bar, and as such retreating into insularity, selfish small-mindedness, killing a societal need in many. Its a shame, but hey, market forces must rule. Now the Crown isn’t closing, but its under a big brewery which has a habit of identifying its real-estate assets: and the Crown, Beeston’s oldest pub, is a damn fine handsome building, and thus at the mercy of a fresh-out-of-business-school spod who might see the short-term balance sheet as the means to a very juicy bonus, which he will then go and piss  down a fucking Lloyd’s Number One bar.  Watch this space.
  • The Election 2010. Obviously, this is an issue concerning the whole of Broxtowe, maybe even nationwide, but Im not Michael Crick. I have always tried to keep this blog unaligned, mainly because any support I give is going to be rather tainted by the post below, which will be some glib/mawkish/nonsensical rantings that devalue any cause I try and big up. But our prospective Tory candidate, Ms Anne Soubrey, who with a bulging campaign donation by Lord Ashcroft, will try and return us to  the Jim Lester days. Whilst  I reserve the right to not express my choice at the ballot box, I am heartened by the burgeoning campaign to see our present, and very effective, incumbent in again, Why? Whatever your allegiances, he has proved to be a benefit to the community, and a nice chap to boot. Thus, an unheard of coalition of local activists have decided, under the most unlikely of names (‘Lib Dems for Palmer’ ‘Conservatives for Nick’) to show appreciation and support continuation. Is this a political watershed, the new-politics that we were all promised in the fall-out from the expenses furore? Time will tell.

These are indeed, and its not with optimism I type this, interesting times…

Butterflies, Wasps, and Bees-tonia.

This time of year, two distinct species of flying insects suddenly seem to be in abundance, one welcome, one not so. The welcome one is the butterfly, the incredibly lovely benign flutterers that make those holes in your brassicas forgivable. Apparently in decline, these ridiculously floaty, lighter than air creatures are never an unwelcome sight as they flit around in the sun, drinking flowers and shagging, liberated from their slovenly caterpillar past-life in a manner that defines all that is good about this season.

The bad guy here, however is the wasp. Nasty, insistently belligerant creatures, designed to annoy and ruin any alfresco event. The male wasp’s summer is a microsm of the average male’s life: after being fertile  and fun, they then become pointless, turning to booze in the form of the fermenting fruit windfalls they feed off, then drunk, turn towards misanthropy, chiding anyone they stumble across with impotent rage, and resorting to empty headed violence with the minimum of provocation. Kill them. Even if you are the most dedicated Jainist, the most committed vegan, kill them. They give all other black and yellow-attired beasties a bad name, and for every dead wasp a cute fluffy bumble bee gets a little more oxygen.

Earlier this week, Im at Beeston bus station, and Ive got ten minutes before that rare beast, the 18 to Stabbo is due to arrive. I’m a restless  type, and didn’t fancy just standing by the shelter, although its probably the best bus stop to do so if you have to. The travellers are 95% pensioners from Stapleford ‘up’ for the day, and their camarederie, conversation and general good humour shows that retirement brings out the best in a human. Compared to the 8am Indigo to Nottingham, where the atmosphere is a fog of resentment and insularity, this is a brilliant thing, and god speed my 60th birthday and its treasure of a bus pass. Yet this particular day, I’m hot and restless, so decide to stroll around towards the derelict wasteland that once was hidden by the dole office, Pet Mart and Beeston Lad’s Club (two out of three of my one- time most frequented buildings). I look over at the little hillocks of debris, now once again coated in lush wild flowers and weeds, and suddenly-blame the sun, blame the fact Im a bit of a frustrated country-boy at heart-suddenly, I was struck by a sight of something I’d never noticed before.

The area, long ran down by the future developers of the sight, looks in more fallow months like a bomb site, all rubble and grey. But right then, I looked over, and saw it as a beautiful testament to the power of nature over its environment, and how when we have successfully screwed the planet so badly we choke ourselves into extinction, nature just carries on. In my long ago days hitching round the country, I’d often come across slip-roads long abandoned, and marvel at how weeds had pushed through the hardcore and asphalt as  if it was a mere temporal distraction towards its determination. The whole off Britain is scored with thousands  of redundant, post-Beeching train-tracks that have now been eaten up with greenery, in many cases disappearing altogether as chlorophyll usurps steel. And right then, I saw it…

In a few months, Beeston will be witness to Tescofication, whereby a huge Lego-brick of a store will be efficiently, ruthlessly,  built on the land it has long held ambition for.  The whole  saga of how it acquired the land, how it manipulated planning laws and beguiled the planning authorities with the ease only the most blindly greedy monopolistic empires can muster is a tale much told, and as a Beestonian I wont patronise you with rehashing it here. Yes, the town council erred in its attempts to stop it, but Tesco are experts at this, so I’m not going to throw accusations of incompetancy, or indeed corruption towards the civic chambers. Tesco are pros, and could probably knock down Windy Miller’s Windmill should they ever wish to Tescofy fictional areas and have a crack at Trumpton. I imagine that Satan is probably right now trying to make sense of an application they have for a Mega Store just across from the Styx, handy for doing your shop before an eternity in damnation. Hands are tied in ways unimaginably complex. Have an (sadly soon to disappear independent family) butchers at this: to see how they work.

But what I saw, what I heard…even what I smelt in that serendipitous moment by the bus stop gave me a sudden rush of inspiration. I looked over, and I saw, at first just one, then gradually dozens of butterflies, free to flirt and flap and dive and drink in a beautiful little nature reserve, right in the middle of Beeston. The perfume of the flowers drifted over, a fresh yet heady odour, in contrast to the diesel stench of the bus stop. The sun shone down on this accidental idyll, and seeds long planted began to sprout within my mind.

There is no need to Tesco, absolutely none. Can’t find something at Sainsbury’s, Lidl, the high-street shops? Please tell, cos I don’t believe you. Would like to do all your shopping in one go, being the busy fellow you are? I don’t need to post a link to GoogleEarth to show you your nearest megaultracollosalstore.  So why Tesco?

Because we have ran out of imagination. Why not use this land to develop into a park? Or some affordable housing? Or, why not just leave it to wild? Let it be to grow feral and free, let it flourish . Because that seems the most butterfly idea. Tesco is the wasp, nasty, persistant, destuctive and anti-social. Yet we don’t swot it away, cos we feel it will only sting again. But Beestonians, we can, and we should. Our town is under attack, and I know this might err on the side of over-dramatic, but when a wasp flies too close to you, you will act accordingly.

If a stand is not made, then this time next year those summery scents, those beautiful fluttering insects will be replaced by a nasty, inhuman lump of mediocraty. Where will we go to see the butterflies? Well, give it five years and the high-street will be empty enough for them to fly freely.  The wasps will be found in abundance at Tesco, picking off the bins round the back.

Feedback, support, and ideas as always most welcome.