Beestonia Vs The Book Burners; Soubry Gives Some Advice to Labour; Gove and Nuts.

 This is my ONE  HUNDRETH post for Beestonia, and I was planning some self-aggrandizing gimmick to celebrate this landmark. I am incredibly rubbish at committing to anything, as anyone who has ever attempted to educate, employ or have a relationship with me will testify, but somehow when it comes to churning out poorly written polemics, I do not tire. But I will spare the cake and fireworks until the next post, as more important issues are at hand.

Thursday saw me attend a very packed, very passionate public meeting at College House School, to work out what the dickens to do about the forthcoming slash and burn proposed by the demonic worshipper at the altar of Thatcher, Kay ‘Nominative Determined’ Cutts. I wont churn out all the details of the cuts,they are available best here http://nottssos.org.uk/ . Opening hours are to be shrank, budgets cut back, trained staff replaced by volunteers. Why? there was no mention of this in the Tory manifesto, and the savings they hope to make seem are pretty tiny compared to the damage that will be wrought. On my last post on the subject I received a wonderfully angry comment from perhaps Nottingham’s most famous blogger, Alan a Dale ( http://alanadale.wordpress.com/ ) who made the point that these cuts are purely ideological

.

He’s right, it seems. The UNISON speaker at the meeting, Mike Scott, correctly labelled libraries as ‘ The Universities of the Poor’  and I agree. My childhood was spent in Stapleford library, chasing whatever fickle interest briefly fascinated me; today, I spend hours in the reference sections. They are nothing but a civic force for good, and it seems a touch evil to destroy this. Not everyone can afford to buy books, not everyone is connected to the internet, not everyone knows where to access services and exercise their rights: for these people libraries are vital. Does Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, understand this? I doubt it. Like most of the millionaire-studded front bench, they think of a library as the room opposite the drawing room and across from the servant’s quarters.

What to do then? Well, first off JOIN THE BLOODY LIBRARY, NOW. If you are already a member, good on you, if not, JOIN. And not just you, your kids, your parents, your friends, your neighbours, random strangers in the street, get them to join RIGHT NOW. This is an incredibly effective method of registering your support: if Cutts sees how many people use the library, she might become nervous to touch them. So do it, do it, do it now.

Also have a gander/ sign up here:

There is a day of action planned on the 5th February, at 11am, at Beeston Library. It’s still not totally decided what will entail, I’ll let you know beforehand.

Once a library is gone, its gone. The Conservatives do not like you, do not want you to have this resource. It doesn’t generate money, it empowers the powerless, and they want it gone. Do not let them. Off your arse, get down Foster Road (or to Inham Nook, Stapleford, et al) and join up, register your support.

____________________________________________-

I’d also suggest that you write to Anna Soubry asking her to oppose cuts, but you know the drill by now…the letter will either be ignored, or if read, considered to be a coordinated left-wing campaign against her to stop her working on things that really matter to the constituency, such as bowing down to Boots Management and lobbying on their behalf (see Beestonia passim). It seems that news of her failure to engage with the local electorate has reached the opposition benches, judging by an extract from Hansard, December 8th, during Prime Ministers Questions:

Anna Soubry, Broxtowe, Con. This morning, I spoke to one of my constituents[Hon. Members: “Hooray!”] It might come as news to Labour Members, if they were quiet, and they should try it.

Beyond irony.

________________________________________________

On a more immature note, I recently embarked on a short project to create interesting anagrams for MPs – everyone needs a hobby – and posted some online (ROB ANY ANUS was the cracker for our incumbant). One of the more horrific ones, however, was reserved for Michael Gove. I forgot all about it, until I was sent an email urging me to look at Gove’s entry on Wikipedia. I did, and got this screenshot before someone sensibly deleted the highly immature and offensive vandalism, and I swear I didn’t laugh like a drain and feel a swell of pride as I did;

__________________________________________________

Besides, I’ve moved on from such immaturity. Nope, now I indulge on an evening in the highly sophisticated hobby that is painting politicians faces on nuts. Heres my John Prescott. Hazelnut Blears and George ‘Brazilnut’ Osborne to follow:

Bookish Beestonia: An Appeal.

Some books, yesterday.

Books are ace. In fact, put down your computer RIGHT NOW, shut it off, make a cup of tea, and read a book. There. You’re instantly a better person. Who is either disobedient or not reading this.

A Beestonian Bibliophile is rather blessed: as well as a dedicated Oxfam Bookshop (as well as many more charity shops) ; we have Beeston Bookshop, which throws up some cut-price gems; a bloke who sets out a little stall on Sundays selling battered, old books, including  a rather wonderful ‘Daily Mail Book For Boys’ from 1965 I bought last year (time to find some casual racism inside: 14 seconds), and a Tony Blackburn Annual from 1971 that is creepier than anything Stephen King has set to print.

But for those who prefer to just borrow books, the library is the place. And we are blessed with a great one, which I’m ashamed to say I only joined a few months ago despite living right near it for ages. I kick myself for this tardiness, for I have been missing out: the shelves are crammed with wonder, you can rent DVDs at a fraction of the price of Blockbuster, sit and use the IT resources, and of particular interest to me, peruse the massive local history resources for entertaining stories of Beestonia’s Perennial Weirdness. The staff are informed, friendly and if you do want to take out a Dan Brown novel, won’t judge: robots with bar code readers do all that stuff now. Everyone is welcome: many people find information on their rights, public services and other invaluable advice inside.

It’s a wonderful place, a real centre of community. So, naturally, Kay Cutts is swinging her axe at it.

To be fair, it’s not just Cutts, it goes higher than that. Jeremy ‘cough’ Hunt has decided that libraries could be ran by volunteers instead of trained staff: here’s a copy of the Dewey System, here’s some training on how to say ‘Shhhhh’ effectively, and you’re in. This totally discredits the job, seeing it as little more than a glorified WHSmith clerk. Utterly wrong. It’s a skilled, often challenging position, massively more demanding than asking if you’d like a half-price slab of Dairy Milk with your Nottingham Post.

I’m all for volunteering: I plan to do some myself if I still don’t find a job, but when it’s used as an excuse for slashing budgets, then no. The real reason , as this government’s/ County Council’s policies so often are, is ideological. Libraries have a whiff of socialism about them: communal places, giving power and education for free, a solid presence. The Right don’t like this, in the same way they hate the CAB, public transport, the BBC…. if they can’t squeeze some cash out of it, then its useless to them. So Beeston (and Inham Nook) Library have very uncertain futures, with book budgets slashed, opening times reduced and maybe, like 250 libraries nationally in the last few months, closed altogether.

But I’m not going to fly off into a rant, these are dark days and one has to focus, then fight back. If you are not happy about the way the libraries are being treated, here’s what to do. On THURSDAY 20th JAN there is a public meeting being held at COLLEGE HOUSE JUNIOR SCHOOL. It starts at 7.30pm and will run to 9pm, if you can attend, please do so. If you can’t, but would like to do something, then have a gander here: http://nottssos.org.uk , or contact nottssos+library@gmail.com

Erm, a humorous finish…ermmm, support the campaign and stay in my good books. Will that do?

NB: If anyone is under the impression Im supporting a campaign to keep the Library Restaurant open on Wollaton Road, I’m not, as it seems to be doing pretty well themselves.

____________________________________________________

THE BEESTONIA AWARDS. YES, YOU’RE TOO LATE WITH YOUR BRIBES.

Brush off your tux, spit on your shoes, and please stroll up the red carpet and into the glittering venue I have hired for the inaugural Beestonia Awards 2010. Please help yourself to the warm Lambrini our waiters are bringing round, take a seat and no heckling please.

Lets get the negatives out the way first, and announce the first award:

                                                                    BEESTONIA’S WORST NEW THING

There can be only one winner here, and its TESCO. Theres been an unwelcome growth of pawnbrokers, gold-buying shops and other such misery-merchants appear in the town over 2010, all happily exploiting the desperation of those plunged into poverty, but t’was always so. However, Tesco are a more insidious evil, thus are handed this gong. Those of a more pragmatic bent may point out that it could have been a lot, lot worse, this is true, but it does seem a sad state of affairs when a corporation can just steam into town and throw up all over it. Tesco does not care for you, and the theory it boosts the economy is fallacious. Still, I know a couple of Beestonians who did find work there, so I am happy for them. But next year, will the market still exist? Will Hallams survive? Will the three Beeston butchers still trade? Or will they succumb in 2011 and be replaced by pawn-brokers, cheque -cashers and other grubby parasites? Cross your fingers, or better still, boycott the place.

Interestingly, Tesco are trying, against massive public opposition, to build a huge store in Sandiacre. I’m preparing a little dossier of how Tesco Beeston broke their promises regarding building work in order to get the place open  by Christmas. If anyone connected, or knows anyone connected, to opposition groups in Sandiacre, please let me know.

BEESTONIA’S BEST NEW THING

Sadly, there’s not that much to be cheery about on this one. Not a lot new is appearing, but a lot is disappearing. The promised green shoots of recovery turned out to be nettles, and the precinct by the bus station is now resembling a little Broadmarsh Centre (Where Shops Go To Die). More good things are disappearing than appearing: Season’s Restaurant has closed, as has The Barrel Wine Bar (though it dies well before 2010, when an attempt to make it into a classy pub backfired badly), and it looks like Sheila’s Hat Shop finally shut down after somehow staggering on for decades. So I will award this accolade to THE BEESTON EXPRESS’S NEW, ANGRY AGENDA . After years of gentle reporting, its recently turned into a paper with a temper: this is a good thing. The last editorial was a furious attack on Beeston Square’s ugliness, with a particularly vicious mauling of the vaguely phallic sculpture that sits in the middle. I’ve always found this piece of street art as vaguely inoffensive, well, aside from it being vaguely phallic. It’s not just the editor: Jack Smith, the author of the Wildlife Watching Column, has got into a splendidly splenetic barney with Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. What I always assumed was a mellow column that helped you tell your widgeon from your ruddy duck is now just a few exchanges away from a full-on, no holds barred brawl. Brill.

BEESTIONIA’S BIGGEST VILLAIN

Well, it’s not who you think it is. I’ve spent the best part of nine months reporting on the terrible campaigning, and consequential rule, of our dear Ms Soubry. She has enraged and infuriated many, misrepresented her constituents, ignored her constituents, and worst of all, appeared in an cringing awful video with Allan Bloody Duncan. Oh, and hired an oily tory student leader/ slavery-loving eejit as an assistant. And is it right to on one hand claim she’d defend any effects cuts have on Broxtowe, while then saying she whole heartedly supports the cuts agenda? And going to Boots to find why they were slashing the workforce and tottering back with not one job saved, but an insistence that the Workplace Parking Levy be scrapped cos the bosses there didn’t like it. And called me a ‘sexist’ (though I think she meant sexy, and as Spinal Tap pointed out ‘What’s wrong with sexy?’). But she’s not my Biggest Villain. There is some hope with her, she does seem to be interested in opposing the cuts to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau -keep writing to her insisting she doesn’t let Kay Cutts descend with her already heavily blooded axe- and maybe, just maybe, she may come to realise that with such a tenuous majority, and an electorate nostalgic for those halcyon days when they actually received replies to correspondence, she may perform a little better. God, I’m a crazed optimist. I swear I haven’t been drinking.

So who is the Beestonia’s Worst? Mick Shore, the BNP parliamentary candidate for Broxtowe was a consideration, except he’s from Leicester, and gave up his campaign early on. Still a nasty fellow, who I had a few interesting exchanges with back in April. He lost his deposit, however, so Broxtowe got a nice chunk of money straight from the BNP’s coffers. Cheers for that, meatheads.

No, the ‘winner’ of this award is THE ABSOLUTE TWAT THAT HAS BEEN TRYING TO KNACKER THE NATURE RESERVE. It started in June, when the new tower hide was vandalised by someone armed with a can of engine grease and a paintbrush, smearing the place with gloop, before breaking the padlock, splintering the handrails and no doubt cackling to himself throughout.  Then, cyclists started reporting that they were getting punctures through what appeared to be the deliberate scattering of tacks on the paths.

Now, I’m both a cyclist and a walker when it comes to the nature reserve. When I cycle, I often get a bit annoyed at walkers who don’t hear my bell tinkling away to advise them I’m fast approaching. When I walk, I often get annoyed with cyclists who fly by me cos I didn’t hear their bell. In both cases, the annoyance is fleeting, and is followed by  gratifying sense of tolerance wash over. The tack-sprinkler obviously has no idea of this, and has an acute case of that particularly British affliction: If I Don’t Enjoy It, Then None Shall. Thus, he/she is the proud recipient of this award. If he/she would like to collect it in person, please get in touch.*

HERO OF BEESTONIA 2010

Here it is then , the biggy, and I’m rather chuffed to announce that there were loads of contenders. So a honoury mention to:

  • The Citizen’s Advice Bureau: underfunded, under staffed,  under threat, yet wonderful and vital.
  • Beeston Library: My second home now, but also under threat: more of which in the next edition of Beestonia.
  • Nick Palmer, David Watts (not that one) , Chris Cobb and David Mitchell (not that one): for their part in the intensely fun, well contested election battle. And before you tell me off for putting a member of UKIP in here, he was actually a real gentleman when I talked to him, and also gave us his deposit money.
  • Trent Barton Buses: Particularly the cheap, efficient, leather-seated Indigo service, which helps make Notts the best place in the UK to access public transport. I’ve been all over England, and used their buses, and its normally a terrible service ran by Arriva or Stagecoach, who use vehicles that look like depression on wheels. Contrast that to Trent, a very local, very old company which seems to give its drivers a bucket of Prozac before they head out, so affable are they. I’m even Facebook friends with them. One morning, after a bus failed to materialise, I sent a comment via FB telling them I was disappointed. A moment later, they replied, apologised, and explained that my bus had got stuck due to road works and would be there in a few seconds. It was. I am still slightly worried that such customer service exists in Britain. And more than a little thrilled.
  • You, Readers of Beestonia: who make me continue to do this, feed me great leads to stories and let me indulge the fantasy that I am the Orwell of the Trent, rather than a doley who really should be using this precious time online to find gainful employment. Or wash his hair. Yep, I was going to award it YOU, but then I remembered how I often check search terms used to find here and its often ‘LESBIAN GOAT MANGLE’ or other bizarre juxtaposition of worryingly random words.  One of my most read article is ‘Beestonia Food Porn’ , which was a pretty low-key piece from last year about chip shops. I can only imagine the disappointments when people stumble upon it and discover a much different type of batter than they expected. So, if I award it to YOU, I may be awarding it to a filthy perv who has come here for nefarious purposes, and I can’t do that. So sorry, dear reader, you can’t have it. And put your hands where I can see them.
  • ME. As the future benign dictator of Beestonia, its only right I start my Cult of Personality by furnishing myself with accolades. But no, I’m in the running for the Britain’s Most Humble Blogger Award, and you get £20 TK Maxx vouchers for that, so will graciously decline. Thanks for voting for me anyway, all none of you.

 

But no. The award goes to….*picks up gold envelope and gingerly opens*

*druuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuumrollllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll*

*Davina-esque Pause)*

 

 *

THE CROWN INN

Yes, a pub gets it. But what a pub. I was a fan of the Crown before James Brown (yes, he’s the Landlord, no, he won’t taking it to the bridge, buying his Papa a Brand New Bag, or indeed, Gettin’ Up Like a Sex Machine anytime soon…), and I liked it a lot then, I feared that when it closed to renovate it would never reopen, but it did, and much, much to the better. I have a few old friends from their who don’t share my views and moved pubs, but you can’t please everyone. However, I stayed, happily making the most of the £2 pints of Cad Bitter, the brain-frying ciders and the service that makes you want to drag Wetherspooon staff down there and scream ‘SEE??? SEE?? IT CAN BE DONE!! IT CAN BE DONE!!’.

The refit was sensitively done, returning the pub to a more old, understated style, far from the inauthentic nostalgic kitsch that normally ruins a pub trying to look like a pub should. The beer, kept by the genial cellarman Joe Aimes, is of the highest quality, a fact noticed by CAMRA, who voted it best pub in the East Midlands (thus, by extension, the World). Its popularity is such its pulled trade up from the Vic, which for too long has been far too smug and complacent. Now, in the face of this unexpected and strong competition, its forced to raise its game. This can only be a good thing.

I must point out that I have not received any incentive, cash or booze, from the Inn. I wrote to them asking, but alas.**I just truly believe that a pub is as important to a community as any church, any library, anything. Huge chunks of Beestonia has been written through overhearing things while minding my business over an ale, and during the election it formed a fertile and frequently fractious  ground for argument over who deserved our X.  

In a town famed for its density of pubs, the Crown is King.

And I’m on the bleeding wagon so I can’t even milk this by marching down there and demand they install me as their in-house writer. Bah.

 

 

*Well, its worth a try.

**I didn’t . Really.

A Beestonian (sort of) Bicentennial

It’s a common conceit at tis time of year to look forward and make predictions about 2011, sensible journalists suddenly morph into Derek Bloody Acorah and bandy round guesses on future events as if the Guardian had become Old Moore’s Almanac. I will, of course, mount this bandwagon and confidently say:

  • Soubry will do something that makes everyone go ‘gahhhhh’
  • Tesco will slowly choke off the High Street, until the whole area is tanning salons and Pound Shops
  • Cats will be evil, still.
  • I will fall off the wagon around Easter and be found attempting to superglue myself to the bar at the Crown screaming ‘Never let us be apart again’ before passing out.

See? Piece of piss. But sod the future,with the austerity cuts already slicing limbs off the poor and needy and things only getting worse – rumours are Hollyoaks is going to SIX days a week, ferchristssake-I am as reluctant to immerse myself into 2011, trying to pretend it’s not happening by dressing like, and having a hairstyle, more akin to 1978. So lets take refuge in the past. Step into my time machine, and lets head back….

Its two hundred years previous, January 1811. Things aren’t good in Nottingham, as poverty swells and unrest on the street. A contemporary account (I do research this stuff you know, this one piece took three hours in Beeston library, so be grateful) reports:

Such was the reduced state of trade, and the high price of food, that half-famished workmen, belonging to nearly every branch of local manufacture, were constrained to sweep the streets for a paltry support. They were so employed by the Overseers at St. Mary’s , the Workhouse being too full to receive their families, and no other employment presenting itself….

Which sounds awfully like the ‘Big Society’ to me…

Things got very bad in Nottingham, manufacturing declining and poverty soaring. Then, something truly wonderful happened.

Nottingham folk are notoriously anti-establishment. Our heroes are Robin Hood (proto-Socialist and ruralist); D.H. Lawrence (anti-Censorship class-warrior); Alan Silitoe (the original Angry Young Man, chronicler of the anarchy inspired by ennui) Byron (bear-wrestlin’, lady-lovin’, establishment shockin’, revolution rousin’ Mad Bad Dangerous to Know MoFo of the highest order), Brain Clough (big-headed, big-mouthed antithesis to the blandness of football management). Add to this marvellous roster  a figure who appeared in those dark days, exactly two hundred years ago. The first stirrings were recorded in early March of that year:

A great amount of deep disappointment had been smouldering in the breasts of framework-knitters generally, for a long period, occasioned by reductions in wages….This day was memorable as the commencement of the protracted and most alarming series of outrages, in the name of a mysterious leader’

Ned Ludd had entered the battlefield. The Luddites, some of the greatest heroes of industrial history, were taking up arms.

I hear you, yes I do. Why am I bigging up these Philistines who couldn’t accept change and progress while I am sitting typing on the very sort of machine that change and progress have made possible? What hypocrisy is this? To which I reply: that’s not what the Luddites were about, dear reader.

They have had an AWFUL press. The word Luddite is now a mocking word to those who can’t face technology and progress, and would happily live in caves eating raw meat and dismissing the wheel as a ‘poncey new-fangled idea’. It’s a great shame, cos this lazy dismissal misses the point.

The real reason for their ire was not the frames themselves, but how they were treated. As the mill owners tried to increase their profits by bringing in machines that produced inferior stockings, the skilled workers were replaced by unskilled men, on much lower wages. Profits soared, quality dropped, men became poorer and mere accessories to the new working processes. A lack of organised unionization, and factory owners unwilling to listen to their worker’s concerns, led to desperate acts committed by desperate people. Looms and frames were smashed, not due to some backwards fear of the new, but because everyone lost out, except for the boss, who got fatter while churning out. What the Luddites were against was not technology, but the early stirrings of the Free-market and the inequities that bought with it.

And the public loved them, shielding them from the army who were drafted in to find the ringleaders. Riots broke out when suspects were arrested, to the extent the Riot Act was read in Nottingham that September. The movement moved NorthWest, to the factories and mills of Lancashire, and for a while Spencer Percevel’s goverment feared revolution, passing the hilariously specific ‘Frame Breaking Act’ . This was punishable by death, and was enforced with gusto and indiscriminately: in Manchester, a 12 year old by the name of Abraham Charslton was hung after being caught near the scene of an arson. He was led to the gallows, crying for his mother, and was most probably innocent, as the incident was contrived by a local magistrate to justify a crackdown on suspected Luddites in the area.

For five years, they raged across the industrial landscape, and inspired many of the movements that followed from there, most notably the Pentrich Rising, where a small army of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire stocking-makers decided to march on London with the rather fuzzy aim of ‘cancelling the National Debt’, which is mad but possibly more sane than letting Gideon Osborne try.

So, next time you go to call someone a Luddite, think on. Find a better name. Its time to reclaim the word and use it to describe those who are driven by the crapness of modern working practices to take up arms and make a stand, and not as a dismissive term for someone who hasn’t got a smartphone.

Happy two hundreth birthday, Ned. We might be seeing you again soon.

___________________________________________

Halfway through writing that, my blogging software crashed and I lost 500 words. I was *this* close to throwing my laptop at the wall before the irony of doing that sank in and I sensibly calmed down.

______________________________________

So, who is my Beestonian Hero/ Villian of 2010? What are the best additions and most missed things of the last year? All will be revealed very soon, so feel free to give me more sugggestions…

Happy New Beestonia!/ The Best and Very Worst of 2010/ David Miliband’s Crotch

                              

It’s probably good form to start this by wishing everyone who stumbles across this post a Happy New Year; I guarantee yours was better than mine, which was spent in the grips of the prosaically named Winter Vomiting Disease. If you haven’t had it yet (and this is my second time in three years, so I’ve probably had your allocation), its best described as  either: your body suddenly deciding to put you on the ultimate weight-loss programme; an invisible hand grabbing you and rinsing you out ; or my favourite and courtesy of an ex-housemate of mine: ‘spending three days as some foul Catherine-Wheel’.

I hope that helped with your hangovers. In no way am I bitter that when you lot were out enjoying yourselves at fancy soirees and suchlike, I was bent double over a cistern wondering when my kidneys would pop out. No, I had a great time, weak as a kitten in a steam-room, watching my body turn itself inside out.

Enough, Matt, enough. You didn’t come here to read about my ailments ( if you have though, please read this blog: www.mattbeestoniasawfulupsets.vom ). So I shall push on with a very swift review of the year that was by far my weirdest, if not Beeston’s oddest, 2010:

The year started off with myself drowning under a sea of cheap Merlot while engaged in an increasingly bizarre conversation with a Malaysian Damsel in Distress http://teresalou.wordpress.com/, which nearly got made into a radio play, nearly got serialised by a national newspaper and nearly got made into one of those crap books you by in desperation for someone you don’t much like at Christmas. But nada, so bah, I will have to find my fortune by taking up an offer a very nice Nigerian Prince has made to me, once I save up ten weeks dole to pay for the processing fee.

Around the time I was writing that epic, I also became single, and thus plunged into the murky waters that is internet dating. I didn’t write too much about this at the time; some unexpected discretion arose in me that has obviously died back considering the first paragraph of this piece. It was a very brief, yet fun experience, yet I sort of got it all wrong and when one ‘date’ asked me if I wanted to go on holiday with her abroad, I didn’t think this was odd in the slightest and did so. After all, we’d been on three dates by then.

Inevitably, we had a row on the Indigo to East Midlands, weren’t talking on the Ryanair to Malaga, and by the time we’d reached our apartment had declared war on each other, each others families, each others friends, and anything connected however loosely to each other (yeah, screw you, Malibu). I ended up in a grotty derelict yet cheap pension without shoes, overheard a murder, had to walk around in the day with my rucksack/ big coat on and eventually had a fist fight on the street with an unfortunate pickpocket who decided to dip me when my patience made The Hulk look like a Care Bear. It was such a traumatic trip that I pledged to never go abroad again( https://beestonia.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/the-bill-bryson-of-beestonia/), and yes, Dear Reader, I have kept to that pledge. Nothing to do with being super-poor, oh no, and if you were to offer me an all expenses trip to the Maldives until it gets a bit bloody warmer here, I will refuse. Go on, try me.

Spring sprang, and as the trees returned to a verdant green all else turned red, yellow and blue as the election loomed. To be honest, my memories of this period are hazy due to its sheer oddness: having the BNP candidate send me an email telling me off for calling him a holocaust denier (I denied I ever did. Though then I asked him why he’d tried to become head of the British wing of the Ku Klux Klan and he went all quiet, not even turning up at the count); watching the three parties tear chunks out of each other (Cllr. Watts battle with Anna Soubry’s agent was particularly juicy, and now quite odd following seven months of cosy Coalition); and the actual night of the election, where a mole at the count fed me insights via text as I kept myself awake with judicious swigs of red wine and nasty cider, before passing out and having some truly terrifying dreams regarding a certain candidate.

The result didn’t go the way I really wanted: less politics, more personality. We lost a decent, honest, hardworking MP and replaced him with a slightly paranoid, ineffective and not-exactly honest MP who proceeded to hire a party activist (not a good idea when you pledged not to who also turned out to be, oh dear, a bit of a twat who found it simply hil-arrrr-ious to hold up signs saying “BRING BACK SLAVERY”. He swiftly made an exit soon after the Nottingham Post took up the story (just a fortnight late, and they get paid for doing this). He later failed to take control of that lovely organisation known as Conservative Future (hopefully an oxymoron when Gideon’s cuts fail to do anything but ironically increase employment at Job-centres), due to his ‘media gaffes’.

In summer, I took up my usual habit of cycling aimlessly round this mighty town, and occasionally slipping into the neighbouring hinterlands of Erewash, particularly the area past the Nature Reserve but before Sawley, where as well as the best blackberry bushes in Beestonia are found, the innocent rambler may stumble across this bench, with this plaque attached:

Exhaustive investigation (well, I emailed Erewash Council) ensued, but I’m still no closer to working out who the dickens this Mr Crosby was: it’s not the singer, as he died well before that. And possibly wasn’t from Long Eaton. The investigation is still open, so any further theories are welcome…

I also spent far too much time over summer at hustings for the new leader of Labour, first by annoying David Milliband (and not by making the joke that I preferred his brother, Glenn), and got caught up in a bizarrely rubbish race-riot when the EDL tried to storm the building Diane Abbot presented from. Of course, I didn’t attend the eventual winner’s hustings, but I did apparently share a train carriage with Ed, which resulted in what still remains my Favourite Text Message of the Year, courtesy of a fellow passenger, the mighty Dan E: “He was sitting in economy of all places. I think he walked past to use the bog and it was probably a number 2 as he took his time”.

Autumn saw Tesco suddenly leap into life, as unscrupulous contractors worked illegally to get the store open for Christmas. I campaigned against it , fruitlessly, and now we have the hulking mass of consumerist imperialism dumped atop Beeston like a fresh turd from the arse of Mammon. I have kept my pledge to never shop there (yeah, take that, Sir Terry Leahy, you’ll be on your knees if I don’t spend my £62 per week JSA on your produce), but have hit an ethical dilemma. You see, much as I hate Tesco, they do have a nice range of red wine: I like red wine. And its cheap. So cheap in fact, it can only be a loss-leader: so provided I don’t get suckered into buying anything but cheap wine when I venture in, they LOSE money with my every purchase. Thus, if I buy enough wine, Tesco will actually record a loss and have to close down and we can build a town-centre butterfly reserve / rehab centre. If anyone even attempts to point out any logical inconsistency here, I shall break down and cry, and that would be good for no-one, ok?

2010 has been a remarkably odd year for Beestonia, yet I’m remarkably positive about the future. I nearly left over the autumn, to move to the North West, and while that still happen I’m still very proud to live in Beeston, despite it being under the Tescopoly and Tory-ran. I predict the Coalition will implode around May time, and the ensuing General Election will return an MP who doesn’t treat the non-Tory electorate as second class constituents; the Demonic Kay Cutts is ousted from Notts County Council and her swingeing attacks on anything that smells slightly community-orientated: care-homes, the CAB, Beeston Resource Centre are stopped and more sensible options on revenue-raising are put in place: how about setting up a log-flume over Beeston weir, £5 a pop? I’d certainly squander my meagre dole on it.

___________________________________________________

Sorry for the very lazy compilation nature of this post: I was going to do one of those talking heads programmes where no-mark comedians react to clips they’ve only just been shown but pretend they have held dear for years: something like ‘Britain’s Best Beestonia Bits’, where Ashley Peacock from Coronation Street pisses himself into a puddle over how much he loved my picture of Dave Miliband’s crotch*, followed by Terry off  Big Brother 5 guffawing to the camera about how he loved my reminiscence of romantic teenage shenanigans in Blackburn**, but even I’m not quite that lazy….

____________________________________________________

And, next time, I have a bit of a mission for YOU, yes YOU. I want you to tell me who should be Beestonia’s Hero/ Villain of 2010, plus best New Thing, Most Missed Thing, and your predictions for 2011. Send to me at mattgoold23@hotmail.com, or via the comments thing here. I have pretty much made my mind up already about who the winners are, and only cold, hard cash will influence me into changing my opinions, but its nice to know if I’m on the same wavelength as you lovely, lovely people.

Now you must excuse me. My stomach is making a noise like a fire in a pet shop, and I’m about to once again about to spend quality time  with Mr Armitage Shanks…Have a Happy, Healthy New Year.

___

*

(interestingly- to me, anyway-when you type ‘Miliband’ into this software it automatically corrects it to ‘Millbank’ : Tory HQ. This is up there with ‘Tony Blair MP’ being an anagram of ‘I’m Tory Plan B’ for those who are inclined towards conspiracy theories. And if you are one of those, I’m one of THEM.

**https://beestonia.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/beestonian-in-blackburn/