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*
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.