Beestonia Birds,Bats, Batman, Batsman, Booze Betting and Beligerant Birds.

 Despite the fact it was a lot warmer, sunnier, and more downright summer-ier in April than June, it’s officially mid-summer in Beestonia, with the days long and the nights clammy and tetchy. I’ve moved into my new house, and was excited at my first solstice visitor:

I later swapped it for two in a bush.

who must have misjudged his approach and flown through the bedroom window. I released him back into the wild, and I swear he didn’t fly right into the path of the two cats who patrol my back garden.

 Talking of cats, although I seem to have adopted the two aforementioned and keep finding myself in Chamber’s Pet Supplies pondering if they’d prefer trout and liver treat sticks over pork and salmon, I still have the expose on why cats are evil in the pipeline. As I still get over twenty hits a week to this blog on through the google search term ‘CATS+EVIL’ I can’t disappoint these people. Even if I’m writing this at the kitchen table as my newly adopted feline is splayed out on my sofa and gives me the stink-eye each time I suggest budging up a bit.

 From cats to bats, and you may well have heard that a Batman film is presently being filmed at Wollaton Hall. This has led to the closing of the Hall and Park for three weeks, hopefully for a whopping great fee that will pay for the return of the Hall’s once wonderful Formary (who can tire of watching a huge glass dome full of ants doing ant stuff? It gave one the transient feeling of a Greek God, staring down from atop Mount Olympus. Or maybe that was just me). Anyhow, there is a great possibility that some Famous People are in Beeston right now, and I have received unverifiable reports that Michael Caine was seen in Greggs over-enunciating a request for a steak bake and Christian Bale was thrown out the Last Post after 12 WKDs and calling the quiz machine all sorts of names for supposed inaccuracies. If you do spot any stars about town, grab a photo and send it in and I’ll guarantee publication. Even if its dead obvious you’ve just cut and pasted a screen grab from Zulu onto a backdrop of Broadgate Park.

 I talked a while back about the weird connections of Batman to Nottinghamshire well before the filming was announced: the Gotham link, the Robin character named after Robin Hood due to his costume being a dyed Robin Hood outfit found by the TV series wardrobe department. The Post also ran something similar a while back. But another film in production right now, Sherlock Holmes 2, also has a very strong Nottingham connection. Of course it does. This is the centre of the cultural universe, after all, even if some people are still convinced by my ranting rhetoric. When naming the character, Conan-Doyle took the name of two cricketers who played for Nottinghamshire at the time: Mordacai Sherwin and Frank Shacklock. That means, by my own special brand of logic, that Sherlock Holmes was a Beestonian. Elementary, my dear reader. More on it here:http://youandyesterday.com/articles/Holmes,_Sherlock_-_The_curious_case_of_the_Derbyshire_links

Bats. Not the ones I saw the other day. But bats all the same.

 But lets get back to bats. I spent the solstice (Tuesday night) at Highfields, watching a flock of what I assume were pipistrelles flutter,swerve and flitter  over the boating lake, a sight I cannot recommend enough. Now the students have left the campus, it’s a wonderfully peaceful place, and there is a great, secluded, utterly silent area by the water where a perfect evening can be spent with a few cans of cider watching the acrobatic antics of these weird mammals.

 I best qualify that by pointing out that I don’t have a TV, broadband connection or the cash to go to the pub right now…

But its midsummer, and you have to be out there, revelling in the late, louche sunsets and the warm breezes. If you’re more a day person, it’s fete time. So it was that I found myself at Chilwell Carnival on Saturday, at my dad’s (and Richard Beckinsale’s) Alma Mater, College House Primary. It had everything a fete should have, homemade cakes; orange squash in thin plastic cups; a massive sound system which the wind distorts the instant it blasts from the speakers; and bric-a-brac stalls where you can pick up bizarre TV-show board games for a quid. Best stall though was of such startling simplicity it led to my wallet lightening considerably. It was named WINE OR WATER and no, it wasn’t some pseudo-Christian thing. Bottles were filled with either wine or water, and you had to guess which. Easy? Oh no. They were wrapped in newspaper, at a ratio of six water to every wine. I consider myself something of an expert of identifying booze: you should see me at house parties, so approached the task like a pig snuffling out truffles. Sadly, my efforts were rewarded by nothing but 75cl of H2O; ergo I must drink more wine to sharpen my senses. Also, many thanks to Roisin and the offer of free strawberries.

I was quite chuffed to run into an old friend at the fete, Al. It’s been about five years since our paths crossed, in which time he’s had a kid, got engaged and became a teacher at College House. Well done, Al.

We chatted about when we used to hang around together, and one notable day, fittingly, the Summer Solstice, 2003. At the time I lived in Beeston Rylands, and worked at the Nottingham Trent University Clifton Campus. Each morning meant a backtracking pedalling slog to Clifton Bridge then East again…frustratingly, my office was located in a building visible from my bedroom window, but the lack of a bridge necessitated this hugely extended trip.

The only solution thus was to cross the river for work, and as I was a regular swimmer back then, I devised a method for front-crawling to work, using a waterproof back-pack, a bottle of water to rinse down with and some sheer determination. I told my then girlfriend about my plan, who didn’t merely pooh-pooh it but had a full attack of the metaphorical runs. I was mad, apparently, and if I so much as stuck my big toe in the Trent, I could expect to be single before it  dried.

So it was under great secrecy my test swim took place. I asked Al, an experienced river swimmer, to come along to guide me, and picked a blazing hot Saturday to do so. We walked down the river path until we found a good crossing point, and I leapt in. Instantly the cold hit bits of me that really don’t like being cold, but I splashed over to the other bank regardless, performed a minor victory dance, then threw myself back in to return home.

Half way across, I decided to take a small break on a sandbank that the low river level had exposed. I could see Al waving frantically on the bank, but couldn’t hear his calls as my chattering teeth were drowning out any noise. If I had heard him, I would have heard ‘SWAN! SWAN! SWAN!’, moments before I saw the huge, muscular and exceptionally pissed –off swan bear down on me.

 It was flying directly at me, its huge strong wings beating aggressively, a beaked avenging angel that wanted the shaven ape off its territory and back on the bank where it belonged, feeding it bread and cooing at its cygnets. I instinctively threw myself back into the river, with the swan equivalent of ‘Get orf my land’ ringing in my ears –  mute? Nope.

I floundered back to Beeston-side, scrambled through a nettle patch to get up the bank, and lay there gasping, terrified, and stinking of stagnant water. My body was welted with nettle-toxin, my nerves shattered by avian attack. And aforementioned girlfriend swiftly found out and posted me my boyfriend-P45. I grudgingly continued to cycle to work.

 

Soubry’s First Year in Power: A (very late, potentially libellous) Appraisal.

Just over a year ago, Anna Soubry became the MP for Broxtowe, ousting Dr Nick Palmer after thirteen years of Labour control. The swing was slender and well below the national average: after two recounts it was settled that she had won by just 389 votes, a 0.7% greater share than the incumbent.

It’s been a very odd year for her, and for Broxtowe politics as a whole, so trying to summarise it all in one blog post is nigh on impossible. I’ve been soliciting views from all hues of the political spectrum to try and get a truly representative feel of how she’s done, as well as trawling my own archives. She’s been stewing in my brain for the past month, so it’s finally time to serve it up before I start to scare myself.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time ensuring that all facts within are correct, but errors can happen, even to me, so please let me know if something is so glaring it could get me sued  misrepresents.

PROMISES

I’m not naive enough to believe everything that a politician says when begging for our vote: look at New Labour’s ‘Ethical Foreign Policy’; Conservatives ‘We will protect the NHS’; and the Lib Dems tuition fees debacle. Politicians know they have to seduce us thoroughly, then, like a cruel lover, leave us feeling a bit daft and used for trusting them. It’s always been this way, and although there have been honourable exceptions in history, Machiavelli still hums in the background at ever call to vote.

Anna’s promises? Two she made with striking conviction were ‘ I will be Broxtowe’s voice in Westminster, not Westminster’s voice in Broxtowe’. The second ‘I will move into the constituency when I am elected.

The first was rather unimpressive. It implied that Palmer didn’t represent Broxtowe well, and was a purely Westminster MP. As numerous testaments in the last year show, Palmer’s popularity here was greatly bolstered by his willingness to respond to emails, letters and phone calls, even if they held views diametrically opposed to his own. I first sent him an email several years ago at 1am, and was rather surprised to find a reply, sent at 3am, waiting in my inbox. I will deal with Soubry’s response time later. But to claim that she was all about localism, especially when her mentor was Ken Clarke -whose wife claims single-occupancy rate on their property in Rushcliffe, such is his time spent in London-was a bit silly. But is it true?

On balance, no. She has found a niche in  the Commons through her experience at the bar, and a great chunk of her Hansard entries deal with tricky legal issues rather than local ones. I recently received an exasperated phone call from John McGrath, Stapleford Councillor, who had lobbied her recently to investigate parking issues in St. Apleford. She got quite angry at this, as McGrath is Labour, and this was ‘not an issue for the MP’: she tried to delegate the issue to the County Council, in the form of Cllr. Richard Jackson. When Cllr. McGrath complained that he had not received an adequate response from Jackson for over a year, she lost her temper and claimed that she was’ Sick and tired of having my time, and my office’s time, wasted by (Cllr. Steve) Barber, Palmer and Labour’.

It doesn’t surprise me much. As I shall attempt to explain later, Soubry’s light-touch representation of Broxtowe might be a perfectly clever strategy. Let’s look at the other claim, that she would move to Broxtowe should she gain power. True?

According to a trusty source, no. I do know she looked at a place in Bramcote, but decided against it. Her property in Mapperley has an indoor heated swimming pool, so I can understand her reluctance to leave it, even if Bramcote baths is just across the dual carriageway. I’m not absolutely against politicians living away from their stomping ground: most Councillors I know live outside their wards; but if you aren’t going to fulfil it, expect to be criticised for promising it. Anna, there is still time. I’ve just moved out of my shared-house, so my former room is free. £265 all in, with TWO toilets (albeit the outside one lacks plumbing). Give my landlord a call.

GRADE: C-

 

 Constituency Work

This is where I get most feedback from readers. How well does Anna respond to queries?

Pretty poorly, judging by the correspondence I receive. Emails get ignored, letters are left without reply and telephone calls unanswered. Unverified, but frequent comments on Beestonia complain that she seems to not want to get involved in anything that smacks of deviating from the Tory line. I have contacted her a few times, but I assume she thinks I’m part of an alleged leftish  ‘conspiracy’ to over-run her office with work. Her first months in power were full of marginally paranoid complaints that she was being overworked by email and letter writing campaigns, and it was getting in the way of her ‘real work’. After much complaint in the letter pages of the Nottingham Post and the Beeston Express she stopped this, yet still I received a steady flow of correspondence of frustrated constituents annoyed with her ignoring them. This attitude hurt her two ways. First, Palmer was famous for his prompt and courteous replies to queries, often sent at bizarre times of the day. Even if he disagreed with a point, he was careful to explain why he wouldn’t be voting the way you wanted him to. This was good representation, and over the thirteen years he was MP, something of a trademark. Soubry therefore had a high standard to live up to, so it may be understandable that taking over Palmer’s caseload overwhelmed her somewhat. If it is proved to be true, as many people suggest to me, that she ignores anything that may appear to be from a non-Conservative constituent, I can’t see any chance of her wafer-thin majority bulking up.

However, credit where it’s due. A few months ago I conducted an experiment, where three friends sent identical handwritten letters to the respective MPs in Broxtowe (Soubry), Erewash (Jessica Lee, Conservative) and Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood, Labour). We chose the topic of media plurality in respect to the proposed takeover of BSkyB by Murdoch, as this was non-geographic and not immediately party-political. All three letters were posted to the constituency offices at exactly the same time, and I do admit to being moderately surprised by the results.

Soubry replied first, and while the letter was short and uncommitted, it was still signed by Anna herself. Second was Jessica Lee, with a more thorough response; with Lilian Greenwood following a week later, with a thorough and considered response. Still, a win to Anna. I also award her bonus points for something Cllr. Watts told me: she acts promptly and effectively to referrals he has made. I’m also impressed with her attempts to stop the cuts hitting Broxtowe too heavily, especially her entirely sensible attitude to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau: force banks and credit card companies to fund the CAB, and delve into the £100,000,000 contingency fund the Government has set up to act as a buffer for charities badly hit by the force of the cuts. This I salute, how she follows it through however is something that I’ll be watching very closely over the next year.

GRADE: C

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AVOIDANCE OF GAFFES

Where to start? The first utterly silly mistake was to instantly renege on a promise that she wouldn’t hire a party activist or her constituency office, then promptly doing just that. Bad enough, but when I noticed that the worker was none other than the infamous Craig Cox, erstwhile Conservative student activist and headline grabber: http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/news/Nottingham-student-held-pro-slavery-poster/article-395713-detail/article.html . When the proper media picked up on this after my expose, Soubry became rather ruffled and said his past actions were ‘history, we should move on’ and hastily decided that Cox was only there on a temporary basis. He then reappeared failing to take control of Conservative Future, the youth wing of the Tories, some reports citing his slavery ‘blunder’ as the reason his bid failed. Cox then disappeared off my radar for a while, before reappearing earlier this year being parachuted into a relatively safe ward (Chilwell and Toton Meadows) in the locals. I did get to chat to him recently, and to give him credit he had every right to tell me to go and do some pretty obscene things to myself. However, he was cautiously courteous, and we swapped numbers. More on this in future Beestonia.

This was small fry however, compared to the clanger dropped towards the end of 2010. Twelve days after acknowledging in the Beeston Express the strength of local feeling regarding the privatisation of the Royal Mail, and after meeting representatives from the CWU, she stood up in the House of Commons and said that she had received no written opposition to privatisation. Boom.

The fallout can be read in Beestonia passim, from the giant, un-ignorable postcard delivered to her constituency office by some severely disgruntled posties, to the calls for her to make a formal apology (she didn’t) and then to the triggering of Beeston’s largest march in living memory, as on a freezing drizzly winters day the streets were packed with people demanding that the ‘Post be kept public’. I doubt many of Broxtowe’s posties (and they are many, I was even one once upon a time) would have voted for Soubry in 2010, but any hope of winning any over was effectively flushed away at that point.

GRADE D

 

LADDER-CLIMBING

A year ago, I suggested that Anna would hit the front-benches sooner than later, and while that hasn’t happened yet, I see it as a formality after a couple of reshuffles. As Nick Palmer wrote in a previous piece for Beestonia, it is important for an MP to make themselves indispensible by carving out a niche for themselves early on, and Anna has done that with aplomb. Her previous career as a Barrister has served her well to act as an authority on complex legal issues, while her career before the Bar, as a media celeb (Central News East, This Morning, and Prisoner Cell Block H-Live!) allows her to need minimal media training before being stuck in front of Paxman for a live grilling. Recent appearances on BBC  Question Time and Newsnight have done little to damage her profile, and as Ken Clarke seems to be letting his mojo slip: the clumsy rape furore, apparently falling asleep during Osborne’s budget speech/ Obama’s historical address, we can see how his protégé is ready to oust the mentor. Consider this prediction.

Its 2015, and the General Election is looming. Ken Clarke is now in his eighties, and after a string of gaffes has been eased onto the backbenches, out of view of nap-catching television cameras. Soubry has taken up the areas left vacant by Clarke: as a socially moderate, Europe-friendly MP she fills this role well. Yet threes a problem. The narrow majority of her seat means re-election is highly unlikely, and her raised profile makes it even more of a target-more of a scalping- for Labour. What to do? Fight on shaky ground, or do a bit of shuffling? The latter is safer, and Ken Clarke can be easily persuaded to spend more time with his Hush-puppies and take a peerage. Rushcliffe thus becomes vacant, Anna gets shifted to this safe seat, and everyone’s happy. Richard Jackson, Craig Cox or a fiery newcomer gets to challenge Palmer for Broxtowe.

 Not convinced? Then let’s look at a few more clues. It’s been noted by many of late that Soubry has ambitions beyond a single-term MP, indeed ones that might stretch all the way to the top. She’s lately gone blonde, and her voice seems to have slowed and deepened. I have heard mention of a resemblance to a certain famous female politician a few times over the last fortnight. Also an East Midlander….

Watch This Space.

Grade: A-

 

SUMMARY

It’s no secret that I’ve not hit it off with Anna. She refuses to talk to me, accusing me of ‘sexism’, and referring to me in a chat to a constituent who met her in Westminster as ‘that awful writer’. This has probably led me to be more merciless towards her than is fair, but I’m not the BBC. I assume she assumes that I’m Labour, and I have never made a secret of having lots of friends in the Labour Party, but I also have (reasonably) good contacts in the Lib Dems, Greens and the Conservatives- Cllr. Eric Kerry actually told me a brace of great stories recently, and Cllr. Richard Jackson has been friendly, open and accommodating of late. As the incumbent, I scrutinise Anna but no more than I would do Palmer, or indeed Watts, if they had taken control. It’s a shame she refuses to participate in Beestonia, but the door is open….

Broxtowe is a vibrant area for political discourse. There are few certainties, as the last Local Election proved. On both a local and national level we are of huge importance to the main parties: hence the disproportionate amount of visits we get from government and opposition politicians. Anna’s election was almost too neatly a microcosm of the National scene: a swing to the Conservatives, but not enough to dig down and take root. Opinion polls look bleak for Anna: an election tomorrow would sweep her from her seat with ease, even if the Lib Dems remained as strong as they were in 2010.

Ken Clarke is on the ropes, with even Murdoch baying for his blood. Will Anna step forward before 2015, and lay the fatal blow as Baron Rushcliffe silently mouths ‘Et tu, Soubs?’ I’m off down Ladbrokes to stick a fiver down. Send me your thoughts via the comments box or at mattgoold23@hotmail.com .

Hemlock Happened, Chilwell will soon/ Meadows Fields Beestonia / Plugs and Plugs/ Just Because I’m Paranoid Don’t Mean They’re Not After Me.

The Hemlock Stone. Described by DH Lawrence as 'a little, gnarled, twisted stump of rock, something like a decayed mushroom, standing out pathetically on the side of the field'. He was from Eastwood though, so ignore him.

It’s Festival season. This, back in the heady days of the early nineties, used to mean a much different thing to me than it does now. Then, it would be hitching down to the West Country with twenty quid, a knackered tent and a change of undies, purchasing a demi-john of cloudy super-strength scrumpy off a toothless Somerset farmer ‘Watch it’ he’d say ‘Izz blinded people that ‘az’, before flinging myself over security fences or paying a dodgy scouse bloke a fiver to use the tunnel he scraped out using his ratboy powers. Then a sleepless weekend of god awfulmusic, dancing round stone circles at sunset and smoking my way through a bag full of what I had been promised was illegal herbs, only to discover on Sunday that I’d be inhaling dried thyme for the past three days. Despite my fervant, Stalinesque attempts to suppress them,  photos still exist of me wearing tie-dye. And blowing a digeridoo.

These days? Well, now things in my life lean to the more sedate, and I much prefer to go home to a warm soft bed than spend the night chatting to passive aggressive new-agers about why there is absolutely no conflict between their anarchist stance and their trust-fund. So this Saturday, I head to the Hemlock Happening.

To non-Beestonians, this might sound like a rather sick celebration of Socrates enforced suicide, or some pagan weirdness. But no, its best described as Bramcote Carnival, with a good spread of display teams: cricket, golf, dancing, etc; stalls selling courgette plants in yogurt pots and, later in the evening, local bands sing alfresco to a crowd deep in the happy arms of alcohol intoxication. All within the walls of a, erm, Holocaust Remembrance Garden.

I pop down via the Trent Barton 18 early afternoon. By a weird confluence of circumstances I won’t bore you with in any great detail, I get roped into becoming the Mayor of Stapleford’s photographer for the afternoon. This involves strolling after the mayor and trying to look professional with a 35mm camera as he poses with stall-holders, fires some arrows on the archery display area, and shakes hands with locals. It’s good fun, as the Mayor is a lovely chap who I have known for several years – I used to go to festivals with his daughter back in the days before the Internet, New Labour and wrinkles. I see a few of Broxtowe’s political class strolling around, David Watts,  Jaquie Williams and others, but am too busy being David Bellamy to put on my Lord Beestonia crown and try and snatch some ad-hoc interview.

I return, after far too much wine round my parent’s house and an amble r0und some fields, to find the evening in full swing, crowds gathered on the walls , sitting on the turf and booze flowing happily from the Castle Rock Brewery tent (£3 a pint?? £3? I do love you, Castle Rock, but a local brewery must realise that the Bramcote/Stabbo border is not inner-city London). Theres some blokes in Thunderbirds fancy dress, who I bizarrely I’d seen drinking in The Last Post earlier that day when I’d popped in to borrow their toilets. Their inebriation actually increased their resemblance to the Tracy brothers, as they shambled around with flailing limbs and bobbing heads. A local band played, kids flew around screaming, and the sun set before Hemlock Hill lit up and spewed a mass of fireworks into the deep blue night sky. All very nice, and it only rained a bit.

You missed it? Ah, shame on you. But don’t feel so bad. This Saturday, get your arse down to College House School in Chilwell this weekend and once you’ve paid a quid entry (50p kids, free if you’re under 5. And if you are, and able to read this, I apologise for my immaturity), you’ll find a Chilwell Carnival in full swing, with live performances, go-karts, human table football, bouncy slide, traditional games, a car boot sale, food and drink, and a raffle with great prizes donated by local businesses. All proceeds go  to the Friends of College House Charity. It should be a corker of a day, and, after being promised a free bowl of strawberries and ice cream from the organisers if I gave them a mention, I’ll be there too.

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Shane Meadows, or, as he is better known round here 'Shane Meduzz'

Nice to see one of the best film and telly directors in the world down the pub last week. I was at the bar of the Crown -yes, they still don’t give me table service despite my endless plugs for them- and realise the guy buying a pint of Everard’s Original next to me is no other than Shane Meadows, the bloke behind Matlock-based gruesome revenge thriller Dead Man’s Shoes (if you’ve not seen it, yet have seen more than one instalment of the American Pie series, get yourself to the Naughty Step right now); the skinhead rite of passage This is England and its televisual, BAFTA winning spin-offs This is England ’86 and This is England ’88 (out this Christmas). I decided to say hello, and he kindly didn’t strop off at having a mildly drunk bloke try and strike up unsolicited conversation. We briefly chatted about, bizarrely, our favourite local scientists; local pubs and booze. I did elicit a promise from him to adapt and direct my screenplay This Is Beestonia, and accept the lead role of ‘Max Gold’, the tall, handsome libertine who becomes benign dictator of a medium sized East Midland’s Suburb, before his eventual kingship, Nobel Prize and Papal recommendation as the first lapsed Catholic to be put forward for canonization. Except he didn’t promise anything of the sort. Just pretend he did, ok?

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I also stole the idea of ‘This is Beestonia’ off the lovely people who run The Treasury on Wollaton Road, so to stop a lawsuit for theft I best give them a plug: http://www.thetreasuryonline.co.uk/ .

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And while I’m at it, will also plug a new young writer on the block. If you have an interest in Formula 1, have a look at the rather well written http://grandprixreviewer.wordpress.com/ . The author is only 14, yet writes with a flair that puts other sports writers, hacks with years under their belts, to shame. I declare an interest: I helped set the blog up for him, but the content is all his: my knowledge of Grand Prix is so lacking I thought Ayrton Senna was a health drink that relieves constipation.

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Politics: LOADS to mention, but I’m saving it till after I’ve published my Soubry in Power piece, which I swear I’ve nearly finished. My lawyers are fine-tooth combing it, and seem to think that unless I cut 1,000 words I’m doing porridge for the next twenty years. Ah, Beestonia, you’ll be out in ten, whats the worry? But who recently came out to diss Ken Clarke’s early release legislation and big-up Call-Me-Dave’s scrapping of it? Why, none other than Anna herself. Coincidence? I think not. I’m not paranoid WHATSOEVER. So I’m off to don my tin-foil hat and go and sit in my airing cupboard just in case the black helicopters land on my back lawn….

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Not Whatsover a Filler Article: READ!!

There is never a dull moment in Beestonia, which is a shame when all one wants to do  is to have a dull moment without leaving Beestonia. I’ve spent a fraught week trying to shift my assembled wares from one abode to another with such incredible stess all I crave is a dull moment. A very long dull moment. Painting a wall and watch it run from wetness to moistness to tackiness to dry. Attempting the Tour De France on a cycling machine with a speed restrictor set at 4 mph. Committing to watcing a series of Britain’s Got Talent. Some mind-numbing, unstimulating, totally procrastinatingly glorious NOTHINGNESS. I long for a zen state, a long deep breathing OHHHMMMMMMMM which leaves me so laid back I’m 85% puddle. Can I get this in Beestonia??? Absolutely no chance.

It sounds like I’m complaining. Don’t be daft, I love it. Its the only reason I can justify keeping this blog alive. If I truly wanted dull witterings about the nothingness of my habitat, I’d move across the river and become ‘West Bridgonian’.  I don’t, and I could (provided I find half a million in a suitcase this weekend), because I utterly adore Beeston. And I adore it through the fact I can pop down the pub after an absolutely wonderful evening of Kingfisher spotting down Nature Reserve (try it, its like watching SpringWatch, but in surround sound and  3D), and come away three hours later not just with a belly full of the Best Ale in Notts (official), but a notepad so bulging with stories I’ve had to invent nano-shorthand to cram it all on the pages.

Where to start? With some celebration, naturally.

Beeston pubs are better than your pubs. Again.

And again, its official. The Crown Inn, one of Beeston’s oldest buildings, once again takes the prize of CAMRA Nottinghamshire Pub of the Year, incredibly when pubs are disappearing in the town at a horribly rapid rate. I mention its age because across the road from it stands one of Beeston’s most recent buildings, Tesco, which is one of Beeston’s newest buildings, part of a chain that is doing phenomenally well, yet locally has been boycotted and snubbed to such an extent its in the doldrums and leaking dough here. Draw your own conclusions.

I miss the presentation ceremony, as do every other media outlet. The Post, the BBC, the Beeston Express miss it, but talking to  James Brown later I find out why:

“We don’t really need to shout about it. We just run a pub that we’d like to drink in. There isn’t a need for publicity and all of that. We know we’re good, we were good, are good, and will continue to be good and that’s what draws the punters in. Publicity? Nice, but we just run a pub. Try and run it just to be voted Pub of the Year and you’ll collapse’

He’s a pleasantly taciturn fellow, Mr Brown, yet I endorse his laid-back attitude: and the formulae works wonderful. They have a beer festival on right now, running till Sunday. If you are a Beeston-based Beestonian (and I know many of you aren’t, so sorry) get your arses down their PRONTO. In the interests of fairness and balance, I must point out that other pubs in Beeston offer great experiences and lashings of fun. You know, like Wetherspoons.

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Beeston and Shit Pubs

Which segues me nicely into my next observation. While down the Crown tonight I bumped into local politicos Cllr.Steve Barber (Labour, Rylands), and Eric Kerry (Conservatives, Attenborough). Now, you’d expect them to be as advertorial in the pub as they are the Council Chamber, but no. They could almost be a double act. I sat opposite them, and was never lest than rapt in their tales of Old Beestonia. Heres a great one.

The Durham Ox is now a Chinese restaurant serving very gorgeous food ( try the Char Sui Bao doughy buns for heaven in a chomp) but beforehand it was a pub, for many many years, and in the mid seventies a regular called Tim would sip ale, play darts and chat to other regulars. Tim was a studying law at the University of Nottingham, yet spurned student bars for more local haunts. It was fun, but he’d frequently tell his fellow drinkers that he could do better.

‘Then do it’ they said; and in 1979 Tim did just that. Purposefully striding to London, he opened his first pub in Colney Hatch, an area in Barnet, North London. Colney Hatch, famous for two things. One, its 19th Century lunatic asylum (as such places were known as of the time), whose name became so synonymous with mental disorder anyplace  judged to be a bit full of the desperate; the confused; the mentally needy; was ‘a bit Colney Hatch’. And thus, the first Wetherspoons opened.

I need not tell you how that buisness plan played out. Because I don’t want to bore you with the story of how Beeston was the inspiration for Wetherspoons take over of this country’s pub trade, and how it is now operating over 800 pubs nationwide that suck the love and the life out of community boozing with a spurious promise of cheap food and booze.

Beestonians, I am so proud when I write of the roll call  of Beestonia: Einstein, Gandhi, Paul Smith, Bendigo, Richard Beckinsale, Edwin Starr,that woman out of Swing Out Sister.. These great individuals serve to make me realise Beeston is blessed…yet we also breed mulleted idiots who set up shit pub chains.

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I walked through Beeston’s much hated precinct today. Its like a horrible micococm  of the Broadmarsh Centre, which has long held the accolade ‘Where shops go to die’. I counted only three non-charity shops out of twenty operating. Tesco set themselves up as the saviours of local business.  a plethora of shop-space for local entrepreneurs to use. Not a single one has. Tesco itself is suffering from unexpected low takings. Worrying? No.  I chatted to a well-informed source at Hallams (fruit,veg, seafood), who claimed that their proximity to the multi-national b ox had benefited their business. I am too ill-informed to wade into this debate now, but will scrutinise footfall and takings, before presenting you with a thoroughly researched, detailed, fact savvy report when I have time. And if you lazy bastards that read this ever wish to rise from your fat arses to help write this, bloody well let me know and do so.  Admittedly, I’ll give you all the shitty fact-checking jobs, but hey, it’s Citizen Journalism, innit?

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 There is loads more to bang on about, but I’m so tired I must investigate the joys of pillow+duvet+BBC World Service =snooze, before I bring you more juicy morsels. Get yourself subscibed to this blog ( push that needy-looking button to your right); follow me on twitter (i’m beeestonia, note the double ‘e’), or email me at mattgoold23@hotmail.com. I’m off to Sussex for a few days, but worry not, a plethora of locally based silliness (and some surprisingly diverse politics) will be washing up on these shores soon…

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Beestonia on the Move; Watts Up In Beeston?

Apologies for the lack of communication, all has been rather frantic of late at Beestonia Towers, chiefly to do with leaving the aforementioned towers for my new abode, a hollowed out volcano somewhere in Beeston Square, complete with giant laser guns and furry sour-faced cats. Or an end terrace just off the High Street. One or the other.

I’ve also been tapping out the stonkingly colossal review of Soubry’s first year in office, which should be ready for your consumption around the time shes well into her third year of power. It’s an Opus Majus, and I pity any biographer now for their career choice. One week in politics may be a long time to write about, but a year makes War and Peace look like a Janet and John book. Especially after the year our darling MP has had. To write someones whole life must be torture, so my hat duly tipped to Boswell et al.

Theres also some rather exciting news to come about the future of Beestonia, which you’ll hear about very soon. And no, it’s not the release of the  I Heart Beestonia t-shirt I wore during the election campaign, there’s still only one of them (and it’s got rather grubby).

One last thing though, I saw something rather odd today while cycling near Abbey Road. Is it:

a) An exciting but rather different career choice from one of our local politicians?

b) Testament to the enduring appeal of the Lib Dems in Beeston North (though Steve Carr must feel slightly underrated by it)?

c) Proof that Ray Davies was right, and we wish we could be like……

Answers on a postcard to the usual address.