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.


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?


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/ .


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.


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….