A Beestonian Meets Jimmy Saville, Luke Skywalker, Frank Bruno.

Just heard that Jimmy Saville has died, which is very sad as Jim’ll Fix It was my favourite programme as a kid, and I penned loads of letters to the Jingle-jangle cigar chomping genius, sadly to no avail. The letters invariably would ask if I could be in Star Wars: ride the Millenium Falcon, fight stormtroopers or lend Darth Vader my Ventolin. I didn’t realise that just up the road, a lad had beat me to it, meeting R2D2, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker AND Jimmy Saville. And here is the evidence:

Do you know who the kid is? As that would have been filmed in 1979, he would be 40 now. Did you go to Roundhill with him? Did you envy him with such force your eyes went emerald? Are you him? Let me know.

So RIP Jimmy, and thank you for being in my favourite jaw-droppingly bizarre photographs, below:

 

Yep, thats Frank Bruno. Meeting Peter ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ Sutcliffe in Broadmoor. Consider your mind blown.

Oxjam Took Over Beestonia, and Beestonia Shone. Golf and Wrestling.

Beestonians, contort your limbs as best as possible and firmly plant a slap on your own backs, for you have excelled yourselves.  On Saturday, Oxjam came to Beestonia, took it over, shook it around and left us exhilarated and thoroughly grateful.

I confess that when I was initially told Oxfam had decided to move the Oxjam from its usual city centre home, I wasn’t entirely sure it would work. Despite the delights of this town that I’ve been shouting about for years, I worried that those yet to sample our delights might not bother making over. What I didn’t realise was that the organizing committee were somehow superhuman, and with a steely ambition to raise the target, pulled off a feat of wonder. Special thanks to Carly, who I imagine is probably still in bed, or at some sort of recuperative spa complex in the Chilterns, recovering from the intense juggling act of keeping things running over many venues.

And yes, the target was smashed. £4,000 was the aim, and sometime earlier today that was surpassed with much more cash still to be totted up. This is quite an achievement, wristbands were only £5 and many events free, but you dug deep, Beestonians.

There was something else in the air on Saturday. Palpable, heady and thrilling, the pervasive realisation that Beeston could do this, and do it well. The town knitted together, and created something that should be built on, and not just with hosting Oxjam again. We have the venues, we have the talent. Beeston becoming the cultural hub of the East Midlands? Scoff at your peril.

Have a look at Barton House, for instance. Until a few months ago, I didn’t even realise there was much there, apart from maybe a few offices. It’s a visual shock to actually see what is in there, and how its potential is finally being fully realised. On saturday it hosted not just a poetry and spoken word event (which I hosted, more on which later), but a Vintage Fair with steam engines rolling around; a multi-roomed utterly brilliant art exhibition which honestly beats anything I’ve seen at the Contemporary in an age; a children’s painting workshop; a pop up  shop selling artworks and suchlike; and a large music venue that hosted some brilliant local bands, with a licensed bar. This is a great resource to have in the town, and it’s resurrection as a venue is testament to Beeston finding its feet again.

Get yourself down there before Sunday before The Carnival of Monsters is in full swing,  and have a look for yourself. More details here.

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I too performed there, in the Engine room, hosting the Oxjam Poetry and Spoken Word event.

I’m not one for public speaking, and fear it greatly. The only time I can happily address a crowd is around 10.30pm on a Friday night in The Crown, where I suddenly become possessed by the ghost of Billy Grahame and happily pontificate loudly, fluently, and absolutely not incoherently to all in earshot about whatever twisted fascination/ bitter hatred is occupying me at the time. So getting up and  a spoken word night, without even a sip of Merlot past my lips, was a terrifying prospect.

I’m also on oral steroids right now, to clear up the damage a nasty bout of flu delivered. These have the side-effect of increasing body temperature, exhilaration and ‘manic thoughts’, and all three of these particular horsemen rode up to what I was expecting to be my own personal Armageddon.

Latino’s was visited beforehand, not for top-class pasta (go there, not Amores: it’s a bit pricier but 17 times better, and serves snails), but for a comedy afternoon in the back room. I watch how the comedians work a crowd effortlessly, holding us in the palm of their hands with charisma, wit, and jokes about dog poo. I screw up my notes. I’m going to have to wing it.

The problem with compering performance poets is manifold, but lets deal with the key issues. Performance poets/writers are very experienced and have refined their skill at

·         Writing stuff to read

·         Reading the stuff out

Thus, everyone is better at doing at what I’m meant to be doing than I. And then loads of people arrive, the organiser who was meant to be doing my timings doesn’t turn up and I have to project my voice rather than use a mic. I scribble some notes, bluster through them, and then have the luxury of watching the acts.

There were some excellent performers too, a real eclectic mix that ran from whimsy to ire, meditative to cathartic. I won’t single out one in particular but will note that when I realised that local author Niki Valentine was formally known as Nicola Monaghan and wrote one of my favourite books, the utterly compelling, grittier than a grit box tour de force The Killing Jar, I went a bit weak at the knees to be in proximity to someone with such talent. She has a new book called The Haunting out, which she read an excerpt from. Its available here. I’ll also put links up to some of the performers soon.

It got a bit cold towards the end, but the venue in Barton House engine room, with its backdrop of ancient shiny buses, was fantastic nonetheless, even if I break land speed records for the sprint to the bar once we’d wrapped up.

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How to follow a night of such high-brow artiness then? I get up on Sunday, nosh down a sausage sarnie and go and watch some wrestling. In Beeston. Yes, wrestling. In Beeston.

My good friend and near neighbour Rik is to blame. He’s long been a die-hard fan of men in tights grappling each other, yet despite many, many attempts to make me see the light has not yet convinced me. We share a lot of tastes, in film, in Neil Young and Half Man Half Biscuit records; in bargain bin cider, but I still am baffled. As an open minded man though, I agree to attend to see it in its visceral glory. Plus, Rik informs me theres a licensed bar.

I’m still a bit unsure what I saw that afternoon. Taking place incongruously in Beeston Youth Centre, aka The Shed, barrel chested men in comic outfits played out choreographed mini battles that involved much face slapping, gurning and sneering at the crowd. Everyone there, except me and the bar-lady, seemed to know the complex ties the wrestlers had with each other, and how these narratives would be played out. It was outrageously camp. And that’s not a complaint, as it was also entirely involving and entertaining, even if I’m not sure what ‘it’ actually was.

Maybe next time we could combine it with a poetry event? I’ll see if I can get an arts grant.

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And while we’re on the subject of grapples in the ring, tonight they’ll be a full Council meeting at The Town Hall that I’ll be attending. The chief issue on the agenda will be the thorny issue of housing in the Borough.

It’s an incredibly tricky argument, the Tories angry at what they see as an assault on the green belt, the Lib Lab partnership angry at what they see as ignoring the increasing accommodation needs of a growing borough, and other voices pointing out the figures might be  skewed anyway and everyone might be wrong.  Thus, I’ve decided to get my two bits and use the Sword of Beestonia to cleave through this problematic Gordian Knot.

Golf courses. Build on golf courses. There we go, problem solved. They take up huge swathes of land, are of use to all but a few who can afford/be arsed to play, and can easy be snapped up with compulsory purchase. They are NOT greenbelt at all, but staggeringly sterile places due to the constant manicuring of the turf and homogenous planting. A row of back gardens on an average terraced street creates a more diverse and varied habitat, and a more effective corridor. One golf course can be several hundred acres of land: the housing issue can be addressed in an instant without a single piece of greenbelt being touched. That, or buy out Tesco and turn it into social housing, which I’ve been proposing since before the foundations had been laid.

Everyone happy? Then I’d like a nice bungalow with staggering distance to the Clubhouse, please.

Beestonia announces The Beestonia 2; OXJAM: get your tickets NOW; guff and suchlike.

It’s that time of year where things seem to be in an accelerated flux: the trees are one moment dressed in green, the next golden brown, then stripped skeletal by a northern, iced wind. The shops go from barbecue roasts to frozen turkeys in the time it takes to rummage through the Deli counter; and like invading orange aliens, pumpkins colonise the veg aisles. Tastes change, and where previously a pub visit would demand a golden ale to slake my thirst, now I crave the almost spiced deeper dark ales that don’t chill from within, but radiate a warm, fat heat. Knitwear appears. Its autumn. And still, nobody has invented a hibernation machine I could step in right now, switch on, and emerge in mid-April, on that first warm day, to don shorts on legs that have been spared the chapping of welly-rub on frigid flesh. To breath air that still tastes of something, rather than numbs the senses. To wake in the light, and finish a shift at work with the world still lit.

 Alas, science is still dragging on this particular subject, instead seemingly happier to seek cures to diseases, eliminate world hunger and decipher the most fundamental mysteries of the Universe. Tsk to you, science, tsk. And tsk to my GP who gave short shrift to the mooted theory that the NHS would save themselves a fortune if they just shipped me to the Antipodes till Easter, and thus not have to pay for the treatment of  inevitable sniffles, chest infections and ice-induced broken tibias/fibias.

So I’m here for the long haul, dear Beestonians. I can’t spend the evenings gallivanting wide-eyed round Attenborough Nature Reserve spotting kingfishers which were probably just wrens in fortunate light, picking blackberries and soaking up as much summer as my pores allow, I’m sentenced to six months of BEING INSIDE, my comforts soft lighting and central heating; thick soups and wines the darker side of burgundy.

So I best get on with writing something, rather than blather about the unfairness about something that has been happening every year of my life and many millions before, which somehow I feel happens just to annoy me. So sit down, get your wine mulled, and I’ll fill you in with all thats great right now.

Beestonia Reaches Issue Two!

Yes, its incredible, we actually got a second edition out! (actually, its sort of number four, as we had a taster Issue Minus One, and a Student Special given to 1,000 freshers). It has lots of good stuff in, including two very good causes I will bang on about below here.

 First, I must thank The Treasury, the classy gift shop on Wollaton Road that has agreed to be our first sponsor. We run the paper on a not-for profit basis, as we simply like doing it, but there are inevitable expenses, and I’m not talking about my bar bill I run up sourcing stories chatting to the loose of tongue round Beeston. Nope, thats my own tab to pick up. We do, however, need to pay our printer for costs and paper, and although he’s a great chap (again, more on him below), it’s still an expense. As we want to eventually get a little more pretty and go colour, and also get a larger print run, we also need to get some dough together to fund this.

No, I’mSo all help is welcome, and thats why The Treasury needs YOU to go up there and buy something as they were wonderful enough to come forward and offer help. ‘Oh, Lord Beestonia’ you utter, ‘Why can’t I buy my cards and suchlike from Clinton Cards, its on the High Street and is pretty cheap? Well, the first reason is that Clinton are presently displaying a collection of greeting cards that are inspired by the telly programme that exists purely to celebrate the fact that the barrel is no longer being scraped, it’s been worn through. The barrel-pokey thing has gone through, into the earth, then a layer of rotted dog poo, then waggled about in TOWIE. Yep, The Only Way is Essex. Imagine if that was true. The Only Way was Essex. Imagine. Then imagine the loaded revolver I’m passing you, and the sweltering temple it would be pressed against.

One of the cards even has the dual cases of neologistic abbreviative vileness of them: OMG and LOL.

Buy one of those, and sorry, you have been relegated to plant-life. No, moss. No, lichen. You are lower,  You are mono-cellular. You are amoeba. Dreams of sex involve you tearing asunder into two identical halves. You cause dysentry. You are almost certainly unable to read this, which is welcome. I set my ‘Species Readership Level’ at ‘Fish’. But I won’t carp on. And I won’t waste space making fish puns. Nope. Period. Fin. And I digress.

The Treasury is thus a place to visit if you appreciate quality and localism, which you evidently do cos you’re reading this. So get up there and have a peek. It’s two doors down from a cob shop named Beeston Baps. Just saying.

We also really need more help to carry on, so if you want to be our friends, get in touch, either via this blog or info@beestonia.org .

I best point out here that while I editThe Beestonian, i’m only one head on a multi-headed hydra that barks the content (do hydras bark? Thinking about it, I’m getting confused with Cerebus. Hydras hiss, I reckon). We merely wish to be saying stuff out loud that we hear around Beeston, the only criteria being that it’s a bit interesting. I try and keep it together, but it’s not me having a rant, it’s us :Beestonians, having a shout to your peers. We need you, you are our voice, we are your medium. So if you can’t throw money at us, throw ideas, stories, articles, reviews, ANYTHING. This is for you; thus in turn for us.

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Two things you should do if you have any spare change in your wallet, well before pinging it in my direction, is to give it to a couple of causes that will give you a hell of a lot more back.

First is Oxjam. I wrote about this before, so won’t bang on  too long about it, but it is the biggest cultural event to hit Beeston in years; and if its a success, will be an annual home. Beeston will have a festival. An annual festival. One where you can visit without a tortorous drive/coach journey and not have to queue for toilets/sleep with only a nanometre of canvas between you and a cow poo/ pay ONE MILLION POUNDS for a pint. Instead, you can buy a ticket for a mere fiver, swan round Beeston all day and night, see stuff that you’d normally have to spend a dozen evening seeing, and get that warm glow of doing something for charity. It will be ace. Get your arses down to Oxfam Books and Music/The Crown when you can. If you say I sent you, cheers.

More info at http://www.oxjambeestontakeover.org/

As an aside, I popped down to a taster event at The Crown on Sunday, an ‘open mic’ of poetry and spoken word. I expected the worse, to be honest, as adolescents read their paeons to parental oppression and opposite sex obsession, but no, it was a boisterous, bawdy and heavily entertaining evening. I even came in second in the competition ‘”Write a limerick starting with ‘There was a young lady from Beeston…’ . Get your fivers out and your arses down.

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I mentioned earlier that The Beestonian ‘s printer is based in Beeston, and goes by the name of Nottingham Offset. I’m quite proud of using a local business: it would be massively hypocritical for us to do anything other. Sadly, the rest of the Notts press isn’t of the same mind. The Nottingham Post (it dropped the ‘Evening’ part ages ago, though even our MP, amongst many others, hasn’t caught on yet), is now knocked out on presses based in Birmingham, and bought over. This is hardly up there with the Battles of Wapping in the eighties, and local press is under huge commercial pressures as the internet sucks the life from them, but it is still sad. The same printers who will lose there jobs as a result will be looking for new posts on paper printed by the very people who took their jobs. Recessions do bring on cruel ironies.  

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Beestonia Blackberry Burgled,Bah. And The Beestonian NEEDS YOU.

My existence as a self-facilitating media node recently took a hit when, due to my great decision to leave my back door open overnight, some git slipped into my house and stole my jacket and man-bag, which contained my Blackberry, my wallet, and all my notepads for this blog and The Beestonian.

Weirdly, when the coat and bag  (in a heap outside found by a very nice lady), they only took cash out my wallet and the phone, neglecting the notepads which contained fantastic article ideas, usually involving councillors having drinking contests (Cllr. Kerry and Barber, I’m looking at you). Nope, they were left, and I felt hurt. Not as hurt as my housemate however: they stole his CD collection, all tucked into a leather wallet, yet threw that back to. Having spent many evenings listening to his early nineties ambient techno rock tracks, I must give some credit to the burglar.

Still, not a good experience. Any readers who have stuck with me for over 18 months will be aware that I have been burgled before: when living on Marlborough Road, a burglar walked into my bedroom and had a good peruse through my top drawer, not realising I was in bed, off work with flu. I ended up chasing him down the stairs and through the house, before he jumped out the window. I realised continuing to chase him down the street dressed, as I was, merely in boxers, would probably be a greater crime than the one I was trying to avenge, so-called the police instead. And slipped into some trousers before they arrived. That was, I thought, the last time I’d be done over: statistically it would be absurd for me to be got again. Alas, chance don’t work like that.

Beestonians are great though, and despite the crapness of having stuff nicked, I had quite an amusing day. My first hero was Lesley, the woman who found my discarded belongings. She works as a carer in the old folks complex next to my house, and had a rough night of it by all accounts. Before finding my stuff, she’d had to call an ambulance for a passed out, near dead drunk, and came close to having to give him mouth-to-mouth. Despite just coming off shift and being evidently pooped, she still drove me to the police station and sat with me as I fretted that I’d lost my passport in the theft (I hadn’t, thankfully, or the holiday to Corfu I took last week would have been replaced with a week in the Costa Del Backgarden).

Poor Lesley had recently given up ciggies after many years, and I’m sure my stress-heading must have backcombed her nerves. Yet she still sat with me till an officer came over, despite me being an absolute stranger with unbrushed hair and possibly reeking of the previous night’s booze. Lesley, you’re a Beestonian hero. Good luck

And she’s not the only one. Later that day, a uniformed cop came round to take the obligatory statement. After running through the details of my property (‘I like to get us much details in as possible’ he claimed ‘Too many property shows’), he took the narrative statement. I explained what happened, then he read it out:

I was awoke in my bed at approx. 9am by a cat jumping on my chest. This rather bemused me, as I don’t own a cat”. He glanced over, I nodded my approval.

“However, I have made friends with several cats in the neighbourhood, and this was one of them”

I nodded again, then exclaimed That makes us (my housemate and I) sound like a pair of spinsters.”

“Could be worse, I’ve decided to leave out the next bit of what you said”

“What was that?”, I asked: I’d blabbed most of the statement in what was only just the rational side of a stream of consciousness. He read back his rough notes:

“I recognised the cat to be one I call ‘Hitlercat’, on account of its resemblance to the erstwhile dictator. I am not aware of her real name’.

I agreed this was best left out.

PC Shaun Foster was a true gent. We talked of the recent riots, he’d been in a van that was targeted by a firebomb when travelling past Canning Circus police station. I mentioned how useful and informative Notts Police had been on Twitter over those weird nights. ‘Yeah, we got loads of plaudits for that, and for a week, the public seemed to like us”. He gazed wistfully into the middle-distance “but didn’t last long. The public are back to hating us again.”

I don’t, I think the police are broadly same as any other group of humans on the planet, in that they can be divided into two distinct groups twats and non-twats. No other distinction matters. And PC Foster was definitely in the latter camp. And for that,  he also gets a full cap-doffing from Lord Beestonia.

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A week in Corfu followed, glorious weather, lots of snorkelling and the discovery of a perfectly palatable red wine that retailed at under £1.75 per litre. I now appear to have been varnished, such was my refusal to not sunbathe, and looking at twinning the little village we visited with Beestonia. They seemed keen when I mentioned it. I’ll see if I can get it on the table at the next full council. I’m willing to do the travelling to facilitate this, and will be happy to serve as ambassador if my consulate lodgings is up to scratch. Feel free to set up a petition.

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The next issue of The Beestonian is nearly ready to hit the streets, edited this time by my over-worked and unpaid assistant editor Rish. This is despite his other life as the brainchild behind www.eighteensixtyfive.co.uk , the best Nottingham Forest blog on-line. As I was eating gyros and swilling Mythos on my olive grove overlooking balcony, poor Rish was dealing with Nottingham Forest disintegrating before his eyes. After appearances on telly, radio and writing an article for the Nottingham Post, he had to come home to cobble together the next issue.

We also did a special student issue for the freshers, send an email to info@beestonia.org if you’d like a copy. Also, we are really struggling to find funding right now (exacerbated by O2’s uselessness in getting my mobile back online, thanks, incompetent phone people). If you know anyone, or are someone, who’d like to help us in return for a coveted ‘TRUE BEESTONIAN’ award, then get in touch at the above email, or mattgoold23@hotmail.com. Cheers, and don’t have nightmares.

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And finally, a special mention to Nosh, the very nice Chinese restaurant on the high street, for this mildly disturbing, and utterly perplexing  dish available on their takeaway menu: