Oxjamming: Give Us Your Frugging Money.

It’s just gone ten on a unseasonably warm night, and, my pocket stuffed with fivers, programmes and wristbands, I tell a group of punters trying to enter the pub I’m manning the door for that they aren’t allowed in: we’re too busy. They can try their luck at other venues on the street, I tell them, but reports are they might be pushing capacity.

Nine months of panicking that I wouldn’t be able to attract anyone to Oxjam, and here’s me on the night turning people away. I would have done a little ironic sigh, if it wasn’t for the fact that I’d been on my feet so long and in such an adrenaline soaked state my mind was very much elsewhere.

The day started mildly hung over (blame a corking warm-up fundraiser at The Commercial), and early. I’m awake a good two hours when my 7.30am clangs into life, peaceful sleep impossible due to anxiety dreams: all involving empty rooms, tumbleweed and hollow echoes.

Fellow co-ordinator Heather and I drive over to BBC Radio Nottingham’s studios to appear on The Richard Spurr show: not just for an interview, but for an hour in the studio doing the papers, chatting about…err…stuff and promoting Oxjam. If you really want, it’s here: I’m on around 65 mins in. Terrifying, but thanks to Richard for having us on.

Jump in a taxi straight after, and to Beeston, to get the first band on in the Square, and begin the day….

I’ll write more about what ensued later, and as a piece in The Beestonian, but it was utterly terrific, utterly wonderful, and despite not stopping for around 16 hours, collapsed in an elated heap once the last band twanged off their last chord.

Highlights: again, too many to mention. But if pressed, the opening act in The Square exceeded expectations by a billion miles. A fantastically attired bunch of seemingly itinerant musical geniuses from the North East, they’d driven from all over the UK to be in Beeston. I’d expect them to be a bit pissed off with the journey, the rather unglamorous venue and the fact they had to be in Reading for another Oxjam later in the day , but no! ‘You have a beautiful town, my friend’ they told me, surveying Peacocks and Stumpy ‘Loving your jacket’ said another: true gents. Gents with a good taste in tweed.

And what a set! They swiftly filled the Square, and not a foot remained untapped, if not downright danced. A better bunch of superbly-dressed bags of talent you’ve never met. And, as with the all the better bands on the world, they looked and acted like a gang you’d really want to be part of. If they need an amateur maracas-shaker, I’m their man.

Check them out: here ….they have a fantastic website. Photo above courtesty of Christopher Frost, aka http://beestonblog.blogspot.co.uk/

More stories to follow in the week: but now for some pan-handling. We’re raised a shed-load of cash, but we need more before Oxjam Head Office demands we send over our spoils in a fortnight or so…we are ambitiously going for £5,000 and are about £600 short now, so looking to hit the target by asking YOU to throw us some dough. I’ve had a few pledges, and I know you’re simply itching to let us have a fiver, a tenner, a ton…and you can, and you can here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser

Really, do it now. It will push us up to that stupidly ambitious target (£4,000 last year) and hopefully past: all going to a wonderful cause. You can afford it, I know you can. In doing so, I’ll promise I’ll never moan about doing this blog, and The Beestonian for free.

More later, but now I’m off to lie very still in a totally dark room. Tarah.


Wow. Who knew trying to juggle 15 venues, 50+acts and thirty volunteers would be difficult?

Well it is, and luckily I’ve not had that much logistical work to do to make tomorrows Oxjam a success, but my colleagues: Carly, Heather, Michael and Ben, have put together something that’s simply fantastic: which makes my role. to promote it, a hell of a lot easier.

I can’t mention every act in detail, or every venue, but we do have a full programme online at : http://www.oxjambeestontakeover.org/p/oxjam-beeston-takeover-2012.html for you to peruse. I have some personal highlights: The Jar Family come highly recommended and will rock the Square early in the day (before doing another Oxjam Takeover in Reading later in the day), and I’m hoping for a break to see the sublime local legend that is Brian Golbey at Barton House at nine pm. Miss Imp are an act not to miss either: improvised silliness and inspired genius all in one wax-moustacioed package. If you’ve not been in the back of Latinos before, you’re in for a surprise: it’s a moodily lit, windowless venue that makes you feel you’re in a nice and seedy comedy club in Soho, at 3am in the morning. Curiosity will no doubt drive me to The Bar
to see the notorious Arse Full of Chips offend the world and possibly strip naked and…well, you’ll see. The faint-hearted are not advised to attend.

Tickets are available from The Bean, Oxfam Books and Music, The Cricketers and The Hop Pole, as well as our many volunteers who will patrolling Beeston. And yes, they really are just FIVE POUNDS, which gets you into everything, all day. That’s well under a penny a minute: a fiver at Goose Fair would only give you three minutes, and possibly make you throw up. Buy one, then an exclusive programme designed by the acclaimed typesetter and artist Tamar Feast for just TEN SHILLINGS; and then a utterly wonderful commemorative Oxjam 2012 t-shirt designed by a bloke called Peter Blake. Did some collage thing with some band once, I think.

A special treat to you all will occur earlier in the day: I will be on BBC Radio Nottingham, possibly on The Mark Dennison Show at 8.15 am; and then definitely at 10am on The Richard Spurr, not just promoting the Takeover but also reviewing the day’s papers. Yep, I’m allowed to pontificate to my heart’s content on current affairs to an audience of thousands. Obviously, after hearing my pithy wit on air Radio 4’s Today programme will be hiring me to do Thought for the Day, in perpuity: ‘I was reading about the trouble in Syria the other day, and I suddenly thought how much this reminded me of the Beeston Square debacle…’ etc.

Tomorrow is going to be THE BEST THING EVER. No, really. It’ll make Live Aid look like a church fete; The Olympics look like a primary school sport’s day; Glastonbury a hippie with some cows. You’re in for a treat. Be there.


Oh, and there is a fundraiser tonight at The Commercial Inn on Wollaton Road: the fantastic Phil Langran Band will be paying. Think it’s a fiver on the door: will be a corker. Come on down.


OXJAM. It’s here. And I need YOU.

Oops, this post seemed to have disappeared for reasons I can’t comprehend, so I’m putting it back up. I’m stupidly busy right now getting Oxjam ready, but will update here, and all over my Twitter page….

Cheers for the people who pointed out this post’s disappearance…





Hello, mi ducks and steady yourselves: Beestonia is about to metamorphose into something different. It’s for a week, and a week only, but I need you to stay with me. Not just that, I need you to read me, pass me on, and most of all, throw yourself behind a cause in a manner that I have for the last nine months. I need you to immerse yourself, smear yourself, roll round like a millionaire in money to the wonder that is OXJAM.

Yep, it’s my bit for charidee. I’m sticking all my cynicism, snarkiness and half-baked opinionative to the side for  a week and replacing it with a smiley yellow face and, as you marvel at the sunny visage pushed into your face, rattle a tin below. And then give you an experience that you will want to pay ten times the paltry £5 we’re asking.

What do you get for that 500 pennies, that tiny amount of cash that would not get you two pints, a pack of fags or a two year subscription to The Beeston Express? You get around 50 acts over a dozen stages; music of all genres, comedy, spoken word and surprises en route that I’d tell you about on the grounds I’d be allowed to kill you afterwards: sadly the law, and the fact that  shrouds have no pockets, I can’t.

I will be putting up the full programme tomorrow: we’re still tinkering with it; and if you’re unfamiliar with the acts I’ll be giving you links to their wonderfulness: this is no cobbled together, turn-up-and-play festival: we have on board the most up and coming acts in Notts; with a bevy of established crowd pleasers and, to my immense satisfaction, a couple of utter local legends who we’ve coaxed out of retirement to come and flash their glory. It’s not just going to be good. It’s going to be essential, it’s going to be unmissable, it’s going to be just five pounds. Five pounds. 1/45th of the price of a Glastonbury ticket, and we guarantee you won’t get trench-foot/ and or be harassed on an hourly basis by a passive aggressive hippy telling you you’re a sell out cos you won’t buy his wonkily knitted llama wool astrological chart.


Simple. Go to the Bean, The Guitar Spot, The Crown, The Cricketers or find me in Beeston and thrown factors of five pounds into my hand and demand a ticket/tickets. Don’t wait till next Saturday. Get ’em now.

If you want to know more about Oxjam, and what it’s point is, click here: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/Oxjam/WhatIs/History . To visit our official site, click here (we’ll be updating daily up to Saturday). And if you run a newsletter, blog, have a Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr account, or any other way to get this out to the world beyond my meagre means, I implore you: do.

Stay tuned.

Time To Drive Out The MoneyLenders?

I’m still basking in the aceness of what happened at the weekend – see the last post – but that doesn’t mean I can’t express annoyance at stuff. I’d love to bask in the loveliness that is raising an astonishing £700 on a single night without recourse to muggings, but bah! I’ve got an hour free on a laptop, feel my spleen.
There is a running joke regarding Beeston’s surfeit of charity shops. This is seen as a mark of a town in decline. I can run with that argument for a moment: they might dent the coffers of the local trades-people, but only at a minimal level; surely a bit of competition is healthy?

What they do actually do is worth examining. While we are still gripped by a recession lorded over by a bunch who seem intent of snubbing out every financial flammable flicker of hope, they are saviours. Not just on the work they do, which can be hard to apply on a locale-by-locale basis, as most are centralised; but on an aesthetic level. An empty shop is seldom a pretty shop – i’d bang on about the scandal that is Wilkos still standing long after the April demolition order, but I’ll save that for later – so charity shops lend the High Street a sense of life, and this, above all, generates footfall for other businesses. You get rid of your excess clutter, people get to enhance their CVs with working there, the High Street is invigorated. Its win win win, with an extra couple of wins tacked on when you consider the good the money raised does; and the fact that Jeremy Clarkson books have to go somewhere to die.

Recession also brings forth another retailer. Like a swarm of vultures over a desert-dried corpse, it’s often subtle and silent. Yet they are here to infect, poison and ruin. Welcome to the world of Uncouth Usury.

You know who I mean. Those who offer ‘Cash For Gold’. Those who offer cheques ‘Cashed Today!’. Those who demand you come in, take a stupidly expensive loan out, with the same oleaginous charm of a crack dealer luring people in. Beeston is proliferate with these vermin. Why?

A recession, which we are most firmly locked into right now, may cut destructive swathes through the economy  on most levels but never more so than the poor. The banks withdraw not just loans and overdrafts in recession, but even basic current accounts, and here the parasites move in.

These shops are testament to this, and we should picket these places with all our might, but it’s no way the real pit of scumminess.

That lies in a coalition between two powers that have been accelerating in their emergence since the crunch of 2008. Step forward the Governing Right Wing; and the PayDay loaners: hello Wonga.com, and your scuzzy ilk.

In April, legislation will come in which will damage the financially vulnerable while profiting  the ethic-free with a set of policies that, after chatting to people of all political stripes that keep an eye on this sort of thing, utterly terrifying.

That month will see the birth of Universal Credit, long gestated in the fetid abdomen of Ian Duncan-Smith and cooed over, rather than being carted off to the abortion clinic by a castrated Lib Dem partner.

There are many elements why this is insidious legislation, so let’s be focussed. And stare through the  cloudy half-moons of our bifocals at Housing Benefit. If you’re reading this before a perm; or while forcing down crusts of bread, desist: this will make your hair curl.

In April, all benefits will be bundled together and paid directly to the recipient. ‘Great!’ you cry, ‘Give them financial responsibility!’, which is all well and good until you consider a few things. So do so.

How are your finances after payday. Do you carefully budget for the month, ensuring that you live a level lifestyle throughout? Or do you allow an intoxication of moolah upfront, repenting at leisure in the last week with an increase in frequency of meals composed of beans/ toast; rather than caviar/foccacia?

Then consider this. We’re all weak to advertising: yes, you included, you only are reading this blog through someone saying you should; and in a consumerist society you’re going to be bombarded with stuff you SIMPLY MUST HAVE. It’s difficult to negotiate even if you have an income – I know I’m not alone in thinking I’m deprived in some way in the fact I have no iPod, Kindle and am tapping this out on a borrowed laptop – so imagine what it’s like if poor.

Wonga.com;  and the rest of the exploitative crowd do. All the time. They have a direct line jacked into the most easily exploited and intend to use the information to extract whatever they can. Loans are thus offered well in excess of 1,000% with the knowledge that hey, they’ll have money soon.

When I was on the dole, I prioritised debts. I’d work out the APR, couple it with the likelihood I’d be less a kneecap by the end of the week, and distribute thus. If I’d had a debt that was racking up three times it’s capital each day, as opposed to a landlord that can’t legally rack up interest: most social tenants, fr’instance; and it’s obvious who wins.

Thus, social housing collapses, Wonga.com etc swell up their coffers to an obscene amount and we all wonder how the fuck it happened. My advice is to invest in cardboard. It’s the new housing.