It’s the last day of the year, so time to condense a very odd 52 weeks into a few hundred words with before I head down the pub. Thus, please accept this as nothing as a skim through what occurred in our fine town. Let’s be lazy and do it as a set of lists: good enough for the proper press, good enough for me. All in no particular order. I really do have an awful lot of wine to acquaint myself with. I’ll be publishing similar lists, including one about our beloved leader, Soubz, throughout the week. But lets end the year with some positivity. Missed something? Comment, comment, comment.
TOP FIVE MOMENTS IN BEESTONIA IN 2012
1. THE HINDU TEMPLE CAMPAIGN: I doubt I’ve been prouder to be a Beestonian than when I was involved in this. To recap, a derelict church in Rylands was bought by a group of community minded locals who decided to convert it into a Hindu Temple, with facilities available for community activities. Sadly, this proved less than popular with some lunkheads who hijacked a community meeting, smashed the temple’s windows and damaged cars parked outside. This wasn’t the Beeston I knew, so I asked readers to send in cards to say how welcome they were, and gosh, you did. In your hundreds. The campaign got a boost when featured on BBC Radio Nottingham, and by the time it officially opened on Easter Sunday, the place was packed, a dazzling array of sound, colour and incense. I’ve been down a couple of times since, and while still not converting to Ganesha and Shiva, and definitely a full-on disciple of sweet, honey based snacks. Pop down sometime, Hinduism is a wonderfully inclusive faith and they’ll make you very welcome indeed. Full story here .
2. OXJAM TAKEOVER ROCKS BEESTON: I spent most of 2012 as Marketing Co-ordinator for the very worthy cause of Oxfam’s annual music festival, Oxjam, in it’s second apparition in this suburb. This is a fine role, involving tipsy seminars in Brum, tipsy Tuesday night meetings with the other co-ordinators, and then a week of sober, terrified panic in the preceding week. The day, however, was one of the most exhausting, heart-warming and downright fun of my life. Starting with an early slot on BBC Radio Nottingham (yes, again. They’ve been my top Johns in a year of media whoredom) where myself and Heather, a fellow coordinator were given an hour of airtime to pontificate on the day’s news stories while plugging the festival at any given opportunity. Then, back to Beeston, and a gig in the Square by the sublime Jar Family that set the tone for a day of unmitigated joy (unless you’re the local Tory, who, when we eventually repaired to a pub to slake our thirsts, accused us of various crimes including running a ‘politically motivated charity campaign’. I kid you not. Oh, and theft. He later apologised, so won’t name names). We raised just shy of £5,000, a grand up on last year. However, I think the true wonder of Oxjam is it’s ability to prove that Beeston, if it tries, can be an utterly fantastic place for nocturnal entertainment. We have the venues, we have the people. That night in October proved that. Which leads me nicely onto….
3. BARTON HOUSE ESTABLISHES ITSELF AS A PROPER VENUE. A drive-in cinema. A massive indoor market. Top-notch comedians. Some of the finest acoustic gigs I’ve ever seen. A huge art exhibition. Barton Corner, which so easily could have just been sat on and left to collapse into dereliction and decay instead injected itself in the arm with a straining syringe of sheer FUN. This time last year, was I to mention the potential of the place, people would look at me incredulously and ask ‘Where / what’s that?’. To which I’d explain it was an ex-bus depot, invariably evoking a response of wrinkled noses,sarcastic smiles and that face people do when they realise that you might be mad, but not dangerous. I confess an association with Simon Barton,the head-honcho of the place, but it’s only based on our shared faith that Beeston is a place that if you build it, they will come. Or, more accurately, get the roof done, put in some proper lavs and they’ll pop in. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the 2013 programme.
4. WILKOS CAMPAIGN HITS THE COUNCIL. Funny one this, as it was ultimately futile. I was recently chatting to Jimmy Wiggins, boss of the Guitar Spot on Chilwell Road, and I expressed a wish to see the end of all the horrible payday loan, cheque cashiers and other scum-suckers that have moved en-masse into Beeston to exploit the interminable recession. ‘How can we see the back of them?’ I implored. Wiggins didn’t miss a beat: ‘Run a campaign to keep them in Beeston’. Bastard.
A bastard with a point though. When I started the campaign in late December 2011, it seemed so simple. I wasn’t trying to save the premises; that was inevitable in it’s leaving; but to ensure all parties would do all they could to relocate a valuable piece of Beeston, and over 50 jobs, to another corner. In times of seemingly continual downturn and the High Street evaporating (today I encountered rumours that two out of three of our non-supermarket butchers are packing up) it was crazy to lose a real draw to the town, and fifty wage packets. Alas. The story is far too complex to relate here, and I’m forever explaining it in pubs and coffee shops. See that ‘search’ box at the top of the page? Stick Wilkos in that and do your own working out. Or allow me to crudely summarise: as with Boots, the original values of a local company, values that respected it’s employees, understood it’s clientele and had a vaguely symbiotic relationship with it’s locale has decided to only look at the bottom line. Profit is king, and the business fails to see it’s more abstract relationships that build it’s brand. Boots pissed on the grave of Jesse Boot when it moved it’s head office from the Rylands to Switzerland to evade tax. Wilkos haven’t got that far as yet, but when I hear from the workers who were made redundant, or those who were relocated and demoted, I can only feel the icy parallels. Back in 2013? You’ll go blue, then die if you hold your breath.
Still, presenting the petition to the council was of interest. Thousands of signatures, a rare complete consensus on vote across all parties. There will be more news on this in the New Year, once I can get it confirmed.
5. THE BEESTONIAN DOESN’T FOLD. In fact, we’ve not just survived, we’ve thrived. The physical manifestation of this blog has bucked trends and is now in rude health. We’re also twice as large as we were 12 months ago, and in that year found so much stuff about Beeston to endorse my belief that we live in the greatest town on Earth. I can’t even start to list the highlights, let alone the mediocrelights (there were no craplights). We’re now sticking together Issue 15, and as I rarely say nice things about them, may I momentarily humble doff my cap to the team of scribes I am so proud to host. These aren’t just people who can write (and illustrate), these are people that can WRITE*. There is little greater joy than receiving an email from one of them with an attached word file; and little greater sadness than, as an editor, editing for style and brevity. I’m astonished that I have such a great team, and all of them are fairly good at getting a round in. I have no idea where 2013 will take us, but those who have kept us afloat, and those who continue to do so, I cannot bow down low enough. And if any of my fellow scribes are reading this; party is over, now get typing copy. We have a tight deadline. Etc. Not read it? Are you MENTAL??? Then best click about here and catch up.
Oh, and I best do 5a) GOT ENGAGED TO LADY BEESTONIA. As of Christmas Eve, I pledged to put away childish things. Except, of course, this blog. A splendid Hogmany to you all.
*and ILLUSTRATE. Cheers, Lottie, Queen of the fur-babies.