It is my hobby, nay, my passion; and the driving force behind Beestonia that one can see the greater pattern in all things. Beeston is; though seldom seen with it’s inhabitants unenlightened eyes; something other than the Centre of the Universe. My purpose in life is to prove this. Well, it is until my ADHD-raddled mind flitters to the next interest. If I run off half way through this piece to ride bikes or investigate the implications of the invention of a new form of custard, I apologise. Ritalin is a nightmare to score these days.
So, on arrival back to the UK after a pleasantly silly weekend in Rome, I asked my driver if there had been any major news while I’d been away. A tentative pause and then ‘Ah yes. Patrick Moore died.’ And that wierd feeling of loss of someone who is/was older than anyone you know; as well as someone you didn’t know, descended. A weird, mental melancholic sigh. Not the shock of those that feel have been coarsely, crudely amputated from your worldview, but more a sloughing of skinflake;a broken off nail; a hair that leaves with the brush.
One has to be careful in these post-Savile days, but I reckon he was a good guy. Maybe an unreconstructed sexist relic in some of his opinions, but an auto-didactic, an enthusiastic in extremis, and possibly, and not just because he was a bit tidy with a Xylophone. I’m sure that as you read this, you will, with me, doff a metaphoric cap. But what links this translator of the heavens to Beeston?
Well, I have one, and it’s a corker. Sometime last decade, I was living briefly in Kent, and a complusive buyer of music magazines. Chancing upon an article one afternoon, regarding the new wave of inventive chill-out (or some other awful label) I noticed one half of a featured duo was, like me, a St. Applefordian in exile. Hiya, Simon Mills, gingerish bloke in my GCSE art-class, whatjadoing in Q???
What he was doing, quite simply, was being rather great and being 50% of the inventors of an album I hold to be one of the best of the last decade and a bit, Programmed To Love . The band was Bent. The other half of the duo? An idiosyncratic musical genius called Nail – yes, Nail- Tolliday: a born and bred Beestonian. They were described at the time, as a band that lingered in that middle ground between Air and Radiohead.
And the amazing link to Patrick Moore? Check out the video to their first proper single release:
But thats not all. Bent made a mint off their combined talents, selling their stuff to Moby-stoked advertising ‘creatives’, and picked up many a fan on the journey. One of them was, rather improbably, Michael Caine.
He was such a fan, our Alfie, that when asked to compile a CD of his favourite tracks; named, I kid you not, Cained , he included Bent’s
Yes, it’s like one of those parallel universe stories you read in a schlocky science fiction book by a bloke whose surname is inevitably preceded by two initials. But it gets even better. Not only did Sir Michael Caine, him off Zulu, The Italian Job, The Ipcress File, and, of course, A Muppet Christmas Carol (Lady Beestonia’s favourite Christmas film) so loved the Beeston/ Stabbo collaboration that was Bent he CHOSE IT AS ONE OF HIS DESERT ISLAND DISCS.
Yes, the former Maurice Micklewhite, possibly the most consistently employed British actor of all time and the subject of the most complex impersonation possible, is, by association a Beestonian. Want more proof? Well, who played Alfred, in the Batman Dark Knight series? Don’t even bother Googling it. Or where it was filmed. Or where the name of the fictional city it was based in was garnered from.
Like I said. Like I’ ve said a million times before. Beeston is the centre of all, if one applies a careful enough eye. A view of the cosmic, and the microscosm.
Oh, you can buy their back catalogue here: it comes with the oh-so-rare Beestonia Certificate of Approval.
Beeston the home of many stars. But not of a certain health minister.
That does kind of read like a half remembered fevered dream…..terrific !