Thursday afternoon, and I leave my house to walk into Beeston and pick up Issue 15 of The Beestonian from our printers. Defying the Met Office predictions, snow is starting to fall. It continues to do so for some time and it decides, wisely I suppose, that Beeston is a fine place and it would like to settle.
I love snow, and still get a childish thrill when I open the curtains and find that the clouds have iced the environs. I never understand those who moan about the temporal transormation: you get about 360 days of non-snow a year, you spoilt gits. Enjoy it. Other wise you side with the utterly dull soul-suckers that is the CBI; who seem to exist not to promote business but to cheerlessly tell us how much anything that adds some colour, some grit, some soul to our lives costs us. This is normally an arbitary figure made up by getting horrifically drunk on Creme de Menthe and randomally pressing the numbers on a calculator whilst blindfold.
However, Thursday afternoon was only the second time in my life I’ve looked a snow and thought ‘Oh no’. The first was when a blizzard hit my attempt to climb the High Atlas a few years ago, where my guide fell to the floor, determined East and threw a series of high-speed Arabic prayers in that direction. So not as bad, but still. My first arranged public meeting was in jepordy.
I decided to monitor the situation and make a decision at six pm. At six pm the snow was still relentless, the temperature outside was minus 3 and I could not envisage anyone of sane mind attending. How wrong I was.
I turned up around ten past seven to find a small crowd gathered, stomping in the cold, outside John Clifford School. After some initial problems locating the door I was to gain access to the building, I eventually got the event open and watched in awe as around 80 people strolled through. We had a meeting on.
A report on the ins and outsof the meeting is in the pipeline, we may also have a video of proceedings: stay tuned. To precis, however, it was a lively, constructive and entertaining debate: a few myths busted, some great questions asked and I hope my sub-Dimbleby skillz did enough to stop it slipping into a polarised, politically partisan debate: that got us into this mess in the first place.
I’m amazed not just by the attendance but by the sheer passion – a word that was bandied about a fair bit that night-of Beestonians. You DO care about your town. The Thatcherite ambition of community polarisation and the purely indivulistic concerns of a town were proven to be guff. I’ve seldom been prouder than being a Beestonian than I was when this was demonstrated. Well done, Beeston.
A full report, plus pictures from the wonderful local photo-journalists Lewis Stainer and James Hall will follow, but I simply had to post something to thank you, and vent my joy at being part of this town. We’re a bit ace, aren’t we?
Bit of an ambivalent write up in the press. BBC Radio Nottingham ran a great piece the morning of the event; a pre-record article I helped with the afternoon before. The Nottingham Post gave a small write up, and their star journalist and upwardly-mobile reporter Alex Britton attended. The Beeston Express turned an impressive editorial trick by getting us into Friday’s issue, just hours after we finished. I’ve had a few comments since friday about what was written, generally deciding The B.E. is a rival. I’d like to state on record that I do run a newspaper and blog, but in no way have I ever viewed them as ‘the enemy’. The fact Beeston has TWO independant local publications is pretty incredible, and symptomatic of a healthy town that likes debate. Media plurality, especially at a local level, is key to a healthy vibrant democracy. The very fact that myself, as editor of The Beestonian, often disagrees with the editorial line of Sheila Eden, Editor of The Beeston Express, should be seen as a positive thing. Who knows, we may even get a campaign together some time….