Clarking On / Kenny Takes It On The Chin / Spelling Bee(stonia).

Ken Clarke. Or Boss Hog. Or possibly Meat Loaf.

Ken Clarke. Or Boss Hog. Or possibly Meat Loaf.

So, Kenny Clarke, the feudal ruler of Rushcliffe, has announced he won’t be standing down in 2015 as expected. Surprising news, he has been in front line politics for eons, but his particular brand of centrist, europhilic Conservatism is distinctly out of step with the Tories right now. He has been increasingly marginalised as the Tories cast aside their wooly clothing and reveal the nasty wolf beneath: led by the snarling Lynton Crosby and pandering to the worse excesses of right-wing tabloid popularism. Clarke looks old fashioned now, a Brussels apologist as a la mode as his footwear. His bizarre no-show at the crucial Syria vote cannot have made him too many front-bench friends. Yet he soldiers on.

It can’t be easy. Remember a couple of years before the general election, when he was bought back into front -line politics as shadow business secretary, a move seen as a way of shoring up the Treasury hopes of shadow chancellor Osborne? Bringing in Clarke was seen as bringing in the wise old master to support the young, untested Gideon. There were many commentators at the time, predominantly in the Tory press, that insisted Clarke should be handed full control.

It was not to be. His dream of the leadership has long faded, so it’s surprising to think he will be shunning the ermine come 2015; not taking up a full-time devotion to his role as trade envoy (jetting round the world at taxpayers expense to sell stuff to foreigners over hearty dinners); and not relocating to a comfortable seat at Lords/ Oval / Trent Bridge where he can enjoy the available refreshments and complimentary pillows.

This explains why Soubz has stridently set her flag in the ground here, believing she can take Broxtowe in 2015 due to her ‘personal following’. Yes really! Even the source who heard this had to suppress giggles. As another day passed with another person telling me that the last three emails they’d sent to her had been unanswered, I can only assume she is suffering some form of cognitive dissonance. The prospect of a safe seat down the road? Not till at least 2020.

Oddly, just as I here this news, and a day after I saw Ken at Any Questions, I find this:

ken clarke

Now, I’m sure I didn’t mishear when I was told Ken was a huge fan of jazz. Yet, despite the incredible similarity, I must state CLEARLY AND WITHOUT RESERVE that the photo is actually from a Starbucks in the USA and therefore most probably NOT KEN CLARKE. But blimey, if there is ever a biopic that needs casting….

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In other Tory news, Soubz latest email contains this, in relation to Beeston’s ongoing development:

I  also agreed to ask for a meeting with the Beeston Square developers John Boote.

Who hell they?? Apparently commercial retail developers….in Baltimore. Has Anna been watching too many episodes of The Wire, and perhaps got confused with the actual developers, Henry Boot?

She also, within the same newsletter, refers to ‘Ian’ Duncan Smith, rather than that neo-Tebbit toss-slops actual name Iain Duncan Smith.

She best be careful: more errors like this and Michael Gove will be threatening to force her into academy status.

Michael Gove. I think.

Michael Gove. Possibly.

Ceilidh Time! / Canal Dreams, realised / Beestonia vs Radio 4.

It’s Oxjam Ceilidh tonight at Bartons, our major fundraiser before the actual Takeover on October 19th. We’ve just about sold out, I think, but if you pop down on the night we might have returns, but can’t guarantee. It should be a stormer if last year’s was anything to go by, a terrific band, a great venue and the launch of our Oxjam Beer, brewed for us by those lovely folk at Magpie Brewery

Magpie Brewery Oxjam Beer brewing

I’ll be behind the bar and NOT DANCING, so blackmailers can leave their cameras at home.

There is also the Pop-Up Cinema on Chilwell Road with those MOR bozos Dino and Pete presiding: why on earth they thought it would be a good idea after the last debacle (only 35 people attended, the car park was taken up all day on the busiest day of the week, they gave away free Domino’s Pizza when Forno’s, y’know, Forno the local, Chilwell Road independant pizza shop was opposite) I don’t know, but I do know that I will be delighted if the Guitar Spot’s Jimmy Wiggins makes good his promise to protest against the showing of Wolverine by stripping to the waist, strapping table knives to this knuckles and loudly growling from his bedroom window that overlooks the cinema. DO IT, WIGGINS.

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canal

Some very good news from down the Rylands: the proposed development of Beeston lock and the lock cottages has been given a fantastic fillip by securing nearly £700,000 of funding. It really is a fantastic plan: a Canalside Heritage Centre which will incorporate, amongst other things, a cycle hire centre for exploring the river/canal. Once it’s up and running, it will provide a great accompaniment to the Nature Centre at Attenborough, just down the river, boosting the prospects of the Marina and bar, both of which look rather sad right now. Yet it’s not a done deal yet: more funding needs to be found. As such, a meeting is being held at The Boat and Horses on Monday evening to discuss this. Could be worth popping down. Doors 7.30pm. Congratulations to Cllr. Kerry and all the really hard work put in by the volunteers to get the project this far. More info is here: http://www.canalsideheritagecentre.org.uk/index.html

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A strange one for me on Friday night. I was invited by Alex, the Nottingham Post’s venerable political honcho, to the Galleries of Justice to watch BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions. In the reception area I spotted a few vaguely familiar faces from local politics, as well as one I definitely recognised, Kay ‘Nominative Determinism’ Cutts. She was flanked by three young men who couldn’t be more Tory looking if they painted themselves blue and beat their butler. Scowling chops, piggy eyes, blur, tieless meticulously pressed shirts, a paucity of chin. They held their heads in the same way Niall Ferguson does, a superior, judging pose. I was quite fascinated by them. And really amused that when they took their seats in the court used for the show, they were stuffed tightly together into witness box, aiding my imagination to indulge in some Trot-happy fantasising.

The always excellent John Hess warmed us up with a brief yet entertaining essay on the Luddites, which caused Cutts to noticeably squirm in her seat. Hess was witty, fascinating and personable, and apparently drafted in at the last minute, so kudos to him. They then selected ten questions from those submitted, and to my surprise one of them was me. I trooped down from the balcony to sit just below the panel, handed instructions and left to go into a mild panic as the famous Radio 4 pips peeped and the show began.

The panel was Lord Falconer (a bit of a damp squib, a bloodless New Labour type with a voice squeezed dry of passion) Caroline Lucas (who I like a lot, a conviction politician who gets arrested for noble causes rather than fiddling with their expenses or junior aides); Ken Clarke (who is mandatory on local politic shows: I last saw him on the panel of Question Time from Sherwood); and UKIP oaf and corrupt to the core idiot Neil Hamilton.

Jonathan Dimbleby presided. He doesn’t quite have the avuncular chops his brother has, but does win in the urbane cool stakes, ad-libbing through the intro at how he felt like the judge at some political court, his ease at speaking live to the nation in stark contrast at my own growing horror.

This horror was built on two separate rocks of terror. I don’t like public speaking very much, and I especially hate microphones as I have a tendency to get too close to them and make my voice sound like a My Bloody Valentine encore. But two over-riding horrors overtook me

  1. Earlier I’d chatted to somebody about how there is that weird sensation to shout an incredibly rude word. We both discussed how this demon often appeared at funerals, usually at the most solemn part of the prayer. At school, in the silences of a particularly harsh assembly where the headmaster told us what a disgraceful bunch of pupils we all were, I felt the impulse to shout this particular word almost overwhelming. I reckon I remain unmarried due to the latent fear I’ll reply to the question ‘Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife/’ with a nerve-induced torrent of filth that would make Lenny Bruce blush. I was about to have a microphone pushed in my face and asked to address not just the panel, but loads of Radio 4 listeners. They are an unforgiving bunch.
  2. When my name was called out, i’d left my jacket on my original seat on the balcony, with my phone in the pocket. My phone, which is new and still impossible to operate, has a severely loud ringtone. The Galleries of Justice have great acoustics. I was going to RUIN RADIO 4. I’m sure that is akin to treason amongst a certain slice of the British public.

I tried to prevent the former from happening with a mantra in my head ‘DON’T SAY ——–. DON’T SAY ———. etc’ The second was more difficult. If anyone I knew was listening, especially my mother, there was the likelihood they’d ring or text to see if it was me. I briefly considered using a false name when reading out the question, but dismissed that as I knew this could link with problem 1) and I’d  probably announce myself as Mark Twattytabs or something similar.

Lost in these panicked thoughts, I didn’t notice the microphone under my nose and the whole of the audience staring at me. How long had THAT  been there? I splurgled out my question ‘UKIP use psychometric tests to vet their politicians. Godfrey Bloom passed his. Do they need tightening up?’ the audience gave a polite chuckle which suggested I hadn’t flung an obscenity in there anywhere. Relief, and delight as bow-tied buffoon Neil Hamilton spluttered a defense of his party of bigots, loons and urophiliacs. Oh, and my phone did go off, but was swiftly switched off by the person next to my unoccupied balcony seat. Well done that person.

Radio 4, despite my intervention, continues without tarnish. Think I’ll do the Archers next. I do a great goat impersonation.

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Breaking The Political Taboo: Sarah Brown On Switching Parties.

Crossing the floor is perhaps the most controversial and dramatic move a politician can make. Few do it once they reach the higher echelons of power: and even fewer out of choice. Churchill famously did it, and our own dear leader in Broxtowe, the indomitable Ms Soubry, was also a listed Liberal in the past.

Those who do change allegiance seldom have an easy time of it. That band of people you’ve passionately fought with, campaigned with, worked cheek-to-jowl with become the enemy overnight. The receiving party will question your motives with suspicion. Politics is similar to football to many: to change team is sacrilege.

I first met Sarah Brown in the run up to the 2010 General Election. Not through covering the election, bizarrely, but through a fluke of circumstance where a temp agency placed us both in the same office. The first question she asked me was  about my political allegiance. I kept schtum: I’m not and never have been a party member and like to think my mind could be swayed right up to picking up the stubby pencil on polling day.

Not so Sarah; she was a firebrand, passionate Labour. A rosette adorned her red top, a condemnation of Cameron never far from the lips. We became friends, meeting David Miliband and Diane Abbot at various meetings, and I interviewed her when she stood for Awsworth in the Borough elections in 2011. As late as this May she was out campaigning for the County elections, pounding the streets of Nuthall for hours at a time.

Yet I was aware of a growing discontent for some time, so when she eventually moved over to the Lib Dems it was not too much of a surprise. She even gave me the scoop on it, and when the Nottingham Post followed up with it’s own story they quoted Labour Leader Milan Radulovich dismissively claiming ‘”I am a little disappointed she has chosen to do this… as far as we are concerned, her contribution will not be missed.” Meow.

Sarah recently spoke at the Lib dem conference, and her Facebook account became a battleground for days afterwards. I therefore thought I’d give her a space to get her side of the story down, and she took me up on the offer. Please send your comments over, and Sarah will respond in time.  Over to Ms Brown:

The other day I was asked by the lovely Lord Beestonia to tell the good people of Broxtowe what it is to change parties.
So I’m Sarah Brown. Late 2009 I joined the Labour Party. They were in the depths of their unpopularity. In the run up to the general election. *that* general election the one where the general public decided “meh we don’t want anyone to win”. It was a really exciting time just after the election not knowing *quite* what would happen.  Then it came to pass that the Liberal Democrats went into a coalition with the Tories. “Boo Hiss” went the country – this isn’t what we asked for. But you know, the Lib Dems did what they had to do – for a more stable government and to make more of their policies a reality. Labour didn’t take the coalition talks seriously, whereas the Tories did and the rest as they say was history. I did a lot while I was as a Labour Party member. I canvassed, I designed leaflets, I delivered leaflets, I stood for election and I spoke at conferences not once but twice (here are my speeches if that interests you http://youtu.be/xyOcUQJbTwo and http://youtu.be/Vaf0fu4wx8I) and yeah I wore a lot of red.

So when your benign dictator got wind of me not entirely being happy in the Labour Party it probably came as a bit of a surprise to him. It’s probably at this point I should declare an interest – Matt and I worked together for a few months. I remember my suspicion when I found out he lived in Broxtowe. I remember looking him square in the eyes and the words “are you a Tory?!” Came out of my mouth. A slightly terrified Lord B shook his head and assured me he wasn’t. Don’t worry fellow Broxtonians, I don’t usually canvass by scaring someone half to death… Usually. 😉

I’m not going to bore you with the minutiae of saying which policy I did or didn’t agree with in the Labour Party or what particular Liberal Democrat policy swayed my decision. It just became clear it was the right thing to do. I found myself rolling my eyes every time Ed Miliband announced something and ever more thinking #iagreewithNick (Clegg not Palmer -obvs). Infact Broxtonians, I have a confession to make. I used to live in Sheffield when I went to University around the time of the general election in 2005 and I voted for Nick Clegg. I remember stopping up all night to watch the results. When I joined labour it all became a dirty little secret. I voted for Clegg – who at that time was slightly less popular than the anti-Christ at the time.

So I moved parties earlier this year. It was reported on this blog, and in the Nottingham Post (slow news day??!) and on the East Midlands LIberal Democrats website – I was slightly surprised the TV crews didn’t rock up at my house! Changing was a tough choice to make, so much so that it took me about 6 months to actually push the button and do it. I suppose I should tell you who finally got me to do it, there were a few, my friend Alisdair a Lib Dem from the city and long time drinking buddy, Chris Wiggin from Peterborough – a Liberal Democrat who would take me for pizza when were both down in London, and your friendly local councillors David Watts and Steve Carr. I suppose it took me a while as I had to be sure that I was making the right move – and I still have no regrets. So since I have joined the liberal democrats I have had a lot of abuse, but also a lot of support. I’m proud to be on the same side as excellent people like Steve and David. They work really hard for you Broxtowe, and they are good people. But what changes? The electioneering stays the same, I go to conference, I even speak there (my speech is here if you it interests you: http://youtu.be/1KKTUveKX54) and yeah I wear a lot of red (ok so my wardrobe hasn’t *quite* caught up yet).

 Sarah Brown, Lib Dem.
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Beirutia? / Monumental Soubz / Ceilidh: last call for tickets / £5 for a meal at Cafe Roya? And a film? ARE WE MAD????

Impossible to miss the giant Let’s Go To Beeston sign plastered over the derelict fire station this week:

cometobee

…which swiftly got spoofed by a talented photoshop genius…

beirut

Very funny, indeed, though a little unfair. First off Beirut is actually thriving after a sustained outbreak of peace, and is starting to attract tourists and traders

But joking aside, I think the sign is a positive thing: it definitely makes the approach into a Beeston a damn sight more attractive than the disintegrating fire station. It’s not the cure-all for Beeston’s present ills, but a damn sight better than the god-awful Pop-Up Cinema that is due back next Saturday.

Anyhow, Soubry has met with Jon Collins and came galloping back to Beeston with £50, 000 to divvy out amongst Chilwell Road traders who are suffering with the tramworks. It’s worth congratulating Anna on this, even if I have to repeatedly punch myself in the face whilst doing so. Though once shared out, I imagine the amount doesn’t really to more than a few weeks rent per business, if that.

Incidentally, Soubz has at last got her ambition and became an institution on Chilwell Road. Well, a bit more than that, shes listed as a monument on Google Maps:

soubry

Hopefully a small tonic to the street will be next week’s Ceilidh at Bartons: it’s the second one Oxjam have ran. As one of the coordinators, I’m quite excited about this as last year’s was fantastic, and rose a handy chunk of money for charity. I’ll be behind the bar for this one, so you can make me entirely jealous (I’m still teetotal) by buying lots of lovely beer, this time round a bespoke Beeston Oxjam brew courtesy of Magpie Brewery. We’ve almost sold out, so get your ticket asap here: https://www.wegottickets.com/event/235109 or from Oxjam Books and Music / The Guitar Spot.

We also have great news regarding Oxjam: The Jar Family, one of the stand-out acts last year, have kindly agreed to play TWICE this year, opening for us at Broadgate Park and then playing Bartons later that evening , with erstwhile Rock City DJ, Weakest Link loser  and present day comedy impressario Spikey Mike  compering the night’s fun there.

Fans of music don’t have to wait that long to satiate their musical longings. Tonight (Sunday) at the Hop Pole sees the second heat of the long-running Songwriting Competition, and I’m a judge. Makes me feel a bit guilty: I have to assess people doing things I can only dream of doing: singing in tune, playing an instrument, writing songs and not making an absolute idiot of themselves every time they use a microphone

mic tit

Is this thing on? IS IT? ***feedback screech****

We kick off around eight: come down and hear The Future Sound Of Beeston live and loud.

Prefer films over music? Buy Empire and eschew Q? Then we have a treat for you too. The revamped Beestonian Film Club at Cafe Roya is back this coming Monday, with a Persian theme. We’ll be showing a fantastic Iranian film Women Without Men (trailer below) and serving up a portion of Roya’s very special Ash-e-reshteh ( a Persian herby stew with noodles) to get you in the mood. All for an incredible £5. If you fancy a ticket to this culinary and cinematic treat, drop me a line asap at thebeestonian@gmail.com and reserve tickets.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/PSG_pEgdI0A” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

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I’m now nearly two weeks in avoiding alcohol, after deciding I was far too busy in the run up to Oxjam to spend my evenings convincing myself that the £2.99 red I was drinking was uncomplex yet quaffable, and blotting out the rational part of my brain that was screaming that it was probably vinegar with a slug of ethanol for ABV. That means I spend a full 50 (!!) days not boozing. My apologies to licensed premises in Beeston who may see a steep slide in takings, but worry not. Once Oxjam is over it’ll be less than two weeks until I turn 40, so I’ll possibly squeeze a mid-life crisis in for a few weeks and start drinking snakebite and black while wearing  leather trousers.

Yet things are sent to test me. I’ve never been invited to a brewery before. I did once try and organise a heavy drinking session at one once, but it fell through, boom-tish. Yet as I climb upon the wagon, I get asked by Magpie Brewery if I’d like to visit them and help out with the production of their utterly exclusive Oxjam Beeston Ale. So off I toddled, to their brewhouse snuggled up against Meadow Lane, where some football team plays, apparently.

Beer! Soon!

Beer! Soon!

I’m a fan of beer, and corvids, so it was quite an exciting experience. The staff are wonderful and obviously love their work, keenly showing me the process from mash to glass, with samples of their malt and hops. The first batch of the ale will be ready at the end of the month for the Oxjam Ceilidh, so buy a ticket NOW to make sure you get to try what should be a citrussy, yet robust near-golden ale. I will probably serve you, so not only do you get some quality stomping around the dance floor, but get to mock my abstinence while you pour this gorgeous brew down your gullets.

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Another side-effect of eschewing the booze has been increased energy, and thus, productivity. As such, I’m dead happy to announce Issue 21 of The Beestonian is now out in various outlets, and on-line here. I’m rather proud of it, that is to say I’m very proud of the gang of writers who provided some truly fantastic articles this month. There was so much to cram in I forgot to actually write an article myself, apart from the front page blurb.

Oh, I also have some Beestonian t-shirts left over: only £7.50. Let me know if you fancy one. They really are quite, erm, snazzy.

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I also resurrected The Beestonian Film Club at Cafe Roya last Monday, and it turned out to be a corker. We gave the World Premiere to the harrowing, yet superb ‘Go With God‘ , with a brief talk from the writer and producer before showing. There were tears, then Roya served up an corking paella to go with our Spanish main feature, Biutiful, which again bought forth tears in the audience. Anyone who spotted moisture in my eyes, well, contact lenses, innit?

We’ll probably have another one soon, so find us on Facebook to get updates and find out how to attend.

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I also have my monthly Nottingham Post column in on Saturday. It’s a celebration of the tram works. No, really. You’re not allowed to hit me until you read it, ok?

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Flop of the week was the Capital Radio /Nottingham City Council initiative on Saturday evening, the Pop-Up Cinema on Chilwell Road. This was billed as providing a fillip to that beleaguered side of town, but was so badly thought out the marketing graduates who dreamt it up need stripping of their degrees and getting sent back to infants. The idea was to get around 120 people down Chilwell Road on an evening to watch a film. Not a great help to businesses that would be closed by the time it started, yet potentially useful to the evening businesses. indeed, Karen, landlady of the Hop Pole, took on two extra barstaff in anticipation of a deluge.

Not a single cinema goer popped in for a pint. This perhaps isn’t surprising, as only around 25 turned up. But it gets worse. The car park it was set up in was sequestered for the whole day, meaning any shoppers arriving by car had to do a u-turn and find a new place to park, or more likely, just go to Long Eaton.  Attendees were also given vouchers to use in businesses….but none on Chilwell Road. Despite being opposite Forno Pizza, the vouchers were for that well known family ran local firm, Domino Pizza.

The idiocy of this idea is pretty high, but it gets worse. It seems that the City Council actually paid for this. A letter has been sent asking how much this figure was, and if no answer is forthcoming, a Freedom of Information request will be filed.  And it gets better. They’ve announced another event on the 28th September. No, really.

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Speaking of the Hop Pole, their annual songwriters competition has it’s first heat this Sunday, from 8.30pm. It’s a good way to have an early glance at up and coming talent: last year Emma Bladon Jones took the crown, and has had a crazily successful year since. Oh, I seem to be one of the judges as well. I will ensure I wear my trousers too tight and have a quick relationship with Sinitta before then.

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And getting back to the tramworks, it seems the next stage of Chilwell Road has been rethought out. Traffic – two-way traffic at that- will be allowed down the road, with the service excavations pushed onto the pavement. Where this leaves the pedestrian, I’m not sure, but if the answer is ‘being mown down’ there might be an issue, especially as Oxjam’s evening events are all down there. I was given this info before it’s officially announced, so can only investigate more later: will get back to you when I know more.

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I wrote about Syria after the failed coalition vote to rush into conflict. I accused the Lib Dems of abandoning the sound judgment they made in 2003 over Iraq, just to keep the unholy alliance with the Tories intact.

A few Lib Dems were now happy with this, and all sounded remarkably like the hawkish Blairites that led us into the stupid war a decade ago. Councillor Steve Carr was particularly unhappy with what I wrote, mistaking caution and waiting for evidence before rushing into rash action. As the last few days have proved, the Commons vote was a good one. Without support, Obama lost confidence and decided to take it to the vote, while throwing himself back into diplomatic talks with other, more cautious nations.

It’s far from sorted, and there is lots of work to do to stop Assad with the minimum amount of bloodshed and human displacement. Instead of leaping into war, a diplomatic route is opening up.

After we’d gone down the aggressive route in 2003, it transpired evidence of WMDs was balls, most of the ‘evidence’ taken from a PhD thesis, and the utterly delusional words of a taxi-driver from Iraq codenamed ‘Curveball’ who turned out to be a con-man.

Last week, Steve Carr put a warning on Facebook that advised people that they shouldn’t flash their headlights at cars as ‘gang-members’ play a game where they shoot people who do this. For, y’know, a laugh. Now, I know Steve is a decent chap and would never directly mislead: he probably thought he was being useful, but the ‘evidence’ he supplied was a letter from Chubb securities. It was swiftly pointed out that the address on the letter was Chubb in South Africa, but more importantly, it was utter bollocks and has been since it first appeared on the internet – in various guises – nearly two decades ago.

Maybe if Steve had checked the evidence beforehand before rushing in, he would have spared unwittingly scaring his Facebook friends and being made to look a bit daft on-line. Just a thought, and one I would like to extend to Steve’s Lib Dem colleagues in Parliament.

carr oops

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Saluting Magpie / STUFF! OUT! NOW! / Popped up, Flopped out / Beestonia Cowell / Lib Dems: Cool Your Boots.

Oxjam Beeston: it’s coming! / Tramageddon!

beeston

Autumn rolls in, or rather, judging by today’s weather, gushes in. Yet this Autumn could be the most interesting for Beeston in some time.

I’m talking about The Beeston Oxjam Takeover. I declare an interest straight off: I’ve been involved with it for three years now, volunteering as it’s marketing co-ordinator. My partner is the volunteer co-ordinator. There are pink metal badges lying around on every surface of our house.

If you’ve been to Oxjam before, you’ll know how it works. If not, here’s a precis: on a mid-October Saturday (this year it’s the 19th) we take over Beeston from midday, putting on music in venues right across Beeston. Then for 12 hours, we give you the top-notch tunes from the cream of local – and further afield talent. The first few hours are free and open air, with acts in the Square, The Crown , Belle and Jerome, Bean and other places over Beeston. We’ll shake a tin under your noses, mind, so bring along some change to top them up with. Or notes. We really like notes.

Later in the day, we move the acts indoors and you’ll need a wristband to get in. These are a ridiculously cheap £5 in advance, and get you into every venue in town. So for a mere 100 shillings you can see corking acts at The Greyhound, Relish, The Hop Pole, The White Lion, The Bar (upstairs and downstairs this year, each with a different type of music), and Bartons. Yep, Bartons are reopening this Autumn, more on that later.

And who have we playing? Well, the best blogs respect brevity, so I’m not going to detail everyone of the 50+ acts we have confirmed, but here’s a few treats:

Seven Little Sisters: They may be veterans of the live scene, but as their recent four-day stint attests to, are a must-see. Imagine The Levellers, if The Levellers weren’t nobby dross. Their gigs are manic, vital, and could cause you to break sweat even if they played a set at a festival on the South Pole (ScottFest?).

 

Playing EVERY venue is the rising star of the Beeston music scene, Emma Bladon Jones. She’s had a corking year, winning the Hop Pole songwriting competition, headlining Beestival, playing the Carnival and, earlier this week, receiving an out of date tin of pink salmon while busking in Beeston. She’ll be running to each venue, yes, running, and giving you a short set in each. True fans will want to see each one, especially the last one, which she’ll probably perform lying down:

 

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Last year we kicked off in the Square with a storming set from the Jar Family, who were on a tour of Oxjam festivals. They were a revelation, a fantastic bunch who drew shoppers to drop their groceries and shake an ankle. This year they’ve gone on to get on TV, get loads of radio play, get a glowing report from The Guardian, release a critically acclaimed album, Jarmalade and charm the socks off anyone luckily enought to see them. They’ve supported The Charlatans, Babyshambles, Alabama 3 and this lad from Clifton, Jake Somethingorother. I interviewed them for The Beestonian a few months ago and asked them if they’d consider playing Oxjam again. They were non-committal but did mention how much they enjoyed Beeston in 2012.

A bit of pressure via Twitter, emails to their manager and a healthy dose of emotional blackmail and I’m delighted to say they’re coming back to play again. All the way from Hartlepool. That is how much they love Beeston.

You’ll love them back too, I guarantee. Here is a taster:

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We’ll be giving you more previews of our acts on our official site: http://www.oxjambeestontakeover.org/

Here you can buy advance tickets; we expect this year to sell out so save some dough and worry and purchase early. If you fancy volunteering for the day, we’d be delighted to have you. Simultaneously juggling several venues and 50+ acts is a colossal feat, so the more hands the better. You’ll get a free wristband as well, and a warm charitable glow.

If you can’t make it, or simply hate music (hiya Simon Cowell, hiya!) , but still want to help us raise a record amount, then feel very free to slip us some readies on out Just Giving site: http://www.justgiving.com/OxjamBeestonMusicFestival

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We’re also dead happy to announce we’re bringing back the Beeston Ceilidh, at Barton House. The heroic Beeston Ceilidh Collective will be providing the tunes and calling, and we’ll have beer from a fully licensed bar courtesy of Magpie Brewery. Last year we had a fantastic turnout and a wonderful night, so we expect this to sell out fast. Some tickets do remain, however, so get yours now here: https://www.wegottickets.com/event/235109 or from The Guitar Spot or Oxfam Books and Music, Beeston.

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Bartons, which closed indefinitely earlier this year, is back. And back with more vim and verve than ever before. Throughout the next few months they will be hosting Tramageddon, a two finger salute to the bleeding tramworks that are strangling Chilwell Road. We’re delighted to have them back; after all, this is the largest venue / art space in Beeston by a long stretch, and Simon Barton is the type of maverick a town needs.

More details can be found here:

http://www.bartonsplc.co.uk/index.php/2012-01-23-22-20-20/tram-a-geddon

Damascene Conversions?

The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton.

It’s a quote attributed to the Duke of Wellington, although it’s more than certainly apocryphal. Why the resonance?

It’s a right-wing wet dream. Combining the ruling classes heady cocktail of war, public schooling and the supposed natural order of things that gives the likes of Michael Gove a semi when they ponder it.

And of course, it’s a pile of steaming horseshit. Battles may be commanded by those from the privileged classes, yet few drops of blood from the same go to soak the battlefields they choose to play soldiers on. That ‘honour’ is given to the thousands of anonymous state schools that will churn out fodder. As was, always will be.

So cometh 2013, cometh the war. Cometh the war, cometh the Etonian. Riding high on the artificial economic boost, Cameron gets bored by his status as Prime Minister (albeit, a coalition, non-mandated one) and decides that’s not enough. Hubris sets in. PM is not enough. Statesman is the logical next step

The Shakespearian tragedy of Blair’s dalliance in Iraq as Bush’s poodle is well-documented. He failed, and now lives life as a bizarrely belligerent figure, in his post-irony job as Middle East envoy.

Cameron would have been aware of this, to  an extent, when he decided to link with Obama on the latest intervention. Libya had been, at least on a surface level, a success. Blair had been successful in his campaign to blow up Belgrade. You get the taste, you want more.

Yet he lost. It’s quite staggering, really. The Commons is a very hawkish place, and it should really have been easy, yet the supreme daftness of policy ensured that was not to be. Even the Lib Dems, who had the USP of opposing Iraq in the last two elections, threw away another chance to show they were an independent party and voted with, bar a few naughty exceptions. Sarah Tether is practically an opposition MP these days.

Soubry voted for. Kenny Clarke didn’t. Kenny didn’t for ‘family logistic reasons’. As Ken’s wife claims single-person’s council tax relief on his West Bridgford home,  it might not be unreasonable to assume the two possible reasons:

  1. There was a post- Ashes 20/20 match that day. Kenny, a life-long fan of cricket and ale might have found it rather hard to pull himself away from the MCC bar to vote, his head more in the Oval than the Oval office.
  2. He didn’t want to provide succour to a leader who used him as a gravitas-giver during the early days, then chucked him aside when the party swung to the right.

Soubz voting for might have been her worst mistake. When standing against Nick Palmer in 2015 she has lost a major attack point: Iraq. Despite his public announcement in 2010 that he regretted his vote for intervention, I still find lots of comments on this blog that they can never vote Labour again for Palmers vote on 2003.

Palmer was quick to come out quickly and announce he would have, if an MP, voted against intervention. Soubz was equally quick to write a rationale why she voted  for, laying it out in a remarkably similar way as Blairites did in 2003. Shame on the Lib Dems, nationally and locally, for also hawking up on this one.

It looks like Cameron has reached to far on this one. He’s now seen as weak, out of touch. America now prefers France over us. It was a misjudgment of Anthony Eden proportions, and just as amazingly sudden. There will be more twists to this tory, I’m sure, but unless it starts to resemble a Möbius strip this is one argument Soubz and her Tory friends cannot do anything but find themselves on the wrong side of.

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A new blog by a local offers a much more nuanced discussion on Syria, well worth a read:

http://beestonleftie.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/srebenica-halabja-and-syria-today/