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.



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


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.