The People’s Tower

 

We are truly lucky in Newbury to be gifted a programme of breath-taking outdoor events thanks to the Corn Exchange and Greenham Common Trust.

The list of spectacles ranges from drummers being lifted high into the air, to massive wipe-clean structures to an incredible fire installation, and this weekend, the public was invited to participate too in a fabulous community-based project called the People’s Tower in which local residents were invited to tape together cardboard boxes to create a lifesize tower!

The idea was that the tower would stay up for the night and then the builders could turn demolition squad and knock it down the next day. Unfortunately, the wind had other ideas and it came down at about 10.30am that day. That’s not to say the project was a failure though, despite the nonsense spouted by the keyboard warriors would didn’t walk down to see the castle.

There was a brilliant band called the Perhaps Contraption who heralded in a speech by the artist Olivier Grossetete who invited everyone to jump on the now prone castle before it was scooped up and put into the recycling lorry.

So while not everyone in the town appreciates it, it’s a big thank you from LO and me. We can’t wait to see what they think of next. MERCI!

 

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Running… #throwbackthursday #TBT

Unfortunately, we missed the Park House charity run recently, so today’s TBT is about last year’s event. Also, yesterday, by virtue of my ability to remember weird things and insane nosiness, I ascertained that someone in our work meeting was a gold medallist, so I am feeling super sporty today (hides giant croissant and coffee behind  back while maintaining eye contact).

 

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I knew LO was going to be a runner when he was in the womb. Lately he’s been running off and powering round supermarkets laughing, into offices and once even into a church while I traipse after him looking exhausted.

So, I signed him up for a 200m!

We arrived on the day, checked in and were directed to the start line for the race at 9.30am. At 9.27am, we were told that the race was at 9.45 and that we weren’t at the start line (I was confused by the 6m by 6m sign that said ‘start’). “Don’t know where it starts, but it’s not here – this is the finish line.”

Aha. So we simply walk over to the line 200m away from here.
“No, it’s not here and can you get away from my bouncy castle.”

We spot people lining up at the 300m line at 9.30am. “This is the 300m line”, I say to a man in a hi-vis jacket.

“Ssssh” he says, winking at me.

So we line up. The guns goes off and the McBaby sprints to the finish line. Except he doesn’t. He sort of dawdles and runs with big strides at snail’s pace- totally unfazed by everyone else’s competitive spirit. He gets a medal and a goody bag which I then decanter into the picnic bag that we’re taking to a picnic with some friends.

We leave the sports day and arrive at a deserted picnic area where the McBaby sprints off at top speed, leaving me to carry everything to the table, shouting ‘can’t catch me!”. Next time, Rodney, next time….

BEAT THE STREET READING SCHEME TO BE EXTENDED FOR GIANT FINALE

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Reading’s Beat the Street challenge has been extended by one day to end on Saturday 28th May to give participants one more day of tapping!

Since it started on 15th April, Reading’s 23,000 Beat the Street participants have travelled to the moon and beyond with a mileage of more than 260,000 miles. There is now just over a week to go and still time to exceed last year’s mileage of 306,000 miles!

Now, organisers have decided to extend the competition by one day to celebrate Reading’s Year of Culture and thanks to The Rising Sun Arts Centre, there will be a giant finale – literally!  There will be a special performance in Broad Street with two 30ft tall giants who will be playing Beat the Street in a town centre finale!

The procession forms part of The Rising Sun’s major project for Reading’s Year of Culture – A Landscape of Charms and Machines – which involves events, concerts, lectures, exhibitions and participatory projects throughout the year.

The event on Saturday, 28th May will see the Chalk Giant and the Flint Giant, accompanied by the Tongues of Fire procession band, parade along Broad Street in Reading from 12pm to 2pm.

The giant will tap an enormous Beat the Street card onto a specially constructed over-sized Beat Box with which participants in the game will be invited to have their picture taken.

As well as the procession, there will also the opportunity to play giant pavement games such as skipping, hopscotch and snakes and ladders from 12pm to 3pm.

Why jumble sales and car boot sales are a great place to take children!

 

Since LO  was a baby and more interested in putting money in his mouth than in a bank account, he has been accustomed to being dragged around jumbles sales and getting up early on a Sunday morning to have a browse of  the local boot sales.

This seems to have really paid off as I see him grow in confidence about asking for the price of things and seeking out some brilliant items that he has bought before I have even spotted them – he’s come home with a remote-controlled car for 25p, various DVDs and books and even a monster mask which he proudly wore home.

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Here are my top reasons why taking your child to a boot sale is a worthy exercise and teaches useful life skills!

 

  1. It shows them the value of money. You have to think about buying that pair of jeans, that DVD or that £25 cookbook for full price when you know a boot sale regular is going to buy it from you for 20p.

 

  1. It shows them that there’s no need to waste resources on buying something new. That Spiderman t-shirt that costs £9 brand new won’t be looking pristine for long anyway. Buy it for 50p from a boot sale and you can wear it to climb a tree and it’s not the end of the world. Boot sales are one of the best kinds of recycling – I have an old 60s dress that I bought for 50p and I’ve never seen anyone else wearing anything like it. (And judging from the compliments I get, I mean that in a good way!)

    3. It stops children hanging around town centre shops buying things just for the sake of it. It’s amazing that a lot of children – and adults – don’t consider it a complete day out if they don’t come home having made a purchase.

    4. Fresh air and exercise! It’s a bit like playing squash – when your mind is on something else and you are concentrating, you don’t realise how far you’re walking when you’re pacing up and down those rows of stalls – and if you’re a seasoned booter, you’ll probably do each row at least twice. I’ll wear a pedometer to my next boot sale and report back!

    5. It will encourage them to sell their own unwanted toys, clothes and books when they’re no longer required. Selling at a boot sale teaches you about displaying your wares to the best effect, standing your ground when someone offers you 10p for a £2 item, maths, talking to strangers, customer service and haggling! It also teaches willpower – when you’ve worked hard to earn a few quid, you’re less likely to squander it on another stall.

    6. It teaches them basic maths. Or it should do. Quite often when something is 50p, I’ll ask if I can have two for a pound, but that’s just me!

    7. I find that I pick up all kinds of amazing vintage books at boot sales; I’d probably not have checked out Just William, Nicholas and Angela or even re-visited Enid Blyton if it weren’t for boot sales. Having said that, not every book is a classic – have a look out for Jordan’s book https://www.amazon.co.uk/Being-Jordan-Katie-Price/dp/1844541320/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1463462396&sr=8-1&keywords=being+jordan which appears several times at every boot sale I’ve ever been to.

    9. It encourages them to sift the tat from the good value items and who knows, they might start a trading business. Isn’t that how Lord Sugar started?

    10. It gets them out of bed on a Sunday morning instead of lounging around in bed!

 

11 .Many boot sales are run by charities, so you’ll be supporting a good cause. More than that, as we attend a few regular jumble sales and coffee mornings, we’ve got to know some fantastic people. Of course, these are the events who will also be grateful for a donation of clothes, books and CDs when you’re having a clear out.

I am the Lord of the Dance, said he…

Give LO some music and a wide berth, and it’s likely that he will begin dancing in a style influenced by Michael Flatley meeting the Red Arrows.

This is an example of what happened when he and I went to Costa on the retail park. I had to send something to a client, so while I tapped out some words and shouted at my computer, he took the opportunity  to do some interpretative dance of which I  just caught the end.

 

Then it was Sound Beginnings at Sheepdrove Farm as part of the Newbury Spring Festival where children and adults were treated to a piano concert of Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty. While most people were there to see the husband-and-wife pianists Elena Zozina and Mikhail Kazakevich, the narrator congratulated LO’s dancing, pronouncing it “better than your dad’s”.

However, the dancing performance that seems to have captured most people’s imagination is LO in Newbury’s Market Place during one of the town’s brilliant outdoor events, Project Vee and Carousel. I’ve had numerous emails from people who were there noting that most people had half an eye on LO as well as the brilliant Faith I Branco.

 

 

Yet when I tried to sign him up for Irish dancing lessons today, he could not have been less interested. We have high hopes for a nice bit of choreography by LO at The People’s Tower in Newbury Market Place on Sunday, 29th May from 2pm to 7pm when you can help build a tower out of cardboard boxes, before (more excitingly), you can return on Monday, 30th May  at 4pm to KNOCK. IT. DOWN!

 

 

Christopher Eccleston

 

A dream held since 1991 came true a couple of weeks ago when I met one of my favourite actors, Christopher Eccleston. Helping to raise money for the Watermill Theatre just outside Newbury, he spent about an hour in hilarious conversation with the theatre’s artistic director on his career including his Hollywood roles, his Doctor Who career, Hillsborough and the A-Word.

He’s such an icon that it’s unusual to hear about what makes him tick, and while we still don’t know a lot about him, it was fascinating to hear about his career, particularly from his early days in unemployment and a stint selling ice creams at the National Theatre from where he could admire those such as Anthony Hopkins whose appearance on-stage proved they had ‘made it’. Of course, Eccleston himself performed there himself in 2012 in Antigone.

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As a teenager, for some reason (probably to avoid doing any revision for forthcoming GCSEs), I went to see Let Him Have  It on my own at the cinema – it wasn’t the kind of thing that my other friends wanted to see. Playing  Derek Bentley, a lad with learning difficulties who ended up being hanged for murdering a police officer (even though he didn’t), I HOWLED with grief on the bus home afterwards. Christopher Eccleston’s performance in that is mesmerising, and in his interview, said he was cast because he fitted the bill owing to being ‘young’ and ‘unpolished’.

After admiring his performance (plus the giant blue eyes and curly blond hair didn’t hurt) in Let Him Have It, I actively tuned into Cracker. I distinctly remember the scene where the lead character comes into a lecture hall and starts throwing text books into the crowd saying “I rehearsed the death of my father for years”, that line stuck with me for ages. Apparently Eccleston was drawn to this line too and it led him to take the part of DI Bilborough.

Afterwards, there was CAKE and the chance to meet the man himself. Instead of remaining calm, I took the opportunity to make a stupid Doctor Who joke, although it wasn’t the ‘knock knock’ one….