Event: The Journey

Event: The Journey

Event: The Journey

When does this journey take place?
9th December 2018 at 12pm and 4pm

This event looks like being epic. Though not as epic as the journey it sets out to portray: that of Joseph and the pregnant Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

They had to travel 90 miles to the city of Joseph’s ancestors: south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem. That was one gruelling and dangerous trip. It’s fair to say that this journey around Old Town won’t be quite so long nor anything like as arduous. But it promises to be an incredible experience.

When does this journey take place? 9th December 2018 at 12pm and 4pm

The Journey

The Journey

Welcome to an immense, immersive theatrical telling of the Christmas story.

A processional performance will unfold throughout Swindon Old Town, this Christmas.

Never before seen ‘behind the scenes’ access to the characters we are so familiar with, will reveal the true nature, the faith and the fearlessness, of those who were chosen to birth and raise Jesus Christ.

Meet Mary, the teenage bride, betrothed to Joseph and mysteriously pregnant. She risks shame, heartbreak and a painful death. Revealed are Joseph’s innermost thoughts. How can he understand the nature of Mary’s pregnancy? How will he find the strength to stand by her? Now forced by an occupying power they must make the impossible journey together, throughout the length of a nation, anyway they can.

This is a story of survival, courage, love and faith against all the odds.

‘Our creative team are keen to highlight how these circumstances reflect the difficulties faced by the refugee community and ask people to just consider that this is still happening today.  *See also David Bent’s Movement 2000 for resonances with what this performance is all about.

We are doing this by creating a huge number of people that will join the principal cast as they move down Bath Road and up Wood Street, to mirror those images seen in the media during the refugee crises of recent years.’

The Journey’s artistic director is Anna Friend of the Quirky Bird Theatre and the executive producer is Daphne Hardwick produced of the ever-popular Old Town autumn fayre at Christchurch.

Follow The Journey on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oldtownjourney/

To register for your ticket visit www.oldtownjourney.co.uk

To get involved email info@oldtownjourney.co.uk

Get your ticket for this free event here. And below is the route of the journey.

The Route

The performance will begin at Lethbridge Primary School and then proceed along Avenue Road, Bath Road, and Wood Street, culminating at Christ Church for our finale.

Route Map - public

GETTING INVOLVED

If you’d like to get involved in this performance and be more than a bystander – here are some FAQs:

Can I bring my children?
Yes! We would love families to be part of this. Unfortunately we cannot have prams or pushchairs but babes in arms, toddlers and older children are very welcome!


How long will we be needed?
There are two performances, one at 12 and one at 4pm. We envisage that you will be needed for 30 minutes to complete the walk each time, but it could take longer, depending on the size of the group.


Will I need to provide costume?
Kind of…we would like you to wear dark clothing and make sure you are all warm! Shawls and blankets wrapped over shoulders would be great. Nothing brightly coloured, think middle eastern. We would also love if you could have bags with you but don’t worry if not – just you will be fab!


Do we need to rehearse?
Yes, a little bit. You will need to pop along on the 30th November to Christ Church Old Town at 8pm to register and meet Anna Friend, our Director who will talk you through the performance and your part in it. Children do not need to come along on the 30th, just parents! Then on the 2nd Dec we will have a full walk-through of the performance beginning at 12pm so we will need you then.


Anything Else?
No, that’s all, we are so glad you would like to join – please spread the word, we are looking for hundreds to be part of this one moment of the performance.


All you need to do now is confirm you will be involved by emailing info@oldtownjourney.co.uk

The journey of the Magi – T S Eliot:

 

 

 

Latest Swindon Ramblings

I’m always looking for new and interesting angles to share when out and about in Swindon.

Radnor Street Cemetery blog

From Frances’ new blog:

‘Welcome cemetery followers to this new blog launching today.

Radnor Street Cemetery tells the history of Swindon. The civic dignitaries and members of the Great Western Railway hierarchy; the boilermakers and platelayers; the philanthropic benefactors and trailblazing women; the teachers and tradespeople and the 103 servicemen who lost their lives as a result of their military service in two world wars. The ordinary men, women and children of the town…’

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Event: The Full Monty at the Wyvern

Event: The Full Monty at the Wyvern

The Full Monty at the Wyvern

The Full Monty

The tragi-comic Full Monty began life as a 1997 (yes – THAT long ago!) British comedy film set in Sheffield, Yorkshire with a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy, The film starts with a travelogue of a 1972 Sheffield and tells the story of six unemployed men – four of them former steel workers. The men decide to form a male striptease act  (à la Chippendale dancers – remember them??) in an effort to raise enough money to:

a. Get out of Sheffiled

b. Enable Gaz, the main character, to get access to his son.

Gaz declares that their show will be better than the Chippendales dancers because they will go “the full monty“—strip all the way—hence the film’s title.

The Themes

A comedy it may well be but the film tackles difficult subjects.  We now have a different political and working landscape – the old concept of the ‘job for life’ died with the wholesale destruction of first the steel industry and then  the mining industry. Yet, the underpinning themes of unemployment, father’s rights, depression and suicide, impotence, sexuality, body image and working class culture remain relevant and still have something to say. Arguably more than they ever did.

The Full Monty Play

Buy your Full Monty Tickets here: https://swindontheatres.co.uk/Online/tickets-the-full-monty-swindon-2018

I was intrigued to see how this stage production would play out – see what I did there? The backstory to the Full Monty is my heritage. I come from a mining area not so very far from Sheffield. My ex-husband was a miner. My daughter grew up in the middle of the 1980s miner’s strike. Indeed her first word was ‘picket’. True story. (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/picket )

So I know this world first hand. And I even have an amusing anecdote involving an RSJ beam. But that’s best kept for the memoirs.

The film, so far as I can recall, behind its comedic aspects, conveyed well the desperation of these people’s lives. Everything they knew, had known for generations, and were fiercely proud of, was gone. They had to adjust to a whole new reality. One where women were no longer full-time housewives and mums, but had jobs -albeit often it was low paid cleaning/shop work etc – while the men were unemployed. As it says in the programme ‘The Full Monty captures that moment when a way of life that had seemed eternal was gone for good.’

If I have a critique of this stage production, it’s that I don’t think one gets enough of a sense from it, of how very awful it was for those people in that part of England, back then. ‘A lot of men were wandering around lost, not really knowing what was going on, not just with their life but with their city.’ (Simon Beaufoy – playwright). That may well be because I’m still, 30 odd years on, too, too close to it all. I guess too it’s the nature of the beast – the confines of a stage production as opposed to the broad brush of a film. Or a little of each. I’m not sure.

In rehearsal

But that does mean the play is not worth seeing? Hell no it doesn’t! Does that mean I didn’t enjoy the production? No – absolutely not! I most surely did.

It’s fabulous, raucous, mildly raunchy, potty-mouthed fun.  YES – there’s lots of swearing as befits the setting and the subject. It really wouldn’t work at all delivered in received pronunciation

The staging rather neatly dealt with the film’s opening travelogue – I liked that. There’s lots of laugh in it – and goodness knows we need a reason to laugh eh? For those familiar with Victoria Wood’s work there’s a familiar face too. This is a great night out with a story that is sad and funny, yet ultimately uplifting as the central characters begin to come to terms with their new reality and get to do their performance.

 But – the question on everyone’s lips is surely: ‘Do they actually do the Full Monty?’ Well – that would be telling eh? So if you really want to know – buy a ticket and go see it. It’s a great night! 

Buy your Full Monty Tickets here: https://swindontheatres.co.uk/Online/tickets-the-full-monty-swindon-2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Latest Swindon Ramblings

I’m always looking for new and interesting angles to share when out and about in Swindon.

Radnor Street Cemetery blog

From Frances’ new blog:

‘Welcome cemetery followers to this new blog launching today.

Radnor Street Cemetery tells the history of Swindon. The civic dignitaries and members of the Great Western Railway hierarchy; the boilermakers and platelayers; the philanthropic benefactors and trailblazing women; the teachers and tradespeople and the 103 servicemen who lost their lives as a result of their military service in two world wars. The ordinary men, women and children of the town…’

A word about our sponsors

When I’m not being Born again Swindonian and writing Swindon-related books I offer proofreading, editing and writing services as AA Editorial Services.

Blog Categories

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Sing Something Swindon: a round up of some of Swindon’s choirs

Sing Something Swindon: a round up of some of Swindon’s choirs

Sing Something Swindon: a round up of some of Swindon's choirs

A lovely guest blog post focusing on Swindon’s singing opportunities

Thanks to Jo Garton for this lovely guest blog post focusing on Swindon’s singing opportunities. Which are many and various. This is your note – sing it! Swindon’s lungs are bursting with singing opportunities.

Sing Something Swindon

The Big Sing Thing - Swindon's choirs

The Big Sing Thing 

Swindon is a city of choirs. Well – ok, it’s a town, but it feels like a city to many of us.

There have been many health and psychology studies which show that singing is good for your health. this easy form of self-expression helps maintain sound (pun intended) mental health. Swindon is the place to be if you want to sing, because thousands of people sing here every week and not just in the shower!

Of course, we have a history of singing here; the Mechanics Institute had a resident opera company, which famously made Swindon theplace to be in the UK if you fancied a bit of Russian opera! If you want to know more about that then I suggest you read Secret Swindon by Angela Atkinson, in which she tells more about that.

Mlada:programme of Swindon Musical Society

Mlada:programme of Swindon Musical Society

Nowadays we have highbrow, lowbrow and everything in between.

Probably Swindon’s longest established choir is the Swindon Male Voice Choir, founded in 1919. They meet weekly in Gorse Hill and have about fifty members. Over the years they have toured internationally and won many competitions and Eisteddfods.

The Swindon Choral Society is another long-established choir. It has roots right back to the 1920s. They also tour internationally with a repertoire that includes Requiems of Brahms and Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. The choral society has 110 singers and they meet in Freshbrook.

The indomitable Sheila Harrod started the well-known Kentwood Choir in 1964. 

 Like many of the choirs in Swindon they have raised a lot of money for charity – over the fifty-three years of their existence over £1 million. Their president is the internationally renown jazz singer Dame Cleo Laine. Their thirty-five women members have sung on national television and abroad.

Newer kids on the blog are The Magnificent AK47s formed in 2008They meet in Ashton Keynes, but many of their members are from Swindon, some are not even members of the Spooner family! They have enjoyed success at the Derry International Choral Festival and the Cork International Festival. The AK47s are an all male choir who, for reasons not entirely clear, sing quite a lot about beards!

Swindon Community Choir started in 2000 as the Scratch Choir but over the years have changed their name. They favour a ‘natural voice technique’ which believes that singing is everyone’s birthright. They meet in the Central Community Centre in the railway village (what was the medical fund society hospital) on a Monday evening. This is a mixed choir, which welcomes new members without an audition. They have a wide ranging taste, singing folk, pop and international songs.

Running for twenty-five years and also raising money for good causes is the Thamesdown Ladies choir. The choir has around fifty members and a wide-ranging repertoire.

Finally, the BigSingThing has been running for seven years and meets in West Swindon on a Monday evening. Roughly ninety men and women sing each week. They perform concerts locally and have raised over £10,000 for charity. BigSing claims to be Swindon’s friendliest choir and sings  pop songs old and new as well as some songs from musicals.

If you want to sing in Swindon there is plenty of choice!

 Links:

Swindon Male Voice Choir: https://www.swindonmalevoicechoir.co.uk

Swindon Choral Society: http://swindonchoral.org.uk/scs/main.php

The Kentwood Choir: http://www.kentwoodshowchoir.org

The Magnificent AK47s: http://www.themagnificentak47.com

Swindon Community Choir: http://www.swindon.singtastic.co.uk

Thamesdown Ladies Choir: http://www.thamesdownladieschoir.co.uk

The Big Sing Thing: https://www.bigsingthing.org.uk

 

 

Latest Swindon Ramblings

I’m always looking for new and interesting angles to share when out and about in Swindon.

Radnor Street Cemetery blog

From Frances’ new blog:

‘Welcome cemetery followers to this new blog launching today.

Radnor Street Cemetery tells the history of Swindon. The civic dignitaries and members of the Great Western Railway hierarchy; the boilermakers and platelayers; the philanthropic benefactors and trailblazing women; the teachers and tradespeople and the 103 servicemen who lost their lives as a result of their military service in two world wars. The ordinary men, women and children of the town…’

A word about our sponsors

When I’m not being Born again Swindonian and writing Swindon-related books I offer proofreading, editing and writing services as AA Editorial Services.

Blog Categories

Fabulous Functions UK

Fabulous Functions UK

Ken White

Ken White

October 2018

Ken White 

First of all, this post is an opportunity to share this article from Swindon Link Magazine about Ken White. 

https://swindonlink.com/6573/interview-swindon-link-talks-to-renowned-artist-ken-white/

Aside from that, it’s an opportunity to share a few photographs of Ken’s work. In my recently published book, Secret Swindon, I made a big effort to convey that Swindon’s cultural and creative present is as rich as its cultural and creative past. Many people/entities/artists contribute to Swindon’s varied cultural landscape as the recent Swindon Open Studios even will testify. And one of whom is Swindon born Ken.

An extract:

‘Ken White: Painter not artist

That’s his description of himself not mine. He’s emphatic on the point. Yet, however you describe him his talent is indisputable.

A born Swindonian, Ken had the great good fortune to get what you’d call ‘a big break’. First though, like so many young men in Swindon, at the tender age of fifteen saw him enter the Works (the 3rdgeneration of his family to go ‘inside’) as a rivet-hotter. Escaping that role, he began his artistic career with sign-writing and stenciling numbers on carriages in the Works. During this period Ken went to evening classes at Swindon Art College to study ‘O’ and A ‘Level art with the intention of becoming a full-time artist … ‘  For the rest – buy the book! 😉

Ken’s portfolio is a wonder to behold – the just-passed Open Studios is the ideal time to view it.

When researching for Secret Swindon I visited Ken and spent ages poring over his output from over the years. His collection of posters designed for Swindon events back in the day are an exhibition in themselves – never mind the rest. Here’s a small few that didn’t get used in Secret Swindon:

Ken White famed Red Lady emblem for Virgin Atlantic

Ken White’s famed Red Lady emblem for Virgin Atlantic

Poster for the unveiling of Carleton Attwood's 'The Watchers' at Toothill village centre

Poster for the unveiling of Carleton Attwood’s ‘The Watchers’ at Toothill village centre

 

Poster for old GWR Railway museum

Poster for old GWR Railway museum

Deacon’s Jewellers

Deacon’s Jewellers

September 2018

Deacon’s Jewellers

Well listeners, you can hardly have failed to notice that this summer saw the publication of my first book, Secret Swindon.  So now it’s onto the next project: Swindon in 50 Buildings. To that end I’ve compiled a list of suggested buildings for the edification of the publisher, Amberley Books.

The buildings I’ve selected for my next project aren’t necessarily there because they’re fabulous architecture, or old or listed – though sometimes that’s part of it – but because they have a part in Swindon’s story. Many, many buildings do that of course – and far more than fifty of them too.

One that I might include in my next project is Deacon’s jewellers on Wood Street in Old Town.

The business is still family-owned – now in its sixth generation – that’s rather cool isn’t it? Besides that though, the business has a rich history – one that’s wrapped up in Swindon’s railway past.

Given that his year is their 170th anniversary (Established 1848), it seems fitting to give them a mention on this blog.

Their website has their history on it so here’s a couple of extracts:

‘ … The catalyst for bringing the name of Deacon to Swindon was undoubtedly the arrival of the Great Western Railway. As an ambitious 26 year old George Deacon, having moved from his home town of Westbury, realised the need for time-keeping in a fast growing town of the industrial revolution. The business was able to expand, winning one of the timing contracts for the Great Western Railway on the line between Paddington and Swansea from the early 1850s until 1893 … 

The Regulator clock which stands to this day in the jewellery, clock and watch department was made by Deacon & Son Ltd around 1865 when the company held one of the timing contracts for the Great Western Railway on the line between Paddington and Swansea. Before radio and the telephone gave universally available timing, accurate time keeping had to be maintained locally and this was usually done by the means of the regulator clock.

The dead beat escapement in this movement causes less friction and dampens vibration, giving greater accuracy. The self regulating mercury pendulum, which changes volume equally with the changes in temperature, keeps the clock on a constant steady beat giving better time keeping. This clock was used extensively in our workshops for clock timing and regulation for many years, until its retirement in the 1960s. In 2011 the same task is performed by radio controlled timing from the nuclear caesium clock at the National Physics Laboratory at Rugby.’

 

Deacons on Wood Street

Find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deaconsjewellers/

These boots are made for walking

Of course, Deacon’s is not the only long-standing, family-owned business in Old Town. I’m really rather fond of Blaylock’s – the shoe shop on the corner of Bath Road and Devizes Rd.

Blaylocks Old Town

Blaylock’s is what I call a ‘proper’ shoe shop – though you’d need to be of a certain again to even know what I mean by that. And what I mean by that, is that the shoes are stacked in boxes on shelves in the shop itself. There’s no going out the back somewhere with an iPad and a headset on. Pfft. It’s friendly service and I love it. Not quite as old as Deacon’s they’ve been around for somewhere in the region of 100 years. Still, to my knowledge, this is a family-run business and an independent shoe shop. Fabulous.

Gilberts

Having bought your super comfy carpet slippers in Blaylocks – where better for your actual carpet than Gilbert’s on Newport Street,  Gilbert’s have been in Old Town since 1866 so must have furnished a few Swindon homes in the intervening 152 years. What an astonishing thought.

 

Baker’s Community Café

Baker’s Community Café

29th August 2018

The Baker’s Community Café

It’s been sometime in the coming – you know how it is with building works – it always takes longer and costs more than you think. But at last it’s open and getting underway and, best thing of all, it’s a lovely bit of good news for Swindon’s heritage and the railway village conservation area.

What am I talking about listeners? The Baker’s Community café of course.

the bakers arms community cafe

From guns to buns 

Or as suggested on social media:

From riot to quiet

From thugs to mugs 

Moving on!!

I’m pretty ignorant of the history of this ex railway village pub, but it seems it had a reputation for being ‘a bit rough’ – to understate the case. As this article in the Swindon Advertiser explains:

‘The Bakers Arms will reopen as a community café this week after a makeover that saw builders rip out moulding bar and restore historic fireplaces in the 150-year-old pub.

It will prove a major reversal of fortune for the Emlyn Square pub, which was once a source of anti-social behaviour and ire for residents.

In December 2011, police raided the Bakers Arms and found a shotgun and a large amount of what officers suspected was cocaine. The pub was closed three months later after a review by the council’s licensing panel. .. ‘

Huge congrats to everyone at the Mechanics’ Institute Trust – I’m sure it will be great asset to the central area and to Swindon as a whole. Goodness knows Swindon’s heritage areas need some uplift. So this is super welcome.

Find them on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bakerscafe.swindon/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BakersCafe_SN1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bakerscafe.swindon/