Tag Archives: Swindon Arts Centre

The woman behind the voice

9 May
Charlotte Green

Charlotte Green ©Calyx Picture Agency

There are few  people who could open a presentation by reading the football scores but such is the familiarity of Charlotte Green’s voice one immediately felt you knew the person behind the sound.

Scores of mariners around the British coast relied on her clear diction, comforting delivery  and calm style to keep them company in the wee small hours or during a force ten through Finisterre.

Such was her affinity with the forecast that her BBC colleagues called her the ‘Fisherman’s Friend’.

She has such a voice so distinctive, that people recognise her speaking even before they recognise who she is.

Charlotte mentioned one rather elderly lady who, on being introduced to her for the first time said, ‘Don’t you sound awfully like yourself?’ Continue reading

The one that didn’t get away

8 Oct

Ken Evans.jpg

Ken Evans – 2016 Battered Moons Competition Winner

I am the wastepaper basket under the desk of a tired poetry competition judge and I’m full.

I’m waiting for the black bag to come again to release me from this heavy weight of 40% hope and 60% despair that has me brimming over. 

But this time it’s different, I can sense a poem being uncrumpled, flattened out and reconsidered.

It is, of course, the winning poem and I am glad to give back for once.

Daljit Nagra hasn’t got to where he’s got to without being a disarmingly honest and funny bloke. Continue reading

‘She wasn’t an easy person to work with wasn’t Hylda’

8 Oct

That’s Hylda Baker of course.

Well it is according to Keith Hutson who staggered onto the Arts Centre stage on the wrong end of a theatrical push.

With a writing career encompassing Les Dawson skits and Coronation Street episodes and an enthusiasm as contagious as a double entendre titter, Keith read poems delighting in the days of Music Hall.

‘Tom Platt and his Talking Pond’ got an early mention, a mention that needs mentioning more often,’Tom Platt and his Talking Pond’ ponder that.

When will we hear the like again?

‘A lot of their acts were bloody awful but that made them all the better’ says Keith, whose brilliant delve into the nether regions of a simpler, more complicated, life, earned its own wolf whistles and guffaws.

There were tales of everything, from the tragic to the tremendous; Lottie Collins who literally danced herself to death, Ronnie, whistling, ‘in a state of grace’, to Marilyn Monroe.

The tragi-comic nature of Keith Hutson material coupled with faultless delivery, showcased a brilliant sequence of poems which scored a direct hit on both heart-strings and funny bone.

Keith Hutson’s Troopers took place at Swindon Arts Centre, 8 October 2016, part of Poetry Swindon Festival.
His poems have just been released in the pamphlet,
Routines, published by Poetry Salzburg.

Chronicle written by Michael Scott.

The Spirit of Keats

4 Oct

Great idea. Keats poetry set to music, threaded through with ghostly story.

The first drama was how my friend Tess could avoid the rustling of a bag of Haribos during the performance. We didn’t think they’d appreciate this added sound effect. She solved the problem by emptying the sweets into her handbag. (I hope she found all of them. Few things worse at the bottom of a handbag than old sticky sweets; perhaps bruised pears and spare toddler’s pants that fly out in a meeting when trying to find a pen – but that might just be me.)

If you know anything about poetry or remember it from school, Keats is almost certainly in the running order, so this came at it from a fresh angle.

The singing was impassioned, the piano beautiful but the story left me a little cold. Continue reading

Swindon’s greatest intellects clash at Think Slam

15 May

Swindon’s greatest intellects clashed on Friday night, at the seventh annual Think Slam.

(Full disclosure: Chronicler Louisa was one of the competitors, and I am contractually obliged to describe her as one of Swindon’s greatest intellects.)

Over three gruelling rounds, seven competitors did mental battle in the Swindon Festival of Literature competition run in association with the Swindon Philosophical Society.

Swindon, by the way, is unique in having this kind of philosophical thrown-down. Until another town or city picks up the gauntlet, the competition winner is, by default, the UK’s – and possibly the planet’s – greatest living philosopher (just think the USA and the baseball World Series). Continue reading

Profanity and insanity – Swindon is Blessed by Brian

12 May
brian blessed_3394Swindon Festival of literatureBrian Blessed

©Calyx Picture Agency Brian Blessed

*** Warning: this report contains swearing, obviously: it’s about Brian Blessed. ***

Brian Blessed is going into Space. This is a good thing, as it is probably the only place large enough to accommodate his personality. Certainly the stage of Swindon Arts Centre cannot not hold him.

If Brian Blessed were an astrophysical phenomenon, I think he would be a supermassive black hole, because strange things happen in his field of gravity. And he’s massive. Continue reading

Change Everything

12 May

Swindon Festival of Literature director Matt Holland gave a fist pump as last night’s author concluded at Swindon Arts Centre.

A full house, a double event (for the first time), attended by Swindon’s ‘movers and shakers’, cheering. Was this a celebrity? A high-profile fiction writer? Not this time. This was an author talking about the economy.

A festival fan had suggested the event and the festival took a risk that paid off.

The speaker, Christian Felber ‘flown in from Austria by way of Portugal’, is not an economist, he tells us. In fact he’s rather cross with modern economics (as cross as such a kind, smiley man such as Christian could be). Modern economics – and there is no other kind, it’s a very new discipline – is heartless.  He tells a joke – a student worries to a university professor that he cannot decide the course to study. The professor says to follow his heart. The student thinks then says, ‘business ethics’. The lecturer says, ‘then you will have to make a choice’. Economics only cares about itself and how much money is made – ethics is seen to have no relevance to it. It mixes up means and goals and forgets money is a means to an end, not the end. Continue reading