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Issue 2 December 2010

The James Hunter Story by Martin Newell DJ Gilly Looks Back Melt with Modern English Spotlight on the Raging Bull Kem Izzet’s view from the Weston A Problem Shared

Colchester’s Access All Areas Magazine


Welcome to the second edition of Colchester 101...

O

ur launch edition was an amazing success and we were inundated with calls and emails from people asking where they could get their copy and suggesting places to leave copies next month.

band The Lepers, were Colchesterʼs most successful musical export before Blur and enjoyed chart success in America due to their airplay on MTV.

In this issue, local singer, poet, author and Colchester 101 interviewer and feature writer Martin Newell catches up with Modern English singer Robbie Grey ahead of their European tour next year. Best remembered for their songs “I Melt with You,” “Hands Across the Sea” and “Ink and Paper” new romantics Modern English, who originally formed as punk

We also talk to RʼNʼB and soul man James Hunter, another Colchester ʻold boyʼ who has enjoyed considerable success across the pond since his days performing locally as “Howlinʼ Wilf and the Vee-Jays”. James, who has worked with Van Morrison and is more used to playing gigs supporting Willie Nelson and B.B. King at the Hollywood Bowl, recently returned to his hometown for a gig at The Twist which is where Martin caught up with his old friend. As if all of that isnʼt enough, I got together with our new columnist, local DJ,Gilly, for a chat about old times and his new residency at Robertoʼs. Watch out for Gillyʼs column starting in January. Not forgetting, of course, our regular features with Sven Wombwell, Colchesterʼs celebrity television gardener, Kem Izzetʼs look behind the scenes at Colchester United, Hazel Humphreysʼ take on the local comedy scene, Craig Fookes and the Raging Bull, televisionʼs Peter Sherlockʼs tips to help you smell great this Christmas... and much, much more.

Colchester 101 is published by Tonic Creative Solutions The Studio Tye Road Colchester Essex CO7 7BN

Have a great Christmas!

Tel: 01206 544700 Email: mailus@colchester101.co.uk Editors: Simon Crow and Paul Clark Designer: Paul Clark

See you next month

Very special thanks to Roddy Ashworth

Simon Crow                                  Editor

Thanks to our contributors: Adrian Multon Melissa Porter Andrew Dell Martin Newell Peter Sherlock Kem Izzet and Colchester United Sven Wombwell Ed Tabard Christopher Manciple Craig Fookes Front cover image courtesy of GO Records All rights reserved. Reproduction in part or whole without publisherʼs written consent is prohibited. Whilst every care is taken to ensure the accuracy of all details and information the publishers are not liable for errors and omissions to any features, listings or advertisements. Any views expressed are not necessarily those of the publishers Tonic Creative Solutions.

www.Colchester101.co.uk

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Arts Funding Slashed But Council Commits to 3 major organisations COLCHESTER Borough Council has committed itself to continue funding a significant share of the townʼs three main arts organisations - but has warned there will be steep cuts ahead. Currently, the Mercury Theatre receives around £280,000 from the council per year, the Arts Centre is given about £80,000 and Firstsite - destined to open in the Visual Arts Facility next September - receives around £240,000. However, borough and district councils across the country have been warned by Westminster that their central government Revenue Support Grants are likely to fall by an average 28% over the next four years, leaving them having to make huge cuts. In Colchester, a majority of the councilʼs entire funding comes from the Revenue Support Grant, meaning more than a quarter of the boroughʼs spending has to be slashed. The council would continue to fund the arts. As councils are not legally obliged to fund leisure services such as theatres, galleries and even sports centres, some have pulled the financial wool from under all such organisations, in order to buffer and protect frontline services they have to provide by law, such as waste collection and benefits.

cuts have least effect on performances, exhibitions etc.

about 10% in 2011/12. But that was when the Revenue Support Grant cut was estimated at 20%, 8% below its currently revised figure.

A common ticketing system “There may be ways they can work together with the museums service. Or perhaps introduce a common ticketing system.

Speaking just before Colchester 101 went to press, Liberal Democrat Mr Smith declined to say what he thought the cuts to the Mercury, the Arts Centre and Firstsite would be, but told Colchester 101: “There are frontline services that we have to maintain by law. That means that it is conceivable that non-statutory areas such as culture could be squeezed more than those. But until we see the key figures this December we will not be able to predict exactly what the cuts will be.”

“There are issues such as joint marketing that could be looked at.” Tim Young, cabinet member and leader of the councilʼs Labour Group, said: “Our feeling is that that the arts organisations that deliver and are popular should receive funding, while those that havenʼt proved themselves shouldnʼt.

Difficult choices Liberal Democrat Nick Barlow, portfolio holder for Economic Development, Culture and Tourism at the council said that although some difficult choices would have to be made, Colchester was committed to maintaining a high cultural presence.

Earlier this year, Paul Smith, the councilʼs portfolio holder for resources and diversity, said the council would continue to fund the arts.

“We want to do as much as we can to continue to fund them because they provide a great service to the economy. However, we are still waiting for the figures in December. This 28% cut is an across-the-board figure, so for is it might be more or it might be less. But we do intend to keep funding them. Some councils are cutting all arts funding, but these organisations are of benefit to our town. They do a lot of work in the community.

Then, he estimated that cuts to the three organisations would probably be

“One of the ways we can look at this is perhaps in the back-office areas, so

“But if you ask me, in this age of austerity, £600,000 in annual arts spending is a bit questionable.” Chairman of the councilʼs overview and scrutiny panel, Conservative Christopher Arnold, said: “I would want there to be an informed approach setting the grants to the arts organisations in 2011 and beyond. “If you lift the lid on it, there is a huge range of jobs connected to these groups. “They also provide community programmes with schools and the elderly which we want to make, so I would hope all this is taken into consideration.” RGA

Christmas in Colchester Donʼt forget that in the run up to Christmas you can park for just 50 pence after 3pm on Wednesday late night shopping days at the following car parks: Priory Street car park, Britannia car park, Vineyard Street car park, St Johns multi-story, St Marys multi-story and 50p all day on 27th and 28th December so you donʼt have to miss those sales bargains.

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All Lit Up Twenty years to the exact week that I first moved to Colchester, I made my return to North Essex in October of 2010. I met my partner as a fresh undergraduate (a very fresh undergraduate...) during my first night on campus back in 1990. Three glorious years at Wivenhoe Park followed, seventeen or so years in London. Now we find ourselves back in North Essex. Blimey.

I walked through the town the other evening and was delighted to see that at long last Colchester now has Christmas lights befitting our historic town. The theme, based on the townʼs association with the “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” nursery rhyme, features shooting stars and the lights were designed and supplied by Blachere Illuminations who specialise in festive lighting all over the world including the Champs Elysée in Paris and Regent Street in London. Not only are the lights great to look at but they are also environmentally friendly and use less power than an electric oven.

Shopping Centres, the Church and Colchester Borough Council. Chair of the Group, Michelle Reynolds said: “Colchesterʼs a great place to live, work, shop and visit and thatʼs the message we want to promote - we want the locals to embrace the town this year, shop locally and support the festive activities - we want people to tell their friends and encourage people to visit and spend some time here. We also hope the businesses of Colchester will fully support and embrace the festive opportunities and help us make this year special.” Colchester 101 says “Well done”.

Christmas in Colchester is being coordinated by the Colchester Christmas Group, which includes retailers through the Colchester Retail & Business Association (CoRBA), Destination Colchester, Culver Square & Lion Walk

101 Factoid: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was written in a house in West Stockwell Street by sisters Jane and Ann Taylor circa 1796.

Colchester Carnival is Back For many years Colchesterʼs carnival was the highlight of the townʼs year, attracting over 40,000 spectators, 3,000 performers and 150 floats during its pinnacle in the 1980ʼs. Unfortunately increasing costs and administration brought the carnival to an end in 1999. Revived briefly in 2009, the new event soon ran into trouble this year, so a suitable organisation was sought to ensure a more stable future for this historic institution. A public meeting was held at which Colchester Round Table put forward their proposal. This was supported by all present and it was agreed they will run the Carnival next year. There is much work yet to be done as planning is still in the early stages, but a date in mid July

2011 has been pencilled in for the street procession to take place in the late afternoon /early evening. Other planned events will also be take place throughout the day and into the evening. Colchester Round Table hope to receive approval from the police in the next few weeks for the proposed route, at which point the plans for the carnival will be published. Then, working with community groups, the look of the carnival will be decided, along with the make up of the street procession and the distribution of money raised by the event. It promises to be a great day for the town. For updates and information visit the official Colchester Carnival 2011 website www.colchestercarnival.com

And so whatʼs behind giving up the bright lights of the West End for the bright lights of Queen Street? A possible mid-life crisis, a probable quest to find a more peaceful lifestyle, plus a genuine love of living in Colchester and the surrounds. We came close to relocating up to the Lake District. I wanted remoteness, but not that remote. You canʼt underestimate the near perfect geographical location Colchester benefits from. The coast is only a short bike ride away, and London life less than an hour out of North Station. I know which option will be holding more appeal to me after seventeen years of London living.

The past couple of months have been spent rediscovering Colchester. Much has changed in our two decades away, but reassuringly, the spirit and friendliness of the local folk seems to remain. The whole Hythe redevelopment has passed us by. “Darling - theyʼve knocked down the Colchester Lathe factory and only gone and built a bloody Tescos!” Given the size of the huge superstore out towards Greenstead thereʼs probably a whole lathe aisle located within. Layer Road football ground has been lost. I like the name of the Community Stadium, and only hope that the genuine community around the Uʼs has managed to make the move along to the edges of the A12. Do they still sing “Roy McDonoughʼs blue and white army?” Iʼm very much the new boy around these parts, but Iʼm meeting plenty of interesting people. Simple household tasks such as arranging for a plumber, an electrician and a handyman to come round (we had a hat trick of bad luck) has opened up some fascinating tales on Colchester life. My experience of London tradesmen is usually centred on the bill; their Colchester counterparts come across as an extension of the Essex Tourist Board. Weʼve actually had a busier social life over the past two months in Essex than the past two years in London. Itʼs a bit of a drag to make the trip from South London to North London to watch a play or go to a gig. In a more intimate town the appearance of a recognised name at the Arts Centre gets you out and about. If Dick Gaughan has an interest in Sunny Colchester on a Monday night, then I have an interest in heading out to see him perform. And so almost two decades after my first North Essex adventure, Iʼm once again having a wonderful experience second time around. The double-headed student beast of booze ʻn books made it an insular approach back in the day. Colchester has so much to offer and explore - and I donʼt mean just the SU bar either. If you enjoy reading Jasonʼs Colchester 101 column then check out his blog: onionbagblog.com

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Colchester 101 Colchester’s Access All Areas Magazine December 2010. www.Colchester101.co.uk

The Jason Cobb 101 Blog


When the Soldiers are Away Major Jon White is the 16 Air Assault Brigade Welfare Officer and was asked about the support available to the families of those deployed within the Colchester Garrison. Firstly I would like to thank all the people of Colchester for the support they have been giving to the Brigade during this testing time. The Army support comes in many forms so what I will do is single out some elements of the support services that we have available. To list it all would fill this magazine, and then some! I will just give you a taste of what support is available. Whilst most of 16 Air Assault Brigade are deployed to Afghanistan they leave behind their families who are supported by their Unit Welfare Teams of about 8 people. The trained, qualified and experienced welfare team is there to support the family group. The estate that is home to many of these families has two schools as well as its own Post Office and supermarket. The patch, as it is called within the service, also contains a church, a club, and a playgroup. In short it is its own self contained village having its own Royal Military Police, ordinary Police as well as Community Support Officers.

In Depth Support: The support for the families extends to Youth Clubs, Army Welfare Service and a HIVE. The HIVE This supports the families by provision of information to those who have just arrived on base as well as those who have been resident for some time. This key information office is best summed up in the words of Suzanne Calvert who runs the HIVE – “you ask - we answer. Support from the HIVE comes in many ways such as assisting families in sending the famous e-bluey / fax letter to Afghanistan. These electronic letters are sent from Colchester and are downloaded in Afghanistan within 24 hours.” The HIVE is an information centre and includes internet facilities as well as being an informal meeting place. Youth Club The Youth Club supports the young people who are sons and daughter of soldiers as well as young people who can visit the Youth Club from the local area. It is open at different times allowing differing age groups to take advantage of the fantastic facility. Army Welfare Service The same complex where the

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Youth Club is located houses the Army Welfare Service who support families on more in depth issues when these need addressing. This can range from financial assessment, general advice to introduction to legal advice and counselling. In civilian speak they are a supercharged Citizens Advice Bureau. Padres Working alongside the welfare teams are Padres who again are very experienced and can give pastoral care to families. A Padreʼs life is always busy as he supports faith and faith activities across the board. Never Alone The readers will see that being an Army wife does not mean you are alone when your partner is away, rather it means the Regimental Family will support you as needed. This can range from group lunches to days out at Colchester Zoo or the Christmas Pantomime thanks to local support. Visits to Santaʼs grotto are almost compulsory at this time of the year. The Unit Welfare Teams support the family group. Even shopping trips to Tesco, who support Treats for Troops, are organised. Care is taken to ensure that wives get down time from their children by

provision of such things as female orientated comedy nights. The first of these kicked off in November with Maureen Younger, Wendy Ivers and Vikki Stone opening up at The Musket Club. Although the audience was small this increased almost 100% to just under a hundred attending to hear the Comediennes Tiff Stevenson and Jo Enright with Vikki Stone who was called back to repeat her success from the previous visit. It is a fact that laughter releases endorphins that are good for the body allowing you to deal with worry. This worry is real and although the army system of support is tried and tested one of the ways of dealing with this worry is to laugh and laughter is always good medicine.

The comedy nights will

continue until the Brigade is back and at that point the welfare support will change to reintegrating families back together following the enforced separation. I hope I have given you a feel of the support we give our families and I can assure you there is a lot lot more I have not yet mentioned. Jon White


Colchester 101 Colchester’s Access All Areas Magazine December 2010. www.Colchester101.co.uk

The Christmas Gifts That Keep on Giving By Andrew Ross, Nicenstripy

Today, gardening is one of the most popular leisure pursuits in Britain. Unlike a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates, which may not last longer than Boxing Day, a gardening related gift will give pleasure for much longer. So here’s a round up of some holiday gift ideas to suit all budgets: Marie Curie, whose logo is of course the daffodil, has a selection of gifts on sale via their website. Their daffodil shaped padded garden kneeler for and funky daffodil wellies, will add a splash of brightness to anyoneʼs Christmas Day, naturally all profits go to charity. www.mariecurie.org.uk

The Afghanistan Trust is dedicated to assisting wounded members of the Regiment, their families and the families of those who have been killed.

Registered Charity Number 1121647

The Garden Centre chain is a great one stop shop for all things garden. The book ʻPerfect Plant, Perfect Placeʼ by Roy Lancaster offers expert advice for choosing indoor and outdoor plants. On a local theme the Beth Chatto ʻShade Gardenʼ book gives ideas on planting to suit a shaded area, using photographs from the Beth Chatto garden near Colchester. Our favourite garden tool range is by Joseph Bentley. The stainless steel tools range in price from £7.99 to £29.99. These tools have beautiful wooden grainy handles and really do look the business. Local branches of the Garden Centre can be found near Sudbury. www.gardenboutique.co.uk stocks a diverse range of gifts and are as ethical and environmentally friendly as possible in their packaging. We like the Matchstick Garden range as an ideal stocking filler. Each pack comes with ten match sticks of mixed seeds and there are four varieties to choose from; Wild Flowers, Italian Garden, Mixed Herbs and Mixed Greens. At £2.50 per variety this makes growing your own easy peasy! For vegetable gardeners looking to keep track of their seedlings then hand painted vegetable plant markers are ideal at £9.95 per set of four. Not strictly a gardening gift, but we couldnʼt resist including a fun bird feeder made completely of bird seed in the shape of a bungee jumper complete with bungee cord for £8.95. That beats unwrapping another pair of socks this Christmas Day!

Corporal Stu Hale was a sniper operating from Kajaki Dam, when he walked into an unmarked minefield whilst moving to a forward position and lost his right leg. After treatment he returned to duty with the battalion. As section commander, Stu Pearson was involved in the same

incident when he lost his left leg above the knee and seriously injured his right leg. After rehabilitation he returned to work in 3 PARA. Both Cpl Stu Hale and Stu Pearson benefited from support from the Trust including funding of deposits for Motability.

For further information regarding assistance or fundraising contact Craig Treeby: ceo@afghanistantrust.org

www.AfghanistanTrust.org

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Peter Sherlock’s

ScentTrain Bid TV and Price Drop TV’s resident expert gives his regular lowdown on fragrances for both men and women, old and new, good and bad. With some special Festive gift ideas this month. Christmas is coming, and the goose is getting fat. And come January, I shall probably have to loosen my waistband a little too. But, itʼs just not just the geese and poor turkeys that are getting bigger - it really is a magical time of the year for fragrance purchases as every company falls over itself to entice you to buy their limited release box sets (or ʻcoffretsʼ as the industry calls them). What I love about these is the addition of that something extra – a body cream or shower gel. “Ancillary products”, another industry insider term for you. It really is wonderful to bathe or moisturize with top quality products containing your favourite scent. Total luxury! Thereʼs such a great choice out there, where do I begin? Probably with the grande dame of fragrance, Estee Lauder, a benchmark of quality that we often find ourselves overlooking. I love all of her fragrances. Honestly. From the Coca-cola brightness of Youth Dew to the clean fresh notes of Pleasures; from the classic Private Collection to the wonderful tropical fantasy that is Beyond Paradise... All unique, all brilliant. And lots of gift sets to choose from. The Marc Jacobsʼ Daisy gift set is great value at £45 (RRP). It not only contains the 50ml EDT, (in one of the most charming bottle designs ever) but luxury treats in the form of the body lotion and bath/shower gel. The scent itself is a charmingly pretty floral which actually

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lasts. Highly recommended. By the time you read this, Christina Aguilera will be a major film star with the release of her movie “Burlesque”, where she shares the limelight with the legend that is Cher. Well, I hope so. The girl has talent and chutzpah and I rather like her fragrances too. They are aimed at younger girls, and smell accordingly. The Christina Aguilera Royal Desire gift set (RRP - £20) contains the deliciously fruity fragrance in the form of the 30ml EDP plus a body lotion and a fantastic bag. Great for two ten pound notes! And, for the fellas in your life? One of the greatest menʼs releases of recent years has to be Terre dʼHermes – bright grapefruit against rich woods and a unique ʻflintyʼ quality created by the master perfumer JeanClaude Ellena. Thereʼs a gift set available containing the 100ml EDT as well as a handy portable 13 ml EDT spray plus the aftershave balm. Itʼs pricey at around £60 but SO worth it. Aramis has been a firm favourite since the late sixties. Itʼs a wonderfully rich masculine in the classic tradition, resolutely solid, handsome, and broad-shouldered! The gift set (RRP £34) with the addition of a full-size deodorant spray makes this the perfect present for a man who wants to smell like... well, a man! Giorgio Armaniʼs Aqua di Gio (RRP £45) is a truly superb fragrance has been an enduring success for nearly two decades. It smells of

sunny days, drinks on the terrace in Palermo, and of a casually dressed playboy with an affable manner. The set includes a luxury shower gel and a soothing after shave balm makes this the complete modern manʼs grooming experience. I wore it for years, and will again. A true modern classic and an example of Armaniʼs mantra that “less is more.” Oh, and if youʼre planning to get your shopping done online, you could do a lot worse than head to Debenhams.com. At The Scent Train we believe they have the easiest website to navigate, and that they make a genuine effort to classify fragrances in a way that makes them easy to understand. See you in January. Have a wonderful festive time. Donʼt forget to smell gorgeous!

You can also find plenty of fragrance bargains and loads more besides at Bid TV and Price-Drop TV. Peter is Managing Director of The Scent Train, a THE unique organisation SCENT that provides TRAIN fragrance sales videos for online retailers and creates bespoke staff training courses.

www.TheScentTrain.com


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Colchester 101 Colchester’s Access All Areas Magazine December 2010. www.Colchester101.co.uk

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Story of a TV Garden Makeover by Sven Wombwell

“Arghhhhh, don’t they know we are trying to build a garden???”

Photo: www.nickstrugnell.com

It all begins with a delivery from the postman. Inside the package is a DVD interview with the home owner, some photos of a garden and a few measurements (usually taken by a runner that has no idea of how to do it) and that is all I have to go on. Then pen goes to paper and a design is born.

Often it is a very over ambitious and grand plan involving decking, stainless steel and glass. The design is submitted to the producers of the show who hum and ha about it, saying “Oh no, that will cost far too much … you can do the deck, but that only leaves £200 for plants.” I then get in touch with the researchers with a list of suppliers and beg them to find what I need, and they get on the phone and on the blag. Now, the job of a researcher requires a cold face, a stone heart and is not for the weak-willed, but they do an amazing job, somehow convincing the glass and steel suppliers to donate what I want for the garden in exchange for a tiny web link, and the full grand plan is back on track. The day of the makeover approaches and I get about 1,000 panic stricken phone calls and emails from the office about deliveries, materials and tools, all of which are well in hand. Then my hire van arrives and off I go. I pick up my mate Fil, who is well versed on TV garden madness. Together over the years we have become a well-oiled makeover machine. We usually get on set around 7am, set up a few tools out of shot and then twiddle our thumbs while the TV crew get interviews with the home owner, sad stories of their lives and the obligatory before shots of the

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garden. This often takes at least until 11am, by which time half the day has gone, and we then have to produce a minor miracle and build a garden in six hours. On set there is usually me and Fil, a garden ʻhelperʼ and the homeowner all charged with creating Eden from a dump site. Off we go stripping lawns ... piece to camera ... building decks ... piece to camera ... laying paving ... piece to camera ... piece to camera ... piece to camera ... Arghhhhh, donʼt they know we are trying to build a garden??? The battle between making a garden on our part and a TV show on the producerʼs part may be very different but by the end of the day somehow we have done it and built an amazing garden….for want of a better expression we have made a pigʼs ear into a silk purse! The grand reveal is filmed, the tears flow, and the day ends, just before it gets too dark to do anything. That is how it goes, and over the past eight years we have done over 200 of these gardens. I have to say that despite what Iʼve said every single one of them has been a pleasure. It may well be seen as “cheap” telly, but what we do is not simply build gardens but genuinely make a difference to peoples lives all over the country, and even though it might have its frustrations to me itʼs the best job in the world.


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Colchester 101 Colchester’s Access All Areas Magazine December 2010. www.Colchester101.co.uk

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Once Upon a Time in Colchester...

...there was a young punk band called The Lepers. Now, rock music fashions are very much like the breeze your mother always warned you about: “If you make that face, the wind will change and you’ll get stuck that way.” Our boys found that they’d missed the punk bus by a couple of minutes. Luckily, they had the good sense to go home and get changed. Shortly afterwards, they re-emerged as a New Wave artrock band called Modern English. In 1980, when Manchester’s Factory Label were leading the way with their front runners, Joy Division, a very hip new London label called 4AD signed the struggling young Colchester band. After a couple of well-reviewed singles and a John Peel session, they became indie press darlings. A debut album, Mesh and Lace followed and then in spring of 1982, its rather more futuristic follow up, After The Snow was released. By now, Modern English were being compared favourably to bands like Simple Minds. America tumbled for them. Suddenly, they’d sold half a million albums. This was a serious business. The band moved to America. The album’s flagship single, I Melt With You was featured heavily in the 1983 rom-com Valley Girl. It was Nicholas Cage’s, first big film and Modern English never looked back. Modern English’s singer and co-founder Robbie Grey is, briefly, back in the UK. Your correspondent here and Robbie know each other slightly. Our mums, in fact, probably knew each other better, having both been ATS old girls (WW2

women soldiers) who eventually found out that their sons were in a similar trade. This is why, at some point in the spring, Robbie and I will be sitting down together for a good catch up and trying to ascertain what happened to the past 30 years. In the meantime, he told me that the reformed Modern English have just finished touring the States and that they will be embarking upon European and American tours next spring and summer. More importantly, they’ll also be playing at Colchester Arts Centre next year date to be announced. Robbie and I only had a short time for a yarn but some fascinating questions arose such as: “What does it feel like to be playing The Ritz in New York and to suddenly see Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and John Entwistle all watching you from the balcony?” I’ll also be pumping him for the story about a certain guileless young local musician called Nel (now with New Model Army) who upon touring the States with Modern English for the first time, wasn’t quite smart enough to run for the dressing room and found himself caught by a mob of teenage girls. “They were hanging off him like spiders.” laughed Robbie. “He didn’t know what was happening.” It does make me think: Colchester goes quietly about its business for years and then, somewhere out there, its native sons who are more often than not scruffy kids playing in sheds occasionally conquer the world. Colchester, so much to answer for, to paraphrase Manchester’s most famous band. The local papers can only give you so much of the story. Colchester 101 will fill in the missing details. Watch this space.

By Martin Newell

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“The Legendary Gilly” By Simon Crow We had never actually met before, which is surprising as we have both spent almost all our lives in the same town and spent many an evening in the same bars and clubs. However, within minutes of getting together for this interview Gilly and I are talking about old times, the places we used to go, and the people we both know. We also discover we have many friends and acquaintances in common.

The Venue Gilly is somewhat of a legend in this town of ours so, somewhere amongst all the reminiscing, I endeavour to learn a little more about his DJing career which has spanned almost three decades since he started out at the former Boadicea pub on Headgate (now the Fox and Fiddler) with former DJ partner Choc in 1982. Back then he was playing a heady mix of jazz funk, soul, new romantic and techno with the occasional Ramones or Sex Pistols track thrown in for good measure.

being great people to work for, and The Venue being the place to be at the time, made it an amazing place, the DJ says.

Sunday at their jazz funk and soul nights. “I didnʼt DJ there often, mostly I was a punter like everyone else”.

There are so many more bars and clubs to choose from in Colchester on a Friday or Saturday night these days.

“Everyone who was anyone in Colchester would be there and we had some great nights. They were very happy times.”

We reflect again about times past.

Gone are the times when we would have to venture out to Guines Court in Tolleshunt DʼArcy, or the Tartan House in Frating, to hear some good tunes. We both agree though that with more choice comes a shift in culture. “People were more into the music back then but now drinking has become a bigger factor.

A few weeks ago Gilly finished an incredible eleven year residency at Twisters Bar on North Hill, having arrived there via the nearby Times Bar (now the Noodle Bar). This was a period when a whole new generation fell in love with his eclectic mixes.

“Music will always be here but now you have all the X Factor and all the wannabe television shows... music and fashion was rawer and it was a pleasure to go out looking different, being a punk, a mod, a new romantic...”

“I brought music to Twisters and had a great time over the years, but the time has come to move on to something new,” he explains. That ʻsomething newʼ is his three nights a week residency at Robertoʼs on Crouch Street. Gilly plans to take it easy for the first few weeks to get a feel for the place and let people hear about what heʼs doing there then, after Christmas, heʼs going to step up a gear or two.

The Works

To Gilly it will always be about the music.

“At Robertoʼs Iʼve been given the opportunity to go back to my roots, so Iʼm really looking forward to playing some jazz funk and soul to an older crowd. “I know it will be hard at first, but next year I want to change it and get some younger people in there too and have a nice mixed crowd who appreciate the music Iʼm going to be playing.

A private party somewhere “Nobody told us what to play,” says Gilly,” so we played what we wanted”. Talking to Gilly it becomes clear that his fondest memories are of his ʻRare Groove Sceneʼ stint during the mid 80ʼs at The Venue, now Curve Bar, on East Hill. “People would be eating Mexican food downstairs and Iʼd be playing ambient tunes in the background, then at 11pm weʼd go upstairs and get the party started.”. Gilly recalls Tony and Sian, the owners,

“I want to make Robertoʼs into an established music bar, but you have to have focus and a vision, and work hard to make it happen”. For some reason, I have no doubt that Gilly will do exactly that. It becomes clearer as we talk where Gillyʼs deepest musical taste lies. “I love all kinds of music, in the past Iʼve been a punk, a MOD, a new romantic, I even listen to some classical music”. But when asked to narrow it down to a genre or two the answer comes quickly - “Jazz funk and soul”. It was back in the ʼ80s at the Embassy Suite on Balkerne Hill, now a Chinese restaurant, that Gilly spent many a

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Colchester 101 Colchester’s Access All Areas Magazine December 2010. www.Colchester101.co.uk

I Hate it When They Call me


RAGING BULL CHRISTMAS CRACKER If you are looking for an alternative Christmas party, check out the Raging Bull Christmas Cracker for the best original live music in Colchester, at the Soundhouse, the Bull, Crouch Street on Thursday 16 December from 8.30pm. This monthʼs headliners are the remarkable Marner Brown, signed to Road Warrior entertainment, and come to Raging Bull after triumphant sets at Glastonbury and supporting Indie heroʼs Ocean Colour Scene.

real thought has gone in to the arrangement. This in turn creates a unique style that is dynamic and contemporary. Grolsch, the beer company have also spotted something special in Marner Brown, as they commissioned the band to produce a track for their latest cinema advertising campaign. The track “open road” has a huge dirty bass line and driving retro guitars.

Marner Brownʼs tour has seen them play at Proud in London, the Dry Bar in Manchester and Riverside, in Newcastle with Twisted Wheel and they have chosen Raging Bull for the Essex leg of the tour.

Marner Brown also clearly understand the changing landscape of the music industry and the need to think outside the box when it comes to promotion and commercial viability. They are embracing commercial relationships with sponsors such as Lee Cooper and Quicksilver, and recently played a gig at Google HQ.

Marner Brown describe themselves “as taking the baton of Great British no nonsense guitar bands and running with it,” there is a real sense of energy and urgency with their sound, their songs are expertly crafted and delivered.

I hope that other bands take heed with this example as working closely with businesses may be a way to replace the earnings bands would have made from record sales, now replaced and of course heavily reduced by downloads.

The lyrics and harmonies have room to breathe, as you the get the impression that

You can see Marner Brown video for their current single “Dirty Weekend” and also the

14

The Fins

Grolsch ad, via the Raging Bull Youtube channel www.youtube.com/user/ragingbulltv. Playing alongside Marner Brown will be The Fins, from Farnborough, the are promoting their new album “And when you get to the end…” The Fins live show has been described as having “thunderous drive” and being “gritty and fierce.” The Raging Bull is hosted by Colchesterʼs The 633. The 633 have recently finished filming the video for the track “looking up and under” as part of the Music video competition Pro-Mo Colchester. Raging Bull November Last month, saw the biggest Raging Bull event with Angry VS The Bear, CAV OK, Freaky Age! and The 633 delivering monster sets to a packed-out Soundhouse, the highlights are also available on YouTube! For more information about The Raging Bull, please call Craig Fookes on 01206 752108, email: the633@live.co.uk or visit www.theragingbull.co.uk


Filmmakers are often looking for ways to get videos on the internet, and work with others especially musicians. Musicians are in need of videos to promote themselves online if they want recognition. It can be hard to find these people if you donʼt already know any and Pro-Mo aims to be the source that allows for easy collaboration.

Pro-Mo is a new initiative that has been launched in Colchester by Sébastien Daniell in association with Signals Media Arts Centre.

Séb says “As proven by the success of the recent Colchester Free Festival there are a lot of creative artists out there. Given my normal duties of drumming in ʻThis Blank Pageʼ Iʼve gotten to know the local music scene a lot better. It wasnʼt until I started my job at Signals I realised there was another creative community waiting to be introduced.” In October top music video director Chris Cottam and producer Lucy Booth came to Colchester to share their knowledge and experience about the industry.

Armed with examples of their work including videos by Ellie Goulding, Friendly Fires and Nelly Furtado, they provided an insightful look at their day to day roles and fully support the idea behind Pro-Mo. Pro-Mo launched with a competition to make a music video with or for a band. Signals offered special discount rates on equipment hire for anyone who entered the competition. On 11th December an event called Pro-Mo: Sessions will happen at Slack Space in Colchester. The idea of the event is to have an evening of live music from local musicians with the opportunity to show music videos made my local filmmakers. Hopefully this will allow the public to be aware of the creative talent around Colchester and to spur further collaboration between filmmakers and bands. Acts are still being organised but

so far we have ʻThis Blank Pageʼ, ʻThe 633ʼ and ʻBenjamin Bloomʼ confirmed. The night will be free entry so there is no excuse for not coming! HMV were told about the idea in September and are generously offering a goodie bag of prizes to the winning video due to be judged by a special panel of judges including charting indie rock band ʻEverything Everythingʼ. Sébastien mentions “Weʼre still looking for any businesses that want to sponsor the competition or be a part of our final event. This should be another exciting opportunity for the community to show the rest of the country what weʼre made of.” For more information go to www.promocolchester.co.uk and or contact Séb directly on sebastien@signals.org.uk

ITE uk WEBS nimcity.co. e d . www .co.uk EMAIL imcity n e d info@ HONE TELEP 3475 56 01206 , hester c l o C , e ld Lan 1a-1c E O1 1LS. C Essex

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Colchester 101 Colchester’s Access All Areas Magazine December 2010. www.Colchester101.co.uk

Promoting Local Bands


An

American DJ is interviewing James Hunter on camera, at some point after his Grammy Award nominated album went stellar in the States: “Why do you English guys sing in American accents?” he asks. James replies that the listeners wouldn’t thank him if he sang in his native accent. To press home the point, he sings a snatch of Sam Cooke’s You Send Me in classic pub knees-up style. “There you are.” he says. “Sam Cockney.” Hunter’s story goes roughly like this: For a while in the 1970s, he lived with his mum and siblings in a small caravan in an onion field in Thorrington. He listened mostly to old rock’n’roll records on a Dansette given to him by his gran. Then he attended Monkwick School and grew up in Colchester. Round about the mid 1980s, by now in his early twenties, he formed a rootsy little R&B band, and jokingly called himself Howlin’ Wilf. People, however, took him seriously. He was good. In the midst of all those Flocks of Seagulls, power-dressers and great big stadium gestures, he actually had a wonderful little club band, the VeeJays, for anyone who preferred to take the road less-travelled. He regularly returned to his hometown and even stormed the Wivenhoe May Fair a couple of times. He also made a record or two.

loudly. Later on, down on his luck, whilst dragging fertiliser sacks from a van in a West London street, he met the playwright again. Pinter remembered him and was nice to him. Also, along the way, he met Van Morrison. Van liked him so much that he didn’t even have him wrapped, just took him home. He ended up in a band touring with Morrison and Georgie Fame. He went to America and met Jimmy Witherspoon, John Lee Hooker and Alan Toussaint. He made another record. It was a hit. The Americans liked it. People Gonna Talk was up there in the top ten best albums of 2006. Back in Blighty, even Terry Wogan played a track. Then, instead of the usual blarney, Wogan gave the run-out groove of the record a mystified, respectful silence, saying quietly: “...and that was James Hunter.” Jools Holland has featured James on the Later show - twice. Almost the entire UK music industry now knows who he is and loves him. Except for the general public - who are busy being sonically anaesthetised by Jedward and Subo. As Roger the Dodger might have said: “Top dodge, hey, readers?” Ho ho. Now for a slap up feed.

Jools Holland,

has featured

James

Later show -

on the

twice.

Somewhere along the line, he got a part in a rather overlooked Brit-gangster film, Mojo, in which he played a band leader. He met Harold Pinter, who was starring in the film. He was ticked off by a still-in-character Pinter, for playing his music back too

16

I’ll call James Hunter ‘Wilf’ from here on in, as everyone in Colchester who remembers him from the old days myself included - will know him by that name. Wilf and I touch on the subject of the X- Factor: “You mean, Smashed Dignity Showcase?” he laughs, “Stuart Maconie called it that.” I tell Wilf that they should put a line at the end of each show saying: “No real artistes were hurt in the making of this programme.” I also tell Wilf that I still think it’s a great format. I

The Return of Sam Cockney, The James Hunter Story By Martin Newell


Even within its

soul

influences, James Hunter’s music is nobody’s but his own.

Photo by Perry Hunstman

17

Colchester 101 Colchester’s Access All Areas Magazine December 2010. www.Colchester101.co.uk

mean, you get the audience back in Brighton with a up on the stage. You award bassist and drummer to play them points for the most at a friend’s wedding. mediocre performances. You get a small cartel of successSomewhere above a dancing ful business executives to run throng, Wilf was on a tiny the thing and then give the stage playing a guitar solo. watching public only that He was really tearing it up, which they already know. ragging the R&B song around Despite the protestations of like Jack Russell does with an the Handwringing Classes, old sock in the garden. Not you don’t actually humiliate widdly-widdly guitar heroics anyone. You simply let them but something maybe more humiliate themselves. No like Ike Turner at his best. In victims, only volunteers. the middle of it all, Wilf Brilliant. Ker-ching! And peeled off a lick, which I while England’s still slopping recognised as Colonel Bogey, around in the kitchen, in the military band tune. pink fluffy mules and a tatty Hilarious. negligee, mesmerised by the telly, James Hunter’s out on John Cooper Clarke, a conthe drive in a shark-finned noisseur of such things, will Cadillac, bipping on the tell you, absolutely sincerely, horn like a that Wilf is the dream date. best guitarist And they’re he’s ever heard. still not This is all withunimpeachable out even menready. Britain’s got tioning his talent? Britain’s voice. You can’t got cloth ears, pin it down to more like. anything, really. Sure the oftTalent, you made comparunderstand isons with Sam isn’t just the Cooke may inate ability to apply a little. do a thing. Given a blind It’s the ability to test, though, I’d realise it, to have probably improve it, and then guessed at Lee Dorsey in his maintain the quality of that Working In A Coalmine talent, in many locations period. Asked to put a timeand in all kinds of adverse frame on his music, I’d have circumstances. I concluded maybe said it came out of some time ago that Wilf must hip black America, somehave practised an awful lot where between ‘55 and ‘65? when he was younger. Over all shiny suits and stingythe 24 years since I first met brims. In truth though, even him, there have been a series within its unimpeachable of sudden dawnings for me soul influences, James about his musical ability. Hunter’s music is nobody’s Round at Captain Sensible’s, but his own. These are perenfor instance, in Brighton in nial sounds which, as he will ‘86. The Captain was asking tell you himself, “can still where he could get a make girls dance.” It’s very harmonica session player. modern actually. Wilf who just happened to be visiting some people in a I still possess a cassette demo house over the road, says, with two of his joke songs on “Oh, I can play a bit.” And he it, which, years ago, Wilf gave plays this solo. Prior to that me. One of the songs extolls I’d only ever heard two the virtues of lard. The blokes play the gob-iron as other’s called B***** Me well as that. One of them was Buttocks For Christmas. Both called Rory McCleod and the were lovingly demoed in other was a bloke called American doo-wop style. Stevie Wonder. Very wrong. A few years on, Wilf arrived Very funny.


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Photo courtesy of GO Records


Business I.T. Solutions & Services Wilf, a self-possessed, humorous man with a slight feline quality about his eyes, is actually a quarter Burmese. His dad’s Eurasian family left Burma in the early 1940s, when the Japanese invaded. They went to India. When, a few years later, India chucked the Brits out, the family came to England. There’s a picture (below left) of James Huntsman, Wilf’s dad, with his Wilf’s gran and auntie sitting outside a long-demolished old house which once stood behind Colchester’s George Hotel. It was taken in about 1954, Wilf reckons.

Dixon Line” he tells them “Except that we have a decent caff there.”

Disaster Recovery Planning About 18 years ago, Wilf turned up at a gig which I was doing in Crouch End. He brought the 1960s singer, Duffy Power with him. We went back to Duffy’s afterwards, where the veteran rocker told us scandalous stories about being on the coach with Larry Parnes Stable of Stars in The early Sixties. One well-known young star, when approached in his hotel room, rebuffed the entrepreneur’s lecherous

I could have gone to Eton Instead of a comprehensive But at least you don’t get beaten And it’s considerably less expensive The family emigrated to Australia in 1970, when Wilf was eight years old. Deeply homesick - especially his mum - they returned to Colchester in 1972. Alice Cooper was on TV and a pouting parade of brickies in bacofoil had taken over the pop charts. Wilf spent the time listening to his gran’s Frankie Laine records. Of Colchester now, Wilf admits to a nostalgia for the place: “Every street corner grabs hold of me when I come back.” he says wistfully. And then he brightens and asks me, “Did you know that Lee Marvin’s great grandfather came from Great Bentley?” I confess that I didn’t. “I’ve written a poem about my old school, too.” he adds.

I could have gone to Eton Instead of a comprehensive But at least you don’t get beaten And it’s considerably less expensive Asked about his music style, whenever he’s in America, he explains to them that in his native country, the north-south difference is reversed. “The Watford Gap is our version of the Mason

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advances by hitting Parnes over the head with a heavy bedside lamp. Another one had once gone up to the back of the tour coach and outraged the backing musicians by waving parts of his anatomy around at them. These were the printable stories. Wilf knows all these people, you see. James Hunter came home to Colchester last month and played the Twist - the Oliver Twist as once was. It was the last gig for now. He and his band are taking some time off, before going back into the studio to do a follow up album to The Hard Way (2008). I get the feeling that he’s looking forward to the time off. He says that he writes songs slowly and reflects that after twentyfive years in the business, it’s only comparatively recently that he’s been able to support a household. And don’t a few of us know that story? You may, of course, still be glued to the telly watching the National Karaoke. But if you do want to hear James Hunter, please take your time. He’s going to be around for a good while, yet. www.jameshuntermusic.com

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Colchester 101 Colchester’s Access All Areas Magazine December 2010. www.Colchester101.co.uk

GRANITE COMPUTER SOLUTIONS


The DIY Home Studio Part 1 – Let There Be Light

Photographic equipment is expensive, but do you need to purchase vast swathes of equipment to create high quality imagery? No, with a little bit of improvisation, setting up a home studio need not mean maxing out the credit card. There are plenty of subjects that can be shot in the home – still life imagery to go on your wall, or on personalised Christmas cards, portraits of family and friends, or maybe ʻproductʼ shots of items you wish to sell on ebay. Over the next three issues Iʼll be giving you some simple ideas of how you can use everyday household items in place of expensive equipment and still achieve professional-looking results. Windows Windows provide a lovely sidelight that is ideal for portraits and other subjects. The larger the window the more light there is (obviously), and the softer it is (less obvious). Soft light is generally most flattering for portraiture, especially portraits of women. Make a note of which windows in your home get direct light at different times of day, so you can plan your shoot accordingly. If the light is still a bit too harsh for your subject, try hanging up a net curtain or two to diffuse the light.

20

Lamps Whilst ceiling lights are not usually much use to photographers, lamps on stands can provide directional light. Angle-poise lamps in particular can be useful for things like still life / tabletop photography, because you can angle the light to bring out subtle detail and / or colour. Generally speaking, frontal light saturates colour, whilst light from the side brings out detail. Be sure to set your white balance to the appropriate setting (probably tungsten if youʼre using a regular light bulb) otherwise your subject may end up an unusual colour.

Also be prepared to use wide apertures or longer exposures to cater for the weak light offered by most lamps. A tripod will come in handy for this, and I suggest fitting the most powerful bulbs your lamp can take. You could also try a high ISO setting, but that may produce a noisier image – fine for portraits you intend to convert to black and white, but otherwise to be avoided. A single angle-poise lamp with fill light from a homemade reflector lit the image below. The image was key in winning me my first significant commercial commission. Beware of mixing sunlight with tungsten lamplight. They possess quite different colour temperatures, and your cameraʼs white balance settings may only be able to deal with one or the other – resulting in a reddish or bluish colour cast on parts of the image (depending on the white balance setting). Next Month: When a single light source is just not enough… Adrian Multon is a freelance photographer based in Wivenhoe. He provides high quality imagery for local businesses. Adrian also offers group and 1-2-1 photographic tutoring and image editing workshops. See www.adrianmulton.co.uk for details.


My Life With Miss Berta By Andrew Dell When I finally ʻtook ownershipʼ of Berta, it felt somewhat akin to a dodgy drug deal. Well, what I imagine a drug deal would feel like… A few hundred pounds was handed over in a car park and I took ʻthe goodsʼ away with me. Something that was going to bring me lots of highs. Again, please be assured that Iʼm using this analogy based purely on imagination! OK. Letʼs rewind a little. Once youʼve made the decision to welcome a dog into your life, you want her right there, curled up in a basket in front of the fire, IMMEDIATELY! But, of course, there are certain rules that you must follow. Oh, how dull. Iʼm afraid you need to do your research. What breed is going to be right for you? Can you really integrate the requirements and responsibilities of a dog into your life? Where should you look for your pup? Having a dog genuinely enriches oneʼs life. The unbridled, unconditional love. The cuddles on the sofa. The welcome when you arrive home. Choosing the right outfits for her. (OK, thatʼs a bit controversial. Weʼll discuss it next time). But itʼs not a decision to take lightly. So, where to start? Firstly, should you do the ʻright thingʼ and give a home to a rescue dog? Of course I considered this. The cavalier fashion in which many people approach dog ownership means there are lots of lovely beasts out there in desperate need of a loving home. Iʼd urge you to consider providing one. The Dogʼs Trust (www.dogstrust.org.uk) or Battersea Dogʼs Home (www. battersea.org.uk) are wonderful organisations and can help you find a dog thatʼs right for you – that needs you. Of course, people talk of potential problems when homing a ʻtroubledʼ dog. Thereʼs a lovely lady that I meet in the park who fosters for Battersea Dogʼs Home. Her latest project, ʻPenguinʼ the little mongrel

with cancer, can be very sweet but also occasionally psychotic! And sadly, she only has months to live. Such responsibilities should be left to the experienced dog lovers, I believe. But if youʼve decided on a pedigree puppy, then do that research! Get online. Find the reputable breeders. Contact breed associations. Make sure you know exactly where to go and what youʼre letting yourself in for. The Kennel Club can help. (www.thekennelclub.org.uk) Dogalog is a wonderful book by Bruce Fogle that contains over 1,000 pedigree dog portraits, each accompanied by key facts about the breed, including, temperament, grooming requirements etc. Itʼs an excellent resource for finding which breed is right for you. But as you already know, Iʼd chosen a Miniature Schnauzer and when the time came to find my ʻbabyʼ, I headed to epupz.com. I wanted a puppy that was born into a family home; that had grown up in a loving environment with children around and not in a pen in a kennels, or worse, a dreaded puppy farm. I found the ideal little girl, ʻreadyʼ in a matter of weeks. The only problem was that she was way up in Lancashire. Itʼs important that you meet your pup, see the environment into which she was born and, very importantly, see her with her brothers and sisters and her mother. So I had to fill the Polo with petrol and head north…

crumpled tail but, hey, I now think of it as one of the things that makes her unique. So, what about naming your new friend? My name had been chosen years ago. My ʻexpertʼ in the West Indies once told me that two-syllable names with a ʻhard vowelʼ in the middle are easiest for dogs to hear and remember – Pepper, Otis, Berta… But most dogs are clever little creatures and will learn their names, whatever you choose, very quickly. Of course, there are those ʻmedia typesʼ that have enjoyed the odd snort in their youths that think itʼs hilarious to call their dog ʻCharlieʼ – sometimes even their child. Groan… Thankfully, Kaye, Bertaʼs breeder, was heading South to visit friends

just as Berta was ready to come and live with me so we met in a Little Chef car park and exchanged cash for puppy. Like I said, that was the closest Iʼve ever come to a drug deal. Oh, there was that misadventure in New York but we shanʼt talk about that...

NEXT TIME: The fortuitous occasion that I was accosted by a Schnauzer expert on the street, Bertaʼs wonderful groomer, puppy parties and the thorny issue of dog clothing.

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The young lady that opened the door of her little semi was obviously a dog lover. Missy, Bertaʼs mother, greeted me in a pink t-shirt. Coincidentally, Bertaʼs father was named Bertie and he was equally friendly. Then she retrieved an enormous basket from the next room and there were suddenly eight tiny Schnauzers running around the room and leaping all over each other – and me. Berta had a little ribbon tied around her neck so I could identify her. She was active, playful but not overly-dominant. Thatʼs what youʼre supposed to look out for. Wonderful! I didnʼt spot the slightly

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Colchester 101 Colchester’s Access All Areas Magazine December 2010. www.Colchester101.co.uk

Dog About Town


View from the

Funny Farm The diary of an independent comedy promoter

Marc Lucero, an incorrigible befuddled everybloke. Dads will laugh at him. Mums will fancy him.

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Well

what a great first magazine Colchester 101 turned out to be.

A heap of them turned up at Slackspace’s last Funny Farm, giving me some emergency material - useful when one’s having a distracting and potentially embarrassing medical problem as an MC. Partly I hadn’t prepared any work due to having had a stomach bug all day. I explained to the audience I felt so ill that I didn’t even bother taking a sickie from work. Not even lazing around in my pink velour dressing gown and drowning myself in daytime TV was going to cheer me up. Having to rush to the only loo every chance I got didn’t help. My last entry in Colchester 101 seemed to be dropping more names than an Old Testament introduction, so Iʼll try to limit them this time. Firstly “One to watch for in the future” is Aaron Spalding, a 16 year old lad from Suffolk, who did his first ever set at Slackspace after attending one of my comedy workshops and stunned everyone with one of the most assured 10 minutes for a new act Iʼve ever seen. And funny, and cute (not in a “stick me on the register” way). If he sticks to comedy heʼs got huge potential. Wivenhoe Funny Farm will return, to the slightly plusher environs of the cricket club on 16th December. Acts include veteran Marc Lucero, an incorrigible befuddled everybloke. Dads will laugh at him. Mums will fancy him. This being the run up to Christmas, everything seems to be going wrong for my gigs and work at once. Itʼs as though a divine conflagration of overwork, no sleep, illness, hormones and saying “Yes” to too many things (including having relatives staying over the festive period! What was I thinking?!) has descended. This has all amassed to make me react to the sort of spanners in the works I usually shrug off with the poise of Basil Fawlty on steroids. I often have to deal with acts pulling out of gigs, sometimes at the last minute with varying levels of excuses (best one claimed she had “concussion” and then showed up at the event, doh!), but the support spot at Stanway appears to be accursed, with

Helen Keen now having apologetically cancelled due to her mistrust of the Irish transport system. I can replace her, but this is the THIRD act to beg for this particular spot and then send an excuse. If I hadnʼt printed all those posters that I havenʼt had the time to distribute and arranging media coverage, etc, it would not be so annoying. No, come to think of it, it would. Iʼve managed to find a great replacement for the spot of doom, but Iʼm not stupid enough to give their name out. Theyʼve been on telly though probably. Weʼve had to pull Decemberʼs Slackspace due to a date clash, so the next free comedy night is on 6th January. In some ways itʼs a relief to have a break, except as Iʼm performing elsewhere on the cancelled date itʼs only a break in a location sense. What with panto (Iʼm playing Jack alongside the beanstalk in Wivenhoeʼs increasingly surreal and avant garde show this January), attempting to do up the website and advertise gigs, all outside of the day job, making a wobbly corporate video, STILL trying to find a new venue for the comedy workshops and trying to rewrite the book (I am Brian from Family Guy!) Iʼm trying to reduce any further extracurricular work and only accept things where people are immediately enthusiastic and able to offer practical support. Seeing as that will never happen, Iʼll be available to book acts, run gigs, workshops or help with events only when Christmas is truly out of the way. Everyone have a lovely one!


WANT IT!

101 needs your input This is your chance to tell us what you LIKE, LOVE, LOATHE about... and WANT in Colchester that we donʼt currently have. Send 30 words or less on EACH of the following subjects to: mailus@colchester101.co.uk

LIKE about Colchester:

LIKE about Colchester:

After living here most of my life itʼs the feeling of being a part of the place.

The real feeling of community.

LOVE about Colchester: Colchester 101, Tonic Creative Solutions, Colchester United, Smiths Bar, Sloppy Joeʼs enchiladas, Chicken Jalfrezi at the Alishan.

LOVE about Colchester: Castle Park, the beautiful buildings and the sense of history.  WANT in Colchester: An out of town cinema.

LOATHE about Colchester: People who run the town down.

Joanne McCaulay

WANT in Colchester: Iʼd like to see the town marketed better as a tourist destination. 

LIKE about Colchester:

Simon Crow, Editor 

LIKE about Colchester: Weʼve got the best shopping in the area! LOVE about Colchester: The amazing history of our town. LOATHE about Colchester: The traffic problems. Come on Colchester Council, sort it out! WANT in Colchester: Primark.  Susan Burns 

LIKE about Colchester: The great variety of restaurants, bars and clubs to choose from in the town.

By building a close relationship between landlord and agent you know your investment is being well looked after at all times.

Call today on

01206 564700 Email: info@ezelet.co.uk 7a Magdalen Street, Colchester.

www.ezelet.co.uk

The history. LOVE about Colchester: This is the first town in Britain, a place of beginnings. Weʼre surrounded by wonderful heritage and beautiful countryside right on our doorsteps. LOATHE about Colchester: Thereʼs too much evidence of small town thinking. We need to play to our strengths, see our potential and make the most of our heritage and cultural assets.

RETRO CLOTHING ACCESSORIES HOMEWARES

WANT in Colchester: Above all we need a vision which puts our town on the map. York has vikings, Liverpool has the Beatles Colchester should maximise its Roman heritage, make it an asset for the town. Bill Hayton, Colchester Roman Circus Appeal.

LOVE about Colchester: Coming back to my hometown when Iʼve been away!

LIKE about Colchester:

LOATHE about Colchester: All the new flats that have been built almost everywhere you look.

LOVE about Colchester: The live music scene.

WANT in Colchester: Big name acts performing at the Weston Homes Community Stadium

Ezelet offers a stress free, fresh approach to letting your property.

Proximity to the Countryside and beautiful beaches.

LOATHE about Colchester: Traffic congestion. WANT in Colchester: Roman Heritage visitor attractions.

Gavin Wood    Mark Poulter

Revolver Retro Clothing 35a Sir Isaacs Walk, Colchester, Essex CO1 1JJ.

01206 562961

www.RevolverRetro.co.uk 23

Colchester 101 Colchester’s Access All Areas Magazine December 2010. www.Colchester101.co.uk

Like it Love it Loathe it


FOOD

By Melissa Porter

Christmas Puddings Making your own Christmas Puddings is one of those heart-warming “family traditions” you often read about. Just imagine it - a hazy dream world where your children all want to help stir the pudding and make a wish. Never mind the stark reality of hours of hard work and a mountain of washing up, just for them to argue over who gets to break the eggs! Sorry: a Porter house reality check slipped in there!

Iʼm going to share with you our closely guarded, secret family recipe. Or, rather, the deciphered scribble from the pages of a very old and tattered ʻConstance Spry Cookery Bookʼ that I sneaked out (under my coat) from my parents house over 10 years ago.

Tempted to give it a go yourself?… even if just for the satisfaction of answering with a confident “Yes, of course!” when Auntie Marion asks if you‘ve made the pudding yourself? Then read on.

I have to say the end result is truly delicious and well worth the effort. I assure you, you will not find a pudding that tastes this good on the shelf in a supermarket. You will, however, find that steaming 8 puddings for a total of 10 hours each is no mean feat. My kitchen doubled as a sauna for two days straight and I became a prisoner in my own home, just in case the water ran dry and all my hard work exploded in a Christmas time bomb!

The recipe originates from Miss Muriel Downes, once principle of the London Cordon Bleu Cookery School, with a few additions my mum thought improved the recipe over the years to make it unique and extra rib-sticking good. I tried it one year, bought loads of pudding basins, muslin cloth, half a tonne of dried fruit…you now know the routine. I soaked the fruit in a vat of brandy and set to work making puddings as gifts for my nearest and dearest.

Christmas Pudding - makes 8 x 1lb puddings. You can gift one or two to friends, perfect for pre-Christmas presents, and still have a few to store in the airing cupboard for next year. 1/2lb self-raising flour 1/2lb breadcrumbs 1lb currants 1lb sultanas 1lb raisins 1/2lb suet, finely chopped 4oz chopped candied peel 2oz chopped almonds 1 grated apple 4oz chopped glace cherries 4tbs black treacle Juice & rind of 1 orange 1tsp mixed spice 1/2 nutmeg, grated 1tsp salt 6 eggs, beaten 1/2 pint of stout 1lb dark brown sugar 3tbsp brandy

Mix all the ingredients together, you may wish to soak the dried fruit in the brandy overnight if you have the time, or the inclination. Turn into greased basins, (glass pudding bowls are best). Cover with greased proof papers and floured pudding cloths (or tin foil) with a pleat in the middle to allow for expansion whilst steaming. Tie with string, creating a handle for easy manoeuvring. Boil for 7 hours, replenishing the water when necessary. Try opening a window or two to prevent your home resembling a Turkish bath. Store in a cool dry place till Christmas. Boil for a further three hours before serving. Flame with warmed vodka at the table…it really does work better than brandy….and serve with lots of extra thick double cream.

24


In the following months, I hope to celebrate all that is good about food in our home town of Colchester. Believe me, we have much to praise.

The Corner House, in Wivenhoe, grinds to order award-winning Monmouth coffee as well as brewing Suki-loose tea. Using locally-sourced ingredients and located in the lower “old” part of the town, it also serves up fresh baguettes, paninis and tapas style plates, but with various cuisines as well as Spanish. Delicious cheese and charcuterie are also available.

I would like you to share your discoveries and efforts too. Nominate your local food hero, send us a photo of your creation using one of our recipes and we will publish the most creative one. Or your recipe ideas for ʻMum, Iʼm Hungryʼ... go on, get involved.

Food for Thought

Its quality patisserie is second to none, while a range of mouth-watering cakes and helpful, friendly staff make it an ideal venue for a coffee, lunch or early dinner.

E-mail your ideas to melissa@colchester101.co.uk

Get inspired at Food Cycle. The big idea... to bring surplus food and energetic volunteers together to fight food poverty across the UK. Food Cycle want to redirect the food waste from supermarkets and other food retailers, and use it to cook nutritious meals for people in the local community who do not have access to healthy foods. It seems to me that everyone wins. The supermarkets support the more vulnerable people in the community and cut down on their food

waste. The Council gains rent on an otherwise empty unit in the town. Volunteers, mainly the young and unemployed, gain valuable hands on experience and training, which can be easily transferred to a working environment, and the whole community benefits from access to healthy and affordable food. www.foodcycle.org.uk.

Now, in today’s busy world I realise many of you won’t have the time (or inclination!) to spend two days in your kitchen hoping not to get covered with a sudden blast of hot peel and brandy. So, if you would rather buy your Christmas Puddings I completely understand…and if you want to pass it off as your own, just stuff the box and wrapping at the bottom of your bin and no oneʼs the wiser. I promise not to tell Auntie Marion, if you promise not to tell my mum where her old Constance Spry Cookery book is. Here are five shop-bought puddings that will almost do the job of a home-made offering.

Take 5 Christmas Puddings

1 2 3 4 5

Wilkin & Sons Christmas Pudding, £5.45 (454g) Made with 27% vine fruits, peel, Tawny Marmalade and fortified with cider and brandy. Available at Guntons, Crouch Street. Huntley & Palmers Christmas Pudding £6.99 (750g) A rich Fruit Christmas Pudding, made with vine fruits, cider, candied peel and mixed spice for a traditional rich flavour. Huntley & Partners, now based in Sudbury, Suffolk. Buy online at huntleyandpalmers.com Marks and Spencer ʻClassics For Christmasʼ Christmas pudding, £5.99 (907g) A pudding packed full of plump, juicy vine fruits, with lashings of cider, sherry and rum. Great value for money. Marks & Spencerʼs Food Hall, Colchester Aldi Holly Lane connoisseur Christmas pudding £2.99 (750g) A rich fruit pudding made with walnuts, sherry, almonds, rum, brandy, cream and spices. This pudding has a nice moist texture and a very high fruit content. Great value too. Aldi, Colchester Sainsburyʼs Luxury Christmas Pudding £9.99 (1.36kg) A rich fruit pudding made with sherry, glace cherries, brandy, pecans, almonds and walnuts.Juicy, rich and alcoholic, with a clear mixture and taste of cider, sherry and brandy.  Sainsburys, Tollgate. Colchester

Coffee Shop & Café Serving breakfast, lunch, award winning Monmouth Coffee and an extensive range of loose teas.

Open 7 days a week - Evening service coming soon - Available for private parties/bookings -

Tel: 07506 992 971 www.chouse.co.uk The Corner House Café 7-9 High Street, Wivenhoe

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Colchester 101 Colchester’s Access All Areas Magazine December 2010. www.Colchester101.co.uk

A taste of the traditional American cafe has come to East Anglia - but this is no Starbucks.


Slack Folk

Slack Folk is Slack Space’s resident folk club and runs on the second Saturday of every month from 2pm until 4pm. Like so much else at Slack Space it evolved from a desire to explore new boundaries and offer esoteric yet accessible events to the community. Of course, Colchester has its folk clubs, but these tend to be evening affairs, and held at licensed premises. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it does tend to exclude younger and older people and, being established, favour those who know the circuit and are more traditional in approach. At Slack Folk there is no alcohol and no limit on who can take part, with the exception that the performances should be instrumentally acoustic.

This open approach has attracted a wide range of performers, many unknown on the local circuit, and it has also fostered an interesting lean toward poetry and spoken word performances as well as a range of instrumental offerings.

people listening to a great DJ, and the next afternoon the average age has tripled.

The age range attracted is hugely diverse. At least 60 people now come to each event, including many elderly people who would not have felt comfortable attending events in pubs or clubs.

Slack Folk is run by popular folk group The Medlars and anyone interested in playing should email or just turn up.

Coordinator, Abigail Cheverst, said: “Itʼs incredible - one evening we will be packed with young

EXHIBITION: Matt Keeling During December Slack Space will be holding a showcase exhibition of original work by Matt Keeling. Matt is a stunning and creative local graphic designer who has exhibited his work in Slack Space before, to great critical acclaim. This will be his largest solo show and should not be missed. Matt combines a strong design with an original and unusual approach. His imaginative approach is tempered by a solid sense of place and impression.

Exhibition runs Wednesday 1 December to Saturday 24 December (Wed - Sat, 11am - 6pm)

26

“Slack Space is proud to welcome such an age range of people and to be welcomed by them.”


Hello again and I’d like to first wish everyone a Happy Christmas and here’s hoping you all have a prosperous new year too. While we shouldn’t be wishing our lives away, I am already looking forward to the New Year. We have been drawn against Championship side Swansea in the Third Round of the FA Cup and we are all eager to pit our wits against players in a higher division. We would have obviously liked a Premier League side, either home or away, but we’ll be confident of giving Swansea a decent game. We got into the draw with a hard fought win against non-league side Swindon Supermarine, who had done very well to get to the second round. They play their league football a few divisions lower than us but really raised their game and made us work really hard for the win. They defended very well in the early stages and nearly caught us out on the break, with their midfielder Chris Allen shooting narrowly wide when we should have scored. We went straight down the other end and a clinical finish from David Mooney put us ahead.

We really should have given ourselves some breathing space with a second goal but fortune wasn’t with us in front of goal. We got into good positions and created numerous chances but were denied by a side fighting for their lives in what was their cup final. At the other end, we had a couple of scares near the end but we got the win and in a cup match, that’s the only priority. We know we didn’t play as well as we know we can but we were in the hat for the third round, which as I said earlier, saw us drawn away at Swansea. We will concentrate on our league matches through December before we turn our attention to the Swansea game though. Once they’re out of the way though, we can start getting excited about causing an upset in South Wales at the beginning of 2011. COLCHESTER

Christmas 2010 will be the third year of festive fun at the Weston Homes Community Stadium - and we think we’ve worked out what makes a great party! So far, thousands of people have been to the Christmas bashes at the stadium and it’s quickly become the venue in the East of England to get the festive season underway. Whether you want to unwind over a meal, have a party to remember or simply let your hair down with friends and colleagues, the festive Calendar has something for everyone. Party dates are listed below, so call Leanne Sporle or Vicki Vince on 01206 755106/8 to book your place or for further details. Friday 10th December Following your festive feast, dance the night away with our resident DJ. Saturday 11th Time to pay homage to Abba – with tribute band Abba Esque performing all the great hits. Monday 13th Pensioners’ Christmas Lunch Friday 17th Another Disco night at the home of the U’s. Saturday 18th ‘One Foot In The Groove’ perform the biggest party classics as the big day is only a week away. Tuesday 21st The Official Club Christmas Party – Meet the players and staff as the U’s celebrate in style. Fridays £37.50 including entertainment, three course meal, mince pies and tea/coffee. Saturdays £45 including entertainment, three course meal, mince pies and tea/coffee.

UNITED FC

If you still haven’t found the perfect venue for your Christmas bash, or want to arrange a late one, why not book a private party here at the Weston Homes Community Stadium – call Leanne or Vicki on 01206 755106/8 for details.

Kem Izzet

27

Colchester 101 Colchester’s Access All Areas Magazine December 2010. www.Colchester101.co.uk

The Glory of the FA Cup

THE SEASON TO BE UNITED


up and the retching has caused my make up to run so I try to re-disguise how bad I look. I decide to have a swig of vodka from the freezer before I go, just to take the edge off. I go to the toilets for a quick line I make it to work by about 9.30, and make the excuse that I have eaten something bad the night before and Iʼm not feeling well. By about 11am I can just about hold down a chocolate milk and by midday I am running an errand so that I can pop in to the pub for a quick half to take the next edge off it. I bump into someone I know and before I know it Iʼm back at the cash point taking out forty quid to score, just to get me through the afternoon. Everyone is going for a drink after work so I tag along and run in to someone else I know and withdraw yet more money. My shoes are very uncomfortable so I just decide to take them off. I drink and snort (in the toilets) and look at the time, itʼs already 9pm and most people are heading off home because itʼs a weekday. I nip to another pub to see whoʼs there, decide that itʼs better so I go to the toilets for a quick line, neck my beer and take my poorly feet off down the road again. There I bump into other people, score again, and the gear I get is crap and under, so I go somewhere else to score and end up buying his drugs as well, just so that I can get more. By this stage I have passed the point of wanting the drugs, now I need to take more.

A day in the life of a cocaine addict A Problem Shared Each month Colchester 101 features readersʼ own stories about issues that affect, or are still affecting, their lives. This month, an anonymous Colchester woman describes the depths her Alcohol and Cocaine addiction drove her to. If you have a story to tell then send it to us at mailus@colchester101.co.uk 

Iʼm not too badly hungover so I hurl myself into the shower. I make sure that I wash my hair with Herbal Essences shampoo because nothing else seems to disguise the smell of a whole nightʼs cigarette smoke from the pub the night before. I make sure that I put in eye drops, but my eyes are so bloodshot that I can hardly see myself in the mirror. Iʼve decided to wear a really uncomfortable pair of shoes to work because that way my feet will hurt by the end of the day and I wonʼt go to the pub again. I try to hold down a coffee, but I throw it back

28

I know I wonʼt sleep, my head is pounding We all go back to his flat - thereʼs no lock in at the pub tonight. By now itʼs 2am and I am thinking “how did it happen again, I was going home today”. I canʼt bear the horrible feeling and the remorse is killing so I decide that I can stay up a bit longer, because I know I wonʼt sleep, my head is pounding. I end up crashing out in a spare room at this guyʼs house, the sheets look horrid and it really smells but I decide itʼs not that bad. I smoke another cigarette, I canʼt sleep, I pray that if I can get some sleep I wonʼt do it tomorrow, then I start worrying about how much Iʼve taken out of the bank, I look through my bag to see if all my stuff is there. I find a receipt but itʼs all torn off from where I have made a wrap to stash some drugs. I start sweating, I have another cigarette even though I feel sick and I finish the warm can of stella, and just lie there, sleep is not coming. I pray that I can get some sleep so I can get through work tomorrow, I worry about my bank account and how overdrawn I am, and how much Iʼve spent on my credit card. I look at the clock, itʼs 5am, I get up, pace around and have another cigarette. I eventually pass out and then the alarm on my phone goes. I cannot believe itʼs time to go to work. I decide that I can buy new clothes I go into the living room and other people are passed out around beer cans and ashtrays and I try to rack my brains for an excuse not to go to work. I decide that I can buy new clothes on the way there so Iʼm not in the same ones as


I get to the bus stop and I know I cannot make it to work. The same pattern again, I call in and say that I have been ill. I then take a taxi home so that I donʼt run in to anyone from work. I am so paranoid that I lie down in the taxi. I get to my house and I have no cash so I beg the taxi driver to take a cheque - he says that he will come back for the money in the evening… I crawl in and drink some vodka and get into my bed feel grimy and filthy and sweaty with worry and I pass out after more vodka. I have still not washed When I wake up from my fitful sleep I am starving hungry and I check the fridge - there is nothing in it and whatʼs there is not at its best. I call for a take away delivery and give them a credit card that I am not sure will work. In all this time I have still not washed, I have not brushed my teeth, I cannot remember if I have been to the toilet, I cannot bring myself to check whether I have any money left in my account, I ignore the phone messages that are flashing, I panic when something comes through the letterbox and shove it straight in the draw in case it might be a bank statement. I feel terrible and I canʼt bear it so I call someone I know and I ask them to order up, I know it will take this feeling away. Off I go again… Today, I normally sleep soundly for seven or eight hours a night, in a clean bed that is my own! I wake up to the alarm clock and still donʼt like getting up, but itʼs very different now, I am not filled with horror or dread of what I have done or where I am, I do not stink of stale beer or cigarettes or someone elseʼs filthy sheets, I drink coffee of a morning not vodka, I do not gag while I am trying to hold it down, I shower, I have clean towels, my fridge is full of nice food and treats, I brush my teeth, I work for a living and I make it to work every day. I still wear uncomfortable shoes sometimes, but at least now I can afford to buy shoes! I have a bank account and I know how much or how little is in it. I do not jump out of my skin when the post comes through the door. I answer my phone. I have been clean and sober for over 4 years thanks to the treatment centre I was sent to in Spain after I tried smoking crack cocaine and was £25k in debt, beaten up, two stone underweight, walking the streets for days, but thatʼs the next chapter! I went straight to Cocaine Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous when I got back from Spain to Essex and I continue to work a 12 step programme to the best of my willingness. I thought my life was over when I learnt I could never use drugs or alcohol safely again, but actually it was the beginning of my life not the end. Anonymous, Colchester

HELPLINES If you need help and support to deal with an addiction or crisis, below are contact details for organisations dedicated to providing support and advice for a variety of problems. Alcoholics Anonymous Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. Helpline 0845 769 7555 Email: help@alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk Al-Anon Family Groups Al-Anon Family Groups provide support to anyone whose life is, or has been, affected by someone elseʼs drinking. Helpline 020 7403 0888 Email: enquiries@al-anonuk.org.uk www.al-anonuk.org.uk Narcotics Anonymous NA is a nonprofit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem. Helpline 0300 999 1212 www.ukna.org Cocaine Anonymous Cocaine Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other so that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from their addiction. Helpline 0800 612 0225 From UK Mobile Phones 800 612 0225 Email: helpline@cauk.org.uk www.cauk.org.uk Colchester Gay Switchboard Since 1979 Gay Essex has worked throughout North Essex to meet the needs of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender individuals and those affected by HIV and AIDS. Helpline 01206 869191 or 0845 1 23 23 88 www.gayessex.org.uk Brook Brook is the only national voluntary sector provider of free and confidential sexual health advice and services specifically for young people under 25 providing professional advice through specially trained doctors, nurses, counsellors, and outreach and information workers offering advice on: • Contraception • STIs • Pregnancy Helpline 0808 802 1234 www.brook.org.uk

Overeaters Anonymous Overeaters Anonymous is a fellowship of individuals who, through shared experience, strength and hope, are recovering from compulsive overeating. Helpline: 07000 784985 www.oagb.org.uk beat beat is the leading UK charity for people with eating disorders and their families. beat is the working name of the Eating Disorders Association. Helpline: 0845 634 1414 Email: help@b-eat.co.uk Youthline 0845 634 7650 Email fyp@b-eat.co.uk www.b-eat.co.uk Families Need Fathers If you are separating or divorced and are worried about not seeing your children - or worried about the effect the breakdown of your relationship might have on them, Families Need Fathers can provide you with the support and information you need. Open to mothers, fathers, grandparents, new partners and extended families. Helpline: 0300 0300 363 www.fnf.org.uk Relate Relate offers advice, relationship counselling, sex therapy, workshops, mediation, consultations and support face-to-face, through online counselling by phone and through their website. Find out more 0300 100 1234 Samaritans If you are in crisis, feel distressed or are perhaps thinking of suicide, Samaritans can give you the time and space to talk about your feelings, help you explore your options and perhaps seek a way to face the future. Trained volunteers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Helpline 01206 561234 www.Samaritans.org Open Road Reducing the harmful impact of drugs and alcohol on users, their families, partners and society. Call now on 0844 499 1323 to speak to someone in your area of Essex.

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Colchester 101 Colchester’s Access All Areas Magazine December 2010. www.Colchester101.co.uk

yesterday, then find some make up in my bag. I am not smelling too good because the bed was so bad so I think about showering at this personʼs house but the only towel on the floor smells worse than the bed. I leave in the same uncomfortable shoes, cursing myself.


Muso Pen Pals Despite being a pair of Colchestrians, Ed and Chris have never actually met. Not even for a gig at The Twist. But they email each other all the time about their very broad music tastes. Colchester 101 has been given permission to reprint their messages. Oneupmanship? Yes, occasionally…

Britpop moment

Dear Chris I was having a ʻBritpop momentʼ the other day… And I realised how much I loved Oasis. I loved their swagger, their in-your-face laddishness, and I loved the fact they united a generation. I remember being in a club and the last song was ʻ”Donʼt Look Back in Anger”. Everyone stopped, linked arms, and bellowed drunkenly. I look back on that, not in anger, but with a touch of sadness for a youth long gone! And the song that was used over the credits of The Royle Family... As touching and as bittersweet as the TV show itself. Liam and Noel captured a certain working class way of life so succinctly, and although they would hate the word, so sweetly. The problem started with the self-belief spilling into unfettered arrogance. The songs became more clichéd, more late-Beatles than ever. Funnily enough, I always saw early Oasis as more like Slade. Seriously. Big, crowd-pleasing anthems with a real sense of fun. But without mirrored hats and platforms, obviously. Yours Ed

Re: Britpop moment

Dear Ed Hmm… You see, being local lads, I was always firmly in the Blur camp. Although, Iʼll grudgingly admit a certain respect for the derivative Manc rockers. I too witnessed a strange, collective Oasis moment. At the height of their success I was passing through a London tube station just as a busker started to play “Wonderwall”. I swear that within moments every passer-by was singing along! Of course, the Mike Flowerʼs Pops abominable cover added to that particular songʼs popularity but you have to hand it to them, they were able to capture a certain spirit. However, I saw Oasis at the Hammersmith Apollo a few years back and it was actually a rather frightening experience. The 75% male crowd was rowdy and boisterous to say the least. There was an unpleasant tension. I kept my hand on my wallet and left early. The thing about Blur is that they actually wrote a real range of truly original songs. They experimented. They understood that pop can have a sense of fun as well as being artistry. They moved on from Britpop with a genuine reinvention. And they pulled off their 2009 Glastonbury headline with aplomb. Sorry, itʼs always been Blur for me.

Re: Britpop moment

Dear Chris Oh, OK then… Yes.

I was a little dubious about Gorillaz at first, thinking it a new millennium reinvention of cartoon popsters The Archies but you must admit, Damon pulled that off too?

Bizarrely, Liam Gallagher is a clothes designer now, as well as an enduring icon. I read his range has just gone into Selfridges. And, why not? The bloke has outstanding taste, like a modern lad crossed with a Beau Brummell... I think that time will be kind to Oasis. Their songs really were - for a brief time - the soundtrack to a generation, and that happens rarely.

Regards Chris

But Blur did actually ʻwinʼ the ridiculous, media-created Battle of the Britpop Bands with “Country House”, didnʼt they? So strange to look back on it all now. But ultimately, both bands turned out to be winners, I suppose. All the best Ed

30


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