Title revealed for Young City Reads 2018
Greg James and Chris Smith's Kid Normal chosen for city-wide 'big read' as part of Brighton Festival
Collected Works CIC and Brighton Festival are delighted to reveal that Greg James and Chris Smith's Kid Normal has been chosen as the 2018 'big read' for children across Brighton & Hove and beyond. The concept is simple: one book, by one author, is selected for the whole community to read, explore, discuss and creatively engage with.
Familiar to radio audiences as the hosts of Radio 1’s Greg James Show and its accompanying podcast That’s What He Said, Greg James and Chris Smith’s Kid Normal tells the story of a boy who accidentally enrols in a school for children with superpowers. Chris Smith’s literary career so far includes winning the H E Bates Short Story Competition 1981 (under 10s section) with his tale Where Are the Brandy Snaps?
The idea for writing their first children’s book arose from the pair enjoying creating characters together on their podcast, such as the Brandy Butter Monster or the receptionists at CERN. The plot concerns Murph Cooper, who feels out of depth in his new school after his mum has enrolled him at a school for superheroes by mistake. Unlike his fellow students, who can all control the weather or fly or conjure tiny horses from thin air, Murph has no special abilities whatsoever. And not far away is a great big bad guy who is half man and half wasp, and his mind is abuzz with evil plans...
Greg James and Chris Smith said: ‘We know that Brighton is full of superpowers: seagull evasion, shingle navigation and dolphin racing, to name but three. And now we're looking forward to adding a few new ones with the help of your awesome powers of creativity. We hope you enjoy meeting Murph and his friends in Kid Normal, and we can't wait to meet you all to make up some new stories!’
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: ‘Young City Reads is always a highlight of Brighton Festival and a testament to our strong partnership with Collected Works. By providing an opportunity to encourage young booklovers to come together to discuss and share their love of reading – we are hopefully nurturing a new generation of artists and art lovers for the future.’
Sarah Hutchings, Artistic Director, Collected Works CIC, commented: ‘Young City Reads is all about sharing our love of stories. It inspires children to take time over the reading of a book and then encourages them to discuss it with friends, teachers, carers or parents. We are delighted to be welcoming Radio 1 personalities Chris Smith and Greg James to Brighton in May to celebrate their funny and warm hearted book with schools across the city and beyond. Our young readers are in for a treat!’
Primary school teachers and classes are being invited to register online (for free) and agree to read Kid Normal together in class between (1 March – 18 May 2018). The Class Teacher or Head Teacher can complete a sign-up form on the City Reads website.
Throughout the project, participating classes will receive free weekly e-bulletins which will include bite-size Kid Normal literacy resources and fun activities to complete. This is a great way for classes to get excited about a book and to experience the benefits of shared reading and the fun it brings.
Sharon Duggal’s The Handsworth Times was chosen for City Reads 2017 and A.F. Harrold’s Fizzlebert Stump The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library) was the title for Young City Reads 2017.
Brighton Festival announces 2018 Children’s Parade theme
Brighton Festival is delighted to announce that the theme for the 2018 Children’s Parade - which will take place on Saturday 5 May - is Paintings.
Each school will be allocated a painting from a selection which have been chosen to reflect the diversity of artists worldwide. The paintings will be studied and explored in detail in the schools before being presented in costume, music and carnival structures on the streets in May.
Jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky, and supported By Yeomans Toyota Brighton for the second year, the annual Children’s Parade officially launches Brighton Festival and has delighted participants and spectators for over 25 years. The largest of its kind in Europe, the parade is attended by around 5,000 children from schools and community groups from across the region and cheered on by many thousands of spectators.
With a different imaginative theme each year, previous parades have seen children dress up as everything from letters of the alphabet to the Prince Regent and Fat Boy Slim. This year participants donned costumes ranging from cats and clowns to The Giant Jam Sandwich in homage the theme of Poetry in Motion which was chosen by poet, rapper and musician Kate Tempest who headed up Brighton Festival 2017 as Guest Director. The parade was let by Grammy-nominated Hot 8 Brass Band, who brought their New Orleans style to Brighton’s streets.
The 2018 theme, ‘paintings’, is inspired by visual artist David Shrigley, who was recently unveiled as the latest artistic figure to take up the role of shaping the three-week programme of cultural events as Guest Director. Best known for his distinctive drawing style and works that make satirical comments on the absurdity of 21st-century society, his work also spans an extensive range of media including sculpture, large-scale installation, animation, painting, photography and music. Nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013, Shrigley’s Really Good, a seven-metre-high elongated bronze sculpture of a thumbs-up, is the current incumbent of Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth.
Pippa Smith, Brighton Festival’s Children & Family programmer says: “We were so impressed by the way that schools took their poems to heart last year and we believe that the same will happen with the paintings. The works will be studied and explored and become part of the school culture between November and May. This in-depth exploration of a work of art is something that most people don’t have the opportunity to do until they go to art school.”
One of the most spectacular community events in the UK, Same Sky spends six months working behind the scenes to create the Children’s Parade with creative teams instructing teaching staff how to teach dance and parade chants, run free masterclasses, help develop design ideas and encourage imagination to flow.
John Varah, Artistic Director, Same Sky says: “Same Sky is very excited by the 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley and his theme for the parade. We will be working with 70 Brighton & Hove schools to create the parade and enable the children to hit the street with dazzling costumes, puppets and sounds. Same Sky once again thanks Brighton Festival for giving us this great opportunity to work with nearly every school in our wonderfully creative city.”
Luke Devitt-Spooner, General Manager at Yeomans Toyota Brighton says: 'Yeomans Toyota Brighton are once again proud to be supporting Brighton Festival’s Children's Parade. Bringing an ever-cleaner automotive future for our children's world with Hybrid, Electric and Hydrogen powered vehicles'
Brighton Festival will take place from 5-27 May 2018. The full programme will be unveiled on 15 February 2018 but a handful of events have already been announced. These include the co-commission Grand Finale by Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival Associate Artist and Brighton Festival 2014 Guest Director Hofesh Shechter- a bold and powerful vision of a world in freefall, which has recently opened to glowing reviews at Sadler’s Wells; Calixto Bieito’s The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, a remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors; and The Voice Project’s Arms of Sleep, an overnight choral sleepover experience in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like and immersive night of music and stories, sound and images.
First shows announced for Brighton Festival 2018
Ahead of the full programme launch on Thurs 15 Feb 2018, here’s a quick round-up of the Brighton Festival events that have already been revealed…
Hofesh Shechter: Grand Finale
Brighton Festival co-commission
This latest work from internationally-celebrated choreographer (and Brighton Festival 2014 Guest Director) Hofesh Shechter is a spectacularly bold and ambitious new piece featuring ten dancers. Designed by Tom Scutt with lighting by Tom Visser, Grand Finale is at once comic, bleak and beautiful, evoking a world at odds with itself, full of anarchic energy and violent comedy. Filtering this irrepressible spirit, Shechter creates a vision of a world in freefall, part gig, part dance, part theatre and wholly original.
Produced by Hofesh Shechter Company and commissioned by Georgia Rosengarten. Commissioning partners are Sadler's Wells, Théâtre de la Ville-Paris / La Villette-Paris and Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival
The Voice Project: The Arms of Sleep
Brighton Festival co-commission
An overnight choral sleepover experience created by directors Sian Croose and Jonathan Baker in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like and immersive night of music and stories, sound and images. Guests will be given a bed each and spend the night surrounded by sound and shadows, drifting between sleep and wakefulness. The ethereally beautiful music has been written by Helen Chadwick, Orlando Gough and Jonathan Baker.
Co-commissioned by Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival. Co-produced by Norfolk & Norwich Festival and The Voice Project. The Arms of Sleep premiered at Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2017.
Calixto Bieito: The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety
The tempestuous relationship between sex, anxiety and music comes to a head in a remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors, Calixto Bieito. Music and drama collide as the award-winning string powerhouse The Heath Quartet performs alongside an equally stunning quartet of actors to deliver an unmissable montage of melody and madness. The eight artists will take you on a journey through time to explore how our innermost thoughts battle with our artistic impulses.
Presented by Birmingham Repertory Theatre, in association with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and Holland Festival.
19-20 May 2018, Hangleton Community Centre and Hangleton Park
26-27 May 2018, Manor Gym, basketball court and playing fields
Two weekends of free performances and arts activities in Hangleton and East Brighton. Delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre and community steering groups, both weekends will present international and national artists alongside local artists and community groups. Artists, community groups and an artist-in-residence are currently being sought to take part in Your Place 2018.
Visual artist David Shrigley is the Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director. Read the full Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director announcement.
Brighton Festival 2018 will take place from 5-27 May 2018. Full programme details will be unveiled on Thu 15 February 2018.
Visual artist David Shrigley named as Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director
We are delighted to announce that the 2018 Guest Director is the Brighton-based visual artist David Shrigley
Best known for his distinctive drawing style and works that make satirical comments on the absurdity of 21st-century society, Shrigley’s darkly humorous compositions reflect the inconsequential, the bizarre, and the disquieting elements of daily life. While drawing is at the centre of his practice, his work spans an extensive range of media including sculpture, large-scale installation, animation, painting, photography and music.
Widely admired by the art world and public alike, David Shrigley was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013 for his solo show David Shrigley: Brain Activity at the Hayward Gallery. In September 2016, Really Good, a 7 metre-high elongated bronze sculpture of a thumbs-up, was unveiled as the latest incumbent of Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth - described as the ‘tallest and most positive yet’. An active member of the Save the Arts campaign, Shrigley recently contributed a series of illustrations depicting the benefits of the arts to health and wellbeing to accompany a report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing.
On his appointment as Brighton Festival Guest Director David Shrigley says:
“The great thing about Brighton Festival is that you see things that are really thrilling and wonderful that you’ve never heard of before. What I’m looking forward to about the role of Guest Director is having the opportunity to not only see a lot of stuff and programme stuff but also make some artwork myself and have it presented in the place where I live. I think it’s a really nice way to communicate with people, to meet people and to invite people to come to Brighton.”
David Shrigley is the first visual artist to take on the role of Guest Director since the inaugural Guest Director, Anish Kapoor in 2009. Other previous Guest Directors include the acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest (2017), pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson, who led the 50th Brighton Festival in 2016, award-winning author Ali Smith (2015) and musician Brian Eno (2010) who have all taken turns shaping the three-week programme of cultural events.
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says:
“Like Brighton Festival, David Shrigley’s work is for everyone. Both powerful and funny, his work manages to navigate ‘high’ and ‘low’ art and speak to an incredibly wide audience. Alongside his own artwork, he has also joined in championing the power of the arts to help health and wellbeing. We are thrilled that David is bringing his distinctive take to the Festival and the city he has now made his home. We look forward to a programme that we hope will entertain and inspire.”
Brighton Festival 2018 (5-27 May 2018) will feature new work from David Shrigley alongside exclusives, world and UK premieres from a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies.
Full programme details will be announced in February but a handful of events that can be revealed now include the co-commission Grand Finale by Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival Associate Artist and Brighton Festival 2014 Guest Director Hofesh Shechter- a bold and powerful vision of a world in freefall, which has recently opened to glowing reviews at Sadler’s Wells; Calixto Bieito’s The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, a remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors; and The Voice Project’s The Arms of Sleep, an overnight choral sleepover experience in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like and immersive night of music and stories, sound and images.
Next year’s Festival will also continue its emphasis on programming work in the community with the return of Your Place - two weekends of free performances and arts activities in Hangleton and East Brighton. Delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre and community steering groups, both weekends will present international and national artists alongside local artists and community groups. Artists, community groups and an artist-in-residence are currently being sought to take part in Your Place 2018.
Following its successful trial last year, the Pay-it-Forward scheme will also return for 2018. Audiences are encouraged to donate £5 (or an amount of their choosing) on top of ticket prices as they complete their purchase, which is then match-funded by Brighton Festival to give a special £10 Pay-It-Forward Festival Ticket Voucher (valid for all Festival events) to someone unable to afford the opportunity. The response last year was phenomenal with over 1000 people choosing to pay tickets forward in the lead up to the Festival.
Brighton Festival will run 5-27 May 2018. Full programme details will be announced on Thursday 15 February 2018.
Read an interview with David Shrigley on his appointment as Guest Director
INTERVIEW: Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley
The visual artist and cartoonist on following in the footsteps of the illustrious roster of Brighton Festival Guest Directors, his love of art, music and football and why he decided to make Brighton his home
When you were first approached to be Guest Director of Brighton Festival, what was it that prompted you to say yes? What most excites you about the role?
When I was approached to be the Guest Director of Brighton Festival, I said yes because I thought it was going to be fun! What I’m most looking forward to is having the opportunity to not only see a lot of stuff and programme stuff but also make some artwork myself and have it presented in the place where I live. I think it’s a really nice way to communicate with people, to meet people and to invite people to come to Brighton.
You’re following in the footsteps of the likes of Anish Kapoor, Laurie Anderson and Brian Eno in accepting the role of Guest Director, how does it feel to be taking up the baton from such company?
It feels pretty flattering given the illustrious roster of people who have fulfilled this role before me, so, yeah, I feel quite humbled to be in such company.
Are there any particular dream artists on your wishlist for Brighton Festival this year?
I think it would be good if David Bowie would come back from the dead and play at the Festival, but that’s probably not going to happen! The great thing about the Festival is that you see things that are really thrilling and wonderful that you’d never heard of before. So, what I’m really looking forward to is the stuff that people haven’t heard of before, that they’re going to be surprised and amazed by.
You’ve recently moved to Brighton, what drew you here and what has been your relationship with the city and the Festival to date?
I lived in Glasgow for 27 years until two years ago when I moved to Brighton because I fancied it, because the weather’s nicer than Glasgow and it’s a town that I’ve always really liked. My sister used to live here in the 1990s so I used to visit quite a lot and I have very happy memories of being here then. When I first started visiting Brighton with a view to moving here, it was around the time of the Festival that Ali Smith was the Guest Director, and it seemed like there was a lot going on, it was super busy and there was a lot of interesting stuff to go and see. The Festival is a great time to be in Brighton.
I hear you’re a fan of Whitehawk football club. Is that something you’ve got into since you moved to Brighton?
I started going to watch Whitehawk play football pretty soon after I moved here. I’m a bit of a football nerd, and I tend to go and watch football wherever I go. I really enjoy watching Whitehawk because it’s a lot of fun, and because the fanbase have really good politics. They are anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, which I think is very important, and is very refreshing, having been a football fan since the 1970s. I also like the fact that you can drink beer and take your dog to Whitehawk.
How important are arts and culture to your own life, and what do you think festivals like Brighton Festival can bring to communities?
The things that I like most in life are art, music, and football, and I think a lot of people like those things as well. I think people need to value the arts perhaps more than they do, because they are very important culturally, but also in terms of people’s wellbeing. Engagement with the arts has a real therapeutic value as well as a cultural value, an entertainment value, and that’s something I’m very passionate about.
You are a member of the Save the Arts campaign, why is it important to you to support the campaign?
I’ve been involved with a few arts organisations that have a political dimension to them. I’ve been involved in community education for a lot of years when I lived in Glasgow, and I’m the patron of a charity for a children’s art gallery there. I’ve been involved in the Save the Arts campaign, which was a lobbying group to campaign not to cut arts funding from the government. More recently I’ve been involved in a policy document about the arts, health and wellbeing, which is to illustrate the value of the arts for people’s health and wellbeing, and how it can be something that needs to be taken seriously by government in those terms, rather than just as entertainment or culture – it’s also a very valuable thing for people’s day to day lives.
Your sculpture - a giant bronze thumbs-up called Really Good – can currently be seen on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. How did you feel about being asked to do such a prestigious commission and what role do you think public art plays?
I wrote a kind of slightly ironic blurb about it where I said that basically it was going to make the world a better place through some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, where you say that everything’s really good and then it becomes really good. And, in a way, that was ironic because it’s slightly ridiculous to suggest that a giant sculpture makes the world a better place. But then at the same time, as an artist, you have to believe that what you do makes the world a better place on some level. So I guess that piece has a strange duality to it, in that it’s both ironic and sincere at the same time.
Brighton Festival 2018 will take place from 5-27 May 2018. Full programme details will be unveiled on Thurs 15 February 2018.
Your Place returns for Brighton Festival 2018
Brighton Festival’s Your Place - two weekends of free entertainment in Hangleton and East Brighton, delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre - is set to return for 2018 following last year’s inaugural programme.
Hosted by local community centres, and programmed in collaboration with local residents and artists, Your Place brought a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. A resounding success, over 2000 people took part in Your Place across the two weekends, with participants describing the experience as 'inspiring' and 'energising'.
Brighton Festival 2017 Guest Director Kate Tempest said of the thinking behind the initiative: “We thought it was important that as well as having this very exciting, cosmopolitan festival happening in the city centre, with all this buzz and hype and all this energy that gets built up from people seeing something, spilling out on to the street, it also represented the wider population of Brighton who maybe can’t afford to get in to the city centre. We wanted to bring a bit of what was happening in the Brighton Festival out to a bit more of Brighton.”
2017 highlights included workshops and performances from Kate Tempest, acclaimed photographer Eddie Otchere, award-winning poetry slam champion Tommy Sissons, Appalachian folk artists Anna and Elizabeth and a new Brighton Festival commission from Three Score Dance and Ceyda Tanc Youth Dance company. Discover more about this year's Your Place:
Valerie Foucher, Hangleton Community Centre Manager and a member of the Steering Group said: “When we were told our premises had been chosen for Your Place it was fantastic news yet we were so far from imagining that it would be such a collaborative process. Bringing an entire weekend of workshops and performances with so many talented artists and a technical and front house back up of such high standard, not to mention having Kate Tempest perform her Let Them Eat Chaos album was so amazing we still haven’t fully recovered from it. Most importantly it has inspired us. Your Place has opened a door that we do not want to close again.”
Brighton Festival and Brighton People’s Theatre are currently looking for small-scale performances, workshops or exhibitions by local community groups, schools, youth groups and local artists living in Hangleton or East Brighton, as well as professional artists to be a part of Your Place 2018.
Naomi Alexander, Artistic Director of Brighton People’s Theatre said: “Having amazing artists like Kate Tempest performing in community centres in the city created a fantastic buzz. We'll be building on what worked so well and are also introducing two new elements to Your Place in 2018. One is a co-commission between Brighton Festival and Brighton People's Theatre to put an artist in residence into community centres in East Brighton and Hangleton who will collaborate with local people to create a new performance for Your Place. The second is programming art made by the local community. We know there is a lot of creativity in Hangleton and East Brighton and we hope to hear from local choirs, school shows, youth music groups, knitting or crafting groups who would like to be part of the Your Place programme."
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “Bringing Brighton Festival together each year is a great privilege, but it is vital to us that the Festival continues to reflect and involve the whole city. One of the key things about Your Place is that the communities have been really engaged in the overall planning and management of the project and it felt really important to be able to build on this work and the relationships we have developed again this year. Our hope is that this project will continue to expand and grow and become something that everyone looks forward to as part of Brighton Festival each year.”
Your Place 2018 will take place in Hangleton Community Centre and Hangleton Park (19-20 May 2018) and Manor Gym, basketball court and playing fields in East Brighton (26-27 May).
If you would like to find out more about how to get involved in Your Place 2018 please visit our webpage
Brighton Festival Stats: The largest ever Festival in history...
VIDEO: 'The arts should be in our communities’
Brighton Festival 2017 reached more new audiences and more parts of the city than ever before. We shone a light on some of this year’s flagship community events and projects
Reflecting Guest Director Kate Tempest's belief that: ‘The arts should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes’, events took place across the city - from the South Downs to Brighton Marina to Woodvale cemetery - drawing a ticketed audience of over 81,000, the largest ever in the Festival’s 51-year-history.
In this film we shine a light on some of this year’s flagship events and projects including new ventures The Storytelling Army, which saw a dynamic collective of storytellers from all walks of life pop up in locations from bus stops to Brighton pier; and Your Place, delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, which brought a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities Festival artists and local residents to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities.
Introducing the Lulu.com short story competition winners
Here we meet the four winners of the short story writing competition run by Lulu.com, sponsor of Brighton Festival commission the Storytelling Army.
They will have their stories combined with stories from the Storytelling Army into the Everyday Epic anthology, which is to be published by Lulu.com.
Beki Turner - Together We Can
I live in Brighton with my daughter Rosie and my dog Frankie, and I have been here since 1999, moving impulsively from London after ending up at a party in the basement of a record shop.
Brighton is a very special and magical place, and it felt right to base my story here. I wanted to highlight the subject of loneliness, and how people of all ages can be isolated and lonely for a number of reasons. I’ve worked extensively with homeless individuals and quite vulnerable adults over the years.
Everyone has a reason for ending up in Brighton, and sometimes people get lost along the way. I wanted to show how kindness and coincidence can bring people together and change lives, and how people coming together can be really powerful.
Perhaps the characters in my story will be developed in the future because they all have a story to tell and have the potential to help each other.
I have always loved writing fiction as a hobby and promised myself that if I was one of the winners of the competition, I’d start taking it seriously.
Extract from Together We Can:
'Gav is drunk. You can see it in his ordinarily militant body; His usual brash march is more of a meaningful flounder as he meanders across the pebbles. Gav opts for an unnecessarily loud exit from the blaring serenity of Brighton beach, striding past the bank holiday families with their middle class picnics, and the hipsters with their disposable barbeques bought with their disposable incomes. They are all being circled and Gav ruffles the seagulls’ feathers as he strides noisily past them.
Tourists and locals huddle around tables, drinking premium beer from flimsy cups as the sun starts to set. Gav turns back to look at the glitter bomb ocean. The sky is as beautiful as a Bierstadt. Gav breathes in the wafts of charred meat, cigarette smoke, aftershave and salt. He listens to the voices shouting over the deafening base lines and the sirens overhead. He pulls his last can of lager out of his pocket. It’s still perfectly cold. He holds the can for a moment, feeling it penetrate his hands and enjoying the sensation. He cracks it open and takes a swig. The beer simmers in his mouth and the taste is wondrous. And at that exact moment, Gav knows it’s a good time to die.'
David Benedictus - Protected Housing
I am 79 and I am a theatre director and writer. I have written lots of stuff – too much really – and published about 15-20 novels from The Fourth of June (1962), a scurrilous book about Eton, to Return to the Hundred Acre Wood (2009) an authorised sequel to the Winnie-the-Pooh books.
I am a member of Nightwriters, the writers club in Brighton. My second published novel, You’re a Big Boy Now (1963) was filmed by the (very) young Francis Ford Coppola in New York. I worked for the BBC on many occasions and was commissioning editor for drama series at Channel 4 from 1984-1986. I was a London tour guide and ran a horse-race tipping service for 25 years. The Daily Mail said I was going to marry Princess Anne , but I didn’t. At the BBC I initiated the programme Something Understood.
I have 4 children, a QC, a novelist, a psychotherapist and a theatrical producer. They are amazing. I have also written a number of musicals, one of which was started in 1955 and is still awaiting a full production
I don’t know where the idea for Protected Housing came from but with just a few hours to go before the deadline I thought I ought to do something and this is what emerged. It’s not like anything I have written before and although it would benefit from a second draft I like its poignant atmosphere.
Extract from Protected Housing:
‘It really was the most marvellous garden,’ she said. ’Not that I had anything to compare it with.’
He tried to recall it. ‘It smelled so beautiful. No chemicals of course then, and it rained only when you needed it. I remember a tree,’ he said. ‘Because I used to sit in the shade and make up names for things. Then you came along, and you thought of miraculous names. Like Flutterby.’
‘You improved on that one.’ She smiled. Although her skin was so wrinkled these days, she retained a smile to charm the birds out of the trees. They seldom spoke of those days because they seemed not only to belong to a different age but to two different people entirely.
‘Would you like to go back?’
‘Well, we couldn’t, could we? For one thing, we’d never find it.’
Jenny Gaitskell - On the Threshold
My default state is daydreaming, and some days I have to go to work and pretend to be sensible, but I write stories whenever possible. While I’m writing, I can go to places I’ll never see, travel in time, meet impossible strangers and be somebody else for a while. When the stories are published, my hope is that readers will imagine something new too. I blog about daydreaming, my creative brain (who calls herself Gonzo) and the unexpected encounters which inspire me. If that sounds like fun, have a look on jennygaitskell.com, or come and say hello on twitter @jennygaitskell.
When I wrote , I’d woken up into one of those mornings when everything feels impossible, even making stuff up. Under those circumstances, obviously the best thing to do was mess about on the internet, and that’s how I found the theme for this anthology, Everyday Epics. Yup, I thought, each day’s a toughie. My page was blank and my mind was blank, except for a woman stuck behind a door. I asked myself, if she could only make herself take that first step, out into the world, what might she try next?
Extract from On the Threshold:
'On the threshold, Emily told herself: you can become the version of you that’s needed, send another letter, take one more step forward. She took it, and closed her front door quietly behind her, for the sake of neighbours who’d never noticed her. Once again, the street smelled of last night but the sky was pink with possibility. Passing across the square, she recognised, from identical mornings, another early riser. He didn’t see her smile, was too busy examining the inside of his frown. There is always tomorrow, she thought. She was right on time for the park, and ready for the dog walker’s half-hearted salute, which might really be no more than a shaking of the leash. She threw her first ever greeting, but it fell short. The walker didn’t turn to pick it up, didn’t wait to see what might happen next. But a word had been spoken, and that was better than yesterday.'
Saba Sams - Nice Light
Saba Sams just graduated from the University of Manchester with a first class degree in English Literature with Creative Writing. She has now moved back to Brighton, where she was raised. Nice Light is her second short story to be published. The first, What Do You Know About Love?, can be read online at Forge Literary Magazine. A few of Saba’s poems have also appeared in places such as Ink, Sweat and Tears, and Cluny MCR.
Nice Light was written in Manchester, on an evening spent missing those hot Brighton summers, when drunks stumble up the Old Steine, and teenagers crowd the cycle paths on the seafront. It’s a story about right now, about living in the present tense, told by a protagonist who can do nothing but cross each bridge as she gets to it. But this story is also about those tiny moments of self-reflection, those glimmers of memory, recognition, or random kindnesses that remind us who we are, or where we’re going. It’s about that time of day when the clouds split to let a little sun through, and a few minutes of nice light remind us that the ordinary can hold something extraordinary.
Extract from Nice Light:
One of those days in Brighton where the heat is thick. Everybody lying on the grass watching everybody else. Ice lolly sticks all over the playground. Dogs with their tongues out, dry. Max sleeping next to a crate of Foster’s. No clouds. A teenage boy in a grey t-shirt tapping me on the shoulder. Sweat patches, smiley. Tells me he’s looking for alcoholics. Making a short film for college. Just thought he’d ask around the park. Hot day, you know? Writes his mobile number on a rizla. Don’t have to decide now, just something to keep in mind. He’d appreciate it.
Put the rizla in my back pocket. Remember being seventeen, on a bus. Woman with a sandwich turned around in her seat to tell me to go easy on the drink. She’d seen me on this route before. Couldn’t even walk straight at eleven in the morning. Better kick it before it’s too late. Got a whole life ahead of me. Not a thing to waste, a life. I thanked her for the advice and got off at the next stop to buy four K Ciders. Guess I’ve got it written all over my face.
Copies of the Everyday Epic anthology will be available from the Lulu.com bookshop and other good retailers. To find out when the book is available to buy, follow the Lulu.com social media channels.
Eddie Otchere's Brighton Festival photo picks
Acclaimed photographer Eddie Otchere immersed himself in the city during this year’s Brighton Festival, soaking up the atmosphere, camera always in hand. Eddie facilitated workshops at Your Place in Hangleton and East Brighton and set up The Bright Room – a community darkroom. Here he picks out some of his favourite contact sheets from across the Festival period.
‘It’s not the final image that makes the photographer, it’s the contact sheet itself that makes the experience’
Brighton & Hove Albion promotion parade taken by Eddie Otchere: I was walking down the street and I realised Brighton was having a parade. The turn-out and the level of production and the effort they put in to throw that party was ridiculous. It’s a reflection of the Brighton that I have come to know; a positive reflection of humanity, the way you celebrate your team graduating to the Premier League. Crystal Palace is my local team, and we don’t do this.
Your Place East Brighton taken by Eddie Otchere: I had done my workshop in the morning, and then took a walk to the Crew Club. There was a soundcheck in progress with the Guest Director Kate Tempest. There was a great rapport between Kate and the staff. It’s a wonderful example of how free they felt in Brighton. This contact sheet symbolises that level of freedom and how good they felt. When you come to Brighton, you put aside your London angst. The Kate that the people of Brighton saw was something unique to Brighton.
Your Place Hangleton, Culture Clash taken by Eddie Otchere: Poets vs MCs vs Comedians - that’s one of the best ideas I have heard in my life. They all share a similar kind of skill but they are very different. It’s a reflection of Hangleton and the talent which was pulled together to make that event happen. What an amazing community centre Hangleton has, the energy in that particular environment. This contact sheet also shows how Kate Tempest is as much in the audience as she is on stage.
Taken by a Bright Room workshop participant: This contact sheet sums up the experience that most people would have had in terms of a learning experience. There are all the classic subjects, dogs, people smiling, Bart Simpson graffiti. It reflects the idea that participants walk away with a camera and just shoot their environment. The money shot is an old man with a pocket watch, which made it into The Bright Room exhibition. It’s a beautiful piece of photography.
Taken by a Bright Room workshop participant: This person was very geometric in their taste. In that way photography is very democratic, everyone has their own taste. I think this person got a lot out of the visual investigation. Black and white film is perfect for this as it is all about shape and texture.
Taken by a Bright Room workshop participant: This person was my assistant at the Hangleton workshop and then came along to The Bright Room workshops and brought her brother (who appears in the contact sheet). It is the people of Brighton experiencing the Brighton that they know. I understand how people can over-think photography because it is an artform, but I think, at it’s best, photography is an example of a moment in time. This person used the camera I used for shooting metal heads and Goldie in the ‘90s. It had a setting that meant it shoots multiple exposures when the shutter button is held down, hence the repetition.
Walking through Brighton by Eddie Otchere: This must have been the second to last day of The Bright Room workshops. I was walking by the sea to The Bright Room. It’s that thing of being in Brighton and bumping into people. These are pictures from that walk. Once you get by the sea you start to realise how magical that sea is. I think that was the most relaxing shoot I did. It is a record of what it was like for me every morning on my route to work. To a great extent it probably sums up my Brighton experience.