2020: The Sleeve Notes

Since 1988, we’ve sent out best of year cassettes since 2000, CDs) to friends around the globe. In 2019 we added a Spotify playlist. I’m not going to put that up until this set of daily sleeve notes is complete. However, this year I intend to extend the playlist so that, in addition to the twenty songs on the CD, there’s another twenty things there wasn’t room for. It’s been a very good year for music, if little else, so let’s celebrate that. In another year, The Big Moon, Loudon Wainwright III, Drive-By Truckers (two great albums!), Courtney Marie Andrews, Cowboy Junkies, Moses Sumney, James Taylor, Hen Ogledd, Richard Dawson, Maria McKee, Bill Callahan, Jason Isbell, Georgia, Nadia Reid & sophomore albums from YUNGBLUD, Rolling…

Five Years Old

Hard to believe that a whole five years have passed since Nottingham became a UNESCO City of Literature, a proud, ongoing achievement which we celebrated last night. There’s a terrific oral history of how we made the successful bid on the NUCOL website which I urge you to read. Also, if you’re aged 16-25, please read the post about joining our Youth Advisory Board and, if you’re interested, apply by December 23rd. My university term (by far the most arduous and exhausting of my 18+ years, and I’m not even full time, so God help many of my colleagues) only ended on Thursday and the birthday celebrations took up all of yesterday. When they were over, we went straight to the virtual launch of the…

James Graham’s Bubble at Nottingham Playhouse

It was sweet, last night, to be at Nottingham Playhouse, to see a new play by James Graham. The playwright is from Mansfield and used to work on the door at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal but this was his first new play to be staged in the city where, as he told Geeta Pendse this week, he learned to love theatre. He’s closely connected with the Playhouse, however, having become an Associate Artist while I was on the board ( I served for seven years, finishing my term at the end of last year). If I remember correctly, he was keen to do a play with Artistic Director, Adam Penford, but was rammed with writing commitments for the next three years. Then the pandemic struck, theatres…

A September Film Marathon

It’s great that both Cineworld and Broadway cinemas are back this month. I’ve already seen Tenet (disappointing) and Les Misérables (strong, salutary viewing) in socially distanced, near empty cinemas. But most of my viewing has been on a 40″ screen at home. We finished various TV series that have kept us going during lockdown (I’ve had to ration my viewing of Bojack Horseman, having done the first three series in six weeks). Therefore we’ve been watching more and more movies, new(ish) and old. That’s why, in addition to my regular ‘holiday’ reading blogs, I thought I’d write about the movies, good and bad, that we’ve watched. For eight years, I’ve kept a record of what I’ve seen and read, which is particularly useful when trying…

Dystopia Avenue: Not on Holiday Reading & what should have won the Booker

For me, as for many people, it’s been a summer of reading. I’ve not had the brain space or inclination for creative writing and preparations for next term’s online teaching have taken a toll. For the last eleven days, Sue and I were meant to be travelling around Norway by train. Instead, we’ve visited my dad in Colne, shortly before Pendle was locked down again and made a fleeting visit to Sue’s family in Stevenage. The only thing our holiday has had in common with the one we should have had is that a lot of reading has been done. Since my lockdown blog, I have finished Hilary Mantel’s Booker winning (spoiler alert) The Mirror and the Light, which is decidedly longer than its two…