Archives for posts with tag: All Saints Centre

Sadly, the guest poet had to cancel, and, in a helpful and completely mad moment, I offered to step in. And now I can’t find my glasses as I’m about to read to seventy-odd children and adults, from a book of Basho’s beautiful haiku. It’s another Lewes Junior Film Club event: the films are poignant and very poetic – The Red Balloon and White Mane, both made in the 50’s by Albert Lamorisse. Before the showing, the kids sit at the tables in All Saints, drawing up storyboards (involving Lewes and – yes – a red balloon) and now (when it comes to it) I suddenly get nervous. I read a couple of haiku that I made up; we’re to make some up together on a big smeary white board.

Once on the Kisoji trail in Japan I stepped on a snake (apart from snakes and bears, there are very sophisticated toilets on the trail) so I tell them this:

Scared by a snake on the path–
How comforting is a warmed
toilet seat!

which gets a bit of a laugh. After the first film, the kids write messages on tickets hanging from a great cluster of red balloons, and then burst out into the sun in All Saints’ churchyard to launch them.

Silent stone walls.
Then a squeaking red eruption
Up! go the balloons


One red balloon
Drifts along the golden street
Looking for an owner

Seventeen syllables do not
a haiku make–

The cold of the grave creeping into my buttocks, a pigeon calling, a blackbird singing: I’m in the shade of a solid dark yew in the All Saints churchyard, drawing the sunlit gravestones in front of me. Many of the inscriptions have disappeared, they’re so old, and they’ve become an installation that is more sculptural than commemorative. That’s appropriate, too: the church of All Saints (first mentioned in 1148) has been an arts centre since 1980. And I declare an interest: over the years I’ve played in bands on this stage, had a birthday party here, helped set up the Lewes Junior Film Club adventures here, watched films from its utilitarian seats, drawn it, photographed it, and swept up in it many many times. I love the place.

Inside it’s plain, except for the ornate memorials to the benefactors of the Parish, the great and the good of their times. Iohn and Iane (where I=J) Stansfield – ‘of the Cliffe nere Lewis’ – face each other, kneeling, and separated by their plaque; painted face cracked and dark with age, Iane regards her husband suspiciously, eyebrows raised over divergent eyes. He’s a Gent., though, who ‘hopefvlly ended his mortall life’ in 1626. Iane ‘his deere wife’ died 24 years later.

The sound of the organ drifts through the empty place – above the stage, in an orange glow, a bowed figure playing is half obscured by the deep dark drapes. In the back hall, the mirrors reflect the sinister looping trapeze ropes hoisted up into the high ceiling.

In All Saints there’s salsa, can-can, ska, capoeira, film, drumming, the Oyster café, blues, comedy courses, zumba, art workshops, a toy library, theatre, Nature’s Rhythms… Iohn and Iane had no idea that the All Saints church would become such a lively and creative place. And ‘hopefvlly’ – that’s how we should live.

Sweeping up in All Saints. Again. I’ve done this many times – after gigs, mostly, but these days, it’s after the Lewes Junior Film Club events. At 7.30 on a Sunday morning I really do not want to get up: I arrive at the arts centre feeling grumpy and sluggish, and sticking things up rather slowly. Then you realize we’ve got an hour to get the crepe decorations up, the A-board sorted, the banner ‘Third Spectacular Season: SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN’, hung from the lamp-arch outside (takes much longer than you think), the ‘red carpet’ stuck down on the path…

The audience starts arriving early  – we’re still gaffer-taping the red carpet down – and Midge has rigged up a hose to shower them as they come through the gate. They don’t like to walk on the carpet, even though it’s for them – and they walk round it respectfully, as Jeremy and Ellie greet “Meryl Streep!”, “Welcome, Robert De Niro!”, and  “Oh, here’s little Tatum O’Neal!” over the PA, and we clap and whistle. Then the young dancers burst through the gate to the punch of ‘Good Morning! Good Mor-ning!’ and perform their choreographed piece up and down the path, and inside, in a mini-Busby-Berkeley routine – with chairs.

I used to find this film really cheesy, corny, embarrassing, dominated as it is by Gene Kelly’s crinkly big grin. Now it’s definitely in my top ten. It’s joyful, vibrant, dynamic, corny, sentimental, cheesy – and wonderful. It has the biggest audience so far at LJFC events – and the kids love it. I, of course, wipe away a silly tear as it ends. And start sweeping up.