Archives for posts with tag: Lewes Junior Film Club

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.

I’ve got to be really careful with this otter – it would be so easy to drop him in the snow, bang his head on the door frame or, worse, slide on the ice and go flat-on-my-back, broken hip and ottered face…

Sweating after our band’s first set at the Snowdrop, I go outside to watch the flakes whirling down: smokers huddle, but it’s cool on my face, and beautiful, coating South Street and bringing silence to the town. There’s a good turnout, surprisingly, on this coldest night, for the pub is warm, welcoming and, well, rocking. After the gig I drive home at 10mph, snow coming straight at the windscreen.

The next morning we crunch through the streets to the Linklater Pavilion, by the river, to meet up for the Junior Film Club event, which is to culminate in a showing of Ring of Bright Water. Not as many children as we’d hoped though – a film doesn’t have the same pull as a fresh deep coating of snow. We’re meant to have a talk about otters, but our expert is snowed in, so we set off on the path through the railway land, and the children start to pelt each other, then the adults, with snowballs; but they’re on the lower path, and we’re on the upper (and can throw further) so we’re winning. Shrieking and whooping, we arrive at the fire circle: three big logs over the fire support a cauldron of hot sloe-cordial, ladelled out to us all in paper cups, with home-made Swedish cinnamon biscuits. The Junior Film Club patron is Nigel Cole, director of Made In Dagenham, and he gives a talk about film-making, and working with animals in particular. He pitches his talk just right, and the kids ask bright questions, and give thoughtful answers. Then throw more snowballs.

The film is, well, 1969, so a bit dated, brown, and sentimental (a manly tear escapes my cynical eye at one point), but I like the otter, and of course, otters have returned to Sussex after a 30-year absence. Afterwards, we’re clearing up, and I’m strangely drawn to the stuffed creature that has been glassily eyeing the audience throughout the film. I volunteer to carry it back, through the streets of Lewes, to its temporary home, above the High Street.