Posts in Opinion

James Giddings on "Ordinary Beast" by Nicole Sealey

Posted Tuesday 16 January 2018 by Writing Squad in Opinion

This post is the first in a series by members of the Writing Squad, which provides support to writers in the North aged 16 to 21. 

"Every Christmas I make a list of books for people to buy me because I am one of those tragic straight-shooting human annoyances who when asked ‘what do you want for Christmas’, says, ‘Nothing’ and means it. This book list is my little concession towards being helpful to those who might actually like me enough to buy me a present.

Ordinary BeastThis year I put Nicole Sealey’s book, Ordinary Beast, on the list. Now, if I’m honest, I put the book on the list because of its extortionate price. There was no way I was going to buy it, so if some sucka was silly enough to buy it for me, then I’ve played the present-buying system like a card-counting professional. My girlfriend was the person silly enough to buy this book for me. True love has no regard for its bank account.

Ordinary Beast had much for me relate to. In her poem ‘happy birthday to me’ she closes with the line ‘Had you asked, I could’ve told you I’m not doing especially well at being alive.’ Having just had my 27th birthday and teetering on the edge of an early mid-life crisis, it’s important to know that everyone is as broken as you are.

There was a lot in this book though I could never relate to. Being a black woman for example, going to the gym and waiting for ‘a white woman/in this overpriced Equinox/to mistake me for someone other/than a paying member.’ As a white man who has never considered himself to have an identity, Ordinary Beast made me rethink this.

At Christmas you surround yourself with loved ones, and sometimes other people’s loved ones, who you yourself, might not love. They might say something stupid, something dangerous and make you realise there are beasts everywhere. It made me question myself, my identity, whether I am someone who speaks up when there is injustice. If you’re not already, this book will make you speak up."

James GiddingsJames is a poet, editor, coach, workshop leader and curator of this biography. He won a Northern Writers Award in 2015 and his book Everything is Scripted was published by Templar Poetry in 2016. 


The best books of 2017?

Posted Monday 18 December 2017 by Ian Anstice in Opinion

So, here we are heading to the end of 2017 and it’s been another bumper year for new books, new authors and all things literary. Here at Casa Time To Read (Tiempo para leer?) we encourage you to read what you like, just so long as you read, but with so much choice out there, what should you go for? Well. here's a few suggestions, or rather a short list of suggestion lists.

Books of the year 2017To help you with your Christmas wish list, the Reading Agency have published a list of their top reads for 2017,  compiled by their staff and some library colleagues. The list includes poetry, non-fiction and short stories too, so there's something for everyone here. If that's not enough, though, have a look at Esquire, whose list includes many more.

If you fancy a bit of time travel, then you can go back to the Telegraph's list of what it thought would be the best books of 2017, published a year ago. And Amazon has a different list, again, here.

If you want to get more specific, you can always have a look as well at the GoodReads 2017 book lists, which include all sorts of categories (like "most anticipated" and YA novels) and will be sure to have something that you'll love.

But all of those are national or even international. How about something closer to home? Well, the good folk at Halton Libraries (Runcorn and Widnes) have put their favourite reads (not necessarily from 2017, just the ones they enjoyed this year) on to their catalogue here. And, yes, we at Time To Read love Tim Peake too.

So do you agree with any of these choices? Something you love missing?

We would always love to know which book you are going to snuggle up with over Christmas, so tweet us at @timetoreadNW and share the book-ish love.


Also, don’t forget that if your favourite library has closed over Christmas and you have possibly run out of things to read, Don’t panic, help is at and. Head over to your library’s ebooks webpage, which are free to loan with your library card. See your own individual library authority website or social media for details.

Wishing all our followers and readers a very happy Christmas and here’s to an even more book-ish 2018

The Cutting Edge: Leslie Cavendish and the Beatles

Posted Thursday 9 November 2017 by Ian Anstice in Opinion

Leslie Cavendish with scissors

Leslie, thanks very much for agreeing to send in these replies. Why did you write this book?

The reason i decided to write the book now was because I lived through an important time in history "The sixties" where everything was changing which included music/fashion/hair and all the important social changes that was happening at that time.

I was also lucky to have been involved with Vidal Sassoon with his geometric haircuts and The Beatles who experimented with all different styles of music. Dont forget I was a big Beatles fan so to me It was like winning the Beatles Lottery.

I was taught at Vidal Sassoon that the best way to be with clients was to keep quiet and listen and not ask to many questions, so when I met Jane Asher and Paul McCartney I just got on with my work and never bothered them with autographs and asking for locks of hair and Beatles questions etc.

I have kept quiet for a long time and I felt now was the time to let people know what an amazing journey I was on through that period of change and also my magical time with "The Fab Four",so I have now put it all down in my book "The Cutting Edge".

How did you get the book published?

Leslie Cavendish - Cutting EdgeI had the story to tell as I have a good memory and many press cuttings letting me know that I wasn't dreaming it.. I found the publisher "Alma Books" after I had contacted many publishing houses who all said it was a good story but.....I met Lorenzo who is a book agent (Book on Tree), he read the synopsis and decided that it was a story that had to be told as it was different to any he had read about life with the Beatles and the culture of the sixties.He then got in touch with Alma books and they thought that it would make a good read and they believed in it and so it was published on August 21st 2017

How have you promoted the book?

I have been doing many events and also newspaper/radio and TV to promote the book, including Whitechapel library, Oldham Library, The Book Club Shoreditch, The Club at The Ivy(London), a TV documentary at the Sassoon academy, Gulf Radio, Talk Radio, Litchfield Festival, German Beatles convention, the Daily Express and a few other news publications, and I have been asked to go to New York in March for the Fest for Beatles to do a Q/A and book promotion as the book will be published in March 2018 in the USA.

So, go on then, whose hair have you cut?

I have cut The Dave Clark 5,The Who,The Bee Gees,Tony Curtis, James Taylor, Bob Weir, Peter Cook, Jane Asher and many Apple recording artists,Linda McCartney,Suzanna Leigh,James Hunt, Lance Percival, Sir Stirling Moss and their wives and girlfriends, Robert Stigwood and many DJs from the BBC, Emperor Rosco, Stuart Henry, Ashton Gardiner and Terry Stamp and brother Chris, and not forgetting the Apple staff.

How did you meet the Beatles?

Jane Asher was a client of mine and one Saturday morning after cutting her hair she asked if i was doing anything this afternoon because if not could I go around to their house and cut the boyfriend's hair. George Harrison and Leslie Cavendish

I new her boyfriend was Paul McCartney so of course I said yes and after her saying thats good she said "what time is convenient for you" so I said about 6pm (I had gone to football to see QPR v Swindon: we won 3-1) and she said that time is fine,I asked where do you live and she said 7 Cavendish Ave (next to my second favorite sporting place, Lords cricket ground) ,I said thats really strange because thats my surname.Jane said to me "well maybe it was meant " and it was.

Tell us a Beatles anecdote

I was asked to do an interview for Disc magazine and the journalist was also a client of mine.So we went to the Picasso cafe in the Kings Rd and she asked me about the texture of the Beatles hair, I hadn't realized that she was up to something and because I thought i was Jack the Lad (street wise) I just went along with it.

What about Pauls hair she said. His hair is in good condition and he has also a good head of hair. George--very good hair and its quite thick. Ringo-his hair is also thick and good to work with.. John -His hair is ok mmmmmmmmmmmmm. She picked up on that said if any of the Beatles in years to come was going to lose their hair i suppose it would be John?

I hesitated and said "Well if you say it like that I suppose that could happen" Then we just carried on for a bit and then the interview was over. A few days later I get a call from Derek Taylor(Beatles press officer) at 11pm at night and as I picked it up I knew something was wrong as he wouldn't call at that time unless its important.

"What have you said to the press" I replied I don't know what you mean.So why are they saying that Beatles hairdresser Leslie Cavendish says that Lennon is going bald?

In the morning I bought the papers and yes there it was "Beatles Hairdresser says John Lennon is going bald", I knew when I went to work that morning Lennon was going to call me and after about one hour the phone rang and it was John.

As I answered it i could tell it was his voice because he said in that John Liverpool accent "Leslie", With that, I just said I'm sorry about this but they took it out of context and I blabbered on just saying i didn't say it. Lennon then interrupted my pathetic apology and said "Dont tell me about the f-----g press taking things out of context look what they did to me saying that I said The Beatles are bigger than Jesus Christ", With that he stopped and said am I really going f-----g bald? again I said no. He replied "well, you better come over now just in case it starts to fall out"

I then went over to Saville Row and met him and trimmed the ends of his hair. He could have been really uptight with me but he wasnt and it showed he had a sense of humour.

Leslie

My book,The Cutting Edge: The Story of the Beatles’ Hairdresser Who Defined an Era, was published in August 2017. Please use this link below if you'd like to buy a copy.

There’s nothing odd about the Squad: Steve Dearden on the Writing Squad

Posted Wednesday 13 September 2017 by Ian Anstice in Opinion

WS Logo

I recently met up with Steve Dearden of the Writing Squad to try to get a handle on what they did and how they could work with libraries. My thanks to Steve for so patiently explaining things that it became a blog post. He's a lovely guy and the Writing Squad clearly do great work. What do they do? Well, strange you should ask ....

What we do …

Our mission is simple, to create the next generation of writers in the North.

Every two years we recruit 30 writers aged 16-21 who live, work or study in the North of

England and offer them workshops led by professional writers as well as 1-1 support from our Core Team. Making up that team along with me are poet Helen Mort, novelist Jenn Ashworth and writer/artist Stevie Ronnie.

Steve DeardenAfter the two year programme we continue to offer writing and professional development as our ‘grads’ begin their careers.  We help them establish themselves as individual artists, collectives or new start up companies. We link them with the literature industry and independent sector, while encouraging them to produce and distribute work themselves, and of course they become part of the wider Squad - a community of artists who support each other's development.

We also set up projects with partners like Read Manchester, Manchester Literature Festival and Hull Libraries to give our grads the commissions and work experience they need to get a track record, build their CV and secure further work. Increasingly we have become the go to organisation for people looking for emerging writers - this is perhaps not the happiest example, but the day after the Manchester Arena attack, Le Monde got in touch to ask us to find a writer to capture the city’s mood.

How have we done?

We have worked with 179 writers in 8 Squads since 2001 and are still in contact with 123 of them.  Over the last year we have given support to 93.

33 of the 179 currently make all, or a substantial part of their living through writing or cultural activities as theatre/TV/film scriptwriters, theatre makers, band members, performance artists, journalists, copy and content writers, a game writer, a translator, a radio drama producer.

29, while not making significant income, have become recognised as emerging poets, prose writers, playwrights, film writers and makers, songwriters, publishers and performers.

Visit our website to meet some of our writers, see where they have ended up and even buy their books, songs and magazines.

What distinguishes us from other writer development programmes? 

Our support is rigorous and long term, we can work with a writer over a period of 2-12 years as and when they need it.  What we offer is shaped by the constant renewal of their needs, ambitions and circumstances. We work around their life circumstances, where they are, what they are up to, their physical and mental health.

We are early adopters, fleet of foot, a virtual organisation enabled by technology.  For us building is a verb, not a noun, our assets are people and time, so our Arts Council England National Portfolio funding goes into activity rather than overheads.

If someone comes to us with new challenges or interesting partnership ideas - we tend to say yes.

What can we offer libraries and librarians?

Passionate writers and readers with experience of working with the public. Writers and readers who can be role models for young library users and offer fresh perspectives to adults or all ages!

As more of our grads are published or produced we can broker visits to readers and book groups.  They can share their own work with you, but also talk about their reading. I am constantly being nudged away from the known, familiar and already well promoted else by their eclectic tastes, as well as re-exploring the classics I read at their age, but in the context of today.

We are always on the look out for projects that give our writers experience - whether that is simply offering a workshop for your users, or something more creative - for instance we have set up and run library based young writer groups in Manchester and Hull, made a film as part of an intergenerational workshop in Leeds, spent a weekend at John Rylands Library exploring what it is like to write on things other than paper - glass, bone, china for instance. We have supplied menu poems for a restaurant, made online soundscapes for the Amy Johnston Festival, and been writers in residence in a bank.

Obviously we know our writers and will only recommend people up to the job! And it is a job for them, they are emerging professional writers, so this isn’t a free service, we would want them to be paid unless there was a significant advantage - a guaranteed sale of their books, or a professional development experience they could not get elsewhere.

So if you have an idea you want to talk through or are looking for exciting writers at the beginning of their careers, then please do get in touch.

Steve Dearden

Director, The Writing Squad

www.writingsquad.com

North West Libraries

Librarians in the North West have pioneered partnership working to encourage new readers into libraries. Time To Read is a partnership of librarians engaged in reader development activity in public library authorities in the North West Region. 22 public library authorities in the region currently support Time To Read.

Keep up to date

Follow Us

  • flickr
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • twitter

We use cookies to help us provide you with a better service, but do not track anything that can be used to personally identify you.

If you prefer us not to set these cookies, please visit our Cookie Settings page or continue browsing our site to accept them.