The Sums of Necessity – Choosing Between Intellectual and Nutritional Succour, Sucker

My mechanic read my mind last week.

I imagine there is a complicated ‘rubbish driver’ specification that must be fulfilled before the God of Grease Monkeys bequeaths this gift to a psychically soliciting repairman. Such precursors to this opening of the ‘fiscal third eye’ include:

– ‘Parking’ the car with a flourish upon the kerb, wheels akimbo twixt pavement and road.

– Refusing to remove ‘P’ plates more than a year after purchasing the car.

– Driving to the garage the wrong way down a one way street.

In such cases of utter un-roadworthiness, the God of Grease must necessarily punish the offending driver. My MOT man looked deep into my eyes, mentally bypassed my HSBC security questions and charged me the exact amount left in my bank account to pass Hilda the Nissan Micra as fit to stagger the streets.

As such, Erasmus is much echoing the halls of my brain, with a quote well exploited by Blackwell’s stationary range: “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes”.

And thus the question of the week in judging various nearly free events boils down to this: “Was partaking in this event better than spending my time trying to scrounge food?”

Daisy Daisy Does at The Red House

Loss of Earnings

Obligatory Drink to Thank The Red House for Hosting the Event:  Around £3.00 a pint

Donation to Sheffield Rape & Sexual Abuse Counselling Service (SRASACS): £3.00

Zine: £2.00 (discounted by 50p, thanks Chella!)

Better than spending time scrounging food?

For sure.  The turnout wasn’t massive, but it was a case of quality over quantity.  I’d choose a bunch of happy go lucky feminists happily bouncing off the pub walls over a Marks & Spencer’s meal deal any day of the week, which would be about the equivalent price.  I also chose Guinness as my obligatory drink, which arguably counts as dinner.

The ‘Adventures in Menstruating’ zine that I picked up is a once in a lifetime acquisition that I consider a delight to own.

It’s full of hilarious sexist 1940’s advertisements that nevertheless provided an education on the origins of menstrophobia that I would never have fully appreciated otherwise.  Hats off to the ever eloquent Chella Quint, and thanks for the period stain badges.

Stains TM massive:  represent!

Brap brap.


Book Swap at The Winter Gardens 

Loss of Earnings:

Through Giving Away a Perfectly Sellable Book: Alfred Tennyson’s In Memoriam probably weighs in at about £3.00, possibly £3.50 with the addition of my insightful annotations.   

Better than spending time scrounging food?

I picked up an absolute winner in exchange Lord T’s dismal tome, in the form of a piece of 80’s magic called Starlust – The Secret Fantasies of Fans.  The following extracts were my favourites, and were recited with gusto down the length of Eccy Road:

Oh God, didn’t he look beautiful! – And I just couldn’t get to sleep because I was aching so much for him.  God, Corrinne, my love is getting deeper and deeper for him, and I just don’t know how to cope with it!

Lots and Lots of Barryhugs, Manilove, and as always Manilust.


Last Tuesday I was curled up in bed just thinking about Bowie and all of a sudden I felt this tingly thing inside me and I heard a quick squirting noise.


If a nuclear war did happen I’d be thinking, is Boy George safe?

The above anecdotes put Pete in such a good mood that he made mushroom risotto and shared it with me.  Covert grub grab achieved!

Fungal Foray at Cemetery Park

Loss of Earnings

Sacking off a Shift at Work: £20.00, though frankly it’s unholy to ask someone to work on a Sunday.

Better than spending time scrounging food?

I was hoping to be honest that this would be a two for one educational/yummy exploit.  Alas, one must ‘never eat an urban mushroom’.  We did, however, learn some cracking common names for the abundant species in the park, such as  ‘Death Cap’, ‘Driad’s Saddle’, ‘Jew’s Ears’ and ‘Stump Puffball’, which frankly made us feel a bit like we were in Lord of the Rings.  And let’s face it, Frodo must have got hungry once in a while in the course of his adventures and he didn’t moan, so neither should we.

The Future of the Book – A Debate

Loss of Earnings

Necessarily Needing to Go to the Pub Afterwards:  In sum total, about £4.00.  Thank goodness for The Brown Bear and their ridiculously cheap pints.

Better than spending time scrounging food?

No, not really.  The debate consisted mostly of middle of the road panellists offering tepid discussion about whether the Kindle would kill the book, and a few stalwarts of the paperback raving about the ‘screenagers’ of the next generation with their shortened attention spans and extra opposable thumbs.

In summary:

– Feminist entertainment kills hunger

– Adopting the hobbit sustenance stance develops a stoical mindset towards an empty stomach

– Sit near the back at literary debates in case you need to sneak out, or you’ll have to spend cash on recovery drinks.

– Soft porn can be used to wrangle meals from friends




LaDIY Fest – The Nuts and Bolts of a Grrrl Revolution

In advance of November’s LaDIY fest, we spoke to co-organiser Cara to get the scoop on the who’s, what’s, when’s and where’s of this grassroots phenomenon.  

For those who aren’t in the know, can you sum up LaDIYfest in one sentence?

‘LaDIYfest is an inclusive, DIY, anti-capitalist, community based feminist festival taking place on 12th-13th November 2011’

Who are the main players in the Sheffield incarnation of LaDIYfest and what inspired you to bring the event to the city?

There have been quite a few people involved, past and present and everyone seems to chip in when and how they can which works really well because everyone has different areas of experience and skill and interest. I think most of us have read about or attended previous Ladyfests in other places – Sheffield is such an amazing city, it seemed almost wrong there hadn’t been one before. 

What sort of response have you had so far?

The response has been amazing! There have been so many people who have wanted to run workshops or perform, we’re currently trying to sort out the program to be able to cram in as much as possible. Hopefully if this event goes as well as it feels it might we can do even bigger and better things in future. 

There have been loads of peripheral fundraising events gearing up to main extravaganza.  Can you tell me about a couple that you particularly enjoyed?

I think the ‘Bring Your Own Band’ event that we did took us all by surprise because it was so much fun largely because we weren’t really sure what to expect – we didn’t really know who would turn up and want to perform or how well it would fit together and it was just brilliant. It’s something we’re hoping to continue doing every couple of months after the main event. The fundraising events are really important because we have to raise all the money for everything ourselves.

The aim is to cover all our costs before the event so that any money paid and donated for tickets will go 100% direct to the Sheffield Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Service who we are raising money for.

How easy is it for people to get involved?

Very easy! We have weekly meetings (all the details, minutes and general info get posted on and anyone can come along even if it’s just to say hi and see what’s going on. Over the last few weeks there have been quite a few new faces have that have only just arrived in Sheffield and it’s been so exciting hearing their thoughts and ideas and see what they want to do. We can also be emailed or found on Facebook or just come along to something we’re organising and say hello, it’s never too late to jump on board. 

What are your aspirations for how LaDIYfest can help progress the feminist movement in Sheffield?

I’d love to see future generations of people getting involved and taking on continuing to organise LaDIYfests; there’s always so much you can do with other areas or a different emphasis to focus on. LaDIYfest is whatever the people involved make it, so it feels really exciting to see what the next group of people might create.

Freesheffield will be shaking their bones at the next LaDIY fundraiser hosted by Daisy Daisy Does at The Red House tomorrow (8pm on the 8th).  Featuring Standard Fare (check out their video below), Town Bike and Markie, with a disco for the dirty-stop-out brigade until some unholy hour.  Entry’s £4 unless you turn up after the bands when it’s free.   


Pecha Kucha Sheffield

Pecha Kucha No 7 – September 28th 2011

Last Thursday Pecha Kucha held their seventh event in the city to help raise funds for Portland Works.

The theme of the evening was ‘firsts’, with talks exploring the creation (and first play in the UK!) of South Sudan’s national anthem, the first knife made using an innovative new forging method, the first mix of Sheffield’s aural landscape and the first parkour coaching association.

In tribute to Pecha Kucha’s ‘twenty slides of twenty seconds each’ rule, I offer you an account of the evening in twenty action-packed squares.

Sheffield’s Fairs and Markets: Weekend Explosion!

Here for your delectation – A round up of this weekend’s markets and fairs.

St Mary’s Vintage & Craft Market

Entry Requirements: £1.00.  This included entry into a draw to win a print of the Tinsley Towers.

Twee Factor:  Produce ranged from Kath Kitson to Albert Trotter chic on the whimsy scale, with a good selection of badges, jewelry, prints and handmade clothing.

Something for Nothing?:  St Mary’s have had a rough year due to cuts and sadly had to close their fantastic cafe and put the brakes on The Sharrow Pie Experiment (not to mention having to lay off many of their staff).  The pound entry fee will help them to get back onto their feet.  A warm feeling of philanthropy for not quite nothing?  Good enough for me.

Comments: There wasn’t much we could buy for our budget but in terms of window shopping, this was an all round win.

Overall bunting score: ****

Harvest Festival and Woodfair at Lynwood Gardens

Entry Requirements:  Nowt.

Twee Factor:  Less twee, more rugged rural.

Something for Nothing?:  Free juice from Abundance and some pleasant music.

Comments:  It was great to see this largely unused bit of ground transformed for the day.  It would’ve been nice if it had been advertised more in Broomhall.  The local residents didn’t seem to have a clue what was going on.

Overall bunting score: **

Netheredge Farmer’s Market

Entry Requirements:  Repetitions of “I will keep my fiscal wits about me” are useful, lest you leave much much poorer than when you entered.  I accidentally bought a £9.00 Nepalese bobble hat.

Twee Factor:  A particularly Northern brand of twee, with dashingly uniformed brass bands,  hefty loaves, Ostrich eggs, sausage, and used books.

Something for Nothing?:  Pete partook in some free tasters.  Apparently they varied in quality.

Comments:  Certainly the biggest of the four events, sprawling over a few streets.  Plenty of footfall which made for a bustling atmosphere.

Overall bunting score: ****

Zine Fair

Entry Requirements: An appreciation of the DIY attitude

Twee Factor:  More hip than twee.

Something for Nothing?:  Lots of freebies.  My favourite was a tiny book made by Catherine Elms on ‘Things I dislike!”.  This is what I think is great about zines (homemade magazines usually about a niche subject) – they’re personal pieces shared with a complete stranger.  You have to admire the fearlessness involved in producing a zine.  And the individuality of the product is always refreshing.

Comments:  Welcoming, nice venue, wish we’d been able to stick around for the workshops.

Overall bunting score:  ***

What Would Captain Planet Do?

Peope and Planet present ‘An Ethical Tour’ – September 23rd 2011

In spite of the fact that I have no current plans to repay my student loan, a strong urge compels me to exploit University/Union services to the utmost extent of the law.  It’s important to get one’s money’s worth.

With this in mind, I adopted my ‘startled fawn’ face in the hopes of passing as a fresher and joined the People and Planet guides on the concourse for an ethical tour of Sheffield replete with free samples.

People and Planet are a student group who are apparently a bit like The Green Party.  They’ve recently won a campaign to stop the Union’s shop from stocking water bottles and the next big challenge is to get them to bank with upright Co-operative over Natwest, a subsidiary of ‘The R’Oil’yal Bank of Scotland’.

The plan today was to hit Beanies, the Union shop, New Roots, PJ Taste, Co-op Bank, Blue Moon Cafe and Access Space, which in terms of free stuff equated to some sausage roll, elderflower cordial, a tiny Cappucino, one truffley cupcake and a tote bag.  While this made for a pleasing lunch, I also learnt the following:

  1.  PJ Taste stocks Our Cow Molly milk.  The milk on the shelves today was in an udder at 5am this morning at Cliffe House Farm in Sheffield.
  2. New Roots shop has a very cool downstairs area open to the public, featuring a saggy old couch and a piano.
  3. Beanies in Crookesmoor stocks vegetarian fish fingers.

These aren’t the cheapest of places, but every penny spent helps rather than hinders the welfare of workers without negatively impacting the environment.  You don’t need to get a tattoo saying ‘what would Captain Planet do?’ to prove your green credentials – just splash out once in a while in the name of a good cause.

Keep updated here on  when the next ethical tour is coming up.  I’ll be there for the free lunch but I’ll trawl the pocket fluff for a few quid for coffee too.

Hit and Run Poetics

I found this poem walking through Broomhill on a summer’s evening.  It was about the time that the students were moving out, and I suppose this fell from one of their bags.  Or it was wilfully dropped in a last ditch attempt to coax fate into reuniting them with their lover-gone-by.  It’s the sort of thing I would have done.

‘June’ is a piece of writing that most of us can relate to. It flavoured the walk home with the taste of my own short-lived, clumsy and generally tragic love stories, and made me do the sums that all of us do occasionally of whether things were better then or now.   I wish I could talk to the person who wrote it.

Inspired by this, and the Guardian’s Book Swap project, I’ve been considering whether we could set up a city wide exchange.

A group of poets select three of their best, hand write a few copies and then leave them places where they can change somebody’s day.  If there was a link to a website underneath the poem, the finder could post their response and maybe start up a dialogue about it.

Please share thoughts, and if you’d like to take part, let me know.

Oh, to be a Groundling and a Stinkard

The Crucible presents ‘Othello’ – September 15th 2011

If I had seen Othello in the 17th century, I would have definitely slummed it in ‘the pit’.

 Pit  /pit/

Noun:  A sweaty maelstrom of ‘groundlings’ in the standing section of The Globe, sourced from the surrounding Southwark, the Jacobean equivalent of a red light district.  

For the princely sum of one pence, you could rock up, eat, slug, gossip, sling slander at the actors and generally revel your codpiece off.

And the audience at last night’s one pound public dress rehearsal channelled all the best bits of the of a groundling’s soul.  Which is why, for the following reasons, The Crucible should strive even during these wintry evenings of discontent to keep public dress rehearsals going:

1.  Anyone can come, from Dogberry to Don Pedro.  I came with a small pack of people.  At least three wouldn’t hit and run a loo in a theatre for fear of coming out poorer than they went in.  Ideally, theatres should work like libraries- a completely free service considered necessary for the public good.

Alas, that isn’t how it is.  But what if, for one night only, your average joe gets a taste of a new sort of inspiration, in a form unfamiliar?   It’s a new string to his bow, another ingredient in his cauldron that can help him to explore new aspects of whatever form of creativity he produces in life.

 2.  You lose the hushed reverence.  We’d been warned the actors might sometimes call for line prompts; that the director might stop the performance to give extra direction; that scenes might be repeated.

As a result, the theatrical experience felt less formal and more carnival.

There was a steady burble of speech in my section, and an unprecedented amount of guffawing, squeals and exclamations at inappropriate moments.  A friend of mine hid her face during every one of Othello’s and Desdemona’s snogging scenes, becoming in the process almost as entertaining as the actors.

With an increased freedom of expression comes a freer engagement with the play. What’s more, it’s a more communal experience, where the reactions of others in the crowd are a thought provoking addition to the scenes on stage.

3. Finally, you’ll get more honest feedback.  If someone spends £15 on a ticket, they’re going to be reluctant to slam the interpretation.  We collectively hated the first twenty minutes, feeling that it embodied the dull unintelligibility that Shakespeare meant to us in secondary school.

Ee by Gum

The Renaissance can keep the fleas, rats, plague and body odour, but the joie de vivre of the all-in no holds barred pit could be a welcome breath of fresh air, even if it only is once in a run.

Thanks to The Crucible then, for giving me the opportunity to spend a unique evening with my friends and fellow city dwellers.  And thanks for giving us an Iago with a Sheffield accent.  That was ace.