Tag Archives: Sheffield

Occupy Sheffield

I overheard a couple of cooks at work the other day discussing the occupation outside of the Cathedral.

‘Well it’s not going to change government policy is it?’

Well. We’ll see.

At present, they’re a disparate group composed of everybody from anarchists, to Christians. They don’t always agree but together they’re looking at a complicated machine and trying to decide the best way to fix it.

They’re getting organised though there isn’t a plan yet. It’s fair to say they’re all pretty definite on the policies below:


High profile feminist Naomi Wolf has publicly shown support for the occupation here, and word is that they’re hoping to stay until at least the new year.

I think public discussion of how we can improve our society is a more powerful force for democratic change than the vote itself.  Sharing our experience gives us a clearer idea of where we want to head together in the future.

Head down, and chat, even if you disagree with what they’re doing.  If you’re not happy, the least you can do is make yourself heard.


Allotment Soup – The Plot Thickens

Allotment Soup- Sunday 23rd October

A trip to Norwood Allotments would require a £4.30 Day Saver and a 40 minute bus journey.

Pete wasn’t convinced.

“I said I’d go so Ill go.  But I think we should just get chips.” he sulked.

Sometimes it’s like being best friends with Holden Caulfield.

Serendipity offered Polly emerging like a sunbeam from Primark as a welcome tonic to Pete’s reticence.  We cuffed, bound and bundled her onto the number 76  and rode off in search of Allotment Soup.

(†) Polly once advised me that even if a blog is terrible, she’ll still scan through it if there are pretty pictures.    In honour of this sentiment, I present to you a photo-journal that whilst largely temporally inaccurate, will hopefully offer some Tumblresque eye candy regardless.

15.30pm It wasn't the easiest place to find on a whim but the sweat of the hill was worth the vista. These few acres felt like the last remaining rags of pre-industrial Sheffield, lovingly held captive by the plot owners. Pinned to the 21st century by wicker arches and canes, and weighted down by an assortment of raggedy greenhouses, it made for a patchwork of happily chaotic construction.

15.35pm Newly built Eco-Loos inspected. Good to know that by shaking your lettuce, you can help cabbages grow.

15.50pm Whittled apples + gnarled tree trunks + bunting = strong possibility that you've stumbled into an Enid Blyton novel. That's maths.

15.55pm Appropriately, there was a liquid ton of soup available. I stuck with the 50p apple pie.

16.20pm This is a lady making a bike-powered smoothie with Abundance's foraged fruit. A fantastic idea. Turns out it makes quite lumpy smoothie though.

16.30pm Fortune smiled at us once again. Typically we'd arrived too late to take a guided tour. Nancy heroically stepped in to give us an endearing and impromptu run-around

This is a scarecrow. A more hellish scarecrow you're unlikely to meet. Apparently he's intended to deter young'uns up to no good. High-vis is, afterall, the hoodie's kryptonite. Incidentally this was the 'her' of a 'his and hers' pair of allotments. Having several intervening allotments is the key to a happy marriage.

This is a close-up of Barnaby the scarecrow. Not, as previously suggested, your author.

18.00 Night began to fall. With the twilight and a tremble of the earth, Madame Zucchini hauled herself from beneath a nearby patch of brambles into the performance clearing; a temperamental though awe-inspiring creature of the plot.

18.10pm Best described as a tyrannical entertainer, Zucchini led us through 'the vegetable alphabet' with an iron first (kudos Polly, for very adamantly shouting 'Zuchini'). In an iconic move destined to cement Zucchinni in the collective Norwood mindset, she at one point threw a paper bag at a disruptive child.

Contrary to popular opinion, it's not often that I see a woman up to her elbow in an anthropomorphic marrow. I swiftly succumbed to Stockholme Syndrome. The show culminated in 'Harry Potter and the Cabbage of Doom', a Pinter-esque reintepretation wherein each vegetable puppet gradually lost their eyes. Pete mused that it was possibly one of the best pieces of post-alternative comedy that he has ever had the pleasure of witnessing.

This is Polly about to throw a sprout at Madame Zucchini.

This is what we did with Madame Zucchini after her act... Not true. Or is it? No, we didn't. They're jacket potatoes.

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 www.ladiyfestsheffield.wordpress.com) 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.

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.