This week I have been mostly being a freedom fighter and culture crusader.
Whereas last week saw me flying the flag for Fair Trade in assemblies, it was the turn of freedom and the abolition of slavery to be ignored by a hall full of blank, sleepy faces each morning this week. On the bright side, I do get to use a microphone and hear my voice booming about me in a diva-like fashion at an ungodly hour. There are perks.
Today marks 200 years since slavery was abolished and has been dubbed Freedom Day. Happy Freedom Day to all! To show our support at school we put forward a plea for all those interested to contribute to our Freedom Wall (which, I suppose, should technically be a Flimsy Freedom Sheet, but same difference) and we were inundated. It was the lure of paint, and mess, and the association with first school frolics with handpainting that drew the crowds. What we were left with would not look out of place as an instalation piece at the Tate Modern. I have only just rid myself of the paint beneath my fingernails. The lengths I go to for a good cause (looking like a grubby street urchin/child from down t'pit), and the sacrifices I make (my gnarled fingernails) know no bounds. Let's just hope that they fail to notice that the permanent marker and paint went through to the corridor wall...
And so from the charitable and compassionate, to the downright Self-ish (see what I did there? Clever huh?). Who would have thought Hexham was such a cultural hotbed, a literary feast of sustenance to nourish us throughout the weekend. And the patron saint of grumpy himself, blissfully acerbic, sardonic, and laconic, Mr Will Self graced our humble theatre with his mighty presence. Decked in head to toe black, walking booted and sallow cheeked, he enthralled with his drawl. The 'creative writing' tinged tone of the festival surroundings paled into insignificance as he took to the stage.
What a dude. And we have an autograph. Not for sale on e-bay. J insisted on asking him what a dystopia was (a preoccupation and repeated theme of the talk). Will - and I feel that we are now on first name terms - gave him the same answer as I did. 'You know what a utopia is? Well, it's the opposite of that really'. J was determined to ask a clever question though, and I looked like a pillock, knowing fine well what dystopia meant and grinning blankly. I should have made some cutting remark, looked really grumpy, and asked him for a cigarette or something stronger. That's the Self style after all.
Poetry the morning after didn't have quite the same 'struck right between the eyes' effect. Flowers and singing birds just don't strike the same tone funnily enough.