The Mick Jagger Centre 10th Anniversary Event

20th March 2010 

 

 

The Write Place Creative Writing School was proud to take part in the celebrations that marked the tenth anniversary of The Mick Jagger Centre. Chosen students enthusiastically undertook work using the titles of Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger song titles. Poetry and pros was displayed in the foyer of the centre for one month along with photographs of the students that typified the title of their work.

 

All photography was by Michael Everest and displayed with the permission of the students. Below we show the work accompanied by the photograph of each participating student. Our grateful thanks go to all students who took part in this enterprise as well as Michael for giving his valuable time and the staff of the Mick Jagger Centre who helped us with room space and their interest whilst the photographs were taken.

 

 

DEAD FLOWERS

by

Gerry Savill

  

 

 

Jim watched Beatrice through the kitchen window. She was washing up but he could tell by the droop of her shoulders that she was sad. Her movements were slow, instead of her usual bustling style. It seemed like a great effort to her.

            Death did that to you. She had been like it when one their daughters had been killed. Those had been bad, black days. Beatrice said afterwards that it had been like moving through treacle. Jim didn't want to be reminded of that time; it was too painful. Now this. Another death for her to contend with. All he wanted to do was comfort her but he had never been very good at the emotional stuff.

            As she wiped down the kitchen table a few petals from a vase of flowers dropped. She picked them up and held them against her cheek. The flowers were dead. That was strange. She was usually very fussy and normally would never have left dead flowers in the house. He had an idea.

            Jim retrieved his secateurs and placed them around the stem of a sweet pea ready to snip. A hand still his movement.

            "Dad, what are you doing?"

            "Just cutting some flowers for your mother."

"But Dad, these are you prize blooms, you've been cultivating these all year for the flower show."

            "I know but your mother needs them more at the moment."

            "I was just going to pop in and see her."

            "You're a good girl. She is very depressed at the moment."

            "She'll be mad if you cut those blooms though. All the time you spent out here with them when she wanted you to be doing things and your excuse was always the flower show. They do smell fantastic though."

            "That's why I grew them - for the fragrance."

            With that he cut a handful of his prize blooms. He felt sad. He had lavished so much attention on them, maybe more than on Beatrice, if he was truthful with himself. It was only fitting that she should have them. He wanted to see her smile again.

            He glanced into the kitchen through the window. Kathy was already there, sitting at the table while Beatrice was stacking the dishes away. He heard the phone ring and Beatrice left to answer it. He darted into the kitchen and swapped the newly cut blooms for the dead ones. Father and daughter smiled at each other in their little conspiracy. As Beatrice walked back into the kitchen the strong heady aroma of the  sweet peas hit her, stopping her dead on the spot. Jim's prize blooms. She would recognise the smell anywhere. God, how she had hated those damn flowers.

 She picked up the vase. The smell was intoxicating but she couldn't understand how that could be. The flowers were dead. She hadn't the heart to throw them away just yet. Jim had cut them the day he died.

 

  

SALT OF THE EARTH

 by

Christine Webb 

 

 

 

The Victorian philanthropist Titus Salt was by name and nature the salt of the earth. By the middle of the nineteenth century he was the largest employer in Bradford. The five textile mills he owned produced high quality woollen cloth. Unlike most of his fellow employers he was genuinely concerned for the welfare of his workers. The 1851 census reveals that, as the woollen industry boomed, the population of Bradford had grown eightfold in the previous fifty years. There was no infrastructure to support this ballooning population and the consequences were disastrous. Over two hundred factory chimneys continually belched out black sulphurous smoke making Bradford the most polluted town in England. The textile workers were housed in appalling conditions with no access to clean water or proper sanitation. The River Beck, into which the town's sewage was dumped, was also the main source of drinking water, leading to frequent outbreaks of cholera and typhoid. Fewer than one in three children born to textile workers reached the age of fifteen and life expectancy of just over eighteen was one of the lowest in the country.

Salt was a practical man who wanted to tackle these problems. He had the Rodda Smoke Burner fitted to all his factories once he discovered this produced very little pollution. When he became mayor of Bradford in1848 he tried to persuade the council to pass a by-law forcing all factory owners to do the same. It was vigorously opposed; many mill owners refused to accept that the smoke damaged people's health.

Unable to improve Bradford's environment, Salt decided in 1850 to move his business to a nearby beauty spot three miles away on the banks of the River Aire. He constructed the largest and most modern textile mill in Europe, incorporating many features to improve working conditions. Inside it was far less dirty, dusty and noisy and the mill chimney was fitted with Rodda Smoke Burners. At first his workers travelled out to the mill but Salt was keen to improve their living conditions as well as their working environment. Over the next twenty years he built a village called Saltaire around the mill. The workers' houses had piped fresh water, gas was laid on to provide lighting and heating and every family had their own outside lavatory. This was far superior to the housing available in other industrial towns. Saltaire also had its own park, hospital, church, library and shops as well as public baths and wash-houses.

Salt was active in politics, he was elected as an MP in 1859 but resigned two years later because of ill-health. His views were generally quite radical. He supported the reduction of the working day to ten hours in factories and was in favour of adult suffrage. However he refused to let his workers join trade unions, perhaps believing that, given a benevolent employer they were unnecessary. More surprisingly he employed young children in his factories and had opposed the 1833 Factory Act designed to prevent the employment of children under nine.

He died in 1876, the year the last building in Saltaire was completed. By then his fortune was gone. In his lifetime he probably gave away more than half a million pounds to good causes. His lasting legacy is the village of Saltaire, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its attractive Italianate buildings in warm yellow sandstone.

 

  

As Tears Go By

by

Francesca Burgess

 

 

An excerpt from the story:


My mother is wrong. The hurt won't ever go away.

There's a stinging at the back of my eyes which I try to get rid of by blinking rapidly. I don't want people in the park to see me cry. It's thinking of Charlie that makes me feel tearful, remembering all the times mum made snide remarks about him, saying he was a trouble maker. She never liked him. I bet she's pleased he's gone.

I'm sitting on the bench Charlie and I often came to, next to the big oak tree. It was 'our' spot. He made me laugh, Charlie did. He was funny. Funny peculiar, mum said.

'I went through the same thing at your age,' she told me this morning, fed up with my tears. 'Your first time. It'll get better, honestly.'

 I don't believe she can have ever been my age. 

 

 

LITTLE RED ROOSTER

by

Pat Clarke 

 

 

                 

'Cock a doodle doo' came loud and clear through the open window.

          Rob, my husband shot up in bed: "What on earth is that noise?"

          I opened a bleary eye, "It's the local cock waking his retinue up." I told him as the sound repeated itself.

          "For goodness sake, we can't put up with that every morning." He peered through half-closed eyes at the radio clock, "It's only 5 am. I'll have to complain to the farmer!"

          "So what do you suppose he's going to do about it? Put a gag on him? Send for the nearest fox to deal with it?" I was more than a little annoyed at being woken up so abruptly by Rob.

           "We might just as well get up now. I'm wide awake after that racket!" My grumpy husband declared."You can make the tea while I get showered."

          I resisted an impulse to kick him out of bed. He had been the instigator of our move from the town to this commuter village. I'd taken some persuading because it would mean finding new schools for the children and arranging child-care after school. Not only that but I was really going to miss being down the road from my parents as well as the friends I'd made.

          "Also," he'd added, "we can grow vegetables and perhaps even keep hens."

          Oh, yes. I'd forgotten that bit! "What makes you assume that I want to get up?" I growled at him, "when you stop moaning I intend to go back to sleep for an hour or so, so just shut up. If you want a cup of tea you can flipping well make it yourself. And don't wake the kids or you can look after them." I added irritably.

          I snuggled under the covers and closed my eyes. 'Cock a doodle doo' our friendly neighbourhood cock was not to be deterred.

          Rob leapt out of bed and went to the window. There was a blessed silence from him so hoping he wasn't going to throw something, I prepared to snuggle down again

          Then, "Oh, Sarah, do come and look at this little red rooster. He's got all his hens trailing along behind him in a procession. He looks so dignified and so sweet!"

          "I don't believe it!" I uttered, using Victor Mildew's renowned words as I reluctantly shuffled out of bed and over to the window.

 

   

ANGIE

by

Angela Johnson

 

                                                                                                      

                         

 

 

               Young  men with silky hips

                         and sulky lips and cruel smiles,

                         Said they loved me, walked away.

                         I tried so hard, dyed my hair, hid my tears,

                         Dresses that made my father swear.

                         I wasn't for them - a girl from Welling.

                         I knew all along it wouldn't last.

                    Not quite clean, not quite decent,

                         Edge of danger, a whiff of Satan.

                         Oh their words and oh their music,

                         Nothing like that beat of madness; 

                         That guitar bashing;

                         the throb of his song, the curl of his lips.

                         And I settled for something quiet

                         a boy with a smile who held my hand.