By damekor, Aug 8 2014 11:49AM
Posted on Off The Hook Magazine May 2014
Most recently I’ve been mooching the south west streets of England, our sixth most populous city and the ninth most populous urban area, a neighbour to Bath and Gloucester, with fantastic architecture, which includes hundreds of Grade I and II listed buildings. It also boasts theatres such as the Hippodrome, the Tobacco Factory, QEH, the Redgrave, The Alma Tavern and the Old Vic Theatre Royal, a museum and art gallery, a rugby union club, a number of football clubs including the oldest, The Rovers, and Football League, City, it hosts an International Balloon Fiesta (hot air ballooning). This city is also known for building aircraft, playing a key role in the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic airliner project. In 1969 The British Concorde took flight from Filton, and in 2003 Concorde 216 made a final flight home to Filton. It has it’s own university, with graduates including Matt Lucas and David Walliams, it’s own drama school which was opened by Sir Laurence Olivier in 1946, alumni include Helen Baxendale, Jeremy Irons and Daniel Day-Lewis. It has a hilly landscape, and the river Avon runs through it, with a short coastline on the Severn Estuary, flowing into the Bristol Channel. Yeah you got it, I’m talking about Bristol. The Bristolians whose dialect is that of ‘Brizzle’, it’s proper lush here me lover.
Founded in c.1000 and named by ye old English people, Brycgstow, meaning the “place at the bridge”, oh yes it also has bridges and I’m sure you’ve heard of the famous suspension bridge, anyhow back in the day trade was thriving so much, they even had their own mint, and I’m not talking the one with the hole, I’m talking silver pennies. In the 12th century, business was booming all through the 13th century with manufacturing and ship building trading with the Irish, gaining County status as the population and boundaries of the city expanded. Then came the Black Death of 1348-1349 up to half the city’s inhabitants, gone.
Bristol played a big part in the Slave trade, along with Liverpool in the 18th century it was part of the Triangular trade. It fitted out over 2,000 slave ships, goods were taken to West Africa and exchanged for Africans, who were then transported as you can imagine in the most horrendous conditions, across the Atlantic to the Americas and then sold to the aristocracy to be house servants. The Abolition of the Slave Trade act was passed in 1807, William Wilberforce led the British campaign, but it wasn’t until 26 years later that slavery fully abolished.
Come the 19th century, new industries were growing and new tracks were being laid, I’m talking Great Western Railway, connecting Bristol to London Paddington. And that’s the very Railway I rested my bones for the two hour journey.
Well I certainly had a great week experiencing the arts and culture scene here. There is so much to report back on as the scene is thriving. I stumbled upon this gem, Co-LAB, a cool funky shop that describes it’s self as “A Window into Bristol’s Independent Art Scene”. It was the t-shirts that caught my eye, cool prints of animals, but they do it all here, gifts, cards, jewellery. And the best thing for me is that they have local artists and creative’s work on sale and a workshop at the back where the artists create.
I became a frequent punter at Roll for the Soul. Satisfying my taste buds with freshly cooked and healthy food, I’m talking chunky chips with falafel wraps the ‘everything’ includes salad, halloumi and falafel, m mmm, delicious. Roll for the Soul is a pretty funky place with a great vision, it started in 2012 and is a not-for-profit café come bicycle workshop. On the first floor is The Hub which is a meeting and events space, they host live music, yoga class, and currently there is a photography exhibition running until the end of the month.
I definitely recommend a visit, and if like me you like a bit cake, the coffee n walnut cake went down a treat.
Read more about it www.rollforthesoul.org
Now this is where I met up for coffee with non other than the rather gorgeous and rather talented Gary Beadle, who was playing at the Tobacco Factory in the one man show, Banksy: The Room In The Elephant. You’ll know Gary from Eastenders, he played Paul Trueman, and if you are old enough to remember Grange Hill, Gary played Elroy. He was also in the tv series Making Out, Absolutely Fabulous, Holby City, the Bill, and Hustle to name a few.
Gary is on tour with, Banksy: The Room In The Elephant by Tom Wainwright and directed by Emma Callander. Beadle is highly energetic, utterly engaging and compelling to watch as he takes us on a wonderful journey through Tachowa Covington’s story in this very interesting play based on the ensuing events when Tachowa’s home, an old abandoned water tank in LA, was stencilled by street artist Banksy, with the sentence “THIS LOOKS A BIT LIKE AN ELEPHANT”. Tachowa’s home then became a tourist hot spot and no longer his home. Tachowa is an eccentric, free spirit, dressed in a home made suit of armour he would roller-blade along the boardwalk at Venice Beach, and charge tourists 30 bucks a snap. This vagrant was a former Chippendale dancer and Michael Jackson impersonator, Tachowa is a true survivor, he seeks out unconventional abodes, including caves and tents in woodland to live rent free and separate from society at large, describing himself as self-sufficient.
So what’s up next for Gary? Well…currently he is filming on Tony Saint’s new eight part drama, The Interceptor for the BBC, focusing on the adventures of the UNIT a dedicated surveillance team. And most recently he finished working on the feature film, Heart of the Sea playing William Bond and directed by Ron Howard! This film is currently in post-production, so keep your eyes pealed next year for its release.
If you are a theatre lover I also recommend getting yourself down to Bristol Old Vic Theatre on King Street, one of our Countries oldest continuously operating theatres, Grade I listed, it is beautiful, with a 12million pound redevelopment project complete on the Georgian auditorium. Currently May Fest (Bristol’s annual festival of contemporary theatre ~ www.mayfest.co.uk) is underway and there is soo much to see at the theatre ~ visit www.bristololdvic.org.uk