Friday LBC: Words to Live By (plus other things)

(This is a monthly column by Leeds Book Club, who talks about fun and things that have been happening or are coming up over the month.)

We’re a month in – can you believe it?

First things first – a great start to my ‘non-booky’ challenges.

I’ve had my first visit to the City Varieties for a music event and everything ran beautifully. I do love this Grade II listed Victorian venue – purported to be the longest continuous running music hall in Great Britain – with its unique interiors, sense of history and culture and…proximity to one of ‘my’ pubs (@WhiteSwanLeeds)!

Opening up the night were two long lanky creatures – known as The Lost Brothers. The duo has a beautiful country/folk/rock harmony thing going on and I was really impressed by the pair of them, their voices and their presence on the stage.

The main event – Mr Glen Hansard himself – was just tremendous. He played a variety of songs from his differing musical guises (The Frames, The Swell Sessions, Oscar Winner), did an acoustic set in the middle of it, moaned that all his music was a bit depressing before attempting to inspire his audience to some irreverence. Apparently we were one of the quietest audiences he’s ever had!
You try being rowdy before that majestic stage!

Anyhoo, a great night out and I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for more events at this venue.

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Sharing Stories was launched last week in Leeds by the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. This campaign is all about increasing awareness about mental health and learning difficulties while simultaneously breaking down related stigma and discrimination.

Leeds Book Club members were eager to be involved in the Book of the Month scheme, as devised by Arts and Minds Leeds (say hi to Tom on twitter @ArtsMindsLeeds), Leeds Libraries and Leeds Waterstones. The titles that they’ve picked represent a varied range of books and styles so there should be something for everyone!

A gang of our intrepid and fearless book clubbers will each read one of the titles on a monthly basis and review them with especial regards to their portrayal of those with mental health challenges. We may even look at holding some physical honest-to-goodness book clubs about them if there is enough interest (yes, I have a problem).

If you’d like to get involved, or review a book or join in the conversation, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or any of the linked above!

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Fancy a wander down the culture trail? Then why not head down to the Bowery in Headingley? For those not in the know, this is a gem of a coffee shop/cafe/art and photography gallery/tutorial space

They have a ‘Cutting into Colour’ exhibition on at the moment featuring original lithographs by Henri Matisse alongside responses from contemporary artists. I’ve been threatening to go since last year but with the exhibition running only until the 15th of February, it’s time to get the auld skates on!

Have to admit, I’m not terribly well informed about Matisse – unless repeated reading of his Wikipedia count? My first real exposure was only a few years ago when I visited the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin. Since then, I’ve become hooked on his bold splashes of colour and indomitable creative spirit (and am indeed using one of his illustrations from the Minotaur as my computer background). Given that his lithography is so minimalist and deceptively simplistic in appearance, I’m looking forward to seeing how contemporary artists have responded.

Matisse wasn’t necessarily a modest man when it came to his art, and described his later works as being in context with a future time period. It’ll be interesting to see if we’ve caught up with him yet!

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Seeing as how I’m waxing lyrical about Art, I have to quickly mention the exhibition that’s just opened at Leeds Gallery (Munro building – it can be accessed via @Cafe164 – an LBC venue).

One by One…By the Way showcases the photographic work of Tony Woolliscroft. The UK born artist has spent the last twenty years touring with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and other acts and recently published a book of photos of the band, with personal titbits and anecdotes.

This show celebrates the RHCP and Foo Fighters – two of my ‘essentials’ during adolescence. I’m going but only once I dust off my Radiohead long sleeved tee, goth up my make up (or you know, wear some for a change) and practice my Dave Grohl inspired swoon.

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Next Tuesday is Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day if you’d prefer (oooh, it’s that St Stephens versus Boxing Day dilemma all over again).
Pancake Tuesday was thus named due to the need for Christian families to use up milk and eggs and other rich products before Lent began the following day. Internationally, this day is often referred to as Mardi Gras, meaning ‘fat Tuesday’, and many parts of the world hold carnivals on this night.

The following day is Ash Wednesday and within the Catholic traditions, a person is expected to self-deprive and repent of all their sins for a period of 40 days and 40 nights (as I’m never sure whether to count Sundays or not, I usually go for 44). While I am not necessarily a person of faith, I’ve always enjoyed the discipline that this requires so have, for the last few years, amended slightly the Lenten Doctrine to better suit my personality.

Rather than remove something negative from my life, I’ve decided to try and add something beautiful to it. Two years ago, I read a poem a day for the Lenten period (HERE).
This time last year, I compiled ridiculously detailed lists of classical music to teach myself a bit about it and listened to a piece daily.

This year I find myself equally enthusiastic, if somewhat time deprived and torn between what I’d like to do. As I’ve previously covered an area of literature and music; it would be great to do something artistic – like study the essentials of 50 major artists but it’ll take me weeks to decide which ones to include!

Instead, I’ve purchased me one of those ’50 Greatest Opera’ cd’s and will be working my way through one a day. If I can at all, I’ll blog it, but I’ll keep you posted on my progress via twitter regardless.

If you’d like to join me, drop me a line and I’ll let you know the set list I’m working from!

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Oh yes, Valentines Day will soon be upon us.


For those of you who will not be following my stellar activity of getting up, going to work then coming home again as though it were a perfectly normal day*; there are several activities available across the town.

  • Elland Road will be hosting it’s 22nd Valentines Fair for the half term holidays. As always it will incorporate traditional fun fair attractions, rides and fireworks with charitable enterprise. This year, the fair will be supporting Martin House Hospice, which cared for young people and children with life limiting illnesses and their families.

*Don’t blame me. I’ve long been a cynical sort about this particular marketing ploy…I mean romantic celebration of luuurve.

I wasn’t the sort of teenager that needed to be too aware of Valentines Day back in the day – in fact; I was the bore going on about massacres. Now I’m all old and settled and boring, I can’t imagine anything more horrifying that having to doll up after a work day to head out on the tiles for an over priced meal, in a crowded restaurant. And it’ll be raining. It’s always raining.
Colour me cold hearted. I know.

Just be grateful I’m not trying to disguise my anti-cupid tendencies on a desire ‘to show love and affection the whole year round and not just on one day’.
See, I’m good to you really!

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This is one of my busier book clubbing months, with two of the non-monthlys so if you fancy meeting like minded souls, feel free to drop in – we’ve loads on the go! We’ve also started our #Poem2013 Challenge, so if you’re looking for inspiration, head no further.

Otherwise, TTFN!

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