The SEED Trust

These films were produced for the national Sperm, Egg and Embryo Donation (SEED) Trust by Mutual Shoots Ltd. The SEED Trust provides impartial advice, support and information to prospective donors, intended parents and surrogates. These films give an insight into the egg donation experience from people who have been through it themselves.

The films are also available on the SEED website and more information can be found via the following link – http://seedtrust.org.uk/donor-experiences/egg-donor-films/

A Celebration of Differences

The City Festival celebrates Leicester in the heart of the city. Taking place over eleven fun-filled days, sites across the city were filled with street entertainment, sports, culture, music, art, heritage and more!

Many thanks to The invasion by Kud Ljud, Bees! The Colony by Artizani, Vegetable Nannies by Plunge Boom, Block by NoFit State and Motionhouse, Baba Yaga’s House by Dizzy O’Dare, Wild Technique Breakers: Leicester’s Only Breakdance Classes, Hold on by Stefano Di Renzo, Juke Boxes by Bootworks Theatre Company, poetry by Mr Shay and music by Cosmocular!

New Thoughts

With the club dangerously close to the relegation zone, Leicester City Football Club sacks their manager, Claudio Ranieri.

Jack (aged 11) then organised a celebration in honour of the manager which led the team to Premiership victory.

Many thanks to DMU Gospel Choir for performing at the event.

Tribute to Ranieri

With the club dangerously close to the relegation zone, Leicester City Football Club sacks their manager, Claudio Ranieri.

Jack (aged 11) then organised a celebration in honour of the manager which led the team to Premiership victory.

Many thanks to DMU Gospel Choir for performing at the event.

Remember! Remember!

A short film including the preparation of the Abbey Park fireworks in Leicester along with the firework display.

Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night, is an annual commemoration observed on 5 November, primarily in Great Britain. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires and fireworks.

The Festival of Lights

A short film including the preparation of the Diwali fireworks along with the firework display.

Diwali celebrations in Leicester are one of the biggest outside of India, with over 35,000 people attending the 2016 switch on of the lights on Belgrave Road and more attending Diwali Day itself, in the heart of the city’s Asian community.

Making The Connection

Falcon Support Services seeks to promote the dignity of vulnerable people at all times by providing high quality, stable, supportive environments and accommodation during their transition to independence. They endeavour to assist vulnerable people in developing the social and life skills necessary to plan and prepare for their futures and help them fully integrate into their local community.

Working Towards Independence

Falcon Support Services seeks to promote the dignity of vulnerable people at all times by providing high quality, stable, supportive environments and accommodation during their transition to independence. They endeavour to assist vulnerable people in developing the social and life skills necessary to plan and prepare for their futures and help them fully integrate into their local community.

Jeremy’s Experience

This film details Jeremy’s experience of becoming homeless how Falcon Support Services have helped him find a home again.

Falcon Support Services seeks to promote the dignity of vulnerable people at all times by providing high quality, stable, supportive environments and accommodation during their transition to independence. They endeavour to assist vulnerable people in developing the social and life skills necessary to plan and prepare for their futures and help them fully integrate into their local community.

Sara’s Experience

This film details Sara’s experience of dealing with alcohol and how Falcon Support Services have helped her through that journey. Some viewers may find the content of this film distressing.

Falcon Support Services seeks to promote the dignity of vulnerable people at all times by providing high quality, stable, supportive environments and accommodation during their transition to independence. They endeavour to assist vulnerable people in developing the social and life skills necessary to plan and prepare for their futures and help them fully integrate into their local community.

Forever Savvy

Forever Savvy is a social enterprise based just south of Leicester.

Forever Savvy is a social enterprise that provides an outdoor, positive risk environment, developing practical transferable skills for independent living & the workplace, to people with moderate/severe learning disabilities.

Those who attend experience & develop a broad range of life skills such as land management, animal welfare, gardening, crafting & catering – improving the emotional health & physical well-being of the trainees in its care.

Established in 2011, Forever Savvy has grown & now consists of 3 established projects (Horse Savvy, Work Savvy & K9 Savvy), based over 2 rural centres around Leicestershire & at various locations out in the workplace.

Many thanks to Thomas Flintham Illustration for sponsoring the production of the film. The music used in this film is Twinkle Twinkle, created by David Mumford from his album Bonfire Music.

More information about Forever Savvy or Thomas Flintham Illustration can be found at http://www.foreversavvy.co.uk/ and http://www.thomasflintham.com/

A Trip To Skegness

The St Matthews Big Local Project is a charity based in Leicester.

They aim to enable people to make their communities better places to live. This is achieved with a community and resident led approach to create lasting change, aimed at developing the skills and confidence of the people involved and enabling them to work with others to the benefit of their community, building on the opportunities available in the community and create lasting, long term solutions.

Many thanks to The Magic Kitchen for sponsoring the production of this short film. The music used in this film is the track Pens From Spain from the album Pens From Spain by the artist Loch Lomond.

More information about St Matthews Big Local or The Magic Kitchen can be found at http://www.stmatthewsbiglocal.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/themagickitchenleicester

Be Happy Yoga

The Be Happy Yoga Project is a local socially responsible organisation based in Leicester, UK. They aim to help individuals improve their quality of life by delivering programmes based on the time-honoured teachings of yoga.

The organisation  focuses on communities who would normally have difficulty accessing these teachings in other ways. They work with existing communities organisations to deliver courses to their service users. The Be Happy Yoga Project are able to offer fully funded and partially funded programmes, so that no one is turned away simply because of cost.

If you are a local charity, social enterprise or community organisation and are interested in finding out more about our programme and whether it might be beneficial for your users, please get in touch via http://www.behappyyoga.org.uk/

Many thanks to EcoYoga for sponsoring this film and the music used is the track Film Ab from the album Moments by Lobo Loco.

Lantern Parade

Performed as a part of the Leicester City Festival, a spectacular Lantern Procession illuminated the beautiful and historic New Walk, meeting up with Danbor Talka: Clash of Drums.

Presented by New Walk Creatives – a consortium representing Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester Arts & Museums, Soft Touch Arts, Leicester Print Workshop, The Y Theatre, An Indian Summer and ArtReach.

My Community, My Story

Created for Voluntary Action Leicestershire (VAL), this film features both animation and footage with stories from selected organisations around the county.

‘My Community My Story’ aims to raise awareness of the life changing impacts of the Voluntary and Community Sector. The local VCS are enormous and consist of at least 3,701 groups, employing 12,700 staff and is driven by 189,000 volunteers.

More details about VAL and this campaign can be found at http://www.valonline.org.uk/…/my-community-m…/about-campaign

Responsible Industry

Mutual Shoots recently created this animation for the European Responsible Industry consortium as an introductory video to Responsible Research and Innovation in the ICT industry.

Animated by Richard Peel, narration by Rich Benton, editing and direction from Lucy Peel.

More details about RRI can be found at http://www.responsible-industry.eu/home

The music used for Responsible Industry is ‘Lovely Lonely’ created by Yeyey from the album Vision Instrumental

Leicester’s Having a Party

Following an outstanding performance from the players of Leicester City Football club, the team won the Barclays Premiership for the first time in the club’s history.

Everyone in Leicester celebrated on the 7th May 2016, when the Premiership trophy was presented to the team at the King Power stadium following a match with Everton.

The music used for Time to Celebrate is ‘Am I The Devil’ by Yeyey. Licensed under a Attribution / Non-Commercial 3.0 International License.

Step Out!

A recent survey by the Conservation Trust’s Local People Programme found that around 90% of residents want more in South Wigston, Leicestershire for children and teenagers, or are concerned about anti‐social behaviour. The lack of a regular youth service has been a contentious issue for years in South Wigston. A group of residents and organisations have come together to see what they can do about this!

They decided that what they need to do next is ask kids (and their parents) what they want and to give them a chance to try new things. STEP OUT! was the first taster event to give children and teenagers a chance to have a go at loads of activities and have their say about what happens in South Wigston for children.

‘We hope this will be the first of many events in South Wigston, and that by putting on a brilliant event and raising awareness of the issue, we will support groups to start regular activities in the area. The residents are working really hard to come together and get something happening – it’s a great group with a real passion and a united goal!’ ‐ Jessie Cooke, Project Officer, TCV’s Local People Programme.

Music created by Pictures of the Floating World from the album Nebraska Fireworks (Sometimes It Shines) and by Andy G. Cohen from the album Through the Lens (Bumbler).

Wedding Cinematography

Mutual Shoots Ltd had pleasure to capture this wonderful couple’s Wedding celebrations. What a great atmosphere, everyone thoroughly enjoyed their time & as usual we loved capturing some stunning shots. Here is the summary compilation as a teaser for the whole story – taken from the feature length film.

The featured song is Jalandhar by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence.

Spreading Our Wings

Mutual Shoots recently had the honour of working with Little Bird SOS to make a film about their fantastic social enterprise which helps people cope and recover from stress, anxiety or depression through using creativity and crafts. Little Bird SOS is an arts for health organisation that supports health and wellbeing. Please take a moment to learn about the work they do and feel free to help spread their message even further! Further details available at http://www.littlebirdsos.co.uk

Your Lionheart

Due to an accident and suffering from the resulting long term injuries, Victor still lives at home with his mother. As a single parent with an adult son, Elsie cares for Victor to the best of her abilities and always tries to make sure that he looks smart and presentable.

Victor can be a little bit more demanding than other young men and sometimes Elise feels the need to take a break. She doesn’t go far – sometimes just to the shops or to visit a neighbour for a cup of tea.

Even though Elise thinks she is doing the right thing, it can get a little bit too much for Victor and he wishes that her breaks could be a little bit longer. Today Victor seizes the chance to release himself from Elise’s control once and for all. Will he succeed?

Created for the James Bay Film Project – https://www.talenthouse.com/i/create-a-short-film-for-james-bay

Research In Translation Exhibition Guide

This film is an illustration of the Research in Translation: Public Engagement through Exhibition Displays project. It was funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The project provided an exciting opportunity for 12 Early Career Researchers representing 7 UK universities and a variety of disciplines across the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. During the project, the Researchers developed their skills and confidence to ‘translate’ their research into a collaborative exhibition. This allowed them to engage their scholarly research with a wider and more diverse audience.

The exhibition and the overall project were led and curated by Dr Ceri Jones, University of Leicester (cj36@leicester.ac.uk), and Dr Serena Iervolino, UCL Qatar, Doha (s.iervolino@ucl.ac.uk).

For more information about Research in Translation please visit –

https://researchintranslation.wordpress.com/

https://twitter.com/Res_Translation

Research In Translation

featured content

This film is an illustration of the Research in Translation: Public Engagement through Exhibition Displays project. It was funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The project provided an exciting opportunity for 12 Early Career Researchers representing 7 UK universities and a variety of disciplines across the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. During the project, the Researchers developed their skills and confidence to ‘translate’ their research into a collaborative exhibition. This allowed them to engage their scholarly research with a wider and more diverse audience.

The exhibition and the overall project were led and curated by Dr Ceri Jones, University of Leicester (cj36@leicester.ac.uk), and Dr Serena Iervolino, UCL Qatar, Doha (s.iervolino@ucl.ac.uk).

For more information about Research in Translation please visit –

https://researchintranslation.wordpress.com/

https://twitter.com/Res_Translation

Indulge

A promotional film created for a rolling display in the retailers premises –

Indulge Is the UK’ first Ice Pan dessert parlour which is distinctive and unique. Ice pan is modern and fresh innovation in the dessert industry. It creates outstanding ice cream with a extraordinary taste and a quirky style of presentation right before your eyes. At indulge, our ingenious experts will create your choice of ice cream right before you as you watch. We aim to represent a unique dessert of the finest quality by using a verity of top quality, fresh ingredients and toppings. We can create almost any flavour using fresh, chilled or frozen ingredients, sauces and toppings. That`s not all, we can even create a savoury ice cream !

Music by James Joshua Otto from the album ‘And Then the Mountains Moved’ featuring the songs ‘What Is Whispered In Your Ear’, ‘Revelation’ and ‘One Step Enough.’

Little Bird SOS – Spreading Our Wings

Promotional Film

Mutual Shoots recently had the honour of working with Little Bird SOS to make a film about their fantastic social enterprise which helps people cope and recover from stress, anxiety or depression through using creativity and crafts. Little Bird SOS is an arts for health organisation that supports health and wellbeing. Please take a moment to learn about the work they do and feel free to help spread their message even further! Further details available at http://www.littlebirdsos.co.uk/

Looking Backward

A suspenseful thriller – watch Looking Backward if you dare!

Synopsis: Yasmin felt trapped. It started after she felt trapped in her job, working for her supervisor who never seemed happy with anything she did and now her supervisor had trapped her. They were alone in the warehouse together and he’d set up his temporary laboratory. She’d seen the equipment used before and had never been able to forget the things he’d done with it. She was still trapped but really needed to escape. Right now.

She Runs

Created in support for Grace & the Magic Roots new EP – Dawn.

Available from – http://magicroots.bandcamp.com/

More information about the band – https://www.facebook.com/magicroots

Synopsis: Desperate to discover and understand more about themselves, Fëanáro, Taurnil, Arminas and Elrohir take a step out together into a strange and unfamiliar world. What adventures await this merry band of travellers? Would they overcome obstacles thrown into their path? Their adventure would result in bonds that last a lifetime but also make them question reality as they once understood it. She Runs describes the challenges of carrying on in adversity.

Tensity

Created for the New York based band Miracles of Modern Science and taken from their debut album ‘Dog Year.’

Available from – http://www.miraclesofmodernscience.com/

Synopsis: Jake is frustrated. He’s a popular and confident person but always feels like he’s putting on a show for other people – that he’s not being himself. One day Jake gathers the confidence to take away this mask and open himself up to others. In what some would describe as either a moment of madness or clarity, he shows himself for who he thinks he really is. Tensity examines the discord between how we see ourselves and how other people see us.

A Hell of A Good Time

A short film created to accompany a song – the musician, Grace Petrie based ‘A Hell of a Good Time’ upon Richard Feynman (an American Physicist and popular broadcaster) and in particular the relationship with his childhood sweetheart – Arline.

Four years after their marriage, Arline succumbed to Tuberculosis and a heartbroken Richard wrote his late wife a love letter, sealing it in an envelope. The letter remained unopened until after his own death, over forty years later.

http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/02/i-love-my-wife-my-wife-is-dead.html

Doc:Comedy

Doc:Comedy examines the mechanics of comedians – how they work and what drives these people to stand in front of crowds, opening up their hearts and letting you glimpse their unique take on the world. Where do they get their crazy ideas from? What is the process involved in transforming a brief thought into a full blown show that will have you falling off your seat in tears of laughter? How does comedy fit into the greater scheme of things?

In a world that is seemingly more concerned with the size of bank accounts than the size of a smile, is there a time and a place for frittering away an hour filled with talk about sex, nuns and celebrities? Doc:Comedy explores how the environment influences a comedian’s work and how a comedian influences the world in which they live.

Here’s the full feature documentary –

Fish!

Created for the DLCF ‘Comedy Shorts’ competition back in 2013.

Synopsis – a little bit of water is all that is needed in fact, these two chaps aren’t just thirsty but actually dying for a drink. Are they all they appear to be? Ash and Dave are living in the moment. There’s no time to lose but everything to gain!

Global Noise

On the 13th October 2012, Occupy London joined people all over the world for Global Noise, a global day of protest to highlight the fact that people one year on are united and more determined than ever.

Previously, Occupy London had been in residence in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral for over 4 months until February 2012 when the City of London Corporation and the Clergy at the Cathedral forced them to pack up their tents and move on. This didn’t stop Occupy London continuing their work though. Over the following months they have continued to meet to discuss ideas and to formulate the best way to recover from the economic downturn that had affected so many lives.

Protection of Pensions

November 2011 saw the biggest strike in the UK for 30 years to bring attention to proposed pension reforms for public sector workers. Various polls (in both left and right wing press) suggested an average of 70% of the population supported the public sector workers involved in the action.

This short documentary includes interviews with people from the picket lines and follows a feeder march from St Paul’s to Embankment in London.

Block The Bridge, Block The Bill!

The House of Lords were set to debate the government’s controversial Health and Social Care Bill on the 11th October 2011, with almost 100 peers requesting to talk in the debate. A vote on the Bill is expected the following day.

‘Block the Bridge, Block the Bill’ was organised by UK Uncut as a spectacular act of mass civil disobedience. By blocking Westminster Bridge, UK Uncut intended to symbolically block the Bill getting from Parliament to the hospitals.

Should I Go And Should I Stay?

Under gloomy, swirling, dark clouds, it was with precision that the Police Officers lined up to protect the visiting Conservative Party members to their annual conference and keep them safe from the protesters that October morning. Decked out in their thick black boots, smart trousers and figure hugging t-shirts, the men and women of the Greater Manchester Police lined the city streets.

The racing of coaches, trains, trucks, cars, bikes and feet produced a flood of 35,000 people into Manchester to join a rally. The objective being to try to get the governments’ attention to tell them that there was an alternative to the cuts to public services and proposed tax cuts.

Zombie Attack

Thanks to a recent freedom of information request, zombies had fortunately discovered that Leicester City Council would have been unprepared for an attack by their group.

In the space of 8 days, quick-thinking zombies like James Dixon and Ed Thurlow used social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to disjointedly mobilize other zombies into an attack on the Council offices.

Beginners Guide To Shrovetide Football

Shrovetide ball games have been played in England since at least the 12th century, with suggestions that the game was originally started when a criminal’s head was thrown into a crown following an execution. Records and evidence that survived a fire in the 1890’s suggest that Shrovetide Football has been played in Ashbourne since the 1600’s.

After receiving royal assent and a visit from the soon-to-be Edward VIII over 80 years ago, the game was won by a lady for the first time nearly 70 years ago. During the second World War in 1943, Doris Mugglestone goaled for the Up’ards and Doris Sowter goaled for the Down’ards – both on Ash Wednesday.

The Rules of the Game: Played on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday every year, Shrovetide Football starts at 2pm on each day. Constructed in preparation for a visit by HRH Prince Charles in 2003, the ball is thrown from a plinth in the car park of Ashbourne’s supermarket. The car park used to be a meadow (Shaw Croft), and the ball has been thrown from the same spot for hundreds of years. It is evident that the construction of this supermarket wasn’t going to break up the community and halt local traditions.

With the town of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, U.K. being a 3 mile long and 2 mile wide playing field – there are teams from the north (Up’ards) and south (Down’ards) of Henmore Brook which runs through the town.

The goals are set 3 miles apart at Sturston and Clifton. The goals were originally the mill wheels at two local mills, but these have since disappeared. Due to the popularity of the game, two new structures were built at the original locations. Competitors have to enter the brook to score a goal, tapping the ball three times against a marker board attached to stone goal plinths.

The hand-painted 4lb ball is larger than the average head or football to give the competitors an easy target to grapple over. It is also filled with cork to help it float when it enters the brook.

If the ball is ‘goaled’ before 5pm, then another game with a new ball is started and this can continue late into the night. The goaled balls become the proud possession of the person who has goaled it. If no-one goals it, then the person that turned-up the ball gets to take it home.

Committing murder or manslaughter is prohibited and unnecessary violence is frowned upon. The ball may not be hidden in a bag, coat etc or carried in a motorised vehicle.

2011 Shrovetide Football Results: Jim Boden from Cubley (former member of the game’s organising committee), and Frank Lomas from Kniveton (who goaled the ball for the Up’ards in 1969), started off the games on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. Reports suggest that Tuesday’s game was a draw with Adrian Webb for the Down’ards scoring a goal at 4:50pm and then Richard Goodall scoring a goal for the Up’ards at 6:45pm. Wednesday’s game was also draw with Simon Betteridge scoring for the Down’ards about 3:30pm and then Simon Fisher scoring a goal for the Up’ards at 8:55pm.

Upon arrival, Ashbourne was like a ghost town – all the shops were closed and boarded up. The only places that were still open were a few bustling pubs and the supermarket. Some lost souls (probably visitors like myself) strolled about looking bored and lost.

When people had drank enough Dutch courage they gathered in the large car park behind the supermarket. Spectators lined the walls, avoiding the plinth in the centre where the ball would be ‘turned up’ at 2pm.

Soon enough the car park had filled to capacity with a few thousand people. Whoops and cheers erupted from the back of the crowd where the Officials holding their balls made their way to the plinth.

Announcements were made about avoiding areas such as the doctors surgery, hospital and graveyard (maybe because they would be in heavy demand later?).

God Save The Queen and Auld Lang Syne were then sung very well by the awaiting crowd. By comparison to Hallaton Bottle Kicking and Hare Pie Scramble (which is played every Easter Monday) – Ashbourne Shrovetide Football seemed a little lacking in strange Olde English traditions. Maybe a local Historian could research and resurrect some trademarks?

The ball was then released!

A hug (rugby-like scrum) immediately formed and the muscled men started shouting, flailing their arms everywhere. I stood back from the hug a little to judge exactly how rough or violent it would be. During this time a chap politely passed in front of me repeatedly saying ‘excuse me’ to anyone in his way. It took a few seconds for the crowd to realise it was actually this chap that had the ball.

He had managed to move a small distance from the plinth but then had several hundred men running after him. He didn’t have the ball for long.

At any one time there would be at least 10 men holding the ball. If they managed to keep hold of it, the ball would move slowly – but if a competitor managed to take possession it would move very quickly before being bogged down by a pile of men again. Sometimes the ball would be thrown into the air causing pandemonium.

Unlike the game in Hallaton, the game in Ashbourne starts of in the centre of the town eventually migrating out to the surrounding countryside. Initially, this means the ball often got caught in alleyways or narrow streets causing a large crush of people. Some men who were focussed on playing the game would just elbow spectators and push past them. Other men – on seeing spectators would stop and make sure they were OK.

For example, at one point when the hug quickly moved in a certain direction and flattened a spectator across a shop front, a player kindly stood in front of them putting his arms on each side of their head, with his face just inches from the spectator’s.

He acted as a bridge to prevent the spectator getting more flattened, while spraying his beer-flavoured spittle across their face and suggesting that we find somewhere quieter to start our own game off. The spectator couldn’t move an inch, but only look to their left and right at the other spectators in exactly the same situation. Nevertheless, his assistance seemed appreciated.

This didn’t dissuade many from trying to play the game – lots of people had a few attempts at joining the hug. It can be quite scary when you’re only a little over 5ft and you can’t see past the neck of the person in front of you.

Nevertheless – the danger of the situation and lack of authority means everyone is looking out for each other. If you fall over – someone will pick you up, if you get squashed – someone will make space for you, and if you don’t like it – then people will attempt to move aside to let you get away from the crowd.

There was just one Policeman around during the game at Ashbourne.

Street rugby as played in Ashbourne, Hallaton and many other places around the country may seem quite violent at first glance – and it can certainly result in accidents. But these games are usually played in smaller towns and are essential in keeping a community together. They are now very popular events with people traveling from miles around to see the spectacle for themselves.

Why don’t you try Street Rugby out for yourself?

One Leicester – United Against Divisions

Members of the English Defence League (EDL) gathered in Leicester on Saturday 9th October 2010. All marches had been banned in the centre on that day, but static demonstrations were still allowed.

The EDL was formed some time during spring 2009. They claim to be a peaceful organisation who exist to bring attention to and eradicate Muslim extremism in the UK. Some reduce the interests of the EDL down to right-wing racist politics. Since the inception of the group their often violent marches have received increasing amounts of media attention.

Members of United Against Facism (UAF) are always present at EDL marches. UAF members are also starting to get a violent name for themselves, encouraged by the EDL who know that they only have to stand next to a UAF member to get them angry. Several people around Leicester actually thought they were being warned out of town because there were two rival gangs who were fighting.

Twelve marches were held during the first year of the EDL. What happened as a result of the attention from these marches? Was there be an explosion in membership? The league proposed to march across Bradford in August 2010, but as a result of a violent history, the authorities denied them permission. Instead the EDL were instructed to hold a static demonstration which the authorities were powerless to ban.

One Sunday morning during August 2010 – around the same time of the Bradford visits, hundreds of leaflets were discovered scattered around the city centre. Leicester was getting dated by the EDL. On Saturday 9th October 2010, the EDL planned to come together in Leicester – it would be their 16th gathering.

Residents of Leicester started talking about the EDL’s intended visit many weeks before they arrived. In an attempt to destroy any piece of mind, the local newspaper – The Leicester Mercury (owned by the Daily Mail) would repeatedly emphasise the impending doom due on the 9th October. It seemed that entertainment in the form of scaremongering sold more newspapers than good old fashioned honesty.

In one month the Mercury printed 63 articles related to the EDL. Titles of such articles included ‘Anger as date set for English Defence League march in Leicester city centre,’ ‘Police fear protestors plan to attack Leicester mosque,’ ‘Home Secretary agrees to ban on EDL march in Leicester,’ ‘EDL is a threat to community.’ And 2 days before the event ‘So, who are the English Defence League exactly?’ The last article to have been published at this current time is entitled ‘War and Peace – Two faces of Leicester in weekend of high drama‘.

In spite of this, in an attempt to introduce some calm into the city – a Hope Not Hate event was held in the city centre the day before the EDL march. If people wanted to express their opinions against the EDL visit – then this would seem to be the place to do it! The authorities preferred that people stay away from the centre (and therefore from potential trouble) on Saturday..

Several hundred people attended the peace vigil at the Clock Tower. Everyone was encouraged to tie green ribbons around everything as a symbol of unity with fellow city dwellers ’against’ the upcoming visitors. The phrase ‘an attack on one faith is an attack on us all,’ was sung by all of the speakers – with the leader from the Cathedral even slipping in the chant ‘Leicester, United, will never be defeated.’ Maybe the sermons could be quite entertaining at the cathedral? A universal plea was made for all to stay away tomorrow and come back for the ‘We are one Leicester festival’ on Sunday.

The atmosphere was bubbly. People seemed excited to be at the Peace Vigil, and were smiling and shaking hands, hugging with old friends. A determined look took over the faces of people tying ribbons to the streets.

30ft away from the crowd stood a group of 10 people. The men of the group had the torsos of lions and the women had the fragile, tiny bodies of captured gazelles. Red crosses decorated their clothing. A few Policemen stood chatting amicably with the biggest members of the group while photographers circled around like vultures waiting for an opportunity. But nothing happened – everyone behaved and all was – well – peaceful.

A peaceful night passed over the city.

The sun cast long shadows over the smooth boarded-up windows of many shops on Humberstone Gate East that Saturday morning. Most market traders had even chosen to stay away, reducing the normally bustling market down to a blip of 10 stalls. It was unusually quiet save for the occasional scraping-crackle of an inflated wind-propelled carrier bag running along the road.

To contain the EDL, a 12ft wall that had been set up by the Police. Around 100 people were milling around (which eventually grew to 700), listening to people talk on the stage. Children played with their placards – bashing their siblings repeatedly with their newly found weapons.

Although the EDL were no more than 150ft away straight over the top of the tall Police wall, it still took a good 10 minute walk around various back streets and through the Police lines to get to the pro-EDL side of the wall.

The no-mans-land between each of the walls was located on a shopping street containing a Sainsbury’s. Although the front of the shop looked out across this no-mans-land and was locked up, the back door to the shop was still open. It was still possible to collect weekly groceries while looking out at snarling Police dogs, ready to start eating anyone athletic enough to clear the tops of the walls – or foolish enough to walk out the front of the shop.

On the EDL side there were a similar number of people who were behaving in exactly the same way as the people on the other side of the wall. Everyone was just milling around.

Suddenly a constant stream of coaches brought hundreds of EDL supporters to the Police wall within minutes bringing the total number to around 1000 supporters. The occupants were thumping and banging on the windows of the coaches, shouting and roaring at anyone that would look in that general direction. After people had used their chances to say hello to old friends all agreed that they had better get down to business and charge at the Police. In the confusion and excitement someone thought it would be a good idea to cause explosions by throwing fireworks inside beer cans at the Police and anyone standing near them. It was at this point that the Police pushed the photographers back some distance for their own safety.

Various rumours went around by text and Twitter. Tales such as Muslim women being attacked in certain neighbourhoods of the city, or tales of bombs or buildings burning to the ground were extinguished by @leicspolice on Twitter.

Games of ‘cat & mouse’ sporadically blossomed throughout the network of streets around the Police wall. The Police were doing their best to monitor the area, but occasionally opposing groups did find each other without any kind of watchful eye –

A variety of people waited by the Police lines on the EDL side of the wall. Photographers, journalists and people on the way home from doing their shopping. There were also people who were as frustrated with authority as the EDL supporters themselves. Some members of the public accused Officers of concealing their ID.

90 minutes after getting off the buses, the EDL supporters were being escorted back to their seats. There was some shouting and a few drunken challenges at Police Officers, but the coaches shipped the majority of crowds to the train station and out of town. A few escaped the Police lines and went for a quick walk around town. Eventually everyone went home, except for the Leicester members of the EDL – who were already home.

17 people were arrested as a part of the demonstrations on Saturday, 6 were from the Leicestershire area. 10 people have been charged. Crimes included the assault of a Police Officer, possession of an offensive weapon and public order offences. It cost a six-figure sum to Police the event. Businesses were smashed and people were harassed. Some businesses closed from the fear of the EDL/UAF demonstration reaching their premises – losing trade.

The night passed without any serious incident. Just had the demonstrations in the city.

Sunday 10th October brought along the Marathon and the We Are One Leicester festival. The sun was shining from a bright blue sky above the runners and festival staff. Shoppers in the city centre would stop to clap and cheer any random runner that happened to sprint by – regardless of the colour of their skin or religion or sexual orientation.

After all – these are the residents of One Leicester, who celebrate diversity.

Some people would prefer that organisations like the EDL do not exist, and if they do then certainly shouldn’t be given the oxygen of publicity. But one of the beautiful things about freedom of speech? You let people decide which side they want to be on. The EDL have been running for nearly two years, and despite several high-profile marches and demonstrations – have failed to have any significant effect on public opinion. Aside from the opinion that a group which causes so much disruption must consist of, erm, gentlemen………….

Pride And No Prejudice

As an end to the Summer Festival week, the residents of Brighton & Hove held their 19th Pride celebration on Saturday 7th August. A wild variety of colourful and smiling characters danced through the streets.

After arriving at the train station early in the day, visitors were immediately accosted by hawkers leaning up shopping trolleys, advertising their goods – selling whistles and pink Union Jack flags. Also standing around were a bunch of people wearing fluorescent yellow jackets with the word ‘Security’ printed on their jackets. They were already looking bored.

As the Parade didn’t actually start until 11am, a visit to the beach and pier was irresistible. Under a dark and overcast sky, the beach was only a 10 minute walk away from the station and along the way people in their pyjamas could be seen securing rainbow flags to their windows and balconies. Unfortunately upon arrival at the beach, no sandcastles could be made as the immensely clean beach consisted of tiny pebbles and stones. Aside from crawling into the shoes of visitors, these pebbles made a rather lovely rocking and crunching sound as the sea rolled them around. To the right was the old burned down pier, standing majestically, refusing to fall under the waves. To the left was another pier still complete with amusement arcades, tarot card readers and guys selling cockles and mussels. Once a pound or two had been spent at the pier on the penny pushers, cuddly toy grabbers and dance machines it was time to walk back onto dry land to get ready for the parade.

Next to this pier, all along Maderia Drive waited the decorated vehicles. The festival this year was entitled ‘Pride and (No) Prejudice’ with many people wearing period costumes. Parade participants milled around, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and patiently posing for the curious tourists with their cameras. Young children eagerly posed with people covered in sequins and feathers. Other groups took the chance to try and get signatures for petitions or handed out leaflets advertising other events that were happening during the day.

Eventually the 10 minute warning call went out to the participants – soon they would have to take up their positions on the vehicles or in the groups that would walk along the route. The curious tourists made their way further up the Drive to get a good viewing position for when the parade would pass by.

Away from the assembly point along the closed roads where crowds that were five people deep lined the kerbside, even more hawkers ran up and down with their trolleys targeting parents with wild-eyed children. Shortly after 11am the parade started to make its way along the route. Headed by the Gay Police Association (who got a massive round of applause), the ‘Oldest Gay in the Village’ followed behind them on his mobility scooter. He had attached a big sign above his scooter which read ‘Hi, most of you will have no idea what it was like to be gay when I was your age. Donate £5 to pride & my friend Dorothy will give you a signed copy of my book. I’m the oldest gay in the village. (All posed photos will cost you a donation).

Many of the participants dressed flamboyantly and were obviously enjoying themselves – showing off to their friends and the spectators alike. There were several commercially sponsored and main political party groups – such as the Green Party who carried the slogan ‘Dear Pope, Keep your bigotry in the Vatican,’ but there were also several other groups with agendas. These included raising awareness about domestic violence, ending HIV stigma, acceptance of LGBT individuals within the religious community or the law community, uniting lesbians nationwide and promoting the Gay Caravan & Camping Club plus many more.

The parade made its way through the city centre lined with thousands of spectators and then up to Preston Park. If the spectators didn’t follow the parade route and went straight to the park, it was still a good 1.7 mile / 35 minute walk – enough to wet ones appetite for the expensive fast food and drinks on sale there. The park was packed out with people having picnics and browsing through the stores. The organisers had thoughtfully separated the stores selling the adult sex toys from those selling family friendly toys, clothes and jewellery. There were also plenty of charities handing out advice to anyone that asked.

Other attractions included a dance tent for over 18’s (£5 entry), a fairground, a cabaret tent, a womens tent, along with a youth and family area. There were a few free toilets dotted around, but plenty of hapless people joined the long queues for the toilets that cost £1 to use – and didn’t realise until the last moment. These were meant to be of a better quality than the free ones, even though they were reported to have no locks on the cubicles, brown material smeared over the back of the toilet doors and no soap to wash hands with after visiting them. In all fairness any money raised was ploughed back into organising Pride. It costs over £250,000 to put on the one-day event so money should really be given whatever the premise for collecting it. The ladies could alternatively pay 50 pence to go stand up while going to the toilet and use a she-wee – there were no queues for this alternative.

On leaving the park and going back into town to the railway station, London Road was still closed to accommodate the masses of pedestrians walking along the route. Many businesses along the road were attempting to attract the potential extra customers by bringing out stalls onto the street, selling drinks and food – even if they were antique shops. Pride appears to benefit not only the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transvestite people but many aspects of the community in Brighton.

It’s a great way to spend a day in Brighton, but it has become so popular that it seems to be on the verge of becoming to large for its own good. Check your local area and see if there is a Pride event happening near you.

From Dusk Till Dawn

The mythological stone sculptures of Wiltshire County, England attract thousands to watch the sunrise at Stonehenge on the Summer Solstice. Whatever reason brought them there, the collective spiritual moment of watching that sunrise, with or without the sun, can be nothing short of magical for those in attendance.

Like the pyramids of Egypt, the Incan temples of Peru (where the winter solstice celebration of Inti Raymi is simultaneously occurring), and the Moai of Rapa Nui, the great Stonehenge is one of mankind’s ancient architectural mysteries. But what is all the fuss about some cleverly stacked stones in the English countryside? It’s the sheer size of these massive monoliths that boggles the mind, in light of the ancients’ lack of modern day machinery. Where did these 25-ton stones come from? The closest feasible quarry is no less than 25 miles away. The stones have been estimated to have been raised around 2600 BC but the site itself well predates even that. Everyone seems to have a theory about it. For sheer entertainment purposes, just ask around. You’ll be sure to hear some wildly conflicting stories. Some revellers might tell you it’s an ancient burial grounds, others imagine it’s an astrological observatory – an oversized sun dial of sorts, while some wide-eyed believers are convinced it’s proof of an alien visitation or other supernatural phenomenon. The Neolithic culture that produced them had no written history, so it remains a mystery.

Hare Pie Scramble & Bottle Kicking

On Easter Monday, a Hare Pie Scramble and Bottle Kicking event takes place in Hallaton, Leicestershire.

The settlement of Hallaton has existed for 2500 years, evidence of which can be seen in the ancient mound which is now known as Castle Hill in Hallaton. Iron age and Druid activity has been recorded there.

Hare Pie Scrambling is reputed to have started several hundred years and has its origins as a Pagan ceremony of fertility. Back then, offerings were made to the fertility Goddess Estra / Eostre (from which the name Easter is derived) in the early days of spring. The participants would then hope that this observation would bring fertility to both man and crops, and enourage the right conditions for all to prosper.

Indeed, at the head of the festivities is a warden which carries a staff topped by a bronze sculpted Hare. This represents a freshly sacrificed Hare which used to be carried on top of the staff as recently as a 150 years ago. The Hare was sacrificed to Estra as a mark of fertility, in par with the breeding season of Hares.

More recently, another explanation for the role of the Hare in the festivities has been proposed. It follows that there were once two ladies walking across a field. They attracted the attention of a Bull which happened to be in the same field, and which went chasing after the ladies. Along came a Hare and distracted the Bull, in effect saving the lives of the two ladies. As a mark of respect to the Hare, the ladies left a legacy which proposed that Hare Pie and ale would be distributed among the villagers as a mark of respect to the Hare. – Although some would doubt it is a mark of respect to an animal by adding it to a tasty pie???

It is at this point in which the bottle kicking was reported to have started. Curious villagers from the neighbouring settlement of Medbourne were reported to have stolen the ale which was an essential part of the festivities in Hallaton.

Residents of Hallaton attempted to retrieve their ale, but the residents of Medbourne would not return it. As a result, a battle broke out between the two villages and a battle started in the form of a tug-of-war / rugby match in order to drag the ale back to either Hallaton or Medbourne.

Many Pagan ceremonies have been reported to have been adopted by Roman Christians, and the items that are used in the festivities are blessed in a church service on Easter Monday.

After the blessing, there then follows a Hare Pie parade from the Fox Inn to St. Michael & All Angels Church in Hallaton. The Hare Pie used to be distributed from the Rectory, but the vicar complained about the mess that it would make. In defence of the vicar, the pie would not be distributed by passing it out to the villagers, but instead by throwing it into the air and the villagers would attempt to catch it. It is now distributed from the Church gates. This actually provides a great stage and spectators can watch the event from the top of Eastgates in Hallaton.

Next, the bottles (which are actually small kegs of beer) are decorated at the Buttercross (a monument at which tradesmen would once gather to sell produce) by the vicar of Hallaton. This is then followed by a parade to Hare Pie Bank just outside the village at which the actual bottle kicking event takes place.

The bottles are thrown three times into the air, and it is on the third time that the competition begins. There are two streams in which either Hallaton or Medbourne have to pass the bottles over in order to be declared winners of that round. The winner is decided as a best of three rounds.

The geography of of the area naturally favours Hallaton, and it is indeed Hallaton which wins more often than Medbourne. In 2010, Hallaton won 2-0, but Medbourne did indeed make a magnificent effort.

The competition involves passing the bottles through and over fences and hedges. Medbourne may have indeed won in 2010 if they had only ensured that there were enough Medbourne players on the other side of the fences and hedges to receive the bottles.

The teams mostly consist of men. There are a few women which stray into the frenzy – some of which are more than capable of playing the game. But I often heard shouts of ‘Get The Woman Out!! (of the scrum), after which a bemused tiny lady would emerge – battered, but looking rather pleased with their efforts.

Indeed from 1914 – 1918 the bottle kicking event teams consisted entirely of women while the menfolk were away playing in the first world war.

There is no segregation between participants and spectators, there are no rules and there are no referrees. Indeed if you get too close to the scrum and you are pushed, then you automatically become part of the game.

The game depends entirely on the goodwill of the participants. Although I did see a number of injured participants (including one man who was knocked out as a result of being in the scrum), the people involved are aware of the risk involved in the game. The moment that someone is injured, many hands are raised into the air with the call of ‘Back Off! Back Off!’ The injured are then dragged from the scrum so that the circulating Paramedics can attend to the victim.

After the game is completed, the winners (those individuals in possession of the bottles as they passed over the village boundary lines), are invited to climb on top of the Buttecross in order to savour their sweet victory. They drink the beer from the opened kegs. Can you imagine what the beer might taste like after been thrown around in the fields for a few hours? It’s been rolling around and it’s warm, but if you’ve been fighting for three hours its like nectar!

The event is free, and it’s only a couple of quid for parking – or if you prefer you can walk from the nearest railway station which is Market Harborough (8 miles away). You can take part in the scrum or take a picnic and watch the scrum from a safe distance. A good day out for all!

— Many thanks to those involved in the production of the short films and photos, and also to Peter Daisley, who gave a very informative talk about the traditions of bottle kicking at St. Michael & All Angels Church on Easter Monday.

Whittlesey Straw Bear Festival

It has long been the custom on the Tuesday following Plough Monday to dress one of the villagers of Whittlesey in straw and call them the ‘Straw Bear’. This custom was used to collect food for the impoverished indentured farming workers in the area, who had by January, begun to run low in their supplies of food and firewood.

A newspaper of 1882 reports that “… The Straw Bear was then taken around the town to entertain by his frantic and clumsy gestures the good folk who had on the previous day subscribed to the rustics, a spread of beer, tobacco and beef”.

The bear was described as having great lengths of tightly twisted straw bands prepared and wound up the arms, legs and body of the man or boy who was unfortunate enough to have been chosen. Two sticks fastened to his shoulders met a point over his head and the straw wound round upon them to form a cone above the “Bear’s” head. The face was quite covered and he could hardly see. A tail was provided and a strong chain fastened around the armpits. He was made to dance in front of houses and gifts of money or of beer and food for later consumption was expected. It seems that he was considered important, as straw was carefully selected each year, from the best available, the harvesters saying, “That’ll do for the Bear”.

The tradition fell into decline at the end of the 19th century, the last sighting being in 1909 as traditionally it is thought that an over-zealous police inspector had forbidden ‘Straw Bears’ as a form of cadging.

This ban was actually imposed because the police inspector was trying to maintain of peace between 2 groups in the area; the comparatively wealthy industrial workers from the massive brick factory near Whittlesea and the farmers.

After a breach of 71 years, the straw bear was revived in 1980 and in 2009 completes a 30 year observance of this once lost Fenland custom, unique in this part of Great Britain.

For more information, please visit; http://www.strawbear.org.uk/