Yesterday was Alan Sillitoe day in Nottingham (www.sillitoe.com) . Alan Sillitoe was born and brought up in the city. Despite grinding poverty as a child and having a brutal and illiterate father, Alan grew up to be one of England’s finest writers of the 20th century. Several of his books were made into films but the one he is probably best remembered for is Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. Alan died earlier this year aged 82. His autobiography is called Life Without Armour but don’t read it if you are under twelve! If you are about 12, try Noah’s Ark, good short story with children as main characters going to the famous Notitingham Goose Fair in the 1950s. It can be found in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.
I was delighted to participate in a celebration of Alan’s life and work at Nottingham’s Council House yesterday (for Council House read magnificent town hall with Art deco loos, marble staircases and stunning glass domes, not council house as in long waiting lists and a rent book). I was introducing that other fine writer born and bred in Nottinghamshire – Gwen Grant. She was talking about Alan’s lesser -known books for children, the Marmalade Jim stories, as well as her own experience of growing up in post war Worksop. Unfortunately her talk was running at the same time as one on Alan’s films so we only managed to garner 10 of the 200 attendees but three of the ten turned out to be relatives of Alan’s so that was a bonus!
Lunch for those taking part was held in the Sheriff of Nottingham’s chamber. Oh yes. The Sheriff of Nottingham. He of Robin Hood fame.
It is with deep disapointment I have to report he didn’t look like this:
but like this…
Yes, he’s a she! The current Sheriff of Nottingham is Penny Griggs (centre) seen here with Gwen Grant (left) and Helena Pielichaty.
After lunch Penny made a great speech about the importance of Alan’s work then disappeared – I’d like to think to shoot venison and hunt outlaws but I’m guessing maybe not.
Having done our stint, Gwen and I could relax. We listened to John Harvey (writer of crime fiction) telling us he was missing the County match to be there (they lost – end of) and the erudite historian DJ Taylor http://www.contemporarywriters.com/authors/?p=auth519CA64C076c51C2CBtNg12B4FB1 on the significance of Alan’s regional writing.
It was a great day and I was glad to be part of it.