All great things must come to an end and they don’t come much greater – or sadder – than waving goodbye to Al Needham, the esteemed LeftLion Editor of the past five years. Editorial meetings at his house were always fun as the first thing you’d see on being let in was a pair of false breasts. These were a sex toy he’d reviewed for a magazine which now found use as a letter holder. As you made your way into the front room you were greeted by a golden cock with wings, his award for Todger Talk which was voted blog of the year at the Erotic Awards in 2008.
Al lives and breathes Nottingham and has a very distinctive accent you can hear a mile off. He created Nottingham’s very own version of ‘the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain’ and would spend hours on seemingly pointless pursuits such as making the best lines of Coppers in Nottingham available on SoundCloud or starting up a campaign to have a town named Willis because we’ve already got a Kimberley and an Arnold. My favourite memory, though, is when he told people he was the “LeftLion Editor, duckeh”. It was said with such pride it had the effect of making you feel completely inferior.
Don’t interpret this as meaning Al is arrogant. The very opposite is true. His biggest weakness is not realising how talented he is. He simply loves his home city and editor of LeftLion was as good as it gets. But I’m talking about him like he’s dead. He’s not. You can still find him online at May Contain Notts.
Al is not very good at taking orders or advice – particularly from anyone he doesn’t respect – and so the change in environment will do him good. LeftLion became a bit of a creative rut for him and now he has the opportunity to run wild with his ideas. I have no doubt about his talent. His biggest test will be channeling that creativity into the right medium, being disciplined enough to meet deadlines, and creating and following a workable business plan. It’s the perfect moment for Al to venture into something new as the Creative Quarter is really starting to take shape now. There’s a genuine buzz around the city with investment opportunities for those with a sustainable business plan and Pop-Up shops to test-ride ideas and merchandise.
Al went out on the perfect note at LeftLion. Not only was his last column in our Decade issue 54 but he finally got around to interviewing his idol Su Pollard. On a more positive note his absence means that other writers will get more opportunities and new voices will be allowed to emerge. Ali Emm, our new editor, is full of verve, wit and sarcasm and wrote my favourite ever LeftLion piece. These are qualities LeftLion needs more than ever with such an incredible void left to fill.
I’ll be working with Al Needham and his partner Rikki Marr very soon on Dawn of the Unread where I’ve asked them to bring Bendigo back to life.