Derrick Buttress

As part of the Space project I’ve enjoyed spending time with Derrick Buttress. Derek, at the tender age of eighty, has just had his first short story collection published by Shoestring Press although he has five poetry collections, two memoirs and various scripts for radio and television under his belt. Derrick is our first commissioned writer and will be taking us from the 1930s up to the publication of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning in 1958. He’s going to take us on a personal journey through the market square – a key location in the novel – and share his memories of when it was filled with GIs, communists, and folk doing a celebratory conga in celebration of VE Day.


Going to Derrick’s home was a little bit like stepping into one of his short stories in that I knew everything about his relationship with his wife Joan though a couple of comments. Joan was in the front room watching Casablanca, ‘for the seventeenth time’ Derrick informed me. I wasn’t sure if he meant that day, week or the duration of his sixty years of marriage. Later on Joan pulled me to one side and said, ‘you know he spends all of his time up there tapping away on that computer’ and shook her head, like I must be in agreement with her that this was ridiculous behaviour and I’d be better suited sitting down with her watching Casablanca.


As part of our public engagement for the Space project, Derrick kindly allowed me to piggy back on to his book launch Sing to Me and we chatted about his market square memories. The event was held at Lee Rosy’s on 11 April which is a lovely little venue – although if you’re planning a similar event there, make sure you keep the door shut upstairs as the noise quickly filters downwards. It was a lovely event with a highly respected audience including John Lucas, Ross Bradshaw, Wayne Burrows, Nicola Monaghan, Michael Eaton, David Belbin, Tony Roe, Al Atkinson, Cathy Grindrod and Aly Stoneman. Derrick then went on to share a story about working as a teenager in a factory full of women where a big breasted bully would deliberately pen him in to a corner and make him blush, much to the amusement of her cackling comrades.


After explaining the Space project to Derrick he said he wished he’d known me when he was younger. I can’t wait for new audiences to experience his writing and I hope that at eighty, he gets the wider recognition that he deserves. I can think of no better validation for the arts council than offering this writer a platform into the digital age.


Preview of Derrick Buttress’ book launch

Twitter: Arthur Seaton for more info on events

And of course The Space…coming 1 May.

Wanted! Spoken Word Performers.

Nottingham failed to live up to its violent reputation in the recent riots, proving we are far better at apathy than anarchy. I can only conclude from this that we’re all pretty happy with our footwear and so it wasn’t worth doing in the windows of JJB Sports. Or perhaps we just have more important things on our minds, like wondering if Steve McLaren will develop a Bulwell accent at his next press conference.

A group of people who weren’t out rioting were Safe and Sounds, a Nottingham-based collective committed to raising awareness, money and support for all those affected by natural disasters. ‘We find it hard to sit back and watch the lives of others – whose shoes we could so easily walk in – get turned upside down by forces beyond their control… and so we decided to do something, and have called upon a spectrum of talent to help.’ You could be part of that talent and score some Pearly Gate points in the process. 

After a successful launch party in May – the proceeds of which went to the Japan tsunami relief fund – they have now set their sights on a much bigger venture. And so, on Sunday September 25th they will be holding an all-day, multi-venue event across the city centre, to raise money for the British Red Cross’ Disaster Fund, and six other relevant charities which will be decided by the public. Given the growing frequency of natural disasters, expect many causes desperately fighting over the pennies.

Artists, poets and writers aren’t traditionally the wealthiest of people as they are usually the first to feel the brunt of the cuts. Take BBC Radio 4. The short story in the Afternoon Reading was recently reduced from five days a week to three and now it’s going down to one a week. At this rate we’ll be down to 140 characters next. This is of course the same BBC that introduced the National Short Story Award a few years ago. So if there’s anyone likely to loot for trainers it is those with pen in hand. But the good thing about being skint and unappreciated is it gives you plenty of material to write about which you can then perform for free for noble causes.

The next Safe and Sounds event will be spoken word at Lee Rosy’s Tea Room (Broad Street, Nottingham) starting at 7pm (finish time tbc). Nicola Monaghan (The Killing Jar, Starfishing) will be taking part so it’s also a great opportunity to perform with an established author and local favourite. You can do this by filling out the contact form on their website or by joining their Facebook Group for more information. The woman with the big heart driving this project is Hannah Elizabeth Boylin. Respect.