Friday, June 22, 2012

On Leeds and Leedsness

I wanted to say a little more about my week’s residency at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, for which the sketches I’ve been publishing in recent days were written.

The residency was part of a New Writing Season, curated by literary manager Alex Chisholm, and launched in characteristically provocative style by an article she wrote for Exeunt magazine entitled The End Of New Writing?

We had a lively debate on this subject with the Playhouse audience, chaired by the Guardian’s Lyn Gardner, during the week I was there. One outcome of that was me being asked to write a response article to Alex’s for Exeunt magazine, which I have done, so keep an eye out for that.

It was a busy week: I ran a couple of workshops, mentored a younger writer, and saw various shows, readings and other events.

But the main thing I want to talk about today are my investigations of the city while I was there. These represented the very earliest stages of getting to grips with a place and its people, in order to (eventually) write a new play for and about them, to premiere at the Playhouse.

Don’t get too excited though – this is nowhere near completion! In fact it has barely started; the Playhouse haven’t even commissioned the idea yet. In fact, even I’m not sure quite what the idea is myself. So to a large extent the ball is now in my court to pull something together that is coherent enough for the theatre to feel confident commissioning. But this is the early part of playwriting which you never get to see, or hear about, but which I hope will be interesting to catch a glimpse of. It’s also quite helpful for me to set down some sort of written record of my time in Leeds, and the beginnings of a creative response, so thank you for your patience while I work this out...

(If you get bored, here’s a useful link to Twitter you can click on at any time.)

Regular readers will recall that I teach playwriting on the MA Writing for Performance at Goldsmiths. One of the modules I teach there is Research and Performance, which has almost accidentally become something of a specialism of mine over the years. I just never seem to get inspired by my own life, always other people’s.

Over time, I have developed an approach to investigating subjects I know nothing about, a large part of which involves interviewing people who have got direct experience of whatever it is I’m interested in. It’s a process not a million miles away from investigative journalism, and I have at times pretentiously been known to call this ‘investigative playwriting’. 

However, I usually know what it is I’m researching before I start out. Usually it is a very specific area of human experience such as social work, pirate radio broadcasting, missing persons, or experiences of asylum. This time around I found myself rather putting the cart before the horse, in that I was simply researching ‘Leeds’. How do you penetrate a place? Especially with a view to beginning to extract inspiration for dramatic storylines, that will interest and resonate with people who have lived there all their lives? And even more especially when you’re only there for a week?


Some background. I know the north of England fairly well. I went to university in Manchester, I’ve worked in Liverpool and Newcastle, and my other half is from Bolton. But somehow, life has never taken me to Leeds. In fact, come to think of it, you never even really hear anything about Leeds, do you? It’s never on the news. It never seems to host any massive events. It’s not known for any particular trade or social movement. Its most famous son, theatre’s very own Alan Bennett, gives you a sense of a certain poignancy and reserve – and its most famous daughter, Mel B from the Spice Girls .... well, I’m not sure what she really tells us.

My first port of call was naturally Wikipedia. Leeds is the 24th most populous city in the European Union. The cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire Urban Area. The largest centre for business, legal and financial services outside London. Originally a market town in the Middle Ages. Mmm.

All quite interesting, but not enough to fashion a play out of in and of itself. (If only. I could become the Wikipedia playwright, and never have to leave the house.)

I started looking a bit further afield.

Amazon alerted me to another writer, Keith Waterhouse: novelist, newspaper columnist, TV and screenwriter – most famously of course, Billy Liar, which was made into a major film. Can you believe I had never watched it before? I was a bit ashamed, so I went and watched it straight away. It’s great! And genuinely quite moving at the end. I also ordered and devoured in about two sittings City Lights, Waterhouse’s gloriously witty memoir about working class life growing up in Hunslet in the 1930s and 40s, and then his early years as a Yorkshire Post journalist, with all its lunchtime drinking and larger than life characters.

Further research put me onto another Leeds writer, Mick McCann, whose recently published mini-enyclopaedia How LeedsChanged The World, is a fascinating compendium of little known facts about Leeds. Did you know that concrete was invented there? And Cluedo. And Subbutteo. There’s a metaphor there in all three of those. Leeds also has the second oldest West Indian carnival after Notting Hill, and the grave of Britain’s first (and possibly only – though I’m not an expert) black circus proprietor, Pablo Fanque. It’s got one of the largest Jewish communities in the UK, and one of the biggest and earliest town halls. Burton clothing started there, as a firm which dressed soldiers during the war, and then male civilians afterwards. In Jimmy Savile it can arguably be said to have been the birthplace of the DJ and the disco. And also lots of much more significant scientific and technological things, mostly to do with the Industrial Revolution, which I don’t really understand.

Why did Mick McCann feel the need to gather all this together into a book? You don’t get Mancunians doing that for Manchester or Geordies for Newcastle. At least, I don’t think you do. McCann himself, who also sometimes writes for the Guardian, puts it down to an idea he himself has coined: Leedsness. He defines it as being:

understated, self deprecating, not getting ideas above your station,
keeping your feet on the ground, not showing off, maybe going as far
as a slight and inappropriate inferiority complex.

Isn’t this just a northern thing? I certainly remember this attitude from my time in Manchester.

But another Leeds writer, Anthony Clavane (what is it with all these writers?) goes further. In his novel Promised Land, currently being adapted into a play, Clavane explores the idea that the fortunes of Leeds the city are inextricably linked to the fortunes of Leeds United FC. His own take on Leedsness is as follows:

having a strong sense of place, a strong sense of pride and belonging, but also
a fatalism, a stoicism, a feeling that this place you feel ever so proud of will never
ever fulfil its potential.

I found this really interesting: the tragedian in me is drawn to the poignancy of that. It’s there at the end of Billy Liar, when the eponymous hero finally gets his chance to go down to London and realise his dreams ... instead, he deliberately lingers just long enough at the vending machine for the train to pull out of the station. It’s a heartbreakingly brilliant ending, and there’s something very 'Leedsness' about it.

By this stage I was developing a bit of a theory about Leeds and the imagination. It seemed to me that there are a huge amount of successful writers from Leeds, most of whom are from very humble beginnings in the city’s various suburbs. They include Keith Waterhouse of course, and Alan Bennett, but also Waterhouse’s longtime collaborator Willis Hall, playwright and screenwriter David Storey, poet Tony Harrison, novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford, Helen Fielding of Bridget Jones fame, Kay Mellor, Arthur Ransome – even JRR Tolkien lived there for a while, when he was  a professor at Leeds University. What was it about Leeds and these highly-evolved, imaginative interior landscapes?

As a phenomenon, it didn’t seem confined to the past either. The week before I arrived, there was spooky night-time festival throughout the city centre called Overworlds Underworlds, part of the Cultural Olympiad, which used dance, film, music, and installation art to bring to life ‘the unseen’ on Leeds’ city streets. There’s also a rather brilliant documentary film doing the rounds of festivals at the moment, called We Are Poets, about an inner city young writers’ group from Chapeltown, who go to America to compete in a slam poetry competition, and emerge triumphant, beating the Yanks at their own game.

For a while, I thought this phenomenon might have something to do with the landscape of Yorkshire. So I bought and enjoyed a collection of folk tales from the Yorkshire moors. (In fact, I was impressed by what a local set of tales they were – I love folk tales and know a fair few, but far from being re-hashes of existing stories, these seemed entirely unique to Yorkshire. One in particular, about the Knights of King Arthur being asleep under Freeborough Hill, provided the inspiration for one of my five sketches.)

Of course, you could say that, as Leeds has historically been very working-class, then young people growing up in areas without a great deal else to stimulate them will naturally have evolved quite complex interior worlds and imaginations. The same could be said of Liverpool or Manchester. But whereas people from those places certainly share that imaginative impulse, it seems (in the north-west at least) to have been predominantly channelled into making music (think the Beatles right through to Madchester). Why did it take a more literary direction in Leeds?

Leeds also seemed like a fairly contented and calm place, by the standards of most British urban areas. While I’m sure it has its problems, you don’t regularly read about inner city murders like you do in East London, or simmering ethnic tensions (like nearby Bradford), while the UK riots of summer 2011 also seemed to pass Leeds by.

One friend from Leeds, who now works as a Risk Analyst – a form of accountant - for a bank in Qatar (now there’s a play) speculated that this was partly to do with everyone, newcomers and Leeds natives alike, all eventually developing a Yorkshire accent, which helped. As did the fact that there is only one football team in town, so there were no divides along the Reds v Blues lines that you get in other cities. He also said the following in an email:

if you can understand the mentality of why Kaiser Chiefs named themselves
after the South African football club that Lucas Radebe (former captain of South
Africa and Leeds United) played for, then you'll have cracked the essence of what
it means to come from Leeds.

Unfortunately I didn’t begin to understand this, and being neither a football nor a Kaiser Chiefs fan, I was beginning to feel like I had my work cut out. But I did end up nicking it as a line and putting it in another of my sketches during the week, in the hope that it would sound to Leeds people like I knew what I was talking about.

So before I arrived, I had already done a fair bit of reading and thinking.

My first impressions were of a very handsome city. It helped that it was during that recent spell of glorious weather. But looking around me I actually thought that Leeds had made a fairly good fist of managing the old and the new. Buildings from different eras sat fairly comfortably alongside one another. It was a Sunday when I arrived and so I took a boat ride along the Leeds to Liverpool canal (not all the way) which runs through the city centre, past some crumbling industrial heritage, but mostly along an attractive stretch of water, with picnicking families along its banks, below sympathetically converted warehouse apartments filled with trendy-looking young couple enjoying the sun on their balconies. There was a food festival on in Millennium Square, featuring foods from around the world, but almost all made in Yorkshire. I had some chorizo which was as good as any I’d had in Spain.

I had also set up some interviews throughout the week. I thought it would be interesting to run some of my ideas about Leeds past certain people who were connected to Leeds in some interesting way, or had an overview of the city.

People in Leeds were great, and very happy to give me some of their time. I conducted several hour-long interviews with various people, including a local councillor, a teacher, an architect, two Yorkshire Post journalists, an arts festival organiser, as well as less official drinks and chats with various actors and writers hanging around the Playhouse. I also visited an inner city school and had a chat with a teaching assistant there whose grandfather had set up the Leeds Carnival.

Most of these chats were fairly informal and I did stress that I wasn’t writing a verbatim play and so wouldn’t be quoting them, so I won’t name everyone here because then I would feel obliged to get their permission and I don’t really have time for that. Plus some were fairly candid with me in private which they perhaps wouldn’t have been if I’d said I was going to quote them on this blog.

But here is an overview of some of the things that were said that stuck in my mind, and that have found their way into my little brown bag of Leeds ideas, and which may yet find their way further into a play about the place. We’ll see.

(By the way, you don’t have to carry on reading. There isn’t a test at the end or anything. In fact, here’s that link to Twitter again. If you’re not really interested in playwriting, or Leeds, then you might have more fun over there.)

I saw one of the Yorkshire Post journalists first. He was great, he’d been with the paper years, in particular reporting on local politics at the Council, and had a wry smile and a twinkle in his eye when discussing what sorts of things went on there. One of his opening lines ‘There’s about twelve people in the Council who decide everything’ really stuck with me, and in fact became the opening line for one of my sketches. He described how Leeds wasn’t seen as so badly off as other comparable cities in the north, and so sometimes found it hard to attract public sector investment – citing the ‘Supertram’ which had had to scale down its ambitions to now become the Trolleybus. There seemed to be something very Leeds about this, and he agreed with the Clavane line I quoted him about the city never quite reaching its full potential: just like its football club. He also broadly agreed with my Leeds writers theory, and speculated that writing was perhaps a way of being creative which doesn’t involve putting yourself onstage, thrashing a guitar or being the centre of attention. Leeds is more modest than that. He described the city changing visually over the years: factory overalls have turned into suits, and pubs have become bars. I asked whether there were local news stories which had united the city, and he suggested Jimmy Savile’s death, and his funeral procession through the city, to effectively ‘lie in state’ at the Queen’s hotel for two days.

The elected city Councillor I spoke to told me that Leeds should be better at celebrating what it had got rather than moaning about what it hadn’t. He cited the new £350 million shopping development currently being built just off Briggate. Once finished, it will be the biggest in the country, and make Leeds the second biggest shopping destination in the UK (after London, of course.) He used the rather nice image of all the different communities of Leeds having drifted into the city over the years, and built up ‘like silt', into a foundation that now made Leeds what it is today. He said that Leeds people ‘fizz together’ and aren’t afraid to ‘have a go’ at things, though the most praise you’ll ever get in Leeds for any success which comes your way is “Not bad, lad”. Leeds people are understated, he said, they hate pretension. It’s for this reason they resent places like Manchester, with their swagger, which he said was all PR. He was scathing about Leeds’s MPs, saying the city always elected people who became Sports Ministers, because they weren’t bright enough for the Treasury. But the city itself had a resilience, from not being dependent on one trade, like the docks in Liverpool, or shipbuilding in Newcastle. The biggest employers in Leeds ranged from engineering, to chemicals, to armaments, to local government, the NHS, construction and of course, retail. It meant that the city was able to weather economic storms and social change. He was utterly scathing about Bradford, saying it was a political basket case, which he’d never want to take on. He added that George Galloway was playing a dangerous game...

That afternoon I met up with three older members of Leeds Young Authors, whose founder had kindly put me in touch with. They were a really refreshing end to a day otherwise spent with mostly older, white, political types: young, urban, multicultural, articulate and brilliantly creative – from prose to poetry to plays to performance. I really liked meeting them and bounced off their energy. One described her writing coming out of a zone of ‘liminality’, an in-between place in which she often found herself caught, as a Leeds lass but with family roots in Zimbabwe. Another, in response to my question about other northern cities, said that Liverpool and Manchester had something to prove, while the third pointed out that there are no big record labels or recording studios in Leeds, and alongside a football club in the doldrums, the creative energies of its youth had to find other outlets such as writing and, increasingly, performing their own work as spoken word artists. One young man of Bangladeshi heritage bubbled over with ideas in his work and conversation, taking in karma, Hinduism, Arab mathematicians, Greek philosophers. I asked them about the Yorkshire Dales, expecting them as city kids not to have any real connection, and was surprised to hear that they go there fairly often: one even described it as ‘our roots’, where he found peace, because ‘it’s what God made’. The only trouble is he can’t sleep when he’s there because it’s too quiet; he said he needed traffic and helicopters and sirens because ‘That’s how I know I’m alive.’ It was a brilliant and inspiring hour.

That night I had dinner with another of the writers-in-residence and her other half, the organiser of an annual arts festival in Leeds. Emma, the other writer, was from Bradford and really kicked against what the councillor had said about it, before having to dash off to run a workshop of her own. But she left me with a stark image, of a huge hole in the centre of Bradford, still gaping today, where work for a Westfield shopping centre had started but never been completed.

Jane was the organiser of ilovewestleeds, and was something of a force of nature. She described setting the festival up from scratch, and how it has grown year after year, always free to attend, and always featuring quirky but unpretentious art works which would appeal to the predominantly working class population of that area – as she put it, ‘an arts festival for people who don’t think they like art’. She was an inspiration; west Leeds is lucky to have her.

Alongside my mentee for the week Lorna, all three ended the night trotting out an interesting and eclectic list of what comprised the real Leeds, and it wasn’t £350 million shopping centres. It was the Leeds letter writing club, Drink and Draw, the cake club, Buns and Roses - the funky WI, Leeds savages, the billboard defacer at Westgate roundabout.

On the way home, I picked up a copy of the Yorkshire Post, and read that Leeds was currently bidding for the Tour de France to start there next year. Back at my hotel, I wrote my first sketch.

The next day I started at a secondary school in Woodhouse. One of the teaching assistants there was the one whose grandfather had started the Leeds Carnival, and she was herself was still one of the key organisers to this day. When I asked her about Leeds and immigration she delightfully pointed out that many of the incoming communities to Leeds (her own was West Indian) happened to shared the same no-nonsense attitude as the people of Yorkshire, so they had fitted right in. There was also a strong sense of family in these communities. She movingly described an incident during last summer’s UK riots, when a small group of youths had tried to set fire to the carnival centre in Chapeltown, and a local mosque. The women of the community came out to talk to them, and the situation was defused. Leeds was like a patchwork quilt, she said, made up of all sorts, but which the whole city can pull around itself, to keep out the cold.

But she also described a resentment among some of these communities, towards the ‘Leeds cultural quarter’ in which the Playhouse was located. Also on the same site were the BBC building, Leeds College of Music, Yorkshire Dance, and the Northern Ballet. This was something I had picked up on when speaking to the Leeds Young Authors the previous day, though they were too chirpy and perky for it to be resentment – more just a sense that those institutions weren’t for them; too expensive, to posh, or just too culturally inaccessible. When shows aimed at more ‘diverse audiences’ did go on, they were usually bought-in ‘urban’ shows, like the forthcoming Sadlers Wells Breakin’ Convention, priced at an utterly unaffordable £17.

For me, with my background in theatre education teams and community arts in east London, I did get the impression – independently, from a few different people – that Leeds’s flagship cultural institutions were somewhat behind London’s in embracing and catering for all the different communities in their city. I even heard an allegation that one of them (I won’t say which) had not so long ago put on a training day for staff called ‘How To Deal With Ethnic Minorities’.

I have no idea if this is true, or if it is, whether it was actually called that, or whether something has been lost in translation. But I have worked front of house, backstage, and in the offices of theatre companies up and down the country, and I recognise the fault line that this criticism speaks to. Too often there is a fear of opening the place up, of the ‘non-traditional theatregoer’ – who they are, what they want, and how they might behave once they’re in the building – all the while with well-meaning pressure mounting from cultural bodies like the Arts Council to cater for these audiences more meaningfully, though with precious little direction or expert advice in how to best go about doing that.

So I wrote a rather cheeky sketch. It just sort of came out, and I really wasn’t sure about having it performed, but it was funny, so we did it. In retrospect, I think it may have offended one or two people, and I apologise if that was the case. But I hope its playful spirit might go some way towards excusing it. And for what it’s worth, How To Deal With Non-Traditional Theatregoers speaks to a bigger issue within our industry than anything I found exclusively at the Playhouse.

But one thing I did uncover in Leeds was an interesting piece of psycho-geography. It turns out that entire ‘cultural quarter’ is built on the old site of Quarry Hill Flats – a notorious post-war council development built with grand modernist visions, and the biggest of its kind in Europe at the time. Like most of these projects though, it quickly deteriorated into a sink estate, riddled with drugs, crime, rioting and other social ills, and in 1978 was unceremoniously demolished. It’s where all the arts institutions of Leeds now stand. I wonder if some sort of psychological scar colours some people’s perceptions, seeing it now through the prism of history as the forced displacement of a poor community by these impenetrable temples to ‘the arts’?

I was still only half way through my week. (That link to Twitter is here, by the way.) The next day I went along to the rehearsal of a new play by a Yorkshire Post journalist turned playwright. He was in the interesting position of being one of the paper’s main arts critics, as well as producing his own work, a proper poacher-gamekeeper – and a lovely chap. Especially if he comes to review one of my plays.

He told me an interesting story from Leeds’ recent past, about an incident involving artist Anthony Gormley. Apparently, in 1988, during a major period of regeneration for Leeds, Gormley had been commissioned to create an iconic piece of public art. He proposed The Brick Man, a 120 foot brick figure which would have been in the Holbeck area. It was to be privately funded, so wouldn’t have cost the taxpayer anything, but even so the Tory council of the time vetoed it, with one councillor remarking: ‘my eyes aren’t exactly weeping with tears.’ Gormley went on to make the Angel of the North instead, and look how that turned out for Newcastle.

Interestingly, this incident came up more than once in my conversations. Many see this as a turning point for the city, where as one interviewee put it ‘ We chose commerce over culture’. One online article, reflecting on the incident’s twentieth anniversary, remarks:

I would argue it has led to a situation where Leeds is embarrassed by its culture,
celebrating only the culture of commerce at the expense of art.

It could certainly be an interesting and resonant moment to revisit in a play about the city.

But there are other forces at work than the Council. One actor I got chatting to told me that he had been to university in Leeds, and had got into running club nights, which he continued for a while as quite a successful business after graduating. He described ‘dark forces’ at work in the city when you get into work like that, a set of people who you have to get on side, without whom nothing like that can happen, but who will try and muscle in on your business and can turn on you at a moment’s notice. When I asked him if he meant local gangs or mafia types, he went a bit quiet.... ‘Not exactly’. Then decided to change the subject.

Leeds was growing more mysterious by the minute.

A primary school teacher who I met that afternoon was a lovely bubbly local, but who complained about how Leeds was usually represented in drama or on TV – as ‘working class oiks’ as she put it, citing films like Kes, Kathy Come Home or those daft TV shows about binge drinking – though I’m not sure any city comes out of those programmes looking particularly good.

She herself was a descendant of the Irish navvies who had flocked to Leeds in the 1700s to work on the Leeds to Liverpool Canal, a feat of engineering running right across the north from Hull to the west coast, even traversing the Pennines. Thise Irish Catholics made money and quickly became middle class, but the Yorkshire attitude remained, ‘We don’t like flash and we don’t like smart arses’ as she memorably summed it up. The prism of class was still strong for her, though it had become somewhat inverted – she lamented the focus on working-class deprivation at the expense of some middle-class children, who she argued were being just as badly emotionally damaged by their solicitor mummy who they never see due to her long hours, addicted to her career because she won’t forego the sports car and three foreign holidays per year.

Interestingly, she had a different perspective on Jimmy Savile, who was local to where she grew up. She had conflicted feelings about this ‘local hero’ who would make lewd comments to young women like her down the local chippy in the 1970s.

I’ve nearly finished, but just in case, here’s that link to Twitter again.

My final interview of the week was with an architect, a man responsible for much of the city centre’s late twentieth century regeneration. He told me that Leeds’s nickname historically had been The City of A Thousand Trades; that they were a bit embarrassed by the ‘Knightsbridge of the North’ label acquired after a Harvey Nick’s opened up; that the new Briggate shopping development was using the original alignment of medieval streets dating from 1207; that the Headrow had been a new civic bypass built in the 1920s for the motor car age; and that some World War Two developments in Leeds had only been finished in 2009...

He was a mine of genuinely interesting topographical information, and a lovely, modest and softly-spoken old chap to boot.

I took the chance to ask him about resonant locations within the city, with interesting histories or metaphorical possibilities, in which it might be interesting to set a play. Without a moment’s hesitation he suggested the Town Hall, and told me an interesting story about it. 

Leeds Town Hall was designed and built by a 28-year old called Cuthbert Broderick. No-one had ever heard of him before; he had won a competition to get to do it. He used to talk about ‘the pursuit of the sublime’ in his architecture, and the design he came up with was for a building which would be the beating heart of civic life – it would house the city’s courts, its council chambers, its police, its jail, its courts, its concert hall and ball room all under one roof. He pulled it off, and the design became a model which was replicated for town halls throughout the British Empire. Then, as suddenly as he’d appeared, Broderick vanished, back into obscurity, and no-one ever heard of him again. 

That evening, I took a memorable walk at dusk around the Town Hall, and it is indeed a truly impressive and beautiful building. The council chambers and many other functions have moved on, but it’s still a social centre and to this day you can still see bands in there. A proud heart for Leeds.

There’s a play in there somewhere.

But by now my head was spinning and it was time to stop. I went home and wrote two more scenes. I couldn't find a way in to the Town Hall idea in the time I had left, but as a potential location it is most definitely on my list. Instead, I wrote the beginnings of a daft populist crime caper featuring two bickering Leeds lads who have dug up and stolen Jimmy Savile’s body. While the other was an allegory about Leeds and its feckless twin brother Bradford.

I could have written so much more, but by then, my week was up.

I have no idea where all this will end up, but I’m pleased to have got it down here. If you’ve stuck with me this far, thank you for resisting the delights of Twitter.

I left Leeds feeling really inspired, like there is a lot more to the city than meets the eye. It is a place which rewards a bit of digging, and has some quirks, surprises, tales to tell - and just a touch of darkness. I liked it a lot.

I’m due a debrief with Alex at the Playhouse, and hopefully after that I will be able to find the time to start to pull all this together into some sort of coherent whole. I’m rather fired up by the prospect of writing something for the city and its people, that will appeal to all comers and be a real local event - a play that somehow captures the sprawling mass of lives, hopes, fears and dreams that I uncovered, and which does justice to this city with such an extraordinary imagination.

As for a unifying concept... don’t ask me that yet. I’m not Grayson Perry. I need longer than one episode to weave my tapestry.

But I think I might have a working title: A Thousand Trades. That might change of course, but as an idea, I rather like it. As if every scene might feature a transaction, one tiny exchange among many, in the city that can turn its hand to anything.

Thank you, Leeds. And thank you West Yorkshire Playhouse. 

Now watch this space.


UPDATE:  It occurred to me that I should list and link to all five of the sketches mentioned above, so here they are. I've also added a little poll to the right hand side where you can vote on which of them you like best, and would like to see developed into something longer. (I've even included an in-built way to send me some abuse, for all you internet trolls.) 

Don't all go and vote for How To Deal With Non-Traditional Theatregoers. I'll get in loads of trouble if you do that.

On Yer Bike
Lee and Brad
How To Deal With Non-Traditional Theatregoers
Around A Table
Jimmy Jimmy

1 comment:

davidovitch said...

Don't think I've ever read anything that so accurately captures everything that is wonderful, depressing, complex, infuriating and marvellous about Leeds.

And I love the title. This has always been a city of trading. That is one of its strengths and also one of its greatest weaknesses. Not sure Leeds has ever quite overcome that. Not sure it ever will...