This short story was one of our award winners in our Tales of Eltham competition. The author said it was inspired by the Eltham War Memorial, St John’s Church , Eltham High Street. It is a moving story.
by Ann Tolladay
When he and his brothers finished at Roper Street school, he felt such pride when he was taken on as an under gardener at Eltham Palace. Bill was working in the post office in Passey Place and Eddy worked in the bank at the cross roads.
On a Friday they would meet up for a pint or two at the Greyhound pub. One night it was so crowded they went round the corner to The Rising Sun and there she was, fate had put the love of his life in front of him, all blond hair and blue eyes. They got talking and to his surprise she agreed to met him the next afternoon.
The Tarn could not have looked better, sun lush greens and flowers. Their feelings for each other blossomed too, they married at St. Johns Church and a year later the twins were born. They lived very contently in a two up two down in Sun Yard. Money was short, but his wife and children gave him a life full of love.
Now he lay here in the mud soaking wet cold and yes angry. The anger welled up in him, the destruction and carnage they were causing must be stopped. It was for the love of what he had left behind, for little families like his that he was prepared to do this terrible thing. The whistle sounded then the movement of men going over the top like a great unstoppable wave. At that moment he knew that what ever his fate, in one part of London what he had planted would continue to grow and even in a hundred years time people would remember and be proud of the sacrifice they were making .
With a hundred people attending the book launch at Eltham library on Saturday it was standing room only ! What great support for our community short story book Tales of Eltham, with over 90 short stories on subjects as diverse as love, loss, pantomime horses, ghosts and funerals for goldfish . Such a range of stories based on the theme of ‘An Eltham Experience’ has created a lovely book written by children and adults who live in the area or know Eltham well. With many authors being prepared to read their stories at the launch we were moved by some stories and laughed at others. What a great creative community we have in Eltham!
If you would like a copy of the book Tales of Eltham , copies are available at Eltham Library or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Creative Eltham conference on 18th October was a great success. Fantastic networking and enthusiasm for developing the arts in Eltham.The five workshops were asked to come up with ideas on their ‘themes’ and then to select a BIG IDEA. These are the Five Big Ideas. People went away with lots of ideas that they were going to implement themselves. We will write a longer report of the conference , as we do not want to lose sight of the discussion and other good ideas . However, now we need everyone (Royal Greenwich Council, local arts groups, individual artists, events organisers, businesses ,venues and the community) to show their commitment , look at the Five Big Ideas and think about the future. Together we now need to see how we can take them forward.
PUBLICITY AND MARKETING Publicity in Passey Place that promotes the arts and events in Eltham, which is able to be used by any local organisation. This should ideally be managed by the council and could be a digital board. Also an opportunity for a piece of local art to be displayed, similar to the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.
BUSINESS AND REGENERATION A four-week Eltham Arts Festival, perhaps as part of the Greenwich and Docklands Festival. An attractively-produced programme for the month, funded by adverts for local businesses, and incorporating as many events and venues as possible over Eltham. This would encourage performances and exhibitions in public and open spaces. This would also encourage businesses to be part of the Festival both by having events in their premises (e.g. open mics in pubs) and by bringing their produce (e.g. pie and mash/curry) onto the street alongside arts displays and performances.
HEALTH AND WELLBEING Making the arts more ‘portable’, like the university theatre project and also marketing arts as a health benefit to both health professionals and potential users. Maybe a GP surgery (or new community hospital) could pilot promoting local arts groups and activities and forge closer links with a local group. Arts on prescription?
FUNDING AND DEVELOPMENT Building a structure around Eltham Arts. The big question being whether Eltham Arts wants to remain a community group which continues to respond to local artistic development and opportunities or, if it wants to be a bigger player which can attract larger funding pots.
ARTS FOR ALL A ‘pop-up’ tour of Eltham, with art displays and performing arts along the way e.g. drama in Passey Place; music in the parks; art in cafes and restaurants or a photo exhibition. Artists could be invited to add to a display, which could then be auctioned. Pop-up shop where artists can sell their products.
More than 70 locals met on 18 October for ‘Creative Eltham – Developing the Arts’ – a conference designed to showcase the creativity and passion for the arts in Eltham.
Organised by Eltham Arts, the conference was held at The Friendship Centre in Glenure Road, and featured an afternoon of arts-related discussion and activity. The event began with three keynote speakers, the first of which was Miranda Williams, cabinet member for Culture and Creative Industries, Royal Greenwich Council. Williams said that Eltham has a “thriving arts community, which the council is keen to support”.
She detailed arts activity supported and undertaken by the council in Eltham so far this year, which included the summer music festival at Passey Place, organised in association with Eltham Arts. Williams agreed that activity such as this “helps to animate our town centres and provides opportunities for artists and audiences to come together and promote community events.” Williams concluded by encouraging local arts organisations to apply for the council’s Community Arts Fund. “The fund encourages partnerships between established organisations and the community, and I encourage you to apply,” she said. She also recommended listing arts events and organisations on the council’s directory.
Dr Heather Lilley, senior lecturer drama, University of Greenwich, then took the stage to discuss reminiscence theatre – a technique that involves producing pieces of theatre from memories. In 2012, the university acquired an archive of reminiscence theatre productions created between 1983 and 2005, and have been using them with their students ever since. The material is used to create theatre from memories with the elderly in mind, which inspires audiences to link back to a time when their lives were perhaps fuller and involved new experiences. This type of theatre also encourages interaction between young and old people.
As a result of the work undertaken, the university has toured nine care homes in Greenwich and Woolwich, and hopes to extend this initiative. “It’s purely a positive experience for both groups,” said Lilley. “The performers and audience chat afterwards, and have a meaningful conversation prompted by particular subjects in performance, not just stories, real memories, real lives. There is a real responsibility to students to express the memories as authentically and as truthfully as possible.” Lilley encouraged attendees to visit the (free to access) archive and use the material. “There’s no reason why reminiscence theatre cannot be brought to Eltham,” she said.
The final speaker of the afternoon was Amy Ash, learning and participation curator at the Gerald Moore Gallery. Ash explained that although the gallery operates in collaboration with the school, it’s also a service to the community. She detailed several projects that have been undertaken by the gallery this year, which included a weekly arts outreach programme facilitated by Eltham College’s sixth form students, where local primary schools were visited. “We’ve already seen a difference in engagement here,” said Ash. The gallery also facilitated a series of talks which culminated in an exhibition, and are working with local organiastions (including Eltham Arts) to create other new opportunities for the community.
After some networking, attendees broke into groups to discuss several areas affecting the arts: health and wellbeing; business and regeneration; funding and development; publicity and marketing and arts for all. The discussions were then summaried and fed back to the whole group, and will form a blueprint for Eltham Arts’ activity going forward.