If planners had had their way in the 1960’s the A27 Lewes bypass would have been called the Inner Relief Road and it would have gone right through the centre of town, splitting us into North and South Lewes, connected only by a bridge and a tunnel. If planners had had their way, the Cuilfail Tunnel would not have existed and all the buildings on the west side of South Street (the Snowdrop side) would now have been part of a dual carriageway. If planners had had their way, the tunnel they finally agreed to would have gone under Cliffe and come out in Morris Road. Luckily, planners didn’t have their way. Thankfully the people in Lewes (most importantly the Friends of Lewes Group) got together and objected to these plans. They made a fuss, they demonstrated, they won.

That was in the 60’s and 70’s. Are the people of Lewes still politically pro-active? Will people still get angry about plans that will adversely affect them? Will we just watch as a vast incinerator is built down the road in Newhaven, a new high-rise housing estate goes up on the riverside area that is now the Phoenix Industrial Estate, and Tesco doubles in size? Let’s hope not. We shouldn’t be against change per se. But we must be against change for the worse. If we don’t do anything, this town will change out of all recognition and our children will be asking us why we let it happen. Now is the time for action. Enjoy the week.

Above: Robert Tavener’s Downs (page 15); Cover: Sue Barnes’
Ghost Cars courtesy of the Chalk Gallery

To receive a free edition of Viva Lewes in your inbox every week, please click here.
Shape, Pattern, Colour (15)
Bricks & Mortar:
St Michael-in-Lewes (25)
The Constant Gardner (12); Crash (8); March of the Penguins (18); V for Vendetta (21)
Classical Music:
The Gaudier Ensemble (9)
Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson & Chris Parkinson (5)
The Kondoms (13); Alvin Sawdust (14)
Phoenix Development (2, 23, 27)
Paul Lacey Quintet (6)
Jason & the Argonauts (10); Pond dipping (11); Wheels (7)
  Live Literature:
Al Alvarez (20)
The Pelham Arms (26)
  Mother’s Day:
Do the right thing (16)
My Lewes:
Ruth O’Keeffe (24)
Pond dipping (12)
Michael Griffiths (28)
Plumpton Countryside Meeting (19)
Chile - a Long Thin Journey (4)
Visible (22); Jason & the Argonauts (10)
Jevington-Litlington (17); The Phoenix Industrial Estate (27)

It’s V for Vendetta time, and Mr. Fawkes has a score to settle
with Lewes (page 21)
Thursday 23rd March
Talk - Chile - A Long Thin Journey

Retired Lewes vet David Lang, an enthusiastic botanist and writer, was arrested by a Kalashnikov-toting soldier the last time he went to his favourite haunt, Himalaya, so last year he decided to try a trip to Chile instead. He travelled from Santiago in Chile to Cape Horn with a local guide, taking pictures of the local flora and fauna. He is recounting adventures from his trip, with the help of a slideshow, in a talk entitled Chile - a Long, Thin Journey, at St. Anne’s Church in Lewes tonight.

By the sound of the man on the phone it’s going to be an interesting talk. “Chile is the most extraordinary place,” he says. “It is 3,000 miles long and never more than 150 miles wide, so there are vast climate changes from one region to the other. In the South the weather is similar to that which you’d expect in the Falkland Islands. Winds can reach 100mph and there’s only one clear day in 16. Also in the very south the birds are unused to man, so they come right up to you. This allows you to take very detailed pictures.” He was highly impressed by the Andean condor (‘it’s got a fourteen foot wingspan, it’s like a barn door flying past’); and the purple-headed Magellanic woodpecker. Several species of orchid also excited him, including the Embothrium coccineum. And the natives were very friendly: he left without a single machine gun being pointed in his direction.

That Condor moment: David Lang talks about Chile
St Anne’s Church, The High St, Lewes
When? 8pm
How Much? £8 (accompanied children free)
Thursday 23rd March
Folk - Carthy, Waterson and Parkinson

‘For four decades, Martin Carthy's work has immeasurably enriched the British folk heritage. He is regarded as one of the finest singers and interpreters of traditional music of the British Isles, as well as a highly influential and much-imitated guitarist. Awarded the MBE for services to English folk music in 1998, his drive and enthusiasm are undiminished and he continues to be one of folk music's great innovators.’ This accolade comes from the BBC Folk Music awards, 2005, when Carthy, playing at the Royal Oak tonight, was voted best folk singer of the year, as well as being awarded ‘Best Traditional Track’ for his Famous Flower of Serving Men from his Waiting for Angels LP.

Carthy’s wife Norma Waterson also has an MBE and has won Radio 2 Folk Music awards for her compassionate, emotive voice. The pair are widely respected worldwide, particularly in the USA, where they have recently toured with Peggy Seeger ‘The First Woman of Folk’. Tonight they are appearing with squeezebox legend Chris ‘Parky’ Parkinson, a veteran on the scene who has released two solo albums, seven albums with his House Band, and has collaborated on a staggering total of 46 albums with other artists. You could call Parkinson versatile. He is also expert on piano, guitar, concertina, tin whistle, melodeon, piano accordion, keyboards and fiddle.

Song title: Martin Carthy MBE at the Royal Oak
Royal Oak, Lewes
When? 8pm
How Much? £4.50
Folk at the Oak
(t) 01273 478124
Thursday 23rd March
Jazz - Paul Lacey Quintet

Paul Lacey is a master of relaxed swing. He calls his quintet ‘the Back to Basie Band’ after one of his heroes, the great pianist Count Basie. However his chief inspiration was a trumpeter, like himself, Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison. Clark Terry and Roy Eldridge, who helped move swing into the be-bop age, are also cited as being important influences. Lacey, a founder member of the 100 Club All Stars, is an experienced and highly sought-after jazzman. Next month he is playing in the Royal Festival Hall. He has played with Acker Bilk as well as the legendary likes of Terry Lightfoot, Don Lusher, Al Casey and Allen Eager.

On piano, Stacey will be proud to introduce Nick Dawson. On drums, Matt Home. On tenor sax and clarinet, Robert Fowler. And on bass, Mr David Chamberlain. Together they will transport you back to the swing era, with Lacey holding notes like notes haven’t been held for seventy years. “Ultra melodic and effortless, boy did this group swing,” gushed Crescendo and Jazz International, in a recent review. “Musically sublime.” LJC would like to point out that free parking is available in County Hall just up the road, and that in a fortnight they are looking forward to world-class US jazz guitarist Howard Alden, touring the UK to promote his LP, recorded in the very same setting in 2004.

King of the swingers: Paul Lacey blows his own trumpet
at the Jazz Club
139 The High St, Lewes
When? 7.30pm for 8.15pm
How Much? £8.50
Lewes Jazz Club
(t) 01273 4767079
(w) Website
Friday 24th March
Wheels - Vehicles from the Past

Kids love cars. Some like the chrome bumpers or the shiny metal bodies whilst others can’t get enough of the wing mirrors or even the ashtray. They all like the wheels. The wheels go round, you see. Even before they walk they can make these fascinating little things move - simply by rotating the little black circles found at each corner. The wheels enable them to push the car/tractor/bus/fire-engine into the fridge or the sofa or the cat. This probably explains why cats swipe violently at anything rolling by - and why they are deeply suspicious of some small children.

Today at Anne of Cleves house, the pre-schoolers (2-5yr olds) can learn much more about the caveman’s favourite invention. Over the years wheels have been modified and improved to keep our modern transport systems running (be that only very slowly through the narrow streets of Lewes). For today’s circular experience, the youngsters will be treated to a fascinating hands-on look at some vehicles from the past, including early versions of a fire engine and the bicycle. They will also get the chance to show their budding art skills by drawing their own vehicles, as well as hearing some transport-related tales. Take the kids, marvel at the wheel, and hope that one of Lewes’s ever-increasing army of red-coated wardens hasn’t immobilised yours whilst you’re inside… Tickets need to be purchased in advance via 01273 474610.

The Wheel thing: They make things move and kids love ‘em
Anne of Cleves House, Southover High St, Lewes
When? 10-11.30
How Much? £3
Sussex Past
(t) 01273 474610
(w) Website
Friday 24th March
Cinema - Crash

Paul Haggis made his reputation as a TV director, so it was quite a coup for him to win the blue riband ‘best movie’ award at the Oscars earlier this month. Especially with a film which was panned by many critics when it first came out last year. Crash is an ensemble, set in LA, which looks at race relations in that city, taking a number of different strands introducing a number of different characters, most of whom seem to be driven by simmering racial prejudice. It is driven by coincidence, so that all the strands tie up in unlikely ways. And the characters keep meeting each other again and again in the thirty-six hour period the film covers, as if they were living in Lewes, rather than Los Angeles.

“It’s just our sense of touch. We miss that touch so much that we crash into each other just to feel something,” says one of the many characters towards the end of the movie. Although there is some redemption by the time the credits roll, its message is generally rather negative. It makes for uncomfortable viewing. It is not called ‘Harmony’. It was a surprise winner, in a year full of surprises for Hollywood. Starring Matt Dillon, Terrence Howard, Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle and Ludacris, the hip-hop singer, it is not a film which you will necessarily ‘enjoy’ in the conventional sense of the word. But it is a film you will talk about afterwards.

Crash bang wallop: Paul Haggis’ Oscar-winning film looks at racial
tensions in LA
All Saints Centre, Lewes
When? 8.30pm (also Sat 8.30pm)
How Much? £4.50
Lewes Cinema
(t) 01903 523833
(w) Website
Friday 24th March

Classical Music - the Gaudier Ensemble

The Gaudier Ensemble, which formed in 1989, draw their members from all over Europe, and have a great reputation as being one of the most accomplished classical music groups in the world. Five of them appear at the Sussex Downs College tonight, including pianist Susan Tomes, described recently by Piano Magazine as ‘one of the brightest jewels in Britain’s cultural crown’ (she’s a Guardian critic, to boot), clarinetist Richard Hosford of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, bassoon player Robin O’Neill of the English Chamber Orchestra, horn player Jonathan Williams, principal horn of the Teatro Lirico, Cagliari and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and renowned Swiss oboist Emmanuel Abbuhl. Tonight they’re playing a mix of classics and more contemporary works, sandwiching 20th century trios by Sandor Veress, Francis Poulenc and Ibert with quintets by Mozart and Beethoven.

The Gaudier Ensemble are one of the most respected chamber ensembles in the world, so we presume the latest offering from the Nicholas Yonge Society’s 2006 season pronounce their name in the French manner rather than the English (i.e. ‘that kitsch sofa is even gaudier than the one in Erica’s house’).

Key player: World-class pianist Susan Tomes of the Gaudier Ensemble
Cliffe Building, Sussex Downs College
When? 8.10pm
How Much? £12 on door (£6 concs)
The Gaudier Ensemble
(w) Website
Nicholas Yonge Society
(w) Website
(t) 01273 476555
Saturday 25th March
Theatre - Jason & the Argonauts

The story of Jason’s fantastic journey has been passed from generation to generation since the first version of the Argonaut myth was penned by Apollonius of Rhodes in his third century BC epic poem Argonautica. Modern versions include Ray Harryhausens 1963 animation classic and Nick Willing’s less highly rated turn of the millennium effort. Even dubious 80’s rockers XTC dedicated a song to it, for goodness sake. Apollonius’ wonderfully vivid tale follows Jason, son of Aeson, the rightful king of Iolcos, as he attempts to win back his kingdom from his usurping uncle Pelias. To do so he is tasked with performing the apparently impossible feat of retrieving the Golden Fleece from the winged ram Chrysomallos. To help him succeed where all others have previously failed, Jason gathers together an ancient Greek ‘dream team’ including the winged Boreads (Calais and Zetes), Heracles, the son of Zeus, the wily Atalanta and Peleus.

Playwrights Carl Heap and Tom Morris have taken on the equally challenging task of bringing the tale to life on stage. By most accounts, they’ve succeeded, and their much-praised production (“unreservedly recommended” say the Sunday Times) shows tonight and tomorrow at the Gardner. Look out for crashing rocks, fire-breathing bulls and some hygienically challenged low-flying harpies. Sounds a bit like a normal family day out to me. It’s suitable for 7 years+, but be warned, if the words ‘audience participation’ bring you out in a nervous rash or a cold sweat, hide at the back…

A rock and a hard place: Jason and the Argonauts at the Gardeners
Gardner Arts Centre, University of Sussex
When? 7.30pm (Saturday matinee 2pm)
How Much? £12.50/£10/£7
Gardner Arts Centre
(w) Website
Saturday 25th March
Wildlife Watch - Pond Dipping

Less than a mile from the proposed Phoenix redevelopment is an area offering an alternative vision for inner city expansion. The Lewes Railway Land reserve is an oasis of calm, an area returning to nature after intensive use by the railways for much of the last century. Development still occurs, but now it is the like of the Heart of Reeds project, a reed bed designed by locally based international artist Chris Drury. The double vortex design, imitating the cross section of a heart, incorporates water, reeds, islands and earth mounds. It is designed to blend in to the surrounding reserve, and to provide a myriad of housing options for our towns ever-increasing numbers of frogs, insects and flies – (dragon, may and caddis in particular).

Wildlife Watch is the junior arm of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, an organisation dedicated to looking after (and hopefully adding to) over 3,000 acres of Downland, woodland, wetland and heath in Sussex. For a couple of hours James and Kate, two of their volunteers, will help your kids to have the time of their lives by showing them how to find and identify the many creatures just below the surface of the railway lands many ponds and ditches. All equipment is provided; wellies and waterproofs are highly recommended, and something warm in a flask will probably help you through if the wind-chill is still Siberian. Your kids should love it - it’s recommended for 6-12 year olds.

Spawn to be wild: Pond dipping with Lewes Wildlife Watch
Railway Land Gate, Lewes
When? 2-4pm
How Much? £2 (free to members)
Sussex Wildlife Trust
(t) 01273 494777
(w) Website
Saturday 25th March
Cinema - The Constant Gardener

The Constant Gardener, based on a novel by John Le Carré and directed by Fernando ‘City of God’ Meirelles, is at the same time a love story, a political thriller, a murder mystery and a (fictitious) exposé of both the British Government’s and a multinational drug company’s dodgy dealings in Africa. Ralph Fiennes plays a rather stuffy civil servant who falls in love with feisty student Rachel Weisz. He is posted to Africa: they get married so she can go with him. Pretty near the start of the film her butchered body is found on a bleak roadside and Fiennes starts finding the action man within him as he investigates why she was murdered. Much of the narrative is told in flashback as he unravels the clues. Was she having an affair with an African colleague? Had she got too close to a multinational drug company’s amoral methods of testing out drugs on unsuspecting African villagers?

When Weisz accepted her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in this film, she dedicated it to Aid workers in Africa. The UN’s World Food Programme head Jim Morris said afterwards “People pay a heck of a lot more attention to her when she talks than to me when I talk.” This was the year when the Hollywood producers embraced politics. Let’s hope their next step is to drop all those clunky coincidental plot devices that leave you feeling a bit short-changed when the credits roll. Good performance by Weisz, though.

African Queen: Rachel Weisz won an Oscar for her Constant
Gardener role
All Saints Centre, Friars Walk, Lewes
When? 6pm. Also Sun 26th, 6pm
How Much? £4.50
Lewes Cinema
(t) 01903 523833
(w) Website
Saturday 25th March
Cover band - The Kondoms

Lewes band the Kondoms have been pumping out tribute gigs for over twenty-five years now: so long that, like the Little River Band, there are no longer any of the original members in the current line up. To see what shape they were in I went to see them practicing, in a secret location near Homebase, on Monday night. Notionally a five-piece, Jim the guitarist hadn’t made it to the practice. No matter – when I got there they were halfway through their set and halfway through a crate of lager.

They launched into an upbeat version of Bowie’s Jean Genie: dark serious Tim on bass (filling in for Andy, who isn’t well); Rick on guitar-shaped keyboards wearing a kilt and skull and crossbones socks; Paul on drums, in drummer-like jeans and a t-shirt; Moose on vocals (and vocal guitar for important riffs), cigarette behind his ear: part Joe Strummer, part Suggsy, part, well, Moose. After a word-perfect Down in the Tube Station I attempted to photograph the song list, but was spotted, and stopped. I clocked songs from the Jam, the Monkees, the Undertones, the Buzzcocks. To bring us to the end of last century, there was even one by Blur. Mission accomplished, it was time to go. I fled into the night, an atmospheric Won’t Get Fooled Again ringing in my ears. If you like jumping up and down to old faves, these guys are perfect.

60’s-80’s rock? The Kondoms have got it covered...
St Mary’s Social Centre, Christie Rd, Lewes
When? 7.30pm
How Much? £2.50. Profits go to Neville Juvenile Bonfire Society
Saturday 25th March

Glam Rock - Alvin Sawdust

In 1972 Alvin Stardust, formerly Shane Fenton from Shane Fenton and the Fentones, jumped on the glittery bandwagon of glam rock with the song he is most remembered for: ‘My Coo-Ca-Choo’. It was perhaps the worst thing that had happened to the genre: until Alvin came along, glam rock was actually cool. Everyone was camping it up and having a good time, sure, but the likes of Slade, Sweet, Alice Cooper, Mud and even Gary Glitter were making some seriously good tunes. Some of the music - Bowie, T-Rex, Roxy Music - is still worth listening to today. Then came this guy with the ridiculous bouffant quiff and the leather gloves (which he had to wear on Top of the Pops because he’s dyed his hands black as well as his hair) pointing his ring-laden fingers and snarling his written-in-five-minutes lines:
" Do! Do! You love me too?
Will I smile or will I be blue?
Am I mad? I'm hung up on you
Oh honey be my coo ca choo.”
Suddenly, when your parents did that ‘what the hell does he think he’s doing?’ thing, you secretly knew that they had a point. And somehow you knew the glam rock game was up.

And now there’s Alvin Sawdust! A tribute to the man who ruined glam rock! A pastiche of a pastiche, playing in the Pelham Arms. Should be interesting. Unlikely to ooze sophisticated urban cool, though.

Glam in wolf’s clothing: Alvin Sawdust
The Pelham Arms
When? 8pm
How Much? Free
Alvin Stardust
(w) Website
Saturday 25th March
Art - Shape, Pattern, Colour

Living at the foot of the Downs was enough to satisfy the aesthetic needs of Robert Tavener, one of the most celebrated printmakers of his generation, who made his name producing quintessentially English images which were instantly recognisable as his own. He believed that printing should never imitate drawing or painting, but always display an awareness of the disciplines of the printmaking process. Thus there is a stylised, slightly primitivist look to his work. Tavener lived in the same house in Eastbourne for most of his adult life saying that the countryside around provided him with enough subject matter to last him indefinitely. He died in 2004 and he is one of three printers being exhibited at the Thebes Gallery over the next three weeks.

The other two have both lived locally and are both contemporaries to Tavener. Geoffrey Elliott lived in Brighton for a decade in the swinging sixties – his colourful and slightly psychedelic prints of the city’s idiosyncratic buildings characterise the decade. Trevor Kemp, who like Tavener settled in Eastbourne, used more rustic scenes as the inspiration for a number of equally arresting and slightly more mystical scenes. There are sheep bathing in a full moon, and cows investigating a yellow strip of light. The exhibition has been organised by Emma Mason, who deals in local printmakers’ work.

Pop art printers: Elliott, Kemp and Tavener at the Thebes
Thebes Gallery, Church Twitten, Lewes
When? Tue - Sat 10.30am-5pm, Sun 12noon - 5pm
How Much? Free
Emma Mason Prints
(w) Website
Thebes Gallery
(t) 01273 484214 / 484400
Sunday 26th March
Mother's Day

Mother's Day is definitely one of those Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus occasions. He thinks, "if I don't get something on Saturday, there is always Tesco's on Sunday morning." Mothers, on the other hand, are looking for deep-felt expressions of genuine appreciation for all the care they give to their family. Oh, so much can go wrong. But, with a little thought, it can all so easily go right. Home-made cards and gifts from children are best. If that’s not on the cards, then go for presents with a home-made look and feel: little embroidered cushions from Bright Ideas that say ‘Love’; tiny hand-tied bunches of snowdrops that imply profound feelings. High Street Florist Hilary Moore is running workshops so you (or the kids) can choose flowers and arrange them yourself - perfect. At Bruditz you can select her favourite chocolates from their vast array, and the box, message and ribbon.

Don’t go too far with personal taste though. Even if mummy has a love of double malt, whisky is not the ideal choice for this celebration. Similarly, keep well away of anything mass-produced, practical or related to maternal tasks. No matter how much she needs new Marigolds, Veet wax strips, a new skin for her Djembe drum or a fuel tank for her Harley Davidson, just save those treats for another day.

It’s the mother of all days: so think about it.
Painting by Mary Beaney (Chalk Gallery)
A visit goes down well
When? It’s too late if you don’t know by now…
How Much? Splash out
(t) 01273 480734
Bright Ideas
(t) 01273 474395
Hilary Moore Flowers
01273 480822
Sunday 26th March
Walk - Jevington to Litlington

Uffington in Oxfordshire is famous for its Bronze Age horse mysteriously carved into the hill over 2,000 years ago, possibly by a horse-worshipping tribe. But there are 28 other examples of white hill-horses in the world. Most of them are in England, and most of them were carved in the 1800’s. Two of them are in the Cuckmere valley near Litlington, though the older, carved in 1838 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Coronation, has been ‘lost’. The existing one, 100 yards away, was carved in 1924, probably to replace the original. In 1983 the design was altered: a foreleg was raised to make the horse look more realistic. It would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall during that committee meeting. A walk arranged by the County Council this morning takes you past it.

The walk is one of many organised by the County Council. This one includes lunch in the rather wonderful Plough and Harrow in Litlington. Meet up in the car park opposite the Hungry Monk in Jevington, (another historic site, birthplace of banoffi pie): the walk will take you through woods and valleys to Litlington, and back through farmland with the view of the horse carving. It’s a five-mile walk taking three hours. Today’s guide is Jane Hicks: check below for more details of the Council’s rich and imaginative schedule.

Little horse on the prairie: the Litlington chalk sculpture
Hungry Monk Car Park, Jevington
When? 11am meeting
How Much? Donations welcome
(pdf) Click here
Sunday 26th March
Cinema - March of the Penguins

The most polemic film of the year wasn’t a geopolitical drama, but a simple nature documentary. March of the Penguins was embraced by the American moral majority as a good example of family values at work and intelligent design, and became the most-watched documentary ever. The Republicans rejoiced, but not for long. The left countered with their own penguin stuff. The Emperor Penguins depicted were only monogamous for a year, after which they switched to another mate, they said. In fact, the females were notoriously slutty. What’s more, there were many examples of gay penguins, particularly in Columbia Zoo. Suddenly everybody was talking about the sexuality of penguins. Who did they do it with? How often did they do it? How did they do it?

It came to a head when a German zoo imported some Swedish female penguins in order to try to check out the sexuality of six male penguins which had been showing homosexual traits. Gay rights groups were outraged, saying that the gay couples had the right to remain together without human interference. Inevitably March of the Penguins won the Best Documentary Oscar. Go see it, if you haven’t already. It’s a heart-warming film, if you can stand the icky Morgan Freeman voiceover.

Political schism: those pesky penguins blew up a storm in the States
All Saint’s Centre, Friar’s Walk, Lewes
When? 6.30pm, also Sat 2.30 and 4.15, Sun 4.15pm
How Much? £4.50
Lewes Cinema
(t) 01903 523833
(w) Website
Monday 27th March
Racing - Plumpton

The lurcher is a silent hunting dog used for hunting and running down game. Usually a cross between a greyhound and other breeds, it is crucially a type of dog, and not a breed, produced by customising the greyhound to the specific needs of the lurcher owner’ reports Gary Hosker on The Official Lurcher & Staghound Website. Well we’re willing to wager a pound or two that Gary and a few of his friends may be nipping along to Plumpton Racecourse today for the Countryside meeting. The morning’s activities (from 10.30am) are very much a fundraiser for the Countryside Alliance and will feature terrier, hound and longdog racing, falconry displays and a hound parade before we get anywhere near the seven-race National Hunt programme.

If that sort of thing turns you off but you’ve a passion for the horses, then arrive in time for the first race at 2.20pm - and as Plumpton is the only UK meeting scheduled for today, expect to see a slightly bemused Tony McCoy and the other leading championship contenders picking their way through the dogs and birds not usually found at our local track. Viva have been thinking long and hard about a new sure-fire ‘system’ to help you beat the bookies, and have decided to follow the Luke Reinhart method for today’s meeting - ie take two dice with you, roll, and put a small bet on that number. Our second tip is the only 100% sure-fire guaranteed winner of the day - click this link and save up to £2 on the gate price by buying your ticket online.

Chaos theory: A punter flutters his money in Plumpton and…
Plumpton Racecourse, Plumpton
When? Gates open 10.30am; First race 2.20pm
How Much? £17/£13/£8 on the gate
Plumpton Races
(t) 01273 890383
(w) Website
Lurcher & Staghound
(w) Website
Monday 27th March
Literary Talk - Al Alvarez on ‘The Writer’s Voice’

What distinguishes great writers isn’t their style, argues Al Alvarez in his latest book, but their voice. The book is called The Writer’s Voice, it was published by Bloomsbury Press last year, and Alvarez is here to discuss its central theory. It’s an interesting one. Voice can’t be taught: it has to be natural, unforced, spontaneous. A writer comes alive displaying voice, though, at the same time, he achieves invisibility. To achieve voice in his work, a writer must learn to be modest, must learn to listen, must learn to hear other great writers’ voice in their work. Most of all they must learn to work hard at sounding like themselves. He dissects the work of a number of great writers to illustrate his theme, including John Donne, Jean Rhys, Shakespeare, Coleridge, TS Eliot. WB Yeats and Sylvia Plath.

Alvarez was a friend and champion of Plath while he was poetry editor for the Observer in the sixties. Rather strangely he blames the death of voice in modern writing on the Beat poets of this era, as well as the plague of political correctness. Nevertheless Alvarez’s gentle but persuasive voice takes us through all his work, whether it’s his poetry, his novels or, to his widest audience, his non-fiction works on subjects as diverse as suicide, poker and divorce.

Voice of reason: Al Alvarez on what makes writers great
Pelham House
When? 8pm
How Much? £5 on the door
The Monday Literary Club
(t) 01273 478512


Tuesday 28th March
Cinema - V for Vendetta

What a fine thing is a movie that picks a fight! How good it is to sit in your seat and say "No. Oh no! Wow. That'll piss some people off."
Who? Well, Middle America of course. Those hicks! Will it play in Peoria? And what will they say when the hero throws back his cape to reveal a suicide bomber’s belt? And the villain is a religious fundamentalist politician who uses a ‘war on terror’ as an excuse to destroy civil liberties? Or when the anti-hero attempts to blow up landmark buildings? Yikes! What is the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter? They won’t be able to ignore that scab in Peoria when this movie spends 132 minutes picking at it. The script is surprisingly political, the ideas more than window- dressing, and Natalie Portman is great.

But Lewes, of course, you will have to see this film. You like to blow things up. You would stick it to the establishment, and watch all those hypocrites get what they deserve. Admit it, Lewes, you would have lit the fuse. Here then is your hero. He is erudite, old fashioned and incorruptable. Oh you claim to hate him, but every year you threaten to become him, and finish the job he started. BOOM! His name is Guy Fawkes. It should have premiered here.

Gunpowder, treason and plot: but this time he’s on your side
Brighton Odeon
When? 2:35pm, 5.40pm, 8.35pm
How Much? £5.50/£6.50
Lewes Bonfire Council
(w) Website
Wednesday 29th March
Theatre - Visible

‘When life is sweet as treacle and sugar and honey, why can't Sunday lunch be perfect? When you've got everything you thought you wanted, how come you still want more? And what has happened to Catherine's cat?’ The promotional introduction to Sarah Wood’s new play, Visible, co-produced by social pioneers Cardboard Citizens and the RSC, is promising. The blurb also warns that there will be ‘one loud bang’ during the performance, which may or may not be a spoiler. The play is a dark comedy about how we guard our wealth and right to happiness, while neglecting things that really matter. It is set during a Sunday dinner party in yuppie suburbia. It sounds like an Abigail’s Party of our times.

The play is just starting a tour of the country before settling for a couple of weeks in the Soho Theatre in London. It hasn’t been reviewed yet, but its production credentials are good. Sarah Woods is a hard-working playwright who has written for the Young Vic, the RSC and the BBC. She has created this play especially for the Cardboard Citizens, who set up workshops for and put on productions by homeless and ex-homeless people. Two members of the six-strong cast, as well as a number of the backstage crew, have come from homeless backgrounds.

Heart on his sleeve: Sunday lunch goes awfully wrong in Visible
Gardner Arts Centre, University of Sussex
When? 8pm (also Thursday 30th March)
How Much? £12.50/£10/£7
Gardner Arts Centre
(w) Website
Phoenix Development Views - No 2

Missing from the Phoenix Quarter exhibition was the obvious picture: the new skyline from the footpath on the Tesco side of the river. We were given drawings of individual shops, views straight down from the sky and three-dimensional graphics of how Lewes looks today (pleasant). But where was the elevation from the side of the buildings, sometimes all eight stories of them, drawn from the place where most of us will be seeing it? "We’re working on that," says Charles Style, the Chairman of Angel Property. "We’ll show all that when we put in the application. What we’re doing now is talking to residents and getting their input." Meanwhile, only the Phoenix Quarter logo shows a stylised picture of the proposed skyline, drawn from a distance to show its entire length down the river. The logo makes the new buildings look peaceful and unobtrusive. But the trees are pretty small. How far back do you have to stand to see the buildings this way? "You shouldn’t go by that picture," says Style. "We will include a proper elevation drawing when we submit the proposal."

It all makes you wonder, if Angel bothered to create a three dimensional graphic of Lewes (see right), why did they produce one showing what it looks like now, and not what it will look like when they have finished? Could it be that they are worried that such a graphic might be a turn-off rather than a turn-on? That an eight-storey building might actually dominate any view of the castle they are purporting to 'open up?'

If it ain’t broke… Lewes doesn’t look half bad as it is
Angel Property
(w) Website
Lewes Matters
(w) Website
Name? Ruth O’Keeffe
Profession? Professional councillor, and fundraiser for my son’s special needs school in Bexhill.
What’s the best thing about Lewes? The people. They are able to be eccentric and purposeful at the same time. They’ve always got something to say. And they don’t like being told what to think.
And the worst? People spend a lot of time discussing things but they don’t always get anywhere.
Local lass? I came here in 1987 to stay with my first husband’s parents. He eventually left town but I stayed around. I’m a stayer.
Boozer? I don’t drink, so I don’t go to the pub.
What’s your poison? Hot chocolate with cream on top when it’s cold. If it’s hot, pressed apple juice.
Waitrose or Tesco? I go to both to pick up cans from the staff canteens. We sell them by the hundredweight to the recycling centre and use the money for the Lewes Little Gardens group.
Which Bonfire Society? We live near the Cliffe Fire Site. We just enjoy the experience from our house.
Newspaper? The Sussex Express. I like to find out what people are saying on the letters page.
What do you think of parking wardens? I think if you’re going to be fierce with people about where they park, then you’ve got to give them somewhere where they can park.
What’s on your CD machine? Sarah McLachlan’s Surfacing.
Lewes would be better if… Everyone really did work together instead of some of them just saying they work together.
Lewes really doesn’t need… A twice-the-size Tesco.

Roof O’Keefe: Councillor Ruth in the town clock tower
Bricks and Mortar - St. Michael-in-Lewes

In 1771 Thomas Paine married, for the second time, in St-Michael-in-Lewes Church, virtually opposite Bull House where he lived. He regularly attended vestries in the church. Odd, that: twenty-three years later he published his anti-church treatise Age of Reason, for which he is best known now. The church would have looked pretty plush then. Many of the existing elements are from a major restoration in the mid-18th century: in 1748 the church had become so dilapidated that ‘parishioners could not attend divine service without great danger to their lives,’ according to one local source. £1,366 was spent: this accounts for the whole of the South wall which looks onto the High Street.

The spire and round tower (a rarity, one of only three in Sussex) and the West wall they are attached to, are all that remain of the original 13th century church; inside the octagonal piers and arches of the South aisle are original 14th century. The church was spared destruction in the Reformation and Restoration. Inside, the smell of incense, the statue of Mary, the Holy Water and the confessional facility all point to a very catholic interpretation of the Church of England doctrine preached from the pulpit. We wonder what Mr. Paine would have thought, and what he would have made of the 1976 fibreglass archangel which dominates the church courtyard.

Window dressing: Henry Holiday’s stained glass design in
St Michael-in-Lewes
High St, Lewes
When? Built 13th Century
Lunch for a fiver - The Pelham Arms

On the Pelham Arms menu there’s something I haven’t eaten for years. Something I have never before seen on an adult menu. Something I have been looking forward to eating for days. We sit ourselves next to the Wurlitzer jukebox, the waitress comes and we place our orders.
Nick: “Ham, egg and chips.”
Dave: “Haddock and dill fishcakes with coleslaw.”
Me: “Fish fingers, beans and chips.”

They arrive in five minutes and not quickly enough. I look down at them, douse them with salt and vinegar. Cut off a third of a finger, and put it up towards my mouth. I expect a Proustian moment; I want one taste to bring all those childhood memories flooding back. I put it in front of my mouth. Even the smell and feeling of anticipation have cracked the memory dam. I remember rushing for seconds in the school dining hall, and dinner on a tray on my knees at home, watching The Virginian. I put the orange-coated morsel in my mouth. I crunch, and am immediately rewarded with a pleasant sensation. This is something of a surprise. Surely, back in the seventies, they tasted of cardboard? The memories are stopped in their tracks. Fish fingers have changed. They are better than they used to be. They taste of fish.

Finger lickin’ good: a la recherche de doigts perdus
High St, Lewes
When? 12noon – 2.30pm
How Much? 608 Icelandic Kronur
The Pelham Arms
(t) 01273 476149
Walk - The Phoenix Industrial Estate

We’ve done a walk around the Phoenix Industrial Estate this week, to get a better idea of what the new development proposals entail. We can recommend it, even though it’s rather a depressing experience. We started from the Pells, disturbed by a sawn-off teddy-bear head on the side of the path into North Street. Then past a barbed-wired wall with the legend ‘Phoenix Works’, to which we were tempted to reply ‘does it?’ The old fire station, with its hideous red four-storey tower certainly doesn’t; nor does the recently vacated Market Lane Garage. Are these places, we wonder, being left to rot so a new development eventually seems more appealing? Then we walk down Phoenix Place past Canto Skips, where the ‘o’ has dropped off to read ‘Cant’. Can’t what? Is this another subliminal message?

At the end of the road, strangely, three massive fir trees thrive. Behind these a car park backing onto the river. We lean over the wall and can see the riverbank up to Willey’s Bridge. It’s all mud and scrub and pallets and concrete and empty cans of Tennents Super. Of the Phoenix Quarter Development’s various carrots, opening the riverside up to the town is the juiciest, most tempting one for us. It sounds like a lovely proposition. But does it have to come with a high-level, high-density urban development attached?

Trigger-happy: a stencil graffito says it all in the Phoenix
Industrial Estate

Photo of the Week

Behind you! Our favourite photo sent in this week comes from Michael Griffiths who spotted this van outside the Elephant and Castle, and snapped it with his FujiFilm Finepix S5500 digital camera. We love the way its windscreen wipers have magically made the military-looking crenellations of St John Sub Castro appear in the window. This in a week when we have been highly aware of the notion of high towers, alarmed at the idea of eight-storey blocks in the proposed Phoenix Quarter just behind the church in question.

We are always delighted to hear from anyone who wants to contact us, and send in their pictures, opinions, ideas, contributions and answers on a postcard please. Please alert us if you are holding an event you think we should be covering. And let us know if you have any strong opinions about local issues. If you do want to get something off your chest, please send it to info@vivalewes.com.

Contact Viva Lewes:
Editorial (alex@vivalewes.com)
Marketing (nick@vivalewes.com)
Design & Technical (dave@vivalewes.com)

Religious reflections: Saint John Sub Castrol

There’s another weekful of things to do in and around Lewes, then. We hope you can make at least one of them, and that when you do, that you have a ball. Though we wish that someone would tell Winter that the party was over, and it was time to go home. Sick of being chilled to the bone, we’d like to thank the following people for making this issue possible: Kate Tiffin, Lynn Gayford, Chris Lutrario, Mike & Sully, Emma Morton, Ruth O’Keeffe, Moose Jarvis and the other Kondoms, Hannah Weller, Angie Osborne, Cardboard Citizens, Shaun Udal, Col Prescott, Hayley Brown, Mary Beaney and Sue Barnes.

Contributors this week are Jessica Wood, David Burke, Antonia Gabassi Dave Wilson, Alex Leith and Nick Williams.

Next week’s highlights include:
Fri 31st: Iranian director Moshen Makhmalbaf's thought-provoking and very beautiful film Kandahar at the All Saints (right)
Sat 1st: Historical talk: Are you related to Simon de Montfort?
Sat 1st: A vital six-pointer as Lewes play Welling at the Pan
Sat 1st: Stock up on local produce at the Farmers’ Market

Every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of our entries. Viva Lewes cannot be held responsible for any omissions, errors or alterations. Please let us know if you want any event or opening to be considered for publication at info@vivalewes.com or on 01273 488882

To view back issues of Viva Lewes click here

Kandahar: We’re dying to find out what the feet are all about
To receive a free edition of Viva Lewes in your inbox every week, please click here.