In this, Lewes’ time of need, with Tesco threatening to supersize, Angel Property planning to build a high-rise suburb next to the town centre and Onyx preparing to build a vast incinerator down the Ouse Valley, we need the local media to be strong, vibrant and pro-active. We need to know exactly what is going on with these proposals, exactly how much social and environmental damage they are going to cause, and, if they demand opposition, exactly what we can do to oppose them. Why is it, then, that the Sussex Express, which claims to be ‘The Paper for Lewes’ has dealt with these issues in such an insipid, piecemeal manner? Why is it that most articles on these issues seem to be re-hashed press releases, occasionally written by the very organisations which should be being investigated? Why aren’t any of the paper’s journalists looking under the stones of these local issues to see what murky truths lie beneath them? Why is it that the paper’s most incisive, intelligent and well-written pieces should be located in the letters pages and penned by its readers? We call upon the Sussex Express to use the resources it possesses to get more involved in the issues which really matter to this wonderful town. We call upon the Sussex Express to reassess its editorial policy and to become the sort of newspaper that Lewes deserves and needs in these uncertain times.
We have sent a copy of this editorial to the Sussex Express for submission to the letters pages. Enjoy the week.

Above Mud by Andy Grant. Cover Portrait no. 93 by Viv Cecil,
guest artist at the Chalk Gallery this month.
Issue 15
Duncan Bullen (4); Chalk Gallery (15)
Bricks & Mortar:
Lewes Priory Mount (26)
Contact us
Boho (14); Ska Toons (17); Turning Green (18)
  Easter: Why does the date move? (10); History of Egg hunting (11)
Andy Irvine (8)
  Food & Drink: White Hart Hotel (27)
Lewes v Havant (22)
Horse Racing:
Plumpton Easter Festival (20)
  Jazz: Howard Alden (9)
Drama Day (5); National Trust egg hunts (12); Lewes Youth Council fundraising egg hunt (16); Military re-enactment (19); Bones & Teeth (23)
  My Lewes: Mr Catlin (28)
  Next Week: Tony Benn, Norman Baker and much more…(32)
  Opinion: Local Press (2); Phoenix (24); Trees (25)
Sue Barnes (30)
  Shopping: Chocolate Shops (21); Kitchen Shop (29)
Subscribe :
(2 & 31)
Milan Rai on the London Bombings (7)
Chattri Downland Walk (6)

Turning Green turn black and white (see page 18)
Thursday 13th April

Art - Duncan Bullen

For the last month Duncan Bullen’s subtle, peaceful abstract paintings have made the Star Gallery a calming haven for peace-loving Lewesians to collect their thoughts. They are going down on Sunday, so this weekend is your last chance to experience the meditative effect these works can have on you. The artist spends several weeks every year in Santa Caterina, a 16th century former hermitage on the island of Elba. His visits to this spiritually rich haven have been central to the development of his unique style. Bullen’s works, painted in oils and watercolours on wood and paper, are usually shaped as circles, squares, cruciforms or quatrefoils. They seem to contain, in their subtle tonal gradations, a depth of spiritual power stored within their frames. They seem to change as you move around the room.

In the prologue of Night Prayers a critic writes that looking at his work is like ‘being at the still point of the turning world.’ He has recently published a book of the work he has produced in the hermitage, entitled Night Prayers. ‘The prayer and ritual that have been said for centuries seem to get into your skin. And into your soul, if you are watchful and prepared to watch in quiet expectation,’ he says of the experience. The next exhibition at the Star Gallery, from April 29th, will be rather different: a collection of colourful silkscreen Cuban film posters from the 60’s to the present day. AL

Night Prayers: your last chance to see Duncan Bullen’s calming
exhibition at the Star Gallery
Star Gallery
When? 11am-5.30pm. (Closed Good Friday).
How Much? Free
Star Gallery
(t) 01273 480218
(w) Website
Thursday 13th April

Drama Day

Sussex Past are offering ‘a day of dramatic activity’ for eight pluses in Anne of Cleves House today. It is a drop-off event. You’ll be leaving your kids in good hands, and in a fine setting. Sometimes it is easy to forget the rich historical heritage that we have in Lewes, and what amazing venues we have for such events.

Anne of Cleves was a wise woman, who chose not to make a drama out of a crisis after her brief six-month period as the fourth wife of Henry VIII came to an end. They had married in January 1540, effectively against Henry’s wishes. Having been persuaded to wed for political purposes, he had sent Hans Holbein to paint Anne, and was pleased with the favourable portrait which came back (see right). But it seems that Holbein had airbrushed out the queen-to-be’s smallpox scars, and Henry, on first meeting his future wife, had somewhat ungallantly declared, “I like her not”. By July, Henry had managed to annul the marriage, divorcing the woman he cruelly dubbed ‘the Flanders Mare’ to wed Catherine Howard a mere 20 days later. Anne sensibly chose to stay on good terms with Henry (by now no oil painting himself), and effectively became his ‘sister’ in the court. She managed to amass a small personal fortune, as well as a property portfolio including Hever Castle in Kent and the then-new timber-framed Wealden Hall House in Lewes. What a dramatic place for your kids to start off an illustrious acting career! NW

Holbein’s Anne of Cleves portrait was enough for
Henry VIII to say ‘I will’
Anne of Cleves House, Southover High St, Lewes
When? 10.30am – 3pm
How Much? £10 (Pre-booking is required)
Anne of Cleves House
(t) 01273 474610
(w) Website
Thursday 13th April

Walk - ESCC Downland Walk

During the First World War thousands of Indian troops were mobilised to fight in various theatres. Some of them were unfortunate to be moved from their original deployment as reserves in Egypt to the front line on the Western Front. They were ill equipped for such a struggle, and casualties were enormous. The wounded who survived the journey across the Channel, were treated in various centres on the South Coast of England - a number of them in the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. The Hindus and Sikhs who died there, and in other local hospitals used for the purpose, were cremated on the hill behind Patcham (the Muslim dead were taken to a Mosque in Woking). In 1921, to commemorate these poor men’s ultimate sacrifice for the British Empire, the government erected a memorial chattri, a domed structure on pillars, at the spot they were cremated.

The latest guided walk organised by the East Sussex County Council takes you up Ditchling Beacon and past the Chattri. The route then skirts the A27, and takes you over the crest of another hill to Stanmer Park, past Stanmer House, and into Stanmer village before turning back across the ridge and along the South Downs Way to your starting point. You are advised to take a packed lunch and a flask of coffee. It’s a fairly strenuous walk, so wear sensible footwear and a waterproof jacket.

The Chattri: in memory of the Sikh and Hindu war dead
Meet at Ditchling Beacon Car Park
When? 10am (walk takes approximately 5 hours)
How Much? Discretionary contribution
East Sussex County Council
(t) 01273 481654
(w) Website
Thursday 13th April

Peace talk - Milan Rai

The last time peace activist Milan Rai was in Lewes he spent two weeks in the prison for refusing to pay a fine in compensation to the Foreign Office for statements painted on the FCO building in the run-up to the bombing of Fallujah. Rai is back tonight in the more salubrious setting of Southover Grange to give a talk about the premise of his latest book The London Bombings, Islam and the Iraq War. The book is an examination of the motivation behind the bombings.

Tony Benn is much better qualified than us to discuss the importance of the book. ‘Milan Rai’s book about the July bombings in London,’ writes the seasoned activist, ‘is clear, scholarly, analytical, powerful, persuasive, and very readable. Seeking the real explanation for those events he completely destroys the illusion spread by the prime minister that they had nothing to do with Britain’s illegal aggression against Iraq, which no one really believes. The author, a man committed to peace, holds no brief for the violence in those attacks and the suffering they caused, but patiently takes us through the circumstances that played a part in motivating those that carried them out. This is a book that everyone with a serious interest in the crisis we face must read if they are to hope to understand it, its causes, its effects, and how we might resolve it.’ The talk is organised by the Lewes branch of the CND. AL

Milan Rai: return to Lewes
Southover Grange
When? 7.30pm
How Much? Donations gratefully received
Lewes CND:
(t) 01273 473912
Thursday 13th April

Folk - Andy Irvine

One of Irish music’s most enduring legends concerns Planxty’s first live gig in Galway. The band, featuring Christy Moore, Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn had just formed having recorded together on Moore’s album Prosperous. As a live band they were an unknown quantity: no-one knew what to expect when they supported Donovan. After their first song Irvine remembers hearing the crowd going mad, but, as he was unable to see them through the stage lights, he was worried they might be booing the band off the stage. Instead they were roaring their enthusiasm, and a legend was born. Planxty went on to become highly successful not only in Ireland and Britain but across the whole of Europe: they split briefly in the mid seventies but reformed again before the decade was over and went on recording and gigging until 1983. Irvine shared the singing responsibilities with Moore: as well as playing the mandolin he penned all the band’s original songs.

Irvine is an accomplished musician on the bouzouki, mandolin, mandola, guitar, harmonica and hurdy gurdy. He tours solo as well as playing with Patrick Street and Mosaic, bands he formed after Planxty’s demise. In 2004, after a low-key reunion gig in Lisdoonvarna, Planxty briefly reformed and played further gigs in Dublin and County Clare, releasing a new album Live in 2004. Whether the band will play again remains unsure. What is for sure is that Irvine is a bona fide folk-rock legend. AL

Andy Irvine: ex Planxty man at the Oak
Royal Oak, Station St, Lewes
When? 8pm
How Much? £4.50
Folk at the Oak
(t) 01273 478124
(w) Website

Thursday 13th April

Jazz - Howard Alden

When swing jazz first hit the scene in the States in the 1920’s the high energy it produced led to aficionados inventing a frenetic dance which became all the rage and helped push the genre’s popularity sky high. The Charleston became the Lindy Hop became the Jitterbug became the Jive as swing continued to thrive. Stan Getz continued the tradition in the sixties; in the eighties there was a resurgence of a more modern version of swing jazz in the States, thanks to a number of artists such as Howard Alden, Scott Hamilton and Ken Peplowski. Guitarist Alden was proclaimed by Jazz Times as being ‘the best of his generation’ and has played with the likes of Woody Herman, Benny Carter and Dizzy Gillespie.

When he last came to play at the Lewes Jazz Club back in 2004 he recorded a live album of the gig, which he is currently touring the UK to promote. It is called Howard Alden’s UK Four Live at Lewes. With Alden on that momentous occasion were Geoff Simkins, the local saxophone star and teacher, UK bass virtuoso Simon Woolf and drummer Steve Brown. He is returning tonight with virtually the same line-up, with British Jazz Award-winning drummer Bobby Worth replacing Steve Brown. It is doubtful whether Lewes’ collection of jazz aficionados will reproduce the sort of mad dancing which led the Nazis to brand the genre ‘degenerate’ and ban it from the dancehalls in the 30’s and 40’s. But you never know. Hamilton and Peplowski are booked to appear shortly at the club. Watch this space. AL

Swing low: the fabulous Howard Alden returns to Lewes
139 High Street
When? 7.30pm for 8.15
How Much? £10
Lewes Jazz Club
(w) Website
Free parking available at nearby County Hall.

Why does Easter move?

One day it came up in conversation: why does Easter move around the calendar? Christmas doesn’t do that. Our birthdays don’t do that. What’s so special about Easter? We started asking around. Even the people who normally have answers for everything gave bluffy politician-type answers.
‘It’s based on the old Hebrew calendar, and the cycles don’t quite fit,’ said one guy, who edits encyclopedias for a living.
‘But it shifts, like, a whole month from one year to another.’
‘They really don’t fit.’
Google, as ever, came to our rescue. It was all decided, it seems, back in 325AD at the first Council of Nicaea, convened by the Emperor Constantine. Different countries were celebrating Easter on different days, and the emperor, head of the Christian church, wanted a simple solution to the problem. He didn’t get one. The Council decided that Easter should be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. This would give the holiest of days maximum light, day and night, as there would be around twelve hours of daylight, and around twelve hours of moonlight. Unfortunately it also meant that Easter could fall anywhere between March 22nd and April 25th.
In 1990, after 1,665 years of confusion over this frankly bizarre compromise (based on the Hebrew celebration of Passover) the Vatican approved the idea of a fixed-date Easter. JP2, it seems, was tired of arguments about different calendars meaning different Easters in Western and Eastern Europe, and disputes over the difference between an ecclesiastical full moon and an astronomical full moon. This approval has never been ratified. Frankly, enjoying all the unholy disruption it causes, we hope it never is. AL

A Moveable Feast: why does Easter shift around?

Easter Traditions… Go on an Easter Egg Hunt

So, if Easter is a Christian festival to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, what’s with the eggs? And where do the rabbits come into it? We don’t remember them in the New Testament. Of course, it turns out, that they’re pre-Christian rituals, tacked onto the religious festivities. The Egyptians and the Persians both gave coloured eggs as ‘spring festival’ gifts, whilst the ancient Egyptians believed that the hare came out at night to feed the moon. In ancient Europe, eggs of different colours were taken from the nests of various birds to make talismans. People would search through the woods for them, a trip which evolved in to today’s egg hunt. The fact that eggs were forbidden during Lent also made them a sought-after prize. The first chocolate egg is believed to have been made in Germany, but it was when German immigrants took the skill to Pennsylvania that Easter started becoming such a choc-fest. After the Civil War, the hunt for the chocolate Easter egg became an integral part of the festivities.

Like many US trends, it has crossed the pond and the hunting down and devouring of eggs for mass consumption (or EMC’s as the White House might call them) has now become part of the fabric of the UK Easter festivities. So if you feel the urge to seek out and destroy some cocoa-filled monsters, see pages 12 and 16 for locations plus page 23 for dental consequences… NW

Eggs is eggs: but what have they got to do with Easter?

Easter Egg Hunting - with the National Trust

The National Trust is organising a number of Easter egg hunts this Easter weekend and a couple are within half-an-hour’s drive from Lewes. Ten miles east stands Alfriston Clergy House, the very first building purchased by the Trust back in 1896 (for just £10). It’s a small thatched half-timbered medieval building, with a chalk and sour milk floor, which commands good views across the Cuckmere Valley from its beautiful cottage garden. The garden’s rare array of traditional flowers will be starting to bloom: a bit of patient searching is likely to unearth a few bunnies and eggs, too

The Tye, Alfriston
When? 10am-5pm Daily (closed Tues & Friday)
How Much? Adult £3.25; Kids £1.60

An alternative egg-hunting venue, ten miles north of Lewes, is the wonderful Sheffield Park Garden. Henry VIII spent time there as the guest of Thomas Howard, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk. The grounds as we see them today were mainly laid out by Capability Brown in the 1790’s, whilst much of the flora we can see, including the exotic arboretum, was planted around the turn of the 20th century. Rest assured: your kids’ scramble for eggs will be soaked in history. NW

The revenge of the weir rabbit: Easter activities in Sheffield Park
Sheffield Park Garden, Uckfield
When? 10.30am - 6pm
How Much? Adult £6.20; Kids £3.10
National Trust:
(t) 01825 790231
(w) Website


Classical Music - St Cecilia’s Mass

French composer Charles Gounod is best known to modern TV-bred audiences for the Funeral March of a Marionette, which was adapted for the theme music to the Alfred Hitchcock Presents show. (Listen).
To opera lovers he is also revered for his adaptations of Goethe’s Faust and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. However his first critical success came before any of these works were penned, and the praise came not from French, but from English critics, after the debut of his first serious work, the Messe Solonelle in G, nowadays known as the St Cecilia Mass, in St Martin’s Hall, London. “Within our experience,” gushed The Atheneum, “we do not remember any first appearance under parallel circumstances… It is the poetry of a new poet." Four years later the Mass was met with similar critical acclaim in Paris, and a star of classical music was born.

Tonight’s rendition of the Mass in St Leonard’s Church in Seaford is a rather unconventional affair. All-comers are invited to join the church’s well-practiced choir in this Easter rendition of Gounod’s much-loved work. There was a practice run-through of the work on April 10th; there will be a further rehearsal two hours before the performance. Those who do not wish to participate in the singing can turn up simply to listen to the main event, though it would be a pity not to join in, particularly in the crescendo and fortissimo after the second part of the Sanctus solo. Classical karaoke? Should be a scream. AL

St Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart: Charles Gounod’s Easter Mass
St. Leonard’s Church, Seaford
When? 5pm for practice, 7pm for performance.
How Much? £2 for singers and listeners alike

Gig - Boho

Before I ring John May, the lead singer of Boho, I dig around the web a bit and find the band’s 2002 4-track EP New Beat Experience. So I listen to the songs. I like them, and find them a little hard to categorise. There’s a folky feel to a couple of them, the others have a richer, fuller, bluesy sound. A saxophone appears, and disappears again. The lyrics are grown-up, and rather sad.
“Resurrection has its rules
Watch the party catch on fire
Preacher man and holy fools
Calling me a sinful liar.”
At first I think I detect something rather Brightony about the sound. But this isn’t quite right. Then I get it. There’s something unequivocally… Lewesy about the sound.
May used to be an NME journalist, so I try a rock-cliché opening line.
“Billy Bragg meets Alan Ginsberg in the Lewes Arms?”
Mercifully he laughs, before telling me about the band. They are celebrating their sixth anniversary. Over thirty people have played in the line-up. For years the band were the centre-piece of a resident event at the Komedia Club, dubbed the New Beat Explosion, featuring the likes of Arthur Brown and Billy Childish. He cites Dylan as a big influence. “There’s a little bit of Americana and new folk in it. Not obscure. Quite danceable… I guess it’s fair to say we’re a bit of a cult.” I’m intrigued. I’m going. See you there? AL

Come what May: Boho at the Oak tonight
Upstairs at the Royal Oak
When? 8pm
How Much? £3
Listen to Boho
(w) Click here

John May’s blog
(w) Website
Saturday 15th April

Art - The Chalk Gallery

There are certain situations in our society in which adults can take their clothes off in front of strangers. In public showers, in designated areas like nudist beaches, in Spencer Tunick photos. In most other situations, however, public nudity is generally considered shocking, and even illegal. In the western world it is linked inextricable with sexual taboo, and the notion of original sin. In representational art, however, nudity is commonplace. There are nude statues in public spaces, nude portraits in public galleries. In Lucian Freud’s world, everyone walks around naked, and nobody minds. The artist has a licence to be a voyeur, and you are allowed to look through their eyes. Why should this be? Does something about the artistic process transcend our normal social taboos?
This thought springs to mind when you view the latest hanging at the Chalk Gallery, entitled ‘Spring to Life’. To painters, of course, ‘life painting’ means ‘nude painting’ and so nearly half the exhibits are nudes. There are large, painterly oil nudes. There are watercolour nudes, their body folds mapped out by conflicting shades of blue, green and yellow. There’s a Gauguinesque tropical nude and a seemingly abstract picture in red, black and white, which on closer inspection turns out to be two nudes, one reclining. There are paintings of women by men, of men by women, and of women by women. Perhaps tellingly there are none of men by men. It’s not shocking, and not erotic, but it is strangely compelling, to see all that nakedness, dressed up as art. AL

The shock of the nude: Spring to Life at the Chalk Gallery.
Painting by Sue Barnes
Chalk Gallery, North St, Lewes
When? 10am-5pm
How Much? Free entry. Painting prices vary.
Chalk Gallery
(w) Website
(t) 01273 474477

Lewes Youth Council - Fundraising Egg Hunt

French youth have taken to the streets recently to successfully block a law designed to make it easier for employers to sack anyone under the age of 26. Their action proved that the refusal of a younger generation to be pushed around by their elders can still have a dramatic effect on society. In Britain the youth tend to be a little more laid back nowadays with their protest, but we do have the British Youth Council set up to reflect ‘the voice of young people in the UK’. Young people are deemed to be those under the age of 26. The organisation has a number of laudable objectives, including a respect agenda and the aim to ‘advance young people’s participation in society and civic life’.

Lewes also has a Youth Council, its members elected by their 9-16 year old peers in Lewes District schools. Last year’s opening of the skate park saw one of the YC’s projects successfully completed. This Saturday the Council is aiming to raise funds for the Pakistan Earthquake Appeal by arranging an Easter egg hunt. This one takes place in the glorious Grange Gardens. Bruditz Chocolate Shop is one of the sponsors, so expect frenzied efforts to reach the chocolates at the end. We’re assured that the event is suitable for children and adults alike. Expect to guess the weight of a cake, name a bunny and find hidden treasure. Don’t expect the kids to take to the streets, though - unless the chocolates run out. NW

Lewes Youth Council: raising money for the Pakistani
Earthquake appeal
Grange Gardens, Southover High St, Lewes
When? 2.30-4pm
How Much? Free (donate what you can)
Saturday 15th April

Gig - Ska Toons

Originally, in the early sixties, ska was the Jamaican version of American rhythm & blues, its joyful off-beat kick adding a Caribbean smile. It made you want to dance. As it became more popular, it became more versatile, too. Bands like the Skalites started adding versions of popular theme tunes, Beatles songs and surf instrumentals into their set. When the Americans developed soul music, the Jamaicans reacted in their own way, and ska music slowed down a beat, and became ‘rock steady’, and eventually reggae. In the late seventies, the movement moved over the Atlantic, merged with the anger of punk, and the Two-Tone explosion was born. All over the USA and Europe in the nineties a fusion of new-punk and ska resulted in the eruption of a thousand young bands, all thrashing away to that distinctive offbeat rhythm, in an angry reaction to electronic dance music.

The Ska Toons, who return to the All Saints after playing their first gig there five years ago, are very much an old-school ska band. This doesn’t mean they just do ska classics: they don’t. It means that they give that ska treatment to a number of different songs too, often jazz numbers like Charlie Mingus’ Fables of Faubus, Charlie Parker’s Barbados and Glenn Campbell’s Wichita Linesman. They are an eight-piece, with a guitarist, a bassist, a pianist, a three-strong brass section, a drummer and a backing vocalist. It’s a big sound, and as infectious as flu. You’ll smile, then you’ll start tapping your foot. Before long, you’ll probably be skanking along. AL

Don’t call me ska face: The Toon Army at the All Saints
All Saints Centre
When? 7.45pm
How Much? £7
(w) Website
Saturday 15th April

Gig - Turning Green

Brighton band Turning Green are playing at the Lansdown again. Their previous concerts there have been exhilarating affairs, full of raw energy and virtuoso improvisation. Checking out the inventive four-piece’s website, we are surprised to find our last preview, from February, quoted back at us. “Listening to Turning Green, you think you’ve caught a snatch of something familiar. Wasn’t that XTC? Steve Severin’s guitar? Miles Davis? The Beatles? Johnnie Lydon? The Pixies? Each reference is fleeting, before you realise you were probably mistaken. This isn’t like Oasis’ studied and plagiaristic pop sampling: this is eclectic mayhem, surreal memories thrown together in a jazzy, funky, indie jumble, experimental pop with surreal lyrics surprising you at every turn. It’s dissonant; then it’s melodic. You want to sing along, even if you don’t know the words….”

Just before deadline we get a call from the band’s singer and drummer Sam. He tells us why the band keep coming back to the Lansdown. “It’s the best little pub atmosphere we’ve played in,” he says. “The crowd is unpretentious and enthusiastic and it’s wicked to play in front of them. We’ve played in plenty of big venues but nothing beats being on the pub floor with people dancing all around you and spilling beer all over you. There’s no bullshit.” Here’s some advice, if you like your music sophisticated, live and energetic. Check Turning Green out, before you have to pay large quantities of money to do so. AL

Dune Army: Turning Green are back at the Lansdown
The Lansdown Arms, Station St, Lewes
When? 8pm
How Much? Free
Turning Green
(w) Website

Military Re-enactment - Fort Cumberland Guard

Newhaven Fort will be filled today with the sounds and smells of mid-nineteenth century soldiery, as the Fort Cumberland Guard re-enact the lives and work of sea soldiers in the period between 1830 and 1860. The ‘soldiers’ (they’re non-enlisted men doing this as a hobby) will be dressed in the period uniforms: double-breasted, tail-coated and of high-collared Prussian design. Not great in the hot sun then, especially as each soldier will also be loaded down with a 9lb muzzle-loading percussion musket which is 4’7” long even before the addition of its 17-inch bayonet.

The group are based along the coast at Portsmouth’s Southsea Castle where they put on regular re-enactments. Last year they played a major role in the Trafalgar 200 celebrations. In Newhaven, they will be performing various activities throughout the day, including ground drill, musket firing and rifle drill. Expect smoke, fire, shouting and a whole lot of banging from the Corps of Drums, who will also be present in the Fort today, wearing the slightly later 1860’s uniforms. As it’s Easter, there will of course also be a ‘hunt’ on hand, this time in the form of an Easter quiz and a bunnies and chicks trail around the museum’s exhibits. NW

Big Boy Soldiers: The Fort Cumberland Guards do their stuff at
Newhaven Fort
Fort Road, Newhaven
When? 10.30am – 6pm
How Much? Adults £5.50; Kids £3.60; Family (2+3) £16.50
Newhaven Fort
(t) 01273 517622
(w) Website

Horse Racing - Plumpton Easter Meeting

Did you win on the National? Me neither. The thing was, I could have won, if only I’d listened properly to the hot tip given to me by my six-year-old son Sam. I told him I was going to place a bet and he said, “number six will win Daddy”. I looked, but felt that number six, Le Roi Miguel, didn’t look like a winner and plumped for Joe’s Edge instead. As my selection headed bravely around the course for the second lap, Le Roi Miguel fell at the nineteenth and all seemed well. That was until I heard the name of the horse which went on to be the clear winner – “and Numbersixvalverde wins the National again for Ireland”, is a phrase I won’t forget for a while.

Luckily, I have two chances this weekend to re-tap in to Sam’s psychic powers, as Plumpton puts on its two day Easter festival. There is a seven-race National Hunt card on Sunday with a further six and a charity flat race on the Monday. Racing starts at 2.30pm on both days, but you can enjoy a full day out by taking advantage of the funfair in the centre of course that opens from 11am. Make use of the enclosure facilities, enjoy your picnic, have a drink or two, win at the fair; but most importantly of all, pay very close attention to any tips that come you’re way, and keep an eye on number six. NW

Sixth sense: never look a gift tip in the mouth
Plumpton Racecourse, Plumpton
When? Sat & Sun Gates 11am; races 2.30pm
How Much? Adults Enclosure £10; Grandstand £13; Premier £17;
All under 16’s Free
Plumpton Racecourse
(w) Website

Easter Food - Chocolate

Easter is a confusing festival. I have never been able to work out the connection between the Resurrection, rabbits and decorated eggs. Like many people, I find it really means one thing: chocolate. Lewes town centre has two shops entirely dedicated to the brown stuff. That is twice as many chocolate shops as off-licenses. Statistically that must prove that chocolate is 100% more important here than alcohol. Before you set off on a giant Easter-egg buying spree, be aware of the huge variations in quality. Cardboard packaging, ingredients such as calcium sulphate, lactose and emulsifiers are not that tasty. Chocolate is made from the roasted pulp of cacao beans in a complicated process first invented by the Aztecs as food for the Gods. Look for eggs that contain no less than 70% cocoa and are made from cocoa butter not vegetable oil. Milk is an optional extra. Bruditz, Bonne Bouche as well as Catlins, and Barefoot Herbs (who also sell raw cocoa beans) will all provide you with the perfect substance.

The rumour that women find chocolate to be an aphrodisiac has been scientifically proven to be true. It contains two “mood-lifting” agents called Phenylethylamine and Serotonin which women respond to quicker than men. Men just need to consume much more chocolate to experience its special effects. Chocolate is inappropriately cheap. So, if you can’t afford Viagra then why not try it out as a low-cost alternative. Or perhaps that’s what Easter bunny costumes are all about? JW

Bruditz: giving it plenty of bunny
Bonne Bouche
(t) 01273 472043
(t) 01273 480734

Lewes v Havant

Congratulations are due to Lewes FC, who have reached the Sussex Senior Cup final for the sixth time in their history. The Rooks beat bitter rivals Worthing after extra time in a tight match at Horsham on Wednesday 5th. However they made hard work of beating a side a flight below them in the league pyramid, which was fielding no fewer than six former Lewes players, and which was reduced to ten men in the first half after the dismissal of Mark Knee. The goals came from Roscoe D’sane, Kirk Watts, and Lee Farrell. Lewes will play Horsham in the final on May 1st in Eastbourne.

Last Saturday Lewes seemed to be cruising for an eighth victory in a row, 2-0 up against relegation threatened Hayes with just five minutes to go. The Rooks had gone 1-0 up in the fourth minute when opposing keeper Kevin Davies attempted to clear a gentle back-pass from Chris Elsegood, only for the ball to bobble over his flailing foot and roll comically into the net. Their second, and seemingly clinching goal had come from a Jamie Cade far-post volley shortly after the break. However the Missioners rallied, and fullback Karleigh Osbourne hit two late goals. Today the Rooks play Havant and Waterlooville, a side in good form, pushing for a play-off place. Back in August Havant beat Lewes 1-0 with a goal from Rocky Baptiste, one of 26 the former Farnborough striker has scored this season. Viva Prediction: 2-1.

Bend it like Beckford: Lewes' midfielder hits in a free kick at the Pan
The Dripping Pan, Mountfield Road, Lewes
When? 3pm
How Much? Adults £9; 14-16 £6; Kids £2
Lewes FC
(w) Website

Bones & Teeth

After a weekend dedicated to the cocoa-based gods of gluttony and greed, redemption is at hand with today’s Lewes Castle event. The session concentrates on bones and teeth, and promises a range of activities with ‘a bite’ for children aged two to five to ‘get their teeth into’. If these include encouraging kids to look after their teeth better, that will go down well with the UK’s Chief Dental Officers. In a joint statement in May 2005 they said “Good oral health is a fundamental element of general good health”, and vowed to find ways to improve a situation where, despite major improvements in the standard of dental care, many children are still not having treatment, their parents put off by the cost. This has lead to the unacceptable position where the majority of UK children are still affected by dental decay. The quality of bones is of course equally important for a good life; as well as providing the structure enabling us to walk, they also act as mineral banks, storing nutrients like calcium and magnesium for the body to call on in times of need. And interestingly, the 270 we are born with fuse down to 206 by adulthood.

It’s unlikely that much of this information will be passed on during today’s talk. We do however expect that they will get a tour of the excellent castle museum and the chance to draw a skeleton and a set of teeth or two. NW

Jaw deal: bones and teeth at the castle
Lewes Castle, High St, Lewes
When? 10-11.30am
How Much? £3 in advance
(t) Bookings 01273 405739
(w) Website

Urbanisation - density

Housing density can be a good thing. No one wants to see towns like Lewes spread out like Los Angeles, covering the Downs in swimming pools and shopping malls. Then again, too much density can start to feel like overcrowding. Lewes resident John Stockdale wrote to the Sussex Express recently, concerned about the proposed Phoenix Development. His letter can be read on the Lewes Matters website. Stockdale points out that, while the South East Regional Design Panel recommend only 30-50 housing units per hectare, the Angel proposal for the Phoenix Quarter will build in excess of 200 units per hectare.

We’re not sure if his figures are correct. But if they are, how dense are we talking about? Well if each proposed new housing unit contains only one person, that will give the residential area of the new Phoenix Quarter a greater population density than any borough of inner London. If we assume instead that each unit were to contain the UK average of 2.41 people, it would have a population density of 482 per hectare. Of course we’re only talking about a small area here, but if that density were to be increased over a larger urban area it would be roughly that of the Kowloon City district of Hong Kong, and higher than Calcutta, Manila or Manhattan. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this. Angel Property have not given out exact numbers of how many units they plan to build. But these comparisons underline the importance of bringing their proposal through every step of the normal planning consent process. DB

Getting mighty crowded: urban density can be a serious problem.
Pic by Simon Dale (visit his photoblog)
(w) Website
Lewes Matters
(w) Website

Opinion - Philip Carr-Gomm, author, druid and nature-lover

Normally a calm person, I’ve recently got very steamed up over the way the beautiful mature trees in this town are starting to disappear, one by one. The first I noticed was a huge one by the bench at the top of Rotten Row. Chop, and it was gone. It’s been going on for years. The trees that grow along the top of the Southover School playing field were only saved by protest over 70 years ago. The trees in Albion Street have been under threat ever since that awful office block was built at one end. A few years back I heard chain saws going and they were trying to cut down every single tree in Winterbourne Hollow. We managed to stop them by organising an instant protest. More recently another one went by the Baron’s Down nursing home. In the last few months they’ve cut down virtually every mature tree outside Lewes prison, and pollarded others so viciously they may not survive. I requested the correspondence between the prison and the council about this under the Freedom of Information Act. And guess what? This has all been done to stop the nuisance of bird droppings on staff cars! Other reasons have been given since then (such as protecting the car park wall) but tragically it seems this is the real motivation. Those trees were probably planted in around 1853 when the prison was built. 150 years of Lewes history has been wiped out in a few weeks to keep a few Ford Sierras clean and shiny. And you and I, as taxpayers, have paid for this.

Sue pollarders? Philip Carr-Gomm would like to

Bricks and Mortar - Lewes Priory Mount

It is popularly known as ‘The Mound’ but on official maps it is referred to as Lewes Priory Mount. Every Easter Friday a 20ft wooden cross is placed on the top of it. The view from the summit is one of the best in Lewes. But what is it? Who made it? And why? Nobody seems to know. I’ve heard theories. The most common one, that it was a Victorian folly, is impossible, as the Mound appears on 18th century maps. Another popular theory is that the Mound is a spoil heap from the digging of the Dripping Pan, created while it was being hollowed out for use as a saltpan, or a man-made fishpond. Some suggest it was built by the Saxons as a vantage point, so the townspeople might be forewarned of enemies or flooding; others see it as a (very small) Norman motte and bailey fortress. My favourite theory is that, as both sunset and sunrise can be seen from the summit on the longest and shortest days of the year, it was once a pagan site of some importance. Unless it is excavated, we will never know the answer: no bad thing perhaps. Much of this grassy landmark’s charm lies in the mystery surrounding it.

In 1983 The Mound made the front page of the Evening Argus when the people of Lewes woke up on Easter Saturday morning to find that the Easter cross had been turned upside down. The paper suggested that a Black Magic circle was responsible: it turned out to be a prank by that bunch of politically motivated hoodlums, the Lewes Rebel Army. AL

Priory Mound: Pagan ley-line or Norman motte-and-bailey fort?

Lunch for a fiver - White Hart

I look on the White Hart menu board, and see, to my delight, that one of my favourite dishes is on offer. Gnocchi in Cheese Sauce. Only £4.50. I confront a waiter carrying a large tureen of soup, who takes me over to a serving hatch.
“What do you want?” he says in a Yorkshire accent, balancing the soup precariously on a ledge.
“The gnocchi, please,” I reply, pronouncing it in the Italian way. Call me pretentious, but I call these little potato doughballs ‘knee-ocky’. He looks at me blankly. I repeat the order.
“The Gnocchi. Gnocchi?” More blank looks. I decide for a radical solution, hardening the ‘g’ and sounding the ‘h’.
“Can I have the ‘gernochy’?” I hate this solution, but it works. The penny drops. I go and wait in the newly refurbished front bar, all wooden beams and cigarette smoke.

Within three minutes my order arrives, carried by a cheerful teenage waitress. “Your gnocchi,” she says, in the Italian way. Half the plate is filled with gnocchi, the other half with roast potatoes, cabbage and boiled carrots. This would be considered highly unconventional in Italy. I decide to treat the plate as a two-course meal. The gnocchi are delicious, their bland chewiness set off nicely by the strong cheese sauce. The vegetables, my secondo piatto, are tasty too. I decide that I’ll come again. Maybe they’ll serve bruschette. AG

White Hart-burn? The food’s good, but comes in unusual combinations
White Hart, High St, Lewes
When? Bars meals served 11am - 10pm
How Much? From under a fiver
White Hart
(t) 01273 476695
(w) Website
Name: ‘Catlin’ has become the name everyone calls me, and I am happy with that!
Profession: Tobacconist, confectioner.
Best thing about Lewes? Its often laid-back attitude.
Worst thing about Lewes? Its often laid-back attitude
Favourite pub? The Brewers.
What’s your poison? Ouwde Geneva gin.
Waitrose or Tesco? Waitrose is a boon, but also a curse - the fallout from its opening is felt in smaller stores from the Cliffe to the top of the town.
What do you think about traffic wardens? Too zealous. If Lewes is serious about loving the independent stores in the High St then free parking for an hour at a time should be given. It is iniquitous to give Tesco and Waitrose an unfair advantage by letting them provide free parking but then charge on the High St.
Local lad? I hail from Buick Lane and Cable St in London, but I’ve been in and around Lewes for 34 years.
Bonfire Society? Borough.
Are you pro or anti the Phoenix development? It does present an interesting range of possibilities and will give us a much-needed cinema - but the key is in the detail.
Favourite Lewes landmark? Harveys Brewery and the Martyrs’ Memorial
Your perfect Sunday afternoon? Gardening and enjoying a cigar.
What music’s in your hifi? Schubert’s String Quartet in A.
Lewes would be better if… There were better parking facilities and a cinema (sorry, All Saints is too reminiscent of WEA lectures!)
What Lewes really doesn’t need is… Councillors who serve themselves and not the electors.

Catlin: “Give High Street shoppers an hour’s free parking.”

Shopping - The Kitchen Shop at the Needlemakers

If neon pink microwaves and electric peppermills are not your idea of homey kitchen implements, then you must check out the new kitchen shop in The Needlemakers. The overall feel of Roman Grill (aka Monsieur Cannelle)'s new outlet is French-country-meets-kitchen-boho-chic-meets-Bavarian-woodcutters. On sale is an eclectic range of contemporary and vintage kitchen utensils and furnishings which have been sourced from small outlets and individual artisans across Europe. The textures are terracotta, glass, basket and ironware, which look splendid on top of the needlemakers' original barrow, along with real olive trees. Refreshingly, I found many unusual things I have never seen before: wooden spoons with holes in for draining olives; copper fish moulds; biscuit cutters in the shape of tiny feet and hands; olive wood butter knives; mulled wine ladles. Most of these items were well priced at under £10. The miniature utensils for children (and dolls) are very sweet indeed. I felt overwhelmed with a feeling to put on an unbleached cotton apron and shake flour over my kitchen table.

Absolutely nothing in the shop requires batteries or an electrical source - ideal in a post-nuclear experience. My only criticism is that none of the implements has instructions on how to use it. I mean what is a rolling pin actually for? JW

The Kitchen Shop: weapons of mass concoction
The Old Needlemakers, West St, Lewes
When? 10am – 5.30pm
How Much? Olive wood ladle £14
Photo of the Week - Sue Barnes

We received this rather disturbing and rather beautiful picture from Sue Barnes, a resident artist in the Chalk Gallery, who took it in Southerham Quarry with her Kodak digital camera. “I was sketching in the chalkpit, and was lucky enough to be there at sunset when the light suddenly became magical,” she says. The setting has inspired a rich vein of work for the artist, who has produced a series of paintings on the theme, entitled ‘Ghost Cars’, one of which we used on our front cover a couple of weeks ago. We like the colours: the pinky, peachy skin-colour of the cliffs which is reflected in the puddle, the more bleached grey of the ground rubble, and the blue and rust of the truck chassis that has been abandoned there. There is a post-nuclear feel to the picture, as if man has scarred the beauty of the natural environment, then left. Crucially he has not managed to destroy its beauty, only mar it. It also makes us wonder who dumped the lorry there, and why.

We enjoy getting your opinion columns (250 words max with photos please) and your photos, so keep them coming in. We also welcome any correspondence, whether it’s a short rant, some information on an issue we are covering or you think we should be covering, or news about an event you would like us to alert our readers to. Our address is

Beauty and the Beast: the inspiration for Sue Barnes’ Ghost Cars
(see issue 13)

Every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of our content. 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 or on 01273 488882

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That’s it for the Easter week, then: we hope you spent it well, whether you followed it religiously or more secularly by simply gorging yourself on chocolate. This week, in no particularly order, we are indebted to the following people without whom the issue would not have been possible: Viv Cecil, Hayley Mills, Lionel Pringle, Ambrogio Giotto, Fiona at Lewes Town Council, John May, Sue Barnes, Michael Munday, Hans Holbein, Roman Grill, Sarah Griseworth and Philip Carr-Gomm.

Contributors were: Andy Grant, Jessica Wood, David Burke, Antonia Gabassi, Dave Wilson, Nick Williams and Alex Leith.

Thurs 20th: Professional male choir from St Petersburg in St Leonard’s Church in Seaford
Fri 21st: Greg Araki’s coming-of-age movie Mysterious Skin at the All Saints
Sat 22nd: Sussex Senior Cup finalists Lewes play Eastleigh at the Dripping Pan
Sat 22nd: Norman Baker MP discusses the threat of global warming
Sat 22nd: The artist formerly known as Sir Anthony Wedgwood Benn and Roy Bailey perform at the Town Hall

Black and white and red all over: Tony Benn performs at the
Town Hall next week (portrait by Elizabeth Mulholland)