Everybody's Reading 2011
Everybody's Reading festival shows Leicester the importance of active trade unionism. This year's ER festival had a focus on local stories. 'One Leicester - a thousand stories' led to story cafes dotted around the city where people could work with a writer to tell their own story. It also had local authors writing in the windows of Waterstone's to produce a finished work over lunch.
The festival's tighter community engagement extended to trade union participation. The Leicester and District Trades Union Council and Leicester Social Forum presented 'The Story of the Dirty Thirty' striking Leicestershire Miners to a packed house in the main hall at the Adult education College.
Author David Bell, who published the history of their strike, spoke while folk singer Alun Parry sang his song 'The Dirty Thirty' and songs about jailed building worker Des Warren and the role of unions. They were joined by Jane Bruton who co-ordinated the Miners Support Committee in 1984/5. The event ended with a rousing chorus of 'The internationale'.
NUT put on its own event, 'Comprehensive Futures' at the Donkey Pub, featuring music of the 60's, when Comprehensive Education was first being introduced across the UK. KGB Jazz, former NUT Rep Kenny Wilson and Banjaxed delivered a splendid range of songs that ran from Leonard Cohen and Van Morrison to the Beatles and the Kinks. Interspersed with the music were poems from the period, read by another former NUT Rep, Mike Lane.
NUT Assistant Secretary Peter Flack joined City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, author Bali Rai and ER Festival Coordinators Lydia Towsey and Damien Walter at the Central Library to promote the importance of reading for both children and the wider community. Former NUT member Peter Soulsby reminded the audience that for many years he had been Special Needs literacy teacher working at Beaumont Leys and knew first hand how essential reading was for young people to be able to fulfil their potential. Bali Rai said that as an ex Judgemeadow student he was very proud to be a patron of Leicester's „Whatever it takes. literacy pledge which he had seen transforming children's attitudes to reading.
Finally, the Anti Cuts Campaign took the opportunity to stage an event, 'Everybody's Bleeding'. featuring music by Echolocation and The Splitters, plus stand up comedy from Gary O.Donnell. To retain the literary theme, there were also readings from Primo Levi, William Blake and Robert Tressel. An excellent week packed with excellent events, many of them completely sold out.