Thursday, 12 November 2015

A Christmas Goodbye To Brilliant Books

In the last fortnight, we've seen two brilliant hosts come to Brilliant Books at Nottingham Free School. 

Firstly, we had ex professional footballer Tony Lormor

who is one of the core hosts of the programme and a valued member of the team. A Newcastle lad, he played for twelve teams in a career lasting twenty years, including spells at Notts and Mansfield, and then, when it was all over, recovered from a career ending knee injury - and cancer - to reach the North Pole last year.

Despite a promising start to his education, and a passion for reading, Tony rejected education to concentrate on football at Newcastle United and when it was all over, he found himself depressed, ill, unemployed and/or working in a range of dead end, short-term jobs, before starting a new life helping young footballers (and Brilliant Books pupils) believe in themselves AND the power of education .

The pupils listened intently and asked loads of questions. There will be more than one of the pupils who got the message here. Well done, Tony - great stuff and see you next time.

On Monday, we saw the return of top Drowned In Sound music journalist, Dom Gourlay.

Dom travels about watching gigs, interviewing top bands, attending festivals and generally living his passion and, like Tony, is a regular member of the Brilliant Books gang.

This tranche of Brilliant Books is funded by the Big Lottery

He read from Nick Kent's "The Dark Stuff", specifically a chapter on Kurt Cobain whose tragic demise spawned a host of literary assessments and speculations. 

It was fascinating to me that noone in the audience of 12-13 year olds had ever heard of Nirvana and/or Kurt Cobain, so we played this...

And looked for the classic "Nevermind" cover. 

I spoke to one young man on my work table who said that the BBC never play rock music or guitar based music and so it was understandable and it was then I realised why programmes like Brilliant Books are absolutely necessary, because if the mainstream only plays what it THINKS the people want, then how will the people ever know what is out there - whole chunks of history are erased. 

Here's (possibly) the finest Beatles recording.

Dom  usually brings a band with him but this time, Phil brought his guitar along and the kids were encouraged to write song lyrics to a tune of his creation.

Everyone was treated to the memorable sight of Phil performing a rap about Justin Bieber written by the "Three Amigos". I'm not sure that will ever happen again!

Music, books, art - this is all about giving the pupils confidence and one of my favourite moments came right at the end. I felt that one young man, who had attended all eight sessions, but had said very little, was one of those the gang had failed to convince, but suddenly, when asked to write these lyrics, came up with a superb paean to Remembrance Day - which will be published in the soon-to-be-titled anthology.

After, we also took videos of some of the children reading their stories. Bear in mind that these pupils are reluctant readers and writers, we were astonished how many wanted to speak publicly and to the camera. Here's a selection.




So that's it for Brilliant Books this term. Shellie, Phil and me are back on January 6th with a whole new battery of hosts and a new group of pupils. 

Thank you to Mr Cleveley and Mrs Inglis for their terrific support but most of all, thank you to the pupils who have made it all such terrific fun.