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Exhibit B- Brendan Hawthorne
Set in a virtual museum, Exhibit B explores facets of memory and fantasy and how remnants of those memories can be illuminating or disorientating to our well-being as they are inputted and stored upon a hard drive of sub-consciousness. It is written through the eyes of a seeker visiting influential halls of mirrors displayed on screen in temporary exhibition rooms before they are deleted or given a permanent space by the omni-present guide.
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A Pocketful of Memories: War Memories (Recollections and Stories) – Greg Stokes
"This 'Fifth Column' apparently consisted of Nazi sympathizers who infiltrated anywhere where information could be gathered, hence the slogans that were invented, 'Careless talk costs lives' and 'Walls have ears.' From My War Memories by Sylvia Thomas SYLVIA THOMAS was born and brought up in the west end of Dudley. She originally wrote her war memories for younger members of her own family in attempt to show them what it was like to live through the conflict. However, she went on to present the piece in schools. My War Memories has been on the Kates Hill Press website for a few years now and is one of the most frequently visited items. TOSSIE PATRICK, author of A Pocketful of Memories - Blackheath, continues bringing the past to life with her recollections of the war as it affected the town, and a young women in work. EDNA MITCHELL lived out in Wilnecote near Tamworth, very much a rural setting on the fringes of the west midlands conurbation. Much has been written about evacuees from their viewpoint. Edna recalls the evacuees coming to her community. GREG STOKES has written two stories to accompany these recollections. Greg spent many hours round at author CLARICE HACKETT’s house. Her husband Wilf used to tell a tale of the time he had to work all weekend in the war. THE LONG SHIFT is based on that tale. In May 2006 Greg took IRENE M DAVIES, author of A Pocketful of Memories Rowley, to Birmingham to appear on the Carl Chinn Show. On the way back she told him of her time at the Button during the war. The story is reproduced here as LOCK OUT.
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Black Country Stories and Sketches – Greg Stokes
"I've had a basinful. Low wages, filthy conditions, while you lord it over us… er… me." Rodney Tumeley in The Glorious Revolution A colourfully written collection of 29 short stories and word sketches reflecting aspects of Black Country life, past, present, and future. Includes the much admired "Christmas Card to Lev" in which the football fans of Dudley undertake to send greetings to the Russian goalkeeper who delighted the Molineux crowd in the 1950s; "The Minor and the Miner's Son" which takes the reader from the steps of Wembley 1968 to the bitter miner's strike of 1984; "The Glorious Revolution" set in the future when the only industrial workers left are in the heritage museums; the haunting "On Leave"; the hilarious "Baldwin's Monument"; the melancholy "Boy in the Basement"; "The Blue Teapot" recorded for people with visual impairment; and many more. For full synopsis click here.
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The Gulf – Greg Stokes
"The decision to bring Fatima to London had been taken a while ago. Still no sign of pregnancy, she would see a consultant gynaecologist in Harley Street in the morning." From Two Teenagers, a story from The Gulf. A collection of 29 short stories from the pen of Greg Stokes set in the oil rich Gulf state, the United Arab Emirates, and England’s Black Country when the coal has gone and industry is in decline. The is a stark gulf between the two locations and the two cultures. But the title story, The Gulf, shows their histories to be very similar with local lords fighting over land which held mineral wealth they weren’t aware of. The next four stories span both countries and move at turns from presidential palace in Abu Dhabi to council tenement in Smethwick, from expensive clinic to children’s home. The remaining 24 stories are in pairs, one set in Arabia and one in the Black Country, which look at common themes such as would be artists, local elections, royalty, and feuds. Like all Greg Stokes’ work, some are full length stories while others are snapshots of people, places, or events. Some look at the expat lifestyle, while others look at the local culture which westerners find difficult to fathom. At a time when there is fear of Islamic fundamentalism in the west, Stokes, who lost his father to such extremism in the Reagan/Thatcher war on terrorism, paints a picture of a religion with a huge welfare principle and a people who, while we might not fully understand them, are not to be feared at all. For full synopsis click here
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The Grant – Greg Stokes
Modern Art debunked mercilessly by four Black Country characters created by Greg Stokes. Recorded at Rocket Cottage Studio in West Bromwich, hear Black Country Theatre perform two of Greg Stokes' hilarious Les and Sheila stories on this CD. In 2003 the Baggies played Newcastle in the Carling Cup so Greg and family went up for the match, taking in the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in the morning. Never a fan of modern art Greg penned The Grant the following month. In this story the lead character decides to build a garden shed and stick it in an art gallery. The announcement of the 2005 Turner Prize short list saw a garden shed in with a shout. To show that we in the Black Country thought of it first, the Kates Hill Press decided to bring out a CD recording of the story. The big difference between us and the Turner Prize people is of course that we know that we are taking the piss! The CD also includes The Grant Part 2 in which Des and Steph apply for an Arts Council grant. They are joined by a Belgian woman who also applies in order to build a bird's nest on the side of the Rotunda in Birmingham. This really did happen! The Big Apple which was on an earlier version of this CD will be released soon on another recording.
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Second City Stories – Greg Stokes
'In the lifetime of one government, decades of relative prosperity dissolved as even the mighty west midlands went down the tubes.' From Popper States in Second City Stories A collection of 29 short stories from Greg Stokes all set in England's second city, Birmingham. Greg writes; "I was born and bred in the Black Country, the old, and some would argue the first, industrial region in the English west midlands. There are as many definitions of what exactly constitutes the Black Country as there are people in it. There is one commonality however, it ay bloody Birmingham. Birmingham is our next door neighbour whom we are first to deride, and first to protect if the insult comes from further afield. As with all neighours, we know each other well. I have worked there, courted there, and married into a Brummie family. There is far more that binds us together than the banter would suggest drives us apart. There are differences however. Birmingham is a huge city of a million souls and at one time a thousand trades. It is truly the regional capital, and the second city of England, with all the facilities that go with that. It has evolved into a vibrant international city of the twenty first century. The politics of the late twentieth century however, the politics of Thatcher, put Brum and the Brummies under the cosh. The process of social engineering has been continued under Blair’s New Labour. Sometime in the mid nineties I decided that I’d put together a collection of stories all set in Birmingham. While the stories range from the Victorian period to the present, there is a theme through to book that highlights the nastiness of Thatcherism as it affected the city, and the society that Blair, son of Thatcher, is perpetuating. Some of these stories were written back in the 1980s." For full synopsis click here.
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The Bawdy Bloody Black Country – Carol Midwood
"Young Will Taylor should never EVER have shagged Sarah Dunn..." From Bold William Taylor. Carol Midwood has taken the songs of Black Country Night Out legend Jon Raven depicting the seemier side of 19th century Black Country life and converted them into a fine collection of short stories. The bawdy tales include Nine Times A Night and The Buxom Dairy Maid. The bloody tales include The Wednesbury Cock Fight and The Tale of Trubshaw and Green. But they are all Black Country tales and they are all side splittingly hilarious. A must have title for all lovers of Black Country humour.