Heavy Showers

Heavy Showers

max temp: 3°C

min temp: 2°C


Review: Pearls From The Grit, produced by Poetry People, Bethel Theatre, Lowestoft, October 4-5; Christ Church Halls, Lowestoft, October 6

PUBLISHED: 00:32 04 October 2018 | UPDATED: 00:36 04 October 2018

Dean Parkin's Pearls From The Grit featuring Sally-Ann Burnett, Maurice Horhut, Dean Parkin, Tim FitzHigham and David Redgrave Picture: PETER EVERARD SMITH

Dean Parkin's Pearls From The Grit featuring Sally-Ann Burnett, Maurice Horhut, Dean Parkin, Tim FitzHigham and David Redgrave Picture: PETER EVERARD SMITH

Peter Everard Smith 2018

Sat at The Avenue Theatre, Ipswich, the last thing I expected to hear as this poignant play ended was my 102-year-old great aunt singing the traditional Lowestoft May Day song Climbing Up the Walls.

Thinking back over the last hour, I recognised so much of her in the character of Ruby, played by Sally-Ann Burnett. Turns out the writer Dean Parkin had spoken to my great aunt at length about our hometown’s almost forgotten fishing village known as The Grit a few years ago.

Not that I needed such a special connection to appreciate such a thoughtful production; part of a year-long Heritage Lottery funded project.

In the early 1900s Lowestoft was one of the country’s leading tourist resorts and a top fishing port with a population of 23,000. The Grit - home to 2,300 people, three schools, churches, shops and 13 pubs, as highlighted brilliantly in one of the musical interludes - was the most easterly point in the country, right next to the North Sea. Using the words of his great friend - and another old acquaintance of mine - Jack Rose as a guide, Dean took us back in time to ask what made it such a special place to live, the ups, the downs and why it disappeared in the 1960s.

Directed by Wonderful Beast’s Alys Kihl and narrated by Dean, we were introduced to no-nonsense fisherman old Ned (David Redgrave); Billy (Tim FitzHigham), a larger-than-life skipper during Lowestoft’s fishing boom, and his daughter Ruby, one of the tireless taskforce of women helping keeping the fishing industry afloat. At The Grit pub piano was Tickler Sam (Maurice Horhut) who provided wonderful original songs and live music.

Mixing poems, stories, songs and film it brought The Grits’ many remarkable characters - such as Arthur “Happy” Welham - vividly to life. Coming from a fishing family stretching back generations, these were people I knew from stories told me by my grandfather and an emotional trip down memory lane.

Funny, sad and thought-provoking in equal measure, it was a poignant picture of a lost Lowestoft. While wonderful to see it revived, celebrated and kept alive in memory at least, it made me mourn the town of my youth.

Ipswich foodbank’s army of volunteers have been hard at work, packing and wrapping thousands of Christmas food parcels for families in need - but founder Maureen Reynel says they need even more help as demand for the service soars.

A vegan activist and mum of three is preparing for her first Christmas as a vegan and explains why she won’t give in to her meat-eating friends.

A man has been fined almost £300 for taking his hands off the wheel to make a two fingered gesture at a speed camera in Suffolk.

A Melton mum who was crowned the World’s Strongest Woman and a look at 13 new restaurants and bars in Ipswich is on our don’t miss list. Make sure you catch up with our top stories.

A prisoner from Hollesley Bay has been found after an appeal was launched to locate him.

A fire alarm temporarily stopped the show going on at the New Wolsey Theatre.

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis tries out tapas sized dishes at the new Arlingtons in Ipswich.

A white van registered as having “no current keeper” was stopped by police - and then seized as the driver had no insurance or licence.

Half of Ipswich’s late night eateries have received full marks following their most recent visit from the council’s food hygiene inspectors and have been awarded a five-star award - while one received zero stars

A flurry of fraudulent bank notes have surfaced in Suffolk, with fraudsters trying to pay for low-value items with fake money.

Most read

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Ipswich Star daily newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24