More than 200 people attended the day long celebration of the life and work of Alan Sillitoe last Saturday in Nottingham. Five Leaves initiated and led on the project, but we were joined by many literature groups in the City and County in putting together a full day's programme in the Council House. The highlights for me were seeing Frank Abbott carefully analyse the body language in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, by repeating scenes, either silently or in slo mo, which made me think much more about the films than before, and Derrick Buttress - who also worked in the Raleigh factory and is of an age with Sillitoe - reading his own poems of working class life in Nottingham. Others told me their favourite parts were John Harvey briefly outlining his development as a writer drawing inspiration from Z Cars, DH Lawrence and Sillitoe, in using plot simply as a basis for showcasing character, and Simon Rycroft and Stephen Daniels describing how Sillitoe mapped the city in his novels. Alan Sillitoe had a lifelong fascination with maps and a number from his collection were on display, as well as his writing desk, the radio he used to pick up Morse signals, his typewriter with a half finished page of manuscript in it and other memorabilia. David Sillitoe, Alan's son, played a major role in helping set up the day, which was also attended by Ruth Fainlight, Alan's wife, and Michael, his brother, as well as other members of the family. It was a great, if bittersweet day. Thanks to all who attended, organised and took part and Nottingham City Council for their support. Keep in touch via http://www.sillitoe.com/.
See also John Harvey's blog post: http://mellotone70up.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/celebrating-alan-sillitoe/