Sunday, 8 May 2011

From Shatila to Sherwood

Peter Mortimer's Shatila project, which has been covered here from time to time, is over for the moment. Once again he brought a group of Palestinian children to the North East (and Liverpool and Edinburgh), and prepared for the journey by the children, together with assorted artists from the North East, performing in Beirut. You can catch up with the project on: This won't be the end of the project, but Peter will gracefully become less important, allowing others from his area to develop the Shatila project in his own way. Our book, Camp Shatila -a writer's journal is still available.
But what can you do after the excitement of Beirut, the squalor of Shatila, the difficult politics of the Middle East? The answer is, obviously, write a book about the Sherwood area of Nottingham. Peter was brought up here, just down the road from Five Leaves Towers. He played football for Basford United, Gedling Colliery Welfare and Arnold Town. He worked locally making false teeth before the call of being a writer grew too strong. So, fifty years on, he is back. Peter wrote to the current owner of the house he was brought up in asking if he could lodge there for a while. No - but he could lodge two doors up, so moving in with a bemused couple astonished to discover that they have a writer scribbling away in their back room, brewing up in the kitchen and telling tales of working with Palestinian children. Peter is wandering the streets of his old estate - the most desirable Council (and now, ex-Council) estate in Nottingham, proudly built in the 1920s. Some streets were built with allotments between them. What he will write, we can't say. There has been renewed interest in Estate life nationally over the last two or three years. This book should add to the interest. It will come out about a year from how, launched, no doubt, at the Sherwood Arts Festival.

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