Worthy goings-on in Hastings. Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and Hastings Pride

This weekend has been an absolute boiling scorcher – just the time to be advised to shut all doors and windows because of some obscure chemical gas cloud drifting along the coast from Birling Gap. It never reached us anyway…. On Saturday night we went to a production of the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists at the new Opus Theatre in town, and the next day stumbled across the first ever Hastings Pride parade.

   The Opus Theatre is in the old Congregational Church in the town centre. I mostly wanted to go just to see the building. I did take some photos of what is indeed a fine old building but some of
these on here come from the internet – it was very hot and crowded, so
couldn’t even bring myself to go upstairs to the gallery to take a
proper picture.

     When we first moved to Hastings we discovered that one of Robert Tressell’s homes was just along from our little rented house in Plylimmon Road on the West Hill. I tackled the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, but gave up half-way through. Too worthy and preachy for me. Philosopher finished it though.

Always like this picture – one of Robert Noonan’s (Tressell’s) painted signes, advertising his employer


     I had a brief chat with local musician and composer (and now theatrical impresario) Polo Piatti. The theatre is his brainchild. This was the first production in the space, and Polo was very pleased with progress so far – both performances were sold out. He has great plans for the future – mostly music, opera etc. Battleaxe wishes him, and the theatre, every success.
     Needless to say, the production attracted every person of a left-wing persuasion in the vicinity of Hastngs. It was like being back in the Moseley and Kings Heath Labour Party. We went to the evening performance, with friends Jan and Tom, who are far more committedly socialist than us……    
    As mentioned above, the place was absolutely packed.  For some reason we all had to queue up outside in the street before they let us in – not sure why.

A summer evening queue….

     So, what of the production? Well, let’s say it was interesting. Performed by Costal Productions from Liverpool, the acting was perhaps a little – variable, and the content was maybe a little – earnest and heavy going.  Looked like they even had Jeremy Corbyn on stage….

Surely not…..?

     Well, accuse us of lack of socialist grit and determination, but I regret to confess Philosopher and I left at the interval. We met Jan and Tom again the next day, and they assured us that the second half was so much better, with rousing chorus of the Red Flag etc.  Strange, isn’t it? We often leave things early, and people always say that the bit we missed was better, and that we should have stayed. I am waiting for someone to say ‘yes, you did right to go when you did, the second half was terrible….’.
     Still, I’m glad we went to the production.
     Next day, we went down to town just to get a picture frame from ESK, and blow me it was the Hastings Pride parade. We were sitting outside Caffe Nero and met Jan and Tom again by chance. We watched the parade – the first in Hastings. Surprisingly many people joined in, including the inevitable Hastngs drummers, belly dancing troupe which includes our neighbours from across the road and Happy Harold the trolley bus…. Here are a few pictures. Again, thanks to Sid Saunders for two of these, off Facebook.

Motor dykes….
Now, who are those two women on the left….

     It was good to see so many people dressed up and enjoying themselves but Philosopher and Battleaxe are a bit ‘Prided Out’. We went to the Birmingham one for several years – had friends in it, and then in Brighton when we were there. One senses that Pride will join the myriad other opportunities Hastings folk have to dress up, parade about, drum, belly dance, ride on the trolley bus etc – like at most weekends.  It is not as if the environment down here is exactly oppressive…. Also, between you, me and the whole internet, I get a bit fed up with the likes of police getting dressed up, decorating their cars and getting down and dirty with the revellers to show how right-on they supposedly are….
     Oh dear, what an old cynic Battleaxe sounds. Well, she wouldn’t be a Battleaxe otherwise, would she?

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