I went to the 60-Plus Festival in Portsmouth last week. Now, I’d like to point out that although I wasn’t technically eligible to be there, a friend was performing and I went along as a not-so-glamorous assistant – or chief chair-mover.
I was there a wee bit early, so stood in the rain in Guildhall Square watching people scurry underneath the giant TV screen, which was droning on about yet another footballer who had tweeted inappropriately.
Why clubs don’t ban their players from social media is beyond me. Most companies issue social media guidelines, so surely it’s not that hard to drum into your employees that tweeting when in a bad mood, under the influence or feeling peaky is not a good move?
Anyway, 60-Plus: what a fabulous concept for a festival. I’d never heard of it before, but seemingly it’s been running for a few years now, with our 60-plusers involved in dance, drama, behind-the-scenes tours, cake decorating and, one of my favourites from the brochure, attending a talk entitled Modern Art Is Rubbish.
I was at Cobblestones and Fog, William Sutton’s tour through Victorian London, its sanitation and other challenges. After performing my chair duties with aplomb in Portsmouth Library, I settled down to enjoy the talk and discovered that there was no settling to be done – but that’s a whole other conversation about the nature of audience participation!
What fascinated me after the show were the stories that emerged about Portsmouth and its past. Bearing in mind the age of the audience, there were some pretty ripe memories.
They ranged from the Mudlarks where the ferry comes in (kids sticking their heads in mud to pick up pennies thrown from the jetty) to the less salubrious areas near Portsea, the reclamation of Southsea Common and the canal and which route it took through the city. Really interesting stuff, featuring first-hand accounts of the changes to Portsmouth.
After it was over, I walked back through the square. A football manager was still on about this, that and the other on the big screen. I thought how fabulous it would be to record the memories of the people of Portsmouth and show them instead.