The Voice Project

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It was described as a pop-up performance, and involved wandering around several locations, a meandering song-line that was the best thing we saw at this year’s Festival.




St. Gregorys Alley

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The church has been de-consecrated, and it’s an antique centre now. I’ve picked up some decent second-hand vinyl in there, and there are a couple of good vinyl dealers at either end of the street as well. The last thing I bought was an LP that accompanied an Open University course on poetry. I picked it up for a quid. It’s pretty scratchy, but it has an excerpt from The Battle of Maldon, recited in the original Old English.

Kier Hardie Hall used to be down here; it was a Working Men’s’ Club, with cheap beer and dodgy turns. I got kicked out of there once for being drunk, and never went back. Their loss…it’s a game shop now.

John Peel’s daughter owns the deli, apparently.



Royal Arcade

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This arcade was designed at the end of the nineteenth century by George Skipper, a local architect who was fond of late-art nouveau flourishes. It links the market place to the edge of the Castle Mall development, and there’s no doubt it possesses a lot of character; walking through it is like stepping back in time a hundred years, but unfortunately the shops don’t really do it for me. Apart from Langley’s Toy shop, all of them seem to specialise in over-priced tat and confection, and horror of horrors, where there used to be a very fine Waterstone’s book shop at the Castle Mall end, there is now a bloody awful Jamie Oliver Italian restaurant, with staff encouraged to take on the great man’s mannerisms, and imitate his overbearing Essex-boy persona.





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Can I ask what you’re doing, sir? I looked at the security guard, and then looked down at the camera I was holding.
I’m just taking some photographs, I replied.
Do you have permission to do that, sir? he asked.
I don’t need permission, I told him. It’s not against the law.
You’re not permitted to take photographs in this shopping centre, sir, he said.
I can see no sign that tells me photography is not permitted, I replied.
I’m afraid it’s not permitted, sir.
Why is that?
Because this is private property, sir.
Are you telling me that any kind of photography is not allowed in here?
Yes sir.
Even upstairs in the food hall? Parents are always taking photographs of their kids eating food.
It’s not permitted, sir.
Don’t you think this is a little bit Kafka-esque?
I don’t really know what you mean, sir.
Why is it not permitted?
Because this is private property, sir. And for security reasons.
Security reasons?
Yes, sir. For all I know, you could be a terrorist, sir.


Cow Tower

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An artillery tower on a bend of the Wensum, built at the end of the fourteenth century to guard against the threat of a French invasion. It lasted for a couple of hundred years before falling into ruin, and eventually took its name from the cattle which used to graze nearby.

The cows have long gone, and it’s now a gated community for pigeons.