Monday, 8 March 2010

Easington Writers & Pandora’s Box

What Thatcher did with her actions over the miner’s strike was to open a Pandora’s box, freeing up the potential that has existed in this village for generations, unleashing the talent and energy here that shows itself in this book. It is a credit to this community. John Cummings MP for Easington. ‘100_0461[1] (Right, with Avril and myself and his successor)

Now I’ve completed the work on the book I feel differently about the place, I see it with a fresh eye. I see its beauty now, its potential. I am more positive about it now. Agnes Frain Easington writer. (Read her 'Tunnel Vision ' p55 & 'Gladiators' pp 136.)

This project is unique in that the outcome, in this lovely book, is tangible. So many of our projects have intangible outcomes but here we can see the work that has gone into the project and the benefit that is coming out of it. Emma Snowden, of the Lottery Fund.


And here is the Book, now available. I has taken eleven people, including nine great Easington writers, Avril. Gillian. and myself a year to write, edit, select, print produce and publish, It was hard work but a labour of love on everybody’s part, and illuminated by the paintings, drawings and photographs of Fiona Naughton. Now it is now out there. It is being snapped up by people who know Easington by residence, association and affection. It is also being widely bought by everyone who knows a good book when they see one.

If you would like a copy it is available through all good bookshops (ISBN 978-0-9564823-0-3) OR through AGNES FRAIN . Email her at

On Saturday a crowd of more than two hundred friends, well-wishers and fans the packed the magnificent ball room of Easington Welfare Hall, to launch our book Shrugging Off The Wind. As the writers read their work to this great crowd I felt proud of them and the progress they had made in their writing this year. Aged from thirty plus to seventy plus., each one of them had entered into a contract with me to work hard at their writing and editing, to develop their work and produce something unique in this field of local and community writing. As I say in my preface (reprinted below) I wanted them to move out of the sentimental and nostalgic field of community writing and produce something dynamic and modern which still paid respect to the uniqueness of their own community. On the whole they managed that. Anyone who reads the book carefully will note that the writers in this collection have aspired to that quality and lifted their writing game.

But today we writers were not writing. We were celebrating. We gathered there in all our finery: Agnes and David Mary B in her lace skirt and beautiful beads; Chris with her silver butterfly belt; Ann in her elegant shawl; Joan in her sweet pink jumper; Susan with her new make-up; Terry in full Goth gear, including his stick with its silver skull head; Agnes in her elegant grey jacket; David in his best shirt; Mavis, as promised, in shocking pink; me with my red spotted tie and Avril with her head wrapped in a pretty scarf.

Mary and chis

Terry in Gothid Mode

Barney Preens 048


Bookstall with flowers

Gillian, in a lovely tourquoise jacket, took on the selling of the books. She sold more than two hundred….

Joan and Ann

I was going to write here about my perspective in dedicating a year to the project but decided to copy across the preface that Avril and I wrote for to the book, Perhaps it says it all:


When we agreed with the Easington Writers’ group to mentor and tutor them through their Tall Tales Project, we did not realise what we were getting into. First there was Easington itself. We knew of its strong association with the history of mining, right up to its crucial involvement in the 1984 Miners’ Strike. We also knew that – in common with most mining districts – it had lost its mines and with that its central livelihood and its working energy.

But, until we went there regularly to work with the Easington Writers’ Group in their magisterial Welfare building, we had not realised the beauty of this place, with its long beaches and inlets, its wooded denes and everywhere the sea. Of course there are no gantries and pit wheels but – as at least one poem here shows – these icons of a bygone age are missed and are still seen to have had their own unique beauty.

The other special delight has been the sheer character, energy and originality of the writers with whom we have worked. As these very original writers tackled our writing tasks with open minds, the quality of their writing grew enormously, month by month. They have embraced the challenge of transforming fact into fiction with great imagination and have written pieces which contain gold nuggets of truth for all of us, whether or not we come from Easington.

These writers, having fulfilled their brief to talk with Easington people, have come back with stories ranging widely from well-researched historical tales to tales of Easington before even the railways arrived, to heart-felt narratives based on Easington’s mining heritage to contemporary tales of the disaffection of the young and the social consequences of the lost industrial base. Here also are well-wrought ghost stories and poems of lyrical quality that reflect the poignant beauty of the landscape and its meaning for Easington people. Humour and occasional roguish insight lace many of the stories with the unique quality of the Easington point of view.

Wendy Robertson and Avril Joy

Consultants and Mentors

Easington Tall Tales Project


  1. As your post shows Wendy, this was a really memorable occasion, and like you I felt very proud. It's very daunting to stand up in front of several hundred people and read your work aloud but each of the writers was brave enough to do this and each did it faultlessly.

    It was testament to the book that over two hundred were sold. I can see a second print run on the horizon - well done to all, but most of all keep writing!

    A x

  2. You have been a great comrade Avril throughout this long process - always sympathetic, supportive and unspired.
    Thank you

  3. Hi Wendy
    It was a lovely day at the book launch. haveing to read my
    story It was an experence Ill never forget. I will not be doing anymore with wie group It was hard at the end. erthe welfare not .people like me.I will never forget Averil and You a big thank you . best wishes god bless david xx

  4. Looks like you had a wonderful bash.

    Congratulations on such a brilliant job of mentoring some local talent.

  5. A great day. I have had great compliments given to the book. My phone has never stopped ringing about it. Thank you for your very hard work.

    M x

  6. Hello David - it was good to hear your story

    Al - yes the talent is truly local and truly great in their book. They are lovely people. w

    Hi mary - you were queen of the day - no wonder the phone has not stopped ringing. And thank you for your hard work right through the project. wx



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