‘I’m looking for a music group for Django’, she said, indicating the suckling toddler half-hidden under a discreetly arranged hemp scarf, ‘He really responds to jazz.’
‘The All Saints Centre’, I told her, ‘Wednesday mornings.’ I decided not to mention that it’s more Humpty Dumpty than Humphrey Littleton.
‘Thanks!’ she smiled. ‘And toddler groups?’
‘There’s a good one at the All Saints on Fridays’, answered Pells Boy, dropping his coat over the Beast’s head to stop her drawing blood again.
‘Right’ she said, frowning a little. ‘And once Lysander and I have sorted a nanny, where’s the cinema?’
The resounding chorus of ‘All Saints’ was so loud, I was surprised not to see Nicole and Natalie Appleton waving from the top of the climbing frame.
Who needs Battersea Arts Centre Barbican South Bank malarkey when you have a central town venue with such versatility? I go there so often, I’m thinking of moving in.
My favourite All Saints activity is the toy library. Thing Two and I go every Wednesday. He eats jaffa cakes and insists on wearing a Buzz Lightyear outfit so small he looks like a squashed sperm, while I gratefully accept a cup of something hot from the saints who run the place: could be tea, could be Bovril, who knows, and who cares, someone else has made it. Then I sit and chat to the regulars: Scary, Posh, Ginger, and Decaf Man, who are sipping their own drinks with appreciative winces.
And what’s not to love about a cinema where the mix of pathos and violence is played out more vividly in the grimly determined fight for gallery seats than on the screen? I’ve often been trampled underfoot by tiny old ladies who batter up the stairs and leap decisively into a comfy velvet banquette, flinging any coats or bags already there over the balcony with a celebratory whoop.
The All Saints also hosts some great gigs. A couple of years ago, Crèche-Manager and I managed to break out of the house at the same time, and pitched into an unrecognisable venue. We’d been there only four hours earlier at a children’s party: celery, humus and sobbing.
Now it was a dark dangerous scene of pulsing music and hot sweaty bodies. We threw ourselves into the melee with abandon, following the parental maxim of, ‘We’re paying for a baby-sitter, we haven’t time to wait for the third drink to kick in before we’re uninhibited enough to boogie.’
It needs some work before it will fit on a t-shirt but as a philosophy it’s unbeatable. We shimmied, we grooved, we cut a rug; and when the night was over (10.30pm or it’s another six quid), we were near enough to walk happily home.
We’re hoping to be there for a similar bacchanal this Saturday at the psycho thing: we’ll be the ones already dancing when you arrive.Beth Miller, 1st April 2009. Published in VivaLewes and in Viva Lewes magazine, May 2009. Photo by Alex Leith