Hi Team,

Above is a photo of me and 2 of the re-enactors from a masquerade ball I attended last weekend. I usually dress as a man (known behind the scenes as a bob) so I was excited to try dressing as a woman because the corsets are meant to give you boobs. Disappointed, I’ve decided to continue to dress as a bob. We were at a make and mend session where we were preparing for the re-enactment season ahead. One of those re-enactments is part of Brighton Festival on May 11th organised by yours truly.

The English Civil War re-enactment Society will be playing the part of angry local land owners and parliamentarian soldiers. They will be there to boot The Diggers (made up of East Brighton folk, volunteers and gardeners) off common land where they have been growing vegetables. The Diggers were pacifists and so there won’t be a physical fight as such but more of a stand-off and the throwing around of 17th century swear words like “get off the land you Spikey Hedgehog”. Then we are going to eat 17th century food cooked over open fires, watch performances from Whitehawk FC Isolators, Mark Thomas is going to lead everyone including Brighton Folk Choir in a rendition of The Diggers Song, we’ve got local performers and community groups like Wyld Mothers who will be holding a fire ceremony and making tea from leaves they’ve foraged from the site.

We are doing this to celebrate the way communities come together to bring about change. Ordinary people will always fight for social justice and nature. The very site where the re-enactment is happening is a prime example of what happens when people take a stand. East Brighton is an overlooked area of Brighton because it’s poorer and it gets a bad rap. Lorraine and Darren set up Crew Club after a local kid got stabbed. There was nowhere or nothing for local kids to do. It started off as a shed in their garden. It grew, they volunteered, they were role models to the kids, they built a building and today without council funding they provide a safe and warm environment for young people and families. I’ve been there loads and kids just walk in and ask what’s to eat like it’s their home. It reminds me of Byker Grove, I’m waiting for Spuggy to walk in.

Then you have the Whitehawk Hill which is the stunning back drop for the re-enactment. I knew nothing about this hill until I started this. It’s got its own beetle that’s found nowhere else in Britain! There’s a Neolithic monument that’s one of Britain’s earliest stone age monuments. And if it wasn’t for “Friends of Whitehawk Hill” a group of people getting together and fighting the council then this remarkable ancient chalk grassland would have been further neglected and developed on.

In 1649 on St George’s Hill, The Diggers grew vegetables to assert the right to cultivate and share the wealth of the common land and they were evicted by force. They only lasted a year but we still speak of them today. Honestly, it’s not just obsessive old me banging on about them, there’s even a Diggers Festival in Wigan.

In 2024 on Whitehawk Hill, Crew Club and The Friends of Whitehawk Hill are still fighting to keep the heating on and their doors open and for funding to save the hill from further decline.

There’s this incredible positive side to Britain. A community of volunteers, activists, doers, change makers. People who are not household names who quietly work away day in and day out protesting, fighting and caring for us and our futures. Whose time is not captured on official measures, surveys etc. wonderful people very often with lived experience of the causes they are fighting for who have spirit, generosity, and resilience. This project is about them and the joy in people.

Culture I’ve been loving and things that I’m into right now

The Book of Trespass: Crossing the Lines that Divide Us by Nick Hayes

Adam Buxton interviewing George Monbiot

Great Lives: Ken Loach On Digger, Gerrard Winstanley

Winstanley a film made in 1976 by film historian and documentary director Kevin Brownlow with Andrew Mollo.

Ratcatcher by Lynne Ramsay

The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2024 by Lia Leendertz

Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young/Kidd Pivot: Assembly Hall

A cheeky one but I do love it so here’s the trailer for Re-enactment as part of Brighton Festival.

Thanks for reading

If you liked this newsletter sign up or forward to a friend and follow me on insta

Love Vic x