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Words Are Seeds – from which strange & compelling ideas can grow

August 29, 2010

From a conversation in our office with our lovely writer friend, Rowena Forbes, another collaborative project has emerged, which be unveiled tomorrow – Monday 30th August on the WestFest website. In the meantime, it’s over to Rowena, as our latest guest blogger…

Nine days ago, I was sitting in the office of Didsbury Life, listening and nodding as Helen asked me to write an article for their upcoming community project, WestFest 2010.

WestFest is a festival taking place in the Mancunian suburb of West Didsbury, whose main street of Burton Road is populated by a high percentage of small, independent businesses. These businesses, inspired by the community-minded Didsbury Life, are coming together in WestFest to collaborate on some fantastically creative events to entertain any visitors who may be passing through the suburb on the upcoming weekend of 4-5th September.

The article, Helen explained, should give examples of some collaborations between independents that have been taking place in West Didsbury in recent times. Such as the community garden at Thyme Out delicatessen, whose produce has already been used to great effect by nearby restaurant Rhubarb, in their trademark Rhubarb Tart.

As she gave me examples of projects and told me who to ask for further information, Helen mentioned four words that somehow caught and glistened in my brain, sending off an inner sparkle.

The Spirit of Independence.

When I reached home, soaked to the skin courtesy of the Great British Summer, I pondered the project and noted the doubts arising.

The problem is that Didsbury Life already has a frequently updated blog, in which local events are publicised and stories of wonderfully creative collaborations are recorded in excellent and entertaining detail. I wasn’t sure that any article I could write would really add anything to the WestFest project that the existing blog didn’t already provide.

And I pondered those sparkling words again: the Spirit of Independence.

Later that night, I emailed Helen.

Hi Helen,

Following our chat earlier, I’ve been thinking – you’re already great at updating people with news about what’s going on in Didsbury, as regards things like the community garden, collaborative ventures, etc, so I don’t really want to write something that simply repeats your news.

What would you think of a different angle that tells an allegorical tale of the Spirit of Independence? I’ve not got it clear in my head yet, but if you like the sound of it I’ll play around with it in my head for a little longer and see what comes out.


Early the next day, I received a response.

Hi Rowena

LOVE the sound of it! Pete’s just suggested a type of serialisation, so there’s always a cliffhanger.

And I replied:

Excellent. Like the idea of a serialisation – perhaps one a day for the week leading up to WestFest?

And there we had it. From a straightforward article on independent businesses, we had progressed to a six-chapter allegorical tale telling the adventures of the Spirit of Independence.

To be written in one week.

All courtesy of the inner sparkle generated from four simple words.

Perhaps I should curse those words. After all, they’ve ensured that I’m here, glued to my laptop on a bank holiday Sunday afternoon.

But the truth is that I’m loving being here. I’m quite fascinated by where those four words have led me to. And I’m looking forward to publishing my contribution to what I think is a wonderful little festival, full of fun, creativity and a warm community spirit.

Check back here tomorrow for the first installment. Or, as it is better known, Chapter One…

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