All posts by Leslie Tate


Alasdair Beckett-King

I interviewed stand-up comedian Alasdair Beckett-King, winner of the Leicester Mercury and New Act of the Year Shows, 2017/2014. Alasdair was also 2nd in the Laughing Horse New Act and 3rd in the Leicester Square Theatre New Comedian in 2013; he has performed his comedy on BBC radio as well as at the Glastonbury and Edinburgh Festivals. To quote Alasdair’s website:  ‘He knows quite a lot about 19th century magicians. Tourists often ask to have their photo taken with him, presumably.’

Leslie: Most stand-up comedians aim to have a ‘point of view’ and a persona. What’s yours, please? Continue reading HE’S THE STAND-UP WIZARD…



Angela L Conifer, Journey; Liverpool Community College;

My trip to Shepherd’s Bush Library might have been taken from the pages of a magic realist novel. It was urban and dream-like, featuring a stranger arriving in rush hour at a shopping centre that could have been a film set. Of course there was a back story: an author visit arranged by email, and advertised as a talk about ‘The Beginning, Growth and Development of a Novel’. But the reason given – to study literature drawing on my own experience – was unlikely to appeal to my potential audience. After all, who would want to listen to an unknown 68 year-old author with a small-press background? And why on earth would that author continue, year on year, turning up at hard-to-find spots and addressing tiny audiences, most of them failed or wannabe authors, in order to sell a handful of books? Continue reading WHAT LOVE REQUIRES OF US


Jo Clutton

In the second part of my interview with Jo Clutton she talks very honestly and openly about her family and depression, her medication crisis and how that led to her recovery.

Leslie: Can you describe, please, the beginnings of your depression, and how it has changed and developed over thirty years.

Jo: As a child, I was very moody, and my mother would say: “What ARE we going to do with you?” I can remember crying when away on holiday, and claiming I was homesick. I didn’t know why I cried, and my mother lost patience with me. There is a history of depression in the family. My dad could remember his mum, Kitty, lying on the bed when he came home from school, and he said that his granny used to look after him and his sister, my aunt. Of course, this was during the 1930s, when virtually nothing was known about mental health issues and sufferers were dismissed as over-sensitive, as I was by my family. I was teased a lot, and told off for over-reacting! A double whammy. My moods were never talked about or discussed. Continue reading JO CLUTTON – RECOVERING FROM DEPRESSION, LOVING LIFE (Part Two)


Jo Clutton

I asked artist and writer Jo Clutton about how she has rebuilt her life after thirty years of depression. Jo spoke with absolute honesty about her negative family, her loving husband and her numerous and eccentric interests. Her interview is a personal testimony to how love, creativity and ‘truth talk’ can restore mental health. In Part One Jo talks about her creative interests, in Part Two she describes her recovery from depression.

Leslie: What’s the story of your many and unusual interests, please?

Jo: I think I was born creative and identify with the unusual and unconventional. I never wanted to do what’s considered ‘the norm’. Creative people are known for this, for which I’m grateful, and I’ve been called ‘pleasantly eccentric’, which I love. Continue reading JO CLUTTON – RECOVERING FROM DEPRESSION, LOVING LIFE (Part One)


Sharon Skipper

I interviewed artist Sharon Skipper about her experience as a highly creative individual facing mental health issues.

Leslie: When and how did your interest in creating art begin? How did it grow and develop?

Sharon: My dad was always the one behind my art since I was very young, I loved art from a very early age but stopped at the age of 16. I remember winning a competition in a magazine around 10 years old for clothes design and my dad showing it to everyone where he worked. He was very proud of me. I started a couple of years later after my dad’s death to draw again which was followed by paintings then I progressed later on to photography, collage and  use of text from newspapers about life, my experiences and what others may think or feel, everything really… Continue reading HEARING VOICES AND MAKING ORIGINAL ART


Anna Ryland

I interviewed journalist and author Anna Ryland, whose novel, A Second Chance, describes three Polish-born characters arriving in Britain. Anna says: “I came to Britain for a short working holiday in the early 1980s. Once martial law was introduced in Poland and its borders were closed, I was unable to go back. So I had to decide what to do next.”

Leslie: That must have been difficult. How did you cope? Continue reading POLISH, COMING TO THE UK – AN AUTHOR’S EXPERIENCE


Left to right: Ben Drake, Becky Blackwell, Arup Ghosh, Gary Bates and Simon Parry

The Ben Drake Collective are folk/rock musicians who work as a team, rather than as competing individuals. Ben Drake himself says: ‘the song is greater than any of us; it’s not everyone playing just to be heard. If a song sounds better with one of us not playing on it then that person is happy to sit that one out – that includes me.’ The collective performs as a big-sound rock band with guitarist Ben Drake and Becky Blackwell on vocals, Arup Ghosh  on drums, Gary Bates and Simon Parry on guitars,  Paul Kimmett on keyboards and, Liz Townsend on cello. The line-up for their acoustic sets is Ben, Becky, Gary and occasionally Paul. I asked Ben about where their multi-layered, eclectic sound comes from. Continue reading BEN DRAKE COLLECTIVE – THE SONG COMES FIRST


Natasha Collins

I asked expert cake-painter Natasha Collins about the creative and practical skills that go into her range of painted ‘Nevie-Pie Cakes’. Natasha is well-known in the industry for her work with The Stay Puft Company which has included The Kerrang awards, the bridge of cake for Westfield’s opening, ‘Cakey Perry’ high teas and a Christmas range for Selfridges.

Leslie: What you do at Nevie-Pie Cakes, and what are and the materials and skills that go into what you do? Continue reading NATASHA COLLINS – CAKE-PAINTER EXTRAORDINAIRE