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DAVID HUGHES
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

Play. First performed June 2000, The Bewick Suite, Swan Hotel, Maldon
DVD available from Shop

Maldon & Burnham Standard June 29 2000

Did you see it, Maldon's literary event of the year and the stage highlight of the town's millennium celebrations? Fear not. If you couldn't get tickets for the first stunning performance of Local Knowledge, all is not lost. So many people wanted to see it and couldn't get tickets that Stuart and David are going to do it all over again on Friday, July 14, same venue. Be there, you won't regret it.
Anybody with a little local knowledge going back a decade or three will recognise much truth in the ramblings of this fictional old man who epitomises the spirit of Maldon. The district villages aren't forgotten either, among Cocker Freeman's reminiscences. Southminster, Tillingham, St Lawrence, Purleigh and Cock Clarks all warrant an anecdote or two - and Heybridge merits many a mention for its superiority at football. Very pithy they are, too, these memories, especially the wartime tales which ring so true even though we know all the characters are fictional. Or are they?

Some of the loudest belly laughs came from the more senior members of Friday's capacity audience. They were clearly convinced that only the names had been changed to protect the guilty. You can't fool a Maldonian. We all know the town has attracted the odd beatnik, but was there really an anarchist's commune in Purleigh? Are they still there? Were any of their descendants in the audience? Did I detect a forced laugh among the gales of mirth at this point in Cocker's narrative?

Because, at the end of the day Maldon is an unpredictable, quirky place with more than its fair share of "rum old boys" as they say in Suffolk. Long may they live happily alongside the bypass estate people - but never be swamped by them.

Cocker is right. The old town has changed but not beyond recognition. We can still go courting over Beeleigh way if we've a mind: and maybe we should still warn our daughters about walking with young men on the Prom. Not Prom Park, mark you. That's a modern affectation, according to Cocker.

And if Maldon's not good enough for you, as the old boy might say, you can always go and live in Wickham Bishops. But before you do that, ring Maldon Town Council to book tickets for the next performance. They are also available from Maldon Tourist Information Centre or Wadley's newsagents in Maldon High Street. GM