Get rocking around the clock tower at Crouch End Festival

Lindsey Pugh

Lindsey Pugh - Credit: Archant

Sanya Ali rounds up the best of Crouch End’s 10 day community arts festival.

Crouch End’s community arts festival gets underway next week with 10 days of art, music, poetry, drama, film, crafts and family activities.

Highlights include cabaret in Hornsey Town Hall, ghost stories in St Mary’s Churchyard, a family treasure hunt around the Broadway’s shop windows and a zombie walk before an open air screening of the Rocky Horror Picture show.

Crouch End resident Lindsey Pugh compares dating across the generations - from apps and websites to the traditional bar scene - with her interactive show Dated at Hornsey Town Hall on June 6 and 7.

“It comes very much from a personal place,” she says.

“I’ve been dipping in and out of Internet dating for 10 years. When I first did it, I absolutely loved it, it felt like something new and exciting. I met some fun people.”

Now almost 40, she wants to seek relationships in the real world and, after a personal loss, decided to explore how the search for love has changed in 60 years.

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“Last year, both my grandparents passed away. They’d been married very happily for 71 years. They still held hands and expressed love for each other every day.

“I thought ‘how wonderful’ and wondered is there anything about the type of courting they had back then that’s maybe more romantic than sitting at a laptop and trying to find love?”

Pugh has interviewed people of all generations for the show and each night audience members are invited to share their own dating stories which are built in as an on-going process.

“I’ve had some lovely responses from local people, some have quite enjoyed looking back. It’s been quite emotional for them. Some are in situations where maybe they’ve become carers for their partner, or they’ve lost their partner, maybe they divorced some years ago.”

The experience has given Pugh a chance to reflect on her own love life.

“With the Internet, when you have the first meeting, physical attraction might be there, but being in a place and catching someone’s eye, or being introduced through a friend, you instantly feel a connection that you can’t explain.”

Living and enjoying life are now Pugh’s priorities.

“It’s more important – some of the older people I’ve interviewed will agree– to have a full and active life and meet people with similar interests through doing the things you love.”

On June 3 at Arthouse Cinema former comedian Joan Ellis gives a free talk - - Joan’s Adventures in Adland - recounting witty tales from her time at a top ad agency working with big brands and the likes of Paula Yates and Jennifer Saunders.

“There’s a lot of anecdotes about the stupid things I got up to, ridiculous things I did. Jokes are all on me,” she says.

Ellis, who went on to set up her own comedy club, will also read from her debut novel I am Ella, Buy Me, inspired by her experiences as a young woman in the macho ad world of the Thatcherite 80s.

Billed as Mad Men meets Bridget Jones, Ellis says: “Obviously, there’s a lot of me in Ella, but she wakes up a lot earlier than I did and realizes quite quickly, with the help of friends, that there’s more to life than pursuing money and success in the advertising world.”

The former Crouch Ender does have fond memories of her time in the industry.

“Advertising agencies are a melting pot for creativity. A lot of us are real oddballs: I know I probably couldn’t hold down a regular job. They allow you to be creative in the hope that you’re going to turn out some great work.”

But the underlying theme for both Ellis and her character is the value of perseverance in a sometimes hostile world.

“It’s very hard for young people to understand how it was for women: the comments, the way you were treated. Unfortunately, if you didn’t go along with it, there was no protection. If you didn’t do the job somebody else would.”

Ellis hopes exploring the fun side of “Adland” through Ella’s eyes will give readers a laugh.

“Like everybody, Ella is flawed. She has a front, but she’s funny and sees the flip side and the flippant side of life. I think that’s in all of us.”

The Crouch End Festival runs June 5th to 14th with 200 performances in 80 venues.