September’s theme for the Read Watch Play Twitter Group is #localread

Join the discussion this month about #localread. We will be focussing on all things local, or with a strong sense of place, in this #localread discussion (and it will be great as always to see what surprising ideas people include.)

Now, I may be dating myself, but I cannot hear the word ‘local’ without thinking of the 1990s TV show, the League of Gentlemen, which had a ‘local shop for local people’.

Do you feel like a local where you live? The child of a soldier, I never stayed very long in one place and the seemingly simple, “Where do you come from?” was a confusing question for me as a child. Did I say I came from the town we were currently living in England or Germany, or that I came from Scotland where I’d never lived before going to boarding school and university, or from Cyprus where I was born but where I hadn’t lived since I was 18 months? After 23 years where I live now I am just starting to feel like a local!

This month you could be reading about, and then exploring your local area. I’m lucky to live in the Blue Mountains in NSW, Australia. The local geography is stunning, the local community colourful and we have wonderful things to see and do in our area. Many thousands of tourists are attracted to our UNESCO World Heritage listed area every year. What are your favourite local haunts? Are they world-famous attractions, or secret places you cherish for personal reasons? Are there local foods, local land sharing schemes or ways to find out about local harvests in your area (try here too).

From Olympian Rock by JC Merriman

From Olympian Rock by JC Merriman

Does your local area have a Local Studies or Local History service? You’ll find they are a wonderful local resource, often collecting books, artefacts and ephemera which are unique. They are invaluable resources for authors, film-makers and family historians, among many others. Look up local stories in digitised newspapers for AustraliaNew ZealandSingaporeBritain (fees apply) and Denmark.

Has your local area got a ‘What’s on’ page on Facebook, Twitter or another social media site? Mine does and it’s a great source of information and inspiration on local events and local characters. The local newspaper, tourism body, local shops and businesses and local people all post and cross-post and you’re never stuck for somewhere to go or something to do – farmers markets, craft markets, local theatre productions, art gallery exhibitions, book launches and author talks, bush walks, meetings of various local groups, rallies and demonstrations, picnic places, information sessions, sporting events, music performances, poetry slams and so on.

The League of Gentlemen built a whole show around various nutty and slightly disturbing characters in the fictional town of Royston Vasey. Other popular TV shows with disturbing settings include the other great comedy show full of grotesques, Little Britain, and the dangerous town of Midsomer which has way way way more murders than a country town should.

When you need to escape your local place you can borrow someone else’s. Some authors too create strong associations with places, often their local places – Ian Rankin is synonymous with Edinburgh, Tim Winton with Western Australia, the Brontes with northern England, Jane Austen with Bath, Thomas Hardy with southwest and south central England, Dickens with London, CS Lewis with Narnia – the places don’t have to be real. Who are the authors associated with your place?

Carcassonne by Robbo-Man

Carcassonne by Robbo-Man

We play a board game called Carcassonne, based on the French walled city (also World Heritage listed). It’s great fun and we should have bought shares in the company because everyone we’ve played it with has gone out and bought their own. Carcassonne locals may not think the game anything like their town, but there are a whole lot of people I know who’d love to visit the town now. What other games are based on a locality? Sim City? World of Warcraft? What a way to lose yourself!

A car game we used to play with our children when they were little is “On my holidays I went to . . . “ You start with a place name beginning with A and then the next person has to say that place name and then add their own place name beginning with B and so on all the way through the alphabet. The place name beginning with X was usually the same because so few were known to us.

While you are reading, playing or watching your #localread, you might like to tweet about it using #localread #rwpchat so that other people can have a conversation with you about your #localread. You can add to the discussion on Pinterest too. You might like to post your photographs to Instagram or Flickr and use #localread #rwpchat so others can share in your reading, watching and playing.

There will be a Twitter discussion on 29 September starting at 8pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, 9pm New Zealand Time, 6pm Singapore Standard Time, 12 noon Central European Summer Time and 9am-11am; 2pm-4pm; 6pm-8pm BST.

Note : This is a staggered discussion.

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