Nottingham has had a few names over the years. In the 6th century we were known as Snotta inga ham. ‘Ham’ was Saxon for ‘village’, ‘inga’ meant ‘belonging to’ and ‘Snotta’ was a man. Then we got invaded by the Danes, Normans and basically anyone with a boat and ended up with our current title.
Fast forward to the eighties and snot would once more exert an influence over our identity, but this time it was the gooey green stuff that could be remedied via some Tunes, a cough sweet manufactured by the Wrigley Company.
The advert features Peter Cleall who, courtesy of a blocked-up nose, delivers the immortal line ‘I’d like a second class return to Dottingham, please’ which has become a defining image of local culture, up there with the Fish Man, the old bloke who banged a few out of tune notes on his xylophone and of course our very own Queen of the Midlands, Su Pollard.
Who needs Brad Pitt when you've got Peter Cleall
To celebrate the seventieth birthday of Peter Cleall, who was born on 16 March 1944, James Walker has created a new take on the advert for a graphic novel called Dawn of the Unread. The graphic novel sees twelve writers from Nottingham’s past return from the grave in search of the one thing that will keep their memories alive: boooks. The project aims to raise awareness of local literature and support libraries and independent bookshops.
The opening chapter sees William Booth - founder of the Salvation Army and it’s general from 1878–1912 - deliver the ‘Dottingham’ line as he departs from the afterlife back to modern day Nottingham to find out what all the fuss is about.
William Booth in the first chapter of Dawn of the Unread. Artwork: Mike White. Words: James Walker
James Walker said: "William Booth was born in Sneinton and was an incredibly driven man who brought humanitarian aid to over 58 countries. He became a prominent Methodist evangelist but got frustrated with the set-up and so went it alone. The Salvation Army was militaristic in nature and had its own uniform and music and he dedicated his entire life to helping others. He was the perfect character to bring back to life as I’d expect he would admire what we’re trying to do in getting people to read but would probably ridicule the set-up as he was a very serious man."
The inspiration for getting people to read more came when England was rated 22nd out of 24 industrialised countries for illiteracy. James said: "You can’t plonk a copy of the bard down on the table and expect kids to just read it. You need to lure them in by presenting interesting stories that will hopefully create a thirst to learn more. Dawn of the Unread is a twist on the zombie genre with ‘boooks’ replacing ‘bwains’ as the primary food source for our returning writers. Being able to tie this in to the old Tunes advert as well as William Booth has been mint. Another Nottingham trait is not taking ourselves too seriously and so Booth was the perfect character to return back to life as he would absolutely rip holes in what we’re doing."
Dawn of the Unread is available as free download on iPhone, Android and iPad as of 8 April 2014. A new chapter is released on the 8th of each month and will feature artists such as Carol Swain, Eddie Campbell as well as LeftLion contributors Steve Larder and Judit Ferencz.