Successful cycling duo receive surprise welcome home from proud Seenders…

 By Zoe McMillan

 

After 9 days and 969 miles, Jenny Dalton & John Whalley finally made it home to celebrate successfully, completing their Lands End to John O’Groats cycling challenge.

 

If the intrepid duo were hoping for a quiet and unassuming return to normality though, they were in for certain disappointment as the proud fellow villagers of Seend had very different ideas…well it’s not every day you get to walk amongst local heroes, is it?

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They were certainly not expecting their usual Friday night drinks at the village community centre to be ambushed by a host of villagers, all togged up in cycling gear, Lycra and helmets in homage to their impressive achievement, nor were they expecting the celebratory banners, and poo balloons (don’t ask…intensive cycling plays havoc with your bowel movements apparently!) or the vast array of cycling themed delicacies on offer, including of course the cycling pairs particular favourite; the pork pie.

 

It’s not very often either, John or Jenny were lost for words, but on this occasion even they were taken aback by the level of support from the village and sheer enthusiasm for their tales from the saddle.

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To get an exclusive insight into the adventures of SPPCC, yours truly went undercover and masqueraded as a super hero myself, SPPCC’s very own ‘Sustenance girl…bringer of cider and pies to all long-distance cycling enthusiasts’…this allowed me to get up close and personal with John & Jenny and get from John particularly a first-hand account of the trials and tribulations he faced and the lasting affect his adventure will have on him moving forwards. You can read John’s account below.

 

The staggering and impressive achievement of the Seend duo should not be underestimated. They are two of the 650 that made it across the final finish line in John O’Groats out of over 950 that set off from Lands’ End and together they’ve raised over £5315 for their chosen charities; Vodafone foundation & Macmillan.

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The terrible weather conditions they encountered could not dampen their spirits as together they tackled each day as a unique challenge that stood alone…one day at a time, one more push towards the shared end goal. With knees still creaking, shoulders still painful and aching joints still evident it doesn’t seem possible that they would already be searching out their next adventure but they most surely are, and their friends and fellow villagers will most certainly be right behind them once again!!! We’ll let the villagers of Seend have the final word… ” Well done John and Jen. We all knew you would both flipping do it!!!”

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In his own words, John Whalley details their Lands End to John O’Groats cycle challenge:

 

Approximately 900 riders began this event, with around 635 crossing the finish line last Sunday, supported throughout by the very professional organisers, Threshold Sports.

I think the first thing to say is, ‘This was, without doubt, the toughest 9 days of my life!’ Jenny and I had trained very hard, all year for this, with 100mile rides, 4-day back to back tours, rainy rides, hilly rides, but nothing really prepares you for 110 miles, every day, for 9 days, with little sleep in muddy campsites, constantly damp clothing and the most horrendous weather imaginable. It was an emotional rollercoaster of pain and hardship.

That said, the sense of pride and achievement I now feel cannot be put into words. Stressed knee ligaments and cyclists palsy afflicted hands are a small price to pay for the new friends I met along the journey, friendships that I already know will last a lifetime as we supported each other through our own periods of hell, and celebrated our wins together each day.

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By its very nature, the event captures you in a bubble that can only involve preparing for cycling all day, cycling all day, and recovering from cycling all day, ready to repeat next day. There is no semblance of real life or normality, and with very sporadic internet coverage and constantly under charged devices, little chance to communicate with the outside world. So, visits from friends and family on the finish lines and pit stops, and messages from loved ones mean everything. We are so grateful for the support we have both received from our families, our friends and our small village of Seend.

In conclusion, this has been an extraordinary journey for me, something I could not have completed without my riding partner and friend Jenny, without the new friends we met along the way, and without the support of our family and friends. But I have also found new qualities in myself, I am stronger and more determined than I realised, I do not give up and I do not let others down when they are in need. I am now looking for a new challenge to see how much more is in me.

 

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-optional-whalley

Night Boat to Lavy

Back in 1980 my brother and I could choose one LP each for Christmas, my first real record aside from Pinky and Perky singles (Google them kiddo, they were the Alvin & The Chipmunks of their day.) My brother thought he was being mature when he opted for the Police’s Zenyatta Mondatta, and my choice was juvenile; Madness – Absolutely.

 

But from all the ska and two-tone bands of the period, it was the pop, fairground style of Madness which stood the test of time, because our generation could identify with them.

 

Through synth-pop, electro and hip hop, and soul, not overlooking my eternal love for reggae, my eclectic tastes relished them all along the years, and then the rave scene took me away. It seems now though, I’ve turned full circle and, zipping up my boots, I returned to the roots, the offbeat ska sound; when Madness ruled that Christmas morning.

 

While 80s mod bands warbled on subjects unrelated to the experiences of a seven-year-old scallywag, Madness sung songs of baggy school trousers and dirty shirts, of pulling hair and eating dirt; we did all that, we walked home squashing snails, and when the teacher came to break up a fight, well you get the picture.

 

Bands like the Jam I appreciate now, but at the time I didn’t have a clue what they were on about; a clown called Maurice, what’s all that about? And you know their song Eton Rifles? My adolescent mind thought they were singing about eating trifles.

 

Seems I’m not alone in this affection for the Nutty Boys, the area has gone mad recently. With the MACS theatre school surprisingly opting the Our House Musical for their next production, and now I’ve just picked up on the rumour that the unquestionably best Madness tribute act, Los Palmas 6, is visiting the sleepy village of Market Lavington on October 28th, to show the Music and Comedy Club their nutty acknowledgment.

 

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Not without connections, Los Palmas 6 boast authenticity, citing amidst their seven-piece band, saxophonist for Madness for over eight years, Steve Turner.

 

Established in 1998, Los Palmas 6’s objective, said Steve “was to offer the most accurate Madness Tribute, and we succeeded.” They proudly awarded themselves the title “best Madness Tribute Band in the World,” and with prestigious booking from the BBC, Virgin Records, Arsenal Football Club, Cardiff Castle, Alexandra Palace, Splash FM, Cobo Bay festival in Guernsey, and not forgetting The Army, SAS, Navy and RAF, nobody’s arguing.

 

Can you afford to miss this, at twelve quid a ticket? You’d be a nutty boy to wait as gossip is spreading it’ll be a sell-out. Get your ticket from Devizes Books, Market Lavington Post Office or www.ml-mcc.weebly.com

https://www.facebook.com/events/990621147714002/
https://www.madnesstributeband.co.uk/

No Surprises Living in Devizes: Exchanging Preconceptions

Ah, nights at “the Bin,” I remember them……erm…. well, I remember them. The aptly dubbed “Corny Bin,” for those out of town and few who care not to venture the rough streets of Devizes at night (they can be irregular,) is Devizes’s only real nightclub, situated at the basement of the Corn Exchange, hence the name, see?

 
Subject of ridicule for many a decade, (ha-ha, as if Devizes would have nightlife,) it never did itself favours. One night I recall I paused to observe that while the blokes were having a pint and laugh at the bar, the girls were fighting on the dancefloor. A flying knee-length boot flew past my eyes and broke my concentration, I ignored the sentiment; this is Devizes.

 
Could a £45,000 renovation, removal of chewing-gummed carpets, conversion of the DJ booth and bar, and an identity change cleanse its reputation and wipe away the title “Bin?” Manager Ian Mathews believes in time it will; it certainly looks the part.
Essentially, I always liked the layout of the place, meek as an amphitheatre, it’s simple design with the bar across the rear and a square dancefloor with seating looking onto it, is functional and practical. The issue was the clichéd and formulated entertainment on offer for the past decade, something which no matter how much silver paint you lick onto walls is going to benefit.

 
So, the last Friday of the month embraces an under 16’s disco, or “nappy night,” as adults used to dub it when I was a nipper; our generation had to endure their patronising smears, I don’t see why you kids should get off so lightly. Scot free you already are with the old blackboard rubber launch, you don’t even know what a flipping blackboard rubber is. Teachers nowadays sacred to throw a reprimand at a child through fear of a lawsuit, let alone an oak-edged armament; they say it doesn’t hurt so much if you don’t know it’s coming.

 
Whereas, other Friday nights bring us tribute acts and themed nights. This Friday, 29th, is a night for new romantics, as leading synth-pop covers-band, Paul Dodson and Andy Randle, aka BINOMIAL and top international tribute act Keith George, alias ‘The Boy George Experience’ share the stage, sure to redefine the club’s reputation and send a signal to Devizes that times a changin’.

 

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Amusingly, the only comment on the Gazette’s article on the revamp was, “It’ll take quite a lot to shift the name corny bin;” defining Devizes to a T. While we yearn alteration and updating, we crave our traditions and values too much to fully embrace change, undoubtedly because perpetually mocking ourselves is the backbone of our sense of humour; and why not shagger?

 
Take the public meeting on Thursday at the Town Hall, “a vision for Devizes; the next conversation,” sounds like a poor sequel to a movie franchise which was okay to begin with. Organised by The Trust for Devizes and Devizes Area Board, chairing the meeting is none other than Claire Perry, who said, “I’m really looking to being part of the next conversation about the vision for the future.” (Unsure if the word “forward,” is missing from that.)

 

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new look Devizes

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I think there’s far worse a right-wing politician to be our spokesperson for Westminster; Enoch Powell, Napoléon Bonaparte, Alan B’Stard, to name a few. Yeah, make no mistake, I like some things Claire says to the community, but she’s hardly a worthy contestant for Catchphrase; “say what you see.”

 

Being a method of attaining affordable housing is key subject, Claire Perry, really? Who during the “bedroom tax” outrage, voted for reducing housing benefit for applicable social tenants? Claire Perry, who unswervingly voted for phasing out secure tenancies for life, and charging a market rent to higher earners renting a council home? (theyworkforyou.com)

 

With the political ethos in which Nick Clegg leaked the Tories refused to build social housing, because it would ‘create Labour voters’, can they really risk a torrent of affordable homes in such a safe consistency? Especially while May annoys Brexit leavers and remainers alike, in one swift goof.

 
Minister Gavin Barwell confessed to Inside Housing Magazine, they were scheduling to build higher rent homes, and supplying socially rented council housing was just a giggle. Upon being asked if homes planned would be of lower-level council rents, the minister said, “No, I think the idea is that they are what you’d call affordable rents in housing terminology, but they are social housing.” Shamefully, what’s “affordable” to a minister, far out-stretches what’s affordable to most.

 
So, a meeting to discuss future housing in our town, with an MP who, according to theyworkforyou, “has never rebelled against their party.” A parliament which can’t guarantee safety in existing social housing, and u-turned their flagship pledge to build the “a new generation” of social housing announced in their manifesto? Okay, I’m not holding my breath; preparing for a winter of discontent like a Tory; I’ve got my badger-skin hat on already.

 
I’d rather take my chances with a Boy George tribute act, than a hag like May from the church of the poison mind. Good luck to the Exchange, we’re gonna need to let our hair down.

Pewsey Carnival’s Signature Wheelbarrow Race Never Loses Its Cool

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There’s something frivolously unique about Pewsey. Tucked deep in our exclusive district, it thrives with lovable brashness and an inimitable eccentricity which is hard to hide at the best of times, let alone during carnival week.

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For those who recall Pewsey Carnivals of yore, as I do, ranting things wouldn’t be the same, rambling off health and safety procedures like they wrote them, I’ve nicked this lovely gallery from Peter Emblin to prove otherwise. Thank you, Peter, most kind of you.

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For those not in the know, this is the precursor to Saturday’s parade, called the Wheelbarrow Race, locally dubbed “wheelbeero race,” for self-explanatory reasons.

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If I remember rightly, if there are any rules above visiting each pub and stumbling back to the finish line, they’re blatantly overridden.

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For outsiders, it’s truly something to behold, a spectacle of rural hilarity and misfit in which every man and his dog, from youngest to oldest, the WHOLE darn village, and boy it’s a big village, dresses up fancy and celebrates in self-regulating panache.

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So, have no doubts; Pewsey Carnival never loses its cool, and ponder, shit the bed, I missed that; I’d better bookmark next year’s.

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Macs hold Auditions for “Our House” on Friday

After my daughter returned from the Macs Theatre School’s performance of Beauty and the Beast, reporting how brilliant it was, I’ve been keen to see what they’d do next. As a long-term fan of Madness, my first album being Absolutely, I was thrilled to learn the next presentation would be the musical inspired by their songs, Our House; this is up the middle of my street and knocking loudly on my door!

 

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Showing at Devizes School on 15th to the 17th February, I’m already building excitement for it. But who is to star in this extravaganza? Well, that’s up to the results of the auditions on Friday, at the school, starting at 6pm. Macs inform us “it’s not too late to sign up!”

 
With over 100 students ranging from 5-19 years old signed up to the theatre school, after only a year since its launch, and the introduction of Mini-Macs for the younger budding actors, things are progressing well and the team thank everyone who has supported the project.

 

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Mini Macs in Action!

 
Hopefuls will take part in a workshop, but no planning is required. During this workshop, they’ll be taught a routine from the show, and work on a group performance of one of the songs.

 
The auditions continue 2nd October, for those wanting to go for leads. Hopefuls will prepare a solo, performed in character, which showcases their abilities from a choice of songs, ‘It Must Be Love,’ ‘Simply Equation’ or ‘Baggy Trousers, along with a minute improvisation based on the character.

 
But there’s a need for a busy chorus and many smaller roles with lines too. So, if you’ve a budding performer in your family, you’d be hard pressed to find a better local opportunity then this; you’ll need to sign up on Macs website, this only costs forty quid for the whole year, and guarantees them a part in this, and the undecided drama summer performance.

 

I walked home squashing snails and did indeed pull hair and eat dirt, I’ve still got the dirty shirt and baggy trousers, but fear I’m past it, and should leave it to the kids; still can’t wait to see it Macs!

 

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https://www.macstheatreschool.co.uk/

Devizes Scooter Club Donate to the Opportunity Centre

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Children of the Devizes & District Opportunity Centre were treated to a show of Lambrettas and Vespas when the Devizes Scooter Club turned up to donate the funds raised at their Family Fun Day, back in July. Over £700 was handed over to the pre-school for children with disabilities and learning difficulties.

“Thank you for supporting us,” the Opportunity Centre told them, “and showing our little ones the super cool scooters!”

No Surprises Living in Devizes: Conkers or Bonkers?

Around this season in years gone by, kids yielding nailed planks and discarded house-bricks gathered in the suburban scrapheap where I grew up. No, it wasn’t something as vicious as a rival school skirmish, that would’ve been later in the term. They congregated unsupervised at the aptly named Chestnut Crescent, to lob items into trees.

 

The parameters of health and safety would’ve been a call to “watch out,” while children launched said items, wrecked go-karts and toddlers airborne. Those who dared scramble the shelling zone would collect spoils the big kids disregarded. There was no more order then this; if you were hit you learned a lesson, for the sake of conkers.

 

 

Next day my Dad would search his shed for his screwdriver, while mum was adamant she wouldn’t put the cooker on just to bake conkers. But, mention the game to kids these days, they’d probably search Google Play-Store on their tablets; “nope Dad, no such game exists; you’re making it up.”

 

Kids don’t play conkers, it’s vanished along with concrete playground floors and triangular shaped flapjack, because we’re health and safety conscious, aren’t we?

 

Yeah right, not while a nation sinks under hurricanes, yet insists “god’s punishing us for electing a Muslim president.” I watched a video on this; Middle Americans witnessed their town submerged, even remarked it’s happening more frequently, awaiting Trump to slip his undercrackers outside his suit, don a cloak and save the day.

 

They really believe climate change is a hoax; the word of a xenophobic, chauvinistic melted figurine of He-Man, who scrapped Obama’s flood protection standards days prior to Harvey, over scientists.

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We’ve gone from conkers to bonkers. What do scientists gain from fibbing? What about crocked politicians in bed with the energy industry? Hum… tricky.

 

That insane trigger-happy President is proof alone we’re far from health and safety conscious, with 6,800 nuclear warheads at his disposal, compared to North Korea’s four; he can’t be trusted with a Twitter account, let alone a nuclear arsenal.

 

“Don’t throw that triangular shaped flapjack son, it might be dangerous.”

 

“Don’t vote for selfish, warmongering pricks Dad, it might be slightly more dangerous.”

 

And we follow them like sheep, desperate for a trade deal because we wanted our cake and to eat it. If Middle Americans believe it, we’re never far behind.

 

So, don’t be giving me H&S assurances, not while we speed like a bat out of hell with blatant disregard, while rotting conkers line pavements and gardens; take this as a metaphoric Brexit remark, or a literal stab that we drive too fast, I’ve overtaken caring; conkers to bonkers, see?

 

From Rotherstone residents rightfully wishing to close their road to cars, to the stretch from Honey Street to Woodbrough being upgraded, existing chicanes outside the school being treated as a challenge rather than a traffic calming measure. It’s called Broad Street, not Brands Hatch. Past tragedies seemingly forgotten, our need to get to work paramount; time is money.

 

We must stop this craziness and slow down, it really is this simple. Why even make a car with a hundred on the clock? Yet, mention an electric car or bike and we quiver; the prospect to skid in a climate change conspiracy theory puddle.

 

Step in Sustainable Devizes, using their (third Saturday) monthly stall in the Shambles yesterday to promote their Next Generation Vehicles Show, to be displayed at the Market Place on Saturday 30th, from 9am to 3pm. Working to reduce the town’s carbon footprint, they invite you to throw off the stigma, come see, and test drive, a large variety of electric vehicles, from hybrid cars to scooters.

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Over the winter Sustainable will be hosting a variety of talks at the Quaker Meeting House, starting on 11th October’s discussion on Food Assemblies. Being Devizes is breaking the limit for nitrous oxide emissions, we owe it to the future, rather than continue the current slack attitude; we can’t even be trusted to park responsibly.

 

It’s all fun on the Parking like a Muppet Facebook page, but the shebang appears to have attracted Traffic Wardens on overtime.

 

Once a free-parking day, sparks flew on social media as a photo of a traffic warden who either appeared to be working on a Sunday, or least playing a game on his mobile.

 

Comments roared about changing times. I dispatched an email to Mrs Bilella, processing officer of Wiltshire Council’s parking services, asking why this has suddenly come to pass, being Sunday has always been free to park in Devizes and inquiring about changes; signs don’t display this information.

 

The reply was prompt but vague, “Officers have always worked on Sundays; this has not changed. There will be a consultation soon regarding parking charges, this will be available at libraries, online and local newspapers.”

 

Within the day I asked to be sent the details, but was told, “Please check the website for more details,” which I searched but found nought. I commented on the post, asking the tagged traffic warden if he was merely checking for Muppets, or parking fees had been secretly introduced. I inquired, more importantly, his high score on Snake. But commenting on the post was turned off prior to his reply; I bet Joanne Moore doesn’t have these problems, but she reports, I’m just here to wind you up!

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So, I’ve no idea what’s what; park like a Muppet and face changing consequences for all I care. More professional whinger, Iain Wallis rightfully ranted it’s, “become a target for raising parking charges where other similar towns pay half what we do, and see no rise. Is it because we’re doing markedly better than other towns? Or is it because we seem to try and stand apart from Wiltshire Council?”

 

Mr Wallis suggested the proposed increase is, “a fudging of the law to allow rural bus route funding, when the road traffic act specifically forbids using parking charges to top up other budgets.” The concern the consultation will affect business in town; no surprises there.

 

Traffic wardens don’t receive fair representation, but I’m not here to set any records straight. Sorry guys, but it’s when you say, “just doing my job sir.” Well don’t; find another job, go cull badgers, or something more productive.

 

Here’s another annoyance; cull puppies too, they bite. No, love puppies, but not badgers; out of sight out of mind. I see them, every morning, they’re my work buddies, with their silly waddles; until, because of our persistence to speed, they’re roadkill.

 

Until we slow down we’re wiping out enough of this beautiful wildlife already, and without sufficient research to prove a cull will cure bovine TB in cattle, we’ve no right to go through with this. Wait for scientist’s reports, or we mirror Middle-Americans, wailing climate change is a hoax while neck deep in flooding.

 

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Lottie Jenkins Set to Entertain Times Square

Marland Music Management sure are devoted to bringing us some great local talent, but I was particularly fascinated by a gig at Times Square happening next Friday (22nd,) by the photo of the performer; she looked so young.

 
Akin to moments on Cowell’s over extravagant karaoke show when a younger participant wows the audience with rare talent, upon searching YouTube I was bowled over to learn, at just 13, Swindon’s Lottie Jenkins has a mature, sublime voice, a natural ability to write her own songs and a talent for piano.

 

 

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Times Square is undoubtedly the place to head Friday; don’t take my word for it, check the video.

 
I caught up with Lottie’s manager-mum (cos that’s what mums are for!) Debbie, who enthusiastically told me about Lottie getting through to the top ten at a Song Academy competition at Westfield in London last year, at just 12, spurring her to enter the Future Music’s Young Songwriter live showcase in Camden. She got through to the grand final and was awarded the monthly opportunity to record her songs at River Studios in Southampton.

 

 

Lottie has also been playing festivals this summer, booked at Meadowside in Whiteley, and the Netley Park Festival, among others.

 
She cites Amy Winehouse, Emilie Sande, Earl and One Republic as her influences, so I asked if Lottie would be covering songs, or playing her own written ones.

 
Debbie explained she’ll do a mixture, stressing the importance of engaging the audience with known songs. However, with tunes like the songwriter’s entry “Kiss your Old Life Away,” where the judges commented that they loved the “Elton Vibe,” and Tom Odell praised her “spiritual imagery,” I think Devizes would welcome her to play her own songs, and will be in for a treat on Friday.

 

 

LOTTIE JENKINS LIVE AT TIMES SQUARE. 22nd September

 

 

Killertones Return to Skank the Socks off Devizes

 

Always a hit vrooming along in the carnival parade, the Devizes Scooter Club are gearing up for their biggest show to date. On October 21st Devizes sees the return of Swindon-based The Killertones, who last time, it must be said, rocked the Cons Club with a skanking set of classic ska and two-tone covers.

 

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Photo by Gail Foster

 
This time though, mod band Easily Led support them, with a grand playlist of Beatles, Stones and Who covers, it’ll be intervallic with DJ Shaun Smitherman’s blend of Motown and soul and set to be a storm. Tickets like hot cakes are on sale at the Conservative Club priced at just a tenner, or contact Adam, the self-proclaimed Colonel of the club via their Facebook page and he’ll personally ensure you’ve tickets delivered; don’t get left out and hope you can get in on the door.

 

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The Devizes Scooter Club is a retrospective merger of mod and skinhead cultures, assumes mutual respect for both and is open to all with an interest in either scene, scooter or no scooter. As well as organising ride-outs, they’ve successfully raised staggering funds for The Devizes and District Opportunity Centre via their Family Fun Day at the Cavalier on Eastleigh Road, and received a letter of thanks from MP Claire Perry for their efforts; I’m not sure if she’s a Lambretta or Vespa kind of chick though!

 

 

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Click here for more Info.

 

 

The Great Bubble Conflict of Rowde, 2017

Kids playing football, dressed as footballs could be the hilarious component missing from many a children’s birthday party. Bubble Warz, a Calne based event organisation, who are so cool it’s not worth correcting my spellchecker for, has it covered.

 
What to do with your youngster who’s  above the age for soft play centres but not old enough to be clubbing the night away? Let Bubble Warz drive down in their van, inflate a load of human-sized balls and take your party off for the most bizarre and original activity I’ve seen. It allows you time to stand back and laugh out loud, as the nippers clamber inside the core of the transparent ball, harness up, brace themselves and roll off; it’s a hysterical sight to behold.

 

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For my football-fanatical daughter, it was the ideal choice. The only part of the person outside of the ball is their legs, so they started off with a practice, running, leaping forwards and tucking their legs in so the ball rolls. Then, it was onto a knockout sumo wrestling contest, followed by a football match with side-splitting consequences, and finally, giant foam skittles were bought out and, well, I’ll let you guess the rest.

 
An occasion reminiscent of “It’s A Knockout,” Bubble Warz provided us with an original and highly amusing party, the staff were friendly and great with the kids. You only need to sort a location, a large garden or school field will do, and some food for afterwards, as our group were famished grass-covered gremlins afterwards. Bubble Warz did bring a crate of water bottles and insured the kids stopped for a break.

 
I’d recommend this for children from six to sixty, oh yeah, they have adult-sized balls too, if you’ll pardon the expression. It’s ideal for so-called grownups on a stag or hen night. Not for me though, I’m far too mature, and if you tried to force me inside one, I’d tell my mum.

 

Check their website for more details: Click here.

Female of the Species, boil ska, soul and blues influences to simmer Melksham for the Air Ambulance

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Deadlier than the male, The Female of the Species is an amalgamation of female musicians from various local bands who team up to host charity gigs; what’s not to like?

 
Nicky Davis from Warminster based People Like Us and The Reason, Glastonbury’s Julia Greenland from Soulville Express & Delta Swing, Frome’s Claire Perry from Big Mamma & The Misfitz, solo artist Charmaigne Andrews from Melksham, and Julie Moreton from Trowbridge’s Train to Skaville and Jules & The Odd Men, form the supergroup again for “Live on the Night,” at the Melksham Assembly Rooms on Saturday 30th September.

 
Seriously not to be missed; Beginning by showcasing two young performers; James Dempsey and Laura Jane Burt, giving them stage time and experience. The show then continues with People Like Us. The finale, Female of the Species sure to be the icing on the cake. Blending their influences in a mash-up of reggae and ska, soul and Motown, blues and rock, how on Earth do they govern what genre is coming next?

 
I thought I’d hassle Jules of Train to Skaville for an answer. “Each of the girls chooses three or four songs from their band’s set list,” explained the self-confessed rude-girl, “and then we add in the stuff we sing together.”

 
The Female of the Species first formed for a one-off gig at the Civic Hall, Trowbridge in 2014 for the Hope Centre in Southwick, a charity for adults with learning difficulties,  “but it was so successful,” Jules continued, “we had no choice but to do it all again….and again.”

 

 

 

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This news nugget keeps getting better though, as this year they’re fund-raising for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance. The previous appearance at the Assembly Hall in Melksham, back in 2015 raised £2,920 in aid of WILTSHIRE M.I.N.D Mental Health Charity. The founding gig at The Hope Nature Centre in Southwick in 2014 I previously mentioned, raised an amazing £3,395.

 
While the next Train to Skaville is boarding from the White Swan, Trowbridge, Big Mama and the Misfitz only coming as close to us as The Fox and Hounds in Colerne on 4th November and the next People Like Us gig being a longer bus journey to Bath, at the Westgate on 22nd, here’s something in easy reach and all for the greatest cause. Tickets at just a tenner can be snatched from the Assembly Rooms or online here.

 

A Wonderful Afternoon with the Devizes Town Band

 by Sarah Tyler. Photos by Gail Foster

 

 

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What a wonderful afternoon! Devizes Town Band really enjoyed playing the Children’s Proms and Proms Not in the Park, at the Corn Exchange. As it did rain, it was right to change the venue, though we were sad not to be in Hillworth Park this year.

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Thank you to our guest soloist, singer Chloe Jordan and to our compere and narrator for Peter and the Wolf, Mark Jones, from Fantasy Radio UK.

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Thank you to Sarah Williams from Hillworth Park, for a great collaboration in providing this event and to Fantasy Radio for broadcasting live from the event. We hope those listening at home enjoyed the concert too.

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Finally, thank you to everyone who came, we were thrilled to see so many of you there. You were a wonderful, enthusiastic audience and a joy to play for.

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If you go to Morrisons, take a book……

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If you go to Morrisons, take a book. No, it’s not Christmas rush at the tills yet. Morrisons’ employee Michelle Hawkings is putting out a request for more books to add to her book sale stand in the supermarket, raising funds for the children’s cancer charity Clic Sargent. They’ve reached over £1,400 to date but more books are needed. Hand in those unwanted novels to the customer service and they’ll do the rest, maybe pick up a new read on your way past too!

 

No Surprises Living in Devizes: Hopeless

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There’s appears to be a tank, (sorry Simon and Alan, a Bulldog Armoured Personnel Carrier, without a 120mm calibre barrel and weighing significantly less than a tank,) by Shane’s castle. Has it really broken down, or has, as I suspect, martial law broken out across the vizes?

 

Wiltshire Reich, I mean Council, acknowledged we’ve had our fun, but now we pay the price.

 
Proficient and informative journalist, Joanne Moore reported artistic director of DOCA, Loz Samuels’ understandable fury at the grand price tag on our entertainment and the tenner parking duty proposal, which they just made up, on the non-fee parking day, to attempt dissolve the disgraceful ethos that some wish to provide entertainment for free, and jeopardise future events in our town. Thanks then, yeah, cheers.

 
There’s a new black rat infiltrating our celebrations, come back Wat Tyler, all is forgiven.
This must be the first, at least since the May Day Fair, a lengthy three months ago, effort to curb festivities in town. Let’s hope it’s the last or what will become of carnival? I ponder a twenty-five-quid ticket price, or two calves and your firstborn son for carnival 2018. Is there a vacancy going for a chippy to board up the windows of unpaid town residents who might cop unrestricted views? Bloody freeloaders.

 
So, I hope you made the most of the carnival this year, it certainly looked good from the freely distributed galleries of our talented photographers Ruth and Gail, who blatantly and thankfully aren’t Wiltshire Councillors, or we’d get a tagging tax.

 
Who me? Sorry, I missed it; spent my carnival staring at an obese couple orally absorbing Wotsits, an eternally wailing baby with hawkeyed mum, and signage which read, “waiting time: 3-4 hours,” at Swindon’s A&E due to a dog bite; must have read my article about keeping mutts on leads.

 
So, to all those who wedged themselves into the crowds only to criticise this year’s event; think yourself lucky.

 
You know if you don’t take your kids to the fair, you might have enough to cash to eat this week; scream if you wanna go faster, giv’ us another fiver if you want to be rotated 3-60 one more time. The closer to peak times the price rises and the fare too. You. Know. This. Why fool for it, or if you did, why moan about it on Facebook? Everyone’s out to get their share.

 
It’s okay thanks, no sympathy, I know you care. Right on the inner thigh it was, the dog bite I mean, close enough to my brain to have had a significant effect, and I got to thinking about our nothing-ever-happens-in-Devizes hashtag and how true this could be if Wilts Council get their way.

 
To see how much really does, or does not happen here, I committed to create Devizine, and in a few days, I’m glad to report, it’s a thing now (hate that saying, but “it’s a thing now,” is a thing now.) Treat Devizine as a what’s-on-guide, a “zine” inspired website offering local news and reviews, wrapped in a whole lot of fun. And no, Mr Teeder, while Tia sounds like a lovely lady, she’s not on the payroll here, yet.

 
I will force everyone to support Dezivine, with or against their will! Please, show it your love, check it out for regular updates, “like” and spread our social media posts, consider our dirt-cheap advertising; listings events are free, but to keep it chugging and improve we NEED advertisers.

 
I want Devizine to be dynamic and communal, unlike the Carer-Support-Wiltshire “what’s on guide,” which claimed a “parent carers drop in group was on,” but sent no support staff. The dazzling Devizes Issue divinity, Amanda Attwood announced, “After contacting Carer Support Wiltshire, I was informed they have cancelled the group, leaving carers high and dry. They say this is due to falling numbers, but it has been obvious to carers, this is due to lack of proper advertising and effort. This means Carer Support Wiltshire has withdrawn yet another much needed service from Devizes.”

 
What other changes threaten our humble town? Latest, we get a say in the future development plans for the Wharf, provided you’re jobless. Yep, Devizes social media elite went to town over this, as local rag announced the first meeting is, “Tuesday 12th from 9am to 4pm at the Wharf Theatre, followed by a second on Thursday from 9am to 3pm in the Market Place and one on September 18th from 5pm to 6.30pm before the Devizes Area Board at the library.”

 
Wiltshire Council again, they seem to have either overlooked the employed or organised this at their convenience, making me apprehensive, the only idea put forward will be an overpriced, private-pension-robbing, gigantic old people’s home, the like Devizes has never seen.

 
We dun’t warnt yer ganderflankin’ changes rand ere shagger; happy as we be, we is.

 
You can get gooey-eyed over Tesco but kiss the dilapidated Assize Courts and likelihood it could be an entertainment hub for the community goodbye. Welcoming visitors at the gateway to Devizes, the landmark eyesore day’s maybe numbered, the Dubai owner uncaring even about museum prospects, and the Council hot on its potential.

 
Get real; although they say, “we want people to drop into these sessions to find out what we’re considering, but to also let us know what they’d like to see happen,” it int gonna be rock n roll (or is it?)

 
Without a suitable meeting time, it’s doomed to failure. Wiltshire Council cabinet member for economic regeneration, Chuck Berry said, “C’est la vie, say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell,” but continued later to explain, “I’m aware our temperature’s a’ risin’, and the jukebox appears to be blowin’ a fuse. But I can assure you my heart is beatin’ a rhythm, and my soul keeps singing the blues.”

 
“Roll over Beethoven,” announced the Wiltshire Council cabinet member for economic regeneration, “I have formally informed Tchaikovsky of the news.”

 

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Rotary Club send Boxes to Hurricane zones.

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Following the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean and Southern USA, Devizes Rotary will be sending a shelter box in order to help provide much needed shelter and supplies.

They will be putting at least £500 from Devizes Rotary towards these boxes; anyone interested in contributing a donation – however small – towards purchasing further boxes, Iain Wallis states, “If there is enough interest, I am happy to start a collection at Moonraker Bears.”

You can learn more about shelter boxes here: https://www.shelterbox.org/shelter/aid

 

 

Here’s Zoe’s offering on Oktoberfest!

By Zoe McMillan

Oktoberfest, Seend Community Centre,

Saturday 30th September, 19.30, tickets £10.

Limited tickets available now so don’t delay, buy today from Seend shop/P.O or community centre !!!.

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Entshuldigen bitte, mein leiblings; hallo damen und herren… right, now I’ve your attention I want to tell you all about the fun & Bavarian shenanigans that will be taking place in our very own capital of fun; Seend on Saturday 30th September from 19.30 in the village community centre.

 

STOP PRESS – OktoBEERfest is coming to a village near you!!!! On Saturday 30th September, Seend invite you to join them as they offer to transport you (metaphorically speaking) to a Bavarian fun-fest of games and merry making.

 

Come along to our OktoBEERfest and enjoy a great night out full of Bavarian music, game playing, German sausages, sauerkraut and ofcourse beer drinking…well we are being guided by a bone fide German on how to run this do you know…(don’t worry though, there will be other beverages on offer if you’re not a beer drinker). There will also be a disco to get ya feet stomping too so where else would you rather be?
Come along and embrace your inner European!!

 

Are you tough enough to hold your own (There may be a clue here for you )when you take on the competition in the authentic game of masskrügstemman..how well can you hold your beer??? (perhaps another clue here); do you fancy trying your hand at the novelty challenge of kühmelken (milking cows) or even baumstammsägen (tree trunk sawing), or would you rather just get hammered in the Bavarian game of nägelschlagen? There will, of course, be prizes up for grabs to the victors!!

 

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Sneak Preview of Game #3 at Oktobeerfest
This one is called Nägelschlagen – any guesses?

 

Come along and don’t be shy. Release your inner party animal. Traditional dress will be welcomed but is definitely not essential. Join us for a fabulous night out. We can’t wait to see you all. Tickets are limited now and selling fast so if you would like to come along please snap up your tickets whilst they’re still available.

 

Tickets are £10 & can be purchased from Seend shop/P.O or Seend Community Centre. Ticket price includes a sausage & salad supper.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1637970046215407/

 

Adventures of Seend Pork Pie Cycling Club.

By Zoe McMillan

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“Well, there’s no going back now”, the infamous last words of John Optional Whalley and Jenny Dalton of Seend Pork Pie Cycling Club as they packed their rider numbers, loaded up their bikes and pies and set off this morning to embark on their epic 9 day adventure cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats…and all in the name of charity.
The feisty duo are founder members of the aforementioned Seend Pork Pie Cycling Club-aptly named due to their inability to ride any great distance without chowing down on a certain delicacy…so much so that Pork Farms kindly donated over 100 of the little beauties to keep the team well fueled throughout their months of training.
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To succeed Jenny, John and the team set off from Lands End tomorrow & must average at least 100 miles a day over the next 9 days if they are to complete the challenge and arrive at John O’Groats in 9 days time. They are both riding for their chosen charities; Jenny for Vodafone’s refugee campaign and John for Macmillan; you can read more about their personal motivation by taking a look at Jenny’s story and John’s story respectively (link attached.)
If you’re free on Sunday and fancy getting creative with an encouraging banner…or simply cheering them on or doing a sun dance to hold off the rain for them you can make your way to Bath where the cycling entourage will be ending their second day; some 200 miles  into their epic journey.
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You can also sponsor John and Jenny and show your support by heading to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jennifer-Dalton1 and www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-optional-whalley.
You can also donate to Jenny by texting 70070 with the words JECY75 £10
I’m sure all in Devizes and Seend wish you both well. Safe journey to you both. On your marks, get set, on ya bikes 😃😃😃

HELP TAMSIN QUIN

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I could take the long route round and waffle on about how refreshingly good Tamsin Quin is, but if you’ve roamed the Devizes music scene you’d know this already. Plus, I’ve mentioned her on the No Surprises column enough, so get with it!

 
Supplying us with sublime acoustic, self-written songs, and often bursting into classics in her unique style, Tamsin has fast become one to watch, but now she’s asking for your help to raise funds via the crowd-funder website for an album.

 

“I’ve been writing and performing for the last five years,” Tamsin pledges, “but over the last year or so, songs have been coming out of my ears! My music has really evolved, grownup and I feel really ready to record my first full-length studio album and present these new songs to you in the best way possible.”

 
Planning five days of recording at Earthworm Amber Recording Studios, with producer Jon Buckett, she aims to record ten to twelve songs and offers some interesting and fun gifts to people who donate, starting from a download of the album for a mere fiver, to private sessions, the chance to “hang-out” together and write some songs, to the more obvious wooden spoon-carving workshop!

 
We’ve mentioned Crowd-funder on No Surprises before, its worked for Richie Triangle with his new album and I’ve covered Larkin’s prospective album project. When I go back to my youth, (not as long ago as you might think, whippersnapper!) manually cutting and pasting zines with scissors and Pritt-Stick, standing in the rain trying to flog them to unsuspecting suckers; I loved every minute of that DIY culture; the sense that you were making something without the restraints of a publishing company leering over you.

 

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Me, selling zines in the street.

 
But it wasn’t without its drawbacks; funding and distribution being generally awful. I’d collect three quid or so from a shop and return to my car to find a parking ticket! I reckon sites like Crowd-funder are a blessing to diversity and DIY culture, as opposed to making a fool of yourself under the beady-eye of Simon Cowell, youth can do their own thing and create avenues for their art. This opens opportunity and, while its no easy path to tread, creates a multiplicity of aptitude.

 
I’ll admit, I’d have gone crazy if we had such a thing back then, I’d be crowdfunding for a photocopier, crowdfunding for a word processor and even crowdfunding for a pint! But young- ‘uns today have got their heads screwed on, obtain a goal and go for it; I like this.
So, please help Tamsin if you can, as she says, “I feel mega-lucky for the support of really loyal followers that have built up over the years and I’d LOVE for you all to be involved in creating this album with me!”

 HELP TAMSIN QUIN: CLICK HERE!

 

 

 

No Surprises Living in Devizes: Musical Madness

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

Back yonder, in the early days of scribing articles for Index, I reported my surprise upon wandering in the Black Swan and finding it renovated to the charming place Devizes hipsters know it as today. At the time, I was adamant I wasn’t there for antique shopping, stating “I’m not David Dickenson; I’ve come here for atmosphere, a pint and some live music, the quality of all above my expectations. To suit the off-beat character transforming the place a young Irish singer stands at the windowed alcove grasping his guitar with passion.”

 
That singer was, of course, Richie Triangle, and he bought a sense of cheerfulness with spritely enthusiasm, good humour and talented performances. Alas his campervan out back of the pub is no longer, Richie has been travelling, but we’ll still recall him busking in the Brittox and just his short stay in our town, he gained a local following.

 
Well it seemed we’ve good taste in Devizes, as Richie found success on his adventures and has hooked up with Adrian Sherwood’s ground-breaking On-U-Sound studio, to record “Made from Broken Pieces,” an album of original material, all written by him.
In his own words, Richie is, “describing and sympathising with all our situations. How despite being broken, beaten and battered, we’re still here, alive and strong, and have many crazy tales to tell.” The concept stemming from a rock climbing accident Richie suffered while travelling India.

 
Paralysed from the waist down, it was a struggle to make it back to the UK. “After much determination and most of 2015 in a wheelchair,” Richie explains, “I managed to rehabilitate enough to be able to stand, and in time, walk. I couldn’t sit around, and I absolutely had to get back in the music.”

 
Good news is Richie is back in town, playing the Crown on Saturday, thanks to the magnificent Marland Music. This will make the ideal after-carnival party and hopefully, he’ll have copies of this acoustic magnum opus, with hauntingly sublime backing sounds, akin to a modern James Taylor or Neil Young. Or, you can download it for a tenner here: https://www.richietriangle.com/ bargain.

 

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Other after-carnival parties are available; Stuart Beck performs at Times Square, Mike Barham belts out classics at the Moonrakers, DJ Ramon’s getting funky at the Southgate (with BBQ.) What am I, some kind of human event calendar now? Bloody cheek, might start singing in the Market Square myself.

 
Fear not, that will not happen, not with Black Rat Monday out of the way.

 
While on the musical subject, I was lucky enough to be treated to an exclusive preview of the newly formed “Full Tone Orchestra,” at a rehearsal for their performance of Iconic Themes on 16th September at the Corn Exchange. After just three rehearsals I can confirm they sound totally awesome and this should be a spectacular night as they accomplish numerous film scores.

 

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Invited by the ever-busy Jemma Brown, who is promoting the event with husband Anthony, the conductor. I arrived fashionably late to which Jemma whispered I’d missed, “Game of Thrones.” Fussed about this I was not, for it’s not something I’ve followed, rather I favour I arrived just on time as they moved onto the Star Wars theme with boundless energy, and this is much more up my street.

 
Having to close my eyes and allow the music to envelope me, rather than let my eyes wander over the school hall or the musicians attempting to concentrate, I could almost imagine Darth Vader striding up the corridor like the headmaster from a netherworld.
An attempt to bring the uplifting sounds of an orchestra to the Devizes masses, I’ve seen first-hand the hard work and dedication the Full Tone Orchestra are putting into this performance, I heard them still going for it hours later when the wind blew in the right direction and I was taking the recycling bins out!

 
All this and the anticipation of awesome Swindon based two-tone ska band, The Killer-Tones returning to our Con Club on 21st October, with Easily Led supporting, courtesy of The Devizes Scooter Club, you can’t say for a town this size, #nothingeverhappensindevizes hashtag or no hashtag.