Shuffling in Swindon

Swindon Shuffle has been mouthed around my earshot recently, whazat? Some kind of euphemism? Nope it’s Swindon’s longest running contemporary music festival; been ‘appening since 2006. It now consists of four days of original live music spread over Swindon’s finest music venues, much of it locally sourced, and it’s free entry to the whole shebang!


Swindon being cultureless is an old wife’s tale as ancient as carrots helping you see the dark, I learned this when drawing my little goldfish cartoon for the free rave/rock zine De-Railer in 1992, and nights at Queen’s Tap when the Skanxters shook the rafters. Swindon always has had a healthy music scene, don’t let anyone tell you any different, and even if they do, here’s a chance to prove that it’s staying more alive than John Travolta in a hot tub time machine.


So, for a cheap article, I’ve cut and pasted the line-up, check it out and dribble! But also take note, sponsor the West Berkshire Brewery will be brewing an ale especially for the event called 5 Knuckle, which will be available in venues. Our friends at the Ocelot have been long-time supporters and a partner of the Shuffle, alongside Swindon Viewpoint, Britain’s original public-access television service, and venues The Beehive, Vic, Tuppenny and Castle. The Shuffle will also be raising money for the Swindon branch of Mind, a mental health problems charity.


Yeah, so blow me down and call me David Murray John, it looks a little bit like this:

Wednesday 11 July 2018 – The Beehive Stage
19:30 Swindon Shuffle Music Quiz

Thursday 12 July 2018 – The Castle Stage
22:15 Slagerij
21:30 Street Outlaws
20:45 Post 12
20:00 Flour Babies
Thursday 12 July 2018 – The Tuppenny Stage (acoustic)
21:45 Canute’s Plastic Army
21:00 Tamsin Quin
20:15 Atari Pilot (acoustic)
Thursday 12 July 2018 – Baila Stage
(time tbc) Live Hip Hop Jam Session

Friday 13 July 2018 – The Victoria Stage
22:50 The Harlers
22:00 GETRZ
21:10 Monkfish
20:20 The Oxymora
19:30 Falls On Deaf Ears
Friday 13 July 2018 – The Castle
22:15 SN Dubstation
21:30 Wilding
20:45 Basement Club
20:00 The Compact Pussycat
19:15 Matthew Bryant
Friday 13 July 2018 – Baila Stage
(time tbc) After Party DJs

Saturday 14 July 2018 – The Victoria Stage
22:50 Wasuremono
22:00 Fabian Darcy
21:10 SHORE
20:20 Palm Rose
19:30 Moleville
Saturday 14 July 2018 – The Beehive Stage
22:15 SexJazz
21:30 Aural Candy
20:45 Grasslands
20:00 The Illustrations
Saturday 14 July 2018 – The Tuppenny Stage (acoustic)
18:30 Josh Wolfsohn
17:45 Sarah C Ryan
17:00 Steve Cox
16:15 The King In Mirrors
15:30 Sumita
14:30 Raze*Rebuild (acoustic)
Saturday 14 July 2018 – Baila Stage
(time tbc) After Party DJs

Sunday 15 July 2018 – The Beehive Stage
20:15 True Strays
19:30 Hip Route
18:45 Sunset Service
18:00 Cobalt Fire
17:15 Richard Wileman
16:30 Strange Tales
Sunday 15 July 2018 – The Tuppenny Stage (acoustic)
15:30 Emily-Jane Sheppard
14:45 Jack Moore
14:00 Special Guests
13:15 The Shudders (acoustic)

Swindon Shuffle Website

Facebook Page



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Wharf Theatre Brings Local Playwriter’s “Broken Wing” to Life

Zara is therapist to a sixteen year old refugee, trying to come to terms with the brutal horrors of war. Her own adopted daughter of the same age is dealing with her ‘inner’ conflict. As the characters of the two girls, Layee and Thea, emerge, they tell not only their own stories but each other’s, to a world which they often feel doesn’t listen or understand.

Showing the deep anguish, feelings of loss of identity and abandonment which can link both adoption and asylum, it’s the intriguing plot of Broken Wing, the world premier play of Devizes author Annie L Cooper. Annie was prompted to write it after her personal experiences as a therapist working in Bosnia with the victims of concentration camps, and having witnessed the complex issues involved in adoption. It’s being staged by director Lewis Cowen at The Wharf Theatre in Devizes for Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd June.

Not set in any specific time or place, because sadly these issues still occur in all corners of the world, it’s a powerful production with strong language and disturbing themes, hence its over sixteen guideline.

What an inspiring move for our local theatre, adapting a local author’s work and staging an exclusive play which hopefully will be taken up elsewhere.

Catch Broken Wing at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes: Tuesday 19th – Saturday 23rd June 2018 @ 7.30pm Tickets £12/£10; concessions can be purchased from the website: or at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm or by ringing 03336 663 366 For further information contact Karen Ellis  

Ticket Source here


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OwlFest, and a Supreme Village for Live Music

Argh, seen one Wiltshire village, seen ‘em all, so they say.

Who be “they” anyway? Course they all seem the bleedin’ same from the angle of a flippin’ Costa Coffee cup, while belting through at eighty miles per bleedin’ hour, texting about the far more important place they be pretending to be? Who do they fink they arrre? Sum kinda superstarrr?

Yous an me knows each individual village is actually quite unique really, with their own folklore, customs, and weird faces. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it. Although, welcoming visitors is often accomplished with a cold stare. For the outsider it feels alienating, but it’s done in want of gossip and not malice; “ooh art be rand ere den?”

Certainly not the way I felt when I smuggled myself across the border; St Edith’s Marsh on Saturday. Despite being from a neighbouring village, and initially weary of possible gazing, I was met by Adam, the organiser of the event I’m here to participate in. The things I do for a story; “pop over and check out the Owl’s Music and Cider Fest,” it’s a dirty job….

Handed a plastic logoed cup, wristband and some tokens we briefly discussed; this was the first of its kind, previous cider festivals not being so musically based and The Owl, a section of the Bromham Sports & Social Club dedicated to bringing the village quality live music, has never combined with the cider festival.


Seems it’s a welcomed merger, with a modest but enthusiastic local crowd. In scarlet dress and spectrum shades, Jezilyn Martyn was just finishing her set as I perused the program’s sublime cider menu and decided to chronologically work my way through; when in Rome. Upon request they even supplied a pencil so I could mark the tried and tested ones, should later, it all become a bit much.

Perhaps there was a bigger local festival happening on the other side of the Vale of Vizes; no one here cared. This was cosy, friendly and typically Bromham. I asked if they expected many from the town, or other places. They hoped so, but didn’t seem particularly concerned about it, for while Bromham may be a just village, plentiful loyal supporters hung out in the garden.



Picking a face from the unknown crowd, I made a beeline for the superbly talented George Wilding. Unsure the weather would hold up till six, when he was booked to perform, or else concerned people might be more interested in the football final, George can come across shy, until he’s in the spotlight. Still, enjoyed getting to know this local legend.

Next up though was the mighty Mike Barham, who after stopping for a brief word and responding to my request for his ever-amusing cover of Danger Zone from the Top Gun soundtrack, towered over the marquee and blasted good vibes. An hour passed until, bang on cue, Tamsin, opens a mini-case containing her new CD, whips on her guitar and takes over with songs and smiles.


I’d worked my way halfway through the cider selection when George Wilding added to the line-up of indigenous aptitude, for me what a local festival should be about. With ease he continued the sound vibes, a few originals and making covers his own. House of the Rising Sun as red, but most interesting was the Ronettes “Be My Baby,” how one can acoustically convert it to a sombre ballad is nothing short of genius. He performed the set with Tamsin’s case still open to punters in front of him!

With sizzling barbecue and dependable punters propping up the bar, Owl Fest was humble, typically Bromham, and so warm and welcoming it’d be the envy of other villages. Well done to all, but for the months after this fest the music continues, as the Owl and Bromham’s social club in general dedicate themselves to sporadically bringing a wealth of talent to the village, to the point it challenges any entertainment establishments you’ll get in its nearby towns. Check out their future evenings and open mic events to see where I’m coming from.


Next up is the The Hoot on the 2nd June, their acoustic night in The Owl with Phil King from Bristol, Ian O’Regan and Frome’s Al O’Kane. But with horse racing nights, charity quizzes, a week-long carnival celebration and popular local acts such as Larkin (25th Aug), Jamie R Hawkins (7th July) booked, there’s loads going on up here, including names you may not have heard of.

Appearing after George, prime example was Corky, a singer/songwriter creating what he dubs “agricultural hip hop.” I was intrigued; how does this work? Very amusingly is the short answer, when in the able hands of this Malmesbury yokel, whose naturally hilarious adaptions of classic rap tunes are parodied for the ears of rural West Country folk, as if the Wu-Tang Clan were in an MC battle with the Wurzels. Rural poverty lined subjects apt for our area, such as escaping Devizes and using red diesel, converted from hip hop’s usual themes of bling, guns and hoes, and delivered with audience participation and heckling was nothing short of dazzling.


Gradually the event was hoisted inside, with the Surfin’ Turnips and Bilbo Baggins & The Bargain Hunters preparing to take them into the night. Unfortunately, I had to go, I’d worked my way through the ciders till the lead of the pencil snapped, and was getting wobbly. For a free event and only six pounds for the wristband and first token, this was an outstanding little do; long live the Owl – twit-ta-hooooo!

Check the Owl Facebook page for forthcoming events, here!



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Positive Vibrations in Melksham, as the Legends Play Homage to Bob Marley

A teenager steps out the door of Federal Studios, and onto the bustling King Street, clutching a freshly pressed single, which he sings on. So chuffed with this achievement he fails to consider he hasn’t a record player to play it on, neither that they’ve incorrectly spelt his name on the label as “Robert Morley.”

It’s hard to imagine anyone who hasn’t heard his name, least a Jamaican music producer. But it’s 1961 and the world is not yet prepped for Bob Marley and the Wailers. It’s an occurrence we could never return to.


Forward wind fourteen years and the man is headlining the prestigious Lyceum Theatre in London’s West End, another priceless moment you could never replicate. Yet astonishingly, you’d be forgiven for thinking it had at Melksham’s Assembly Rooms last night as a tribute act, truly a tribute indeed, rang out positive vibrations akin to the legend himself.

I kid you not, yesterday the deliberations I’ve been having on Devizine concerning the worth of tribute acts were fully laid to rest, for if you squinted your eyes at the stage slightly you needed minimal imagination to assume this was Bob Marley and the Wailers in their prime. Misgivings that anyone could pull off a convincing tribute act to such a personal idol, but their promotional video raising an eyebrow, I had to witness this first hand. (Read our preview here.)

This group, known as Legends, executed an utterly sublime show, causing the spellbound audience of young and old, conventional Assembly Hall regulars and the Sham’s reggae fans to kick away the chairs and dance in one love and one unity. You know me by now, I’m not out to flatter; it really was this awesome.


For it was not only the sublime performance from frontman Michael, with a golden voice way beyond convincing impression and diving into emotional and reverential homage, rather the group in its entirety, with acute attention to detail, which made this show so incredible; such as the trademark waistcoat of the guitarist playing Junior Marvin’s part to the backing singers originally known as the “I Threes.” I couldn’t even cavil there was only two of them, for the one-hundred-and-fifty percent they put into such a convincing act supplemented the missing one!


It’s not even as if they played the songs from the Legend compilation and left, rather they found the time to cover every classic and a few lesser-known tunes only true Bob Marley fans may be aware of. The opening being the Scratch Perry produced Small Axe, Rat Race from the ‘76 album, Rastaman Vibration, and One Drop from Survival to name a few. These accomplished musicians in their own right, who’ve worked with reggae’s greats in the past, interacted with the audience and with professional showmanship wowed them till the end.

Well done to all involved with this project, and for the Melksham Assembly Hall who though many acts they book are tributes, it’s clear this divine and efficient multi-purpose function hall, are dedicated in only bringing us ones of the highest quality. I asked the security man at the door about the Wannabe Spice Girls tribute and he told me they were equally as convincing, despite they wouldn’t have been my cup of tea!


Watch out Swindon, as the Legends are coming to the Wyvern Theatre on 1st June, Cheese & Grain on October 12th. If you missed them this time, it’s well worth the effort getting to Swindon, Frome, or even Jamaica if necessary!

Legend Live UK – Tribute to Bob Marley Website



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An Apology to the Previous Owners of the Southgate Inn, Devizes

Here at Devizine I pride myself with the ethos that I refuse to butter things up and intend to present our readers with critical reportage, there’s no point in flattering issues for this would become tedious and inane. Naturally it’s inevitable mistakes will be made from time to time. Until now I feel I’ve made every precaution to avoid them and this has worked well. However yesterday I published an article concerning the new owners of the Southgate Inn in Devizes, and their quest to bring a varied election of local, live music to the town.


Please read the article here, on which I have made notes of amendments. And if you do read it and don’t see the amendment notes, it’s because you’re very quick and it’s my next job on the list!

The focus was on the present and the future of the pub, but in doing so it seems I made a stinking whopping failure on reporting the past. This was due to some poor research on my part and for which I sincerely apologise to the previous owners, Ian and Sarah Wixon. I have been in communication with the couple, and sent a more personal apology direct to them.

For it seems I was misguided as to their reasoning for leaving the pub, evident the brewery’s failure to agree on financial arrangements for due repairs and renovations for the property was the main concern and reason for the end to their management of the Southgate, and not for the reasons stated in the article.

So the accusation that the previous owners had “lost interest,” could not have been further from the truth; Ian and Sarah took a great deal of time and dedication to the Southgate, and created a much loved ambience and pleasurable experience for its customers. Many people have responded on social media to express the fault in this report and it has been noted that when the brewery expected the landlord to pay the full cost of the repairs, Ian and Sarah offered to purchase the pub but the brewery refused; this point I feel highlights their dedication. It also proves my error.

This said I am so sorry to all this article has affected, and can assure you it was not my intention and a bad oversee on my part. While tabloids have a whole department to deal with the constant errors they make, it’s a learning curve for me; as much as I’d like to fire an entire line of middle management from Devizine Towers over this matter, it is just me, my pipe and slippers!

Think I might just take to reviewing “titty-bars” from hence forth, with a more valid reason for being distracted! Seriously though, I thank all who have set me straight on the issue, and assure you it was not made with bad intentions or malice.


With this notice I pledge to research fully in future, and endeavour to continue bringing a lively, informative and entertaining alternative to mainstream media to the local area. I know many of you enjoy it, and that the audience is constantly growing. Where we go from here I don’t know, but fully intend to dedicate myself to the project. So it gives me great grief to have made this, what is best described as a “monumental cock-up.”


I think this a valid opportunity to thank you all for reading and sharing articles, and joining in with the fun.

To Ian and Sarah, I hope they can accept this apology and I wish them only the very best for the future.


Darren Worrow

Back to the Southgate, One And All.



Okay, while I favour to leave this article as it was originally intended, for the sake of the way the piece flows, certain information which has come to light. I would like to correct statements made here, concerning the previous management of the Southgate Inn, Devizes. It is with poor research that the reasons given here for the couple leaving is inaccurate and I bid you read our full apology here.


The eminence and forte of a pub hinges on the name above the door, but habitually retains a reputation long after the previous proprietors have departed. A meagre repute can be problematic to turn around; find a niche, cross fingers and toes, and prey the previous owners haven’t made a lasting, irrevocable impression.

So we find trends in popularity of our pubs phasing and fluctuating as Old Father Time marches. What may have been a no-go zone a year or so ago may not be the case now. I revealed this notion with the Black Swan in Devizes some years ago, an ample makeover completely changed the style, ethos and ambience from a rather dull affair to a lively, eccentric vibe with one dedicated landlord at its helm and more than a handful of antique curiosities. The question now the pub has changed hands again, is whether the input of its newbies and the modifications they’ve decided upon will adjust its attraction; it remains to be seen and is currently open to debate.

Not so at the Southgate Inn, stuck out on a limb with a slightly tarnished reputation of recent, it appears all hands are on deck to turn this ship around and repair its dented status. With new, unconventional landlords Dave and Deborah, it looks like its darker days are over. All it takes is for people to realise and warm to it once more.

I wonder what did go wrong with the pub, is it the short walk from the town centre? Hum, I timed it. Five minutes and fourteen seconds to take a causal summer stroll from the Market Place to the Southgate. Pretty sure you couldn’t sober up in that short time. It’s certainly not its lack of charm; a modest but attractive watering hole, with sufficient space and traditional décor, but I understand the last owners kind of lost interest and after arguments with the Brewery, sadly left a sinking ship.

So, what is the new niche? Usually at this point I describe a glitzy transformation with neon lights, alternative coloured pool tables and trendy bottled alcopops; seems to be the fashion. But my timing perfect, I sauntered up to the door as Dave unlocked it and I was warmly was greeted, albeit the décor remained the same. I favoured this though; tired of attempts to turn traditional taverns into contemporary sports bars.

Are they now serving delicate and chic cuisine, another cliched turnaround? No, was the answer from Deborah as we took up a seat in the sun drenched beer garden, “I might knock a bowl of chilli up for the skittle club, but that’s about it!”


The appeal here is while Dave manages the taps, Deborah has dedicated herself to bringing Devizes a live music venue as diverse as her own tastes, and judging by the line-ups, mostly for Saturday nights, its gone off with an almighty bang.

In a short top-hat decorated with dice, folkloric jewellery and alternative attire, Deborah is proudly of the barge community. She is concerned the band booked for Saturday has cancelled, and worries about finding another at short notice on a bank holiday weekend, breaking the promise to guarantee live music every Saturday. In a short time though, this was sorted. “No one else in Devizes does this every Saturday,” she tells me, and I struggle to think of one too.

Despite being open to genres and booking a variety, she holds an ethos that bands and singers with original material is key and local performers are ideal. This surely transcribes as a positive move for our burgeoning live music scene, and Deborah is keen to hear from artists willing to perform.


We discussed the pros and cons of tribute acts and of cover bands, and while she would consider these, The Southgate attempts to satisfy with quality live music, and a DJ was off the cards. Although Deborah recently acquired a turntable and week nights invited punters to bring their old vinyl down; a novel idea which highlights the welcoming DIY atmosphere the place will encourage. We pondered an open mic night, and she confirmed her intention that all acts will be free of charge; ticketed events was not something she wished for.

All in all then, it’s a friendly new approach, one well worth the wander, and judging by the line-up below, our musicians are keen to get onboard. “We’re taking booking for December,” she delightfully informed. All it takes is for you to take heed and make the leap, if you’ve not already. So check this lot out; all FREE! I’d be surprised if there’s nothing you’d want to attend in the coming months.


This Saturday Christopher Wynn and Victor Salt play a mix of folk, rock, country and Americana as Limpley Stoke. And Kirsty Clinch arrives Sunday at 6PM with her acoustic folk.

On the 9th June it’s the incredible Tamsin Quin, who needs no introduction. Again the band who bought Tamsin’s launch gig to life and accomplished in their own right, Its Complicated are live at the Southgate on 16th.

23rd June has Salisbury based acoustic duo, Fret n Keyz. While 30th sees Tim Madden & The Struggle blend bluegrass, blues and Irish folk.

Into July then, it’s Hip Route live on the 7th, RockHoppaz on the 14th. Then people, George Wilding arrives on the 21st, oh yeah. It’s a local fest from there, with Devizes based Jamie R Hawkins on 28th, Andrew Hurst 4th August, and watch out for the incredible Phil Cooper at the Southgate on 11th August.

With Dr Zebo’s Wheezy Club on the 18th and Ollie Back & Sam on the Fiddle on the Sunday. The list goes on, with Wilton Sleeper, Nuages Trio and RedRoss also booked into September, the inn is surely a forced to be reckoned with. Devizine wishes them all the best for the future and encourages one and all to return to the Southgate; see you there (when they let me out!)




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Thank CUDS For That!

For the many years I spent living in flats and shared houses with no garden, I longed for one, especially on a summer’s evening such as this. Now I do, I frustratedly scratch my chin and scrutinise the darn thing; it’s like Day of Triffids strikes back, again.

As we’ve children I need not create something all Gardeners World, for far from being Charlie Dimmock, aligned beds of chrysanthemums, pruned rose bushes, a summer house or Chinese water garden is a level or twenty too far for me, and would be crushed and smashed with incoming footballs and frisbees anyhow.

So simplicity is the key; a lawn, some bushes, a tree and a patio of slabs; job done. But while I start gardening with good intentions, and the first ten minutes enthusiastically plough through the task with the vigour of Conan the Barbarian on a promise, I end up more like Colin the Librarian, and before the task is half complete I’m a chiropractor’s dream come true, with fingers like Marvel Comic’s The Thing.



I don’t how some do it, really, I feel a hundred and five after a tiny stint at gardening, yet my patch insignificant compared to what those CUDs volunteers are scrubbing, pruning and tidying, all across Devizes. You’ve got to hand it to them.

So, okay CUDS, thanks and all that, but if you’re reading this, I ask you to stop right here and read no more; I’m talking about you, not to you, okay?! Everyone else please bear with, bear with….. Schhh, keep it under your hat.

On the Devizes Issue another person posts, how those CUDS have saved the day again, how brilliant and tidy the town now looks, what a bunch of gardening superheroes, example: isn’t Zena a known princess warrior, or is that Xena? All I know is Zena Robson is the uncertified chief CUD, who after an exhausting day cleaning up this town, finds it satisfying to blog their progress online and press for contributors to the Devizes in Bloom contest.

Does she know no bounds, does she ever slump on the sofa and go, “bugger this for the price of fish, I’m sitting here with a giant bag of cheesy puffs and can of lager balanced on my belly, watching the footie till I drop?” I’m not sure it’s even occurred to her.

Last post I’ve seen was about the roundabout on Brickley Lane/Jump Farm, “full of deep purple tulips, and then the last couple of weeks an amazing show of Aliums.” Prior to this it was weeding the wall along the barracks on London Road, most of us contemplate getting the bus rather than walk that length, and there are these awesome, super-duper people, out there weeding the lot of it. It makes me tired just typing about it for crying out loud.

Now, though I’ve written about them before, back in the early days of No Surprises on Index: Wiltshire, this is where this article differs from my usual waffle, it’s interactive! I reckon we simply MUST show these guys and girls our appreciation, people of Devizes, surely? Can we club together and get them a gift, something to say thank you from the entire town? Who’s with me?

I don’t mean a commemorative plaque, although some may think it’s a plan and I’m open to suggestions, I was thinking they’d rather something more personal, some flowers if they haven’t had enough of flowers at the end of a day, box of chocolates each maybe, vouchers for a meal at Times Square, something simple like that, just a token to show our appreciation.

Now I’ve not notified Zena or any other of the CUDs about this post, although we have the blessing of Simon Fisher at the Devizes Town Council, that this suggestion is “a wonderful idea,” and while I’d like to make it a surprise to as many of the CUDS as possible, I have to share this article and get it out there. So although some are bound to see it, not taken heed of the warning, but c’est la vie – let’s pretend they haven’t!

So, I’ve opened one of these Just Giving thingy-me-jigs, just to ask for some donations, and feel free to suggest a gift idea, I’m all ears. Click here to give it some dosh, not a lot, just a coin or two, whatever you can spare. Yeah? Please help, it’s no good me just giving them all a big cuddle, despite my cuddles internationally recognised as the best cuddles in the world; they don’t want that, really, so put your hand in your pocket! Thank you!



Oh, oh, oh, yeah, nearly forgot – Don’t forget to share this article, thank you!


Click here to Just Give page and donate!




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Proper Jarb Museum!

Thought it’d be a good idea to visit London’s Natural History Museum a few years ago, while my offspring were still potty about dinosaurs. We stood in the blazing sun queuing to get in for a few hours, only to find the queue continued through the entire dinosaur exhibit and beyond. The building is awesome, the experience is amazing, but the popularity makes sauntering it an exhausting slog whereby, squashed like sardines, I carried my youngest like a backpack while he slept and my elder didn’t want to see another set of dinosaur bones until she would be drawing her pension.

Compare and contrast this with the homely museum in our little town, occasions such as the world war exhibit where I yakked to a resident who was a policeman in Devizes during the war and had so many fascinating tales I had to cut him short before I was his age. Or perhaps the day when my daughter and I were in town without much to do, so we popped in to kill half-hour and, with the whole place virtually to ourselves, two hours later we were still chatting to the enthusiastic curator.


So despite it being a shame the museum’s relocation to the Azzie Courts seems to have fallen through, (?) there’s still a wonderful museum in our town, which while may not meet the standards and size of London, is tranquil and enlightening while, fun and active too.

Like many of our amenities, which other towns our size don’t seem to have, the Wiltshire Museum is something we might, but really shouldn’t, take for granted; when was the last time you popped in, even just to make a foam Stonehenge? Yeah, I’m guilty too, I admit. So I thought it’d be nice on this sunny Sunday to have a look at future goings on, and report them back to you guys, cos I’m nice like that, apparently.

Their award-winning display featuring gold and other spectacular treasures dating to the time of Stonehenge and worn by people who worshiped inside the stone circle is still running strong, and is a must-see for grockles and inhabitants alike, prior to visiting Wiltshire’s premier stones; proper jarb!

Oo-argh then, on Wednesday 6th June, there be a free lecture and guided tour of an exhibition called “Compassion in Crisis,” with Matthew McMurray, and a further one on 20th June by David Dawson. The Exhibition is currently running and finishes on 24th June, entry to the exhibition be free, thar be a charge to see the rest of the Museum.


Contact the Museum for more information 01380 727369 or but here’s be thar lowdown me ol’ mucker:
In 1938 Stella Isaacs, Marchioness of Reading, a philanthropist remembered as the founder and chairman of the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS), now known as Royal Voluntary Service, and her million ‘women in green’ revolutionised the way the world thought about voluntary service.


During the Second World War these women of the WVS volunteered to help on the Home Front, providing compassion in crisis, to anyone who needed it. This exhibit and lecture, on the 80th anniversary of the RVS, is the story of how one woman and her ‘army that Hitler forgot’, quietly changed Britain forever. They pushed forward the cause of women, helped form the modern welfare state and were always on hand in times of crisis; from the threat of nuclear war, to caring for tens of thousands of refugees. Their simple acts of kindness are woven into the very fabric of the nation.

Also currently running until the 24th June, is an exhibition dedicated to the memory of Dr Paul Robinson, who was Curator of the Wiltshire Museum for more than 20 years. Is this who I may have chatted to the day my daughter and I popped in some years ago I wonder? As I know Lisa Brown is now the curator, and the chap I chewed the ears off without annoying, didn’t look like a “Lisa,” not the sort of question which would’ve popped into my head really!


Paul devoted much of his career to acquiring nationally important items to add to the collections at the museum, raising its profile both archaeologically and artistically. Over the last 30 years, Art Fund has generously contributed £50,000 to help purchase many important acquisitions for the Wiltshire Museum. The exhibition celebrates this support by displaying an eclectic mix of art and artefacts, such as depictions of Wiltshire landmarks and landscapes, a Roman coin hoard, a collection of medieval floor tiles and a set of 19th century Druid medals; the first time these items have been on show together. Many of the acquisitions on display have been acquired with support from Art Fund, the Primrose Trust and the V&A Purchase Fund.


Running from 6th July to 13th October there be an interesting exhibit called, “Interpretation and Expression of Archaeology and Art by archaeological reconstruction artist Peter Dunn. He’ll be showing off some of his incredibly realistic sketches and paintings, and items from the Museum’s art collection, including Henry Moore’s Stonehenge suite of lithographs, Avebury Restored by John Martin and works by David Inshaw and John Piper.


And, there’s our renowned ghost walk tutor, also traditional blacksmith, John Girvan, who is exhibiting rural art made at his forge in Devizes. The Blacksmith’s Craft runs from 7th July to 23rd September. While among smaller items, there’s collections of copper repousse leaf sculptures, animal heads and copper leaf art, it features some larger items standing over two metres high, including a handcrafted lily, an alien figure and a huge Trilapod (three-legged spider!) Some items will be for sale.

The museum also nearly always has some holiday arts activities for the nippers, this half-term they can make Medieval tiles from air dry clay, paint Stonehenge landscape, or tissue paper and acetate pictures, inspired by the John Piper stained glass window in the art gallery, plus of course the ever favourite striking a Roman Coin. You’ve got to book this one, but at just £5 per child, can’t go wrong. It’s suitable for ages 11 and under, under 8’s to be accompanied.


If you’re past keeping children occupied during school holidays, the Museum also holds many tea and coffee mornings, with homemade cakes made by and organised by their volunteers, with a chance to peruse the running exhibits. Next one is 26th May at 11:00 AM.


Keep checking the website for future events and exhibits, and details on how to support and volunteer the museum, as despite it holding many fascinating treasures, it’s a little treasure in itself.

Click here for more Info




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Gail interviews Si Griffiths

So yeah, I’ve previewed pop surrealist and tattoo artist, Si Griffiths’ latest exhibit at the Black Swan Arts in Frome, (here) but our local poet/photographer Gail Foster popped down to chat with the man himself and here’s her video to prove it, complete with melancholic themes.

Thanks for letting me make a quick and easy post out of it Gail, saved me some typing, on a Sunday too! So yay, check it out, and note the exhibit runs until 26th May.

So go for a wander round the exhibition, see the artist at work, and hear him talking about his art.


si griff


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Reign on Your Wedding Day: A No Surprises Living in Devizes Royal Wedding Special!


Well I’m feeling particularly patriotic this morning, as you could probably imagine.


 I wish I was there, huddled with the royalist devotees at Windsor, covered head to toe in Union Jack flags, ardently rapping to Chris Evans; “we’ve come all the way from the fucking moon to be here today. We’ve been camped here since March….. 2007. The people of Windsor have been so welcoming; they’ve given us food, water and outbound train tickets, ha-ha, can’t begin to imagine why the tickets but there you go. The police have been so kind too, given us sleeping bags and blankets confiscated from the homeless, you know, lighten their load a bit so they can piss off quicker, or freeze to death. We love you Harry and Meg, and Mog, and the Queen, and all that sail in her, and I’m so happy I could just explode.”


 Don’t let me stop you.


Really, a Johnathan Pie moment here; could we stop a millisecond, get sweaty, swear and wonder, I don’t know who is worse; the idiots camped for eons to perchance a glimpse at two people getting married they’ve never met, not likely to, or who give a gnat’s pubic hair about them, or the media chumps giving them a voice to the entire world. “This is England, we have fruitcakes, but look, at least we’re civilised enough not have people sleeping rough!”


 An undetected old tramp rears up out of the crowd, “I’m still here, I’ve nowhere else to g…..” (the sound of a sniper breaks his proclamation, the vagrant disappears downwards into the crowd, one BBC cameraman gets reprimanded.)



Let’s get this straight, two people are in love, they’re getting married, and I have nothing against that. I wish them well, health and happiness, wealth taken as red, but the rest I wish them all the best of. Notwithstanding, thank heavens for small mercies; President Trumpet Trousers is not coming.



It makes me no less patriotic then you to mock the crowds gathered today, for their blind “yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir,” conformism qualms me. To question authority is surely the only reason we progressed from savage alpha males ruling a tribe. I query the whole shebang, considering a few minor flaws. The bottom line, is it really a “Royal” wedding at all? Has Harry really got any nob in him? I’d wager Meghan has h…. Whoa, think I’ll stop right there.



Secondly, the ease conservatives have labelled all criticism of the wedding as a leftist foray, despite jamming Daily Mail’s posts when the announcement of their engagement hit with outrageous attacks on her because she has a darker skin colour than them. It’s funny how one wave of a Union Jack gets them all teary-eyed. Whoa there, I’ll say no more about this either.



Thirdly, it’s belched up the old “are the Royals really worth the paper they’re printed on?” Yes, they are, because they are printed on money; yay! Kind of symbolic when you think about it. Yeah we know, they bring in killions (that’s a zillion zillions) of capital. Money to bail out bankers with, money for Tory’s to buy votes from terrorists. What’s the fucking point of bringing money into the country when the money the country has is not being spent in the correct places?



Yeah I know, despite the proven fact it’s impossible to balance the books of what they’re worth, least what they solely attain against their assets like castles and jewels, which obviously wouldn’t attract tourists alone, they do bring in more than they spend. Yeah, okay, yeah right, yeah suppose, I’ve got some spare half-tins of Dulux emulsion in my shed if they need them for the Palace, save the taxpayers a few pennies.

Wedding Meme Lovely funny wedding meme thread weddings fun stuff wedding forums


No suppose about it, Oliver Cromwell knew it was bollocks in the 17th century, and it remains to be, total bollocks. Of course they do a lot for charity, of course they attract bonkers Americans with wallets fatter than their Maccy-D filled stomachs, but they hardly live off BOGOF swan pizzas from Icelands and buy their robes and crowns from Matalan.



Look, don’t take this all wonky, it’s not a personal attack on any royal, rather an opinion I bear about monarchs in general, history shows it’s always been this way. And living in Devizes you really get to witness snobbery first hand. I’ve learnt some rich people are arseholes, some poor people are arseholes, some rich people aren’t arseholes, some poor people aren’t arseholes, and Nigel Farage is definitely a major arsehole.



I’ve also learnt it matters what level up the arsehole you stand, the stench of the fart differs. The higher up the arse-hierarchy the less likely to comprehend what it smells like at the bottom. Therefore the very top is so ludicrously unmindful and out of touch, no matter how much they read, travel, or how many times they might sleep rough for a night, safe in knowledge next morning they’ll be lapping sweet smelling luxuries again. It’s sad, but the way it is, I don’t hold any individual responsible.



All I am querying, is why they couldn’t take one for the team they rule, just while people are going hungry? Harry, for example, could’ve taken a itsy-bitsy percentage of the wedding budget, asked the police not to halt clearing out the homeless, but rather put them up in a hotel where they could have a bath and a nice meal. That’d multiply my patriotism, that’d make me prouder to be British; we love you Harry and Meghan, can I borrow a fiver, give it back tomorrow?



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Hands in the Air with the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, oh, and Peter Andre!

Get this, right, according to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, Peter Andre is eight days older than me. Yet here’s a current picture of the singer-actor-six pack, pitted against one of me; how’d that happen?


See if you can work out which one is which.

Now, if you liked the fellow, with his Mysterious Girl and his erm, other song he did, you’ll be.. (what? No, I’m not jealous thank you) delighted to hear to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, he will be appearing at Civi-Pop, an all-new festival in Lyneham alongside rave group Baby D, Eurodance band the Urban Cookie Collective, Zambian singer Rozalla and more acts to be announced.

Rozalla; back in the day

If the initial headliners sounds like a dodgy flashback to the nineties, Civi-Pop express, “a wide variety of local and national bands will be playing everything from pop and dance to hard rock with the odd choir and orchestra thrown in.” Which is good, the wife threw my white gloves and fluorescent dust-mask away a long time ago ( managed to hide the fluffy bra for prosperity though.)

Boasting more than one stage, food stalls, Lyneham’s very own Castle Combe Brewery, fairground and the REME museum also running an Annual Fete with games for the kids and tours of the recently opened museum, it sounds like a blinder. With limited parking and off-site camping available, The event is open to the general public, as well as military with all profits going to charity. It’s happening on the 21st July, so plenty of time to practise your big fish, small fish, cardboard box dance.

It sounds like a hands-in-the-air kind of blast, I’m going to dig out an old rave tape, “Everybody’s freeee, to feel good…….” Opps; need a little lie down now.

See here for details of how Peter Andre could be your Fantasy and book tickets to Civi-Pop. Facebook event page here.




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Vinyl Realm; afternoon music hub of Devizes

Images used with permission of  Matthew Hennessy of


Without me sounding like a stuck record, or this site becoming the Tamsin Quin homepage, the finale of my Saturday afternoon was spent with our Devizes musical heroine, and a dollop of others, as, after Friday’s successful album launch gig with backing of It’s Complicated at the Cellar Bar, she returned as just her and guitar to the Vinyl Realm record shop in St John’s Devizes to a humbling performance.

A small condolence for missing the gig, of which feedback was positive, and a chance to hear some of the album tracks I’ve been listening to, live and acoustically. There was also a new song, “Tip of my Tongue,” some of her favourites and of course “Ooby-Doo,” from the Jungle Book whereupon she invited her number one, and undoubtedly youngest fan, Jack to an amusing dance-off.

Here’s the attraction of Tamsin’s performances, they’re amicable, congenial, as friendly as one big happy family, but within the confines of a record shop even more cosy.

As said then, I don’t need hark on about Gypsy Blood, her new album, here’s our review if you’ve not read it yet. I just wanted to add something, more so about the excellent shop we have here in Devizes.

I know Roger, of Sound Knowledge in Marlborough, invites many renowned artists to play a gig near his shop with a meet-and-greet afterwards, and this could be the kingpin to the survival of his record shop in this day and age in such a small town. But Jacki and Pete angle this differently. This is not going for the big names, this is about promoting our local scene and giving an opportunity to be heard among residents perhaps not into or able to venture out to pubs in the evenings. Think of it even as a try before you buy, as the DIY creations of these artists are also on sale in the shop.


Pick up local artist’s albums at Vinyl Realm

For this Pete and Jacki should be supported, I’d have thought the record shop would’ve been heaving, what with other daytime events in town, but to be honest it was just us handful. Find myself pondering what may have happened if Ed Sheeran popped into to sing a song, if Pete let him!

We’ve a healthy live music circuit here, with many very talented young people, we must support it and back those who are supporting it.

Here’s me warbling on, this was the first time I managed to get down, daughter’s football season ended and all, so yeah, I know there’s a thing, Saturday afternoon may be booked in your diary.

Still, I’ll let you know the Vinyl Realm Facebook page is the best to keep abreast of what’s happening down there, if you can make it, be a part of the gang. As June 2nd sees the brilliant Trowbridge sing/songwriter/trilby-hat-wearing Phil Cooper performing from 4pm – 6. To take a look at Phil you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s just that bloke you work with who doesn’t have much to say, just munches his cheese and pickle sandwiches in the lunch hour, reads a few pages of a library book and gets back on with his job, but I assure you give the guy a guitar and microphone and he is a rock god. With subtle but thoughtful sing-a-long rock tunes, Phil Cooper is a very talented performer whose skill with a guitar is something to behold.

Then June 16th sees the approachable Jamie R Hawkins, who not adverse to singing covers if obligatory, his own work has won him awards and whose a powerful mixture of storytelling, moralising and poetry have won him critical acclaim in the UK and around the world, and he lives right here in Devizes. Two good reasons to pop in, and buy a record while you’re there!




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Devizes Food Festival’s Grand Market was Indeed Grand

One small stall holder selling their own brew of beer at the Devizes Food Festival’s Grand Market yesterday told me he was hassled by a woman claiming to be from a nearby Wadworth pub. According to him, the lady in question yelled, “we don’t want your beer around here!”


Wherever she intended to rhyme or not is beside the point; shameless. This small-business guy trekking from Bristol only to be bullied by the town’s big boys; any truth in this, I pondered, and if so I wished I hadn’t heard it at all. Other than this bizarre claim though, the day went with full swing, and a great time was had by all.


While Wadworth sponsor the Food Festival, it’s presence at the Market was minimal, the real heroes of the alcohol variety was surely the recently changed Stealth Brew Co, formerly The Kennet & Avon Brewery, as in promoting their new brands, bought the music of local Jamie R Hawkins and the brilliant Rob Lear from Wales.

As their acoustic vibes bought ambience to the event, preventing punters from wandering off, Cellar Bar event organiser Mirko was swinging around handing out flyers for the highly anticipated Saddleback Festival. He updated his Facebook status claiming “this is the best food festival yet!” I was still hauling my ass out of bed with all best intentions of checking it out. But I also spotted a video posted, it scanned the event from a birds-eye view, or an overlooking window view at the least; certain randy pigeons didn’t shoot the film. For a “festival” it looked kinda petite, taking up a fraction of the Market Place.

Now admittedly, I’m a Devizes Food Festival virgin, so no previous years to compare it, but upon sauntering the stalls I contemplated, actually it’s not a festival, rather the market section of a larger event spanning the fortnight. Admittedly, while this was the only free occasion and the others came with a hefty price-tag, for a market it was lively, colourful with fine aromas reaching beyond its boundaries. In fact, when amidst the little stalls of independent cuisine companies, it was plentiful.

With my new Stealth brew in hand I blagged an organic apple from Riverford Organic Farmers in Devon, making my beer preferably cider-like, yeah, I dipped it! Worked until I met Harry of Harry’s Cider from Long Sutton, or Harry’s employee at the very least, who gave me some gorgeous samples of raspberry and blackcurrant, and sweet, but the mango and lime flavour was to die for!

Booze-wise, for I figure it best to cover them first, Devizes Bubble Bar was in attendance, teasing me with filthy-named cocktails; catch up with them at the Caen Hill Flight Festival. I also sampled wines from Pieroth, and a few homemade brandies made me happy I chose to take shanks pony.

So I sauntered, dipping crackers or bread into fine chilli rapeseed oils from Stanswick Farm in Shrivenham, or awesome relishes from Rosie’s, based in Chippenham and garlic meshes from the Garlic Growers.

Ewe Tree Tarts looked appetising, a Black Dog fish stall too. Street food supplied by Cantina El Burrito, and fine sausage rolls from Little Jack Horners, but it was the novel idea of Ravi Ollie and his mate, I was impressed with the most; unusual to see this refined ravioli as street food, I usually just have the squidgy-concoction of a budget tin variety. (You know it mate, hangover munchy classic, on white toast, with a grate of cheddar; can’t beat it, you don’t even need the effort of chewing, just suck.)

Sweets were also in abundance, with the most beautiful cupcakes of NestCake from Shepton Mallet, Jacqui’s colourful display of homemade sweets from Broughton Gifford, and Chock-Stock polished it all off, Marshfield Ice Cream goes needs no enlightenment, its reputation precedes.


All in all, this was food heaven, with only Face Painting and Clare’s Circus as entertainment for the kids, I could imagine your little treasures would be bored after a while, unless sugared-up, and there was plenty of options available here, so yes, family-(ish) fun, but more so for adults, the Devizes Food Festival’s Grand Market was indeed grand, and fulfilling; hats off to all involved; maybe even one of those nacho sombreros which Homer Simpson wore. Do they really have nacho sombreros in America? I suspect they do!



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Don’t throw your love away.

Sixties Mod group The Searchers are really at the Melksham Assembly Hall on Thursday. Up there with Merseybeat greats, The Beatles and Gerry & The Pacemakers, pop wouldn’t be the same without them.

With only one original band member, John Mcnally and Frank Allen who joined the band in 1964, they’ll still put on a great, memorable show.


The Original Searchers in 1963


Okay, we’re talking about total record sales well in excess of 50 million here, in their heyday their immaculate pop style was sensational. The Searchers still have great appeal today to young and old.

Tickets £21 from Melksham Assembly Hall (01225 709887) and online:

Stealthily Done; All-New Kennet & Avon Brewery

I was supposed to drop into the Kennet & Avon Brewery’s popup beer garden mini-festival in Melksham this weekend, although I was told the secret which was to be announced there beforehand and sworn to confidentiality.

By the time I could’ve made it on Saturday the announcement was made anyway! Terribly unprofessional of me I know, but the idea of driving over to a brewery surely defeated the object of visiting a brewery, for who am I not to sample, and when I sample I’m no gurgling and spitting wine connoisseur. Let’s just leave it there.

Delighted when messaging owner Malcom Shipp, to discover he was still at the Grand Market of the Devizes Food Festival, of which I need to review too in good time. Obviously not content with showing off his new range of beers to the Sham, he’s got tables full of Devizions sampling them too.

All I had to do was hotfoot it up Dunkirk Hill to meet the man with the big announcement. He sure is making a song and dance about it; supplying live music from Jamie R Hawkins and Rob Lear, a darn good move, the kingpin which held punters at the market. For The Kennet & Avon Brewery is no more, a complete change of corporate identity now means there’s a far simpler logo on a black background, designed by Sam Bryant of Devizes, renaming the company as Stealth Brew Co.

Modernisation is the general reason for this transformation, setting them firmly in an ever-changing national, perhaps international market. “Not many people will know the Kennet & Avon outside of the local area,” Malcom explained. I pointed out the name, though it may sound regional, also connotes a canal, and who wants to drink from that?

Mostly the feedback on the announcement has been positive, though some hangers-on, sad to see a discontinuation of the ales they enjoyed, criticised the move, Malcom expressed the needs of the business. Only the most popular beer, Savernake, remains, rebranded as Solitude. The company’s concentration now lies with hop forward, pale and amber ales, all 100% vegetarian.

I figured this would make them clear like a lager but at the bar Malcom presented me with Covert, a 3.9% Citra Session Pale, which was hazy. “All our draught beers will be hazy,” he pointed out. Now, he’s not going to win me over easy, I’m a cider drinker and this is not something the company deal in; I did ask.

So, not being an authority on beer, I did enjoy this. It was wholesome and fruity, the best way a novice could describe it, with a flavour worth savouring. It took a while for me get it all down to be honest. I guess it isn’t for the pisshead wanting to down twenty pints and arrive home with a blackeye and a traffic cone, rather someone who really relishes in the tranquillity of a sinking-a-nice-beer moment.

So it’s farewell to the Kennet & Avon Brewery, established in 2013, once thrilled in stating “each beer’s name is inspired by the delights of The Kennet & Avon Canal, and hello to Stealth Brew, an real contender in the market, one willing to move and adapt with the times. I wish them all of luck with the change, and people gathered at the bar seemed to approve.

Certain this range will be a welcomed addition to the Devizes CAMRA Beer Festival, and beyond, and you can try them out at Malcom’s micropub, The Vaults, the brewery shop in Melksham and word is out that he’s looking for new premises in the Sham. I wish them good (hic) luck.



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There was a poet from Devizes; Gail Foster’s new CD

You’d have thought Whitney Houston had prior pop knowledge when she perpetually whined, “how will I know if he really loves me,” for Betty Everett theorised it’s “in his kiss,” back in 1964. Debatable though isn’t it? I mean, surely there’s good kissers and poor kissers, reflecting on mood, conviction and intoxication, and anyway, the Shoop Shoop song was lost in time (until Cher covered it; thanks a bundle Cher.)

When you stop to contemplate, there are many unanswered questions in eighties pop; what is love anyway Howard Jones, you never concluded. And why can’t we live in perfect harmony like ebony and ivory?

However, what I listened to today gave the best answer to Whitney’s query, albeit it wasn’t an eighties smash hit. For a young maiden asked a wise old crone a similar question, at Avebury, during solstice. The answer the crone eventually gave was wrapped in word craft more poignant than any hit record. Welcome to the innermost prose of local poet Gail Foster, as she weaves words into a refined tapestry of meaning, wonder and many laugh out loud moments. She describes them thus; “serious spiritual stuff and slightly sweary frivolous things.”

But have you switched off at the mention of poems? Yeah, I’m like you; memories of sitting clueless at a school desk, staring in horror at an open Ted Hughes book. But now you’re grownup(ish,) no one is asking you to break the darn thing down word for word and try to guess what the “poet meant when they said….” Just relish the moment, allow her words to wash over you; the water is warm.


gail in pink

In fact, you ain’t even got to read ‘em, because when Gail met Richard Benham of Utopia Studio, at the Open Mic at The Cellar Bar, he recorded a compilation onto CD; a sneaky preview of which I have to critique. Gail said she was grateful to Richard, “in fact I’m grateful to a lot of people, for humouring me, reading my endless bullshit Facebook posts, buying my books and, mostly importantly, taking the time to read my work.”

Now, “wordsmith” is a great word I picked up from Gail. She labelled me with it when sharing posts. But something about bacon, as in “the roses are red” parody goes; poems are hard and nothing frustrates me more than trying to fit rhymes into a poem and still promptly make it convey it’s intended meaning.

So I’d wager my words would dismally lose, pitted against Gail’s cunning craft. Then, how do I go about reviewing this CD? I considered writing in verse, momentarily; scrapped the notion far quicker. For there’s clever expressive prose and witticisms in abundance here, often focused on local affairs, current politics and affairs of the heart. Gail makes no attempt to shadow her darkest thoughts or desires; even confessing to an attraction in Ken Clarke, which will have you giggling long after the CD finishes.


randy pigeons
Randy Pigeons, also a keen photographer, Gail captures the culprit


There are many amusing moments between the crafted sensible poetry, not only on Theresa May, Boris Johnson, and a seventeen syllable senryu about Trump which was published in Quarterday, a highly respected journal of classical poetry, but of local affairs such as our town’s adolescent moped gangs, canal bridges with frolicsome memories for our poet, and the randy pigeon poem which has fast become a proverb on our indigenous social media groups. Poetry consents rule-breakers, Gail is unsurpassed.

Surprisingly, she informs she has only been writing for three years; “I’ll be famous when I’m dead.” But with a couple of books released, latest being ‘A Curious Poet,’ Gail says she likes “performing (forward slash, over-acting) live, and generally taking the mick out of the whole wafty poet thing (‘Pass me the smelling salts and whip me with a lavender bundle, I do believe I’m having an attack of the vapours!’ – sorta thing). And as for my romantic verse, well, a girl has her secrets…”


Quite Gail, but I feel some secrets are encrypted on this CD, often unsubtly! Perhaps the shrewdest poems here are when Gail switches from academic wordplay, to suddenly conclude in more common language, even cussing. There’s simply too much going on for me to break down individually, from traditional romanticisms to condoning hurling potatoes at narcissists, this CD has done the impossible; it’s made me interested in poetry. Oh, if only my English lit teacher could see me now!

The CDs are a fiver from Devizes Books, “or £9.99 for two!”



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A Play in a Day: Children to devise and perform their own play this May half term at the Wharf

May half term; yeah I know right, on its way, already; mums pour wine into a litre tankard and try not to think about it. But hey, is your child one of those imaginative ones? What little one isn’t? Do they enjoy creating characters & stories? Are they interested in performing?

Here’s an ideal opportunity to wear them out for a day, sign them up for a drama-filled, fun day at the wonderful Wharf Theatre in Devizes. It’s designed to introduce young people to the art of devising and to develop their performance skills and confidence. The students will then perform their play at The Wharf Theatre in an informal showcase for friends & family that afternoon.

Play in A Day is on Wednesday 30th May, runs from 10am – 4pm, with the performance at 3.30. Ideal for ages seven to eleven. The cost per child is £25 (£20 for subsequent siblings.)

Tutors, Beth and Kat are drama practitioners with experience in leading sessions and working with young people in a wide variety of settings. They welcome people of all abilities to their workshops. Whether you are confident on the stage, looking to develop new skills, make new friends or just want to try something new, join them for a fun day packed full of imagination, devising and performing!

But don’t hang about on this, there’s only sixteen places available – follow this link to book:
For more information contact:


For older children, aged between ten and seventeen, there’s the ongoing Wharf Youth Theatre project, where members perform one production a year, every July. Rehearsals normally start in April. There’s a form to fill in on the Wharf Theatre website for more information.

It’s exciting and vibrant, productions give youngsters the opportunity to perform on the Wharf stage and experience the magic of creating a full scale show. Previous shows have included; Suessical the Musical, Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat, Alice in Wonderland, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, The Happy Prince and Just So. The members also have the opportunity to audition for adult theatre productions throughout the year for shows that require younger cast members.

There you go, takes some weight off your mind doesn’t it mums?




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Chirton; Official Hamster HQ!

You never know what’s going to come up when you ask local Facebook page the Devizes Issue for ideas for stories. I certainly didn’t expect this, but I’m a gonna do it; ready?

Two reasons, it’s a feel-good fun story, and the Borrill family of Chirton’s hamsters have more of a social life then most of us!

Beverly Borrill spares no detail as she sticks and glues another scene for her pets to enact. They’re amusing, cute and just downright fun. So much so the hamsters have been in the spotlight of the BBC, appearing on The Great British Bake Off’s Extra Slice, on Points West and Wiltshire Radio; though I’m not sure how vocally they perform on radio.

“I’m considering building an ark,” laughed Beverly as I pondered if the other pets, two guinea pigs, two tortoises, a pair of fancy rats , a chinchilla, a chocolate Labrador, and her daughter’s horses, ever get jealous of the seven hamsters and a litter of six hamster pups as they head for superstardom; in as much as a hamster can.

“How long have you been doing…..doing this?” I gulped, “and why hamsters?”

“For about 2 years,” Beverly explained. “It started while my daughter was doing a school project. We made a hot air balloon, her pet hamster was duly launched around the kitchen in 80 days, with Passpartout navigating around the Aga and the fridge! And so it began. Hamsters, simply because every little girl has a pet hamster. So we worked with what was available.”

As well as the Great British Bake Off and subsequent Points West feature, the hamsters also did an interview on Polling for BBC radio Wiltshire. “We made a polling station and took Lulu in,” Beverly said, “that was fun.” Quite, the Monster Raving Hamster Party could do with a little more political attention.

Having said this, the hamsters never fail to charm; “we even went down to London to do a professional shoot for Instagram. We haven’t seen the results of that yet though!”

“They’re certainly cute and always bring a smile,” I simply had to add, “do you think they enjoy the attention?!”

“They love the attention and are rewarded with treats and cuddles,” Beverly answered, which is, coincidentally, more than I get! “The good thing is when they have had enough they just wander off. So you can’t force them do anything they’re not interested in.”
Again, a bit like me, workwise.



Maybe I’d make a good hamster, while I like the idea of food storage in my cheeks, ensuring the kids don’t get to the kitchen cupboards before me, I’ve always wondered about the balls people put hamsters in, you know the ones, which roll around the room; they seem to enjoy it, but I wonder if they’re really yelling, “let me out of here, tyrannical oppressor!” What does Beverly think, does her hamsters do “the custodial ball?”

“I prefer to let the Hammies have free roam time in the downstairs loo,” she enlightened. Uncanny, again this is similar to me, it’s virtually my office. “That way they can climb run and hide without being stuck in a ball. The downstairs loo is the only room that they can’t escape from. I also have a play pen that I put them while they are out. I worry about little toes getting caught in the gaps of a ball too.”

If you love the hamster’s photos here, and why wouldn’t you? Also try the Harcourt Hammies Facebook page for more.

Always up for a challenge, Beverly suggested if id have a scene, Devizes based, I’d like to see re-created, “I’d be delighted to get my cardboard and glue gun out.” Local themes though include this excellent Wadworth Brewery shoot, and she is also working on a dentist and ice cream cart. So I’m not sure, perhaps the hamsters would like to go a music festival this summer? So would I though.


Check the video of The Harcourt Hammies doing the Great British Bake Off!




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In Tune in Calne

Since 2015 a charitable organisation dedicated to supporting musicians and promoting live music and performing arts in Calne and beyond has aimed for funding to obtain a practise and performance arts and media space in the town, hoping for training, recording and broadcasting facilities.

Members of the group, Calne in Tune, are musicians, artists, promoters and others with a love of live music and performance arts, headed by town councillor and musician himself, Terry Couchman.

In aid of this venture their ‘Calne Music, Arts & Media Community Resource’ is organising a jamboree of local talent, which will rock the town hall on Saturday May 12th.

It’s a free event filling the town hall with colour and music from midday to midnight, Terry will perform “in between the gaps.” with open mic sessions still available, there’s a massive wealth of talent assembling for the event.

With acoustic folk Americana by Rob Green, and Tess Ryan, alternative rock and funk-rock with Novus Actus, Calne’s jazz princess Lauree, Santana tribute In The Shadows of Santana, The Stray Dogs, Luke Clements-Mitchell, The Ukey D’ukes, alternative country with Beautiful Mess, choral group The Calne Singers, young dancers Jessica Williams, Lauren Elkins & Becca Durham will perform their Song & Dance routines, and even Devizes is represented by our very own poet Gail Foster, artist David Foster exhibits and Sonia Hill is exhibiting her Nature & Landscape Photographs & Painting Image of the Calne area, as well as many arts and craft stalls, it’s a wonder if there will be any “in between gaps” left for Terry!


I’m not even sure if I’ve managed to compile them all here, so, I’m sorry if i missed you out but do let me know!

Guaranteed there’ll be something for all, and if not, there’s the annual community event always enthusiastically supported, where people of Calne line the river in their thousands to cheer on the ducks as they race down the river. Yep, the Calne Lions have a duck race, (not the Calne ducks having a lion race, which I nearly typed) at 10am. The first 3 ducks past the finish line win prize cash. Tickets are a quid £1 and are available online. Funds raised from the 2018 Duck Race will go into the Lion’s charity fund to support local good causes in the coming months.

Terry, who also manages the excellent event guide on Facebook, The Wiltshire Gig Guide, said “let’s show the world what Calne Town can do and what amazing talent there is in Calne and Wiltshire.”


The Ducks only said “Quack!”



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Gypsy Blood in our Hands

All images used with the kind permission of

Nick Padmore Photography


She compares his eyes to autumn trees and October skies, her favourite things, but fall is a short while off; this summer belongs to local songstress, the wonderful Tamsin Quin.

I’m only too happy to authorise this notion; I’ve her brand-new studio album Gypsy Blood playing on repeat. The comparison is a line from its title track; with haunting double-bass it’s the shadier, moodier side to this sublime album.

Separated into equal halves, as if we still had sides A and B, the first is upbeat, with wholly feel-good songs, while the second half is darker and deeper. Tamsin explains she decided to do this, “because there’s quite a clear mood difference between the two halves, and I didn’t feel it was right to try to integrate them together.”

Prolifically gigging, for those who’ve caught Tamsin live in the past, wondering if this is going to be equivalent to her enthusiastic and entertaining performances, if it’s altered her style or if she’s experimented with electronic drumbeats or other such silly ventures, I’ll tell you now, you’ll not be disappointed.


Opening tune, “Searching” breezily kicks off the feel-good factor with a Nashville twang. From the first notes I was adrift, submerged into its cheerily outpourings; which is unfortunate as I was supposed to be doing the washing up! I couldn’t wait to complete the chore before pressing play; I reckon I was just as excited as Tamsin herself.

For we’ve followed this project from word go; in fact Devizine’s first ever post highlighted the crowdfunding campaign, and now I’m delighted it’s here. It’s a matured Tamsin Quin, refined and professional, but still our Tammy, with her trademark white Doc Martins and stunningly unique voice. Cosy second tune “We are Home,” being a prime example, adrift I’m blissfully down one of our local pubs where Tamsin is singing away; I’m never going to get the washing up finished at this rate.

Words of guidance and encouragement for a “bestie,” or possibly a daughter recently lost a relationship is the subject for “Fearless,” as it strums it’s confidence-building melody. Similarly “Upwards,” where the narrator this time is the one assuredly rising from a broken heart and into a more positive relationship. Thus ends the gorgeous upbeat section.

Jennifer observes the return of a friend with a hopeful prose, gently easing us into this darker side. Gracefully complimenting her acoustics, session musicians Lukas Drinkwater, on aforementioned double-bass, jazz guitar and cello, music teacher and writer Tom Bradley on drums, Patrick Ward on guitar and percussion, Lee Alder from Belarus and Kid Calico and the Astral Ponies on percussion, guitar and backing vocals, and Jon Buckett on keys, organ and providing backing vocals, perfectly breathe life into Gypsy Blood, the result is something to be proud of; particularly when contemplating this second half.

Modest till the end, Tamsin explains “it really was a crazy, whirlwind of creative minds, and they made the album what it is as much as I did, if not more!”

Arguably the most adroitly written, “Seventeen,” contrasts separate narratives; a settled forty-something chap, contemplating his restricted life of manual labour and marriage troubles (yeah, can identify with him; Mrs Devizine has me chained to this kitchen sink, I swear,) to a well-travelled woman considering she’d never stayed in a place long enough to feel at home or fall in love. Feeling the unescapable path our teenage years maps for us, the grass is always greener scenario is bought to a hilt with the final character, a seventeen year old girl forced financially to walk the streets.

Mentioned at the beginning of this review, the title track “Gypsy Blood,” is heart-warming Tamsin, expressing a loving relationship. But unlike the rawness of just her and guitar, which is delightful in its own right, this is orchestrated to perfection.

Reflections of uncomfortable Dylan, or even She’s Leaving Home from Sgt Pepper, the finale “Leaving In The Night,” may be self-explanatory, but the beautiful soundscape of violin and jazz guitar left me spellbound; my scouring pad part has worn thin, it’s left up to the spongey side now.

Knowing it’s produced by the incredible Jon Buckett, a multi-instrumentalist in his own right who’s worked with Kid Calico and the Astral Ponies, Little Men and Gaz Brookfield, recorded at Earthworm Amber Studios in Swindon, engineered by Pete Hewington and mastered by Pete Maher, who’s recent projects incredibly include mastering for U2, The Pixies, The Rolling Stones and Newton Faulkner (the first three my aging head has heard of, but always assumed the latter was a famous Roundhead Admiral in the English Civil War,) it’s easy to see how this marvel has been achieved.


But it’s blooming marvellous I kid you not, taking everything great about Devizes-own singer-songwriter, rinsing it with professionalism and elegance and landing Tamsin Quin as a serious contender for stardom. Meanwhile I’ve least managed to precariously balance all the washing-up on the draining board without the necessity of an overflow tea-towel.

If you don’t believe a word of it I could take a photo, and if you don’t believe Gypsy Blood is as good as I say, Tamsin has a launch night down the Cellar Bar in Devizes next Friday, 11th May. With the It’s Complicated as backing band, it’s a fiver, plus I understand you’ll get a coupon for the album, and it’s supported by Jared Clarke and Amy Walters. Details here.


Click to order a ticket

Of course if you cannot make this, like her Facebook page for gig updates, but I know she will be at Vinyl Realm Devizes on 12th May, The Cuckoo Inn Beer, Cider & Gin Festival on 19th, OwlFest in Bromham on 26th, the Southgate, Devizes on 9th June, and The Crown at Lechlade 23rd June.




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No Surprises Living in Devizes: Grumpy Mr Potatohead’s Yard

He-Gassen (屁合戦) literally translates from Japanese as “fart competitions,” and is a sequential scroll depicting just this, blasts of flatulence often blowing contestants off the edges. Dating back to the Edo period of 1603, this ancient scroll verifies flatulence and defecation have always been subjects of hilarity. It is with such example I justify this week’s bought of No Surprises, and add while it holds no bars, I will attempt to remain subtle with expressive terminology, to expectantly not put you off your tea. For the more sensitive among us I bid you bear with, as I promise there is a point to my anecdote.

It concerns a chapter in my day today, whereupon I perchance to be at the Old Potato Yard on the Lydeway. It is a splendid place with an array of interesting shops and small businesses, such as the wonderful Plank’s Farm Shop, which is ideal for the consumer who feels Waitrose is simply too inexpensive for their superior palates. It is a place I would personally avoid after today’s fiasco which I am about to elucidate, least said, if you feel unable to resist the temptation to visit it, you refrain for using the toilet facilities provided, and hold any waste matter in.

It is a location I frequent often in my labour, as I have a client I deliver to hither. It is also the only spot with toilet facilities on my route, so while I, more often than not, have no need of them, on this particular occasion I was cut short; “touching cloth,” I believe is the apt contemporary idiom.

Although its been many moons since my last call to the amenities, not much had changed. I did my business and took heed of signs requesting users keep the place clean, using primitive satire. I’m no savage; I brushed the toilet bowl to the point one could’ve eaten their dinner in it, washed my hands and departed with the satisfaction of a job well done.


potatao yard
The Old Potato Yard; looks nice, don’t have a poo there.

Upon exiting the facilities I perchance to notice, what can only be described as, a primate dressed in contemporary human attire scurry into the room after me. With an expression of anger and contempt he promptly arrived outside again to address me as “Oi,” and a plethora of abuse ejaculated from an aperture I could only assume was the creature’s mouth in a language so colourful I doubt your English-French dictionary would find suitable translation.

I begged his pardon and inquired to his issue. Between curse words and primordial name-calling I managed to capture the notion he was displeased with the order I left the facilities. I felt it superfluous to point out matter was spraying from his mouth as he chastised me, as if he was masticating a dentist’s drill, which in some small way I wished he was.

I begged to differ, explained I had used the brush provided to the best of my ability and left the amenities in manner no indifferent to the standard they were in upon my arrival. Still this seemed unsatisfactory in his eyes, repeatedly using the C-word to designate yours truly. Despite the fact I felt this was gratuitous, and told him thus, he proceeded to insult me. So together we funnelled back into the premises to inspect it once more. Low and behold the simian was correct, for there, as far under the u-bend as possibly visible, and gone unnoticed from the angle I originally stood to clean the bowl, was an amoeba-sized stain on the porcelain measuring a staggering millimetre in circumference.

Imagine a gentleman’s embarrassment at such an incongruitous discrepancy, I apologised profusely, and set to work with the brush to amend my mishap. Satisfied now that the job was complete I again left the premises. The creature of the quagmire lurked. I attempted to justify my inefficiency once more, explaining the angle emphasis, but again it was met with hostilities.

Such irritation and annoyance in such a young person should be considered unhealthy, and if he is reading this I strongly urge him to do whatever he needs to do to diminish this stress, relax and unwind prior to going on his rounds. If it requires coffee so be it, if it requires what, in common jargon might be deemed as “a quick one off the wrist,” likewise. Coincidently, a slang term for one who practises this method of masturbation could adequately define his very persona.

It appeared a subsequence of frustrations erupted from its person, again decorated in colourful language, it stressed and accused me of every episode in the facilities history whereupon it was left in an unsatisfactory state. I assured him it was not so, to which he replied with now threatening mannerisms asking what I intended to do about the false allegations. Shame he was quite unaware the pen is mightier than the sword, and I write this popular causerie which usually brings eight to ten thousand regular readers. Media is a powerful armament, particularly when unendorsed by editors as this is.

My query is, why supply a washroom facility if you only intend to threaten anyone who may use it? Is it wise for your retailers, paying high rental fees, to know what an obnoxious turnip their site manager is?

I write from the hip, I write as I feel, people warm to this, despite the subject being scatological, I hope to retain some readership, as I feel the incident illustrates a point. There is much aggression in our land, whereupon this trivial dispute could have been carried out with decorum, and manners would have cost this being nothing. His antagonistic nature and complete inability to let bygones be bygones awarded him in my mind the necessary qualifications to excel in career at Wiltshire Council, a topic we need to address on another occasion.

Daily I face hostile confrontations in a similar manner, in my view completely unjustified. In a country which seems to be slipping in the dignity it was once renowned for, and in a place under consistent decline, politically and economically, it is a shame we cannot regard each other in manners more approachable and not allow our sociability decline in a similar fashion.

Now, you see there was a point to my rant. If you should chose to decide a course of action in response to this, for instance you BOYCOTT THE OLD POTATAO YARD, until such a time this matter is dealt with, that is your prerogative and has had no influence from my say so. For I am not condoning or encouraging anyone to BOYCOTT THE OLD POTATAO YARD, unless they feel it necessary to BOYCOTT THE OLD POTATAO YARD, which I would find highly amusing.

I can only presume the old potato in its title doubles up as the site manager’s brain.

Should a suitable written apology arrive upon my person within, say, one month, I will see fit to amend this statement, but for now let it be known, simply because you opt to call into the more aristocratic environments, doesn’t mean you will not face conflicts for simply relieving yourself; which I feel, is a sad element to life around these parts.


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