Americana maverick Jim White returns with Misfit’s Jubilee

Going in blind, crucify me if you will, but I’m unfamiliar with Americana maverick Jim White. Additionally, I’m streamlining due to the backlog and giving this one listen prior to reviewing. Yet, even if my analysis isn’t as exhaustive as other fervent bloggers, I’m bloody loving his latest album Misfit’s Jubilee.

It’s precisely what it says on the tin, a discarded rusty old tin in a desert somewhere. An upbeat roll in a haystack of psychedelic Southern Americana, and a festivity of folk-driven geriatric observation. Yet there’s his trademark, apparently; dark trippy twist of narrative in the depths. Jim White muses US politics, divided state ethos, and national stereotypes. Subjects range from a dope smuggling teenager to Big Foot, and he does it with the professionalism of quart-century experience, and self-confessed “hole of sickness, depression and poverty.”

Multiple-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, Jim, works this personal arse-whipping outing with only the tangibly cohesive musicianship of his long-time drummer Marlon Patton, trusted Belgian sidemen Geert Hellings on guitar and banjo, and Nicolas Rombouts on keys. Recorded primarily at Studio Caporal in Antwerp, it features new songs, plus some older-penned ones, only now surfaced. Put out on Loose Records, it’s out now. To me it’s all new, but I’m contemplating Neil Young jamming with the Pixies as its mind-blowing cogitates flow over my psyche like waves of a resilient dustbowl.

Ruminations are somewhat curtain-twitching but contemporary, and it hardly ceases its brainy grip on the necks of proletarian American orthodox devotees, but does so with the fashion of a perpetual parade of agitated and cynical characters, but oh, joyfully, and with a heartfelt sonic agenda.

The sound is toe-tappingly memorable, maintains upbeat jovial generation X indie-folk-rock, yet smells of vintage. If some moody piano rings out, as it does with The Sum of What We’ve Been, a zephyr of buoyant guitar riff repairs it. There were times when I figured it’d mellowed, like Mystery of You, but it was just building the track. And for that, it rocks!

Through ever-thickening material, straggly kitsch metaphors and uncensored outpourings, it’s perhaps the twanging guitars juxtaposed with samples from authentic US police chases which makes my reasoning for citing the tune, Highway of Lost Hats as the peak of Misfit’s Jubilee. There’s rib-tickling Hollywood narrative, adroitly directed at the carefree insolence in defence of US counter culture of yore. Herein is its niche, a bombast of the direction his nation heads, and comparison of what it could be. It is Born in the USA times a billion, it’s Guthrie partnering with Lou Reed, for a new era.

The finale defines this, an earnest and heartfelt speech, reflecting on quotes from George Washington, poet Emma Lazarus and even Jesus, but after the contemplative, it slides into a fading McDonalds order. Such a nimbly placed, sombre scrutiny, is the conclusion of the Divided States of America, as itdumps you in cold silence gasping for air.

I’m going to have to dive deeper into this impressive torrent of melodic genius, as I figure it’ll be some time before I fully unpick it, and its gist is sussed; that’s when you get the notion, it’s value for your hard-earned pennies.


Alan’s Fine Art Christmas Cards for NHS Charities

Local artist Alan Watters has launched these wonderful pencil-signed greetings cards, with all profits from his website going to NHS charities only until the end of October. The cards are individually pencil signed and sold in packs of ten for £12 (+ £3 UK P&P.) But hurry, Alan says they’re going fast!

Limited edition prints are also available, making a great Christmas present idea. Click here to order.


Cold Water; New Single from Lottie J

Wasn’t it in my review of Talk in Code’s latest single where I waffled on the subject of my passenger seat DJ on trips to her football, and thinking about it, every time she gets in the car even if we’re only going half mile up the road?

Matter of factually then, my daughter ensures I’m as up-to-date with pop, as far as a middle-aged pop can be. So it may surprise you to note this rocking grandad knows his Dua Lipa from his Doja Cat, just about, and I know the “peng” sound of now, and Lottie J’s single is bang on the mark.

Though, I’ll probs get dissed by da yoot for my hopeless attempts to align with the trends in lingo, and peng is probably, like ancient history; soooooo last decade. But everything about Cold Water rings contemporary pop hit to me.

Lottie has come some way from teen singing her own heartfelt compositions at a piano on the local circuit, and the days when Jamie Cullum encouraged her upon visiting her school to donate his old piano.

If she has stars in her eyes, they’re directed and affirmed in a business acumen which knows exactly how to point them in the right direction; Cold Water confirms this. It is fresh, it is the pop sound of now, and assures me, through the chosen path of self-promotion in an era which allows it through streaming sites, Simon Cowell is not necessary. I predict we will be hearing more from Lottie J, bigger and better each time, and with her sublime voice and beauty abound, she is the pop star in the making.

It’s cool, emotionally prevoking, it’s pop-tastic beats and has all the ingredients of a contemporary r&b come dance hit. All it takes is word of mouth and online sharing. I usually run anything modern past my daughter, who mostly scoffs at my attempts to influence her musical taste, but on the position of Lottie J we mutually appreciate her talent. And that’s good, innit, I mean she could be my excuse for attending Radio 1’s Party in the Park. Post Malone, we’re on our way!

No, he’s an American rapper, no, he hasn’t got a black and white cat; get with the program!

Streaming Link

Island Bop with Shuffle & Bang

San Diego, California, 2018, King Pops Horn and son, Korey Kingston began on a musical partnership, merging Korey’s deep vested love for dub and reggae with his father’s tenure as a decorated traditional jazz singer.

Gathering a gang of musicians with resumes including savvy veterans from The Aggrolites, Rhythm Doctors, Suedehead, Brian Setzer Orchestra, The Original Wailers, Stevie Wonder and a pianist who plays organ for the San Diego Padres baseball team, they formed Shuffle & Bang.

Over multiple recording sessions taking two years, this unique musical journey culminated in an accomplished album, Island Bop. Pirates Press Records, partnered with the band’s own Jetsetter Records are ready to deliver this gem to the world on 6th November; everything about it suggests it’s right up my street and banging loudly on my door.

And it is, and it is loud. Dressed as a classic Blue Note jazz album, with indistinct band-in-action photo and simple capitalised font running down the left side, it comes exceptionally close to capturing the elegance of an era of definitive jazz and soul. Yet it drifts wildly between genres, a surprise to know what’s coming next in many ways, but often, perhaps, constituting a Jack-of-all-trades.

I mean this in the nicest way possible, to hit the benchmarks of such legendary epochs, to come close to all the variety of influences represented here in one shebang, from Blue Note to Stax and Studio One, is quite near impossible. You got to hand it to them for trying. For all it is worth, it is accomplished, highly polished and grand. It’s exceedingly entertaining and highly danceable, to boot! Just don’t let the cover art allow to run off with the idea you’ve stumbled upon a new Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going on.

At all times, no matter what subgenre it’s mimicking, it’s brash but not slapdash, flamboyant and proud. There’s minimal subtly of soul, delicately tight riffs of ska, and to cast it overall is to say it is akin to big band, as it’s in your face and won’t let you escape, even if you wanted to, which, you probably wouldn’t. Big Band does jump blues, ska, soul, and even by the end, dub reggae.

Yep, you heard it right; it ticks all the boxes. The opening song is a deep acapella with a booming Teddy Pendergrass fashioned soul voice, whereas the second sets the running theme as this big band panache. Taking the jazz end of a classic ska sound, the third tune dragged me onto the dancefloor, or my kitchen lino to be more precise; yep, I’m reviewing while washing the dishes again!

Switching back to Cab Calloway big band groove for a fifth song, it is perhaps the next which is most interesting to date, Naima maintains a big band style but serves it with a rock steady riff. Quickly as it does it, it shifts again, onto a shuffle rhythm with some killer horns, more Louis Jordan than T-Bone Walker.

Within the thirteen strong songs, the whole album is showy and that makes it rather magnificently inimitable, and because of this running big band ethos incorporating all the various styles, at no time does it jerk into an alternative genre, shudder the goalposts, rather surprisingly, they flow all rather splendidly.

It gets unpremeditated and rides the Ratpack train, with beguiling vocal gorgeousness, When I Take My Sugar to Tea, particularly, or a take of traditional ska like the Skatalites, but the next tune might again return to up-tempo swing. Given our Louis Jordan reference, the only recognisable cover is his Tympany Five’s Let the Good Times Roll, at least you think it is, until the end song.

If you figured this cover might act as a grand finale, prepare, because after a drum and cymbal interlude, the groove suddenly and without warning dubs. Yep, true dat; with a deep rolling bass and reverbs akin to King Tubby, and perhaps melodica to impersonate Augustus Pablo, we are treated to a divine dub of the Gorillaz’s Clint Eastwood. Although they’re calling it Drum Song.

The culmination forces you to hardly recognise the style at the beginning of the album, and to return to it might make you think, no, I want to go listen to some Sly & Robbie now instead. However, Island Bop will rest accustomed in a jazz, blues, soul or reggae record collection, and you will return to its gorgeous portrayals. For all its swapping and merging, yes, Island Bop is hard to pin down, but for eclectic jazz and soul fans, its refreshingly experimental and a damn good groove!


Gigs Continue at the Southgate with a Bonza Line-up for November

Remember around this time of year, how the UK’s terrestrial television stations would wind down quality of their schedules in order to accrual a superior agenda for Christmas? Well, the near-only dependable live music venue in Devizes we have left is showing no sign of copying the idea. Abiding by restrictions and regulations, Dave and Deborah at The Southgate Inn on Potterne Road continue to bring us the very best of local music, and show no sign of letting up for November.

Maintaining Wednesday’s consistent Acoustic Jam evenings, and on top of regular Friday’s Ukelele Group, there’s something for all tastes during the lead up to the big C. Let’s run through them, but remember most gigs are early, from 4-6 or 7pm, and to adhere to the social distancing rules, and respect others at all times. Booking a table is recommended, particularly for the more popular gigs, and boy, there’s plenty of them upcoming. Call them on 01380 722872 or send them a Facebook message to let them know you’re coming!

This Saturday, 31st, we see the return of Swindon’s Navajo Dogs. They’ve not played since lockdown, and say they can’t wait to blow the cobwebs off, with their own-brand of punky, blues-rock, and as they say, “some face melting guitar solos!”

On Sunday, the local family band Skedaddle are in the house, with their popular singalong covers.

Next Sunday, the 8th November, is bound to be awesome as what The Southgate brand their house band pay a visit for some unforgettable funky blues. Local legend Jon Amor, Jerry Soffe, Tom Gilkes and Evan Newman make up King Street Turnaround

Saturday 14th and it’s time for Mirko and Bran, aka, The Celtic Roots Collective. The wonderful duo you should all know by now for their blend of Irish and Celtic folk and rock.

The Sunday, 15th, sees Bristol-based regular original folk, soul and bluesman, Lewis Clark, who appears solo rather than with his full band, The Essentials, focusing on new original material written during lockdown.

Saturday 21st has the combination of Manton’s own Ed Witcomb, of the aforementioned Skedaddle, & Marlborough’s talented Nick Beere, promising magical mellow blues, catchy guitar riffs, and a combination of chilled acoustic covers and original material.

More blues on the Sunday 22nd, and why not? Bare blues with rural roots, delivered via slide guitar, harp and stomp-box with energy and passion. The Gate welcome back Trevor Babajack Steger.

Saturday 28th I’ve defo bookmarked, when Swindon’s two-tone ska darlings, The Skandals skank the Gate. Since the split with frontman Mark Colton, the lively band welcome back their original lead, ex-Skanxter Carl Humphries. Playing as selection of two-tone ska covers, is always welcome.

The Southgate are keen to point out at this stage, gigs do depend on changing covid regulations and should things alter, larger and louder bands might have to sadly be cancelled. Fingers crossed, as Bite the Hand are due to arrive on the last Sunday of November, the 29th. Like many, it’ll be these crazy metal-heads’ first gig since lockdown. Bite The Hand perform fast and furious punk and metal, self-penned reasoning is “to try and offer audiences something less vanilla. It’s the kick in the teeth you’ve always wanted, the dirty habit you just gotta have.”

Personally, as well as wishing Dave a happy belated birthday for yesterday, I just wanted to thank them and their team for continuing to work through this period safely and provide Devizes with such a great line-up of free entertainment from their hospitable and welcoming, best pub in Wiltshire!


Wiltshire Council’s Live Covid Update

Wiltshire Council are hosting a live public COVID-19 update on Tues 3 Nov at 5pm.

The online broadcast will feature Wiltshire Council Leader, Philip Whitehead, Chief Executive, Terence Herbert and Director of Public Health for Wiltshire, Kate Blackburn.

They will be providing an update on the latest number of positive cases and the rate of COVID-19 cases in Wiltshire, and the arrangements in place to mitigate the spread of the virus. There will also be details on how schools, care homes and council services are responding to the situation and planning for the coming weeks.

They want to hear from you.

You can submit your questions about COVID-19 and the local response in advance by emailing communications@wiltshire.gov.uk, no later than 5pm on Sunday 1 November.

Full details: http://orlo.uk/szlOg

Devizes Winter Festival

The weekend traditionally for Devizes Lantern Parade, 27th-28th November, there promises to be a huge magical community event this year, because of circumstances beyond their control, DOCA are doing things a little differently, and invites you to be apart of the Devizes Winter Festival. There are plenty of things to do, see, and get involved in.

FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT
For your delight, they will have roaming performers and an amazing walking trail for you to visit, suitable for all ages.

Projector Boom Bikes by Sound Intervention

Dan Fox will be bringing his amazing projector bikes which will fill the streets with music and light. Interact with all the strange and familiar creatures the bikes project onto the buildings of Devizes.
Location: Leaving from the yard of the Black Swan
Appearing: Friday 27th 17.00 -17.45, 18.30-19.15 &
20.15-21.00 Saturday 28th – 16.45- 17.30 & 18.00-19.00

Celestial Sound Cloud by Pif Paf

Dance and wave and the Sound Cloud will react to you to create a unique conversation in sound and light. Don’t be shy, it’s your chance to be the conductor to create beautiful harmonies and make light patterns like you’ve never seen before. Access to the SoundCloud will be managed by volunteers for your safety.
Location: Wiltshire Museum’s garden, Long Street, SN10 1NS. Access through the rear car park
Times: Friday 27th – 16:00 – 21:00, Saturday 28th – 16:00 – 19:00

The Bell Orchestra by Beautiful Creatures

This amazing supersize instrument is waiting for you to come and play. Created by Beautiful Creatures Theatre who will invite you to experiment with these giant illuminated chimes. Come and enjoy some safe togetherness and make some beautiful music in this lovely Devizes square. Suitable for all ages and abilities
Location: The Chequers Garden, High Street, SN10 1AT
Times: Friday 27th 16:30 – 18:30 & 19:00 – 21:00

Devizes Town Band

Devizes Town Band will bring the sound of festive tunes that you know and love to the Market Place.
Saturday Morning – times to be announced soon

Virtual light switch on by Father Christmas From his home

Like most of us Father Christmas is having a trickier year than usual! To make sure everyone is safe he won’t be appearing in person at the Light Switch on this year but he’ll do it from his home.
He’s asking children to write to him, to help you he has sent us a letter template which you can pick up from the Shambles Market between the 31st of October and the 14th of November. If you want him to write back you’ll need to tick the box on the back of the letter and post it into the red letterbox in the Shambles by 4pm on the 16th of November. All the letters will be sent to Father Christmas who will be reading out a selection on You Tube at 7pm on the 27th along with a tour of his house and workshop. He’ll also write back to you, your letters will be ready for collection on Saturday the 5th and 12th of December between 9am and 12 noon from the Shambles.
The YouTube channel address is http://bit.ly/DevizesSanta

FOR YOUR SHOPPING NEEDS

Doca have selected the best traders in the area, offering a host of fantastic flavours, amazing tipples, beautiful handmade gifts and more. Explore the expanded festive markets in safety over 3 days at your leisure. Please view trading times below.

Friday 27th
Market Place 4 – 9pm
Corn Exchange  2.30 – 8:30pm
The Shambles 10:00am – 8:30pm
Town Hall 2.30 – 8:30pm

Saturday 28th
Market Place 10am – 7pm
Corn Exchange 10am – 7pm
Town Hall 10am – 7pm

Sunday 29th
Market Place 10am – 2pm
Town Hall 10am- 2pm

BE APART OF THE MAGIC  with Window Wanderland

Doca have invited homes, venues and shops to get creative through this Internationally known event, and hope it will become a new tradition in Devizes. Look on the Window Wanderland website or follow the link from ours for more information.
http://www.windowwanderland.com/event/devizes-2020/
Times: 17:30 to 21:00 each night.

Shambles Festive Makeover

With your help DOCA are attempting to transform the Shambles, the roof will be decked with baubles made by the community. Check their website for details for dates and opening times.
docadevizes.org.uk/make-a-bauble-for-the-shambles-installation

HELPING TO KEEP YOU SAFE

Attendees and audiences will be required to follow safety measure. Please ensure you use our track and trace system, scan the QR code in all venues and register using your smartphone
Use hand sanitizer provided
Wear a mask at all times
Maintain a safe distance from people
Bring your own cups for drinks and help the environment too

For more information on Devizes Winter Festival please visit the DOCA website https://www.docadevizes.org.uk/winter-festival/

Paul Lappin Wants to Fly

Tad snowed under with the plethora of great new music at the moment, but delighted to hear Swindon’s breezy Britpop fashioned artist, Paul Lappin has progressed from the few singles we’ve reviewed fondly in the past, to release an album of all new material, this week. So, yeah, apologies for lack of advance notice, The Boy Who Wants To Fly is out now, and very worthy of our attention.

It binds all the goodness of the singles into something you can nourish extensively, there’s a real concentration of composition here as each track drifts adroitly. It’s astutely written pensiveness, nicely implemented, with the expertise likened to our own Jamie R Hawkins; I’ve made this comparison before. This moulds what could be great acoustic into a full band experience, handsomely; As Billy Green 3 are accomplishing this side of the M4, but let’s not get all road map. Best way, imagine George Harrison present on the Britpop scene, and you’re somewhere lost in Lappin’s world.

Not a lot standout in theme, Paul mostly takes on the classic subject matters, sometimes optimistic romance, often uplifting reflections on past observation, such as the title track which Paul clarifies, “it was originally written for my young nieces and nephews, but listening to it now I can also hear a lot of my younger self in there.” But there’s a nod to current affairs, such as the citation towards the refugee crisis in the wonderfully executed Song for Someone.

I’m getting shards of Tom Petty’s Freefalling, particularly with the title track. Story behind the album reaches back six years, when Paul was looking after an isolated farmhouse in the Occitanie region of the south of France, coinciding with a particularly motivated period developing song ideas. “Most of the songs on the album were written within the first few months of arriving at the house,” he explains, “the melodies came during long walks in the surrounding hills and vineyards, the lyrics were penned in local cafés.”

Haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Paul yet, but through the openness of his songs you feel like you know him already, and that constitutes an exceptional song-writer.

Ten tunes strong, optimism drops by the eighth, The Eye of the Storm, and darker, heavier elements ensue, if only for a track. “Eye of the Storm was a reaction to how helpless and frustrated I felt to all the crap that was going on at the time,” Paul elucidates. Life was Good is critically observant too, but retains the feel-good factor, and that sums the general ambiance of the entire album. Common with creative geniuses, they shy, and this self-indulgence uneasiness I see in Paul. “Entering the For The Song competition in 2019 changed all that,” he expressed when he won with the song Life Was Good, boosting his confidence, which has ultimately led to this worthy and proud album; as he rightfully should be. I urge you to take a listen.


Talk in Code’s Secret

New single from Swindon’s indie-pop darlings, and, as foreseen, it’s blinking marvellous, Gloria.

“Eighties,” I yell, but my daughter corrects me. It’s a tune from Miley Circus, apparently. Story checks out, searched YouTube for it. Now I’m distracted from reviewing Talk in Code’s new single, Secret, by her suggestive gyrations in a black studded swimsuit and equally studded elbow-length gloves. Only from a health and safety perspective, you understand. Metallic studs are unsuitable for swimwear, gloves would fill with water; I should warn her PR.

When behind the wheel of Dad’s taxi, my daughter plays DJ; curse that built-in Bluetooth function. Least I can pretend I’m hip with the kids by distinguishing my George Ezras from my Sam Fenders. “Ah,” but I clarify, “I didn’t mean that, I meant it sounds like something from the eighties.” She agrees, tells me they’re all inspired from the eighties. “Like, Blondie,” I add, she’d have to Google that, but she watched The Breakfast Club and Uncle Buck, she is aware of the style of sound demarcated by eighties electronica pop.

Refrained from telling her about these guys though, some things are best left in the past.

If a retrospective inclination influenced by the decade of Danny Kendal v Mr Bronson, Rubik’s cubes and skinhead Weetabix characters is good for you, ok, look no further than upcoming local bands like Talk in Code and Daydream Runaways. I’ve often grouped these two on this very notion, and I’m delighted to note via my comparison, the Daydreamers are supporting the Talkers at Level III in Swindon on November 20th, my only annoyance is that it’s a Friday and I can’t make it.

To differentiate, Daydream Runaways take a rock edge, the like of Simple Minds, but Talk in Code seem to strive for the electronica angle of bands like Yazoo and The Human League. They do it far better than well though, and if I branded it, “sophisticated pop with modern sparkle,” their last single, Taste the Sun, back in July, embodied this more than anything previous. So, here we are again with another belter which adds to this uniform style, though the climate may not be so clement, Secret sparkles too.

It snaps straight in, this aforementioned feel-good 80s electronica guitar pop sound, and it’s so beguiling and catchy it’s certain to appeal wide, agelessly. If I was attending a local festival and Talkers took the stage, I’d imagine my daughter and I would dance together, and right now with her tastes directed to my odium, calculatingly sweary modern pop R&B, this would be a miracle! I do not twerk.

Secret is right out of a John Hughes movie then, a stuck record comparison I say to near-on every release by them and Daydream Runaways too, but this undeviating style is consistently cultivating and improving. Lyrically it’s characterised by the same simple but effective theme of optimistic romance, and a bright, catchy chorus, as every classic pop song should.  

The band cite pop classics such as King of Wishful Thinking, How Will I Know and Alexander O’Neal’s Criticise as evaluations. I can only but agree, but add, those can be cringingly timeworn, whereas, this is not Dr Beat, no need for an ambulance sound effect, and the Talker guys don’t got no hairspray, this is renewed and exhilarating for a modern generation.

You can pre-save TALK IN CODE’s brand new 80’s infused indie pop belter, on the platform of your choice and listen in full, but it’s not released until November 16th. Yeah, I know right, I’m so lucky to have these things in advance, but with Secret I can guarantee by the time it comes your way, I’ll still be up dancing to it, perhaps my daughter too. Care to join me on the dancefloor? But oi, watch the handbag, Miley, and don’t yank my diddy-boppers, I’m no that kind of guy; saving myself for Gloria Estefan.


The Conclusion to my Black History Month Articles….

If Dunbar’s number is a thing, then isn’t it a human instinct, be it more than a wish but perhaps a need, to group people outside of your given sphere? Does this constitute prejudges, and are they therefore ingrained in society through nurture and history? I’m continuing to bash on about Black History month before it’s over; remember, no one is forcing you to read this!

An evening in the mid-nineties and the Dreadzone gig at the Shepard’s Bush Empire ended. Me, a tad intoxicated, has drawn the short straw, gathered friend’s cloakroom tickets and patiently wobbled in the crammed queue to retrieve our jackets. A couple in front had found love, or lust at least, and I mean directly in front, like, so close if I wanted, I could have joined in. Pecking very nearly turned to copulating, as the couple furiously exchanged salvia. I confess, I was nauseous and uncompromising, the queue packed so tight it was difficult to concentrate my path of vision elsewhere, and even if I did, I could not disguise the sound of their slurping.

Now, I fully accept my mouth can override my sensitivity in times of intoxication, yet to me I enquired of the couple politely. I’m pleased for them, that they found mutual attraction and desired to explore it, but I wished they could wait until somewhere a tad more private. My subtle approach, if memory serves me right, was to say, “oi, do you have to do that here?” They retorted and accused me of homophobia, as they were a same sex couple. I affirmed I was no such thing, and annoyed by the accusation I replied it was nothing to do with gender, if they were a heterosexual couple I’d have been equally as irritated. Yet, till this day, I worry myself, were they right? Does this mean I’m homophobic?

Personally, the idea of myself engaging sexually with a guy is defo off the cards, but I like to think I’ve a liberal opinion and I accept others feel different. I know homosexuality happens in nature, I’m aware homosexuals were persecuted in the past, and I support the ethos of live and let live. But I’m nerved by the incident, and wonder if I might have reacted differently if they were heterosexual. I even contemplate if my attitude would be different if they were both female; might have perversely enjoyed the show; there, I said it, I’m only human! Is this an ingrained prejudice I’m unaware of, or mechanically unprepared to accept? I’m not ruling it out.

If you figure I tend to write these opinion pieces with a theme of personal perfection, that I do not stand accused myself, I give you this. Yet, I’d still be angered by a reaction of someone who falls into this grouping who states, yep, I’m afraid you are a hypocritical homophobic denier, defo, because I am adamant, I am not. I see the same reaction by a few in my recent articles about racism. They are unyieldingly positive they are not racist, to the point I believe they genuinely consider they are not. But, are they? “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth,” is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels.

Yet, as evident in the parish council’s refusal to display an exhibit in their phonebox on the theme from their village youth, they criticise recent motives and analyse with a natural bias, it seems to me. Yet the council in Urchfont are volunteer residents and is, obviously, not systematically racist. But I have to wonder if our history has ingrained prejudges into us, be it via the slave trade, The Buggery Act of 1533, passed by Parliament during the reign of Henry VIII, punishable by death, or every attitude pre-The Chartist Movement of 1838, and, of course, the Women’s Social and Political Union formed in 1903.

Though, despite the umpteen explanations the slogan, for it is such, black lives matter doesn’t mean that all lives do not, it’s still paraded around as rejoinder. Yes, small groups may’ve used the slogan in their name, and some may be activistic, the motto is simply decentralised social movements advocating for non-violent civil disobedience, and in any protest, some will disobey the objective and cause trouble.

A campaign only becomes political if a dogmatic rule opposes it. Negative reactions of the president, our own drive here in Britain to disengage immigration policy, remarks from our own royal family and jokes made by our prime minister, and, obviously, the murder of George Floyd, suggests it is. Unfortunate as it may be, often such a violent reaction is what it takes to raise awareness and change. On 19th February 1913 a bomb brought down ceilings and cracked walls in the home of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lloyd George; Emmeline Pankhurst claimed responsibility. Suffragettes smashed windows, cut telephone lines, spat at police and politicians, cut or burned slogans into turf, sent letter bombs, destroyed greenhouses at Kew gardens, attacked a doctor was with a rhino whip, chained themselves to railings and blew up houses. 1912, Mary Leigh threw a hatchet at Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, for change we now consider ludicrous not to uphold.

In this I see agism too, the campaign is worse than anything you recall with rose-tinted specs.  “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” Who said this, was it recent? Answer; Marcus Tullius Cicero, 43 BC, Rome.

I’m permitted to quote Keith Rowe of the classic reggae duo, Keith & Tex, when back in June he posted these thoughts; “As I digest this moment in time and observe what’s been going on in this country [USA], I am disappointed, yet hopeful, that maybe this time there will be changes in policing.

Disappointed that it would take an uprising to get people’s attention to what African Americans have been experiencing for generations. It took this latest despicable video of George Floyd to realize that this has been our reality. I’m hopeful because it’s the young people that are leading this protest.  Let’s not forget that back in the 60s, protests were being led by young people. Martin Luther King was only 26 when he started leading the nonviolent protests. 

We need an end to systemic racism and it’s good to see multigenerational, multicultural protests going on in many cities. You’re either a racist or an anti-racist, there is no in between. Having served the military for 20 years, I am amazed at how militarized the police have become. I’ve never heard before civilian protests referred to as a “Battlespace” It’s as if they are facing an enemy force and are going to battle them in the streets.  We need to relook at how policing is done in this country and make drastic changes. It just can’t go on like this. Black Lives really do Matter!”

I left this quote unedited, as I thought it inspiring, heartfelt and an honest reflection, but, the subject of this series or articles was principally intended to focus on a local issue. Racism is wrought, everywhere. How do we compare? To put it mildly, we’re in the thick of affluence, much of which is unescapably the profits of the slave trade. Consider Simon Watson Taylor, to name but one, the MP for Devizes from 1857 to 1859. His family derived its wealth from sugar and slavery in the Colony of Jamaica. In 1852, Simon Watson Taylor inherited his Jamaican estates from his mother Anna, he lived…guess…at Urchfont Manor.

Taking the advice given at my online meeting with Gurpreet Kaur of BLMintheStix, an organisation addressing racism in rural areas, to be open and unafraid to discuss the subject with those affected, I did chat with a Jamaican-born friend living here. He messaged me, to say he found my article interesting. I suggested the Urchfont phone box issue is bizarre, stating I didn’t believe those parish councillors are deliberately being prejudiced, but they’ve believed the media propaganda against BLM and constitute any reference to racism as being arranged by some political activist organisation, enough to stop children of their own village displaying an art exhibit. As an artist himself, he replied, “that is sad,” and was keen to point out, “how it was, how it is and how it will always be.” Though he expressed content living here and said he had no issues in his village, “all very friendly. Happy at my yard.”  Here is an important point I tend so see here, the negativity is rarely cast upon an individual locally, and for this much alone, we should be grateful.

I therefore stand by my original observation, no particular place could be viewed as more or less racist than any other, our own stands well and we should be proud of this. But we do need to consider this current movement is no more violent or dogmatically driven than any other previous campaign on any particular issue, it’s only a media interpretation of, their reasoning for is a drop in the ocean for debate I’m not willing to speculate without another two-thousand words. Which, we don’t need me harking on even more!

So, to conclude, before my fingers fall off, I feel our prejudges are indeed inherited and ingrained upon us unwillingly, and this is no one’s fault. But we should want to address them, and strive to change, so there will be a possibility that they will be eradicated in the future. As is the section of Haile Selassie’s 1963 address to the United Nations, recited by Bob Marley in his song War; “that until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned; that until there are no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation; that until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes; that until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; that until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained.”

If I thought for a second it is but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained, then there is no hope. I know it’s doubtful I’ll ever see that kissing couple in the Shepard’s Bush Empire again, wouldn’t recognise them if I did, but if I did I’d like to say, “I sincerely hope you are wrong when you surmise I’m homophobic, but if not, and I am, I intend to change my view.” For a generation whose grandparents stared in shock at Boy George on Top of the Pops in 1983, we have come so far. And to watch same-sex couples unquestioned on game shows and reality TV, and accredited children’s cartoons such as the ground-breaking “The Loud House,” which openly has the protagonist’s best friend parented by a gay couple, I have to be proud as a generation we have nearly attained equality. Yet I quiver and anger at the notion this is slowly being torn down around us.

Return this back to our original article, our interview with Gurpreet, when I asked “are racist attitudes increasing?”

“Only if we let it,” Gurpreet replied.

“We Cannot Let our Young People go Hungry;” those locally rallying the call to #endchildfoodpoverty

Time is against me to get this out with haste, forgive me that I don’t to go on one of my usual longwinded rants, I know you love them, plus, you know I’m aching to do so!  

Suffice it to say we’re all horrified and angered by this government-voting-down-free-school-meals fiasco and Marcus Rashford’s righteous campaign. It’s been suggested by HuffPost, MPs have a bee in their bonnet about being called “scum” by Angela Rayner! Something about sticks and stones; let’s not dwell, but have a local honour’s list of who is here to counteract this appalling decision from the scum, sorry, I meant kindly government, and help out anyway they can.

Marcus Rashford asks one thing of us in a Tweet; sign the petition.

Nationally there’s many independent establishments rallying to offer what they can, and after the bad card the lockdown dealt them, their generosity should be awarded; a massive thank you to everyone offering their services. Least we can do is compile a list of local places, who, if you are struggling to put food on the table this bank holiday or Christmas break, can help.

If I missed you, please message us and miss you we will no longer! Bless you all.

Update: Wiltshire Council are on the case!

Press release from WC, and it’s good news…..

Free meals for vulnerable children in Wiltshire during school holidays

Wiltshire’s vulnerable children will benefit from free meals during October half-term after Wiltshire Council agreed to ensure families struggling with food poverty in the county are supported.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills, said: “We know that many families are feeling the financial pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we want to do all we can to support them.
“We want to ensure that children do not go hungry during these school holidays and want to ensure that Wiltshire families know that they will be supported during these difficult times by putting these measures in place. Therefore the council will be funding free meals during the October half term. This will be reviewed throughout the pandemic and we will continue to make sure that any child and family who needs help gets it. As we have done throughout, we will continue to work with our partners in the community and voluntary sector to make sure the needs of our residents are met at this unprecedented time. The work of our community groups has been, and continues to be, amazing and I must thank them for their tremendous support throughout the pandemic.

“If you are entitled to free school meals or universal credit and struggling to pay for food over half term, please contact the Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub for support.

“Everyone in Wiltshire needs to play their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We ask that people regularly wash hands, maintain social distancing and wear face coverings where appropriate. This is the best way to keep us all safe as much as possible, and helps to prevent the spread of the virus.”

For more information on how to claim, please contact the Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub Team on wellbeinghub@wiltshire.gov.uk or call 0300 003 4576. The team is available Monday to Friday between 9am-5pm.

Devizes

The Gourmet Kitchen Brownie in Poulshot is offering free packed lunches. Please message their Facebook page for more information.

The Cavalier on Eastleigh Road are offering a free lunch pack, (sandwich, drink, piece of fruit and a bag of crisps to takeaway) available to collect from the pub for any child, during half term from 26th October. If you are in need of a packed lunch or know someone who might, please send them a message or call on 01380 725193

The Eastleigh Road Fish n Chip Shop is also offering free sausage and chips to school age children this half term, on Wednesday 28th between 4.15 -5PM.

The Raintree Indian Restaurant on New Park Street has taken the initiative too, during this half term week from Monday 26th to Friday 30th Oct.

For this special occasion, they will be open from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm for collection of a lunchpack everyday.

For every child, the lunch pack will include one chicken curry and pilau rice, one juice and a piece of fruit.

Parents or guardians, feel free to call them on 01380 725649, or send them a Facebook message, to request your free lunch pack. You can call between 5:00pm- 8:00pm everyday for the next day order. A massive thanks goes to the Raintree, who are really going the extra mile; “as a parent,” they say, “if you are going through difficulty during this hard time, please feel free to order one extra meal for yourself as well. No question will be asked.”

Please note, they won’t be able to take any order for the same day collection. Every order needs to be placed the day before during the mentioned time above.

Pearce Electrical Contractors in New Park Street, have decided as a business to support Marcus Rashford’s movement. In partnership with Biddles Cafe in the Shambles, they will be providing a warm bacon roll and hot drink to any child that usually receives a free school meal throughout half term free of charge, No questions asked. These will be available until 2pm each day Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Potterne

The George & Dragon are providing free lunches and hot food over half term. Collection from the Pub for any child,

If you would like a pack lunch or a hot meal this half term for your child/children then please don’t be afraid to phone or text to book in their meal.

Available every day, collection times between 12pm-1pm

Phone 📞 01380 722139
Text 07814182252

Seend

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the Brewery Inn at Seend Cleeve will have packed lunches made up ready to collect from 12 noon, offering a free school lunch during half term to those that our eligible. Please message them in confidence to make arrangements.

Melksham

The Future of Football organisation. From Monday next week Future of Football FC will be providing free takeaway packed lunches for those in the Melksham area, available for collection from Bowerhill Sports Field. Starting this Monday with 50 lunches and if the demand is there, we will up numbers for Tuesday and so on. Simply turn up at Bowerhill Sports Field and collect between 11.00am and 12.30pm. There is a GoFundMe page here to donate.

Marlborough

In Marlborough, a Facebook group has been set up, Love Marlborough Kids Meals.  A community initiative to make sure all Marlborough children have access to free meals during the current crisis. No fuss, no forms, no referrals. Just meals for kids who need them. Please like the page for more information. There are details of places taking part, including Sue Brady Catering operating in conjunction with the Town Hall. Meals are being distributed at St Marys Church hall on Silverless St.

Pewsey

If you’re in Pewsey and need support of any kind, from food to help with shopping and library services, there’s a community website which can help.

https://pcca.org.uk/

The PCCA says, “we have stepped up to fill a gap that government should provide and will be offering school meals through the school holidays. If you would like to offer time or donations please sign up at pcca.org.uk or phone 01672487022.
If you are a family who needs help you can call us confidentially or email meals@pcca.org.uk

Pewsey Spar shop say, “We will be providing a lunch for any child in need from Monday October 26 to Friday 30. Just pop instore with your child/children and we will give them a lunch. There is no shame in asking for help and accepting a helping hand. We, as always, are there for you.”

The Little Lunch Box in Pewsey High Street is also offering help. “With many children not receiving free school meals during the holidays we would love to help. If you are affected and finding it difficult during this time, please feel free to get in contact totally confidential, no judgement. We’re all in this together, no child should go hungry and  irrespective of the Free School Meals for half term decision – if you run out of food or necessities, or times are just tough, please don’t let you or your kids go to sleep on an empty stomach.

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send us a private message. We will do anything we can to help. It may simply be a case of dropping off a food parcel and leaving. No one has to know and where others are concerned, it never happened.”   Phone: 01672 564901

The Woodbridge Inn are also providing lunches, see the poster.

Upavon

Contact the Ship if you require a free packed lunch for kids in Upavon.

Calne

There’s a Facebook group called Calne Town Dinners. Any volunteers who has cooked too much food and can supply you with a meal are encouraged to donate to the needy, for any reason.

Corsham

If you normally get a free meal at school, please visit to the cafe at Pound Arts with your adult, and they’ll give you a healthy meal for free. No need to buy anything. No questions asked.

Tasty Bites Sandwich shop on the High Street says, “if your child is normally entitled to a free school meal then bring them in,” and they’ll give you a free lunch bag for your child during half term.

Salisbury

Popeyes in Estcourt Road are offering free kids meals to those who need it. These are available:- For collection only- Between 4-6pm- Any kids meal option on the menu- Until Sunday 1st November 2020. You will also be able to choose:- Pot of beans OR- Side salad- Either Orange OR Apple & Blackcurrant fruit shoot (instead of a can of fizzy drink – if you wish). If ordering by phone, please just quote free kids meal. If ordering in person, please just show this message (taken from their Facebook page) when placing your order. Not available online.

Chisldon

The Patriots Arms is offering a free lunch pack available to collect from the pub for any child. The lunch pack is made up of a sandwich, drink, piece of fruit and a bag of crisps. Please message or call Sunny on 07807 037231 or Sanjay on 07587 694373 

Swindon

Mazza’s Munchies has teamed up with G Waste and Your Sport Swindon to offer free lunch packs for any children who are in need of food. Please message them if you can to arrange collection or simply turn up at our snack van at B&Q Swindon, Great Western Way.


Not just businesses helping out…

Another interesting angle to this I’ve just been informed about, is that out in the villages some people have been posting on their village Facebook pages, inviting any needy over to their home for lunch. For me, this proves undoubtedly, they are not doing this to promote a business, only to help in a time and issue the government are callously snubbing.

Potterne

Anna Villette in Potterne contacted us to say she had done just this, posted on Potterne’s village Facebook group for people in need to message her, where they could be invited over for tea as their guest, with her own children. How utterly selfless and decent is that? Well done and thank you, Anna. If you’re in Potterne and do wish to contact Anna, please message the page and I will pass on her phone number. She is even willing to put portions in a plastic tub to takeaway if preferred. “I knew I was hoarding those tubs for a reason,” she told me!

Devizes

If anyone in any other villages or in towns are thinking of doing similar, and wish us spread word, do let me know! KJ Jeffreys in Devizes is also willing to help.

Trowbridge

Caroline Jackson (click name to email) is planning to cook Spaghetti Penne Pasta on Monday for families in need in Trowbridge. Please could parents let Caroline know how many meals they would like & their address. She plans to deliver on Monday afternoon between 3-5pm.

Barred from his own local!

That’s all I’ve found so far, going to get this article up and running as time is short, but please, if you’ve a service to offer you’d like to me to list, contact Devizine and let’s get as comprehensible list as possible. Half term is upon us, but this could extend to Christmas holidays too.

Here, Danny Kruger, MP for Devizes, admits he doesn’t read your emails, “These citizens send abusive emails which, they may like to know, I never read: my team just delete them without bothering to show me.” You have to admire his honesty if nothing else.


Zoom Like an Egyptian: Wiltshire Museum Half-Term Activities!

Bangles not required, entertain your saucepans over the half-term with some Egyptian themed art and craft activities at Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, which is linked to their current Out of Egypt exhibition.

Tuesday 27 October and Wednesday 28 October you could find out about the Ancient Egyptians through their artefacts? Find out about mummification then create a mummy mask, a golden amulet and hieroglyphic bookmark to take home. Finish your session with the chance to see some of the amazing real artefacts from the Out of Egypt Exhibition.

The museum ensures it is Covid-secure, by putting a number of measures in place; details on their website.

And on Thursday 29 October – 2pm, you can zoom like an Egyptian with a digital event for curious kids. The Museum are offering Curious Kids the chance to engage with the museum and get creative as a family, via Zoom!  The session will also be inspired by their “Out of Egypt” Exhibition from Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Ideal for children ages 2 to 5 (including reception aged children) the session will last 30 minutes and will be broken up into short sections, to focus on your interaction, rather than attention to the screen.

Other craft activities you can do yourself with advice via videos created by local artist, Emma Kerr, is to make your own Egyptian mask using household items such as milk-bottles or from natural ingredients. Visit the website for more craft ideas for all the family.

Details and booking from the website. General entry to the Museum:

•             Thursday, Friday and Saturday – 10am to 4pm (closed 1pm to 2pm)

•             OPEN Sunday 25 October and Sunday 1 November – 11am to 3pm.

Pre-book to ensure entry, as they are continuing to limit numbers.

The exhibition, featuring genuine Egyptian artefacts, including scarabs and mummified animals, mummy masks and wrappings, shabti (a figurine found in many ancient Egyptian tombs) figures and jewellery, Out of Egypt closes on November 1st.


The Return of Wilding; Falling Dreams

It doesn’t hang about, it doesn’t drift dreamily as some previous tracks on the Soul Sucker debut EP, unbelievably near-on a couple of years ago, but it is unmistakably Wilding, this beguiling new tune from George Wilding, back with his band after lockdown. As a frustrating era for all creative groups, it feels as if with “Falling Dreams” they concentrated all their het-up energy, impetus and vigour, directed it into a trunk, padlocked it for a few months, then smashed the deadbolt and channelled it direct into an adroit three-and-half minute explosion.

Excellence is a watermark of Bristol’s Wilding, what initially began as a backing band for our homemade favourite lead singer, George Wilding’s prodigious young solo career, I expected no less. Though, while it’s not excessively upbeat it rocks steady, but Falling Down is a grower, appeal increases with every listen. It fits their self-penned label, psychedelic Britpop, but what is more, unlike Hendrix and Joplin it’s not psychedelia lost in time, similarly with Britpop darlings Oasis or Blur, which are somehow suspended in nineties nostalgia, a more apt comparison would be the Doors, a band with jazz and classically trained elements, and wild frontman poet, their sound is timeless.

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

If Soul Sucker received regular rotation on BBC Radio 2 from Graham Norton and burgeoning interest from major labels, here is a natural progression and a multi-layered detonation, compacted into one song. Writer and frontman George, multi-instrumentalist Perry Sangha, bassist James Barlow and drummer Dan Roe have shattered expectations and produced something here to refine their style. If this is a glimmer of what is to come, you had better watch out.

Why? Because, as I said to George, there’s so much good music being released during this troubled time for musicians, if they can get some writing and production out to help fill the shortfall, it’s all good. “I suppose that’s been the upside,” he replied, “everybody has so much time on their hands to create.”

The theme of Falling Dreams is ambiguously defined, as any strong songwriter should allow audience interpretation. To me it feels bitterly like a broken romance theme, but George jests, “they’re usually about girls, but ‘Falling Dreams’ is just about being fucking cool,” adding, “it’s about me…” Herein requires some prior knowledge to his character to fully appreciate, as far from egotistical, George’s charisma lies with tongue-in-cheek witticisms shadowing a selfless good egg. But yeah, he is fucking cool too! They all are, this song verifies it.

To see what I mean, hold out for its release this Friday, 23rd October. If you’re used to George providing entertaining covers on our pub circuit and his sublimely succulent solo EP’s of dreamy indie, this will be a wonderful surprise, but as I said, its skill and catchiness is neither unexpected or unmistakable.


On the Climbing Frame with Gecko

If our last music review from Ruzz Guitar impressed me for its exploration of traditional blues styles, note I’m not conventional and you need not rewind progress to appease me; I love Climbing Frame, the second forthcoming album by London-based Gecko, equally, but for completely opposite reasons.

Partly, it reminded me of the time Louis Theroux rapped for one of his “Weird Weekend” episodes. In the mockumentary Theroux was advised by the US rap producers to “keep it real,” yet upon drafting lyrics about eating cheese and driving a compact car, sardonically citing as that as what is real to him, they contradictorily sniggered it off and recommended he rapped on cliché subject matter; bling, hoes, cold cash, etc.

If commercial US hip hop has lost its direction, UK rap thrives and remains faithful to the origins by pushing new boundaries. But if you feel the midway “cocknee” chat-come-singing style, the likes of Lilly Allen and Kate Nash, has come of age and flatlined for being samey, Gecko is a refreshing breeze of originality, and so multi-layered it’s difficult to pin it down and compare. Fact is, I’m uncertain defining it as “rap” is a fair shout, as hip-hop fashioned beats here have been left to the bare minimum and what we have is intelligent chat, often thought-provoking or comical, which slips into song over either acoustic indie guitar or retrospective electronica pop; as if Scritti Politti met the Streets.

If you’re contemplating, sounds rather geeky, I’d reply ah, it could head one of two ways, and in the hands of many it’d be bad news, but I’m happy to report Gecko accomplishes it in a proficient and highly entertaining way.

Awash with sentimental or witty verses reflecting on all manner of unique themes, the bulk of Gecko’s thoughts are honest observations, whole-heartedly personal, often retrospective anecdotes. Gecko does not uphold the ego or bravura of prominence; rather like Jarvis Cocker, there’s a contestant notion he’s opening his soul and depicting his innermost feelings, but is never without a punchline, and never afraid to show compassion. After a spoken word intro, for example, the opening song, “Can’t Know all the Songs,” is an upbeat riposte which any live performer could identify with; the annoyance of an audience shouting requests he doesn’t know. It’s ingeniously droll.     

But if the opening tune cites Gecko’s mature issues, the title track follows on this juvenile running theme, reflecting on childhood. The climbing in frame in question is a fallen tree, an amusing photo of Gecko estimated age of eight as the cover design reinforces this notion. Gecko perceives the unusual and expresses it inimitably, here, a reference to an age where we once recycled nature’s way for childlike kicks. Hope that the youngest people in this world will turn the apocalyptic hand that they’ve been dealt into something positive that we have not yet seen; “they weren’t trying to be symbolic, they were just having a laugh, but where most saw an obstacle, they just saw a path.”

Soaring does similar, but reverting to a simple acoustic guitar riff, it highlights the awe of childhood innocence in discovering something they think is exclusive, only to be knocked back by their parent’s clarification. I can’t detail it anymore without it being a spoiler, but believe me, if you don’t see yourself in this song and laugh out loud, you must’ve been born an adult. However, Gecko twists the narrative with genius writing akin to John Sullivan, and completes the track with a sentimental and virtuous moral. Hence my concern of my comparison; UK rap is not nearly multi-layered enough; don’t know why I even mentioned it really, only in desperation to pigeonhole this unique sound.

After this other recollection, Gecko proceeds to explain the theme of the next song, and performs a sublimely sentimental tale of Laika, a Moscow stray used to send into space, from the point of view of the dog. Perfect example of what I’m getting at with my originality angle; who dreams up a theme for a song on this subject? Gecko is part songwriter part author, Jack London in this case, and a damn good one to boot.

Furthering the childhood theme and his unpretentious tenet, he takes it to the next step with a real recording from his childhood, displaying the roots of his talent.

It’s a chockful album of twelve tunes, Breathe maybe the most commercially pliable with uplifting eighties synth-pop goodness. Yet Always and Pass it On plod like nineties indie anthems, Stereo MCs fashion. Whereas there’s a piano-based ballad, All I Know, and whoa, back to acoustic splendour with an immature narrative called A Whole Life. Here, Gecko writes from the perspective of a child just started primary school, giving a speech to a reception class about his experiences in ‘big school.’ This is, quite simply, ingenious writing and played out with sentiments so ultrafine and intelligently placed, you could listen to Climbing Frame over and over and still pick out elements you may’ve missed.

Best start then, as it’s released this Friday, 23rd October. It’s so multi-layered and original I’d highly recommend it to anyone, loving any genre, with an open mind, and perhaps a twinkling for nostalgic dreams.


Urchfont Parish Council Turn Down Youth Art Display

Further to my article reflecting on black history month, and our chat with BLM in the Stix organiser Gurpreet Kaur, I said I had a local issue to raise which could be conceived as the perfect example of the message I’m trying to get across regarding rural racism so ingrained we fail to recognise it, or simply don’t care to consider it as such. I was waiting for a response from relevant sources in order to give an impartial valuation. In the meantime, the good ol’ Gazette & Herald beat me to it!

In all fairness they didn’t make a bad job, but it’s the reactionary and presumptuous comments flowing on social media where the story warps out of all proportion and skewers the facts; keyboard warriors tend to do that.

Urchfont Parish Council’s Chairman, Graham Day explains, “at its meeting on 8th July, Urchfont Parish Council discussed a proposal for a possible use of the High Street telephone box which is owned by the Council. A lengthy debate on this matter took place, with substantial public input both from those present at the meeting and others who had submitted comments to our Clerk.”

As with many rural out of service phone boxes, the community has gathered to find alternative usage for it. Many have become community hubs, noticeboards and others rural self-governed lending libraries. Urchfont’s phone-box was adopted by the Parish Council in 2018, “to protect it and to provide an unusual venue to promote village events and,” here’s the biting point taken from the phone box’s own Facebook page, “showcase work by local groups.”

So, members of such a group, Youth Of Urchfont, moved by recent racial injustices, proposed a display presenting art and literature on the theme of racism. Immediately the goalposts are moved, and the ethos of the phone box altered by councillors, stating, “the telephone box should be used only for local community purposes, as such this proposal covering the wider issue of racism should be rejected.”

For the first few minutes of the agenda’s proposal by the teenagers everything seems to be going well. But as the discussion flowed, it appeared an assumption the idea was linked to black lives matter, which rather than a slogan, is perceived by villagers to be an organised political movement.  Intent to maintain the Parish Council is a non-political body, it rejected the proposal five votes against three.

Spirally out of control, social media comments claimed all manner of fabrications, such as the youth wished to paint the phonebox. It hardly constituted any such vandalism, just a display of art and literature on the subject of racism, rather than a paint job, or even a salute to the BLM movement. What is a given thing for the Parish Council, is that the youth are someway promoting BLM, when really, they’re simply reflecting on racism in general; a fair observation? I asked one of the parents, David Kinnaird.

“They had never suggested painting the phonebox!” he stated. “Neither did they ever suggest any support for the BLM movement. When they first messaged the community bell to say they wanted to do something they immediately said BLM might be too political, and so the kids knew that this was off the table.  Sadly, and predictably, most of the opposition stemmed from perception of what the movement represents, and not to what was actually proposed. In fact, they didn’t really know what they wanted to display, no idea at all really, just wanted to do something. It was lockdown, they hadn’t been to school for months and wanted to do something…”

One of the youths, Polly, explained to the Parish Council, that she is really passionate about the proposed display. She questioned the fact that the kiosk had been previously used for political displays, citing the VE day soldier, for example. Wiltshire Council had expressed solidarity with BLM movement, protests had taken place in Wiltshire highlighting human rights, and racial inequality issues. Polly believed that the display will highlight all of these issues, adding it could link with other charities and be a great show for the Village. The Chairman then closed the meeting for public participation.

Councillor Mr Kemp made a statement outlining the ethos of the usage for the phonebox, including “local residents had an opportunity to exhibit artisan skills, workshops or art work,” and “it supported the interests of the community as a whole.” He strongly objected, virtually pitchforking the idea, stating “BLM, a patently political movement, is clearly the catalyst, a movement that is demonstrably contentious and of itself offers little, to enhance the lives of the Urchfont community. Unfortunately, a mood of ‘if you are not with us then you must be against us’ currently prevails and it can be easier to acquiesce in the face of public demand, against the better judgement of the individual or organisation, when that position is both emotive and forcefully declared.”

“It is clear from additional comments that the BLM movement and the (sometimes offensive) rhetoric associated with it resonates,” he continued waffling, “while these may be the legitimate expressions of personal views, the politically divisive nature underlying the issue as a whole is clear and cannot be ignored.” And, democratically, it wasn’t.

Here comes the opinion part, watch out! Ah, you know me well enough by now, not to possibly or in any way suggest this is concentrated prejudice on two parts, race and agism, and allow you to be the judge of if it’s concentrated prejudice on two parts, race and agism, or not, though it’s certainly possible it could be conceived as concentrated prejudice on two parts, race and agism.

The irony is, rather than allow a display organised by enthusiastic youth of their own village, encourage and support free-thinking from young people in an idyllic but humdrum Wiltshire outpost detained in lockdown, the alternative is nothing, and the phonebox currently and since the time it was suggested back in June exhibits such, absolutely nought, nothing, nada.

Nothing until these last few days, where the annual event “candles around the pond,” was reduced to “candles in the phonebox,” and raised funds for the church. And there was me thinking in Christianity the candle represents the light of God, and their ethics endorsed virtuous behaviour within its moral theology, as is their duty put in Leviticus 19:18 to love thy neighbour as thyself, and extend an unconditional hand of friendship that loves when not loved back, that gives without getting, and ever looks for what is best in others.

And here, their own children were rejected an art display as if they were suggesting a riot. To me, that is a sad reflection on today’s blinkered and hypocritic rural society and the very reason we need to openly discuss an issue most would wish to be eradicated many moons ago.


Today Devizes for Europe launched “Say #YES2ARealDeal” campaign.

Formerly local remain group Devizes for the EU has moved forward, changing it’s name to Devizes for Europe, and laid plans for action to avoid a no deal. Here’s their details from their press release…


Now that the UK has left the European Union, we need to take action to secure our future relations with Europe and avoid a catastrophic ‘no deal’ crash-out. 

The UK has entered the final phase of negotiations with the EU. Talks are not just about trade, critically important though that is. They cover everything: security, food standards, health, education, employment, research – and, yes, even fish.

The risk is that the talks could break down. That would mean ‘no deal’ – another catastrophe on top of the continuing nightmare of COVID-19. The electorate was promised a great “oven ready” deal but there is little sign of it so far.  

Our ‘#YES2ARealDeal’ pledge on our new website will use your signature to urge Danny Kruger and other Wiltshire MPs [Note 1] to confirm their commitment to the deal they promised in order to avoid a national catastrophe and the break up of the United Kingdom.

The Real Deal needs to include:

• Today’s high food, labour and environment standards

• Tariff-free trade to and from Europe

• Visa-less travel in Europe

• Europe’s education and apprenticeship schemes

• Enhanced security through EuroPol

• European partnerships for research and medicines

Such a deal would keep the UK strong – and United.

“A ‘no deal’ risks dissolution of the Union.  Nobody voted for that. Time is of the essence. The transition period runs out at the end of this year. If by then the UK and the EU have not agreed terms for their shared future, there will be a ‘no deal’ catastrophe. It’s high time to make our voices heard!” said Kate Freeman, Chair of Devizes for Europe.

Lorry parks will not just transform Kent but using emergency powers 28 other lorry parks across England could be built to cope with border trading chaos after Brexit. 

We can expect delays of food and medicines, increased prices, and complicated travel to and from the continent.  All this at a time when the government’s energies should be focused on COVID-19 not to mention the climate change crisis.

“I urge everyone to sign the pledge to urge Danny Kruger and other Wiltshire MPs to do the same.”

Rural Racism; Welcome to BLM in the Stix

Could “is Devizes a racist town?” be a clickbait headline?! I’m not out to infuriate. Ah, that’s why I didn’t use it. That and, hope this to be only a part of a wider subject incorporating rural racism in a series of reflections for Black History Month. And here we meet an organiser of a new campaign highlighting a different angle of Black Lives Matter……  

Nicotine stained wallpaper curled off the walls and tacky brass jumbles hadn’t seen a duster for decades. We sauntered to the unattended bar. A balding head popped up from arranging glasses underneath it. The landlord scanned us with a discontented frown, paying particular attention to one of my friends. Long before I’d moved to Devizes, I was with a group who were residents here; it was the first time I’d been in a pub in this town. I’m not going to name the pub; this was many years ago, it’s changed hands and is now converted to a rather splendid bar. The landlord avoided eye contact, and called down to the cellar where it would become obvious his wife was below. “Love, we’ve got a darkie up here needs serving,” he sighed as he walked off.

My jaw hit the floor and I suggested we go elsewhere, but the target shrugged it off as routine; “it’s okay.” Recently, following a Facebook thread debating racism on a local group, one comment offered, “because Devizes is a racist town.” Do I agree? Not really, is the simple answer. Devizes is a wonderful market town of which we should be proud to live in, yet with any affluent area, racism lurks and often can be so ingrained it’s overlooked, accepted as the norm, or taken with a pinch of salt. I see it here, as I see it everywhere.

Image taken from Gazette & Herald article: Black Lives Matter gathering to be held in Devizes

The concern, then, is more generally and nationally; are racist attitudes increasing? “Only if we let it,” Gurpreet Kaur replied during our online meeting. In August Gurpreet created a campaign group to raise awareness of racism in rural environments in the UK, called BLM in the Stix. Though it has no website yet, it operates over social media and has staged protest from her home in rural Essex. She moved from London for her son to attend the university, and because she wanted to live rurally, “it felt safe,” she explained.

But Gurpreet expressed, “you are three times more likely to be victim of racial abuse in the countryside than in urban areas.” We tend to associate racism as an urban issue, perceptibly being a more multicultural society. Yet, BLM in the Stix states, being active in fighting against racism is even more fundamental when your ethnic population is minimal. You will send a message to non-whites that they are supported and welcomed, and for those who are overtly racist you will be demonstrating that their behaviour is unacceptable; systemic racism.

Gurpreet Kaur 

Gurpreet specified this was the angle of the group, as I predicted the response to anything I write would be preaching to the converted. “It’s often denied, downplayed and dismissed,” she said, what was more important to her was opening up to the concerned and encouraging them to be active. “It’s not about targeting racists,” Gurpreet explained, “more about encouraging people to think differently, and act.”

I gave Gurpreet my above anecdote in the pub, and I said I feared discussing it with people of ethnic minorities. She looked shocked but far from surprised, and asked why I felt like this. That got me, I didn’t have an answer. Perhaps we should feel easier about discussing the subject, in turn the ethos of Black Lives Matter. Gurpreet suggested I should consider addressing the individual dishing out the abuse, “but not in a confrontational way.”

Black lives matter. Yeah, I know, right, “all lives matter” don’t they; well done you. If I had a pound every time… It’s an ingrained xenophobic get-out-clause, a shrewd one, but only one under “I’m not racist, but…” For the amount of times explaining is needed, you’d think the feeblest of minds could grasp, quite simply, no one is suggesting they don’t, but the focus of the objective is black lives matter equally. I beg we get over this stumbling block, BLM is but a slogan, like Keep Britain Tidy, or Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives; they’re direct, often sweeping and not all-encompassing.

Akin to when protests over the George Floyd murder in the US kicked off, the great orange one whacked one out on Twitter, as he tends to mindlessly do, stating antifa was a terrorist organisation and enemy of the state. Ha, there was me thinking the term “antifa” was simply an Americanism shortening for anti-fascist. Seems right-wing thinkers cannot fathom free-willed movements of the masses is possible, and have to therefore assume it’s some malevolent chief organisation, radicalising the left-wing; as if we’re far too stupid to have abstract thought ourselves. Just because you couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery, others have this “thing” called sociability.

Contradicting my rant, though, as well as Gurpreet insisting her group was generally here to raise awareness, she stated they needed good case studies and hoped the campaign would be more organised, as far right groups tend to be. “We bury our heads in the sand at times.”

Alongside a Tweet from a conservative Afro-American writer, suggesting black people didn’t care for white do-gooders campaigning the issue, which was shared wide under the crass banner this guy somehow speaks for an entire ethnic worldwide population, one comment on a local thread which horrified me put that BLM was doing more worse than good, as it was encouraging racism. Gurpreet suggested the aims of BLM in the Stix were twofold, “helping doing anti-racism work,” and, rightfully contradicting the tweet, “asking white people to change and recognise it does affect them.”

“Racism is for every day,” she added. One thing is clear from our meeting, brushing it under the carpet and fearing to discuss it isn’t going to make it go away.  

Now, I’ve used the word “ingrained” a bit here, as our conditioning, particularly in rural environments where the majority are Caucasian, is entrenched historically. I honestly feel, knowing people I consider good people, but a little racist, that some often fail to even register how their thoughts and remarks are considered prejudice. We disguise and excuse them light-heartedly or with humour; that, I feel, is the issue with rural racism, here today.

So, during this black history month, expect this article to be part of a series in which we need to unbiasedly dig a little deeper. Both my reasoning and the fact I contacted Gurpreet was to expose a controversial rejection of a perfectly acceptable proposal to display some BLM related art by a local parish council. I await a response from said council before we can progress with it.  

For now, I asked Gurpreet how interested people can help. She suggested supporting them, in which you can like the BLM in Stix Facebook page as good start, but also getting involved with local BME groups, which lack funds as monies tend to be poured into city organisations.


The Instrumental Sounds Of Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue, While Washing Up!

Who says men can’t multitask? I’m washing up and reviewing this forthcoming musical extravaganza…..

Ruling in my household, being the better-half does the majority of cooking, I therefore wash-up. And on sporadic occasions I cook, I still do the washing up. I know what you’re thinking; under the thumb, Worrow. I beg to differ, family are watching some revamped eighties game show; squeamishly sickening the first time around, or else a bronze lady of all teeth and earrings, in a buttery summer dress is assisting affluent chavs to relocate to a Mediterranean costa.

Meanwhile, I’m preparing my chore. First task is not to clear the drainer of previously cleaned utensils, that comes after I Bluetooth my phone to the soundbar. Firmly of the belief washing up should be done to music, and such a law should be implemented nationally.

Those completed, time to fill the sink with hot water and Fairy. Cheaper varieties a no-brainer, you use twice as much for the same effect. Much like my choice of music, others don’t have the same clout. For retrospective genres, such as rock n roll, today largely consists of wishy-washy tributes and anodyne honours of a once dicey outrageous bravura. Else there’s a disturbing scene fusing techno with swing to revamp classics which really don’t need or desire the wonky attention.

Let me be the first, I suspect, to compare Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue to Fairy washing-up liquid. But if you want the job of recreating the true spirit of bygone blues styles done properly, accept no substitute. Add equal amount of Fairy as needed with a cheaper alternative and you’ve got an Ibiza foam party in your kitchen.

I’ve got an advance copy of their instrumental album, ‘The Instrumental Sounds Of…’ not due for release until 6th December, but ready for pre-order; I strongly suggest you do. Because here’s a Bristol-based rockabilly/blues trio, with three-piece horn section, who encompass everything once rousing and electrifying about musical styles ranging from jazz to rock n roll, originally, and with a benchmark of contemporary quality.

While Ruzz’s singing is passable, the guitar is his true calling; Gretsch agrees and endorses this, if you don’t take someone chained to the kitchen sink’s word for it. In genres such as these, where one imagines and perceives the vocals to hold a deep Mississippi accent, to hear his Bristol enunciation is novel, but unusual. Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue have the astounding ability to stretch a song to the proportions of a space-rock band like Pink Floyd, but retain the frenzy of traditional rock n roll, which would once be over within three minutes. At that point, though, it’s nice to simmer it with occasional vocals, but it’s not their forte.

Here then, is what they do best; concentrated instrumentals, a collection of musical styles, based within the blues, that have influenced Ruzz throughout his career. A project Ruzz has been wanting to do, and lockdown has provided the time. I’m strutting across the kitchen, shoving plates and utensils roughly back in the cupboards they belong in, while contemplating how I didn’t fully appreciate my dad’s obsession with the Shadows. For their instrumental goodness may’ve gone over my adolescent head, at the time. But this is a blinding upbeat opening tune, Hold Fast, with remnants of The Shadows’ slide-guitar. Yet it’s blaring horns make it like Hank, et al were in a big band.

Now to the main task, wrist-deep in foamy water I’m timely scrubbing with brillo-pad, like the ivory of a boogie-woogie piano. Swing Thing maintains big band, but slides neatly into swing. It’s spectacularly captivating.

Three tunes in and it’s mellowed to a sax ballad with Hawaiian guitar riff. Longing to See You drifts, as I causally dip dinner plates into their foam bath, and caress them as if they’re sun-kissed skin of a beautiful señorita! The Instrumentals Of album strides jazzily, continuing with a slight nod to that tropical guitar on the fourth track. But this is shrewdly quirky and experimental, Ruffled Up is as if Miles Davis joined a big band.

So many influences but so meshed it’s hard to pick it apart and balance washed up items on the draining board. Men can multitask, believe it. Now I’m striding, Clint Eastwood style, to obtain a tea towel dumped on the breadbin like it was a six shooter. Duel at High Noon is as perceived by title; Ennio Morricone influenced Shadows.

Heating up back at the sink with some fiery jump blues to make Louis Jordan blush. Jump In does what it says on the tin; I’m doing Chuck Berry legs, rattling those pots and pans like glam rock never happened.

Mambo takes a hit next, Ruzz-style, added funk. Spag Mambo is like Starsky & Hutch doing the Charleston on a Cuban vacation. Gotta go barehand; I’d look stupid doing jazz hands with marigolds, but Swing G-String is swing firing on all cylinders. Dishes done; I’m jitterbugging the sides down, soggy J-cloth in hand.

Opportunity to clear waste from the plug hole, never an appealing part of the process, nevertheless I’m cool; Soulful Blues made it so. It’s equably soul-blues, Ruby Turner could drop vocals, but it never strays from its ethos, yet saunters wonderfully between the variety of jazz and blues from 1940 to 60. There’s one more tune, but the job is completed.

Hammer Down polishes with dirty, deep Mississippi jump blues with a clunky rock n roll double bass. Like the rest of this sublime album, it’s irresistible and beguiling. It can’t end early; have to extend the task for five minutes. The floor may look wooden, but it’s lino really; ask Turbo B, or any break-dancer the value of lino; the kitchen is my dancefloor. Time to watusi with broom; the Mrs will be delighted. Even bending to get every last fallen crumb into the dustpan was a pleasure with this album playing in the background; blooming marvellous stuff.

Click to pre-order; gorgeous Christmas pressie!

Julia’s House Gameathon is Back!

Now, I know some gamers who’ll quite willingly play videogames until the cows come home, and if there was a videogame where the objective was to herd cows back into their cattle shed, they’d probably play for longer, just to see what happens in level two!

Myself, I’m impartial. My son teaches me the complexities of modern gaming, but while I could potentially survive in a Minecraft realm, he is the equivalent of a god inside that block world. Now I’m told I’ve to retrain, forget how to craft a diamond sword, and concentrate on the ways of a game called Terraria.

I can’t keep up. Is there a game where you have to teach old dogs new tricks, I wonder? I’m still stuck in the Attic room in Jetset Willy (kids, you’ll have to Google that.)

Kids, you don’t know you’ve been born!

But if you’ve progressed from the rubber keys of the ZX Spectrum, you flop into a gamer chair for eons at a time, and Lara Croft is but a bygone childhood crush, you’ll take to this like Sonic the Hedgehog in a jewellers.

Ready, player one? The Julia’s House Gameathon is back! Their popular virtual fundraising challenge returns this autumn and it promises to be bigger and better than ever.

I’ll say no more, I’ve got some birds to catapult at some green pigs. Oh, come back Pac-man, all is forgiven. But hey, if you’re into this brilliant idea, see Julia’s House website for more details….


Worsley Training Brings First Aid Course to Devizes Corn Exchange

The last first aid course I attended was quite some time ago, in plain old Wotton Bassett prior to the added Royal in their name, that’s how long ago it was. But did I learn anything from it, and do I remember any of it? Well, yeah, took some of it in, but, you know, it takes confidence to carry out first aid in an emergency, and refresher courses are essential.

Owner of Upavon’s Worsley Training, Louise Worsley, is a professional teacher with over ten years’ experience in the classroom, and over fifteen years of hands-on First Aid experience. With an instinctive ability to make learning First Aid memorable and enjoyable, she draws from this teaching to bring First Aid to life for participants, providing practical training grounded in realistic examples of how the techniques could be used.

Qualified through and regulated by Remote Emergency Care, Nuco Training and ProTrainings, Louise brings her “Emergency First Aid at Work or Basic Life Support course,” to Devizes Corn Exchange on Tuesday 10th November. 

The course includes basic first aid, including the use of a defibrillator, for personal confidence, or a small business owner who needs the full 1-day accredited certificate to fulfil service to clients.

“I am planning to run the 4-hour emergency course concurrently with the full 6-hour accredited Emergency First Aid at Work,” Louise explained, “as the initial content is the same and then you can choose to stay on to cover the more everyday situations.”

The course will mix theoretical and practical learning and assessment, and the accredited certificate lasts for three years.

The cost per person including a manual and certificate is:

– 4-hour non-accredited basic life support £50

– 4-hour accredited basic life support £55

– 6-hour accredited emergency first aid at work £70

One question I wanted to ask Louise, as it’s bound to be a concern, being a first aid course is very hands on and practical, often involving close contact, how does she get over these obstacles in order to align it to current restrictions.

“Of course!” Louise replied, “I’ve been classroom teaching again since 15th June with these adaptations, when the covid level went from 4 to 3, so we were allowed to teach again, (click for Worsley’s COVID-19 Classroom Control Measures) and everyone has been really happy! Plus, the rule of 6 is excluded for work education and training.”

Louise will use the Ceres Hall, for this course, so at 90sq/m there’s plenty of space to socially distance.

So, is Louise a doctor? “No, I’m a teacher,” she explained, “This is one of the most common questions I get asked, when I say what I do. The assumption that you need to be a medical professional to be a first aid trainer is highly misleading.”

“Primarily because first aiders need to assess everything but diagnose very little. We gather all the information on levels of consciousness, breathing rates, sources of pain etc, and then pass that onto the doctors to establish exactly what is wrong. If immediate treatment is required e.g. for choking or using a defibrillator then we can step forward, but most of the time it is not that obvious.”

“Secondly, a medical degree is very different from a teaching degree. As a trainer you need to know how to present information so that the learners understand and memorise it regardless of the subject. Sadly, there are many first aid trainers out there who lack these vital teaching skills, even though their medical knowledge is way more advanced than what their learners need.”

“So, I am proud to say I am a qualified, experienced teacher, who also has plenty of hands-on first aid experience from over 8 years of leading adventurous expeditions overseas and more recently as a parent.”

Book your place on this first aid course, or for more information, click here.


Best Breakfast in Swindon?

So, on my Jack Jones I’ve time to kill this morning in that great western railway  megatropolis (least it is to us bumpkins, hanging onto a thread of Tory promise a train might one day stop in our backwaters.)

While I’m familiar with an antique Swindon of twenty-five years gone, and pockets of it remain surpringly unchanged, I’m alien to the contemporary choice of cafes and such. Still the objective is stomach-governed; get a decent breakie in me.

Thank heavens for the internet, innit tho? Gone is a time when a stranger would need swan around, hunting for a place to eat. One doesn’t recommend appearing like a tourist in Gorse Hill, I left my green wellies and Barbour jacket back at argh farmhouse. But tis where my intellectually far superior phone instructed me to head towards upon searching “best breakfast in Swindon.”

So, is The Butcher’s Cafe on Cricklade Road in that hill of gorse, the best breakfast in town? How the hell should I know, unless I trek the entire urban landscape stopping at each and every eatery? ….it’s a thought though. Something I’d be quite capable and motivated to attempt…let’s change the subject shall we? What the heck is a “gorse” anyway?

Away with such trivia and progessing to the nitty gritty. No doubt, The Butcher’s Cafe could justifiably call claim to hold the crown for best breakfast in Swindon, but it didn’t boast. It is, in it’s very essence, a no-frills, affordable home-cooked gaff, an ethos which wins my approval. I don’t need my baked beans served in a heart-shaped side-bowl and my cup of rosey on a doily. I need an English breakfast to be substantial, tasty and served with only a smile and ketchup. And that’s how it was.

Ticked nearly all my fussy boxes, yes sirey. As the name suggests it’s situated neighbouring a butchers, ergo sourcing those darn tasty sausages and bacon should come as no surprise, but the remaining ingredients were also cooked to perfection. It was in a word, scrumptious.

Where the egg would’ve fitted, if I’d wanted one, I’ve no idea!

Okay, nit-picking; I favour fresh tomatoes as apposed to tinned, and accept a slice of black pudding is reserved for north of the Watford gap and swanky folk in the south. Other than this, and that my no egg request wasn’t offered an alternative, a personal benchmark of greatness, it was a decent dish of quality and quantity; making the Butcher’s Cafe a very worthy gaff indeed.

It serves home cooked lunches and snacks, and it’s certainly not going to break the bank. Three quid for a smaller breakie, but you know me, large was £6.25 inclusive of what you don’t see in the photo was the perfectly toasted toast which arrived a split second later, and a mug of tea.

All round a nice, simple cafe with great service. Plucked out of the top ratings on TripAdvisor, there’s one who decided an autication over usage of the toilet, when they claimed staff mumbled their breath about customers using “their” facilities, was worthily of losing a whole four stars over. I figured I’d test the water, needed to point Percy at the porcelain anyways. Was courteously guided to the little boy’s room without issue; you can’t believe everything you read; amateurs, probably own a cafe up the road!

For the record, they knew not of my intended appraisal, so to treat me like royalty, but they was aware I was no regular, and still service was spot on. Also, a gorse is a yellow-flowered shrub of the pea family, the leaves of which are modified to form spines, native to western Europe and North Africa. See? My smarty-pants phone told me that, I’m not David Bellamy but I know a gorgeous breakfast when I see one!


Floating Record Shop Moored on Kennet & Avon

Jiggin’ in thar riggin’! Ahoy vinyl-buyin’ landlubbers, a record shop has been sighted floatin’ off arh local shores ‘n be due t’ dock along th’ Kennet & Avon canal o’er th’ next few weeks, ye hath been warned!

Argh, shiver me timbers, I did say a record shop, fer Th’ Record Deck be such, jus’ as I did see it wif me very own eyes; a floatin’ record shop, argh, on a barge, o’ all thin’s. Wha’ they can nah do these days, eh?

No, I nart be ganderflankin’ yer, moi lover, these pirate purveyors o’ vinyl ‘ave cited our waterways as thar last port o’ call afore winter sets in.

Th’ Record Deck opens on dry weekends ‘n at festivals ‘n events on UK canals ‘n rivers, tradin’ in vinyl ‘n sometimes recitin’ a sea shanty or two. Tomorrow they plan t’ stop at Hungerford lock. By Sunday 11th, they’ll moor at th’ legendary Barge in HoneyStreet, ‘n will drop anchor in th’ Vizes on Friday 16th ‘n stay fer th’ weekend. Tharn it be bound fer Bradford on Avon and Bath.

‘Tis okay, I plan t’ board them at some point, ‘n hopefully see whart they be up to, or least see them ‘n thar bloomin marvellous idea off! I will report moi findings back to arh captain’s table.

Go follow thar WordPress site or like th’ Facebook page fer more details!

Will Lawton and the Alchemists’ Live Stream Album Launch

While Andy has fondly mentioned the Malmesbury combo of frontman and pianist Will Lawton and drummer Weasel Howlett a few times in the past here, I’m still yet to witness them live. Such is the restrictions of today, could be a while.

Still, both are the backbone of Will Lawton and the Alchemists, formed in 2015 when Will and Weasel started to jam, record and perform their celebrated debut album, Fossils of the Mind three years later. The sound, the band, and their following, is constantly growing and evolving. Now a four-piece with Buddy Fonzarelli on upright bass, Ami Kaelyn on guitar and vocals, and Harki Popli with tabla, they have a live stream next Sunday 11th October to launch their second album, Abbey House Session, which is available now.

This is a six-track part-studio, part-live recording which was all captured in the library at Abbey House in Malmesbury. They describe their music as “beautiful, musical daydreams, with forays into jazz with drum and bass beats.”

The show promises interviews with the band members, and kicks off at 8pm, filmed live from Pound Arts. Tickets are £5 with ALL money going to Changing Tunes, a Bristol based charity who work in prisons using music and mentoring to help people lead meaningful lives, free from crime.

Ticket link: http://livelounge.tv/show-will-lawton-and-the-alchemists…


A Thrashing Surprise, with Typhoidmary’s Death Trans

See, I like an ordinary cuppa like the next Englishman, but there’s lots of varieties of tea, some I’m impartial about, others I outright don’t like. To say it “isn’t my cup of tea” doesn’t mean it definitely tastes like shit, to others it might be the best thing they’ve drunk.

It’s far harder to review something “not my cup of tea,” then something which is. If you think my reviews have been flattery recently, you’ve strayed from the ethos; there’s been lots of timelessly brilliant music released, most agrees with me. Yet, what if it doesn’t?

The evaluation is simple; on my opinion anyone producing original music outside the safety-zone of the commercial industry deserves a medal of bravery, I make a point not to outright slag something off, rather not review it at all and provide constructive criticism directly to the creator.

First impression of the newly released debut album independent Cheltenham-based record label, Screamlite kindly sent, Typhoidmary’s “Death Trans,” was borderline. Pragmatic about the name choice; throughout her life, Mary Mallon fiercely denied she was the cause of infection, and consequently hated her nickname. Who, in their right mind, would deliberately label themselves Typhoid Mary? Perhaps that’s the point, there’s an unparalleled clandestinely dark, clinically insane tenet to this album.

This, coupled with my initial revulsion to the substantial thrashing guitars and accomplished but screeching yells which explodes within six seconds on this album, I predicted drafting a reply explaining why I wouldn’t review it. The fact I didn’t, and the review is here, means something changed my mind.

To confine my eclectic tastes to particular genres, see, gets kicked in the teeth when something defined under my few detested pigeonholes impresses me. Metal and grunge are a couple of my off-putting genres, yet when Motörhead blast the Ace Of Spades, or I catch Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit I understand their worth, and while I might draw the line at stagediving a mosh pit, I rock the fuck out! If it does what it says on the tin, points are bestowed.

Given director Chris Bowen stated, “it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard this year,” I decided to throw caution to the wind; it deserves a really closer listen. For its production is quality, with eminence in the delivery. What I discovered was an emotive outpouring of tension and anguish like no other, the very reason why I’m reviewing it after all.

It drifts between ambiance to these thrashing guitar executions of temper, expelling strains of interrogative quandaries, discharging a bruised wreck of an authentic character, angry and confused at their sexuality and orientation, and the relationships which develop, or fail to, from it.

While gothic outcries of depression and anxiety are not my thing, this is accomplished in a manner fiercer and more emotional than anything I could contemplate to compare it to. Be it the post-punk of Siouxsie And The Banshees, commercialised gothic of Fields of Nephilim or Bauhaus, the battering metal of Slayer of thrashing hardcore skater sound of The Dead Kennedys and Black Flag, they all pale in compassion to the appetite and antagonism displayed by Typhoidmary, and Death Trans takes anguish to a whole other level. It spat in my tea, then smashed my cup; spilt boiling fucking tea on my lap! And for that alone, I award it full credit.

With distant soundscapes separating these ten tracks of haunting annotations, resonating desperate pleas and cynical cries over driven, hard-edged gothic-come-thrash metal riffs, Death Trans is not for the fainthearted. It’s a musical equivalent of Nabokov’s Lolita or Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, in so much as it takes you to a place you’d rather not be, but intrigue suspends you there.

Typhoidmary has released this spellbinding album for streaming and on her Bandcamp page, Screamlite aims to distribute it to all major digital stores on 16th of October. Fans of such goth and grunge will be bowled over with its exquisitely dark portrayals, yet if, like me, you’re a window shopper of such shadowy and adversative genres, this might be the album which drags you inside with your purse open.

Myself, I confess, I pretended to like Robert Smith in order to get off with pale, sorrow-filled rich chicks with black hair-dye and a chip on their shoulder, which, I might add, rarely paid off! Perhaps then, the younger me is the archetypal predator this album wedges a knife into, but it drove even me on an emotional roller-coaster ride, caused me to regret, and changed my preconceived ideas about the genre. Sod it, I’m off to get my nose pierced!


Drive-In Harvest Festival!

If the words “Drive In” conjours romantic images of fifties’ American youth, waking up little Suzie before her reputation is shot, we live in a changing era where inventive ideas to celebrate will overcome the restrictions. But here, I’d wager, is one you’ve not heard of before: a drive-in harvest festival!

This Sunday, October 4th the Wellsprings Benefice, a community that worships together across the five churches of Bulkington, Potterne, Poulshot, Seend and Worton & Marston, have a drive-in harvest festival at Five Lanes Farm. Starting at 11am.

The event will also be available on Zoom, if you are unable to attend. What an ingenious idea, and we wish them all the best.

More information here: https://www.wellspringsbenefice.co.uk

DOCA’s Window Wanderland

As part of their new Winter Festival, DOCA are inviting our local community to create something special in their windows to show just what an amazingly creative place Devizes is. Window Wonderland is a Covid-sade way to connect people, transforming streets into magical outdoor galleries.

DOCA invite anyone with a window to create a display which will become part of a programme of events over a weekend which they hope will light up Devizes. Over the weekend you will be able to pick up a map or download online.

Follow the trail of windows into Devizes Town Centre where you’ll find seasonal markets both indoors and out, selling beautiful artisan gifts, delicious food and drink, light installations and walkabout performers, a warm welcome and plenty of smiles.

TAKE PART
To take part and register your own window for this event follow the link to the Windon Wanderland website. Everyone that registers a Window will be added to our event map. You will be reminded of when to display your window and keep your light on!

Take part and register your window: https://www.windowwanderland.com/event/devizes-2020/

WALK THE TRAIL


You will be able to download a map from the DOCA website, the Facebook event, or pick one up from The Shambles over the weekend.

Windows will be displayed between 27th – 29th November from 5:30pm to 9pm.

Window Inspiration


Devizes is putting on a Window Wanderland and you want to take part? Wanderful! Welcome aboard.

Taking part is FREE and everyone is welcome. You can use the windows of your flat, house, business, school, nursery, car, camper van, shop…


It doesn’t even have to windows, you can also use your front door, the front of your house, your front garden…
Visit our website for ideas, FAQs and some top tips:

Devizes Window Wanderland


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