Song of the Day 37: Lady Nade

I could scrutinise my archives, like a minister’s accountant, but without doing so I highly suspect Lady Nade has had a song featured on our Song of the Day feature once before.

Futile to check, as if I’ve implimented a ruling of one song per artist on our feature, which I haven’t. And even if I had, I’m my own boss here, and have every right to override it. And for what? What purpose?

I’ll tell you, shall I? If only to share and spread the word, this is a gorgeous tune, with a video nodding to her home city, Bristol, and its hint of topical affairs, despite the conotations of the song not revealing a similar notion, rather a classic theme of romance.

But the soulful expertise of Lady Nade makes it look so easy, and in this beautifully executed breezy ballad, one can only gasp at her skill and wallow in its splendour.

And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on…..


Fish N Chips Getting Feisty

That’s more like it, proper English spring weather; the drizzle and occasional downpour returns! What better matching tucker could you get other than Britain’s favourite dish? But Britain’s favourite dish has never been this good. I’ve discovered The Feisty Fish, and now there’s no turning back.

The light at the end of the lockdown tunnel maybe in sight, but a little way off. The popularity of mobile popup kitchens isn’t winding down yet. Village and market town folk are still happy to queue, whatever the weather.

What will become of the trend when pubs and restaurants reopen is anyone’s guess, but if it continues, they’ll surely have to up their game. Rob, partner of the newly opened Feisty Fish takes each day as it comes, not ruling out the possibility of aiming the business at the event and festival circuit after lockdown. For while the key for many popup kitchens is to offer something exotic and a little different, The Feisty Fish do the opposite. This is gourmet at its simplest formula, Britain’s favourite, good old fish n chips.  

Chef Mark appeared content, when I rocked up for their first day camped at Calne’s Bug & Spider. After working abroad and on cruise ships, his last jaunt as head-chef on a yacht in Thailand, he smiled to the fact he was his own boss here. I asked him why fish n chips, while others aim for the unusual. “I feel the English are being let down; everyone loves fish n chips,” was the modest explanation, and while sure about the latter part to it, chippies remain packed every weekend across the county. The proof here is in the pudding; who am I but to dip in?

The menu and mobile kitchen are humble, fish n chips, battered sausage, Rowdey Cow ice cream for dessert, the price a mere pound or so above the average chippy, but the taste blows them all out of the water. The expertise of a head chef makes this a whole other ball game. Even the curry sauce is to die for!

Rob is proud to let me know the haddock is fresh daily from Grimsby, and everything, from fish to sauces are freshly prepared; there’s none of those heated cabinets keeping it lukewarm here. And yeah, I raced home with two standard haddock and chips dishes. From Calne the average chip shop chips would’ve greased through the paper and turned to mush upon my return. But presented in this cardboard container, these double or triple-cooked beauties stood the journey, and tasted like the best chips I’ve ever tasted for one outstanding reason, they were the best chips I’ve ever tasted. And if you know me, you’ll know, I’ve tasted chips, blooming loads of ‘em!

The fish was as it claimed to be, fresh, flaky, swathed in golden batter cooked to perfection, and served with a fresh chunk of lemon for my squeezing pleasure. Oh, and tartar sauce comes as standard, and is equally wonderful.

Now comes the killer; peas, the Marmite of fish n chips. Some like ‘em mushy, others like ‘em solid, but be it a north-south divide thing or just personal preference, the disaffected belief is steadfast on both sides of the fence, and no one budges on the issue. Me, I’m a solid pea kinda southern Nancy. Weirdly though, those Feisty Fishers bridge the gap with “broken peas.” Somewhere between the two, I actually munched my way through these, as far from the runny green sauce of mushy, or the pinging off your plate style of solid peas, this just worked, for all. Anyone who can unite the mushy and solid pea militias, thoroughly deserves every positive commendation going!

So, here comes the crunch, lesser than that of those gorgeous chips, but equally important. Even after one visit, I was left thinking, Harry Ram-who’s-dat-now? And I accept Tom Kerridge gave birth to the Michelin star pub grub inclination, but if you book The Hand & Flowers today, your hour-and-half trip to Marlow might happen for a Tuesday lunchtime a decade from now. But while these guys need an outlet on every major high street, this is a local, exclusive club secret I’m letting you in on here.

It’s only their sixth week in existence, and you’ll have to rendezvous at their weekly meeting points. These may change, so spare their Facebook page a like for updates, but for now, you will find them hanging out from 5pm-9pm, Wednesdays at The Bug & Spider, Calne, Thursdays at The Village Hall in Mildenhall, near Marlborough, Fridays at the old Chocolate Poodle in Littleton Panell, Devizes, and Saturdays at Milton Lilbourne’s Village Hall, Pewsey.

Thing is, and it’s a wonderful thing, if you’re not from those places, it’s well worth the drive. You can order online through their website, and get to taste exactly why I’m giving top marks.


Trending…….

Dear John, Concert Album for War Child renacts Lennon’s Classics

A star-studded celebration of John Lennon’s music will be released this Summer in aid of War Child UK.

Originally recorded live in concert last year ‘DEAR JOHN – CONCERT FOR WAR CHILD UK’ will receive official digital release on 11th June 2021, with all proceeds going to the charity.

The record features a number of legendary artists from across the globe who came together virtually to celebrate what would have been the 80th birthday of The Beatles icon: John Lennon. Pledging their support for the renowned charity and hoping to inspire change, the recording features stunning renditions of Lennon classics as performed by Sepp Osley and his band Blurred Vision, alongside a glittering array of guest stars including MAXI JAZZ (Faithless), KT TUNSTALLJOHN ILLSLEY (Dire Straits), NICK VAN EEDE (Cutting Crew), GOWAN (Styx), GRAHAM GOULDMAN (10CC), P.P. ARNOLD and many more.


The full track listing for the record is as follows:

‘DEAR JOHN – CONCERT FOR WAR CHILD UK’

1. STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER – BLURRED VISION
2. REAL LOVE – BLURRED VISION feat LAURA JEAN ANDERSON
3. DON’T LET ME DOWN – BLURRED VISION feat MOLLIE MARRIOTT
4. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE – GRAHAM GOULDMAN of 10CC
5. NORWEGIAN WOOD – NICK VAN EEDE of CUTTING CREW
6. POWER TO THE PEOPLE – MAXI JAZZ of FAITHLESS
7. TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS – GOWAN of STYX
8. DEAR JOHN – BLURRED VISION feat NICK VAN EEDE
9. A DAY IN THE LIFE – BLURRED VISION
10. GIMME SOME TRUTH – KT TUNSTALL
11. I’M ONLY SLEEPING – JOHN ILLSLEY of DIRE STRAITS
12. IMAGINE – P.P. ARNOLD & SEPP OSLEY
 

In 2019, a career-long dream to bring together a variety of artists to celebrate the music, the legacy, and the birthday of Beatle legend John Lennon came true for Sepp Osley and his up-and-coming band Blurred Vision. Hosted virtually mid-lockdown, the event would not only be a celebration of the iconic cultural figure, but also a fundraiser for the charity War Child, an organisation personally and deeply close to Osley’s heart.

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Born in war torn Iran in the mid 80’s, Sepp escaped the war gripped country of his birth with his family, beginning a tumultuous journey through the ancient lands, onto Europe and finally settling in Canada. With this clarity and artistic spark, the band Blurred Vision was formed with his brother and former bandmate. After a string of successes with his band, Sepp hosted the first ‘Dear John concert in 2019, in which musicians came together for a charity night celebrating Lennon, his musical impact, and the message of love he advocated. Fast forward to 2020, when the world was in lockdown. With no possibility of live music in sight, tours Sepp turned attention to the 2nd Annual ‘Dear John’ Concert and the situation created by the Covid19 pandemic brought about the idea to take the show to an online platform in the year where virtual concerts became the norm.

“I began reaching out to artists around the world who I respected and admired,” says Sepp. “Before I knew it, an unbelievable roster of artists had signed up and were going to be a part of the 80th birthday celebrations for our mutual hero and help us raise money for the charity so close to my heart.”

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What started as a hopeful, yet incredibly daunting endeavour turned into one of the most exciting concert productions of the year. Now in 2021, the 2nd Annual concert event is being turned into a digital charity album release. Featuring artists such as Laura Jean Anderson, John Illsley of Dire Straits, Maxi Jazz, and Sepp’s own band Blurred Vision, the album serves an addictive amalgamation of talent, in which fans can listen to discover musicians worldwide, relive the unforgettable performances of the classic Beatles and Lennon tracks, and raise funds for War Child UK in the process. ‘Dear John – Concert For War Child UK’ is a snippet of history now in audio form, that will live on for years to come.

‘DEAR JOHN – CONCERT FOR WAR CHILD UK’- RELEASED: 11TH JUNE 2021 ITUNES PRE ORDERS BEGIN: 5 MAY  PRE-ORDER HERE


Meet the Wiltshire Council Election Candidates

Or at least the ones either valiant or crazy enough to stomach appearing on Devizine!

I did, didn’t I, promise not to edit or “open my big cake hole,” rather offer any candidate two paragraphs on why the heck we should vote for them, and leave it at that?

No bias, no political grandstanding, no wonky opinion, and, take heed politicians/councillors; I’m a man of my word! The only editing I’ve had to undertake is the obvious grammar and spelling mistakes. Honestly, it’s been like a primary school teacher’s weekend!

I was informed there were hundreds of wanna-be councillors and it was suggested I’d be inundated. But to-date, only these guys braved the wrath. But, if you’re a councillor thinking, well blow me down with a manifesto attached to feather, attached to a brick, that filthy commoner stuck to his promise and refrained from insulting and mocking candidates, and I missed my chance; the beauty of online blogging is I can add you, if you so wish. Just drop me line on devizine@hotmail.com and you’re in the club. There’s no badge or plastic club wallet though, try to control your tantrum at this.

By the way, I postal voted, so I’m way past caring!

While I’m here though, and before I tangent or lower the tone, I’d like to wish all candidates the very best of luck, and being so popular it scares me, be thankful I’m not running as an ultramodern monster raving loony candidate, or a conservative, as it’s better known. Apologies, couldn’t resist one quick satirical stab; somebody stop me!


Margaret Green: Green Party Candidate for Devizes Rural West

Looking for a challenge in my third retirement… What should I do??? I know, drive Wiltshire to meet a zero carbon future by 2030 😉 become a Wiltshire Councillor…

Something to keep me busy when not out with the horses or importing French saddles (Brexit has been interesting)…

I have lived Wiltshire since retiring from the MOD in 2009, and am proud to have called our beautiful town of Devizes home for the last 5 years. Since moving to Devizes, I’ve become involved with Sustainable Devizes, the Wiltshire Climate Alliance, and the Green Party. All organisations committed to delivering a better future for local residents.

My highest priority is to ensure that Wiltshire Council delivers a sustainable local plan that provides safe, warm affordable homes for all citizens, while preserving the character of the area.

The Green Party never tell their councillors how to vote. So, I can be an independent voice for Devizes Rural West, putting residents and not party politics first.

I have loved working with you and for you, finding out what matters to you, looking for solutions to local problems and working to make this area better for everyone in the community. That’s why I’m standing for election.
I would be honoured to be your representative on Wiltshire Council and get even more done for you as your councillor. For more information on Green Party policies, see our Manifesto here:
https://campaigns.greenparty.org.uk/manifesto/


Alan Coxon: Independent Candidate for Pewsey, Milton Lilborne, Easton Royal, and Wootton Rivers.

I am excited to be standing for election as your Independent candidate
for the Pewsey area for Wiltshire council.

I’m not tied by party policies and party politics, I will be your voice,
not the party representative. I know I can offer you something
different, a real voice in local government.

I’m not going to make false promises, but I do have a raft of policies.
The policies are extensive and so available on my website,
https://www.alan-coxon.com/ and there is more information about me and
why I am the choice for you.

Formerly on the Parish Council I have made a real impact preserving
local services. I have a lot of experience in Local Government to add
to my wide life and employment experience.

Be the change.


Lisa Kinnaird: Liberal Democrats Candidate for Urchfont and Bishops Cannings

Well, it’s not all about me!  In voting for a Liberal Democrat Candidate, you will be supporting our Plan for Wiltshire. I am fully behind the Plan and would love the opportunity to reset and transform the way Wiltshire is run and how services are delivered. The Conservatives have governed nationally now for 11 years, and have led Wiltshire council since its creation in 2009.  In that period, we have seen a decline in all areas of our public services.  It’s hard to think of any that have improved and this managed decline directly impacts our lives here in Wiltshire.  We don’t need to shrug and accept this. As a Liberal Democrat councillor, I would deliver on our promise to run our council more openly and with greater direct engagement with communities.  Our plan recognises our commitment to the environment with practical steps to reduce CO2 rather than abstract and distant targets. For our villages I would campaign to create safe (e)cycling and routes linking our villages to Devizes so all ages can “get to town” without a car. 

Briefly about me.  I was a hairdresser, then worked in Social Care then switched again to become secondary school teacher!  I moved to Urchfont as an Army family 20 years; all 3 of my Children have gone to our local state schools.  I ran a local youth club, helped with the rights of way group and now a local environment group.  I plant hedges and trees, walk my dog, have always campaigned against racism and inequality, shout at Andrew Marr and get upset at a corruption and old boys’ networks.  We deserve more honesty, integrity and compassion from our representatives at all levels and I put myself forward to represent our community to try and be exactly that.  I’d have a huge amount to learn, but I would genuinely do my best for my community and Wiltshire.

https://www.facebook.com/LisaKinnairdUrchfontBishopsC

David Kinnaird: Liberal Democrats Candidate for Devizes North

Well – as a Lib Dem Candidate I’d echo the views set out by Lisa Kinnaird above.  I won’t repeat the Lib Dem manifesto again.

About me – I served 15 years in the Army leaving as a Major in 2000, and it was in my final 3 years of service that we moved to Urchfont.  Since then, I have worked and lead in technology and property companies in London, the USA and India and outside the Army have had to work hard to understand how business works.  Unsurprisingly my interests mirror Lisa’s and I have been involved in all of her voluntary and campaigning activities – but was also a School Governor of our local Primary School.   I feel grounded and happy in Wiltshire but want to see better public services and equality of access for all of us.

I’d have a huge amount to learn again about local government, but if elected would bring wide experience and dedication to the post.  I hope you can put your trust in me.

https://www.planforwiltshire.org.uk/theplan

https://devizeslibdems.org.uk/en/

Iain Wallis: Conservative Candidate for Devizes North

I have lived in Devizes most of my life and have always felt incredibly lucky to live here. Having been interested in local issues for many years I went to a town council organised ‘consultation’ event in 2014 and couldn’t believe how little the councillors there actually wanted to listen to the views of the town. They had their plan and weren’t going to budge; the consultation was little more than lip service to those who had even discovered the session was being run. As a result, many of those there, who I spoke to and thought had great ideas, never came back as they couldn’t see the point if they weren’t going to be heard.

At that point I decided that what was needed was someone who wanted to listen to the town and work with others but was also stubborn enough not to be pushed around by an old guard who were comfortable with things as they were. I believe I am that person and that I can help others from across the town get their voice heard, especially those who say to me that the council don’t want to hear from them as it’s even more important that they have a voice. I recognise that not everyone will always agree with my view, my politics, or my actions, but I hope they recognise that I will always be prepared to take action and justify them with honesty and integrity. No one should want to be a councillor to say they are a councillor; they should do it because they want to make a difference – however corny that may sound.

https://www.facebook.com/Iain-Wallis-for-Devizes-North-101007508522736

Noel Woolrych: Labour Candidate for Devizes East

Why should you vote for me? For 30 years I’ve been working behind the scenes to get a new hospital and to restore a rail link to the Town (I’m one of the DDP Directors committed to delivering this by 2025). Potholes (enough said!) Green issues – I’m one of the few people who have actually converted their houses to near Zero carbon. I want to do more. Homeless issues, fly tipping, I could give you a wish list as long as your arm.

https://www.facebook.com/noelwoolrych.devizeseast

 Angelika Davey: Liberal Democrats Candidate for Devizes East

Although I’ve been living in Devizes East since 1988 you may not have heard of me because unlike my political opponents I cannot boast of any involvement in political or social local issues. I have not been a mayor or even a councillor, because raising a family and starting my own business has taken all my time. As a self-employed teacher my working times change every time a student leaves and a new student wants lessons. But in recent months this has changed as most of my new students learn via my online courses – and I now have more time.

And I want to use this time best by serving Devizes East residents.

I am concerned about our green spaces and as a teacher I am very interested in education and youth services. But most of all I will work for you. If you raise any issues with me, I will get back to you. Whether it’s something I can do or not, or if it’s taking longer than anticipated – you will get replies from me!

I love living in Devizes and I want the best for all of us!

https://www.facebook.com/DevizesEast

Laura Mayes: Conservative Candidate for Bromham, Rowde & Roundway

I am Laura Mayes, the Conservative candidate for Bromham, Rowde & Roundway for the Wiltshire Council elections on 6th May.  I have been the Wiltshire Councillor for Roundway for 12 years and am the only candidate who lives in the constituency so have a real vested interest in doing my best for residents.  I look forward to adding Bromham and Rowde to my patch after the boundary change.  I have built a reputation for acting quickly to solve local issues and getting results – I don’t give up easily!  In addition to representing Roundway residents, I have been supporting Rowde Parish Council for the last year, including securing £20,000 to improve the playground at Silverlands.  I have also been attending Bromham Parish Council meetings – I am up to date with the road, drainage, planning and broadband issues so will be able to hit the ground running after the election.

I have worked hard for the last 12 years to make improvements to our area, and if you elect me, I will continue to support residents.  As one resident said, “You’re doing a great job Laura – you make things happens.  The world needs more you!”

https://www.facebook.com/Laura4Roundway

Mark Mangham: Liberal Democrats Candidate for Bromham, Rowde & Roundway

I am new to politics but have been driven to stand because of the poor performance of Wilshire council.  I am a former soldier, a defence consultant and treasurer of the friends of Erlestoke prison charity. I volunteered for Love Devizes during the pandemic.  The last month has been really illuminating talking to people on the doorstep and I can’t wait to be able to make a difference if lucky enough to be elected. I hope to talk to you personally before May 6th.

Furlong Close should be a great example of how a village has taken a vulnerable community to its heart.  Instead, it’s under threat of closure and is not yet safe and the Council have been dragged kicking and screaming to perform a U-turn by a small group of parents of vulnerable residents.  That alone is a scandal and in lockdown has caused stress and anxiety in a community who actually needed proactive support. They have been briefed against and only very recently when 43,000 people signed a petition taken seriously.

In certain areas in Roundway there is about to be a major traffic nightmare with the new estate and no extra access or provision – and those who live on London Road have it pretty bad already.  People in Rowde are about to get triple the congestion at the new super school – and planning are dragging their feet on making the access safe and sensible.  The speed limit is far too high and three deaths in an accident appears to have made no difference.

Wilts County Council led by the LibDems made a commitment on climate change in 2019 – but only when sensible conservatives rebelled – I fear my opponent was not one of them.  It is time to make sure the council helps to put the environment at the heart of policy.  Reducing pollution levels from unnecessary traffic queues would be a start!

Finally, local youth have been let down with the collapse in youth services; Braeside was saved by a campaign led by ordinary people – and central government funding and bans priorities in the county council have had a terrible impact on people badly affected by the pandemic.

Listening to people and taking action will be my aim – I look forward to be lucky enough to be able to get going!

https://www.facebook.com/MarkManghamBRR

Song of the Day 36: Daydream Runaways

It’s those guys again. Yes, we’ve reviewed the song before, but this our quick song of day feature, which usually requires a video, and it’s the vid which is new…. and marvelous.

“Something Anerican Pie about it,” Ollie of the Longcoats suggests on Instagram, and I tend to agree. Due to lockdown the Daydreamers haven’t managed to produce a video for it, so photographer Vansessa Paiton made it using stock footage. And what a grand job, it looks fantastic and apt for the tune. Makes feel young again, but I’ll say no more!

And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on…..


Devizes Town Band in Chippenham

“We’ve been waiting patiently to get back to playing again,” says our town band here in good old Devizes, “but now we are getting excited!”

The reason, with regulations permitting, they’ll be at Chippenham’s John Coles Park, off Malmesbury Road, on Sunday 23rd May, 3pm-5pm, for some free live music, promising to be a “musical extravaganza!” Bring a picnic, “we’ll be using our marquee, so you won’t miss us!”

Devizes Town Band formed in April 1999 as the Alpha Wind Ensemble. Mike Ward of Bratton Silver Band joined as Musical Director a year later, and by 2001 they became the Devizes Town Band and gained permission from the Town Council to use the town crest.

Since then, the band has gone from strength to strength, with various concerts including Proms at Hillworth Park. They’ve raised funds for many local charities, including Alzheimer’s Support, Julia’s House Hospice. They’ve played at Royal Victoria Park in Bath and the bandstand at Bournemouth, via their association with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, but recently reduced to making monthly Zoom videos during the lockdown to keep in practise.

For my best memory will always be the Christmas Light Switch-On and Lantern Parade, when, with cold fingers warming around a cup of mulled wine, the Town Band played a brilliant classical version of Jona Lewie’s Stop The Cavalry; and it’s not yule until I hear that song!

And now, showtime is nearing! Devizine wishes Devizes Town Band the very best of luck for a refreshed season. Until then, thanks to Bill Huntly’s now disbanded Devizes TV, enjoy a memory from the 2014 Proms at Hilworth Park.


Trending…..

Looking Forward to the Trades’ Road of Solid Gold

Scrub the headline as ‘news,’ here at Devizine Towers, as we look forward to any update The Lost Trades trio throw at us, especially a nice pint in a pub with those guys playing. Which is what we’re building to, fingers crossed, as they pencil in HoneyFest at the Honeystreet Barge on their growing confirmed gig list.

Among them, Frome’s Cheese & Grain, Salisbury’s Winchester Gate, the Couch in Bracknell, Schtum in Box and WeyFest. Proof their exceptional and convivial brand of folk is resounding far and wide. Another validation for the Lost Trade’s reputation is news today the second single from the highly anticipated debut album, out on 7th May, features the violin mastery of the incredible Peter Knight.

A legend of folk, Peter learned his trade at Royal Academy of Music, and not only was a founding member of Steeleye Span, undoubtedly the most renowned group of the British folk revival alongside Fairport Convention, but secretly was Uncle Bulgaria of the Wombles band too! He’s worked with blues legend Alexis Korner and Mary Hopkin to namedrop out of many, and today his occasional big band, Peter Knight’s Gigspanner Band are a unique force in British folk music with high-energy, virtuosic performances appealing equally to traditionalists and to those looking for something experimental.

See, I love a mean fiddler garnish on my folk, and as the Trades say, “as collaborations go, it doesn’t get much more mouth-watering than this.”

Road of Solid Gold – The Lost Trades (featuring Peter Knight) will be released on 7th May, another appetiser for the foresaid album. “When we were recording the song, we knew we had the seeds of something a bit special, but we felt it needed some extra magic. We were thrilled when Peter agreed to add that magic and we can’t wait for you to hear it.” Umm, yes indeedy, and we can’t wait to hear it!


Trending….

Chapter 6: The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole

Chapter Six: in which, to much surprise, the Davizes Town Council pull off a viable solution, and we complete this general silliness once and for all.

“You might be right, for once, man,” Briggs gulped as he stood outside the Davizes Town Hall with his senior chief councillor, the mighty Yellowhead. “They seem more like the guardians of the galaxy then just the Guardians of Davizes!”

“Nonsense,” Yellowhead spurted, with his hands on his hips, staring at the great building. “It was but a joke, not that I’m terribly good at them I’ll be the first to admit, but the satire is in ironic overstatement; they believe they’re as powerful as the guardians of the galaxy, but far from it. They’re actually just a bunch of no-hoping conceited and arrogant do-gooders!”

“Oh, it’s just the way the town hall is hovering three foot above the ground with a lime green misty light beaming underneath it, is all,” replied Briggs. If he thought the circular design of the Davizes Town Hall resembled the archetypical flying saucer of 1950s B-movies, he did now it was as he said, hovering a foot off the ground with an eerie lime-green light below it.

“Do not allow their silly tricks to fool you, Briggs,” Yellowhead assured, “they are no more alien than I am Karl Marx.”

The fact a tractor beam had engulfed his superior, and was currently dragging him upwards towards the vast opening doors enlightened Briggs’ suspicion, yet it didn’t worry him any more than he thought it might.

“Do not fear, Briggs, neither attempt a rescue. It’s standard council procedure to apply a tractor-beam and hoist in any suspicious looking strangers,” Yellowhead assured further, “just another extravagant show of false power tripping! They use it to pull in anyone they suspect might be a challenge to their leadership. The devise was first pioneered by Noel Edmonds, off the telly.”

“Really?” Briggs reacted unsurprised, “You, like, sure it was him?”

“Looked like him,” Yellowhead asserted, “yes, same name, and same leftie trimmed grey beard. Even likes telly, put cameras all over town, but the irony is, they used his weapons against him when he signed up as the Labour Party candidate for town council elections, ha-ha!” Then he waved his fist at the building he was being forced up to, and shouted at it, “I’m as tory as you, you flipped out loons! I knew the transfer of obligations from county council to town council would go to your heads; you could’ve given your kids a splashpad, like the folk of Milksham, instead you spend it on this tomfoolery! We will take Pews Bond Wood for this; you’ll see if we don’t! Two hundred new homes for tory voters if you don’t put me down right now!”

The tractor beam continued pulling him inwards to the great doors of the town hall, as they opened to accept him. A second tractor beam pulled Briggs in too, it was rather alarming, he very near dropped his spliff. “Like wow, I’m just like, floating man; pass my meds!”

“Three hundred houses!” Yellowhead threatened, “and, and an English Defence League HQ if you don’t put me down immediately, I’m warning you!”

With the roach resting casually on his chin, Briggs asked a scrawny green alien at the door, “have you, like, got a light, man?” but all the creature did was lower his halberd and inaudibly communicate his order for them to follow him.

“Telepathy!” Yellowhead grumbled, “I ask you, what other clichés do the Guardians have at their disposal? Pathetic showy arrogance!” And then he addressed the alien, “we have telepathy at county council level too. You’re not showing us anything new!”

In a vast futuristic hall, sat around a Perspex table on high back chairs, six giant green alien beings with oversized piercing black oval eyes and even more oversized brains, the veins of which were pulsating. Around the edges of them another six nerdy human beings also sat, wearing patterned cardigans and spectacles with thin chains. In unison the aliens spoke in a deep, haunting tone, “we are the Guardians of the Galaxy!”

“Told you so,” Briggs boasted.

“We’re not!” added one of the human councillors, “we are the few conservatives trying to take over the independents, and we’ll never get there if I fail to insist, we must push on with the meeting!”

A rotund fellow bravely stood up, “I’m only here because I have a non-bias Facebook page with over a thousand likes!” Everyone in the hall ignored him.

“Firstly, I’d like to raise my point once more,” the original human councillor continued, “that they are not the Guardians of anything such, they are the so-say Guardians of Davizes, and nothing more!” This amused Yellowhead. It was the first time he had felt any connection to this place.

“We are the Guardians of the Galaxy!” they bellowed again in unison.

“You are guardians of nothing more than a few trees in the town’s market place,” Yellowhead stated, “you pathetic oaths!”

“Okay,” the aliens confessed, “we were guardians of the galaxy, from a planet where trees are sacred. We came here to save the trees, but we liked it so much, we stayed. Something in the water.”

“Like duh, cow dung!” Briggs giggled.

“Now listen,” Yellowhead sternly addressed the board. “Something is terribly amiss here. Your consistency has transformed into a leftie terrorist love-in festival and I don’t give a hoot what stupid game you think you’re playing, but it needs to stop with immediate effect!”

“Yeah, man,” Briggs added, “I reckon we’re in the wrong dimension!”

A county gent in a flat-cap stood up, “I have an objection, this is not on the agenda!”

Grouplike, the aliens gave great thought, and finally said unto Yellowhead, “your complaint will be put forth for discussion shortly. As I can confirm you are from an alternative dimension, just like independents and lefties, your priority to speak is lower than that of our right-wing residents. If you wish to make a point, you must follow the correct procedure. Fill out a complaint form, send it to your local councillor, who will forget about it for a month, then you must resend until they raise it at the monthly meeting, and the council will decide to take a vote on whether to hear it, then if they do, they take the vote and hear it, then it goes out for discussion. The results are published in the minutes and read at the next monthly meeting. Suggestions on how to solve it are discussed, voted on and discussed again. Then, after coffee, the council raises the point it’s been a while since the original complaint, and wonder if it’s all blown over, which hopefully it would have.”

“We, like, just wanted to know,” Briggs started, “if we’ve entered another dimension, or not, if you knew?”

“We have answered that,” they replied in unison. “and it is confirmed. I shall put the resolution to the issue on the agenda. If you would like to fill out a complaint form, send it to your local councillor, resend until they raise it at the monthly meeting, and the council will decide to take a vote on whether to hear it, then if they do, they take the vote and hear it, then it goes out for discussion. The results are published in the minutes and read at the next monthly meeting. Suggestions on how to solve it are discussed, voted on and discussed. Then, the council raises the point it’s been a while since the original complaint, and wonder if it’s all blown over, which hopefully it would have.”

“For the love of Adolf Hitler!” sighed Yellowhead.       

The aliens addressed the flat-cap country gent, “you may say your piece, Alf.”

“Oh, yes your highness,” Alf mumbled under his overgrown moustache. “I propose the building of a six-by-four shed in my back garden.”

“No chance!” interrupted Yellowhead, “as chief county councillor I take presidency over all here, and I say no, that land is, erm, protected, because of a rare breed of newts found there.”

“Yet in your own dimension, councillor Yellowhead,” the aliens retorted, “your council have passed the building contract for over five hundred houses on the very field behind Alf’s premises, precisely where the newts were discovered.”

“Poppycock!” Yellowhead blurted, “it’s the newts we want to protect, it has nothing to do with any such backhander from the building company I’ll receive. How dare you even suggest it! Now, our situation is far more urgent and I demand it takes priority!”

“We have other urgent matters on the agenda,” the aliens claimed. “Gavin wants an extension to his garage, and Mabel is hoping to campaign to clean the areas of interest road signs. Please, we must adhere to the schedule, I have outlined what you must do, do not anger the chair.”

“How can you, like, anger a chair?” Briggs giggled, “call it a pouffe?!”

The rotund man stood up and pleaded before the Guardians, “please, I beg of you, spare my fellow conservative any pain, he know not what he say, he know not what he do. He hasn’t even got a Facebook page.”

“If my point is not heard soon,” Yellowhead demanded, “my head will explode with the influx of leftism bureaucracies, there is only so much utter piffle my mind can take. I say burn Alf’s shed to the ground, Gavin clearly wants an extension to his manhood, and I would smash Mabel in the chops with a filthy area of interest road sign!”

“Then,” the Guardians spoke, “let us pass this notion, so we can move forward.”

“Whatever! Just get on with it.”

“Permission for Alf’s shed is passed. You may build your shed Alf,” the Guardians said.

Alf was grateful and stood down.

“Now, Mr Yellowhead,” they addressed our hero. “I shall call you, as your councillor title means nothing here. Your monkey is correct when it surmised you slipped into another dimension when you fell through a porthole. The idea of inter-dimension tourism is too much for your council to accept, so they disguised them as potholes many years ago. The multiverse is real, hence the obscene number of potholes. We can, and regularly do pass through the portholes, but we cannot send you back through them. Not without the cognisant of the full council, a subject which could take decades following aforementioned procedures.”

“That I don’t doubt!” Yellowhead stated. “Miltshire Council could have closed twelve care homes by now!” 

“It’s the interfering conservatives in our council,” the Guardians claimed, “they’ll claim to be doing something about an issue, but if there’s nothing in it for them….”

“Oh, but there is,” Yellowhead affirmed, “to get me off their backs! How they, and you for that matter, let things get so utterly low and leftie is beyond me. Do you realise there is graffiti on the walls of the Corn Exchange?”

“It is not known as that here,” one conservative councillor added.

“No,” informed Briggs, “they call it the Porn Exchange here. Blooming marvellous, spent hours in there the other day.”

“The graffiti is by a top artist known as Banky. His pieces are highly sort after in the art world. He is the only bank the council trust,” the Guardians explained.

“Filth! Get rid of it, paint over it immediately!” Yellowhead demanded.

“We would rather proceed with the process of getting you back to your own dimension,” the aliens sighed, “you don’t fit in here.” It was a hard pill to swallow, to accept you fit in less on your home planet than a bunch of aliens, but Yellowhead was that thick-skinned, and never really watched sci-fi anyway.

“Good,” he stated, “and what do you imbeciles propose to do that, being you said you cannot send us back?”

“Not through dimensions, no,” the aliens replied, “but we can send you back in time, back to the point just before you fell into the porthole. We can send a carrier pigeon to give you a message, a message you yourself will write in your own handwriting, fully convincing your previous self not to enter the pothole. You will have no memory of this ever happening, see?”

Yellowhead thought about it and was shocked not to see any issue with it. In fact, it sounded better than he wished for, not knowing anything about this sick world full of lefties. Even in his own dimension he had some keyboard warrior disciples of Corbyn, and but it was nothing compared to this. “Yes, that sounds, adequate. Briggs will fill in the finer details.”

“I’m, like staying here, man.”

“You most certainly are not, Briggs, will escort me back to our own dimension and through a series of painful electroshock treatments and Morrisey songs on repeat, you will reform back to a conservative attitude and pledge your allegiance to Sir Boris Johnson, and beg that he forgives you for your sins. And you can remove those nipple rings too!”

The rotund fellow waddled forward with a pen and paper. “Write your message to yourself on here. It will be in strict confidence what you chose to write, but you should refrain from explaining why. To provide information about the potholes to your former self could prove disastrous to the space time continuum and implode all known dimensions, including your own. Furthermore, and even more importantly, if you post any news of it on my Facebook page, I’ll ban you outright.”

“Petty Facebook group admins,” Yellowhead laughed in his face. “Give them an inch of responsibility and they think they’re Mark Zuckerberg. Just give me the paper, fatso.” Yellowhead thought for less than two seconds, then scribbled out a message to his former self. He rolled it into a scroll, tittered, and handed it back to the fellow. “Done! Now, how do you alien cretins propose to send us back in time?”

“Via a DeLorean which when it, like, hits 88mph,” Briggs anticipated, “we catch fire and travel through time, I’m hoping.”

“Are you kidding?” the Guardians frowned. “Hitting anything near 58mph on Miltshire roads is taking your life in your own hands! The likelihood of you falling into another porthole and into another dimension is virtually a given thing. We will do it by chanting a scared Guardian verse from ancient times, around the sacred pyramid of Albion Place.”

“Great,” Briggs said, “I’ll be able to smoke my last joint on the way. Care to partake, Yellow, it’ll make you mellow, or at least slightly mellower?”

“Have you completely lost your mind, Briggs?”

Briggs laughed, “I’m not the one with an alien tentacle stuck on my bonce!” Which was true, at least.

“Firstly,” one Guardian continued, reaching out a long tentacle and affixing it onto Yellowhead’s yellow forehead, “you must be implanted with the notion find love for your fellow man, and take heed of all god’s creatures, for they may hold a message for you. This will ensure you notice the pigeon is carrying a message. As a complete ignoramus towards all forms of life, there is a danger you will shoe it away.”

They marched down to Albion Place quite silently. Even Yellowhead was concerned about mind meddling aliens controlling him. He was usually the one controlling everyone else. Suddenly, after only a small chant, Briggs called out, “oh wow, far out! Just like, like, like dreaming, man!”

“Don’t be a dreamer, Briggs,” Yellowhead snarled but was unsure why he said it, “we don’t have a bottomless pit of funding.”

Briggs pulled the van over. The potholes here resembled an asteroid impact zone. “This will save us some pennies,” Yellowhead observed, “something to do other than blasted Zoom meetings. Cut out the middleman, Highways Agency are a hinderance on our budget,” he stated as he gulped Briggs’ Bollinger. “If a job’s worth doing…. Now, get out and spray a yellow circle around that one!”

Briggs got out to paint the circle, despite not be trained. Yellowhead followed suit, to fart. Briggs opened the van’s rear doors and climbed inside to fetch the spray paint canisters. Councillor Nora Fayes popped up from behind some road signs. Briggs jumped out of his skin. “Say anything to Yellowhead and I’ll do you!” she claimed, yielding a hunter’s dagger and pointing at him in a threatening manner. “You, kid,” she added, “are worth so much more than Yellowhead’s plaything. You will go up to the pothole, and you will fall into it, making it look like an accident. Do I make myself perfectly clear?”

“Um, yes, I suppose,” Briggs confirmed, and he stepped out of the van. He looked rather flushed, but Yellowhead failed to notice it. Nora peaked through the gap of the van’s backdoors and startled.

She saw a gull, of all things. It had descended upon Yellowhead and was frantically fluttering around his head. He considered shoeing it off with his arm, when a random and unsolicited thought occurred to him: find love for your fellow man, and take heed of all god’s creatures, for they may hold a message for you.

Yellowhead questioned his own thoughts as he grabbed hold of the gull, mumbled something about leftie snowflakes invading his psyche via telepathy being the final straw, and yelped, “Nora! Where are you when we need you the most?!”

“Gull!” shouted Nora, bursting from the van and taking Yellowhead unsuspectingly. She ran directly at the bird with angry expression of hate and murder.

“Find love for your fellow man,” Yellowhead called, “and take heed of all god’s creatures.” And he pulled off a message attached to the gull’s leg, just in time before Nora pounced on it and bludgeoned it with the dagger. Blood filled her face as she buried it into to the dead bird, feeding off of its meat.

“It’s quite a deep one,” Briggs observed the pothole. “Maybe pop a cone in it?”

“Yes, yes, whatever!” belched Yellowhead, the kerfuffle and also, the fresh air taking effect on his drunkenness. “You are sick, woman!” he said as he ignored her from here on whence, and read the message.

Briggs dropped the cone in the centre of the pothole. It floated for a matter of seconds and then sank out of sight into the muddy puddle. “Oh, it is deep,” he noted.

“Get that cone out of there!” Yellowhead demanded as he retched up pheasant chunks. “We’ve not the cash lying around to lose a cone.”

Briggs hesitated, then attempted to straddle the puddle, but it was too large. His right foot went partly in, and so he naturally extended his left foot outwards into the centre. Next thing Yellowhead noted was Briggs completely disappearing under the water. “For the love of Thatcher!” he moaned. For on the note, it expressly told him, whatever he did he should not enter the pothole, in his own writing. On a footnote it said Briggs was a traitor, a leftie dissident, and should he fall in, not to concern himself too much about it. A further footnote, which was not in his handwriting apologised, for not having a carrier pigeon to hand, therefore they would have to make do with a gull.

Yellowhead pulled his phone from his pocket. “Yes, it’s me,” he reported, “yes, I will fill out the minutes to the last meeting as soon as I get back. Sorry? Yes, on a mission, yes. Look, this is an emergency, I need a new junior councillor sent out, one with some water wings.”

There was a cold silence as Yellowhead listened aghast to his superior. He tutted at Briggs’ stupidity, but supposed he asked for it, his naivety cost him his life out here. It was untamed territory, life was hard. He wasn’t completely inhumane, and he mourned the boy’s death for the best part of ten seconds. “What do you mean, the one I’ve got? He’s an idiot, sir, with all due respect.” He hung up, put the phone back in his pocket.

Briggs appeared from the opposite side of the van, strangely he wore different clothing, tighter and silver coloured.

“Ah, Briggs, good to see you, young fellow!” Yellowhead asserted. “Thought you was a goner for a second. But all’s well that ends well. It feels like some enormous mission has come to a final happy ending, despite all we’ve done is drunk some Bollinger, painted a yellow circle around a pothole and sung some flag-waving anthems. But,” he let out a huge belly-laugh, “what else is there to do in the day in the life of a Miltshire Councillor?!”

And, for this tale it was indeed the end. Yellowhead thought they’d collect their things and venture back to county hall, maybe strap the insane Nora to the roof rack. However, Briggs seemed distraught, he lobbed a flamethrower at Yellowhead, told him to point it at Nora and fire. Then he rushed into the van, took it into a spin, smashing Nora to the ground. He leapt from the van, dowsed it with petrol, lit it and jumped clean out of the blast zone.

Screaming, the silhouette of Nora in the centre of the blast, amidst a bellowing of black smoke could be seen. “Oh, jolly good show, Briggs, you’ve burned Nora alive. Imagine the paperwork now.”

“Blast her!” demanded Briggs as he ran for his life.

Yellowhead knotted his brow, “I think she’s toast, really……” then he stopped in his tracks, as the figure moved sharply towards him from the burning scene. It retained the shape of Councillor Nora Fayes, but was sparkling, like silver under flame. Red lasers appeared from her eyes and scanned the area, like a robot.

“Dear me,” Yellowhead exclaimed, “she was such a do-gooder, I feared she might turn into a leftie. But an ultramodern cyborg sent to kill me from some apocalyptic future, is nearly as bad.” He open-fired the flamethrower, but it barely left a scratch on her metallic body.

“Briggs, have we any nuclear arms at County Hall?” he asked, “could do with a couple.”

“I’m Briggs,” the man said, reaching out his hand as the robot approached them at speed, “but not the Briggs you know! Come with me, if you want to live!”


That’s all folks, I do hope you enjoyed our fictional fable; worked out alright in the end, kind of!


Trending…..

The Naan Guru of Old Devizes Town

Not one for needles, but one for Indian street food, thought I’d better treat myself, and the good lady wife too, mind, after being jabbed.

Yep, vaccination accomplished, the excellent service at Devizes Corn Exchange did not advise eating Indian street food was completely necessary, but did advise waiting fifteen minutes before driving. So we took an unsuspecting wander.

Not that I’d have imagined to find such a curiosity along our Brittox. But to our surprise, there stood a colourful graffiti facade where a bakery was once situated. Intrigue drew me inside. The fantastic decor was executed by Glimmertwin Graffiti Murals of Brighton, and had this been the lanes of Brighton, or the markets of Camden, such a delicatessen would have blended right in.

Here in Devizes, it stands out, but unlike a sore thumb and more like the tucker it purveys, it’s darn gorgeous.

A bizarrely wonderful addition to our precinct, Naan Guru opened today, Friday 23rd April, and was already attracting attention. The owner also has a pie shop in Trowvegas, hence some rather splendid looking pies on show, but this new venture is something rather different.

We’re talking sourdough naan kebabs of chicken tikka, lamb, sharmi or vegan shish, or morning visits might be enticed by a full English breakfast naan.

We’re chatting curry of similar meats and vegan options, we’re rapping homemade samosas, and drinks like sweet or salty lassi, chai, and thick kulfi frozen shakes, pistachio or mango, and gulab doughnuts, waffles for pudding. We’re talking some seriously appetising aromas ascending from this new place, twisting my arm.

We went for a sharmi (beef) kebab in naan, and it was fresh, with crunchy salad, exotic sauce and I’m pleased to report back to, Devizions, it tasted blooming gorgeous!

It’s kind of hard to walk past it and not notice it. But I’d judge this book by it’s cover; the tucker is as good as it looks, and finding my spiritual nirvana usually through my stomach, Naan Guru appeases my best karma. They’re six quid a pop, but six quid well spent; I’m smitten.


Still Love in Devizes and Pewsey; Covid Community Groups, Love Devizes and PCCA Continue After Pandemic

Hey, guess what? I’ve got the callup and I’m down the Bin tomorrow to get chipped! Only kidding, but I am being vaccinated. Although I’d still recommend you refrain from hugging me, as much as I know you yearn to, but try to resist the urge; I’m still me and I still smell a bit!

Between lockdowns someone said to me they enjoyed the first lockdown; it was peaceful and there was a sense of community spirit about the town; obviously doesn’t go on Facebook much! But yes, there the big question is, will it continue after this madness has said its farewells? Only we can achieve this.

As things start to look positive and fingers and toes are crossed, it is good to hear from Jonathan Hunter of the volunteer group set up to provide help, services, information and also companionship, Love Devizes, as they plan to continue their sterling work in our community.    

“We are still here as it’s clear that loneliness, isolation or those who don’t have support infrastructures isn’t just a pandemic thing,” he tells me. “We’ve kept going and many of our fantastic volunteer team have said they are keen to continue after the next phase of restrictions are lifted. My plan is that Love Devizes carries on and helps those in need after the pandemic if the community still need support.”

The helpline is still operating from Monday to Friday, 9-12, and supporting many people outside those hours. “We are still shopping, picking up prescriptions, supporting the vaccination programme and we help with transport to various medical appointments in Bath, Oxford and Swindon,” Jonathan explains. “We also operate a befriending network with dedicated and experienced volunteers who make regular phone support calls to those are lonely.”

I know I’m hardly a spokesman for the town, but I’d imagine we are all eternally grateful for all the hard work the Love Devizes team has accomplished and performed, and a whooping great big thank you is overdue. They’ve managed to support over 6000 people in the past year.

“I’m currently working on scheme whereby I hope to buddy up volunteers with those who’ve been isolated or shielding and support them when they make their first trips outside,” he continued. “My plan is to team up with a few local cafes or pub gardens and we would pay for these residents who’ve been locked down and treat them to a coffee and cake with a friendly companion which will help make that first step outside easier. I’ve budgeted some funds to try and make this happen with the people we know who’ve been badly affected with isolation.”

So, please, no suffering in silence, if you are someone, or know someone who may be in need, the helpline will carry on running, which is fantastic news. The team have also started some partnerships with other charities and organisations, working together to help people with independence, i.e. Opendoors and Wiltshire CIL.

Helpline – 01380 722160

Website: www.lovedevizes.org

Meanwhile, over in Pewsey, the PCCA have been serving the community now for just over a year, with several services and activities set up in response to the pandemic which have adapted to the community’s changing needs. While some of these services have been reduced, many have increased and have become invaluable to many members of the Pewsey community, and this amazing work will be continuing too.

Currently operating from their Scout Hall, the PCCA tell me they’ve “recently applied for and been granted a £5K grant by Wiltshire Council towards a converted double decker bus to be used to continue our much-needed services in Pewsey. PCCA will fund the balance of the purchase as well as maintenance, insurance and running costs. It is possible that we could use the bus for many activities within the community and would be open to partnering with likeminded charities and groups in Pewsey as needed.”

“We continue to offer vital services to our community including, BURP (Basic Universal Resource Plan) essential food and household supply boxes going out each week to families in need in and around Pewsey. Community Meals: Over 30 freshly cooked hot meals going to those in most need each week. Pewsey Foodshare: We organise food donations twice weekly from local supermarkets and the general public to reduce food waste and to serve the local community.”

“Creative Communities: (The Spirit of Pewsey, Spring To Life etc) unifies our neighbourhoods with creative activity. We try to brighten up people’s lives by organising creative things to get involved in while adding a bit of sparkle and colour to where we live, work and play. All of 9 schools got involved in creating artwork together for our current Creative Communities project ‘Spring To Life’.”

“The Buddy Crew:  PCCA volunteers who are in touch with those isolating, helping prevent loneliness and mental health deterioration, and now helping people to get out and about.”

“Pewsey Friendship Cafe & Community Market: our free, spatially distanced safe space for those who desperately need social connection with free tea, coffee and cake and fresh fruit & veg produce to take home afterwards.”

The PCCA also work together with Wiltshire Libraries to deliver services through click and collect and to the doorstep. Another huge thank you goes out to this team, and long may they both continue.

Helpline: 01672 487022

Website: https://pcca.org.uk/


Trending……

A Chat with Wiltshire PCC Candidate Mike Rees

Truth be told, I get a tad nervy when a subject wants an interview via phone call. I worry of saying the wrong thing, or forgetting a fundamental question. Being I’ve chatted to Mike Rees, Wiltshire independent Police Crime Commissioner candidate on the dog and bone before, I’m quite looking forward to hearing from him. He is so down-to-earth it’s like chatting to an old friend.

At the time he was at his boxing class, where he teaches various age groups, but I felt Mike sounded rather exhausted and slightly more despondent than his usual cheery self. Naturally I opened with asking him how the campaigning was going. “It’s bloody hard work, to be honest, Darren,” he confessed, perhaps the very reason for his temperament. Mike runs a business, has the boxing gym to manage too, “and I’m trying to get this campaign stuff down. I keep getting requests for more leaflets, and I just can’t afford that. That’s my disadvantage.”

Is Mike loading his van full of campaign leaflets? No, teabags for the homeless charity Devizes Opendoors, donated by Malmesbury Victoria FC.

Hoping the focus will be entirely on Mike and his campaign, prior to the call I made a mental note not to mention, if possible, the other candidates and in particular, Conservative Johnathan Seed. But only a minute in I broke that rule, mainly because a post by Seedy popped on my Facebook newsfeed seconds before the call, and I noted it was sponsored by a company. Budget is everything when on a campaign trial, and Mike funds his himself.

However, sharing is caring on social media; I mainly see positivity for Mike, but newsfeeds are catered to taste, and there’s that silent majority. “Yeah,” he agreed, “it’s the people not on social media who are always going to vote Tory, no matter what. That’s the people I can’t really get to.”

This said, I’ve noted a number of known conservative thinkers in support of Mike, because the humdinger here is the importance of politics in the PCC role. Other candidates affiliated with a party insist this is political. I loved chatting to Lib Dem runner Liz Webster, though I asked Mike how he felt when, in the interview, she said he was “going for the wrong job!”

This was where Mike cheered up. “Yeah, chief constable; it did make me laugh! No, I don’t. It’s the last thing I want to do!” Mike knows exactly what the job involves. There’s this notion circulating we need a party-led politician for PCC, like calling a sparky for a plumbing job. Yet, in a political MP or councillor election anyone is free to run as an independent, and no one batters an eyelid. Mike agreed, informing me his focus is on the public, “on what the people want, you know. They have HMIC inspections and Wiltshire Police has come out as good. Do the public think that? I’m not sure they do. That’s what’s more important, not what HMIC says but what the pubic think about their policing.”

So, I put another negative comment from the book of face to him, which said “we don’t want a copper in the role because he’s institutionalised.” Mike retorted, he’s been out of the cops for seven years, and been running his own business, “and I’ve seen things from the other side. I’ve seen real poor police service, and seen some good stuff. There are good cops out there, but some bad service, and some stories I get told, I just put my head in my hands. As someone who worked for the police for thirty years, I understand what they’re going through. But I also get dismayed by it, because through my service we always wanted to do the best for the victim. It seems like they’re more concerned with policing themselves than they are about policing the public. So, I worry for the public perception of them.”

He reflected, “on my first day of training school, what we were taught; prevention and detection of crime, preservation of life and property, keeping the peace. That was the core function of the police, it just seems like we’ve lost sight of that, personally. We’ve become to politicised, and I don’t like it.”

One point Mike recently posted online, was concerning domestic abuse, stating he was disappointed with the House of Lords when 351 MPs rejected Amendment 42 of the Domestic Abuse Bill, which sought to instigate a national register of domestic abuse perpetrators and stalkers. I wanted to ask Mike, how one governs a police force if you have to align with political decisions you personally disagree with. “Well,” he started, “I’m not afraid to speak up. This is what I see as an advantage for me; I don’t need the job, I’m going in there to try make things better, because I care. I could sit here and moan all day but someone’s got to put down we’re trying do something about it. A politician, I don’t think they think like that, they think rather differently. I understand what these people are dealing with on a daily basis, dealing with some horrible, nasty things, and the force is demoralised, recent federation survey showed us that, and things need to change.”

“If you’ve got a demoralised police force, it doesn’t matter what policies and procedures people are coming up with, nothing’s going to work. You’ve got to sort your workforce out first, and get them to follow you, be inspired by you; and that’s one of things I do.”

There’s been progression since we last spoke, and I felt the need to mention the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill protests, supposing the successful Wiltshire candidate is lucky in respect that while we’ve had a few protests, it’s relatively passive compared to Bristol. “No one’s got an issue with peaceful protest, have they?” Mike responded, with his “own views” about the Bill, “I don’t see the need for it, to be honest, I think the law is already there for what they’re trying to do. I don’t see the purpose it serves.”

“If the violence is there, it can be dealt with now, under the current laws.” Mike laughed off the concept a protest should be shut down if it gets too noisy, adding, “a slightly annoying protest? What’s that about? How can you judge ‘annoying’?!”

“Peaceful protest is an absolute right in a democratic society, isn’t it?” he asked me; like, yeah, I thought so too! “If you’re going to be violent, then you’re going to be dealt with, and I think you should be dealt with strongly. If you’re going to infiltrate and cause violence, then you have to be dealt with strongly, that’s the only way to deal with it.”

To find myself agreeing with the police must be an age thing, but I do on all Mike’s points! I only hope, on this reply, the ‘you’ he uses is proverbial and not a personal warning! That’s the key throughout our chat, he’s an agreeable bloke. I noted if one wants to be violent, they will, and we went through other examples in British history, like football violence. And herein is my respect for the police, because if you see a fight happening on the street, you cross the road, avoid it, but the Babylon, they’ve got to be the ones who go and sort it out. I confessed; I’d be completely shit at that! Mike relayed when, off duty, he stepped in to stop an unfair fight, “I told the lad who was getting a kicking to bugger off, which he did, then they set on me!” The point is, most politicians, I’d gather, would be like me, sheepishly walking away, hardly ‘community policing!’ Mike has been there, and knows the shop floor duties.

A serious note ensued, Mike felt we’d lost touch with community policing, “it’s really important to build up a relationship with the community, they feel reassured and they talk to you, and when they start talking, you find, who the criminals on the patch are. We seem to have lost all that, mostly down to lack of resources.” All candidates are requesting more funding is needed, in previous chats with Mike, he was adamant, while he agreed more funding is needed, it’s not the amount rather where and how it is spent. “It’s a combination of both,” he told, “but there’s a lot of money that’s wasted, I’ve seen it over the years, still hear stories now, that need looking at. The other candidates get to hear about that, because they don’t know people within the service, whereas I get to hear all that. Because people trust me, I have a good reputation.”

Pet crimes seemed to be a focus for other contenders, but Mike claimed he hadn’t seemed much evidence of that, and, comparably, it’s not so much of an issue in Wiltshire. More steam to the notion, you need a guy with his ear to ground and a rapport with the workforce. Rural crime is different, “it’s due to a lack of policing.” I added my tuppence on the lack of the Bobby on beat, and speed watching, and Mike agreed, adding volunteer community speed watchers felt they wasn’t getting supported by Wiltshire Police.  “Road safety,” he stated, “is really important, you know. Would you rather have us tell you your house has been burgled or a loved one has been hit by a speeding car? Some say catching speeders when you should be catching real criminals, but what would you rather be told?”

What Mike wants to see, is specials working with the community speedwatch, “then they feel better because it’s being enforced, and everyone’s a winner!” Trust me to break the solemn tangent with a dig, “yep,” I replied, “get them out of the office, give ‘em some doughnuts and fresh air!” Ack, I used the doughnut gag, to the possible, and I very much hope it will be so, future police crime commissioner.

I wanted him to laugh it off, but he was feeling pessimistic about his chances, “I still think Mr Seed will get it, due to huge number of votes I have to get.” It was a sour point to end on, but I didn’t type this up for nothing. Yet Mike’s cynicism has the span of seconds, joking, “and I’ve only nine friends!!” Although we love the cut off Mike’s jib, without the equal campaign budget, it is up to us, to share his social media posts, and posters, this interview, and let our friends know, we don’t necessarily need a paper-pushing office-bearer in this role, if you agree, we need a fellow of shop floor experience. And man, I’ve not even mentioned fox hunting!

I did end on a topical subject for our arts and music-based zine, and asked Mike about pop crime; “can we get Rick Astley arrested, or Ace of Base, or Venga Boys?”

“He should’ve been sent down years ago!” Mike replied, but retracted it on the grounds he does a cover of AC-DC, “and that sort of stuff, so he’s gone up in my estimation!” What a genuinely great bloke! All the best Mike, we’re rooting for you.

More Info on Mike here. Facebook page here.


Trending……

Black Market Dubs Elton

On 6th February 1989 an unidentified lone gunman in Kingston, Jamaica killed Osbourne Ruddock. He made off with his gold chain and licensed gun, the music industry lost a pioneer often under-represented in history. The likely reason for this obscurity, he was not a musician, rather a producer and sound engineer who begun his career fixing disgraced radios.

Better known to the world as King Tubby, during his sound system dances of the mid-sixties he noted the crowd favoured the instrumental sections of the song. This rock steady era was dominated by vocal harmony groups, but with a handful of others, including Lee Scratch Perry and Bunny Striker Lee, Tubby set about extending the instrumental sections, cutting the mid-range, dropping the basslines and limiting the vocals with echo delays.

King Tubby

He had created “dub,” more technique than genre, it revolutionised music way beyond reggae and is the mainstay formula of all pop since hip hop; today, we take the remix for granted.

But aside the pioneering techniques we owe Tubby for, dub has too developed into a reconised genre and given us subgenres, from drum and bass to dubstep and dembow.

Still the origins were remixes of rock steady and reggae songs, and from the most unsuspecting area to find dub thriving that ethos, Nashville, Tennessee, Nate Bridges uses the techniques rather to reimagine pop, rock, even film or TV soundtracks, or anything which takes his fancy, under the guise Black Market.

The magic of Black Market is they retain the offbeat formula of reggae, while being versions of four-beat tunes. The strapline goes “what would happen if The Beach Boys had The Wailers as their backing band instead of The Wrecking Crew? What if David Bowie spent the summer of 1975 in Kingston, Jamaica with King Tubby instead of Philidelphia? Michael Jackson meets Scratch Perry? These questions are the basic thesis of Black Market.”

While few of these mainstream sources could easily be converted, such as the Clash, the magic is when Nate and friends takes something wholly non-reggae and breathes an air of dub to it. The Beach Boys album first attracted me to this, but with every new release he never fails to take it to the next step.

The latest release from this prolthic genius is Elton John classics, and I felt it’s long overdue to mention him. This is, without doubt, utterly sublimely executed and would appeal to reggae lovers and fans of the subjects being reimagined alike; hearing is believing.

While we’ve had the astounding recordings of the Easy Star Allstars, when they dubbed classic albums, Dark Side of the Moon, Sgt Peppers and “Radiodread,” they pride themselves in originally recreating the music without samples, Black Market are the purveyors of sampling, the kingpin is the lifting of the original and placing it in a reggae setting.

Find the Michael Jackson Thriller album dubbed, Bowie, Tempations, Talking Heads and Twin Peaks, Batman and Ghostbusters soundtracks among others, and all name your price on Bandcamp.

Astounded by pinning a ska riff to Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, Nate told me it was the only way to accomplish the track to such standard he requires, the predominantly downtempo of dub simply didn’t fit the bill. This made me contemplate the complexities of what he’s dealing with, when opposed to simply remixing a tune. And it’s this which makes Black Market such a fascinating project which leaves you wondering what’s next on his agenda, and if there’s anything which he wouldn’t rise to the challenge of dubbing. I’d like to throw Mozart at him!


Rowde Artist, Alan Watters Charity Lockdown Beard Shave!

My ‘CUT OFF’ date is now imminent!” Rowde artist and editor of the village magazine, Alan Watters tells me. There’s no telling where he will stash a sandwich for later feasting if this really is to happen. But what we can confirm, the lack of lockdown trimming has given him the Santa look, which may have been all the fashion four months ago!

“I had vowed that I would cut my lockdown beard for charity when we were rid of the virus but if I wait until then I will most probably be tripping over it! I have decided therefore to cut it after I get my second vaccination which I have just been given as next Thursday.”

“Two causes dear to my heart are Children with Cancer UK and Headway, the brain injury charity. For more info and to help me reach my targets of £500 for each please please follow one or both of the links below. Stay safe.”


https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alan-watters1 (Children with Cancer UK)


https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alan-watters2 (Headway)


Chapter Five: The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole

Chapter Five: in which, at a loss-end, our intrepid hero has no other choice but to go for a pint in a local Weatherforks……

There was no divinely erotic dream of imbibing on one of the many lactating teats of a larvae queen with the head of Margaret Thatcher in a sado-masochistic pupae dungeon this time for Councillor Yellowhead. In his uneasy slumber he envisioned nothing other than a dark void of aloneness, a dreaded solitude.

He awoke aware the feeling remained. Prior to opening his eyes, he smelt the wet dog hair, the woodburning smoke, patchouli oil, burning cannabis leaf and the body odour of female hippy elders. The concept he would awake from the nightmare and things would be back the way they once were had shattered. He focussed on Briggs, standing over his sickbed, grinning.

Trainee councillor Grant Briggs was shirtless, his body tanned and nipples pierced. He wore the slight headdress of a native American brave, torn denim shorts, and little else. “Like, hey dude,” he purred in a rougher tone, with a broken accent, “you’ve been, like, out for some time!”

Yellowhead sat up in alarm, observing his whereabouts. He was in a tipi; a few hammocks lie circular around the edges and the middle was warmed by a firepit where kettles hung from branches above it. Topless old ladies cared for folk on the hammocks, both their beaded necklaces and breasts flopping over their faces as they tended to their needs. “Am I in hell?” he whimpered.

“You’re in the natural healing tipi,” Briggs proudly informed, “I recommend the Buddhist head massage, it’s boss!”

 “How long have I been, out?”

“A few days,” Briggs replied, “to be honest, I kind of lost track.”

Yellowhead let out a deep sigh of dread. “What has happened, Briggs? Has the whole world gone as mad as the March hare?”

Briggs stuck a hand pipe to his lips and inhaled. “I have a theory, man.”

“What happened to the days when you called me sir?” Yellowhead asked, “rather than man?”

Briggs exhaled, filling the area with smoke. “It’s a good theory……”

Another sigh, deeper this time, Yellowhead regretfully requested more information about it. “Out with then, if you must.”

Briggs waited a moment, for effect, then said boldly, “I think, that wasn’t a pothole at all, rather a porthole, a porthole to another dimension……” The last word hung in air akin to a Labour Party manifesto presented to the Chipping Norton Town Council.

Yellowhead snarled, “really, is that the best you can do? I strongly suggest you give up the funny-fags, remember you are a trainee councillor, and as such you have certain obligations to adhere to good old conservative philosophy, for the sake of your county, your country, and the Queen!”

“Like, seriously,” Briggs continued unperturbed, “the multi-verse theory has relevance with many renowned scientists. A bubble of dimensions, billions upon billions of them, each with a decisive tangent which branches from each other at every possible decision ever made. Suppose, for a moment, here is a universe in which Miltshire has adopted a more, shall we say, leftist ideology, a more freethinking ethos, for the people rather than capitalism, a socialist haven!”

“In which case I stick to my original query,” Yellowhead groaned, “am I in hell?”       

“No, man,” Briggs responded, “quite the opposite. There’s a lot to be said about life here, dude. I’ve been, like, living it, experiencing it first-hand.”

“I’d feel for you,” Yellowhead sighed, “if I was in any way concerned for your welfare or sanity.”

“The pace of life may be significantly slower here,” Briggs continued his pitch, “but surprisingly, society functions effectively and fairly. Small communities such as towns have no national political party affiliation, rather than an elected council they’re run by a diverse independent group; local volunteers, willing to share their time and expertise to really make a difference. The words ‘manifesto’ and ‘marketing campaign’ have no meaning here. There are no constraints of a party doctrine, decisions are made without a concern of retaining power. They call it a flatpack democracy, sir.”

“Quite,” Yellowhead snarled his discontent, “and akin to anything sold in a flatpack, most of the screws and washers are missing. Does anyone here know what a bathtub is? What these wet dreamers need, Briggs, is Jeremy Clarkson, in a Range rover, with a shooting rifle and unlimited champagne to pop their grotesque bubble.” He swung his legs off the hammock and placed them firmly on the ground.

A nurse waddled over, her breasts and beads swaying. “You cannot go anywhere, delirious like that; you need rest.”

“What I need is a pint of bitter,” Yellowhead asserted, “at the local Weatherforks; the Sulk Mercilessly is the closet, I believe. I hold faith the tacky establishments of Sir Timothy Martian will at least hold the final outpost of jingoistic indoctrinated knuckle-draggers who conceal their ill-educated grammatical errors by memes and typing with caps-lock on. There I will build a Boris army, and march to County Hall to take back what is rightfully ours!”

Briggs corrected him in an anxious whisper. “Sir,” he murmured.

“What is it now, Briggs?”

“It’s like, County Hall, man.”

“What about it?”

“Well,” Briggs slurred.

“Out with it!” Yellowhead snapped, “I haven’t got all day, Briggs. If all hope in you is truly lost, I must lone defend the righteousness and decency of conservatism, and for which I need a militia!”

Briggs closed his eyes and declared, “there is no County Hall, dude. I travelled to Trow Vegas via our van. While a Miltshire Council exists, only in an online sense, it serves the independent group I aforementioned, with, erm, well, rather insignificant and trivial issues, recycling collections, public sawdust toilet locations and so forth. Where County Hall is located in our dimension, an ecological    dome exists here, housing thousands of plant species within an enclosure emulating a rainforest biome.”

“I refuse to except such an eyesore could ever exist in Trow Vegas, unless I see it with my own eyes, Briggs,” Yellowhead responded with tenacity. “I’m not even going to inquire as to the fate of Nandos.” With that, Yellowhead marched out of the tipi and headed off in the direction of the Sulk Mercilessly. Unwillingly but supposing it’s for the best, Briggs followed behind him.

The doors of the public house burst off, as Yellowhead bounded inside yelling, “COME, my worthy purists, and hide no longer! Your new leader is here to reclaim this disgraced town from its depths of depravity and sin! Together thou shall build an army of virtue and morality, on England’s green and pleasant land, we will restore faith in traditionist and capitalist conception, for the good of the county, the Queen and humble Prime Minster, Sir Boris Johnson. Still more majestic shalt thou rise, More dreadful from each Johnny foreigner’s stroke, Rule, Britannia! Britannia rule the waves Britons never, never, never will be slaves, Rule, Britannia! Britannia rule the waves, Britons never, never, never will be slaves!”

A scrawny hippy cleaning tables looked up in shock, “Boris who?”

“Wasn’t there a famous clown called Boris Johnson?” the only punter in the establishment thought out loud.

“The prime minister!” Yellowhead asserted, “Sir Boris….”

“Like, sorry to have to correct you, pal,” the hippy replied, “Greta Thumberger is the prime minister of Britain, deffo. Now, if you’d like to take a seat, the special today is a vegan emerald dal.”

“I demand British beef!” Yellowhead irately ordered, while Briggs facepalmed behind him.

“They won’t sell meat, sir,” Briggs said, “no one does here.”

Backtracking the discussion to a point his mind originally refused to allow his ears to fully register, Yellowhead looked aghast at Briggs, “did, did, did he just say, Greta Thumberger is the prime minster of Britain?”

“Steady yourself,” Briggs replied.

The chief councillor felt faint once more, perching a hand on the nearest table. “Did you keep Nora’s cyanide pill, Briggs?”

“It seems a liberal system is nationwide, at the very least, sir,” Briggs explained, “here, Greta was born in Surrey, and became prime minister aged thirteen.”

“And a damn fine one she is too,” remarked the hippy employee, “our boss is friends with her, great woman, makes sure we all get our national living wage and all branches adhere to the global minimum labour standard.”

“National living what now?!” Yellowhead outraged, “Leftie piffle! You mean to tell me such is this wretched gangrene economic and socialist revolution, you all accept the same wage, despite I might be in a managerial position of power and responsibility, and you, you, plebs clean tables in a bar?!”

“Hey man!” the employee stressed, “we work together, no one is any better than anyone else, no clean table, nowhere nice for the dude in a managerial position of power and responsibility to eat his lunch!”

“On an equal national wage,” Briggs informed his boss, “everyone is content, everyone does a job they like, least don’t mind, and there’s no hierocracy, so there’s no revolution needed, there’s no contempt or jealousy for someone higher up the ladder, because to them, there is no ladder.”

Yellowhead took his time to look around. The pub décor was well worn, antique without the phoney standard kitsch traditional model Weatherforks is renowned for. Briggs thought it was quaint, Yellowhead wouldn’t confess, but as a traditionalist, he felt it the only genuine place he had seen since falling into the pothole. Then, he noted a Guardian newspaper on the oak table, and any hope he would feel at home here vanished. 

“Well, dreadlock my pubes and call me Billy Ocean!” Yellowhead exclaimed, getting further and further irate. “Just what the blazers is going on in here? I thought this would be the place, I really thought, if there’s anywhere in this crazy perdition left with decent, conservative morals, it would be here. But you tell me ecowarrior snowflake Greta Thumberger is prime minister, she gives you all the same petty wage, from plate-washer to managing director, and you’re all happy with that, and, it’s no wonder, really, isn’t it? It’s no wonder at all when you’re filling your head….” The chief councillor repeatedly beat the newspaper with his index finger, “…. with this sadistic liberalistic permissiveness and radicalised exuberant balderdash!”

“Stand back,” advised Briggs to the worker.

But Yellowhead defused. “Fine! I will take my campaign elsewhere! Weatherforks indeed, weathercocks more like!”

Briggs called his boss back; in hope he might respond well. “Man, you’re gonna like, have to get on groovy train and like, yeah, like dig it pretty soon, man. This is, like the way it is here, and that’s, like, that!”

Yellowhead turned on his foot and pointed a stern finger at his senior. “I will never, ever accept it, you feeble-minded, incoherent jester!”

“Where will you go? No one can, like, help you, man.”

Yellowhead held his breath, “I will bite my bottom lip, as I never thought I’d ever suggest such a desperate concept as this, never dreamed I’d be in such a dreadful position to do so, but the time is nigh, I swallow my pride, forget my deliberations and call to order the single most desperate cause of action a county councillor could, ever! I will call for a meeting, and I will listen to the others!”

Briggs laughed, “is that it?! Who with? Yourself, Yellowhead?!”

“No, traitor!” Yellowhead nodded, “with the Davizes Town Council!”

“No!” Briggs cried, “how could you stoop so low?”

“I am and I will!” Yellowhead asserted. “I will face the music, head-on, I will seek council with the ones no one dares do business with, the Guardians of the Galaxy!” And with that closing statement, councillor Yellowhead stormed out of the Sulk Mercilessly.”

“Man,” Briggs sighed, “I think they’re just the Davizes Guardians, rather than, like, the, you know, guardians of the, as you said, galaxy!” 

“Bad karma,” added the Weatherforks worker, handing Briggs a joint.


Will our intrepid hero survive a face-to-face with the Davizes Town Council? Is there any hope for his trusty sidekick, or has he been fully brainwashed by leftie terrorists? Will this story ever truly end, because you’ve the washing to do? Find out next Sunday in what we can only hope and pray will be our finale episode of The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole!


Trending….

Gull Able

Ah, hope you enjoy my new Sunday series, something a little different…. To Be Continued………

Song of the Day 35: The Jamestown Brothers

With tracks for the charity compilation album coming in thick n fast, time for me to take a break, sit with the family to watch the Jumanji rework, again. Hum, Ruby Roundhouse….But before my mind wanders too much, here’s my song of the day.

It has no video, best guessing it doesn’t matter, you’ll feel preoccupied with footstomping and guzzling cider from a plastic gallon container. Americana meets west country folk, scrumpy & western, this is nothing but a carefree enjoyable bop, done with bells on.

Looks from here like they’re a staggering nine-piece, suspect fibbers about being brothers, but two seconds into this beauty and even that won’t matter, even if you did bring ya mama, who’d probably just complain about her feet the whole way through.

Go give em a Facebook like, for more info on the shindigs you’ll hear them pluck their geetars at, and based on this tune alone, you know it’s going to go off.

And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on….


Devizine to Release Various Artists Compilation, 4 Julia’s House

If it’s been a quiet week here at Devizine Towers, it’s not because we remain in the perpetual Groundhog Day of lockdown, things are beginning to open up and folk are gathering to take advantage. Time will tell if we’ve made the right move, and fingers are crossed, but we surely have to attempt to emerge from his global hibernation. Rather, I’ve been away for the week, playing the grandad role on the single most tranquil UK holiday camp getaway ever!

Don’t get me wrong, even with restrictions, it’s been lovely nonetheless. Now, I’m back, back like a bad smell on your shoe rack, and if you think I’ve been lazing around watching paint dry, you’re not totally wrong. But I do have an exciting announcement, which has kept me out of trouble for the last fortnight.

The announcement might be something more suitable for lockdown, but despite, I’m feeling this blossoming project is definitely heading in the right direction. We’ve 24 tracks kindly contributed already for a compilation album of local or music related to Devizine, however tenacious, subjects we’ve reviewed or covered in the past, or we simply love! Binding them together and hopefully presenting them as soon as feasible on one chunky download album via the most brilliant website, Bandcamp.

It’ll be a cross-genre extravaganza of music, and you’ve not even heard the best bit about it. To explain that bit I need to first stress my eternal gratitude and thanks to the wonderful artists already freely contributed a song for this, and those planning to. Now, where was I? Oh yeah, the really, really good bit; get this, all proceeds, 100% of them will go to Julia’s House.

Tree Image by Wolfgang Hasselman

Julia’s House is not a typical children’s hospice. They provide practical and emotional support for families caring for a child with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition, providing frequent and regular support in their own homes, in the community or at our hospices across Dorset and Wiltshire.

Devizine asks musicians and bands, be they locally based or otherwise, to send us an original song for us to add the already bulging track list, if you’ve one to spare. I’m fully aware the pressure is already on artists at this time, but I’m not asking you to create a tune especially, or give away something which is currently selling well. It could be pre-released from an album or an older single you have; just something in your archives, you wouldn’t mind allowing us to use.

I’m being harassed about a deadline, we should set one, although I firmly detest the word deadline! Let’s pencil in 15th May, so if you’ve a song you’d like to throw at us, please do send a WAV file if possible, mp3 if not, by then. Send via We Transfer or Google Drive to: devizine@hotmail.com

But don’t despair if you cannot make the gig. With the popularity of this project to date, I’m looking in my crystal ball and predicting a volume two on the cards.

Only thing I will ask you to bear in mind, if thinking of contributing, is that this is for a children’s charity, and while I’m not expecting The Wheels on the Bus, please avoid swearing like sailor. No NWA tribute acts, please!

It gives me great delight to tell you we have many fantastic songs already sent to us, a mahoosive thanks to everyone who’s bunged us a tune, and so many others who have promised to, shortly. A full track listing with details and links will follow nearer to launchpad day, but for now, I’m excited to let you know local legend Pete Lamb provides an apt title track, Julia, (actually it’s Julie, but who’s splitting hairs, I’m renaming it!) for which he’s teamed up Cliff Hall, pianist for The Shadows; a glorious benchmark to open with.

Other artists featuring, to date are The King Dukes, Erin Bardwell, Mr Tea & The Minions, Talk in Code, Timid Deer, Kirsty Clinch, Duck n Cuvver, Strange Tales, Paul Lappin, Billy Green 3, Jon Veale, Will Lawton, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective, Sam Bishop, Mr Love & Justice, The Truzzy Boys, Longcoats, Atari Pilot, Andy J Williams, Cutsmith, The Oyster, The Birth of Bonoyster, The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show and Richard Wileman.

UPDATE:

Wow, as of Monday 19th May, we now have a staggering 37 tracks contributed. The list now looks like this: Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall, King Dukes, Erin Bardwell, Timid Deer, Duck n Cuvver, Strange Folk, Strange Tales, Paul Lappin, Billy Green 3, Jon Veale, Will Lawton, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective, Kirsty Clinch, Richard Wileman, Kier Cronin, Sam Bishop, Mr Love & Justice, The Truzzy Boys, Daydream Runaways, Talk in Code, Longcoats, Atari Pilot, Andy J Williams, The Dirty Smooth, SexJazz, Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue, The Boot Hill All Stars, Mr Tea & The Minions, The Oyster, Nigel G. Lowndes, The Birth of Bonoyster, Revival, The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show, Julie Meikle and Mel Reeves, Cutsmith, Big Ship Alliance and Knati P.

And there’s more in the pipeline, hopefully creating a hefty genre-busting mega-box set!! So, please be part of it if you can, and bung us your song! More the merrier. Thank you! Oh, I love it when a plan comes together.


Trending…..

DOCA Receives Culture Recovering Funding

The future of Devizes’ carnival and Outdoor Celebratory Arts is looking great, as DOCA announce today some exciting news; they are delighted to have received funding from the government’s #CultureRecoveryFund.

The much-needed funding will cover their overheads in the coming months. Allowing investments in developing their Board of Trustees, employ a Volunteer Coordinator and begin reconnecting with the existing “family” of volunteers. They also seek new recruits to help deliver the fantastic program of events. Such as new volunteer coordinator, Holly Solo-Hawthorn, who joined the team in last November. If volunteering with DOCA is something you are interested in please email: docavolunteer@gmail.com

Chair of the Trustees, Kelvin Nash said, “we know people can’t wait to get out and meet up with others and enjoy all the things we might have taken for granted before COVID. We also know we are very privileged to receive this funding that will help us continue bringing great events to Devizes. We hope everyone will continue to support us this year to make these events happen safely, plans are still tentative of course, but it does feel like there is now a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Artistic Director, Loz Samuels expressed although DOCA are able to start planning Summer events, not all of the usual events will be back this year. “This year will have a different feel but we know that it will be just as amazing as ever. There will be no Confetti Battle this year we hope to combine the Colour Rush with the Street Festival which will add an explosion of colour to the day and we hope to attract some new people along to the event.”

As we look forward to future events in Devizes, DOCA will be touching base with market traders and coordinating a hopeful new season of celebrations. Here’s the plan to date:

Sunday 22nd August 2021 – Picnic in the Park

Monday 30th August 2021 – Devizes International Street Festival

Monday 30th August 2021 – Colour Rush

Friday 26th November 2021 – Winter Parade

Saturday 27th November 2021 – 31 Trees and Counting

Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th Feb 2022 – Festival of Winter Ales

Image: Gail Foster

Pretty in Pink Longcoats!

Bath’s young indie-pop favourites, Longcoats has a forthcoming belter of a single, with a generous slice of retrospection; you may admire them again today.

As one who usually supports the underdog, I favoured the originally intended ending of the John Hughes cult, Pretty in Pink. Although it’s all in the past, Duckie deserved his promqueen for the overtime he put in. I mean, don’t get me wrong, boyishly I wouldn’t have chucked Kirsty Swanson out of bed, but by the final cut, the Duckster failed at the goal he set. And I liked him, rooted for him against the dweeby snob Blane. Though it was never about the guys fighting, Molly got what she wanted, I suppose, and Duckie learned not to cross the friends barrier; c’est la vie.

But I’m not here to rap eighties coming-of-age romcoms, less you’ll never hear the end of it. Windows down driving music we are here for. Out this Friday (16th April) I’m backing this will be an instant indie-pop anthem, with the same name as that movie.

Frontman Ollie Sharp confesses, “John Huges is a big inspo for us, always loved Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink.”

Bath’s Longcoats rocking the summertime vibe with a beguiling riff, and feel good factor. Pretty in Pink has to be the best we’ve heard of this promising indie three-piece, to date.

Akin to recent tunes we’ve reviewed from the likes of Talk in Code, Daydream Runaways and Atari Pilot, here’s a fresh indie track, retaining the contemporary yet with that sublime nod to eighties pop-rock, which, as precisely as the title suggests, wouldn’t look out of place on a John Hughes soundtrack any more than the Psychedelic Furs’ title theme.

It’s an upbeat wah-wah scorcher, fading to emotively driven verses, powerful as anything you might hear on such a film score, with a popping an earing in and punching the sky ending.

Since last October’s awesome EP, named conveniently after the month, things have progressed in a direction I’m liking for the Longcoats, being a Thatcher’s child and all!

This is a grand job, find it on Spotify on Friday. Pre-sale link here.


Reggae Perfection; Winds of Matterhorn

Again, we find ourselves in the most unsuspecting part of the world to find the perfect reggae sound, Switzerland. Fruits Records release Winds of Matterhorn at the end of this month, 30th April.

Rather than the unanimous Rastafarian camp, Jamacia’s hills of Wareika, Swiss-Italian trombonist Mattbrass and producer Jackayouth have taken inspiration from the eminent mountain in the Alps for this four-track instrumental EP. Unlike the progressive nature of the Jamaican music industry, Fruits Records, as ever, find their penchant in a more classic sound. The tried-and-tested formula of roots reggae may be deemed old hat on the island of reggae’s origin, but no one can refute the global influence of Bob Marley and the Wailers, and the consequential epoch which followed.

The mechanics of the profound effect reggae’s golden era has had on music as a whole is inconsequential here, because there is no fusion or experimental divergence. You will not hear rock or soul’s pastiches of the formula, there’s no preaching vocals, you will only hear a crisp and refined approach to the true sound. This is reggae at its finest, a driving riddim, occasional wail of an electric guitar, heavy bassline and saturated in sublime horns.

To emphasise these classic elements of reggae are evidently profound, each tune is singularly named after the four classic elements; earth, air, fire and water.  

Earth is marching one-drop reggae, the kind you’ll identify with the later works Bob Marley & The Wailers, such as the 1979 album Survival. But Air is no lighter, there’s a real deep, roots feel to it, a plodding bassline fills said air, but throughout there’s this continuation of a tight horn section, managed to perfection. Fire has more upbeat jollity about it, so much so it near-verges on the classic ska of the unrivalled Skatalites. Water brings it back around, with that proud one-drop march.

This is the traditions of reggae, elsewhere at its very best, the only thing it lacks is the vocal affirmation to Rastafari, or anything else uniquely indigenous to JA, rather a structured salute to the sound, as if it was performed by Mozart or Beethoven. There’s the nutshell, if Beethoven went to sister Mary Ignatius Davies’ class at Kingston’s Alpha Cottage School, with Don Drummond, Rico Rodriguez, Roland Alphonso et all, his symphonies might end up sounding something like this; it is that accomplished.

Top marks, as if they not done it before on Devizine, and I’ve still not gotten fully over how awesome Wonderland of Green was!


Trending…

Song of the Day 39: Kirsty Clinch

Song of the day this fine Friday evening… got to be Kirsty, enough said! And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on…..

Chapter 4: The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead

The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole

Chapter Four: in which our heroes awake in unusual circumstances.

Recap: Can you stop asking me for a recap, and just read the chapters before this one? I got to keep going over the same shit, just because you cannot be bothered to keep up with the story, is that it? Look, just read the previous chapters, or wait for Spielberg to notice the movie potential of this humble fable, won’t you? I’m done with recaps.

There was something divinely erotic being one of thousands of workers in a foetus position, imbibing on one of the many lactating teats of a larvae queen with the head of Margaret Thatcher in a sado-masochistic pupae dungeon, at least to Councillor Yellowhead there was.

Hymenoptera knew their place in the nest and never questioned authority; he liked it here. When the lactose ran dry, they’d head out for duties without question. Though to Yellowhead feeding was sexually stimulating, he never wished for it to end. He yearned the Gyne would churn her pulp royal jelly once more, but with bellowing, unquestionable authority her words echoed around the chamber, “to those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-churn, I have only one thing to say: You churn if you want to. The lady’s not for churning!”

Yellowhead squirmed with excitement, near ejaculation, as she continued in a less conversant voice, “now, Mr Speaker, I suggest you wake up, wake up, WAKE UP!” Confusion to the alienness of the accent, saw off his climax, and he felt rejected despair. Yet, somewhere deep in an archive of Yellowhead’s mind, it had familiarity, as if from long lost past, another time, another realm.

Yellowhead’s mouth overwhelmingly tasted of mud, water spurted from deep down his oesophagus and sprayed from his lips. The light hurt his eyes as their lids unlocked involuntarily. The Thatcher Gyne fizzled out of reality, ignoring his pleas to stay, and the equivocal outline of a human head came into his focus. “Wake up!” the voice came again, this time he recognised it.

“Get off me this minute, Briggs,” Yellowhead commanded, “you necrophiliac homosexual!”

“You lost breathing,” Briggs pointed out, highly tense, “and had no pulse…. I……”

Yellowhead pulled his torso up and rested on his elbows, “did you perform CPR on me, Briggs, just answer me that?”

“Sir,” Briggs implored, “there was nothing else I……”

“You are a sexual predator, Briggs, a sexual predator of corpses, and I was your prey!”

“It was necessary,” Briggs pleaded his cause, “there was nothing else I could have done to save you, and sir, I did it, I saved your life!”

Yellowhead stood up as Briggs scrambled away from him. Remaining on the tarmac he looked up to his superior, feeling the wrath of his outraged expression. But Yellowhead took a moment to compose himself, and sighed. In a whisper he told Briggs, “young man, tell no one of this, for as long as we both shall live. Do I make myself perfectly clear?”

“Yes, sir, oh yes,” Briggs whimpered, “I’m just glad you’re alive!”

Yellowhead bit his bottom lip, it still tasted of sludge. “Quite; well, I must say, I mean, I find it difficult, erm, in a situation, I find, you know, at times I, and there are times, many, of which the erm, timing is not right, but let me say, if I can, that, I, damn, Briggs this is hard, so very hard for me, to, you know, find the right words, but yes, I erm, I thank you, Briggs, for, you know, saving my life!” He sunk in his own admission and self-loathing.

Briggs beamed a smile from ear to ear.

“Look, Briggs, I think that’s enough for one day,” he confessed while composing himself from his horrid ordeal; showing his gratitude was an unimaginable desolation of his principles and character and an unwarranted prevalence for Yellowhead, the near-death experience wasn’t particularly nice either. “Just paint that yellow circle around the pothole and we’ll be off, I think, Briggs. There’s a good fellow.”

Herein is where Briggs showed signs of astonishment and confusion. “That’s the thing, Sir,” he announced, “there is no pothole!”

“What are you dribbling about, Briggs?”

“The pothole, all of the potholes, they’ve all disappeared!”

“Don’t be so stu……” Yellowhead looked around him. Scanning the area which once looked like an asteroid impact site. The A342 appeared untainted, completely even, and not a pothole, rut or divot could be seen as far as the horizon. Yellowhead scratched his bald patch, looked to Briggs for his expression, which was the confused jollity of a maniac headless chicken. He mumbled, double-checked the road, double-checked Briggs’ grin, felt faint, and suggested, “well, I guess, erm, I guess our work here is done, erm, Briggs, me lad. Let’s head back to Davizes; I think a pint of best is the order of the day.”

“But, sir, how did……”

“Don’t ask, Briggs.”

“But, sir, the road, it couldn’t……”

“What did I just say Briggs?”

“It couldn’t, like, repair itself, I mea……”

“That’s an order, Briggs.”

 They got to the van, parked just as it was before the incident, but it looked somewhat different. Briggs noted the subtle changes, Yellowhead became outraged by its graphics. He slammed his palm on the side panel. “Briggs?! Why has this van still got our old motto printed on it?”

“You mean the, Where Everybody Matters one?”

Yellowhead quivered, “Don’t! Just don’t even say it! We rid ourselves of that slogan some time ago, and for good reason, Briggs!”

“Because it’s untrue, everybody doesn’t matter, sir?”

“NO! Because, Briggs, because, there’s too many letters, it costs too much to keep adding it the vans,” Yellowhead explained, “and that’s the truth behind that. What really gets my goat up and sends it galloping from its pen, is the stupidity of you to book out an old vehicle with the incorrect graphics, Briggs; these should’ve been put out of service years ago.”

Briggs stood motionless, his face one of ghostly expression. “Sir, I didn’t, there’s the thing, it’s out there….”

“Didn’t what, Briggs?” Yellowhead questioned, “think? You didn’t, Briggs, you didn’t think at all!”

“No, sir, I didn’t take out an old van with the old slogan printed on it. It wasn’t like that when I took it out. In fact, it’s not an old van at all, but a new one. Look, it’s electric-powered!”

“Ye gods!” cried Yellowhead, “a monstrosity! What low-level leftie scum replaced our vehicle with this, this environmentally-friendly milk float!”

Briggs pointed out the horizon. “It’s, erm, not just that, Sir, look!”

Yellowhead followed the angle of his pointing, to note across the land was situated tens of wind turbines, their propellers turning by the gentle breeze. “No!” he screeched, “get Christina Brownie on the phone, development project department, I want names, I want dates; who gave permission to wreak havoc on our beautiful landscape with these, these conservational eyesores?!”    

“Sir,” Briggs hesitated, but it was the only explanation he could fathom. “I think we were out, you know, drowned in that pothole for longer than we think we were.”

As Yellowhead wore an expression of total disbelief and confusion, a horse pulling a gypsy caravan passed by. A gaunt dreadlocked Caucasian youth with full beard and Romany attire called out, “hi there, y’ need any help?”

Yellowhead looked up at him with distaste, “not from you, beatnik heathen! Solstice is not for another two months; get your hippy bandwagon out of our county, or I will be forced to have you removed by force, by our constabulary! For the love of Priti Patel, I thought you lot had been deported to the inferno of abyss you came from?!”

The hipster shrugged as the caravan passed by, “suit yourself!”

Yellowhead confessed to Briggs that he didn’t feel well. “I fear I’m going to puke, if I don’t pass out, Briggs. This overload of leftie growths is like a wart on the backside of Satan, and they’re making me nauseated.”

“Maybe we should get in the van,” Briggs suggested, “and make our way to town. I think you need to see a doctor.”

“I am not getting in that van! Not without petrol in it!” Yellowhead least tested the water, by peering in through the window, and outraged, “reformist bastards have replaced my Bollinger for soya milkshakes!”

As a succession of eco-friendly traffic, hippy buses and horse drawn gypsy caravans gently passed them by, Briggs supposed, “maybe it’s always been this way, and we’ve been so wrapped up in our conservative ideology to notice!”

“What conservative ideology, Briggs, you daft wazzock? It’s just the natural order of things. There’s no obsessive notion to any such right-wing agenda with me,” Yellowhead assured him. “No, I think this is still part of my dream, the nightmarish end section. I favoured the beginning part most, would you care to imbibe on Thatcher’s teat too, Briggs?”

Briggs looked sincerely at Yellowhead. “I think I’ll give that a miss, sir, if it’s all the same to you?”

“As will I to your requisition I board this eco-fiendly passion wagon!” asserted Yellowhead with arms folded.

“Eco-fiendly?” Grant smiled, appealing to his better nature, or searching for it at least. “I see what you did there, clever stuff. You can sing your patriotic hymns all the way to Davizes.”

Yellowhead gulped, held his nose and sat in the passenger seat. “You should note I’m getting in because there is nothing better to get into. Besides, I am reasonable, you may listen to some pop music, if you wish……”

“That is considerate of you….”

“……provided it’s Morrisey or the Who.”

“The Who?” Briggs laughed, observing the small compact disc selection had mysteriously changed to the likes of the Bob Marely, the Clash, and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

“Indeed!” Yellowhead announced proudly, “great bunch of Brexiteers. Boris listens to the Who, he was instructed to listen to the Who, even the lefties said he should. I trust I can let you know, Briggs, I was with him and a bunch of others at the Cheltenham Festival, just last year. We sat in his limo, drinking Chateau Le Pin, snorting a nosebag off the tits of some top brass prostitutes and listening to their greatest hits, when we suddenly realised, they meant The World Health Organisation. Oh, how we laughed!”

Briggs sighed, and tried to hold in the notion it was a mistake which caused the spread of Covid19 and the deaths of thousands. Yellowhead was so engaged in his fond memory he had failed to notice the vast changes in Davizes, and how they increased the closer they got to the town centre.

Hordes of youth walked at liberty, grouped they wandered the streets attired in crusty clothing, many with braids or dreadlocks. They were a wider racial demographic then before too, and they mingled with joviality. Houses hung speakers from their windows, and small crowds gathered to dance in the streets below, as DJs spun their tunes. Live acoustic music too was sporadically dispersed along the road, tents hosting wellbeing workshops, Buddhist meditation and Indian head massage. People held up signs for free hugs, others responded. Children ran free without care, playing together and making petty mischief for their own amusement.

By the time they had arrived in the Market Place, gone was the void and the patch of grass. A multitude gathered around a huge stage in the centre, an afro-funk band played lively African rhythms on drums and guitars. Scattered around it were hundreds of stalls, selling a variety of street food and international cuisine, chai, clothes and charity fundraising tents. A comedy marquee sat at one end of the market place, a children’s area at the other, with traditional fairground rides rising behind them both. The whole place lit up with the colours of the rainbow, décor and dress, the smells of food, sweating people, unwashed dogs and cannabis melded and the sounds of joy, laughter and the bass of the music, blended; it resembled a festival. Grant Briggs gulped.

“There was a time, Briggs, when….” Yellowhead continued, then looked up, “what in the good name of Mosely is going on here?!” He stuck his head out of the window. Briggs suggested he didn’t, but it was too late. “What in the name of Thatcher do you think you beatnik scum are doing?! This is not some Glastonbury love-in, this is a level-headed insular Miltshire market town, full of law-abiding conservatives, you have no right to invade it with your hippy bandwagons and freeloading festivities; now go, clear off before I am forced to inform the police. This is against lockdown restrictions, and even if we weren’t protected from a pandemic, I’d still enforce the limitations of showcasing what is clearly a leftie act of terrorism on England’s green and pleasant land!”  

A slender earth mother dressed in a loose Kaftan pointed and giggled, “man, you are like, too funny!” She nudged a fellow next to her. He wore a tie-dye t-shirt, khaki sand shorts and sandals, and was currently engaged in sliding a cold, half-eaten burrito in his wiry beard for safekeeping. “Farquhar, look! There’s some street theatre. A delightful comedian, clearly too old to be from the council is shouting abusive satire and pretending to be all anti-alternative, from a mock council van; it’s hilarious!”       

“I’ll give you too old!” Yellowhead screeched back her.

“Is he for real?” Farquhar gasped, “like hey man, git outta there, there’s no one allowed to be on the county council aged over twenty-seven!”

The earth mother elbowed him in the ribs, “silly man, it’s a joke, Farquhar, you fool!”

The man went for the burrito, “well, it’s not funny.”

Councillor Yellowhead burst from out of the van to parade the area, verbally assaulting everything he saw in such quickfire horror the puss of his global acne turned a fiery red and looked certain to blow at any given moment. Concerned, Briggs followed behind, trying to warn him yet keeping what he considered a safe distance. If the yellowhead was to detonate, Briggs was uncertain of the epicentre of its impact zone.

“These, these, vehicles are parked here illegally!” Yellowhead ranted, while people formed a circle around him, still believing it was a comedy act of street theatre akin to that of Alf Garnett, though they never had heard of that character. “Even if they have paid the fees, which I highly doubt, and can and will be checking, they are not within the white lined parking spaces. And are these street stalls licenced?” He leaned into a noodle bar, the lady at the counter nodded her head to inquire of his order, but he lambasted her, “licenced, are you? Permission to be here?”

Without waiting for an answer, he begun addressing the crowds once more, too many inconsistences and misconducts were happening at once for him to focus on a particular one. The earth mother and associate known as Farquhar sauntered behind them, still debating if this was a comedy routine or not. “You are all here illegally!” Yellowhead continued, “Miltshire Council has given no permission for any kind of, of, whatever this is, a hippy love-freak-out festival, you should stay in your homes, watch Netflix!”

“Hey buddy!” someone called from the crowd, suspicious this was no act, “this isn’t a festival, this is just an average weekend in Davizes!”

Yellowhead spat his words as his face reddened, “it is a Thursday!”

“Ain’t no one work Fridays, man, not for centuries!” laughed another, imagining the absurdity.

“You should come here when we do have our monthly market place festivals!” another giggled.

“The guy is a sham!” the calls came quick and fast;

“I think he’s funny!”

 “Do the one about the pandemic again; like, too funny man!”

Yellowhead’s yellowhead was spinning. “the Covid19 pandemic is not a subject for comedy! I am not a comedian, it is very real, and you are contributing to the spread of the virus!”

“Ha-ha!” the crowds laughed, “the virus was obliterated a year ago, government closed the country down!”

“I remember,” one said, “how they stopped international airship travel, boats too. I remember how they vaccinated the key workers first, how they only invested in bona-fide companies making protective clothing and how that wonderful app worked so well because they funded the contract to a renowned and established internet organisation! They capped new laws until objections could be heard effectively, ensured immigration was protected, housed the homeless, secured care homes foremost, and yes, it was a hard six months, but with faith in our government and their ability to set a good example by complying to the regulations themselves, we got through it!”

Yellowhead was lost for words, confused in mixed emotion. These people were not the extremist anti-governed anarchists he believed them to be. “Yes,” he stumbled, “I errm, well, I am glad to hear of your love and respect for the government, but still, this illegal gathering is unlicenced and no permission has been granted by the council to allow it to happen! So, I order to cease your festivities, return to your jobs, if you have one, return to the jobcentre if not!”

The crowd laughed once more. “Where is this guy from?” many questioned, or similar responses.

A nearby dreadlocked crusty leaned into Yellowhead, “you need to chill, my friend,” causally he offered Yellowhead a large hand-rolled smoking cigarette. It smelt rather exotic to Briggs, who tried to stop the crusty. Yellowhead took a look at the fellow, aghast.

“Is that what I think it is?! Is, is that a cannabis cigar? Is that Tweed you are smoking?” He did not wait for an answer, but yelped to call it to the attention of a casually dressed passing police officer. “Arrest this man at once, officer!”

The policeman strode towards the commotion. “Hand over that spliff!” he demanded.

 The man handed him the smoking implement. The officer took a puff, “where did you get this from?” The crusty pointed out a small stall, in front of Greggs. “Cheers, I knock off in an hour, might get me some, it’s good shit!”

In absolute revulsion Yellowhead quivered, this was the final straw. Briggs warned the officer and the crusty to step back. The chief councillor looked up at the sign for the Greggs bakery, which now read: Greggs Bakery and Riff Raff Spliff Café.

Now desperate from leftie surplus and in a state of horrified overload, he turned urgently towards Briggs for assistance. “Tell me this is a nightmare, Briggs,” he uttered insanely, “pinch me, punch me, clout my very chops with an iron if you must! Whatever it takes to wake me, I plead, I implore you!”

It was at this injunction he noted his assistant had his mouth sealed tight enough to whiten his lips, his cheeks were bulging, and with an unintended giggle, a puff of smoke exited his lips. “Briggs!” he shouted with all his might, “are you……”

Behind his back, Briggs quickly attempted to pass the joint back to the crusty unnoticed.

“…. Are you?” Yellowhead gasped.

 Briggs turned his head downwards and pointed it away from Yellowhead, to exhale the smoke. It was a pathetic attempt to hide the truth.

“….. Smoking…….”

Briggs looked back at his superior with the fake expression of shame.

“A…A….” Yellowhead enraged, his pimple-head boiled puss at critical mass, “…. A…. A…. A whacky-baccy cigar? For crying out loud to the good god Oswald Mosley, man! Are there no depths of depravity you are willing to descend to? Is there no act of villainy you will refute?!”

With that, those who took cover were shielded as best as they could. Others, unaware of the explosive nature of Yellowhead were covered in yellow pus.  

  


Will our hero councillor survive this weird influx of unlicenced carefree festivities? Just what is going on with the usually conservative town of Davizes, and has the whole world gone as mad as Diana Abbot on nitrous oxide, or is just the moonrakers? Find out in our amazingly liable continuing fable, next Sunday morning….

Summer Solstice Celebrations Looking Likely at Stonehenge

With the green light given for the A303 tunnel at Stonehenge, the lockdown restrictions at winter solstice and EH’s solstice parking fee demands, it’s understandable we haven’t seen a positive message from the pagan high priest, Uther Pendragon for a while. But this week proved different. If Uther used emojis on his social media posts it would be near all smiley faces, but he’s not the type to, so there wasn’t!

Nevertheless, the leader of the warrior and political arm of the modern druid movement, The Loyal Arthurian Warband, reported back from a virtual RT meeting with English Heritage, Police and other interested parties, save Wiltshire Council who Uther noted, “steadfastly refused to attend.”

Assurances about this year’s summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge appear positive. Urther called for “assurances from EH and their partnering ‘authorities’ that there are no plans to restrict access by ticket and/or advance booking, or to take part in any Goverment pilot or other such ‘trial’ that restricts access to ‘all-comers’ due to perceived health issues or certification. And that no pilgrims will be denied entrance, save for those who’s anti social behavior dictates such.”

EH are continuing to make plans and arrangments,” Urther reported, “for the managed open access to go ahead as scheduled for the night of 20th/dawn of the 21st June, subject to the lifting of Government restrictions, due to end by this point.”

On the eve of lockdown last year, English Heritage said, “we know how appealing it is to come to Stonehenge for Winter Solstice, but we are asking everyone to stay safe and to watch the sunset and sunrise online instead. We look forward to welcoming people back for solstice next year.” And with that, and this positive development, we hope things will run smoothly for 2021.


Song of the Day 34: Jon Amor

Here’s a thing, did you know the Michael and Janet Jackson duet “Scream,” is cited as the world’s most expensive music video, totaling a cost of $7 million? And Wacko dished the cash out of his own pocket?

Despite critical acclaim at the time, reaching number 3 in the UK pop charts, and the retaliatory nature of the song against the tabloid assault on Michael after sexual abuse accusations, I thought, and always will think, it was a bit shit, to be perfectly frank!

Look, I mean, okay, bit harsh were the allegations, so MJ thinks, I know, I’ll bag myself a B-movie spaceship, take my sister off the planet, buy us both matching knobbly jumpers, dance about in zero g, and cough up seven million dollars for someone to film it, that’ll convince the fans I’m not a complete fruitcake.

They didn’t even save enough pennies to get it filmed in technicolor. Input sad face emoji.

Compare and contrast to Devizes-own Jon Amor, who, with just the creativity of Lucianne Worthy, a big chunk of inspiration from Jim Henson and some snazzy blue loafers, pulls off this absolute beauty for the track Rider from the latest album Remote Control.

Smashed it, guys, and it’s in colour too. Proof you don’t gotta do a Wacko Jacko and push the boat out as far as Mars to accomplish something all together entertaining.

And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on….


Wiltshire Council Leader Advises Tory Candidates to Block Correspondence With Save Furlong Close Campaign

It has been some time since we’ve covered the disgraceful fiasco at Rowde’s Furlong Close, where residents with learning disabilities face closure of the HFT site, their home, and undefined, separated relocation.

The reason being, the situation had fallen into a political stalemate, as HFT ceased all dealings with Wiltshire Council. It seems HFT are no strangers to closing sites down, and equally Wiltshire Council’s reaction is lacklustre. I cannot decide who is really to blame in all this, but something certainly doesn’t add up; perhaps they’re both as bad as each other, and the clock is ticking for May 19th when closure is planned. You know me, I’ve been concerned my anger at this issue will lead me to publish speculation, and the last thing I want is put forth misleading information.

Now, it seems, via a Tweet from The Save Furlong Close campaign group, in a memo released on Easter Sunday, Wiltshire Council Leader, Philip Whitehead advised councillors and future Conservative candidates to block all correspondence with Save Furlong Close Campaigners, in fear it’s being used as “an election matter.”

This is very concerning, while both sides battle the politics out, the Save Furlong Close campaigners are merely worried for the future prospects for the residents there, and least deserve a voice. So, I’m pleased to be able to publish an article, by Mark Steele, a member of the campaign’s steering group, which outlines the history and current situation.

I merely offer to endorse their rightful campaign and promote it as much as possible. If then, residents of Furlong Close are indeed moved out, it will be a terrible day for Wiltshire, and a shameful reflection on a county council, but if this happens and I stood there and did nothing, it’s a shame I would partly bear too, and I have no intentions of that happening. I hope our readers and supporters will agree, and I fully believe, with the permissions of the campaign group, we need to arrange a socially distanced peaceful protest, as soon as feasible. So, WHO IS WITH ME? Watch this space, but here’s Mark’s outline of the happenings in Rowde.


SAVE FURLONG CLOSE

“The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

(Mahatma Ghandi)

Save Furlong Close

For the last 30 years, Furlong Close has been home to 36 vulnerable adults with learning disabilities, including Down syndrome, autism and epilepsy.  The residents live in 5 bungalows in a cul-de-sac at the edge of the village of Rowde, sharing a community hall, workshops and gardens (including a market garden and pens for sheep and rabbits).  It is a short walk to the centre of Rowde and a short bus ride to Devizes.  Many of the residents have lived at Furlong Close for more than 20 years.  They are happy and settled, have formed life-long friendships and are a close and caring community. 

In October last year, however, it was announced that Hft (the charity which owns and operates the site) and Wiltshire Council (which funds the majority of the residents) had “jointly” decided that everyone was to be “moved on” by June 2021, the site shut down and the land sold off for development.  The shocked families were told that there would be no consultation or discussion; it was a “done deal”. 

Already reeling from the emotional impact of the pandemic and cut off from the support of their families, the residents were fearful and anxious.  Their disabilities make change extremely stressful for them and being forcibly evicted from their home of 20+ years would cause them great trauma and distress.  For some, the trauma would be life-shortening.  My cousin, David, who has lived at Furlong Close for 18 years, was left in fear of the future and telephoned his 95-year-old mother, Audrey, many times a day, often in tears, to ask her where he would go and who would look after him.  Sadly, Audrey passed away in March, spending the last months of her life wracked with worry about what would happen to her beloved and vulnerable only child (https://twitter.com/savefurlongcl/status/1374671484187242507).

So, why is Furlong Close facing closure?  At first, Hft and the Council said it was “not about money”, but was only about doing the best for the residents.  It was said that “moving them on” from their settled and happy homes would be an “exciting opportunity” for them, but no-one could quite explain how breaking up a happy community and scattering them to new and strange places would be either “exciting” or an “opportunity”.   Certainly, it was an “opportunity” which none of the residents or their families wanted.  Subsequently, it became clear that it was in fact “all about money” after all, with Hft accusing the Council of grossly underfunding the site over many years and refusing to pay the full costs of care.

Faced with this cruel threat to the well-being of our vulnerable relatives, the families organised and the local community rallied to our cause.  People became angry.  43,000 people, from Wiltshire and beyond, signed a petition.  Legal proceedings were commenced by the family of one resident, to seek to have the decision set aside as a breach of her human rights.

Faced with this local anger, Wiltshire Council promptly threw Hft under the bus.  It claimed that the “joint decision” was nothing to do with it, but solely a matter for Hft.  Hft responded angrily, accusing the Council of “lying” and trying to “hide behind” it, and gave notice that it was withdrawing services, not just from Furlong Close, but from Wiltshire as a whole.  With Hft and the Council each pointing the finger at the other, the situation deteriorated into what has recently been described by a judge in the pending legal proceedings as “a shambolic mess”.

As the clock ticks down to the termination of Hft’s contract for the site on 19 May, the residents and their families fear that we are being hung out to dry.  Hft has offered the Council the chance to buy or lease the site and bring in another operator, but neither has taken decisive action to make this happen.  Many suspect that the Council is just playing for time, to try and kick the can down the road until after the Council election in May.  Meanwhile innocent and vulnerable people are suffering and the families are calling on Hft and Wiltshire Council to act now to save Furlong Close. 

Please, if you want to help:

Thank you


Chapter Three: The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole

Chapter Three: in which our intrepid heroes arrive in Davizes, stop for refreshments and move onwards to face the mighty potholes of the A342.

Recap: As our heroes head out into the big, wide world and have shaken off the seagull obsessed councillor at Matalan, Yellowhead has pointed out the standard procedure for repairing potholes in the county of Miltshire, and it’s fair to say, it’s quite longwinded. Out story continues, for what it’s worth….


Councillor Yellowhead snarled at the lack of people parking in the Market Place, as he dismounted his lard from the van. Potential revenue was being lost here, Yellowhead made a mental note, tripling the parking fees would be the best solution, and he need add it to his notes for the next meeting.

From the safety of the driver’s seat, Briggs peered out in wonderment at the goings on in Davizes Market Place, while Chief Councillor Yellowhead ventured outside to fetch some light refreshments. Briggs observed a bus leaving the stop, how pensioners on it seemed to wear their facemasks as chinstraps, and they sneezed on students on the seats in front while brandishing them for not social distancing.

Other than the odd passer-by, and I mean odd, not much was happening. The only gathering appeared to be centred around a tacky layer of fake grass akin to what fruit and veg market stalls used. A few pub benches were busy with coffee drinkers, chatting happily away and breathing carbon monoxide from the few passing cars with affluent drivers able to afford the parking fees. Others circled the town endlessly looking for a free parking spot on-street. Some only popped in for a loaf of bread, the cost of which would be quadrupled if they had to pay the minimum hour parking fee. Others could not understand how to use a smart phone to pay for the parking, ergo no other option was available.

Briggs recalled the memo, it was something the Council promised to fix, maybe, he figured with no clue of his impending fate, when he passes his training, and became a real councillor it was something he could raise at a meeting.

Yellowhead returned laughing hysterically and pointing profusely at a small child who had tripped on the fake grass, which was curled up at the edges. A dog had just urinated on the exact same spot minutes before. He struggled back in the van launching a brown paper bag at Briggs and waving two bottles. “Here you go, partner!” he smiled, “a pheasant and truffle bake, and two bottles of Bollinger!”

Briggs looked surprised. “Is that your definition of light refreshment?”

“You’re not wrong, the foie gras and swan bakes were overpriced and my expenses form is already maxed. Just thank the good lord Enoch Powell no snowflake Corbyn legionnaire recognised me; they’ve still got their knickers in a twist over the traffic lights system on the London Road in this pathetic market town.”

“It just needs a filter light for the traffic heading right,” Briggs observed.

Yellowhead snatched the pheasant bake back. “Watch your step young trainee, we’ve not got that kind of cash lying around for filter lights,” he warned. “Now, head out towards the proposed new railway station site, there’s a good fellow. We need to prioritise the potholes closer to my house first.”          

Briggs shrugged, he wanted to sit and admire the fake grass and white picket fence, which didn’t look at all out of place in a historic and idyllic town centre, not one bit. Yellowhead noted the direction of his gaze. “Ghastly, isn’t it?” he sniggered. “That’s the lively entertainment space those nonces at the town council were forced to put up to keep keyboard warriors from losing their shit over, and still, they lose their shit over it.”

He belly-laughed, “And they call themselves Guardians! Ha, of all things; Guardian readers more like! Meanwhile we rake in parking fees,” with a huff he scanned the lack of parking in the Market Place, and the traffic building to find on-street free slots, “least that was the plan; bloody freeloaders.”

“Why they ever accepted your ultimatum, I mean acquisition of duties, sir, is beyond me,” Briggs laughed. “I mean, you just gave them control of all the shit bits Miltshire Council couldn’t be arsed to take responsibly for!”

Yellowhead popped the champagne and lugged at the bottle top, clearing quarter of the contents before coming up for air. With a burp he noted, “precisely Briggs, have your bake back. Because, young padwan, they’re do-gooding busy-bodies with the political awareness of a hedgehog, in command of an indoctrinated majority willing to blindly conform to Tory totalitarianism. Putty in our hands, Briggs, putty I say.”

“They crave more power; we say they can have control of the swings in the playpark but you must raise two thousand K in parking fees annually; it’s a win-win, really is!” He took another gulp of Bollinger, “the land out in Rude, by example, Furry-long Close, worth a fucking a mint, but houses adults with so-called learning disabilities. Adults, for crying out loud into Nigel Farage’s blessed lap, if they’ve not adjusted to real life yet the losers never will. So, we close the facility, blame the charity, and send them out into the real world; it’s easy to convince the majority here it’s in their best interest.”

Yellowhead projected his arm across the windscreen, encouraging Briggs to look at the view beyond.  “Look around you, Briggs, look at these imbeciles; the Furry-long Close residents will blend in just fine, and the land is ours for seven thousand luxury homes, and four affordable one bed flats. I’m on for a new stable if we pull this off, the old couple are looking a bit dated. You’re welcome to come visit once the pandemic is over, I’ll have some guttering jobs for you.”

Briggs just shrugged, and drove on.

Past the school, Yellowhead continued his rant. “Houses, houses, houses, Briggs my dear fellow, take heed, rich people need houses too. Look at the size of that sports field, and for what, I ask you? Most kids are obese anyway, what do they need a sports field for, dropping empty packets of Wotzits on? They can’t even vote! No, lower the school budget, I say, and the council are mostly unanimous, make them pay for their repairs by selling off that land. The Constabulary headquarters too. Protected wildlife they cry. Why? Tress and fields and country walks, so dog-walkers can hang doggie poo bags on trees?”

Briggs just shrugged, and drove on.      

“Look around you now,” Yellowhead demanded, “and tell me what you see?”

“Farmland?” Briggs answered, though wondered why he bothered.

“Are you drinking that plonk?” Yellowhead asked, snatching it from the driver and launching his empty bottle out of the window. “I see potential! A railway station, so our lustrous MP Danny Cougar can get to Westminster, a business park, alive with industry, a tunnel under every monument so tourists don’t get a sneak peek of it without paying, a velodrome, Briggs, think about it my boy, a velodrome, a monorail, glass tubes vacuuming people to work, a space shuttle launchpad, the possibilities are endless.”

“Affordable homes too, sir? Homeless shelter?”

“Don’t be a dreamer, Briggs,” Yellowhead snarled, “we don’t have a bottomless pit of funding.”

As ordered Briggs pulled the van over. The potholes here resembled an asteroid impact zone. “This will save us some pennies,” Yellowhead observed, “something to do other than blasted Zoom meetings. Cut out the middleman, Highways Agency are a hinderance on our budget,” he stated as he gulped Briggs’ Bollinger. “If a job’s worth doing…. Now, get out and spray a yellow circle around that one!”

Briggs got out to paint the circle, despite not be trained. Yellowhead followed suit, to fart. Briggs opened the van’s rear doors and climbed inside to fetch the spray paint canisters. Upon his return he looked rather flushed, but Yellowhead failed to notice it. A gull, of all things, had descended upon him and was frantically fluttering around his head. He shoed it off with his arm, when a random and unsolicited thought occurred to him: find love for your fellow man, and take heed of all god’s creatures, for they may hold a message for you.

Yellowhead questioned his own thoughts as he scared the gull away, mumbled something about leftie snowflakes invading his psyche via telepathy being the final straw, and yelped, “Nora! Where are you when we need you the most?!”

“It’s quite a deep one,” Briggs observed the pothole, despite it was filled with water, so hard to tell exactly how deep. “Maybe pop a cone in it?”

“Yes, yes, whatever!” belched Yellowhead, the kerfuffle and also, the fresh air taking effect on his drunkenness.

Briggs dropped the cone in the centre of the pothole. It floated for a matter of seconds and then sank out of sight into the muddy puddle. “Oh, it is deep,” he noted.

“Get that cone out of there!” Yellowhead demanded as he retched up pheasant chunks. “We’ve not the cash lying around to lose a cone.”

Briggs hesitated, then attempted to straddle the puddle, but it was too large. His right foot went partly in, and so he naturally extended his left foot outwards into the centre. Next thing Yellowhead noted was Briggs completely disappearing under the water. “For the love of Thatcher!” he moaned to himself, and pulled his phone from his pocket. “Yes, it’s me,” he reported, “yes, I will fill out the minutes to the last meeting as soon as I get back. Sorry? Yes, on a mission, yes. Look, this is an emergency, I need a new junior councillor sent out, one with some water wings.”

There was a cold silence as Yellowhead listened aghast to his superior. He tutted at Briggs’ stupidity, but supposed he asked for it, his naivety cost him his life out here. It was untamed territory, life was hard. He wasn’t completely inhumane, and he mourned the boy’s death for the best part of ten seconds. “What do you mean, the one I’ve got? He’s an idiot, sir, with all due…….”

Another cold silence as Yellowhead listened, even more aghast. He gulped, “erm, drowned sir, in a pothole……Have I what, sir? Well, no, I erm…. Now see here, you cannot seriously be propo…. Yes…… Yes, I know that, but……paperwork, sir, liable?…… Okay, okay, I will see what I can do!”

With that Yellowhead sighed like he’s never sighed before, not even when Tony Blair outlawed fox hunting. He waddled reluctantly to the van, cursing under his breath that lefty altruists had infiltrated the top hierarchy of Miltshire Council and plagued it with a sickening level of compassion. Once there he thrust open the van door, examined the contents of the footwell, considered the quarter-full bottle of Bollinger, exhaled, and selected Nora’s machine-gun.

Waddling over as close to edge the pothole as he could bear, still complaining, he pushed the barrel of the gun into the puddle. “Briggs!” he bellowed, “Grab hold of this!” That was when the gun accidently went off. It had a kick harder than Yellowhead’s hunting rifle, and stunned, it knocked him backwards.

Unaware, perhaps due to his levels of intoxication, that a spray-can obstructed his path, and rolled under his left foot, Yellowhead then fell forwards with a cry out to Churchill to save him, and with a splash he entered headlong into the water.

Tumbling and frantic he gurgled under the water, scrambling to find the edge, but failing. All he discovered was a sunken traffic cone, which promptly bobbed away. The surface seemed unattainable as he gasped for air and the scene fell into a ghostly dark black.


How will our heroes survive the devastating predicament of sinking into a gigantic pothole on the A342, if they have, and would you really want them to, anyway? How much more would it have really cost to put some decking in the Market Place, rather than tacky fake grass? How can you have any faith the council will build these extravagant projects, like spaceship launchpads and train stations, when it cannot even fix a pothole? Find out, or not, next week, on The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole!


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Horses of the Gods; We Wish You Health

I once reviewed a cassette with a photocopied punk-paste zine style picture of Mr Blobby as the cover, where a distraught male voice screeched, “take an overdose, ginseng!” continuously over some white noise. Thank heavens that’s in a long-lost past!

Fortunately, I’ve never had anything quite so bizarre to review since, not even this week when, Erin Bardwell messaged; “one of the drummers I do things with, Matty Bane, has a side duo project and wanted to let you know about their latest album.”

Sure, I’ve heard of Matty, seen him listed as one of Erin’s collective, trekking with them to Jamaica in 2003 to record with Recoldo Fleming at Dynamic Sounds. Further research shows he’s drummed in Bad Manners for over ten years, and is now part of Neville Staple’s From the Specials setup, headhunted from days as part of the Special Beat tour with the original rude boy.

Given this, I was naturally expecting said side-project to be reggae, stands to reason. What might’ve eased the surprise was to have pre-known of Matty’s own band The Transpersonals, a minimalistic, psych-rock outfit lounging somewhere between Pink Floyd and Spaceman 3. Still, nothing was going to prep me for what I got; We Wish you Health by Horses of the Gods.

There’s only one reason for facetiously mentioning the eccentric Mr Blobby cassette, because this is unusual too. The likeness ends there, though. “Bizarre” can connote excruciating, as with the cassette, but, as with We Wish you Health, can also imply uniquely stimulating and inimitably disparate. So much so, it’s astonishingly good. For those seeking the peculiar, those at their happiest dancing barefoot in Avebury’s morning dew, or for whom reaching the summit of Glastonbury Tor before sunrise is priority, will adore this, with jester’s bells on.

Matty teams up Mike Ballard, a media and games lecturer with a penchant for folk. And essentially this is what we ought to pigeonhole Horses of the Gods as; Somerset folk, is as near in modern terminology you’re going to get. But for comparisons I’m going to have to max my flux capacitor way beyond my usual backtracking.

If I relish in music history without the technical knowledge, I understand one has to either accept four-time pop, or untrain their ear to acknowledge other musical metres, in order to appreciate folk, classical, even jazz, but particularly the kind of sounds We Wish you Health is embracing. There’s something medieval, least pagan mysticism about the influences here, of shawms and hand-cranked hurdy-gurdies, miracle plays, and Gallican chants of plainsong. And it’s swathed with chants and poetry as if in variant West Country Brittonic tongue.

We have to trek beyond futurist Francesco Balilla Pratella’s Art of Noises theory, to an olden ambience of nature, of birdsong, storms and waterfalls. The opening track starts as a spoken-word toast and ends akin to medieval court jester entertainment, over a haunting chant. Equally passe but equally amicable is a sea shanty called Down in the Bay. Then a clocktower chime follows; left wondering if this was Dark Side of the Moon recorded in 1648. Sow In uses mellowed hurdy-gurdy to mimic what the untrained ear might deem an Eastern ambience. With a solstice theme, it’s so earthy it makes the Afro-Celt Sound System sound like Ace of Base! (Joke; I love the Afro-Celt Sound System!)

In many ways the next tune Ostara follows suit, more eastern promise yet slightly more upbeat. Consider George Harrison’s collaborations with Ravi Shanker. As the album continues, experimentation with traditional abound, obscure instruments are thrown into the melting pot; the Victorian circus sound of The Thing and I, the rural west country ditty of Digger’s Songs, in which you can almost smell spilt scrumpy as folk rise from haystacks to jig.

Throughout you’re chopping randomly at influences, this medieval court running theme, blended with an oompah band styled sound on The Whole World Goes Around, will make you want bells on your shins like a drunken Morris dancer at the village fete. Else you’re haunted by the chill of evocative soundscapes, unable to pinpoint an era this falls into. I’ll tell you now, it was aptly released at Samhain last year.

We Wish you Health may be bespoke, and some wouldn’t give themselves adjustment time, yet Sgt Pepper and Pet Sounds were famed for pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in contemporary pop. This is a fissure to the norm, a testimony of yore, for while there’s a demonstration of newfound passion within ancient realms, it is fundamentally timeless. Though I suspect there’s myth and history behind each track, which extends the album from a set of songs to a research project for the listener.

The finale, for example, has a reference in Wikipedia; John Barleycorn, a personification of the importance of sowing barley and of the alcoholic beverages made from it, beer and whisky. Though in the House of Gods, cider gets a mention. John Barleycorn is represented as suffering indignities, attacks and death that correspond to the various stages of barley cultivation. It goes onto reprint a Robert Burns version from 1782, though stating countless variations exist; Matty and Mike use an earlier version:

There was three men come out o’ the west their fortunes for to try, And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn must die, They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in, throwed clods upon his head, Til these three men were satisfied John Barleycorn was dead.

I’ve rushed out this review to make you aware of it, and because I’m so utterly astounded by its uniqueness, but fear I’m only teetering on the edge of its fascinating historical references myself. Thus, is the general nature of folk music, to dig out lost fables which once would’ve entertained young and old, and bring them to new audiences, and The Horses of the Gods does this in such a way, the negative confines and stereotypes commonly associated with folk music just melt away.

Link Tree to album


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