Bromham Girls Help the Homeless This Christmas

A commendable effort by two Bromham girls to give fifty goodie bags to the homeless this Christmas is quickly growing worthy attention. A massive congratulations goes to these kind year 6 girls, Greg and Al, for such a wonderful thought and their determination to organise this.


Still, they need donations of many items on their homemade list, including cosmetic products like toothbrushes, deodorant and soap, to warm clothes, torches and treats such as chocolate! In fact, I think they’ve thought of a number of valid items most us probably wouldn’t have!


They’ve set up a Facebook page for their campaign, with details on how to donate. Collections are possible, but the girls have set up donation stations at St Nicholas in Bromham and at Beezes in the Ginnel, Devizes. They also sought other possible places for these stations in various local villages.

So, can we give this wonderful idea a boost? I know we can! Start by giving their Facebook page a “like,” and see what you are able to donate, please. Thank you! We wish all the best with this brilliant idea, girls and hope that you will tell us how it went after Christmas; you are both on the good list, that’s for sure! Remember though, have a great Christmas yourself too!

© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
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Back Wood Redeemers Squash into the Southgate

Yet another blinding night’s entertainment at the Southgate, as Frome’s Back Wood Redeemers came, saw and kicked ass….


His banjo to one side for a beer break, Flounder Murray perched on the step as I defined the live music scene in Devizes as thriving. As most Saturday nights we were spoiled for choice; People Like Us, I explained, popular locally, playing the Three Crowns, and there’s Britpop trio Billy Green 3 heading the Crown, rock n roll at the Rotary’s sixties-themed Presidents Night at the Cons Club, an Elvis tribute at the Cavalier and a gin and bourbon festival at the Corn Exchange. Not even touching upon various village gigs, such as Splat the Rat who played the Cross Keys in Rowde. I really need a clone, or five!

The area’s population is approximately 31,000, I’ve researched now, but returned the question on the night with a blank stare. Inevitable if you’ve not heard of Frome’s Back Wood Redeemers, this one passed you by. Alas, you missed out on what was a no-brainer for me, since Flounder last appeared here as part of the band The Boot Hill All Stars and blew the roof off with an original blend of grinding, upbeat folk and gypsy ska. It was one sweaty night. Though a quieter Saturday at the trusty Southgate didn’t damped the atmosphere, just rather more intimately contained.


An altogether unusual seven-piece band squeezed into the tight space, I expected no less then crusty beards, the circus attire of vintage suits, bowler hats, clown trousers and stripy tights and anything goes. Armed with an electric guitar, harmonica and drums, nothing unusual there I’ll grant you, but throw in a banjo, two, yes two double basses, a pink electric mandolin made to look like a mini guitar, and a fellow propped in the alcove with a trombone, might just invoke an appropriate image as to how bonkers it was; might.

Described as “songs of dark country, twisted blues & religious fervour,” BWR did what it said on the tin. The mood on my entry was melodically paced; on asking Flounder the difference between them and the Boot Hills he expressed the hunt for vintage blues or country songs, even gospel and the ethos of twisting them into this west country folk. We talked of ska and how it developed in a similar manner as rock n roll, those rhythm and blues rarities very much standard radio airplay across the Americas. Yet Flounder pronounced the need to cover artists such as Tom Waits and Nick Cave too, and with his archetypical gritty vocals these artists are apt.

Flounder though did not front all the tunes, the band clearly a collective as the double-bass man in tights straddled off his instrument to parade around like Bez of the Happy Monday’s, singing fervently with an expressive dance routine to boot. The second half promised to be dirtier, faster and grittier, and did just this. Through the promised murky country tunes, those Somerset folks threw everything at this original blend. Think of a Wurzels-Levellers combo as a Northern Soul band at the Hacienda’s Madchester era trying their hand at jump-blues, you might come somewhere near! Yet whatever pigeonholes you care to throw at it, in the jest of this band who daren’t take themselves seriously, it’s lively, crazy and highly entertaining.


Danceable too, once a Nick Cave song finished, the Train to Skaville riff teased the audience, and Flounder bounced into Toots & The Maytals’ 54-46, only for a melody of Tainted Love and the Cure’s Love Cats to follow. Yet aside the crowd-pleasers, it’s the proficient general skulduggery of instrumentation and upbeat sound which fuses the frenzy of the Back-Wood Redeemers and makes them so appealing. The finale Bound to Glory being the icing on the cake, and perhaps more apt for the band’s description than those known pop tunes; but either way, all were executed sublimely and originally. It was, in short, a crazy, crazy night Kiss fans wouldn’t dream of.


As it’s been said, hats, and many of them, off to the Southgate, who, while the others tend to provide us with safe options of tributes and locally renowned acts, and there’s nought up with that, The Southgate strive to hunt for something different, and bring alternatives to town. With the attitude of providing free live music every weekend, of course, there is also plenty room for our local favourites too and while these make the best and most crowded nights here, when The Back Wood Redeemers are back around this zone, you’d be a fool to miss them.

© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
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How Devizes Constituency Would Differ Under a Labour Flag; an interview with Rachael Schneider Ross

Not wishing to dabble in politics too much, I still think it’s important we get to know our local candidates a little. Hopefully we’ll track down all of them in time, as I invite Rachael Schneider Ross of Labour to be the first under the Devizine cosh……

So engrossed in our chat, I thought the lady on the table next to us was talking to the window; being on the first floor of New Society I didn’t expect anyone to be outside. It was some guys on a scissor-lift putting up the Christmas lights! We both stared out to the view and my companion commented how much she loved Devizes.

I’m not the political sort usually, but in a dilemma with this election, maybe you are too. So, I invite all local candidates to face my interrogation, I mean a chat! Ah, Devizes then, Tory safe seat. I don’t know about you but I’d want some options on the table, I yearn for change. Tactical voting to achieve this is still a grey area locally. While the Lib Dems traditionally do better than Labour, the latter came second last time. Therefore, Labour’s Rachael Schneider Ross is my first victim.


I’d like to know more about Rachael, her local priorities but start on how she feels about national issues, and Jeremy Corbyn. I asked her outright if she is a “Corbynite,” and if, through the smear against him, ol’ Jezzer remains the right man for the job. Rachael explained she doesn’t think of herself as a label, “I don’t really do labels,” she replied. “I’m just a working mum, who’s come into politics recently, in the last two years. What’s really interesting about Jeremy Corbyn is he has been incredibly successful at bringing young people into the party, and democratising the party.” Rachael enlightened, as an example, a conference in September where all the members decided to increase the ambition around the green new deal. “A decision made by all members, and that feels very democratic.” Impressed with his influence on her children too, Rachael completed the answer with the point, “my kids came into politics, because of Jeremy.”

Does Rachael agree with me, that the voting age should be reduced? I suggested to 14 years old, maybe too radical, but Rachael agreed at 16 most are ready. Kids, you have a cool mum!

And in that, there’s something immediately warming about Rachael’s character, aside being openly consistent and extremely optimistic, she’s not defensive and we spoke on an equal level. This blows my stereotype politician out of the water! She responded to my questions with a heartfelt persona, of family, and a resident, despite my prompts to focus on a national scale. A story followed about Jeremey’s mother who used to live nearby. She gave him a book of her village history some years ago, and upon meeting him recently, was surprised to find he remembered her, and had read the book. “I’m impressed with him; think he has great vision. I think of the whole green revolution, his relationship with the young, and taking it to heart, and to the heart of our policies.” It’s in sharp contrast to Boris Johnson, she noted, and expressed he doesn’t see the importance of those issues.

But the smear of Corbyn is so extensively ingrained. Seems we base our political opinion on the meme with the worst grammar, least they might be more trustworthy than the newspapers. As I said, Rachael is ever the optimist, “I know he has a mixed reputation, I think often, the Labour party, particularly he, is not getting a fair hearing by mainstream media. Sometimes I read things and think, well I was there, and that didn’t happen. Some have a distorted view, but I think he’s the leader of the moment, and he is right to stand toe-to-toe with Boris.”


We spoke about bickering in Parliament, I compared the charade to a rap battle, it got a laugh. “I’m very impatient about all of that now,” Rachael expressed, “watching it over the past few years, it’s one of things that’s got me involved, to be honest. I just am fed up with exactly that, the nonsense, that echo-chamber going around, as it’s so different from how we get stuff done, in the real world. Which is about cooperating and building bridges with each other, even if we don’t understand or like each other, we have to work together. That’s, in working life, how we make stuff happen.”

Bing, bang, bosh; thus, Brexit was an inevitable subject, I’m going to gloss over it, knowing Rachael is in agreeance with the Labour policy, and the mandates are on the table. Passionate about leaving without any consideration of the negative implications, stick with what we have. Passionate about remaining, despite the referendum result, vote Lib Dem. I honestly feel the most logical solution to the mess is Labour’s; we know no deal is economical suicide, Rachael worries about this. So, obtain the right deal and take a vote, the final answer. If you respect democracy, you should respect people have a right to change their mind over three years and exposure of the propaganda enforced on the campaign. If it really is the will of the people, then where’s the argument? Just one more cross in a box, I’m sure you can manage. If you still believe we should remain, regardless of the millions who voted leave, then maybe, just maybe, that’s not entirely fair either. “I also have a lot of concern and want to understand better,” Rachael summarised, “why people chose to vote to leave, and I think there’s lots of reasons. One thing Labour would do is address the underlying causes of that frustration and anger, about how they felt democracy or government was letting them down.”

Again, Rachael bought up youth, maybe she’s hinting something, aware my greying sideburns worsen daily! “Of course,” she stated, “in the last three years, a lot of young people are eligible to vote who wasn’t, and it’s about their future, isn’t it? It’s our children and grandchildren who will reap the impact of Brexit.” Enough! I feel we need to hear the local angle here on Devizine, and what a Devizes constituency would look like under a Labour flag.

Considering the voting history of the constituency, does Rachael really feel she has a chance in turning that round? “You know,” she answered, “I never say never.” See, always the optimist! “You’re right, there has never been a Labour MP, but we have had some wonderful Labour councillors over the years.” She strives to follow in their footsteps. “We’re in strange political times at the moment, and I think and hope when they weigh up who to vote for here in this constituency, they think about the policies, ask themselves what kind of country do they want it to be, I think that’s fundamental, and also, who will represent and stand up for us best, as a community. I would love to do that; I would love to stand up for the community, and represent us well in Parliament. I have ideas, and strong views about local issues which need much more focus and attention on, and would like to bring that campaigning spirit that I discovered in myself a few years ago, through the Oxenwood and Braeside campaign, that’s what really woke me up, politically.”


Again, I see this air of positivity shine through Rachael, at a time when the local Conservatives are in turmoil over choice of candidate, in whatever attributes Danny Kruger has, he is not local, and you know, we keep it local here, like it that way. “Wouldn’t it be better, to have a local mum, who knows the area, knows the issues, instead of someone piloted in from London, because he’s Boris’s mate?!”

It brings to the boil my killer question, not necessarily for Rachael herself, but for our consideration, being we don’t like change, we continue to stick with the Tories. If-it-isn’t-broken attitude might now be unfitting; even our affluent community is suffering, open your eyes when venturing beyond, it gets worse. Maybe making a change is not really changing at all, being Rachael is one of us. So, given Rachael lives in a village life between Devizes and Marlborough, I asked what’s the importance, to her, of having an MP who is locally based. “I think it’s absolutely crucial,” she asserted, “I’ve lived here over twenty-five years, bought my kids up here. So, I’ve experienced what it’s like living in a rural community, where there are no buses, of becoming a taxi for your kids! I’ve lived and breathed Wiltshire country air and my feet are firmly planted here; and I love it. You also notice what’s worrying.”

Rachael strapped the local homeless issue onto the youth angle too, proud of her trustee status with two such charities. Her volunteering gives her, “first hand, in-your-face experience of what’s it’s like when things just don’t go according to plan. Each of us are a few steps away from homelessness, and I’ve seen that reality.” Keen to point out the issue of homeless army veterans, evident locally. “Now, someone coming in from London, who has sat at the top table with Boris, and doesn’t know this area, I don’t think he’ll have the same local knowledge and understanding, and why he’d want to care about what’s happening here.”

More tea was poured, she thinks we need to discover our radical roots here, pointing to the population of working class, and told me of Upavon’s Henry Hunt, the radical farmer during the Napoleonic Wars. With a wealth of local knowledge and history, undoubtedly, she is one us, no matter how you feel about voting Labour.

The anniversary of Jo Cox’s death shifted something in Rachael Schneider Ross, she explained, spurring her on to this post. “It took things to a different place; I was getting more concerned with where things were heading. I feel this general election, (despite the bad timing around Christmas) is really important. For me it’s a once in a generation moment to say enough, we don’t want to head further and further to the right, which will be a further division of hatred between people. That will be encouraged by Farage and Boris.”

I pointed toward our prospective development, a possible train station, new NHS centre. Rachael stressed it may be just be talk, while she’d love to be a part of making them happen, concentrated on the issue of affordable homes. “What worries me a lot, talking to people, is they say we just don’t have enough affordable housing, so my kids have to go elsewhere. And you know, there are other issues too; are there enough community spaces for young people?” We talked over Braeside and Oxenwood, closing of our youth centre, “and Pewsey has no youth centre, used to have the Shack.” Thus, cuts of police, schools and public spaces became the subject quickly, and how it creates disorder. “I think the government doesn’t join the dots between reducing police numbers, removing youth workers, or limiting their time significantly. If you close public spaces where young people can hang out, or the whole exclusion and criminalisation of young people, it’s no wonder we end up in a place where we have real problems.”


With all this mind, my finale interrogation; “if this historic moment happens, what would be the main difference to our constituency?” I got her on this one, but after some contemplation the reply was, “I think, we would look back and honestly think we’d say ‘thank god we voted in Labour in 2019,’ a bit like, post-war, The Attlee era, a time when the NHS was founded. I would like to think we’d look back at this as a ‘see change’ moment. At a fundamental level I would hope for us to be thinking people and planet at the heart of all decisions and policies, right the way through parliament to local councils, rather than profit and privilege. People being central around politics, that’s what I’d like to see for us. I think people are completely fed up with the way things have gone for the past few years. One of the biggest changes too, would be a change to the whole attitude to climate.” Holistically, Rachael linked this with the youth agenda, and we know they go hand-in-hand.

I really don’t care for your preconditioned view of Labour, bought about by the waft of media negativity, I warmed to Rachael, felt immediately like we were old friends on a reunion, and I never thought that would happen with a politician. You know me, I’ll say it how it is, and I wonder what I’ll make of the others, should they take the dare!

© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.

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The Soul of Billy Green 3

Nice prolonged mellow murmur of Britpop breezes through my headphones, the Billy Green 3’s last single release of the year, Soul. There’s a mesh of Verve and Spaceman 3 coming across, it’s growing on me fast; do check it out, and bear in mind Billy and the lads are down the Crown, Devizes Saturday night.

Gate-crashed The Lawrence Society of Art’s Annual Exhibition!

Nipped into the Town Hall earlier, imagine, me, in the Town Hall. The Guardians will want me on their head chair before you know it; they should be so lucky! Ah, but there’s milling around The Assembly Rooms, few things still in boxes and a few ends to tie as The Lawrence Society of Art prepare for their annual art exhibition.

I’m informed I’m rather early, all will be running for the preview evening tonight, Wednesday 13th November, where all are welcome, from 6pm onwards. I sneaked a preview; you know me by now, just barge in uninvited, start randomly snapping phone photos and bust out of there like Billy Whizz on a promise, leaving everyone inside wondering “who was that guy with the chin?”


The show ends on Saturday 16th November, I’d advise paying it a visit, for to my pleasant surprise, the range of paintings are diverse and the standard is outstanding. All local artists, members of the society, with the furthest away coming from over Trowbridge yonder, I’m told. For sale or browsing, I note our good friend Clifton Powell has a selection from his Africa series, and spotted some brilliant sketches from Rowde’s Alan Watters too. But more enlightening was the quantity of contributors I’ve yet to discover. From cubist to landscape, and abstract to fine art, the range is sundry with no apparent theme. I like this approach though, nothing open to interpretation.


Proudly I’m informed the Lawrence Society of Art was formed back in 1953, and has actively fostered an interest in art with lectures, demonstrations, classes, outings, workshops and this major Annual Exhibition consistently since. The productivity of such an established association shows here today; my few pics will not do it justice.

The other major event of the society is usually in August. Their Art Trail, where participating shops and venues have a trail map, and there are about 30 shops in town showcasing members work, many available to purchase.


Named after child prodigy Sir Thomas Lawrence, a leading English portrait painter and the fourth president of the Royal Academy, who picked up sketching aged ten while his Dad was proprietor of the Bear Hotel, The Lawrence Art Society has an annual membership fee, for regular meetings and workshops. If you dabble, this exhibition could be the perfect introduction, if you just fancy a browse, I’ll say it’s very worthwhile. The opening times are: 14th November 9.30 am – 5.30 pm, 15th 9.30 am – 5.30 pm and 16th November 9.30 am – 12.00 pm.

© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.

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Friday at the Southgate; Blues Previewed…

Pop Quiz: The best way to preview what’s on Friday down the trusty Southgate is A: Have me waffling about Chippenham/Devizes based Blues Reviewed with Adrienne Hale, Mark Johnson, Paul Hale, Pete Lamb, Derek Head and Martin Cleverley. Or B: Have a listen to this preview YouTube Vid of four classic covers? Eh? Me, waffling? Oh, right you are then, please yourself, here it is:

Yep, speaks for itself really, but that’s just the start, Frome’s Back Wood Redeemers on Saturday also comes highly recommended; Go Southgate!


Phil, a Slight Band and a Southgate

Quick pint before Sunday dinner, and where (roast pork and crackling, yes thank you, it was) better than our dependable Southgate? The live music board is jammed with some great future gigs. We will keep you informed too; you know we will. This Sunday session though comes from Trowbridge’s singer-songwriter Phil Cooper, backed by his Slight Band, namely returning original Jack Moore on drums and Phil’s brother Ellis Cooper on bass; both accompanying vocals.


Perhaps it’s my autumn lack of enthusiasm to hike up Dunkirk Hill recently, the inability to witness some of Devizes’ live music scene left me craving, or, more than likely, Phil has polished the live act, as in my humble opinion they simply knocked it out of the park, or pub at the least. My account also propped by the notion I’ve only ever seen Phil play live acoustically, faired by Jamie on Cajon, and the backing band really gives him that extra dynamism. Yep, they gave it their all, and came across professional while residentially convivial. It was a comfy atmosphere, as is the Southgate on all occasions.

I arrived one song prior to a well-deserved doughnut break for Jack, when the egg shakers came out and the second half rang through one of my favourites of Phil’s, Road Songs. Yet Phil is so prolific an artist there’s many accomplished songs I haven’t heard, the gig planned to dig into the back catalogue a bit, but there’s probably a couple of new ones knocked out while I write this……hold on, check the book of face…… yep, told you; his electronica sidearm BCC has an armistice day release with Tamsin Quin on vocals! See this here Spotify link.


Ah good on them, it was an enjoyable gig, particularly poignant was the quasi-political I Don’t Have A Voice, about as radical as Phil gets, subject matter usually retained for emotions and social interactions. I apologise for avidly eyeing your doughnut like a famished Victorian street urchin, Jack, let it be known I had cheesecake waiting at home.

See here, next Friday is Peter Lamb’s Blues Reviewed, I’m looking forward to some twisted folky-blues skulduggery on Saturday with Frome’s Backwood Redeemers, and Sunday bluesman Thompson Smurthwaite gets on his harmonica. Blow the man down, do they ever come up for air?

© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.

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