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!


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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!


Trending…….

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


Trending……..

McDonalds Coming to Devizes….

Yes, you read it right, it’s been confirmed in a Devizes Town Council Zoom meeting this week, permission has been granted after decades of rejections, to build a McDonalds restaurant on the outskirts of town, and work could be starting as early as July.

In an exclusive conversation with MP for the Devizes district, Danny Kruger said he is delighted at the news. “With the Devizes Gateway station proposal looking likely,” Mr Kruger explained, “this will be of great benefit to the town’s economy, will provide jobs for local chavs, thickos and acne-covered juvenile delinquents, and will also fill in all the potholes along the main road with discarded slices of pickles.”

“Face it,” he continued as if someone cared, “no one is going to stop off to visit Devizes if they look out of the train window and see the Lydeway as it currently stands; all muddy fields and an elderly trailer trash park. No, people need to see the golden arches, they need to know they can get a Big Mac, or a Fillet o’ Fish. Heck, when I get back from Westminster, all I crave is a nice Twirl McFlurry, but no, not here, pal; whad up wid dat shit?” 

Danny K is Lovin’ It; you will too!

Despite the train station project not being complete until a predicted 2025, local franchiser and entrepreneur, Mr Michael Hunt of The Bottom, Urchfont has pushed for development of the land surrounding the site into a multi-purpose entertainment complex, with many other facilities, including chain restaurants Wagamama and Nandos, as well as a multiplex cinema, and an American style bowling arena, with a regular free bus service from the town centre and surrounding villages. But, for Mr Hunt, construction of the McDonalds is paramount and prioritised. “I’ve given the Town Council an ultimatum,” he claimed, “build a Maccy D’s now, or businesses will shift out of the area long before the first train stops here.”

Asked if Mr Hunt is laying down a rather rigid and uncompromising petition to the Council, who have rejected many past proposals of having the fast-food giants in town, Mr Kruger replied, “No way, Mike Hunt is a softy. Anyone can enter [the debate] and slip their piece into it.”

Therefore, local busy-body Liam Wallis, no stranger to a burger or three himself, has set up a steering group on Facebook, The Devizes McIssue, here, where tory partisans can air their views, but has warned members of the group he won’t stand for personal attacks on the businessman, who is known for making outlandish claims. “I love his proposal of having a McDonalds,” he cried, “but many locals see my Mike Hunt and laugh. I will not have Mike Hunt compromised, if people come to stick two fingers up,” he demanded, “they will be banned from the group.”

Clerk for the Town Council has spoken negatively about the idea, but feels they have no choice. “We don’t think it’s time to change our traditionist ethos and move with the times. But Mike Hunt is big, and hairy, and everyone on the council is afraid. He’s not just some tittering schoolboy blogger’s running joke wearing very thin, and one which, I might add, will undoubtedly get him in a lot of trouble. He is a risk to everything we stand for, and Chick-o-Land. I went to a McDonalds once, when I was about twenty- eight, or was that The Michelin star Hand & Flowers in Marlow? Oh, whatever, they gave me this cheap plastic toy with my meal, and it broke within five minutes of playing with it and I cried all the way home, and my mum told me off. Is that the kind of fiasco we need for our children?”

You can join the Facebook debate group, and give your views, by clicking here. Perhaps you think a McDonalds is well peng and you is lovin’ it, or is as unlikely as a train station, or maybe symbolic of an undesirable insignia of mass US commercialisation, an institute of Satan, or maybe you just prefer the gravy in KFC.

Or perhaps, you’re bitter because I led you up a garden path and everything I’ve said, if you’ve bothered to read this far, is simply an April Fool’s joke, and now, right, you’ve got a craving for a thick shake. Well, friend, you’ve gotta, like, get out of your onesie to drive to the Sham, else chance an underpaid Deliveroo driver will enter our Tory haven with gun-toting rednecks waiting to pick them off in the hills of Bromham.

Oh, and if you get to the Sham, be sure to adhere to the local tradition of jettisoning your mountain of waste packaging out of the passenger window onto the leafy lane of a quiet, unsuspecting village at three in the morning, you know, so your mum doesn’t see it and tell you off. Yeah, I like your cut G, you is Chuck Norris gangsta. Big up Danny K for gittin’ us a golden arches!


Cult Figures; Deritend, Yes Mate!

It’s not just me, is it? Eighteen seconds into the Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary, you know, when it breaks, and you’re like, that’s it, right there. It matters not what youth culture you were into, at the time, or even now, it doesn’t give a hoot about your favoured genres, haircut, colour of anorak, age, gender or race, it just does it, and you, you’re like, as I said, that’s it, right there.

Something similar happens with this Cult Figures album Deritend, out last week; heck, if they haven’t even got a comparable name. Perhaps not so nostalgia-filled, as these are all originals, though the sound harks back to an era or yore, when cookies were in a biscuit barrel rather than your web browser, Tories were governed a demoness made from iron rather than a clown made of teddy bear stuffing, and a wet wipe was when your mum spat into a handkerchief and wiped it over your Space-Dust covered chops.

Mind, as happens when I’m sent files not numbered, it lists them alphabetically rather than in the running order, so the opening track is actually the penultimate Camping in the Rain, but it makes the perfect intro into the world of these London-based masters of retrospection. From its off, it’s, well, off, leaving me to reminisce about those classic post-punk new wave bands of the eighties. At times though, as it’s a mesh of this and reflective of the scooterist mod culture of same period, I’m thinking of the likes of the Jam and Merton Parkas too. Contemplate the musical differences are subtle, though worlds apart at the time, and this sits comfortably somewhere in-between.

To add to their perfection of authenticity, one must note this is the second album from Cult Figures, and is comprised of tracks written in their earlier incarnation between 1977 and 1980, just recorded more recently.

The real opening tune, Chicken Bones, has the same impact, something beguiling and anthemic, setting the way it’s going to go down. Donut Life, which follows, sounds like carefree pop, the Chords, for a comparison. In fact, as it progresses the guitar riffs of next tune, Lights Out, is sounding more pre-gothic, Joy Division, yet with a catchy whistle more akin to The Piranhas. Things get really poignant with Exile, almost dub Visage meets the Clash, and Omen extenuates the seriousness of a running theme.  

“Deritend draws a line under the past,” they explain, “all eleven tracks composed and recorded since our 2016 comeback, simultaneously reflecting a maturity gained in 40 years of life experience, whilst still embracing the accessible three Ps of the early days; punk, pop and psychedelia.” The album’s title owes to a historic industrial area outside Birmingham’s centre, “a few miles from where Gary and I grew up.”

The mysterious iconic name was a bus route terminus and has a strong emotional connection to the band, “evoking the nervous excitement of those long rides into town on our way to Barbarellas. But it conveys so much more: Deritend is an album that reflects on the past, speculates on the future, but for the most part is fairly and squarely a comment on the lives we are living now.” They convey this well, for through its retrospection, subject matter, growing up with the dilapidation of a working-class industrial chip, could equally apply to then, or now.

A timeless piece of art within a captivating musical style which embraces the traditions of generation X, just curled up at an edge like an old poster on the congregated iron fence of a closed factory. I mean Silver Blades and White Noise crave you dive back into punk; there’s a definite Clash feel to the latter. As girl’s names for titles generally do, Julie-Anne is archetypical upbeat but themed of desire, and the sound of it is particularly challenging to pin down, there’s Weller there, but a drum roll you’d expect Annabella Lwin to surface from (of Bow Wow Wow if you need to, Google it, youngster!)

Most bizarre and experimental is the brilliantly executed talky sound of Concrete and Glass. Cast your mind back to 86, if poss, remember Jim’s tune, yeah? Driving Away From Home by It’s Immaterial, and you’re not far from the mark.

The aforementioned Camping in the Rain which could’ve been the opening track, is next, and it’s the epithet of all we’ve mentioned. This combination is not juxtaposed cumbersomely like a tribute act, rather the genuine article lost in time, and it, well, in a nutshell, absolutely rocks. The finale, Privilege is plentiful to summarise; Clash-styled punk rock, themed on the expectations of irritated propertyless youth, akin to Jimmy Cliff’s You Can Get It If You Really Want.

But, unless all you want is a zig-a-zig-ah and to spice up your life with commercialised bubble-gum pop, nothing here is oven-ready for criticism, just relish yourself in a bygone era, and rock.


The Lost Trades Live Stream their new album on Friday; tickets here

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Song of the Day 33: Andy J Williams

Having a great album reviewed fairly recently on Devizine doesn’t exclude you from being in the spotlight of our Song of the Day posts. And if it ever does, call me out on it. Just ask me who hell I think I am, Vlad the Impaler, or something similar.

Check the review of Buy All That $tuff by Andy, here, or just enjoy today’s video, Night Terrors, exposing where the band practice, under the beds of children, obviously! Which kinda makes we wish I was a kid again, as there were no bands practicing under beds back then. Just once I’d like to have discovered, I dunno, the Bangles perhaps, practicing under my bed!

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


Protect Drews Pond Wood Area

Local enviromental campaigners are calling on Devizes Town Council to designate ten areas of land around Drews Pond Wood as Local Green Spaces due to their importance for wildlife, health and wellbeing as well as historical significance.

Please sign the petition, here.

Drews Pond Wood Project has looked after the Local Nature Reserve since 1990 to keep it as a special place for wildlife and a resource for local people. They are asking for your help to get more protection for the wood and its surroundings.

The Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan are being reviewed. These plans will decide where to put hundreds more houses in Devizes. These plans shouldn’t just be about where to put development – they also need to identify areas that are special and important for people and wildlife so that they can be protected for the future.

The National Planning Framework enables communities to identify and protect areas that are of value to them through Local and Neighbourhood Plans by designating Local Green Space. This designation ensures strong development restrictions on an area. 

Make no mistake, Drew’s Pond Wood has been earmarked for development, though the application has been rejected, this doesn’t protect the area should future applications are made.

Thanks goes to local environmentalist, Joe Brindle and his team for creating the campaign and raising awareness of this. It is supported by the Drew’s Pond Wood Project.

Please sign the petition, here.


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

Chapter Two: in which we meet the gunman, and Councillor Yellowhead heads out for the mission.

Thought I’d present a weekly story feature, for Sunday entertainment during lockdown…. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Read the first chapter here, if you missed it, else carry on reading for a recap…..

Recap: meeting our intrepid hero, the firm-but-fair Councillor Yellowhead and his trusty sidekick, Grant Briggs at Miltshire County Hall, the chief councillor expressed he had an important mission, but spent too much time insulting the enlisted men, arguing on his state-of-the-art Nokia with the Chief Crime Commissioner, and generally being an arse, to reveal the nature of the mission. Then, a mysterious lone gunman entered the quarters to fire off a machine gun. That’s about the short of it. Our story continues……. 


In the aftermath of machinegun fire, a stony hush filled the quarters, and through the dense smoke, a petite woman appeared. Emotionally frozen, the enlisted men gazed up to her from their hiding places, behind the beds of their dormitory. Councillor Yellowhead pouted in disbelief and turned to his imaginary camera to address it. “Really? Strong female characters now; what depths of depraved political correctness and predictable cliché will this story descend to? It’s becoming nearly as leftie-snowflake as Star Trek Discovery.”

Lowering her machinegun to her side, the strong female character required for this politically correct story sucked her bottom lip and growled, “where are they?!”

“Where are who, Nora Fayes?” Yellowhead inquired sarcastically.

She stormed up to him, aiming the barrel of the gun at his nose, a tiny amount of yellow puss dribbled out of it. “You know full well who, the seagulls! I saw them coming this way. If I have to go through you to get to them, so be it!”

“This is becoming something of an obsession for you, councillor,” Yellowhead uncompromising expressed, raising his face from his palm. “You did your public survey, you’ve announced your abhorrence for gulls, and still fail to note, despite umpteen amendments to the minutes of numerous meetings, there’s no such thing as seagulls, just gulls. We are inland, councillor, do not let Bythesea Road fool you, it doesn’t mean it’s actually by the sea. We are not harbouring birds of any species, here in the enlisted men’s quarters, much to their reasonable disappointment. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we are very busy. My colleague here, and I are preparing for a mission of high priority!”

Slightly insanely, and continuing to aim her rifle at the chief, she circled him, “you don’t look like RSPB, but you cannot trust anyone.” Nora took Brigg’s collar by the fist and curled him closer to her. As he gawked in shock, she popped a small pill into his mouth and spoke sincerely to Briggs. “They’re everywhere, infiltrating their way into society. Do not trust anyone, especially if they have bird poop on their shoulder. If captured do not repeat what I am telling you, if they interrogate you, bite down on this pill, it’s cyanide!”

“Erm,” responded Briggs, “thanks, I think.”

“Pay her no attention, Briggs,” Yellowhead ordered, “she’s cuckoo.”

“Where?!” demanded Nora, spinning to reface Yellowhead, her gun aimlessly free to wander. “Where’s the cuckoo, if I can’t bag me a seagull, I’ll make do with a cuckoo, I’ll paint the fucker white!”

“You are insane, quite clearly!” suggested Yellowhead.

“You are the one who lives in Cuckoo Close,” she accused the chief, and he couldn’t deny it.

“I happen to like Urchfunk,” he informed her, “a place so posh, even the road signs are thatched!”

“I saved a Miltshire Council owned children’s playpark in the village of Rude, from dangerous dilapidations by convincing the parish council to take it sold as seen, with our blood money,” she reminded him, “whereas Urchfunk gets its own doggie playground ten times the size, and better equipped; where is the justice in that?!”

Yellowhead frowned and took hold of the barrel, pointing it to his temple. “Do it, Nora, and my ghost will see to it that it never gets a slide, and the bouncy chicken replaced. There will be not so much as a tacky noughts and crosses block plaything! Playgrounds have always been, and will continue to be as long as I am in command of Miltshire Council, covered in bird shit. It helps build a child’s immune system. Seagulls are a major contributor to this. Now, should you not reconsider and defer, then you just jolly well open fire!”

Nora trembled in fear, weighing her options as the barrel wobbled under her anxiety. The tension was at its apex, Yellowhead encouraged her. “Go on then, Fayes, pull that trigger, finish me for good; you know you want to!”

She thought again, of the paperwork involved, and lowered the gun. Yellowhead snatched it off her. “Ha! Strong female character indeed,” he bellowed with laughter, slapping her behind. “Now jog along, and don’t worry your pretty little face about the gulls. There must be something that needs a good scrub around here, or you could join Hannah Curthbart, she’s finally turned up for work and is doing the dishes in the kitchen.”

She scurried off, as Yellowhead threw the gun on Grant’s cot. “Take this with us, Briggs, it may come in handy when dealing with leftie terrorists subverted into the general public.”

“That was well handled, sir,” Briggs thought it proper to say, despite not believing it himself. If he wasn’t so profuse forming his own opinions, he would be ideal for total conservative emersion, his lie proved this. 

“Thank you,” Yellowhead replied, grasping him on the shoulder in a friendly manner, “I’m warming to you, Briggs, I must say. To think we’ll be out there, in the field together, fighting the good fight.” As he said this, he begun to take off his uniform. “We leave no man behind, Briggs, no retreat, no surrender. We will fight aside each other, eat from the same can, sleep cold nights on the same makeshift beds.”

Briggs considered biting on the cyanide.

“I think you’ll find, Briggs,” Yellowhead continued whilst changing, “when I’m out in the field and the assignment is complete, I tend to let my hair down a bit, you know. We may just get along yet.”

Briggs sighed, “I’m sorry sir, I find that very hard to… oh, you’re wearing hot pants?”

Yellowhead stood proudly displaying a tiny bump in his snug florescent-coloured short shorts, barely visible at all under the folds of dense tummy bulge. “We have to blend in with the natives,” he publicised. “What do you think, Briggs, no flattery cos I’m the boss, I don’t tolerate brown-tonguing, give me your honest opinion; Dwayne Johnson, yes?”

“More Boris Johnson,” Briggs heaved.

“So critical of fashion,” came the retort, though Yellowhead took it as a compliment.

“It’s just, well, there’s a tad too much flesh on show, sir,” Grant appraised, “this is rural Miltshire, not California. Maybe try a flat cap, green wellies and a Barbour jacket, I mean, if you wish to blend in.”

With that Yellowhead grunted in agreement and instructed Briggs to get the cones and paint. In no time at all he paced the pavement of county hall’s carpark, eyeing a van. Briggs arrived shortly after, laden with cones, spray-paint cans and followed by an irate Nora Fayes. “Gimmie back my gun!” she demanded, “there be seagulls out here, I’m coming with you!”

“You most certainly are not!” commanded Yellowhead. “Load the van, Briggs.”

He clambered into the passenger seat and readjusted his aging posturer, “run along, Fayes, polish the cupboards or whatever it is you women do around here.”

Briggs got into the driver’s seat and started the engine. “Where are we going to?”

“I don’t wish to shock you Briggs, but we’re heading towards Davizes!”

“This gets worse,” Briggs noted, as he pulled out of the carpark. Salivating, Nora leap onto the bonnet, screaming something inaudible about gulls.

“For Christ’s sake, don’t you ever give up?” cried Yellowhead. He mouthed through the windscreen, “we are not hunting gulls, now get off of the van, you silly moo!”

The town centre was void of life, hardly anyone wandered the streets. Not that Briggs could see much, moving his head up and down as Nora bounced around the bonnet, clutching onto the windscreen wipers for dear life. “Drop her off at the shops!” ordered the chief, pointing to a Matalan superstore. Briggs swerved and Nora flew off the bonnet at great speed.

Yellowhead checked the back wheel by thrusting his head outside of the window. Given he felt no bump, he was distraught. “Reading between the lines is a councillor’s number one crucial skill, Briggs. You failed to run her over and finish her off, potentially leaving this story open for a sequel!”

“Really?” Briggs answered, “that’s a bit much!”

“I beg to differ,” Yellowhead said, as he produced a chart from his briefcase. “You get twenty points for a councillor with a tendency to get things done effectively, despite being a Tory. See here, the tally. Fifty points for an immigrant, same for a darkie or a crusty, seventy-five for a single mother with child.”

“Who are you, Frankenstein from Death Race 2000 now?” Briggs inquired, “that’s sick! No wonder you don’t want the pavements widened!”

“Not at all, Briggs, as I told the Gazelle and Herod, I like living in country roads and I like living in country villages with little lanes. I’ve got no pavements at all where I live whatsoever, that’s the way I like it.”

“So you can mow down dissidents?”

“It was just a joke, Briggs,” Yellowhead irritably explained, “you do realise it was just a joke? Upholding tradition is why we don’t need silly pavements things, and anyway, we don’t have single mothers, immigrants or wogs in Urchfunk. You see what I mean, Briggs, about me letting my hair down when out in the field? Laughing and joking is what I’m all about.”

A cold silence followed, until Briggs broke it in his best sarcastic tone. “You could get booked for the Brexit Festival with a comedy routine like that, sir. God knows, they need some acts besides Morrisey.”  

Avoiding suspected sardonic overtones, Yellowhead slipped a compact disc into the radio, “ah, you like music?”

Briggs sighed, expecting the worst. Yellowhead begun to sing, encouraging Briggs to do likewise. “And did those feet in ancient time,” he bellowed out of time and tune, at the top of his voice. “Walk upon England’s mountains green!”

“Could I ask what the nature of our,” Briggs swallowed, “mission, erm, is, sir?”

“Not now,” Yellowhead replied, plucking his Adam’s apple, “and was the holy Lamb of God, On England’s pleasant pastures seen! And did the Countenance Divine, shine forth upon our clouded hills?!”

“Please, sir?” Briggs wasn’t too proud to beg. Not understanding why anyone would want to build Jerusalem here, anyway, but mostly because he wanted Yellowhead to stop the hymn, more desperately than anything he had ever wanted before.

It was at the point of “bring me my chariot of fire!” when the front tyre bounced up and took the van slightly off-guard, the back wheel then struck the same obstruction. “What in the good name of Nigel Farage was that, Briggs?!” Yellowhead exclaimed.

“Just a pothole,” Briggs observed.

“I’ve never experienced one quite that badly,” Yellowhead followed.

“In fairness, you probably wouldn’t have,” Briggs offered, “in your Land Rover Discovery, sir.”

“Not even in the Porsche Cayenne,” Yellowhead added. “Little wonder why there’s a tendency for the chavs to complain. I mean, I can’t understand why they’d not just get themselves a Porsche Cayenne like me, but ours is not to reason why, Briggs. Is this Davizes? We should stop, get some light refreshments.”

“Quite sir,” the sarcasm doubling with every reply Grant made, “makes one wonder. But I’m fine sir, I don’t need a drink.”

“Nonsense, on the drinks! Good on the notion!” Yellowhead nodded, “I’m glad we agree on that much, young Briggs. You see, you asked as to the nature of the mission, and quite accidently, but also literally, you fell right into it! As you know, Briggs, the procedure when a member,” he huffed in anger at the thought of having to say the word, “of the public complains about a pothole, is to file it until such a time we receive over a hundred or so similar complaints regarding the same pothole. A report can then be drawn out and raised at the next monthly meeting. If all councillors agree the matter should be addressed a report will be extracted from the minutes and filed. Once the file reaches over a hundred or so reports the issue can be raised once more at the monthly meeting. If all councillors agree the matter of the matters of files should be addressed, then a vote is taken. If the vote is successful, a councillor is drawn out of the hat to file a report and raise the issue that the Highways Agency need to be contacted, at the next monthly meeting. If all councillors agree the matter of matters should be addressed, and the Highways Agency need to be contacted, a report will be extracted from the minutes and Highways Agency will be contacted. After the supplement report to the Highways Agency is complete, it will be raised at the next monthly meeting that the supplement report to the Highways Agency is complete, and they will file a report to send a worker to the pothole, in a van, and he will assess the significance of the pothole and carry out a risk assessment. That assessment will be sent back to the council to be assessed, and should the funds become available, it will be raised at the next monthly meeting, and voted on. If the vote is successful, and all councillors agree the matter of matters should be addressed, and the Highways Agency has been contacted satisfactorily, then they will file a report back to the Highway Agency, who will send another worker out in a van to spray-paint a yellow circle around the pothole, or if it’s significantly deep, he will pop a traffic cone in it. Now, the confusion comes when all councillors have agreed, but the file…….”

“Sir!” Briggs protested, “I’ve, erm, changed my mind, I would like a drink after all.”


Will our intrepid heroes ever reach Davizes, without boring themselves into an early grave, reciting council procedures? Will Councillor Nora Fayes ever get to kill a seagull in cold blood again? And why the hell can’t a pavement be widened for safety purposes because it doesn’t fit in with the traditional looking village roadside, but a Hermes driver can dump his van in the middle of the green? Will we find out next week in: The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole!    

Crossed Wires with a Timid Deer

OMG, and coming from someone who refuses to use OMG on principle, rather than its blasphemous connotations, that old dogs, new tricks, I don’t usually conform to trending words or abbreviations. I just don’t get the irony. I mean, kids use the word sick to mean something that’s good. Why can’t they just use wicked like we used to do?

Anyway, it’s my third music review of the day, and while I may be knocking them out, tangents tend to creep in without apologies. But here’s my new favourite discovery while washing the dishes, Salisbury’s Timid Deer, a band I’ve seen listed here and there, supporting our Lost Trades, a track I loved on Screamlite’s New Hero Sounds NHS fundraising compilation, et all, but had yet to delve fully into. And the result is the reason I used OMG despite all I said about it.

Ah yeah, at the Lost Trades launch at the Pump!

All I will say is, if our mission is to seek out new local music, new bands and boldly go where no blog has blogged before, Captain Kirk needs a crew therefore so do I. Mind you, my own daughter suggests I look more like Suru on Discovery, which I beg to differ; the guy walks like the back end of a donkey while I’ve got the more Charlie Chaplin swagger, and I excuse another tangent. Why didn’t someone least hint, oi, Worrow, I reckon you’d like Timid Deer, reckon its right up your street?

Before I’d even put the fairy liquid in the sink, I’m warmed to these mellow electronic and soulful vibes. Akin to Portishead and Morcheeba, without the need to be locked in the nineties trip hop era, Timid Deer is a blessing in the indie-fuse of euphoric keys by Tim, with Tom on double bass, guitarist Matt, drummer Chris, and the mind-blowingly gifted vocals of Naomi, who has the vocal strength of Mayyadda, but with the childlike uniqueness of Bjork.

The name-your-price single Crossed Wires came out end of last month, unbeknown to me. An uplifting piano three-minute masterwork, engulfing your soul and building layers with smooth electronic beats. Evocative as Enya without the orchestrated strings, as expressive as Clannad without the folk roots, and closer to Yazoo via electronica, rather than the aforementioned influences of Portishead and Morcheeba. Ticks all my boxes.

There are two gorgeous previous albums, Mountains stretches back as far as 2012 and Melodies for Nocturnal from 2019, and there you go, see, I’m nocturnal, why didn’t someone nudge me further towards this great band? I dunno, if a jobs worth doing…..


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Osorio With Cutsmith

After fondly reviewing the single Falling from ReTone’s homegrown drum n bass label SubRat last May, the Pewsey-based vocalist featured, Cutsmith, who also runs the label, has his debut single under the name out in a manner of days, and I’ll whisper to you now, it’s outstandingly good.

On a musical journey due to be released on SubRat, Osorio returns Cutsmith to his Canarian roots. Principally it’s hip hop, yet with a meshed element of west country acoustic guitar, but chiefly and precisely why it’s so mesmeric, is that Latino tinge. I’m damned if this, aside the missing wailing electric guitar, wouldn’t look out of place on Carlos Santana’s classic 1999 album Supernatural.

Yet that said, the practise of a Latino hip/trip hop blend influencing modern reggae should not be cited via the mainstream, but pioneered in the nineties by artists like Ky Mani, and what Jus Right is putting out now. Osorio would mould nicely with these, rather than reggaeton, which is something I admit still needs to find a place in my affections. Yet Cutsmith is not Wyclef Jean, hence there’s something definitely local when he slips neatly from song to rap, and it’s smoothly accomplished, brewing with confidence.

In theme, but, and this is a big but, not in style, there’s something like Totally Tropical about it too! When, you know, they sang “we’re going to Barbados,” in as much as there’s a homesick notion to Osorio, excepting of his love of the British festival and music scene, but partly wishes to soak up some exotic sunshine and ambience. Can’t say I blame him really!

The very reason I’m tipping this so much, is because the subject works so incredibly well with the sound. As well as it’s fresh and exciting, the prospect of Wiltshire-based hip hop is something we so desperately need more of.

If Cutsmith’s relationship with Devizine got off to a shaky start when playing a White Bear Sunday session, where our writer Andy was critical that while good, it wasn’t his cup of tea, it’s been fully mended now. I spoke personally to Cutsmith at the time, who took it in good stead, and I said it was a shame it wasn’t me at the Bear at that weekend. Opinion is all we can cast, and while trying to be fair I do ask for honesty, it’s not worth the effort if flattery is all the reader gets. Oh, woe is the subjective nature of casting a review, as for the areas Andy was critical of, are the precise same reasons why I’ve got lots of time for Cutsmith’s music.

A case of differing tastes and perhaps a generational thing. But whatever, this debut single proves it today; it’s a grand job, I love it, and I’d like to see Cutsmith working on an EP or album as the potential is overwhelming.


The Space Between Mike Clerk Ears….

My teenage daughter’s banter knows no limits. Upon noting I was wearing a logoed T-shirt the Swindon sound system “Mid Life Krisis” kindly sent, she responded thus; “you can’t wear that, you’re too old for a midlife crisis!” There comes a time in life when you have to cut your losses, realise there’s no longer a point in assessing prospects and goals, and getting upset you failed to reach them. The anguish of youth is but a fleeting memory, and you’re numb to life, rather than wallowing in self-pity you’re neither here nor there on achievements and failures, simply plodding on worrying more about earwax or teeth issues.

It’s the reason I absorb indie-rock with a squint, but then I’ve never felt like barging through pedestrians like Richard Ashcroft, ignorant to the fact others have issues far outreaching my own. I cannot abide themes of despair and downright dark subject matter without reasonable motive; they do nothing to cheer me up. Music from my childhood spat rebellious notions that the world was shit, then electronica came and we went off into the fields and warehouses waving our arms in the air, throwing our troubles away. There was never despair on the rave scene, no woeful self-analysis and no political tirade, until they came for us.    

Yet to expect a thoroughly negative review from me is rare, and for the debut album of Mike Clerk, The Space Between my Ears, I have to confess it does what it says on the tin, and does it very well. There’s thoughtful prose, if rather negatively, but it doesn’t trudge on as my niggling criticisms over much indie; at times there’s uplifting riffs, but the theme is unfortunately despondent. Has Mike never heard of the “every cloud” idiom?  

Many, say younger people, will love this with bells on, though, and for that much this is a damn fine album, if not my cup of tea. See, I like it when our George Wilding does melancholy in a pub, because he does it so well. Heck, the guy even bought me to reconsidering the worth of Radiohead! And similarly, there’s a tinge of euphoria in the way this former frontman of The Lost Generation, plays this out, musically. Lyrically I was left waiting for the silver lining, which simply doesn’t arrive, and this does nothing for maintaining my interest.

The proficiency and skill on show here is top dollar, Clerk has a blinding pedigree of experience in the music industry; the band played exclusive gigs for the NME, Alan McGee’s Death Disco club nights, and Clerk had a close call with guitar duties for Primal Scream. A GoFundMe campaign put the ball in motion for his solo career, The Space Between My Ears was the result, released yesterday (26th March.)

Written and recorded almost-entirely by Clerk at his own home studio, additional drum sessions took place at the local YMCA in Kirkcaldy. With contributions from sound-engineer Alan Ramsey, the album was mastered by Pete Maher of whom has the likes of The Rolling Stones, U2, and Paul Weller on his résumé. This stamp of professionalism shows through in the rewarding sound.

I’m supposing lockdown has bought a natural movement towards misery. Clerk’s words inspired by isolation and the endless roll of apocalyptic news, flow aptly into these themes of redemption, mental health and addiction. If here’s alt-rock’s mainstay, the desolation of unhappiness, I’m going to criticise it. Yes, The Space Between My Ears delivers an acute and perfected mind-set of the human psyche, but like watching a perpetual boxset of EastEnders, it does nothing to turn that frown upside down. And for me, there’s a crucial element to life sorely missing here. Laughter is the best medicine, even if it’s insane giggling like The Joker.

Yet I confess, I like the blues, I like how every morning Muddy Waters wakes up his woman is gone and his dog has died, I crave his misfortune. There’s something beguiling in that authentic twangy guitar sound, which the electric drone of cantankerous indie or alt.rock doesn’t appeal in quite the same manner. Not for me at any rate, but if it does for you, I would ignore the bleating rant of a grouch who’s watching fifty rush over a mountain swiftly towards him, as this album divinely flows and clearly has perfected the art of it!


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Song of the Day 32: The Lost Trades

Song of the Day hoggers! Yes, they’ve had a song featured on our song of the day feature once before, and yes, they’ve had so many thumbs up on Devizine in general, thumbs are starting to ache, but The Lost Trades have a new song, getting another thumbs up, a sneak from the forthcoming album, and it simply, without question, has to be our song of the day… I’m the editor, what I sez goes, sue me if I’m wrong, I double dare you!

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


The Mystery of Nigel G Lowndes

Must have been about fifteen or so years ago, random folk in a pub told me they were off to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I was surprised to hear it was still going, and had it in my head its writer, Richard O’Brien had passed away. I pointed this out, and they refuted the fact. Someone pulled a mobile phone out their pocket and, in a flash, proved me wrong. With a virtual reference library at one’s fingertips the lively debate which would’ve, in previous times, circulated around the boozer, was kaput, the potential conversation starter settled, and the pub fell silent.

In the interest of truth, provided it’s a trustworthy source, fact checking is no bad thing. Obviously, I wished no malice on Mr O’Brien, just an incorrect piece of trivia I’d picked up. But it was the first time it occurred to me, sadly, as well as the art of spreading urban myths, we live in an era where any mystery is immediately solved. I mean, loads of money was wasted hoping to find the Loch Ness Monster, but if an Android app actually proves it either way, the myth is ruined. Bristol-based Nigel G Lowndes nails this unfortunate reality in the title track of new album, Hello Mystery.

But whoa, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Mystery is the eighth track of this varied ten track show, released tomorrow (26th March 21.) To commence at the beginning, the direct boomer, Boring screams Talking Heads at me, and I’m left thinking this is going to be an easy ride, one comparison to art-pop and I’m done. But, oh no, far from it. And it’s all because Nigel is a one-man variety show. To conclude there’s elements of tongue-in-cheek loungeroom and easy listening, akin to Richard Cheese or The Mike Flowers Pops, although there largely is, is not to have listened till end, where the finale Always Leaving London, is an acute folk-rock acoustic masterwork.

Track-by-track then is the best method to sum up this highly entertaining album. As I’ve mentioned you’ll start by contemplating he’s a 21st century Talking Heads without the punk edge of the era. But the second song, Tell me Tomorrow would confirm this if it wasn’t so much more vaudeville than the risky titled Boring, (as all of it is far from boring) but it’s becoming clear not to take Nigel too seriously.

When a relationship breakdown, caused by the partner’s affection for some critter-like pets he buys for her is the subject matter for the third, bluegrass parodied song, Furry Little Vampires, it’s become laugh-out-loud funny. Country and doo-wop merge afterwards, but the fifth track, Bubble, has a Casio keyboard samba rhythm with a floating romance theme. What are you doing to me, Nigel?!

As randomly foodie based as Streetband’s Toast, we’re back to uplifting art-pop with the very British notion a cup of tea will sort all your problems out, even psychosis. But random as this is, White Roses, which follows, is a more sombre nod to Nigel’s appreciation of country. Stand alone, it’s a gorgeous ballad; Nigel recognises the need to know the rules in order to break them. As he does by the very next song; Shoes follows country-rock again, but with a sillier, nonsensical subject.

The album plays out on the country tip, its influence seems to build throughout. The aforementioned obituary to mystery is as wonderful in thoughtful narrative as a country classic, and then we’re treated to Always Leaving London. Despite its skipping variety, nothing on Hello Mystery will, as the beguiling opening track shouts, bore you, that much I can guarantee.

If you’re looking for dopily swaying while holding your elongated black and sapphire dyed fringe under your hoody, as a melancholic indie-rock icon miserably recites his teenage anguish with a whining semitone through his nose, then avoid this. For everyone else, Nigel G Lowndes is very worthy of your attention; a sparkly beacon of showbiz, more surprising than a contemporary David Byrne with a Stetson, and when it comes to diversity, it puts The Mike Flowers Pops back on the shelf in the garden centre. Hello Mystery is as it says on the tin, and for this I give it full marks. Johnny Cash pastiche meets Tonight at the London Palladium; love it!


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Spotify Link to Nigel’s singles from the album, released tomorrow, 26th March 2021.


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Erin Bardwell Gets Organised

A new album released yesterday from Swindon’s premier reggae keyboardist and producer Erin Bardwell made me contemplate a section of Henri Charrière’s book Papillon. The autobiographical account of a fellow no prison or penal colony can seem to keep incarcerated. There’s a point where Papillon deliberately causes a disturbance in order to be put in solitary confinement. He claims he prefers it to the regular cells, because away from the other inmates, alone in pitch darkness he can reimagine, practically hallucinate and relive his better days.

For the concept of the album and accompanying film Get Organised is largely reminiscing and reflecting on his past. Possibly, I suspect, due to age becoming, the fact this marks a thirtieth anniversary of the formation of his heyday two-tone band, The Skanxters, but largely due to lockdown.

Myself, lockdown has been parttime. I’ve worked throughout, galivanting through the villages, meeting early morning risers, and it’s all been much the same as it ever was, just cannot nip t’ pub, or see family living out of the area. Which is frustrating at times, but I accept it’s not as bad as those shielding and self-isolating; that would’ve driven me insane my now. It’s common in isolation to consider one’s life and recollect, but Erin does it over a reggae beat; and I approve!

We’ve been here before; this is not Erin’s first reflection of lockdown. Pre-pandemic he directed a collective who were pushing new boundaries in rock steady. But April last year saw the solo release of Interval, a deeply personal reflection and mind-blowingly cavernous concept album, diving into the psyche and exploring past events; scarce formula for reggae.

Erin Bardwell

Yet Erin’s style is such; relished in unconformity, individualism and freethinking, factors which make it so utterly unique it’s hard to compare. It’s this standout signature which Erin stamps on all projects, be them solo, as the Collective, or side projects such as the experimental dub of Subject A with Dean Sartain, or The Man on the Bridge project with ex-Hotknives Dave Clifton, which defines the very sound of reggae in Swindon and puts it on the skanking map. If there was a skanking map, which I wish there was!

Whereas Interval’s morose mood merged styles through experimentation, some often out of the confines of reggae, be they jazz, ambient and space rock, Get Organised will wash better with the matured skinheads, scooterists and Two-Tone aficionados, for it sits with more golden era reggae, particularly of the sixties Trojan “boss” reggae epoch. They tend to know what they like, and favour tradition over risky and radical progressions.

In this notion too it’s sprightlier and more optimistic than Interval, a result of vaccinations and this “roadmap” out of lockdown, perhaps; The Erin Bardwell Trio booked for a gig at Swindon’s Victoria on 1st July. Though at times there’s still the thoughtful prose Erin is fashioned for, reflecting the effect of lockdown. The lyrics of Eight O’clock, for example, which notes despite the usually lively nightlife at this time, the town is quiet.

The Erin Bardwell Collective

They’re all sublimely crafted pieces, the title track’s mellow riff nods to Lee Scratch Perry’s middling Upsetters period with something akin to a tune like Dollar in the Teeth. And in that, we have to consider the great producers of rockers reggae for comparisons, rather than the artists. Aforementioned Perry, but of Niney the Observer, of Harry J too, and Get Organised subtly delves into dub, so I guess King Tubby also. Yet the opening tune reminded me of the earlier, legendary producer Duke Reid.

Erin has the proficiency to cherry-pick elements from reggae’s rich history, effectively merge them and retain this said signature style. The Savoy Ballroom has the expertise keys of Jackie Mittoo, with the vaudeville toytown sound of Madness. That said has opened another Pandora’s box, as Two-Tone also has a significant influence on Get Organised, naturally. The grand finale We Put on that Show is reflective of the era, along the lines of the steady plod of Do Nothing rather than the frenzied ska of Little Bitch, if we’re going to make a Specials contrast, which I think is apt.

Equally, you’re going to love this if, like me, you cite the debut album Signing Off, as UB40’s magnum opus rather than their following pop covers, or just if you’re looking for something different from the norm.

These recollections are visualised in a half-hour video, making it more poignant. It’s a scrapbook film, with homemade clips of The Skanxters setting up or driving to a gig, footage I’d expect to have been largely unseen until now. There’s also a montage of memoirs chronicling Erin’s career, as the camera pans across gig posters, bus tickets, vinyl and press cuttings. Though far from documentary, the sound plays out the album, the material an aid to the songs, and a fascinating art project to accompany it.

 “A second solo album wasn’t really part of the plan,” Erin explains, “but with the current climate as it is, I still found myself coming up with music and songs. These tunes started following a theme, that led to a film idea, and the sounds and visuals grew together influencing each other.”

The point in the early nineties, when the Skanxters were the pride of Swindon’s two-tone scene is captured well, and while those on the circuit, or even living locally then, will love recognising the many memoirs, anyone into the scene at the time will thoroughly enjoy this outing. Overall, though, Erin continues to break boundaries, and this album is a blessing and pleasure to listen to, alone from its narrative and meaning, as all good reggae should.


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Asa is Back in Devizes

Give or take a week, it’s been two years since Devizes Corn Exchange reverberated rock n roll when Liverpool’s entertainer Asa Murphy presented his Buddy Holly tribute show. An amazing fundraising night, in dedication to local music hero Bruce Hopkins, the show had perfect renditions of Buddy’s songs wrapped in a simple narrative to set the scenes, and by the end, Age Concern need not be called as young and old, the audience danced in the aisles!

Deja-vu on many preview pieces we wrote about this time last year, including announcing Asa set to return without the Buddy specs in April with a variety performance and handpicked guest appearances.

Obviously and sadly, it couldn’t be, but I’m pleased to now re-announce the Corn Exchange is booked for this show on October 16th, and will feature the original lineup; superb sixties singer, Sandy Collins and Lennie Anderson, an excellent comic.
Tickets are on sale at Devizes Books, which you can call to secure your seats until the shop is bookshop is open again for business.

For more details you could check last year’s preview, by clicking here; saves me writing it all again, but don’t look directly at the old date, look around that date and concentrate your mind on October 16th 2021! Oh, and I hope to see you there!


Andy J Williams; Buy all his $tuff!

I’m sure it’ll shock you to hear, I made a technical hitch, best described as a cock-up. It seldom happens, blame my masculinity; the wife often reminds me men cannot multi-task. We featured the indie-pop Bristol-based singer-songwriter Andy J Williams last month, as part of our Song of the Day feature, and I promised to review the whole album “Buy all the $tuff,” which was released at the beginning of February.

Musicians you wait for like buses, then two come along at the same time, and accidently I mind-merged them. Even joked in our Song of the Day post not to confuse Andy J Williams with his namesake senior easy listening giant, then mixed him up with someone else, whose name is nothing remotely similar. The only parallel is they’re both from Bristol, though many are, but being as the other artist’s album involved in this cock-up isn’t released until next week, both got put on the backburner. My virtual to-do-list saved the day; acts as my brain.

Extend a short story longer, here’s an apology to Andy, and a belated review of “Buy all the $tuff,” which is very worthy of not being missed out. To begin with his cohesive band firmly behind him, there’s a Britpop feel, I sensed, vocally, a similarity with Trowbridge’s finest, Phil Cooper, if Phil was aiming for pop. But there’s a lot going on here, influences are wide but mould into each other exceptionally well; a tad tongue-in-cheek at times too. It’s indie on the outer crust, but with a dynamite mantle blending of layers which incorporates funk, new wave post-punk, art-pop, and contemporary electric bluesy-folk, all with equal measure and passion.

Reminisces flood my neurons upon initial listening, of how eighties electronica fused funk into pop, a kind of “funk-lite,” avoiding the substantial seventies untainted funk vibe, and through post-punk new wave, rewrote the club-pop formula. Bands like Duran Duran and Roxette spring to mind, I’d even go as far as Michael Jackson meets Huey Lewis, but while I’m aware there’s a bizarre subgenre called “funk metal,” pleased to report Andy doesn’t get that heavy! This is more like musical cubism, with a skilful composition akin to King Tubby’s mixing board, and it comes out the other end as extraordinarily unique beguiling pop.

Don’t take the opening Britpop track as red, the next, Post Nup, opens up this funk riff, but no matter where it takes you, lyrically this well-crafted too, written with thoughtful prose. There’s topical subject matter amidst the archetypical romance, including the referendum and social media, but no theme distracts from the overall musical presentation. Night Terrors, for example, works opposite to Jon Amor, who uses Elvis Costello pop to create a more frivolous blues, Andy maintains pop by adding elements of electric blues. Then, piano solo, layered with subtle percussion. Andy rinses a fine ballad, undoubtedly the most evoking track on the album, Stay.

Buy This $tuff reaches an apex immediately after, Something to Believe in is masterfully danceable, bathed with handclaps and a funky riff, it is to Andy what Superstition is to Stevie Wonder. From here on, the album takes to this upbeat terpsichore concept. It’s highly entertaining.

Ballads follow, Celia and Now She’s Gone are particularly adroit, but you know Andy isn’t going to end this with melancholy. Be Mine returns to rock as it’s mainstay. Radicalised equally comes in hard, with an electronica feel. And Your Truth Hits Everyone is anthemic, concluding there’s a need to ponder what the Beatles would sound like if still around today, with Britpop, new wave electronica, and clubland techno at their disposal. Through this, I might provide a suggestion.


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

Thought I’d present a weekly story feature, for Sunday entertainment during lockdown…. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Chapter One; in which we meet our intrepid hero and his trusty sidekick Briggs in the enlisted men’s quarters at Miltshire County Hall.

The wooden door splintered off its hinges and the clammer reverberated through the galleries of County Hall on Bythesea Road. Which, incidentally isn’t actually by the sea at all, given Miltshire is landlocked.

It was however, of slight relevance to this tale, that during the week-long monsoon season Englishmen refer to as “spring,” the county’s low marshland looked akin to a coastal resort at high tide. It is also of average importance to note, the setting for this story begins at the headquarters of a county council duly responsible for over-filling the obligation to build umpteen affordable housing estates, but tends to build them on said floodplains. Why is only a matter for their attention, and to fathom reason, is merely speculation, but the general ethos portrayed in this wholly fictional fable by aforementioned councillors might provide a clue…. I said might.

“Stand by your beds, you yellow-bellied imbeciles!” roared the broad-breasted fellow, the volume of which twitching his full moustache. He paraded the surprised junior councillors as they hurried to attention, each at the foot of their cots, and he allowed what remained of the door to collapse onto the deck.

With sharp efficiency he snapped his pace stick under his left arm, flush with the limb, and paced ardently through the aisle. He abruptly extended it to prod the nearest enlisted man to him, in the belly. It wobbled, but only slightly.

“And, why is your vest not tucked into your briefs, you scruffy oaf?!”

“Sorry, sir,” the youngster stumbled on his words, at least he was young compared to Yellowhead, at about forty-three.

“Do I have a name, cadet?” Yellowhead bellowed.

“Yes sir!”

“Would you care to address me with it, or do I have to insert this brass baton into the anal region of your brain? It’s not a task I take lightly, but feel it’s critical to add to this week’s agenda.”

“No, thank you, Councillor Yellowbeard, sir!”

Chief Councillor Yellowhead projected his face so close to the enlisted man’s, he could feel the whiskers of his moustache niggling his cheek. Yellowhead snarled at the boy. “Then, pray tell me,” he whispered, “why is your vest not tucked into your briefs, as is the compulsory unform requirement for all junior councillors?”

“I, erm, just woke, sir…” he fumbled the words.

“Woke? Woke, young man?” Yellowhead questioned, “are you woke, cadet?”

“Am I, sorry, what?” the cadet muttered in confusion.

“Woke,” Yellowhead repeated, “I know you know I know what it means in your youthful street slang, cadet, do not play the innocent with me! You mean to suggest you’re a leftie extremist, Corbyn’s vest-licking snowflake dissent and unpatriotic partisan, don’t you?!”

“Oh, right; no sir, just that I literally just woke up.”

Yellowhead scanned his expression with his beady eyes, in an attempt to detect any signals of traitorship. But all he perceived was an indoctrinated devotion to the cause, equal to those icons he admired the most, Churchill, Thatcher and the contemporary Boris Johnson. Aching to note a sign of reformist tenet, so he could take his stress out on the individual, he sighed, and turned on his foot. “Good, cadet; you know the penalty for treason.” Unsaid, the punishment was suspected by the enlisted men to be to kiss the aging backside of Theresa May, right in the crack. The cadet shuddered at the thought, a true test to his dedication, should it not prove to be hearsay.

Meanwhile Councillor Yellowhead marched on down the aisle, scorning each man standing to attention by their cots. His Nokia 3310 rang and the councillor fumbled his pocket to locate it.  He frowned and answered, “Yes, what now, MacFurryson, I’m really rather busy?!”

Some inaudible but apparently irate chatter flowed out of the phone’s speaker; Yellowhead listened and responded, “….and what, you want another medal, police crime commissioner? May I just enquire what your men were doing at Swan Meadow in order to cap……”

Yellowhead hesitated, and huffed his anger. Steam from his ears reduced the redness surrounding his pus-face. “Look, Fungus, or whatever your name is, I expressly told you to order your men to guard the King Alfred statue in Poosea, and now you tell me they’re gallivanting the council estates, arresting a known rapist? What if Black, or even Nordic Lives Matter scum try to tear the statue down? Is the 878AD Battle of Edlington, and Alfred the Great’s honour sacred no more; would you not care one iota if EU militia invaded, bringing their croissants, French onion soup and filth like that? Fungus? Huh?”

The line fell silent.

“Yes,” Yellowhead huffed, “I thought as much. Now, quit conforming to woke-obsessed leftie philanthropists; historically sexual attacks have always occurred, yes, they’re sad, but unfortunately the problem will never go away, whereas if we lose the statues our pride in England is lost, FOREVER!” The chief councillor let out a heavy sigh and addressed his phone once again, “we’ve had several meetings about this, MacFurryson, where you confirmed your allegiance to conservatism, now let’s hear some it coming through, okay?!”

Whimpering could be heard from the phone’s speaker.

Out of character, Yellowhead was sympathetic. “I’m on your side,” he snivelled, “honestly, Fungas, except when you allowed silliness, like adding rainbow colours to the Miltshire police Facebook page logo. Look, you’ve only got till May and you can retire; remember the condo we promised, eh, remember the conservatory, the chocolate-box cottage? Well, then, listen, there, there; I’ve got to dash old friend, talk soon.” With that the chief councillor threw the phone into his pocket.

“I need someone I can trust,” he asserted his dominance over the enlisted men, “for an imperative mission behind enemy lines.”

The men gasped in horror. “You mean,” one dared to utter, “outside? Out there?”

“Yes, cadet!” the chief councillor snarled, snapping his head around to see who muttered. His head was, as his name suggested, one giant, pus-filled zit, ready to detonate if just one of these imbecilic straight-out-of college plebes squeezed his patience too far. “I’m fully aware due to the pandemic you have not been allowed out since last year, but I’m old enough to have been vaccinated, twice, so it matters not that you will accompany me on this mission, you have to come to terms with your expendability. Outside contractors are clenching the budget, and complaints have been raised by,” Yellowhead shuddered with mere mention of them, “by, by the general public.”

He turned to face a randomly selected skinny fellow and launched his baton outwards towards him, “You!”

“Me?”

“Yes, you boy! State your name and rank!”

“Briggs, sir, Grant; trainee liaison officer!”

“Liaison eh? Perfect, you will be adequate. Report to supplies immediately, request some traffic cones and yellow spray paint,” Yellowhead announced, “and call your wife, tell her you may not be home until after teatime, if at all!” He then turned and pouted at an imaginary camera, “there’s a savage world out there, wrought with danger and perilous unknown, erm, things, and we have to face it with a sense of hope once more……”

“Really?” mumbled Briggs in jest.

“…. Think Calne,” Yellowhead acutely juddered, “but worse….”

For the first time, mild-mannered Briggs was afraid.

“You should be grateful, Briggs, you’ve been selected to brave the fresh Miltshire air, if this bunker had windows, you’d note it is spring. But you should also note, it will test every section of your training here at Bythesea Road.”

“One question, sir,” Briggs inquired, “if I may?”

“If you must, cadet,” annoying muttered Yellowhead.

“Why do they call it Bythesea Road, then, sir, when, you know….?”

“Did training meetings not cover this?” Yellowhead tousled, “perhaps it’s top secret, but seeing as you’re coming on this mission, there’s some details you need to know…” He leaned in close to Briggs, his foul breath whisked up Brigg’s nostrils, and Briggs winced. Ensuring no other enlisted man could hear, Yellowhead whispered, “all part of an experiment, to see if the, the damn public of Miltshire are intelligent enough to detect our lies. Create a bleeding obvious one, see if they notice Trow Vegas is landlocked and the road cannot possibly be by the sea at all, and if not, which I’m pleased to inform you was hugely efficacious, it gives us license to propagate and spread as much bullshit and fabrications as we see fit; we can fib till our hearts content, they buy it every time.”

“Genius!” Briggs sparked.

“Precisely,” Yellowhead grimaced for the first time, the closest he came to smiling. “This is why we flush out any leftie terrorists infiltrating our council, their schmaltz compassion and nauseating morality is treacherous, they’ll whine-hole health and safety regulations like biblical passages. Be warned, Briggs, insiders lurk in these corridors, tell no one of your mission, fetch the cones and spray paint, take out anyone who might be wearing a charity shop brown suit, and return with your life; clear?”

“Crystal, Sir!” replied Briggs, but as he started on his journey, the sound of machine-gun fire reverberated around the quarters. In a murky haze few of the enlisted men noted the scant figure standing heroically in the doorway, clasping a smoking machine gun, dropping a cigar end to the floor, and extinguishing it with a hefty boot. Most of the men hit the deck, else cowered behind their cots, but all of them quivered in fear, as Councillor Yellowhead turned to face the mysterious intruder.

Who is the mysterious gunman? Will Yellowhead and Briggs escape with their lives, if not for the reason stated, why the hell is it really called Bythesea Road, when it’s about as far away from the sea as possible? All might yet be revealed next week, in The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead……

Read Chapter 2, here.

First Aid Courses Return; Chatting with Louise Worsley

After lockdown workshops via Zoom, Worsley Training returns with actual first aid courses, there’s one at Devizes Town Hall on May 18th, where basic first aid, including the use of a defibrillator will be taught in a four-hour emergency course, concurrently with a full six-hour accredited Emergency First Aid at Work course. Ideal for general interest or a small business owner who needs the full one-day accredited certificate. The course mixes theoretical and practical learning and assessment, and the accredited certificate lasts for three years… I’m all for finding out more:

If I had a time machine, they’d probably erect a statue of me, for I have a tendency to dream up ingenious ideas which I later find out have already been put in place! I came up with the virtual blackboard years after someone else did, and were widely used. Similarly, today, planning a chat with first aid instructor, Louise Worsley, I thought to myself, shouldn’t first aid be part of the school curriculum, only to discover the success of a campaign from the St Johns Ambulance website which put just that into place a year ago!

“Yes,” Louise confirmed, “after years of campaigning St Johns and the Red Cross have finally got it on the curriculum for primary and secondary schools.” She continued to explain she had been teaching first aid at schools for years, “but it hasn’t been compulsory, just up to PTAs to decide whether they think it should or shouldn’t be taught.”

I wondered where this left Louise’s business, Worsley Training, if teachers are administering the training, hopefully she could train the teachers. “Basically, yes, I have a flyer which I send out to schools,” she told me. Louise was a formerly geography teacher, “so I’m in comfort zone with schools.”  She has the scope to teach the children, or train the teachers, “and also what questions are going to come up, and how the kids react.”

I expect you’d get quite different responses from children as you would from adults. “Oh, god yes!” she laughed, “as with any off-curriculum subjects, primary school children love it, secondary are far too cool, and I have to strongly encourage them to get involved.” But Louise supposed though they might not have practiced it entirely accurately, at least they have practised it should the need arise.

Personally, while I’m not as perilously sensitive as a vampire who faints at the sign of blood, I never saw myself as a first aider until a company asked me if it was something I wanted to do. I figured being the one to sort out spilled blood and guts while workmates slouched in the tearoom might be a step too far for me. Yet I found the course interesting, and proudly became an appointed first aid person, thankfully only having to use it once. It was later, at a smaller company when the first aider was on holiday! Louise beathed a grave sigh upon telling her, and stressed the rule, “there should always be a first aider on hand.”  

I didn’t say it to get into the law, only to ask Louise if it was the right course of action to take, being my certificate had expired, and I wasn’t official. I explained it to the worker, and asked if they wanted me to administer first aid before proceeding. “An appointed person doesn’t qualify you to give any first aid. The only responsibilities were to recognise something was wrong, call 999, deliver report forms and restoke the first aid kit.” Louise stressed it’s not a qualification, “they never say you have to do any first aid despite being taught some. It exists as there has to be a person in company to do those things. The first qualification is the emergency first aid at work, a one-day course.” Louise teaches this as a public course.

Another reason why I bought it up with Louise, is when on the course I asked how a process would differ if the patient was a baby, being my daughter was at the time. The instructor ludicrously replied they couldn’t teach me that, as this was an appointed person in the workplace course, and you won’t be administering it on a baby. “That’s a rubbish trainer,” she stressed!

Even for the workplace course, Louise always brings child and baby manakins along, “because a lot of people are parents, and want to know, others might work in cafes, the qualification is just for the employees, but if you were working in, say, a café, or similar, it wouldn’t be very good PR to say I’m not going to get involved.” I supposed it wouldn’t take long to explain the difference, and she agreed. “the main differences are with choking and CPR, the rest you just treat them more gently.” She continued on technicalities of the differences, I’m not going to run them off here, you’ll have to take the course!

Wanting to inquire why certificates expire, if the theory of first aid changes, but the answer was more simply people they need a reminder. “I always finish a course by saying, I hope you never have to use this, but if you don’t use it you obviously forget it. Things do change, but my style is very much to give you confidence, that something is better than nothing. If all you can remember was taught ten years ago, at least you’re doing something. Whereas panicking, worrying they might get sued is useless.”

The use of public access defibrillators is something which has been updated, I wanted to know how easy they are to use, because, they look simple on the casing, but under stress or panic mode, might be a different story. Louise has four training versions of defibrillators, which won’t shock. Though she confirmed they’re simple to use, which might undermine that section of her course, but again, confidence to use them is favoured. “People can be sacred of them, but the more who know how to use them…. They’ve saved so many lives so far,” which is, after all, why we’re here discussing the issue.

But it must be nice for Louise to be looking forward to starting actual course again, after Zoom meetings during lockdown. She said she enjoyed either, “but yeah, meeting people, in a hall, I was okay, haven’t done this since December!” Unlike the first lockdown, they didn’t have to stop teaching, but Louise felt she shouldn’t put on a course. But now, Worsley Training is getting fully booked already, “I missed it when it was not happening.”

I’m grateful for our chat, Louise is obviously passionate about teaching first aid. “I love teaching and first aid is such a needy topic to get behind, so, there’s no reason not to go on a first aid course, if someone offers it to you; you never know when you’ll need it, and it’s better to know it and not need it rather than need it and not.”

To find out more info or book a course, click here

Find the Devizes Town Hall Course on May 18th on Facebook Here



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Song of the Day 31: Ilingsworth

My classic excuses don’t wash in an online era; the dog ate my Song of the Day blogpost, I’m certain I put it in my bag when I left school, bull like that.

I know, right. It’s been a while since my last Song of the Day, a post I promised on a daily basis but failed, miserably. I got nothing, no excuse that’ll wash. But the moment you hear this tune from John Smith and Jolyon Dixon, the duo known as Illingworth, you’ll understand the need to bring it back.

They’re the Kenco of local music, instantly, each new song comes across as a rock classic, sounding as if it’s always been swimming around in your head.

But Man Made of Glass is emotionally topical and contemporary. Just, go on, have a listen, and I might be persuaded to realign my promise to bring you a song of the day each day, else I’ll have to change the title to song of the month, which is a bit lack lusture of me.

Pulling my finger out, if you’re looking for someone to blame; Netflix. There, it’s out there. Why has every fair idea got to be flipping twelve season series of 200 episodes each, consisting of a drawn-out narrative a better writer could’ve concluded in a hour and half movie? For God’s sake, bring back live music!

Anyway, I’m waffling, feel free to stop me; that’s my song of the day. Very good, carry on….


The Ruzz Guitar Sessions; Going to the City

Driving home through Devizes last week, it’s only 10pm but I contemplate, it could be three in the morning it’s deathly silent. Our once lively little market town, like everywhere else, has lost a sparkle due to the pandemic; hope it can rekindle is all that is left. And now, the Facebook memories fires a bittersweet reminder at me, for even if you paint only a rose-tinted view of your life on the social media giant, a memory still pops up which is kind of sad on reflection.

Musically, blues is apt.

Thought was fairly stable that evening proved wrong. That memory was a wobbly video of the absolutely blinding night when Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue blew, or blue, perhaps, the roof off the Sports Club, aided by a supergroup of Innes Sibun, Jon Amor and Pete Gage. It was in a word, treasured. The sadness being, at the time it was only speculation it could be the final night of live music, and I didn’t want or care to digest that notion at the time, but it was; way to go out with style, though!

Now we’ve come around to the anniversary of that moment, with a prospective reopening light at the end of tunnel, primarily being only a possibility. Yet the world turns on its axis, and music has, like so many other arts, been forced to change methods of distribution. The live stream, the Zoom recording session, and, for an extremely short summer stint, an afternoon solo session in a socially distanced pub when we were disillusioned into believing the virus was on its way out, have become the norm.

As many others, Ruzz Guitar has adapted, and a Facebook group called the RG Sessions aims to launch a new style of assemblies, producing the exceptionally high-quality electric blues we’ve come to expect from the Blues Revue. You can buy them a virtual pint, and you can grab this gorgeous name-your-price single, which features all the musicians as on that fateful night. And in a way, it’s so good it near makes up for the depressing notion of this live music loss.

With the expert gritty vocals of keyboardist Pete Gage, “If You’re Going To The City,” also features our homegrown guitarists Innes Sibun and Jon Amor, with Ruzz’s proficient Blues Revue members, drummer Mike Hoddinott, bassist Richie Blake and Michael Gavaghan on sax. And with that said, I don’t feel the need to review it, take it as red, they’re the ingredients for perfection.

After the previous spellbinding single with Peter, Ain’t Nobody’s Business, we live in hope this faultless coupling will be retained for more of the same. But what surprises these Sessions will magically pull from their sleeves next will keep us guessing; I’d advise you follow the page for updates.


The Lost Trades Live Stream in Advance of Album Launch

April 1st is All Fools Day, the day after you’d be a fool to miss this. Much I hark on about local folk harmony trio, The Lost Trades, even before they were united as such, but only for good reason. It was always a win-win when the three singer-songwriters officially formed, Phil Cooper, Jamie R Hawkins and Tamsin Quin all excelled on the local circuit as solo artists and regularly appeared together for gigs.

Together this force to be reckoned with has formed a definite style akin to a corporate identity, and uniformed they move towards a debut album with all new, original songs. Based on their EP, which we fondly reviewed, the album launch is rightfully highly anticipated.

 The album’s name has been revealed by the trio, “The Bird, The Book & The Barrel,” and will be released on 4th June. Though the band want to make the most of the Bandcamp Friday before that, where the platform-based music site kindly site waivers their fees, giving the artists full royalties. Therefore, The Lost Trades will be taking pre-orders on 2nd April and 7th May. There will be a live stream, something the Trades have always been on the top of their game with, on 2nd April, to celebrate.

The trio promise the full sound system, concert-style at live stream, scheduled at 7.30pm, will present everything from the album, including brand new, never before heard songs. The live stream will be broadcast from their Bandcamp page, and is ticketed at a very reasonable £2.50, with Bandcamp also waiving their fees on all live stream tickets sold until the end of March.

Best of luck, Tammy, Jamie and Phil; sounds like a virtual cake kind of occasion to me, but then, any occasion sounds like a cake one to me! Get your tickets HERE. Follow the event on Facebook.


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Haunted House Party; Chatting with Ill Literate of The Scribes

I caught up with Ill Literate, one third of Bristol hip hop trio, The Scribes, to chat about their new single, how they, and in general, writing a rap is composed, a bit of their backstory, on diversity and where they’re heading…….

After the unnerving atmosphere of their mind-blowing previous single, Stir Crazy, Bristol hip hop ground-breakers The Scribes release Haunted House Party today, featuring Mr Teatime and DJ Steadi, which will act as a double-A-side with Stir Crazy. Somewhat slighter in neurotic ambience than its flipside, still it maintains a lingering disturbed undertone, an eerie mood weaved by the intensely hypnotic lyrical style which we’ve come to expect from the Scribes.

Despite the haunting opening piano solo, there’s nothing tongue-in-cheek with this haunted house, as might be wrongly perceived by cliché pop songs with similar themed titles. The Scribes aren’t doing the Monster Mash, don’t even go into this expecting something similar!

But you know me, I showed my age with the trio, jokingly citing a lampooning track, The Haunted House of Rock from the debut EP of eighties hip hop trio Whodini. Why one third of the trio, Shaun Amos, aka Ill Literate agreed to chat is beyond me, but he did, and here’s the awkward questions I threw at him, and his answers!

Hopeful he’d humour me, I went wrangling on a technicality with the group’s name. I reckoned it should be “Scribes,” and not “THE Scribes,” as the first denotes a copyist, i.e., anyone who writes, prior to the printing press and can be traced back to ancient Egypt, whereas the latter usually relates to a particular group from biblical times who were largely critical of Jesus, probably contributed to his crucifixion. “What’s in a name,” I asked!

“Wow man, I’ve got to say I don’t think we’ve ever thought about it to that extent!” Shaun acknowledged, “when we first came up with the name, we did have a list of possibilities, including some genuinely terrible ideas like “Guttersnipes”. When we settled on “The Scribes” we did quite like the vaguely iconoclastic undertones going with the main thrust of writing. We already knew we wanted to write music by our own rules rather than by going with trends or scenes.”

I’m glad he didn’t bite at my absurd logic, as likely it matters not one iota, rather there was reason. Being scribes are writers, it leads us into my intrigue at how they, and rappers in general go about writing and composing a track, if they have a set formula?

“It really does vary hugely, we work with a lot of producers and the process of getting a track completed is different every time,” he replied. “When I’ve composed the music, myself I tend to bring it to the rest of the group with an idea of what I want the song to be about, maybe even with a hook already written and recorded. Sometimes we’ve got a topic we want to write about and we’ll seek out music that will fit with it. Quite often producers will make a selection of pieces for us to listen to and mess around with and we’ll get a vibe off a particular track, sometimes by jamming it out in the studio, sometimes on the road between gigs listening to bits on the car stereo.”

I see the writing process for a solo, say acoustic musician, usually being a lone affair. Whereas scripting an episode of the Simpsons, for instance, is a group affair, the best writers gather around a table and knock the jokes and narrative about, which is more how I’d envision they work a song, because there’s three of them and the subject has to harmonise, as they bounce lyrics off each other. Unless, one contributes an idea and the others adlib their parts?

“We do bounce our lyrics off each other a lot,” he confirmed, “checking they make sense mostly!

Shaun Amos.

“We do bounce our lyrics off each other a lot,” he confirmed, “checking they make sense mostly! Whichever one of the aforementioned routes we’ve taken to write the track, it’ll almost always end up with us all agreeing a hook together, that then tends to set the topic of the track in stone. We then go off and write our verses separately before coming back together to record. So, while the hooks/theming is generally a group effort, the verses are much more of a lone affair!”

But what of adlibbing rappers freestyling, I’m guessing they’ve set templates to fuse with a running theme, but usually this consists of a simple premise; boastfully bigging themselves, or criticising the opposing rapper. Yet tracks from the Scribes meld like crochet, tackling tricky subject matter, they weave in and out of notions, rather than repeating words or thoughts. How does this process start, with a subject, or with a set of words which flow?

“It pretty much always starts with a subject,” Shaun elucidated. “Maybe not even something as specific as a subject, sometimes it might just be a feeling or an emotion or a general statement. Either way it’s enough for us to aim our verses at, and I think doing the actual verses as individuals does mean we end up with maybe a couple of different takes on each topic, or at least a couple of different ways of expressing it. Having said that, in hip hop there’s always room for a bit of bragging wordplay and head nodding crowd pleasing!”

That said, I guarantee The Scribes could freestyle the ass off most!

“That’s not really for me to say!” he laughed. “I think our freestyle game is pretty tight, we crack it out at most performances!”

Does Ill Literate find a trio is, as De La Soul say, the magic number, when it comes to composing a rap? “Where,” I asked, “and when did it all start? I mean, were you all separate artists who assembled, or have you always been a trio?”

“I don’t know if it’s the number of people involved that’s important, more that the people involved are on the same wavelength and get along well. Both for the writing process and for the amount of time you end up spending together on the road! Me and Jonny have been best mates since we were five, and have basically always rapped together, we met Lacey during the early days of gigging and he got onboard straight away!”

While on the backstory, I asked Shaun for his first musical memory, particularly his introduction to hip hop, feeling it was time to remind him when I cited buying Whodini’s “Haunted House of Rock,” in, shit, 1983, though this was not my first hip hop record!

Ah, there it is! I remember it well; and owe it all to Mr Magic’s wand!

“We do have some pretty old school influences,” he chuckled, “though Whodini may be a bit old school even for us! I think my first introduction to conscious hip hop, as opposed to mainstream hip hop which was very gangster back in the day, was through friends at school. We used to listen to records at each other’s houses, a lot of the early Rawkus Records compilations like Lyricist’s Lounge and Soundbombing. Bristol has a pretty big scene for hip hop so there were also a few local records shops with a good selection of underground releases that we could dig through, though a lot of the time we’d just look for instrumentals we could rap to! I think that late 90’s boom bap hip hop sound is pretty much the backbone of all The Scribes’ tracks!”

I confess; had to Google the subgenre boom bap, certain it wasn’t an explosive breast, as I originally fathomed! I discovered while unfamiliar with the term, many of my personal hip hop likes relate, pioneers like Marley Marl, and acts such as LL Cool J and A Tribe Called Quest. But I’m going to throw Shaun off subject, ask him if he liked English Lit at school, if teachers accepted anything he might’ve have wrote as credible by their formal standards, and if he sees his writing as poetry.

“I never really liked it as a subject, but I have always read a lot, I love books! It’s probably the main thing I do outside of music. That and watching pro-wrestling. It’s a heady mix! I don’t think I ever showed any verses to teachers in school, not sure what the reaction would have been to be honest. I’ve never really found it important to label anything we do but I would personally say it is a form of poetry, just a very rhythmic and flexible one that’s written to be performed rather than read.

The Scribes

I’ve likened, in previous reviews, The Scribe’s sound, the way they intertwine lyrics and alter voices with accents and intonations to create a certain mood, be it fearful or humorous, to the Fu-Schnickens, but the way its composed, like the magic of Tribe Called Quest, as I reckon, they mastered this best. “That a fair evaluation?!”

“We will always happily take ANY comparison to Fu-Schnickens or Tribe!”

Shaun Amos.

“We will always happily take ANY comparison to Fu-Schnickens or Tribe!” Ill Literate contently responded, “that’s good company to be in!”

 Yet nothing I’ve heard from their album, Quill Equipped Villainy, or the Totem Trilogy and singles, unless I’m mistaken, use recognisable samples. It’s an easy gimmick to include beats or a riff which people will recognise, whereas everything they seem to do is original. I asked him if I was right, and if so, if that’s something important to them.

“I guess this is something that varies from producer to producer. I personally don’t use any samples in my production, I just play/compose everything myself in the studio on guitar/bass/keys. I know a lot of producers who pride themselves on using only incredibly unknown and niche samples, spending a huge amount of time digging through obscure vinyl to find tiny little elements. I also know a lot who don’t really mind how “known” a sample is, as long as they switch it up so much it ends up as something unrecognisable from the original. I guess including a sample that is well known, so that the song becomes essentially a hip hop version of the original track, almost like a cover, is an easy way to get a bit of traction. Same as if you sample a movie theme song and do a song about the movie. But having said that I’ve heard some great tracks that do just that, so who knows?!”

On multiplicity, the album sees a number of collaborations; Akil from Jurassic 5, and Leon Rhymes. How far would they take diversity; “would it be acceptable to you for a producer to create a drum n bass, or house track from your lyrics? What about a mainstream artist asking you to fuse a rap into some cheesy pop? Because it’s a tricky balance isn’t it, not being seen as selling out to the ethos and genre, but creating publicity and notice?”

“We’re always up for anything,” Shaun replied, “I love hearing remixes people do of our tracks, be it Drum and Bass, Funky House or anything else. Even if someone did want to take our work and turn it into cheesy pop, I think I’d be cool with that. More just so I can hear what they do with it, rather than for any publicity or fame! I’m always interested in seeing what other musicians do and how they work and the different techniques used by different genres.”

Haunted House Party is released today, and yeah, it rocks, but what’s next for the Scribes?      

“Well, hopefully we’ll be back gigging before too long, at least in time for the festival season this summer! Til then we’re working on keeping the releases and videos coming! Hoping to do a few more special one-offs on The Get Down Records, like transparent 7″ vinyl for “Stir Crazy”/”Haunted House Party.” People can keep up to date by signing up to our mailing list at QuillEquipped.com and on all the usual social media bits, Facebook and Instagram. It also helps a lot if you follow us on Spotify so we can make sure you know when we drop new tracks!”


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