NEWS

Stockwell, Storm Jae and Nory Can’t Come Home

It’s not every day we hear a quintessentially hip-hop track with the magnitude of enriching classic rock riffs, say, as Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street or Pink Floyd’s The Great Gig in the Sky.

Agreeably the nineties downbeat and trip hop era unleashed some masterful acts, particularly of the Bristol scene. And there’s shards of precisely this too, of Massive Attack and Portishead, in Can’t Come Home, a new Wise Monkey single from Stockwell featuring Storm Jae and Nory.

If I retain through rose-tinted specs, a passion for those naughty nineties it’s fuelled by nostalgia; I was young, once! Can even recall some bits of it. But rather than the drifting layers sluggishly building of aforementioned trip hop, the wailing guitar here hits you full in the face, more akin to said enriching classic rock tracks.

Stockwell

Even all this said and done, there’s nothing content to rest in a time of yore here, as the alignment of beats, astute male rap and uplifting female vocals of Can’t Come Home is fundamentally fresh and contemporary. Enough, I feel, to cross the barrier from myself to my teenage daughter’s musical taste, and that rarely occurs! This combination makes the song especially unique and substantially epic.

Storm Jae

With the attitude and gumption of Stevie Nicks, and the mezzo-soprano range of Joni Mitchell, Storm Jae is a jolt in the right direction for an enveloping new era of singer-songwriters. Nory seems more elusive, I can’t find any information on! But teaming up with the trailblazing hip-hop-come-rock crossover musician and producer Stockwell is a match made in heaven, a heaven you can hear for yourself.

It’s agelessly sharp, emotionally elevating and an impactful grower, which will tease the palate of rock and urban adherents alike. If I make you wince to note Run DMC walked this way with Aerosmith some thirty-five years ago, or if you have to ask Siri what I mean by that, neither matters, this tune will appease either.


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Wiltshire’s Most Expensive Laugh; Seedy Out of the PCC Race!

Two opinion pieces from me in as many days; you lucky, lucky people! What I wouldn’t give to have two lofty opinion pieces from Devizine thrown at me once in a while!

As the news circulates that hunting bonkers Conservative PCC candidate for Wiltshire, Johnathan Seed is out of the race, we all can have a belly-laugh, especially Basil Brush. But rules are rules, and at this stage, seems WC will need to hold a second election, rather than the obvious, just pick the second-place candidate and roll with that.

I mean, if a horse falls out of the race, the race continues. You wouldn’t stop the race, pick another horse and rerun it, would you?

Without quoting sources at this delicate time, word on the street is another election will cost a cool million squid; who picks up this bill, the taxpayer?

Hinging on two conflicting allegations as to how this story came to light, one being Seedy declared his drink driving offence and suddenly decided he should pull out because of it, and the second that he was ousted when the offense came to light, one could argue if the latter, he, or the Conservative party should be liable for the bill, whereas the first means the electoral roll should’ve picked this up before running the election. Being Wiltshire Council is Tory run, you can bet your bottom dollar, the dollar is coming out of your pocket. In essence, it’s Wiltshire’s most expensive laugh.

Whatever, this does mean there’s time for the Conservatives to draft in a new candidate, which they can do. One who without even having to campaign, will, by current trends walk the show without the slightest insight or experience of the roll. So, if you thought every cloud has a silver lining, no, not in our Tory haven. But I must stress, that’s speculation.

Boom Boom!

If the race is yet to be won, there’s as much convincing as I can to be done, to sway you to consider voting elsewhere. We’ve interviewed Lib Dem Liz Webster, and we’ve interviewed independent Mike Rees. We ran out of time to chat to Labour’s Junab Ali, for which I apologise, but with this news, and depending on the date of the election, perhaps this is still on the cards, and I welcome Junab to chat with us.

Anyway, tonight will see the news break the local social media sites, where’s there’s a general feeling of relief. Johnathan Seed’s campaign has not been particularly popular. And if that has reflected in the current polls, who knows, we may not have to go through all this again.

Here’s what some people are saying online, which is what the Gazelle & Herod do for a quick article, I know, and if it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for us!

“I’m sorry, but I’m losing no sleep over this one!”

“Apparently they’re going to put up a garden gnome with a blue rosette on it, they’re still convinced it will win.”

“It’s very frustrating, especially as it’s nothing new. He doesn’t seem to have been a popular choice so fingers crossed he doesn’t win and we can bypass another vote.”

“Good. Will Wiltshire Council send him the bill for having to rerun the poll?”

“This will give him more time to spend with the hunt and hounds..”

Right, that’s enough of that, this isn’t a public forum! Go figure!


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A Trowbridge Kitchen Sink Drama; Sitting Tenants

Wednesday, racing down to the newsagent on the corner on my Rayleigh Tomahawk, fifteen pee in sweaty palm. Pick up my Beano, six pence left for halfpenny sweets. The lady stood irritated behind the counter holding a small paper bag, as the kid front of the queue rubbed his chin pondering the crucial quandary. “You’ve got four pee left,” she’d calculate, while the boy finally opted for another flying saucer rather than a fruit salad chew.

If there’s something delightfully everyday about the subjects on Trowbridge’s Sitting Tenants lockdown album, A Kitchen Sink Drama, none more retrospectively thought-provoking than the fifth tune, the Newsagent, which encouraged the placement of this archived memory to my frontal cortex.

Unlike many a lockdown inspired project, this lives on the sunny side of the street, no matter how working-class notion of destitution. A semi-acoustic concept album, all from a shed in Trowbridge, as folk, as best pigeonholed, it’s acutely observational and mostly sentimentally mellow, perfect lazy Sunday afternoon music. Yet it never escorts you down a dark alley. Of people-watching in a back street pub, of a welcomed arrival of a letter from an old friend; subjects are ordinary, with an optimistic air of market town affairs. Even the album sleeve is a line drawing of Trowbridge town centre.

Released on 208 Records, usually reserved for garage mod-revival, still it retains something of that period in sound and particularly subject. Rob himself polished his skill fronting Swindon mod band Roundabout, some twenty-five years past. A band I do recall fondly. But even if you don’t, here is something indie-folky, with a taste of local excellence.

Revived since lockdown this garage-folk band’s fifth album was recorded in Rob’s garden shed, with only bassist Geoff Allwright, and using Ian Hunter’s lyrics. It’s beautifully peculiar, a mite psychedelic in as much as McCartney vaudeville moments on Sgt Pepper, engrossing as Nick Drake, quirky as Pentangle or The Pretty Things. It’s the Kinks jamming carefree on a Sunday, especially on the most upbeat Lincoln Green. It nods to Lionel Bart on the Austerity Street, John Martyn on The Tin Man, and incredibly on the captivating eleven-minute finale, Falling Backwards, where things do get acute, Ralph McTell.

Like a Ralph of Trowbridge, it’s like, why is this down the road but new to me? Why didn’t it post a leaflet through my letterbox instead of a pleading politician?


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Wiltshire Lays all its Eggs in the Same Basket

You’ve done it now, it’s too late for reason. My reaction to the local election results coming in; you really want to hear it?!

It’s not really news, and altogether unsurprising to see early results to the local town/village elections coming in, proving generally the majority population of Wiltshire is unable to consider change, and doesn’t much care for their neighbours. Yep, if you proudly tow the national party line, or if you waffle how the sheer ignorance, dishonourable and incompetent of the Conservative Party nationally doesn’t reflect your own opinions and views, if you painted your election leaflet blue, you more than likely won it by a country mile. Did we seriously expect anything less?

Face it, any other party, or independent candidate wouldn’t have stood a chance even if they offered everyone a free fish finger sandwich for every vote, and everyone, tory or sensible, loves a fish finger sandwich. To those who lost, it’s not a reflection on you, rather the ignorance of the silent majority. Not even mayo on the sarnie would’ve worked.

As impartial as I get, I offer my congratulations to the winning candidates, but it is with great concern for the wellbeing of the most vulnerable, the youth, the working class and usual victims of this totalitarian regime. Even if many themselves fail to see past their Daily Fail, fail to comprehend the buck stops at the top, and their neighbours, or their mass-media driven forged enemies are not to blame for the current balls up this country finds itself in, it is, nonetheless, proof Wiltshire loves to lay all it’s eggs in the same basket.

It’s not even a shiny new basket, it’s the aged wrecked one, where guaranteed the eggs drop out of the bottom and an expectant fat cat waits to lap them up.

I cross my fingers and toes that this sheer stupidity will not elevate to the Police Crime Commissioner role, due to be announced on Monday, but reflecting on today’s results, I’m not holding my breath. The most controversial and malevolent of all tory candidates standing has raised interest in this debatably inconsequential job. It all hinges on what we want from a PCC; a dedicated experienced man in the field, a politically-minded victim’s mother of a callous and brutal attack with an argument to boot, or a one-policy suspected criminal themself, with the financial backing of the wealthiest felons of blood sports in order to encourage police to turn a blind eye to brutally attacking wildlife for twisted kicks. Seriously, you think you’ll get justice for a burglary, an assault or theft, from a fellow whose only objective for the role is to turnaround the hunting act and roam the countryside on horseback yelling tally-ho and smearing the blood of slaughtered foxes on their face? Is that really the future prospective for policing in the county you crave?

Give me strength. There’s a level of blind folly which astounds my tolerance, it really does. Yet historically it’s a given thing, Wiltshire is Tory, always has been since the Cavaliers whipped the Roundheads; you face it head-on and bite your lip, or you follow suit, opt for the selection which takes no brainpower, and place your cross where you always do. Unreasoning contemporary alterations is a dangerous game, having an opposition is vital to democracy. I’m no politician, don’t pretend to be, don’t wish to be, but that much I do know.  

As this reflects national trend, I hope every successful candidate adheres to the lofty pledges and promises of change, rather than submits to the corrupt ethos of the current cabinet. Okay, so you used the blue platform to get to this point, despite bits of Bojo’s rash and forbidding outbursts, like the watermelon smiles, the post boxes, and now the bodies piling higher, don’t match your sentiments, but the motivation is surely to climb further up the ladder, that’s the philosophy of modern conservatism, and for which you need to kiss the rings of those in charge, and they do not accept a midrange, centre-right standing; you watched them get ousted in favour of far right and nationalists from other parties, remember? You are buying into oppression, whether you want to, or not, like it, or not.

There’s nothing wrong with Conservatism per say, as a theory, and one, possibly two Tories I can stomach, for they seem to have morals on the surface. Yet, it’s when there’s a, whatever the collective noun for self-centred arseholes is, they tend to bounce inconsistences to what’s righteous around, garnish them with wonky and selfish agendas, and generally, fuelled by expensive tax-free wine from daddy’s collection, conjure a plan to maintain the wealth for the wealthiest without concern for the trickling down of any leftover faeces for the common man to lap up.

This is good news for most of us here, this is an affluent area. But I urge you, when you next roll your 21reg Land Rover Discovery off your extensive loose chipping track and drive into the real world, stop to observe not everyone’s silver spoon is quite as polished and orally positioned, and everyone who serves you in Marks and Sparks, everyone who delivers your bespoke Lexington four-draw chest for your next refurb, or collects your recycling bin surely warrants a better day too. Enough to go round, isn’t there? Monkeys live in this jungle too, not just organ grinders.

Ah, same shitshow different day. For me it’s a no news day, and I’m waffling. I can’t even raise my optimism for the news the controversial head Wiltshire councillor Phillip Whitehead has resigned, for it’s easy to suspect another one will be along shortly, equally as vexed. I’m more flabbergasted, and slightly upset the sequel to my fictional story series needs a new thinktank, as those comical and sensitive Tories say!


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Brainiac 5’s Other Dimension

And it is precisely that. Cornish psych-punkers The Brainiac 5 release this mind-blowing album of both reflective new tunes and lost archived tracks, today. Another Time Another Dimension bursts the cliché term genre-breaking to compose scattered influences, with this kind of low-fi garage style, which while loans to punk, even reggae, has the nod to acid rock of a previous psychedelia era. Most befitting a title, this is a tricky nugget to nail down, but it’s grower.

The band stress this is not a lockdown album, the impetus came from two other sources, namely a digging through the archives for unreleased material, and secondly, the passing of a long-time friend of the band, Martin Griffin. A supportive engineering assistant to the band in its earliest days, allowing them extensive use of his Roach Recording studio. Both reasons sparked the writing of some new songs, in this fifteen-track bundle of era-spanning and mind-expanding goodness.

I confess I was dubious at first, it’s as if The Beatles came after punk, but still recorded in a garage. It made me ponder the Clash singing “phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust,” and in turn the target audience, presumably a fairly eclectic bunch. As I said, it’s a grower, and I suspect I’ll be digging bits of “oh yeah, I get it now,” for many listens to come. But time has got the best of me, got to get this review out tonight.

“The four albums released during our second coming have all garnered many reviews noting our continuing desire to experiment and expand while still maintaining the basic psych/punk ethos,” they say, “Indeed, the three new tracks here do continue this tradition of experimentation. However, although it is clear that the band has grown and developed over the years it is remarkable just how much we were experimenting right from the band’s inception.”

The bulk of Another Time Another Dimension, then, are memoirs, lost archives from 1976-1980, in what the band name “our initial Cornwall period.” Taking John D. Loudermilk’s Tobacco Road to Hendrix proportions, yep, sure is blues to be found here, and the rough and ready cover of Move’s Do Ya revels in low-fi garage rock.

But it’s loud, proud and sonic trialling, denoting a path through dubby seventies roots reggae, with a few tracks which offbeat, such as I Call Your Name and though Our Devils is another, it reeks of avant-garde, a Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band-come post-punk Talking Heads. Then I return to thinking, definitely punk, I Feel Good a prime example. And then, wham, there’s freaky drunken Jim Morrison weirdness in tracks like Khazi Persona.

Though the ground here is bumpy at the best of times, your head doesn’t smash on the top; it may be raw, but blends with a flowing refinement of proficiency. “There is a lot of ground covered here,” they rightly explain, “hang on and enjoy the ride.” And there’s the very thing; once you’ve found your footing, it’s a fantastic, adventurous ride, just lacks suspension!

But, with the third eye being squeegeed so succulently as this, suspension is for losers, anyway. Another Time Another Dimension encompasses a past with a present, as if neither really happened, and that’s refreshingly effective against pigeonholing.


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Sheer Reveal Frank Turner at Cheese & Grain

To celebrate the release of his new single “the Gathering,” featuring Jason Isbell and Muse’s Dom Howard, multi-award-winning Frank Turner, one of the UK’s most successful solo artists of the past decade, selling over one million records worldwide and playing to over two million people from small venues to a sold-out show at London’s famous Wembley Arena, announces a UK tour. The good news for Turner fans is, Sheer Music nabbed the man himself for two dates at the Cheese & Grain.

Out via Xtra Mile Recordings of Polydor Records, The Gathering is his first new solo music in nearly two years. That said, we did review his Buddies sequel album with Jon Snodgrass not so long ago.

Launching today, The Gathering is available to stream now across all platforms, alongside are the exciting details for a series of nine live show ‘Gatherings’, headed by Frank and Xtra Mile Recordings and running over summer 2021. Tickets for all shows on sale from 10am BST on Friday May 7th.

It’s said Frank Turner didn’t want to write a lockdown song. Over the past year he’s written and rewritten songs, trying to steer himself away from the subject that will no doubt dominate the charts for years to come. But for a man whose life and career are so intrinsically linked to live music, not referencing the dearth of festivals and gigs started to prove impossible. Not least since Turner himself has spent much of lockdown playing virtual shows from his living room, raising over £250,000 to support endangered grassroots venues up and down the UK, many of which might not have otherwise survived the pandemic.

So, it’s fitting that Frank’s new single ‘The Gathering’ is an upbeat, Glam-esque stomp. It puts a positive spin on things, anticipating a return to normality. “It’s about that moment when you come together in a room full of people, and you lean on a stranger and sing along with the chorus and get the words wrong,” explained Frank.

Produced by Rich Costey (Biffy Clyro, Foo Fighters), who Frank worked with on 2013’s Tape Deck Heart, ‘The Gathering’ features pile driving drums courtesy of Muse’s Dom Howard and a triumphant guitar solo from Jason Isbell, who recorded remotely from Los Angeles and Nashville. The new track follows a number of huge life changes for the star, who left his beloved London for the Essex coast, also getting married after the release of 2019’s No Man’s Land. “The biggest thing for me about the lockdown experience was about identity,” he says. “I am the guy who tours, this is who I’ve been since I was sixteen. This is the longest period of time I’ve slept in the same bed continuously since I was seven.”

Set to change this summer, when, in celebration of the ethos behind ‘The Gathering’ Frank and label Xtra Mile Recordings will present a run of outdoor shows, helping to kick start the return of live music. It’s been a catastrophic year for the Industry as a whole, with the Covid pandemic dealing blow after blow for everyone in the sector. In true punk rock style, Xtra Mile and Turner want to take matters into their own hands with a set of versatile events that can either be socially distanced or full capacity depending on the maximum safety of the audience, performers and crews and in accordance with any national restrictions in place at the time of the event. Frank says; “At a time when the pandemic has wreaked havoc all across the live music industry, I feel like it’s important to get back to the basics – playing live music to entertain a crowd. This summer, with Xtra Mile and friends, I’m taking the punk approach – do it yourself, find a way. I can’t wait.”

2021 UK ‘Gathering’ Live Shows include Bideford in June, and Frome’s Cheese & Grain on both Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th June. The tour continues through July with dates in Liverpool and Gloucester, August at Manchester and Hull will need to wait until September.

The Guv’ of Sheer, Kieran Moore is keen to point out the Sunday is his birthday, so if you are going, take him a cake. I dunno, good question; add about 50ish candles I reckon!


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Save Furlong Close Campaigners Protest in Rowde

Rowde villagers joined for a socially distanced and peaceful protest today, in the centre of the village to show their support for the Save Furlong Close campaign.

More show of solidarity than protest, if “protest” is now a dirty word and standing up for your rights is to be considered illicit. It was good to meet those heading this campaign to deflect the closing of Furlong Close, home to 36 vulnerable adults with learning disabilities, including Down syndrome, autism and epilepsy.

Reflecting on a thought I’d said in previous articles on this campaign, campaign leader Trish specified how the residents of Furlong Close were a big part of the village community and would be missed if it was to close down. We also discussed that while the red tape between Wiltshire Council and the owning charity HFT continues, the opinions of both locals and residents are being ignored.

We’ve covered the tragic plans on Devizine at length, in the past; hearing direct from Mark Steele, a member of the campaign’s steering group, who has family at Furlong Close. The Gazette & Herald ran an edition with a wrap-around page campaign, and over a staggering 44,000 have signed the petition, therefore I do not wish to go over the same ground. We know this is a terrible decision, we are aware the residents do not wish to be dispersed and move into isolated and lonely single accommodations they’re unfamiliar with, we only need a workable solution.

Yet with the backing of many local councillors, Anna Cuthbert and Lib Dem candidate for Bromham, Rowde and Roundway, Mark Mangham in attendance today, the backing of the media, and in particular, the local people, I sincerely hope we can turn this around and end on a feel-good story. The show of hope and solidarity today proves this is possible. Mark said it was, “humbling to be among the campaigners, many related to residents and from beyond Wiltshire. Many Rowde residents are volunteers. This is what community feels like!”


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Salem Announce National Tour with Sheer Hosting Swindon’s Vic Gig

There’s something indefinitely old school punk about Salem, with nods to pop-punk, goth and rockabilly, hoisting them to the absolute top of their scene. No one in the UK are delivering this genre better right now.

This side project of Will Gould from Creepers and Matt Reynolds of Howards Alias is loud, proud and spitting; dripping with Siouxsie and the Banshees, laddered fishnet stockings and Robert Smith influences. Quite honestly, Kieran’s right, again; it’s knocking deafeningly at my front door!

They described their self-titled debut 2020 EP as “spooky, silly, romantic punk rock songs.” Yeah, figures.

Today they announce their October UK tour, with Oxford’s Bullingdon, Frome’s Cheese & Grain, and Bristol’s Exchange included, and nestled between them, on October 16th, Sheer Music & Bandit present them at Swindon’s grandstand music venue, The Victoria.

Support for the Salem’s tour comes from a new solo project from Welsh former Holding Absence bassist, James Joseph; James and the Cold Gun. A playful twist on his name, James and the Cold Gun is named after a Kath Bush song. They promise to be something of a rock n’ roll blues revue, akin to former British rock n’ roll heroes The Computers. They signed to Gallows label Venn Records for the release of their debut album.

Tickets go on sale Thursday (6th May.) £10 adv. / £13 OTD for the Vic.


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Can You Help Calne Central Youth & Community Centre Raise Funds to Keep it Going?

Calne in Tune stated their activities in 2013. In 2015 a handful of Musicians, Artists & Crafters at Calne in Tune decided they needed a Music Arts & Crafts Centre in Calne to collaborate in creative activities and encourage the young and people of all ages and abilities in the wider Calne area.

They looked for an appropriate space and found that all Youth Centres were gradually getting closed down. They were not meeting the needs and interest of the young people of today. There were no central Community Centres where they could fully operate from, to provide a broad range of Facilities and Services, 24/7.

They decided the centre of Calne needed a Youth & Community Centre where any Community Group could operate cheaply, spreading the costs. Community facilities were far too divided and too expensive for each group to be able to get premises of their own, only to use a couple of days a week.

They first looked at the old Priestley Grove Youth Centre and put in a bid to take it over, repair and refurbish it themselves (many of our members are in the building trades) and set it up as a Music, Arts & Crafts based Youth & Community Centre. The plan was rejected by Wiltshire Council at the time.

Not going to give up, in 2020 the opportunity became available to hire the old FM Furniture store at 20 Church Street, Calne. They approached the developers (Stibbard Properties) about the possibility of renting the building while plans were being considered for its development (it is now up for sale.)

Andrew Stibbard was in the process of getting development permissions and agreed to allow them to hire it on a 3-month rolling basis at temporary advantageous rent, with an option to purchase at an advantageous price.

They moved in over February 2020, installed donated furniture, music and computer equipment and opened to the public by the end of the month. They called it Calne Central Music; Arts & Crafts based Youth & Community Centre.

“We first kicked off with the Music, Arts and Crafts activities and used the Centre as a base from which to go out to our various Music, Arts and Crafts Venues around Calne Town and across Wiltshire,” explains organiser Terry Couchman.

“We set up an Arts & Crafts Window Display and decided to include Trade Crafts in our Brief. Our walls and shelves were prepared for Artwork and Crafted good of all kinds and we fitted out a Music Practice Room and a Performance Space.”

“We, at last, had somewhere where we could encourage local people of all ages and abilities (and disabilities) to engage in any creative and recreational activities. We were also able supplement our Calne in Tune and Calne Community Hub volunteers with further Community Volunteers to help run the place as an integrated Youth & Community Centre. Slowly people began to come through our doors, just as the Covid Lockdown started.”

Calne in Tune now works with Community Service Charity ‘Heart of the Community’. This is an organisation which brings individual volunteers & community groups together to run Calne Central and provide the wider Community Service.

“We are now a ‘Community Hub’,” Terry continues, “supporting any group that wants to join us in the building itself, use our facilities to promote itself, or provide equipment and volunteer assistance for their events and activities.”

“Giving Birth is painful enough without the challenges, frustrations, and stresses of feeling trapped and restricted in our movements. Part of our commitment was towards encouraging people who are variously disabled, those with mental health challenges, the lonely, isolated, and disaffected.”

“We knew from years of common experience how important Music, Arts and Crafts (of all kinds) benefit people naturally and therapeutically. Sharing these experiences together proved even more beneficial. That remains our main focus for trying to meet all community needs.”

“We decided that that we were doing was far too important to simply shut down for the duration of the emergency. With the help of increasing numbers of Volunteers and the involvement of Calne Men’s Shed, Calne Community Hub and others, we opened fully, 6 days a week 10-6 and provided access every evening and all weekend for Creative and Essential Community Support activities.”

“Our Volunteer group grew and through the painful process of any birth, we established enough support to spread the load a little. With the encouragement and funding from Calne Town Council, Wiltshire Council, Wiltshire Community Foundation, and other generous donors, we remained open, including throughout two lockdowns.”

“We continued to provide our usual Music Arts & Craft Exhibitions & Showcases when we could. People can still come in to practice as individuals and we expanded our Community Activities to include service like the 24/7 Community Fridge & Larder and the Community Café.”

“We also dedicated ourselves to re-cycling, taking in disused Bikes, Microwaves, Kettles, Irons, Computers TV’s, DVD’s CD, Books, even the odd fridge, washing machine and furniture, to refurbish and sell on at affordable prices.”

“The Bicycle sales and services became a major income generator, and we became popular for kids to pop in to get their biked made safe and do small repairs for free. This was another valid reason for us remaining open throughout lockdowns.”

Not everyone was happy though and there was to be more pain to come. There have been a small number of “petty jealousies, bogus complaints and unfair criticisms” of the volunteers and the fact the Centre remained ‘legitimately’ open.

Some of these were personally abusive and slanderous. Terry said, “we survived all this though, and we are still open and have just enough to get us through to July this year. We will be seeking more Funding but we hope that we can now start to generate a bit more income for ourselves as we come out of lockdown.”

“As I keep reminding people, in terms of our community facilities. ‘Use it or Lose It (Don’t Abuse It)’. That was our mantra since the beginning.”

A Youth & Community Centre’s only has a chance in the long-term is when people work together, as a team, in inclusive and diverse ways that are ‘Enabling and Empowering’ for all. People need to speak up for what they need and then seek to protect what they have for everyone’s benefit.

“There is no room for Superior Egos within Community Services,” Terry continued, “we all make an important contribution, according to our skills, means, interests and the time available outside our family and work lives.”

“We’ve demonstrated that working together, appreciating each contribution, with mutual tolerance and understanding, is the only way to succeed and grow, without getting too big for our boots.”

Part of providing a Youth & Community Space is to ensure it remains safe, adaptable and accessible, with enough volunteer contribution and assistance from the members of the community that use it and benefits from it. “There is no room for those who would seek to undermine, disrupt or in any way distress those who provide the services or use them. Such actions will be (and must be) confronted.”

They now need to review the first year of operation and find ways to fund it through the rest of the year. Meanwhile, there is an opportunity to buy the current building at a very advantaged price.

Terry said, “we know we can renovate the building ourselves. We will be conducting a survey of all our members, volunteers and users looking an option for the purchase of the building.”

The fundraising effort can be found on Facebook here; please don’t let Calne lose this important facility.


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State of the Thing; a Monthly Guide to Last and This Coming Month of Devizine

Particularly crucial at this point, in the midst of this “roadmap” out of lockdown, for me to consider writing a monthly post outlining where we’re at, what we’ve been doing, and looking forward to the next month. A two-part article then, the second half on what’s happening locally during May particularly important.

But first, I have to say, despite the lack of events causing the lowering of hits annually, stats for April hit a record-breaking high, a staggering 132% higher than March. This is fantastic and I thank our readers for their support. Generally, April is a good month, All Fools Day being our bread and butter. This year’s was exceptionally accommodating, when I convinced thousands, Devizes was to get a McDonalds! This prank was in the pipeline long before April, and I suspected it would spread like wildfire, but only issue now, is how to top it next year.

Other popular articles this month have been political, when Tory Wiltshire Councillors were instructed by head councillor, Philip Whitehead to block correspondence with the Stop the Closure of Furlong Close campaigners, particularly prevalent. So too has been the interest of the Police Crime Commissioner election, with our interviews of Mike Rees and Liz Webster. And we’ve played impartial, allowing all council candidates an untainted paragraph in which to pitch the reason while we should vote for them.

Such is lockdown, when another seemingly popular doing, was my satirical fictional story serial, The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead; honestly, I don’t know where these ideas come from! I think serials might be good addition to Devizine, and I’ve a new, wholly different approach to the next one, a personal account celebrating thirty years since the blossoming of the rave scene. So, wave your hands in the air for that one, if I find the time to write it!

Yet, proving our stomachs are more important than our politics, the best hitting articles, second only to the April Fools, have been when the Naan Guru opened, and my visit to the Feisty Fish. Proof of what I say, time and time again, but few owners of eateries listen; throwing me a luncheon voucher will boast your sales! We published our Feisty Fish review Wednesday, by Friday they sold out at their pitch in Littleton Pannell!

And I thought our mainstay was music and arts. But without live music reviews, it’s been no walk in the park. The live streams continue, but I cannot justify reviewing them in the same manner, only drawing your attention to them, and all other online events. This is why, and I can’t stress this enough, because I spend eons adding to it, our event guide is crucial, the coming months doubly so.

Our Song of the Day features continues, if slightly more sporadic than previous months, and we’ve covered reviews of Erin Bardwell, The Horses of Gods, Longcoats, Fruits Records and Black Market, with more to follow. But, with fingers crossed, and it’s looking rosy, May is the month live music is returning, so let’s muck about now more, wallowing in the past, and bang straight on with what’s happening over May.

Not forgoing, before I get onto this, my efforts this month will be focussed on our forthcoming compilation album, For Julia’s House, which I hope to be released later in the month or early June.   The list of contributors now looks like this, all of them I’d like to thank eternally: Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall, King Dukes, Erin Bardwell, Timid Deer, Duck n Cuvver, Strange Folk, Strange Tales, Paul Lappin, Billy Green 3, Jon Veale, Will Lawton, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective, Kirsty Clinch, Richard Wileman, Kier Cronin, Sam Bishop, Mr Love & Justice, The Truzzy Boys, Daydream Runaways, Talk in Code, Longcoats, Atari Pilot, Andy J Williams, The Dirty Smooth, SexJazz, Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue, The Boot Hill All Stars, Mr Tea & The Minions, The Oyster, Nigel G. Lowndes, The Birth of Bonoyster, Revival, Room 101, The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show, Julie Meikle and Mel Reeves, Cutsmith, Big Ship Alliance and Knati P. What a line up!

And I’ve more promised in the pipeline, possible tracks from Clock Radio, the Horse of Gods, Cutfish, The Lost Trades, and so many more; how utterly fantastic is that? I just have to pull my finger out and get on the case!

So, to what’s happening in May!

Events, remember them, that’s the kiddy, that’s what we’re looking forward to. And with positive feedback from the Liverpool clubbing experiment, stuff is being arranged and events organised, and everyone is undoubtedly as excited as a kid at Christmas.

May is the month which will, hopefully, keep on giving. I’ve a mega-task trying to keep up with changes and added events, updating our new look event calendar. You can help, by letting me know about your event, rather than expecting me to go digging. Thanks. Oh, and people, this preview is not exhausted, take heed, the calendar is going to explode with updates, so keep on top of it. Plus, the notion events will often be under usual capacity due to social distancing, and ticketed, so keeping ahead of the game is vital, if you want to head on out with a destination in mind!

For the now though, events remain online, but not void. Do check out the Wylye Valley Arts Trail, running until next Sunday, 9th May, and the Online Swindon Festival of Literature starting tomorrow until the same Sunday the 9th.

Later today, I’d recommend you check out the Kyla Brox Band stream, or for banging clubland, the Midlife Krisis has it’s Sunday Session. Tomorrow, Monday 3rd, head down to Hillworth Park in Devizes, where there’s a fundraising books and toys stand in Hillworth Park, for Wiltshire Air Ambulance. 10am till 2pm.

But on Saturday 8th the Prestbury Sports Bar in Warminster is the first I’ve noted to open their doors to a live gig, and the fantaboulouso People Like Us will kick it off. Good luck to Nicky, Pip and the Scooby gang!

The first to brave the water on mass, though, is our brilliant Big Yellow Bus co-ordinator, Gerry Watkins with a Gloucestershire VW Bus Meet and Chill, a free event on 15th May at Cirencester Town Football Club. “It’s just that,” Gerry explains, “meet up with old and new friends that share the same passion for the VW bus, it doesn’t matter if it’s a rusty old shed or a sparking bran new one it’s your pride and joy and we are here to enjoy and have fun, it’s also to help raise funds for The Big Yellow Bus Project a homeless shelter.” Bands playing include: Six O Clock Circus, Loaded Dice, The Daybreakers, and The Roughcut Rebels. Sounds super, but like I said, all events this early need booking, and once all 85 spaces have been filled that’s it; which it might already be. Just leaves me to say, have a great time, guys, and I hope you raise some serious funds for the Big Yellow Bus project.

But it’s the following weekend when shit really hits the fan. Swindon’s Victoria kicks off the return of live music with Awakening Savannah on Friday 21st, and Thin Lizzy tribute, The Lizzy Legacy on the Saturday, I wish you all the best for these gigs, Darren Simons and the team at the Vic.

Both Pewsey and Devizes kick off live music too, on the Saturday. As for a fiver a pop, the Barge at Honeystreet offer Paul Ruck paying his tribute to legendary guitarist Eric Clapton, and at our trusty Southgate in Devizes, the long awaited return of live music will be supplied by the band who finished off at the last live music session prior to the lockdown, I believe, Swindon’s fantastic Sound Affects, who will double-up as the Daybreakers; something I’ve been looking forward to since I dunno when, and hope to see many faces I haven’t seen for ages, perhaps lockdown hair!

The Daybreakers pop up again the following Friday at Swindon’s Vic, while Honeystreet’s Barge offers you their favourites Jassy and Ted, aka SwingleTree, a wonderous folky duo with songs of the sea, lost loves, the ol’ canal, heart-warming harmonies, luscious squeeze boxes, and toe tapping tunes.

Saturday 29th The Barge has the Dryadic collective, The Southgate have Leon Daye, and there’s few tickets left for an Attitude Is Everything fundraiser with Longcoats and Tangled Oaks at Bath’s Moles. But in general, the fantastic news is, slow and few in between, live music is returning to Wiltshire this month, and if everyone bonds, taking care and adhering to the restrictions set out, by June, we could have ourselves a mini summer of love!

Apologises if I’ve missed your event here, it’s most likely because you didn’t tell me about it! But it’s never too late to let me know. For fun-seekers crawling out of the woodwork, as I said, this list is not exhaustive, and over the coming weeks you must take a peek at our calendar, as it will continuously blossom with stuff to do. I mean, take a look at June, when festivals begin; oh, my lord, remember them?!


Trending….

Song of the Day 37: Lady Nade

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

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

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

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

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


Fish N Chips Getting Feisty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Trending…….

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

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

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

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


The full track listing for the record is as follows:

‘DEAR JOHN – CONCERT FOR WAR CHILD UK’

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

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

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

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

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

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


Meet the Wiltshire Council Election Candidates

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

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

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

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

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

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


Margaret Green: Green Party Candidate for Devizes Rural West

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Be the change.


Lisa Kinnaird: Liberal Democrats Candidate for Urchfont and Bishops Cannings

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/LisaKinnairdUrchfontBishopsC

David Kinnaird: Liberal Democrats Candidate for Devizes North

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

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

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

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

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

Iain Wallis: Conservative Candidate for Devizes North

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

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

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

Noel Woolrych: Labour Candidate for Devizes East

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

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

 Angelika Davey: Liberal Democrats Candidate for Devizes East

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

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

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/DevizesEast

Laura Mayes: Conservative Candidate for Bromham, Rowde & Roundway

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/Laura4Roundway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/MarkManghamBRR

Song of the Day 36: Daydream Runaways

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

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

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


Devizes Town Band in Chippenham

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

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

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

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

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

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


Trending…..

Looking Forward to the Trades’ Road of Solid Gold

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Told you so,” Briggs boasted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Like duh, cow dung!” Briggs giggled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Whatever! Just get on with it.”

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

Alf was grateful and stood down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m, like staying here, man.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Have you completely lost your mind, Briggs?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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The Naan Guru of Old Devizes Town

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helpline – 01380 722160

Website: www.lovedevizes.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helpline: 01672 487022

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


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A Chat with Wiltshire PCC Candidate Mike Rees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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