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….

First Aid Courses Return; Chatting with Louise Worsley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Trending…..

Kirsty Clinch Lauches Pre-School Music School

Wishing local singer-songwriter Kirsty Clinch only the best of luck today, as she announces a new project; a music school for pre-school age and above, called First Melodies.


As well as private tuition, Kirsty plans to combine published books and a YouTube channel to create a wider audience. Anyone interested should contact the website and subscribe to the channel…. I need not explain further, as it’s covered in this video…

Best of luck Kirsty, we reckon it’s the perfect idea for you.


Online Stuff 2 Do This Half Term

Yay! Home Schooling is out for half term, but before it’s replaced with excruciating racket, higgledy-piggledy hullabaloos, and junior revolutionary uprisings, diligent stay-at-home parents teetering on the edge of wine o’clock should note, if the outside activity mountain won’t come to Muhammad, well, Muhammad has to get there online. Here’s some “lit” bodacious suggies to get him harnessing his crampons….

No, I’ve no idea what that meant either, just hit me with your suggestions, homies, and I’ll add them here without beef!

Firstly, keep them well fed, and if you’re having difficulty…….

FREE SCHOOL MEALS ELIGIBILITY

Wiltshire Council is urging families who find themselves in difficult circumstances to check if they are also eligible for free school meals and the holiday food funding. Families can find out details of how to apply for free school meals support on the Wiltshire Council website including those families on: -• Income Support• Job Seeker’s Allowance (income-based)• Employment and Support Allowance (income-related)• Support under part six of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999• The Guarantee element of State Pension Credit• Child Tax Credit – providing you are NOT entitled to Working Tax Credit and your family’s annual income (as assessed by HMRC) is not more than £16,190 (as at 6 April 2012)• Working Tax Credit ‘run-on’ – the payment you may receive for a further four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit• Universal Credit (provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods) • Better2Gether Funding (two year olds only) Universal Credit – if you and your partner are on a low income from work (this usually means a combined income of less than £15,400 a year after tax)Or if the two year old child: -• Has a statutory statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care Plan.• Has left local authority care through a Special Guardianship Order, adoption or a Residence Order• Is currently a Looked After Child, for example in foster care• Is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)People should apply directly to Wiltshire Council if they are eligible but currently do not have free school meals by using the form on the Council website.

Morrisons Kids Meal and Pizza making Boxes Here!


Creative

Stuff!

Get Cartooning!

There’s always cartoon and comic workshops to get creative darlings budding. Enter Beano artist and charismatic comedian Kev F, whose Comic Art Masterclass usually travels the schools and libraries of the country, and ends with some seriously entertained kids each with their own homemade comic. The only need to travel is to grab some paper and pens now Kev’s class is online.

But check here for a number of different creators giving away their artistic secrets in comic workshops…


The End of the Pier Show

Jonny Fluffypunk presents a brand spanking new show for families, with poetry, puppetry, story, song and a healthy dose of ramshackle anarchy.

Cooking

Stuff!

The Farm Cookery School in Netherstreet

have their popular holiday clubs online, and are available to book NOW! They are only £10 – £15 per login and that includes LIVE Tuition as well as a Recipe and Ingredients Guide which will be emailed to you straight away. Just imagine, dinner may be served by your little horrors!

Learning

Stuff!

Family half term activities among online events at Chippenham Museum

Prior to lockdown Wiltshire Museum were really enjoying hosting Curious Kids sessions for under 5’s and their grown-ups. They have adapted sessions to deliver them on zoom. A chance for younger children to have some interaction with people from outside the home and for families to learn, create and play together – supported by the museum.

February Half term session will focus on Saxon Crafts and will look at weaving jewellery.


STEM Venturi

 February Half Term online coding courses for 7 – 12+ year olds. Also debuting Girls Who Code course…… Lots of coding courses including Minecraft!


Music

Stuff!

Open to all young people aged 12 – 18s who love to sing, the new Wiltshire Youth Choir (WYC) will take your singing and performance to the next level.
– Learn from inspiring choir leaders with years of professional experience
– Explore music from different genres: musical theatre, pop, classical and more…
– Work towards performances in some of the county’s top music venues
Join us for our next free virtual Come and Sing workshop on Thursday, 18 February, 10.00 – 12.00 via zoom.

Trending now….

Just Another Lockdown Festival

JMW Promotions have a free online festival coming this Saturday and Sunday (9th & 10th Jan.)

There’s a lot of names I don’t recognise, which is the best thing about festivals in general, but especially online; local artists without borders. In fact the only performer I have heard of is the brilliant Jess Silk, on Sunday.

Line up looks like this: Just Another Lockdown Festival

Saturday
1pm Sam Draisey
2pm Shotgun Marmalade
3pm Kyle Parsons
4pm BICKERmusic
5pm Harrison Rimmer
6pm Warren Ireland
7pm Brian Stone Music
8pm JollyRoger
9pm Davey Malone

Sunday
1pm ALEX CAVAN MUSIC
2pm michael webster
3pm Have A Go Hero
4pm Doozer McDooze
5pm Sam Tucker?
6pm Maelor Hughes
7pm Ellie Keegan
8pm Brad Dear
9pm Jess Silk

Tune in from the artists Facebook pages which can be found on the event page, or check them out on JMW Promotions or in JMW Promotions Community.

Jess Silk (Image credit: Olver Gray)

Best of luck to JMW and all artists for the weekender, there will be a PayPal bucket linked, please support the artists, you know the drill. I’ll defo be popping in as and when and hoping to hook up with some new talent defo. Might even don my festival jester’s hat, put my cider in a squashy cardboard cup and take a piss behind the sofa!


Latest Posts

Devizine in Lockdown, again.

Here’s our deal, as I see it given new lockdown restrictions.

We have an annual reach of approximately 50K, over 80% of which are local. Whatever Devizine can do to help you, we will, but you must let me know about what you’re doing and engaged in for me to promote it. I’m unable to spend every moment on social media sourcing your stories.

Advertise your business, school, charity, online event, FREE for lockdown duration. Just send me details. This is available for small local businesses and at the editor’s discretion. We can put adverts on all published articles. We can cover your activities in articles and features, and we will share these across social media.

If you are engaged in any supportive projects, notify me so we can spread the word.

If you’re in creative arts, music, art, sports, and fundraising, whether crowdfunding, help in promoting live streams, recordings, online exhibitions and any other projects, we can and will help.

Please consider, if you can, making a donation to help the site keep running and improving.This you can do at http://www.devizine.com/about

You can email devizine@hotmail.com or message the Facebook page, you can tweet @devizine1 – Together we can pull through this.

Here we go again.

Thanks, Darren.

Oh, an important note I forgot to add, thanks to the edit function here! Please, if I fail to respond to emails and messages, feel free to nudge me. Things do sometimes get missed and I’d dread you to think I’m ignoring you! I don’t view it as impolite to ask if I remembered to do this or that, ask the wife, I can be forgetful!! 🙂

Devizine’s Review of 2020; You Can’t Polish a Turd!

On Social and Political Matters……

For me the year can be summed up by one Tweet from the Eurosceptic MEP and creator of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage. A knob-jockey inspired into politics when Enoch Powell visited his private school, of which ignored pleas from an English teacher who wrote to the headmaster encouraging him to reconsider Farage’s appointed prefect position, as he displayed clear signs of fascism. The lovable patriot, conspiring, compulsive liar photographed marching with National Front leader Martin Webster in 1979, who strongly denies his fascist ethos despite guest-speaking at a right-wing populist conference in Germany, hosted by its leader, the granddaughter of Adolf Hitler’s fiancé; yeah, him.

He tweeted “Christmas is cancelled. Thank you, China.” It magically contains every element of the utter diabolical, infuriating and catastrophic year we’ve most likely ever seen; blind traditionalist propaganda, undeniable xenophobia, unrefuted misinformation, and oh yes, the subject is covid19 related.

And now the end is near, an isolated New Year’s Eve of a year democracy prevailed against common sense. The bigoted, conceited blue-blooded clown we picked to lead us up our crazy-paved path of economic self-annihilation has presented us with an EU deal so similar to the one some crazy old hag, once prime minster delivered to us two years back it’s uncanny, and highly amusing that Bojo the clown himself mocked and ridiculed it at the time. I’d wager it’s just the beginning.

You can’t write humour this horrifically real, the love child of Stephen King and Spike Milligan couldn’t.

Still, I will attempt to polish the turd and review the year, as it’s somewhat tradition here on Devizine. The mainstay of the piece, to highlight what we’ve done, covered and accomplished with our friendly website of local entertainment and news and events, yet to holistically interrelate current affairs is unavoidable.

We have even separated the monster paragraphs with an easier, monthly photo montage, for the hard of thinking.

January

You get the impression it has been no walk in the park, but minor are my complaints against what others have suffered. Convenient surely is the pandemic in an era brewing with potential mass hysteria, the need to control a population paramount. An orthornavirae strain of a respiratory contamination first reported as infecting chickens in the twenties in North Dakota, a snip at 10,400km away from China.

Decidedly bizarre then, an entire race could be blamed and no egg fried rice bought, as featured in Farage’s audacious Tweet, being it’s relatively simple to generate in a lab, inconclusively originated at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, rather spread from there, and debatably arrived via live bat or pangolin, mostly used in traditional Chinese medicine, a pseudoscience only the narrowminded minority in China trusts.

Ah, inconsistent pseudoscience, embellished, unfalsifiable claims, void of orderly practices when developing hypotheses and notably causing hoodwinked cohorts. Yet if we consider blaming an ethos, rather than a race, perhaps we could look closer to home for evidence of this trend of blind irrationality. Truth in Science, for example, an English bunch of Darwin-reputing deluded evangelicals who this year thought it’d be a grand and worthy idea to disguise their creationist agenda and pitch their preposterous pseudoscientific theory that homosexuality is a disease of the mind which can be cured with electro-shock treatment to alter the mind inline with the body’s gender, rather than change the body to suit the mind’s gender orientation, to schoolchildren!

Yep, these bible-bashing fruit-bats, one lower than flat earth theorists actually wrote to headmasters encouraging their homophobia to be spread to innocent minds, only to be picked up by a local headmaster of the LGBTQ community. Here’s an article on Devizine which never saw the light of day. Said that Truth in Science’s Facebook page is chockful with feedback of praise and appreciation, my comments seemed to instantly disappear, my messages to them unanswered. All I wanted was a fair-sided evaluation for an article, impossible if you zip up.

Justly, no one trusts me to paint an unbiased picture. This isn’t the Beeb, as I said in our 2017 annual review: The chances of impartiality here, equals the chances of Tories sticking to their manifesto. Rattling cages is fun, there’s no apologies I’m afraid, if I rattled yours, it just means you’re either mean or misguided.

Herein lies the issue, news travels so fast, we scroll through social media unable to digest and compose them to a greater picture, let alone muster any trust in what we read. I’m too comfortable to reside against the grain, everyone’s at it. I reserve my right to shamelessly side with the people rather than tax-avoiding multinationals and malevolent political barons; so now you know.

February

If you choose to support these twats that’s your own lookout, least someone should raise the alarm; you’d have thought ignoring World Health Organisation advise and not locking down your country until your mates made a packet on horseracing bets is systematic genocide and the government should be put on trial for this, combined with fraud and failure of duty. If not, ask why we’re the worst hit country in the world with this pandemic. Rather the current trend where the old blame the young, the young blame the old, the whites blame the blacks, the thin blame the fat, when none of us paid much attention to restrictions because they were delivered in a confused, nonsensical manner by those who don’t either, and mores to the pity, believe they’re above the calling of oppressive regulations.

If you choose to support these twats, you’re either a twat too, or trust what you read by those standing to profit from our desperation; ergo, twats. Theres no getting away from the fact you reep what you sow; and the harvest of 2020 was a colossal pile of twat.


Onto Devizine…. kind of.

For me what started as a local-based entertainment zine-like blog, changed into the only media I trust, cos I wrote the bollocks! But worser is the general obliteration of controversy, criticism and debate in other media. An argument lost by a conformer is shadowed behind a meme, or followed up with a witch hunt, a torrent of personal abuse and mockery, usually by inept grammar by a knuckle-dragging keyboard warrior with caps-lock stuck on; buy a fucking copy of the Oxford Guide to English Grammar or we’re all going to hell in a beautiful pale green boat.

We’re dangerously close to treating an Orwellian nightmare as a self-help guide, and despite fascists took a knockdown in the USA and common sense prevailed, the monster responded with a childish tantrum; what does this tell you? The simple fact, far right extremism is misled and selfish delinquency which history proves did no good to anyone, ever. Still the charade marches on, one guy finished a Facebook debate sharing a photo of his Boris “get Brexit done” tea-towel. I pondered when the idiot decided a photo of his tea towel would suffice to satisfy his opinion and convince others, before or after the wave of irony washed over his head in calling them Muppets.

I hate the term, it’s offensive. Offensive to Jim Henson’s creations; try snowflake or gammon, both judgemental sweeping generalisations but personally inoffensive to any individual, aside Peppa Pig. I wager you wander through Kent’s lorry park mocking the drivers and calling them snowflakes rather than tweeting; see how far you get.

So, the initial lockdown in March saw us bonded and dedicated, to the cause. We ice-skated through it, developed best methods to counteract the restrictions and still abide by them; it was kind of nice, peaceful and environmentally less impacting. But cracks in the ice developed under our feet, the idea covid19 was a flash in pan, akin to when Blitz sufferers asserted it’d all be over by Christmas, waned as we came to terms, we were in it for the duration.

Yet comparisons to WWII end there, lounging on the sofa for three months with Netflix and desperate peasants delivering essential foodstuff, like oysters, truffles and foie gras is hardly equivalent to the trench warfare of Normandy. Hypocritical is me, not only avoiding isolation as, like a nurse, my labour was temporarily clapped as key worker in March, I figured my site would only get hits if I wrote something about Covid19, and my ignorance to what the future resulted in clearly displayed in spoofy, ill-informed articles, Corona Virus and Devizine; Anyone got a Loo Roll? on the impending panic-buying inclination, and later, I Will Not Bleat About Coronavirus, Write it Out a Hundred Times…

The only thing I maintained in opinion to the subject, was that it should be light-hearted and amusing; fearing if we lose our sense of humour, all is lost. Am I wrong? Probably, it’s been a very serious year.

It was my first pandemic-related mention, hereafter nearly every article paid reference to it, no matter how disparate; it’s the tragedy which occupied the planet. But let’s go back, to oblivious January, when one could shake hands and knew where the pub was. Melksham got a splashpad, Devizes top councillors bleated it wasn’t fair, and they wanted a splashpad too. They planned ripping out the dilapidated brick shithouses on the Green and replacing it with a glorious splashpad, as if they cared about the youth of the town. I reported the feelings of grandeur, Splashpad, I’m all over it, Pal! A project long swept under the carpet, replaced with the delusion we’ll get an affordable railway station. As I said, convenient surely is the pandemic.

So many projects, so many previews of events, binned. Not realising at the time my usual listing, Half Term Worries Over; things to do with little ones during February half-term… would come to an abrupt halt. Many events previewed, the first being the Mayoral Fundraising Events, dates set for the Imberbus, and Chef Peter Vaughan & Indecision’s Alzheimer’s Support Chinese New Year celebration, to name but a few, I’m unaware if they survived or not.

March


On Music……

But it was the cold, early days of winter, when local concerns focused more on the tragic fire at Waiblingen Way. In conjunction with the incredible Liz Denbury, who worked tirelessly organising fundraising and ensuring donations of essentials went to the affected folk, we held a bash in commemoration and aid down that there Cellar Bar; remember?

It was in fact an idea by Daydream Runaways, who blew the low roof off the Cellar Bar at the finale. But variety was the order of the evening, with young pianist prodigy Will Foulstone kicking us off, opera with the amazing Chole Jordan, Irish folk with Mirko and Bran of the Celtic Roots Collective and the acoustic goodness of Ben Borrill. Thanks also has to go to the big man Mike Barham who set up the technical bits before heading off to a paid gig. At the time I vowed this will be the future of our events, smaller but more than the first birthday bash; never saw it coming, insert sad-face emoji.

We managed to host another gig, though, after lockdown when shopping was encouraged by In:Devizes, group Devizes Retailers and Independents, a assemblage of businesses set up to promote reopening of town. We rocked up in Brogans and used their garden to have a summer celebration. Mike set up again, and played this time, alongside the awesome Cath and Gouldy, aka, Sound Affects on their way to the Southgate, and Jamie R Hawkins accompanied Tamsin Quin with a breath-taking set. It was lovely to see friends on the local music scene, but it wasn’t the reopening for live music we anticipated.

Before all this live music was the backbone of Devizine, between Andy and myself we previewed Bradford Roots Music Festival, MantonFest, White Horse Opera’s Spring Concert, Neeld Hall’s Tribute to Eddie Cochran, and the return of Asa Murphy. We reviewed the Long Street Blues Club Weekender, Festival of Winter Ales, Chris O’Leary at Three Crowns, Jon Walsh, Phil Jinder Dewhurst, Mule and George Wilding at The White Bear, Skandal’s at Marlborough’s Lamb, and without forgetting the incredible weekly line-up at the Southgate; Jack Grace Band, Arnie Cottrell Tendency, Skedaddle, Navajo Dogs, Lewis Clark & The Essentials, King Street Turnaround, Celtic Roots Collective, Jamie, Tamsin, Phil, and Vince Bell.

The collection of Jamie R Hawkins, Tamsin Quin and Phil Cooper at the Gate was memorable, partly because they’re great, partly because, it was the last time we needed to refer to them as a collection (save for the time when Phil gave us the album, Revelation Games.) Such was the fate of live music for all, it was felt by their newly organised trio, The Lost Trades, whose debut gig came a week prior to lockdown, at the Pump, which our new writer Helen Robertson covered so nicely.

For me, the weekend before the doom and gloom consisted of a check-in at the Cavy, where the Day Breakers played, only to nip across to Devizes Sports Club, where the incredible Ruzz Guitar hosted a monster evening of blues, with his revue, Peter Gage, Innes Sibun and Jon Amor. It was a blowout, despite elbow greetings, I never figured it’d be the last.

It was a knee-jerk reaction which made me set up a virtual festival on the site. It was radical, but depleted due to my inability to keep up with an explosion of streamed events, where performers took to Facebook, YouTube sporadically, and other sites on a national scale, and far superior tech knowhow took over; alas there was Zoom. I was happy with this, and prompted streaming events such as Swindon’s “Static” Shuffle, and when PSG Choirs Showed Their True Lockdown Colours. Folk would message me, ask me how the virtual festival was going to work, and to be honest, I had no idea how to execute the idea, but it was worth a stab.

One thing which did change, musically, was we lowered our borders, being as the internet is outernational and local bands were now being watched by people from four corners of the world, Devizine began reviewing music sourced worldwide. Fair enough, innit?

The bleeding hearts of isolated artists and musicians, no gigs gave them time on their hands to produce some quality music, therefore our focus shifted to reviewing them, although we always did review records. Early local reviews of 2020 came from NerveEndings with the single Muddy Puddles, who later moved onto an album, For The People. Daydream Runaways’ live version of Light the Spark and Talk in Code’s Like That, who fantastically progressed through lockdown to a defining eighties electronica sound with later singles Taste the Sun and Secret.

We notified you of Sam Bishop’s crowdfunding for a quarantine song, One of a Kind, which was released and followed by Fallen Sky. Albums came too, we covered, Billy Green 3’s Still in January, and The Grated Hits of the Real Cheesemakers followed, With the former, later came a nugget of Billy Green’s past, revealing some lost demos of his nineties outfit, Still, evidently what the album was named after.

Whereas the sublime soul of Mayyadda from Minnesota was the first international artist featured this year, and from Shrewsbury, our review of Cosmic Rays’ album Hard to Destroy extended our presence elsewhere in the UK, I sworn to prioritise local music, with single reviews of Phil Cooper’s Without a Sound, TheTruzzy Boys’ debut Summertime, Courage (Leave it Behind), a new single from Talk in Code, and for Daydream Runaways’ single Gravity we gave them an extensive interview. This was followed by Crazy Stupid Love and compiled for an EP, Dreamlands, proving they’re a band continuously improving.

April

Probably the most diverse single around spring though was an epic drum n bass track produced right here in Devizes, featuring the vocals of Pewsey’s Cutsmith. Though while Falling by ReTone took us to new foundations, I ran a piece on the new blues sounds locally, as advised by Sheer Music’s Kieran Moore. Sheer, like all music promoters were, understandably, scrambling around in the dark for the beginnings of lockdown, streaming stuff. It wasn’t long before they became YouTube presenters! The Sheer podcast really is something special, in an era leaving local musicians as dry as Ghandi’s flip-flop, they present a show to make ‘em moist!

Spawned from this new blues article, one name which knocked me for six, prior to their YouTube adventures, was Devizes-own Joe Edwards. I figured now I was reviewing internationally; would it be fair to local musicians to suggest a favourite album of the year? However, Joe’s Keep on Running was always a hot contender from the start, and despite crashing the borders on what we will review, I believe it still is my favourite album of the year.

Other top local albums, many inspired from lockdown came flowing, perhaps the most sublime was Interval by Swindon’s reggae keyboardist virtuoso, Erin Bardwell. The prolific Bardwell later teamed with ex-Hotknive Dave Clifton for a project called Man on the Bridge.

Perhaps the most spacey, Devizes’ Cracked Machine’s third outing, Gates of Keras. Top local singles? Well, George Wilding never let us down with Postcard, from a Motorway, and after lockdown reappeared with his band Wilding, for Falling Dreams and later with a solo single, You Do You. Jon Amor was cooking with Peppercorn, which later led to a great if unexpected album, Remote Control.

There was a momentary lapse of reason, that live streaming was the musical staple diet of the now, when Mr Amor climbed out onto his roof to perform, like an ageless fifth Beatle. Blooming marvellous.

Growing up fast, Swindon’s pop singer Lottie J blasted out a modern pop classic with Cold Water, and no one could ignore Kirsty Clinch’s atmospheric country-pop goodness with Fit the Shoe.

Maybe though it wasn’t the ones recorded before, but our musicians on the live circuit coming out with singles to give them some pocket money, which was the best news. I suggest you take note of Ben Borrill’s Takes A Little Time, for example.

I made new friends through music, reviewing so many singles and EPs; Bath’s Long Coats, and JAY’s Sunset Remedy. Swindon’s composer Richard Wileman, guitarist Ryan Webb, and unforgettable Paul Lappin, who, after a couple of singles would later release the amazing acoustic Britpop album The Boy Who Wanted to Fly. Dirty and Smooth and Atari Pilot too, the latter gave us to cool singles, Right Crew, Wrong Captain, and later, Blank Pages. To Calne for End of Story and Chris Tweedie, and over the downs to Marlborough with Jon Veale’s Flick the Switch. I even discovered Hew Miller, a hidden gem in our own town.

May

But we geographically go so much further these days, even if not physically much more than taking the bins out. Outside our sphere we covered Essex’s Mr B & The Wolf, Limerick’s Emma Langford, London’s Gecko, and from the US, Shuffle & Bang, and Jim White. Johnny Lloyd, Skates & Wagons, My Darling Clementine, Micko and the Mellotronics, Typhoidmary, Frank Turner and Jon Snodgrass, Mango Thomas, Beans on Toast, Tankus the Henge; long may the list continue.

Bombino though, the tuareggae artist really impressed me, but I don’t like to pick a favourite, rather to push us onto another angle. I began reviewing stuff sent via my Boot Boy radio show, and covered a ska scene blossoming in South America. But as well as Neville Staple Band’s single Lockdown, The Bighead, the Bionic Rats, and Hugo Lobo teaming up with Lynval Golding and Val Douglas, we found reggae in Switzerland through Fruits Records, the awesome Cosmic Shuffling and progressive 808 Delavega.

So much music, is it going on a bit? Okay I’ll change the record, if you pardon the pun, but not until I’ve mentioned The Instrumental Sounds Of Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue, naturally, Sound Affects’ album Ley Lines, Tunnel Rat refurbing their studio, and Bristol’s freshest new hip hop act The Scribes. Ah, pause for breath.

Oh, and outside too, we did get a breather from lockdown and tiers, all Jamies for me, Mr R Hawkins was my first outing at the Gate and followed by Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective. Sad to have missed Two Man Ting and when The Big Yellow Bus Rocked the Gazebo, but hey, I thought we were out of the deep water.

June

Splashed straight back in again; “tiers” this time, sounds nicer than lockdown. Who knows what 2021 will bring, a vaccine, two vaccines, a mesh of both despite being ill-advised by experts? Just jab me, bitch, taxi me to the nearest gig, if venues still exist, by spring and I’ll shut up about it.


On Arts…..

Bugger, I’m going to need Google maps to find my local boozer. But yeah, they, whoever they are, think we’re all about music, but we cover anything arts and entertainment, you know? We previewed Andy Hamilton coming to Swindon’s Wyvern, Josie Long coming to Bath, The Return of the Wharf Theatre, and the county library tours of Truth Sluth: Epistemological Investigations for the Modern Age. Surely the best bit was being sent a private viewing of a new movie, Onus, by the Swindon filmmakers who gave us Follow the Crows.

I shared poems by Gail Foster, and reviewed her book Blossom. Desperate for subject matter I rewrote a short story Dizzy Heights. I featured artists Bryony Cox and Alan Watters, both selling their wares for the NHS, Ros Hewitt’s Glass Art open studio, Small Wonders Art Auction in aid of Arts Together and Asa Murphy published a children’s book, The Monkey with no Bum! I dunno, don’t ask.

July


On Food…

Despite my Oliver Twist pleads, we never get enough on the subject of grub. January saw us preview Peter Vaughan’s Chinese New Year dinner party in aid of Alzheimer’s Support and with music from Indecision, we covered DOCA’s Festival of Winter Ales, and looked forward to the Muck & Dunder’s Born 2 Rum festival, which was cancelled.

From here the dining experience reverted to takeaways, and I gave Sujay’s Jerk Pan Kitchen at big shout, and thought it best to wait until things reopened before singing Massimos’ praise, but I guess for now I should mention their awesome takeaway service next.

The Gourmet Brownie Kitchen supplied my welcomed Father’s Day gift, even nipped over to Swindon, in search of their best breakfast at the Butcher’s cafe, and recently I featured vegan blogger, Jill. Still though I need more food articles, as restaurants should take note, they’re extremely popular posts. Sadly, our while self-explanatory article, “We Cannot Let our Young People go Hungry; those locally rallying the call to #endchildfoodpoverty,” did quite well, at third most popular, the earlier “Eat Out to Help Out, Locally, Independently,” was our highest hitting of all; giving a sombre redefining of the term, dying to go out.

Back to my point though, food articles do so well, I’m not just after a free lunch, or maybe I am. But here, look, the fourth most popular article this year was our review of New Society, which was actually from 2019. Does lead us on nicely to the touchy subject of stats this year.

August


On Stats, Spoofs and the Future….

As well as an opportunity to review what we’ve done over the past year and to slag off the government, I also see this rather lengthy article which no one reads till the end of, a kind of AGM. It should be no surprise or disappointment, being this is a what’s-on guide, and being nothing was actually on, our stats failed to achieve what we hit in 2019. Though, it is with good news I report we did much better than 2018, and in the last couple of months hits have given me over the stats I predicted. Devizine is still out there, still a thing; just don’t hug it, for fuck’s sake.

I did, sometime ago, have a meeting with the publishers of Life In, RedPin. You may’ve seen Life in Devizes or various other local town names. The idea to put Devizine into print is something I’ve toyed with, but as it stands it seems unlikely. My pitch was terrible, my funds worse. If I did this it would cease to be a hobby and become a fulltime business, I’d need contributors, a sales department, I’d need an expert or ten, skills and a budget for five issues ahead of myself, and I tick none of those boxes. A risk too risky, I guess that’s why they call a risk a risk, watching the brilliant Ocelot reduced to online, publications suffer, the local newspaper house scrambling for news and desperately coming up with national clickbait gobbledygook, I know now is not the time to lick slices of tree with my wares.

So, for the near future I predict trickling along as ever. Other than irrational bursts of enthusiasm that this pandemic is coming to an end, I’ve given in updating our event calendar until such really happens. And it will, every clown has a silver lifeboat, or something like that.

September

Most popular articles then, as I said, desperation to return to normal is not just me, “Eat Out to Help Out, Locally, Independently,” was our highest hitting of all, whereas “We Cannot Let our Young People go Hungry; those locally rallying the call to #endchildfoodpoverty,” came in third. Nestled between two foodie articles our April Fools spoof came second. As much as it nags me, I have to hold up my hands and thank Danny Kruger for being a good sport. He shared our joke, Boris to Replace Danny Kruger as Devizes MP.

We do love a spoof though, and given a lack of events, I had time to rattle some off, A Pictorial Guide to Those Exempt from Wearing a Facemask, Guide to Local Facebook Groups pt1 (never followed up) The Tiers of a Clown, Sign the Seagull Survey, Bob! and Danny featuring again in The Ladies Shout as I go by, oh Danny, Where’s Your Facemask?! all being as popular as my two-part return of the once celebrated No Surprises columns, No Surprises Locked Down in Devizes.

Perhaps not so popular spoofs were The World’s Most Famous Fences! and Worst Pop Crimes of the Mid-Eighties! But what the hell, I enjoyed writing them. 


On Other News and Miscellaneous Articles……

I was right though, articles about lockdown or how we’re coping were gratefully received, and during this time, a needed assurance we weren’t becoming manically depressed or found a new definition of bored. Devizes together in Lockdown, After the Lock Down, Wiltshire is not Due a second Lockdown, the obvious but rather than bleating on the subject, how we celebrated VE Day in Devizes & Rowde, the Devizes Scooter Club auctioning their rally banner for the NHS, Town Council raising £750 to support the Devizes Mayor’s Charities, DOCA Announce Next Year’s Carnival & Street Festival Dates, DOCA’s Window Wanderland, and a Drive-In Harvest Festival! to boot. Town Council making Marlborough High Street a safer place, all came alongside great hope things would change, and pestering why not: The State of the Thing: Post Lockdown Devizine and How We Can Help, Open Music Venues, or Do They Hate Art? Opinion: House Party Organiser in Devizes Issued with £10,000 Fine.

 If Who Remembers our First Birthday Bash? Saw me reminiscing, I went back further when raves begun to hit the news. Covered it with Opinion: The End and Reawakening of Rave, and asked old skool ravers Would you Rave Through Covid? But we also highlighted others not adhering to restrictions With Rule of Six and Effects on Local Hunting and Blood Sports, it was nice to chat with Wiltshire Hunt Sabs.

October

Controversy always attracts a crowd, but couldn’t help myself highlighting misdoings. From internet scams, like The Artist Melinda Copyright Scam, tolocal trouble, Rowde Villagers Rally in Support of Residential Centre Facility, for instance, Sheer Music’s MVT Open Letter to Government, Help Pewsey Mum on her Campaign to free her Children from Abduction, important stuff like that. We try to help where we can, honest.

Most controversial though, me thinks, was our poor attempt at coverage of the international BLM issue. I’ve been waffling enough already to get into how I feel personally; been writing this “summary” for what feels like eons, time to shut up and advise you read these articles yourself, because no matter how you fair on the argument, xenophobia affects us all, even in the sticks. We therefore had a chat with BLM in the Stix and did a three-part look at the issue, the third part a conclusion and the middle bit, well, that came in light of Urchfont Parish Council turning down a youth art display; what a pompous notion highlighting the issue on a local level.

But campaigns and fundraising came in thick and fast, despite nought cash in anyone’s pockets to follow them up. I understand, but we featured Go Operation Teddy Bear, Devizes Wide Community Yard Sale, Hero Wayne Cherry Back in Action! Lucie’s Haircut Fundraiser for the Little Princess Trust, Crusader Vouchers, Julia’s House Gameathon, Devizes for Europe launching “Say #YES2ARealDeal” campaign, and of course, our superheroine Carmella’s ongoing campaigns.

November