Does Wiltshire Council’s Climate Strategy Lack Ambition and Commitment?

A month after Wiltshire Council’s Climate Strategy was criticised by the Wiltshire Climate Alliance for lacking “ambition and commitment to achieving its goal of seeking to make Wiltshire carbon neutral by 2030,” I’m horrified, yet not surprised to see social media pages still maintaining climate change is a hoax, when I thought all was pretty much conclusive, and a majority, aside political opinion, accepted that climate change is real, and is happening.

I was checking out a Facebook page called “Climate Change is a Hoax,” because, for the same reason I occasionally click on the fascist GB News site, I enjoy deliberately annoying myself with the stupidity of far-right illogic! With a laughable forty-one “likes,” it hardly carries much clout, neither many of its shared articles remained live after factchecking algorithms stripped them bare. But one YouTube video by Canadian conspiracy theorists, The Climate Discussion Nexus does give sensible argument against climate change, just when I tarnished them with the same brush as flat-earth theorists.

The content of the video portrays Michael Mann akin to a narcissistic nerdy schoolkid, who assumes his homework is superior to everyone else’s, simply because he did it, and claims other researcher’s papers have been poo-pooed by the IPCC in favour for Mann’s. While I shrug, the United Nations owns the IPCC, and is an intergovernmental body, it’s not completely impossible climate change has been exaggerated for this supposed purpose of “controlling the masses,” or for any other bizarre reasoning they invent, I have to question, what if they are wrong? Furthermore, quotes from the “about” section of the Facebook page such as “don’t let the globalists and socialists destroy our lives,” is so chockful of falsehoods and propaganda I don’t know where to begin. Least not when the majority of the world today seems to politically side on the right, who commonly seem to debunk climate change, and so-called globalists and socialists are not in power anyway. Hence the reason the world spins on its axis and nothing much appears to get done to tackle the issue.

Come in, let’s squabble, oh, apologies, just step over that cataclysmic natural disaster someone left out asking to be tripped over, there’s a good fellow.

So, what if either side of the argument is wrong? If those who believe in climate change are wrong, we’ve been duped and possibly even burdened by a bunch of passive reformist lefties, which sounds far better than previous historic oppressing by purists and conservative philosophies, which always seems to result in bloodthirsty wars. So, we dust ourselves off, mix plastics with household waste again, break out our diesel Chelsea tractors and drive to the abattoir for steak pie.

However, if those who believe climate change is a hoax are wrong, we’ve either caused the extinction of all life on earth, including ourselves, or least ignored the chance to slow or prevent it from happening. Seriously, you have to ask yourself which possible outcome you’d prefer. Personally, I’m thinking being oppressed by lefties, which equates to eating lentils and maybe listening to Buffalo Springfield, then allowing everyone to die in catastrophic disasters, is the better option of the two, but hey, that’s just me.

Therefore, it goes without saying, on a local level, I’m keen to hear what climate change specialists think of our county council’s climate strategy, being they’ve a majority conservative seating, and by my reckoning, seems while not every conservative is a climate change denier, all climate change deniers seem to have a conservative ethos. Suspicious some lurk in Bythesea Road, I asked the Wiltshire Climate Alliance, who formed from a meeting of over twenty interest groups from across Wiltshire a year after the moment Wiltshire Council acknowledged that there was a climate emergency and set themselves a target to make Wiltshire carbon neutral by 2030. Which was in 2019, even though a seminal paper by Swedish scientist, Svante Arrhenius first predicted changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and noted they could substantially alter the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect, in 1896, you know, these things take time.

Wiltshire Climate Alliance (WCA) welcomes the fact that Wiltshire Council is developing a Climate Strategy but laments its lack of ambition and commitment to achieving its goal of seeking to make Wiltshire carbon neutral by 2030. Bill Jarvis of WCA’s Steering Group described it as, “recognising that major changes are needed but lacking any commitment or timescale for reducing emissions outside of the Council’s own operations,” adding that “there is little sense of the urgency needed for taking action, and a dependency on future plans and policies that may take us in the opposite direction.”

And there was me thinking they didn’t bother trimming the hedgerows of the A361 because of “reforestation,” our minute contribution to a worldwide area the size of China which needs to be restored to forest before it having much effect. The WCA continue, about the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, predicting the world is likely to exceed 2C between the early 2040s and 50s, and while UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “the alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable,” The WCA extends this locally by saying, “this renewed urgency doesn’t come across in Wiltshire Council’s Strategy, which speaks of ‘exploring’ and ‘investigating’ the kinds of policies and actions that should by now be in place and well underway.”

The Tyndall Centre calculated, in 2019, that “with no change to current emissions Wiltshire would use up all its budget [to 2050] within seven years.” Ergo, I have to agree, if it seems there will be no significant change to policy or action for at least another two years, where is there any sense of urgency? Apply this ludicrous lucidity to a did I leave the kettle on moment, and your house is potentially toast, my friend.

‘Future delivery plans’ are the order of the Council, yet the WCA explain, “stabilising the climate requires rapid, deep and sustained emissions reductions. It is particularly concerning that the Strategy provides no detail of how its objectives will be delivered.”

They worry Wiltshire Council’s decarbonisation objectives will be no more than a ‘wish list’ in the Local Plan, Local Transport Plan and other plans, most of which have completely contrary objectives and will not be in place for at least two years. WCA would like to see the Strategy go further, and recommend a moratorium on implementing climate destructive, high emission plans and policies until such time as detailed carbon reduction delivery plans have been adopted, and it has set out its concerns.

Wiltshire Climate Alliance is keen to continue to support Wiltshire Council and its councillors in taking the urgent action that is now required. “The solutions are clear,” they say, “achievable and a large number are touched on in this document. However, they require political will to make them happen. There is limited need for more evidence gathering, investigations and assessments. But there is an urgent need for more ambition and immediate action in areas in which others are already showing leadership.”

Okay look, I’m no tree hugger, love a bacon butty, and, I’m willing to admit, my presumptions climate change deniers lurk at county hall is a scare story evolved from the content of worldwide keyboard warriors, adamant on spreading myths. But it is exasperating, becoming tiresome, and dreadfully perilous to assume they’ve no influence at any level of politics. Here’s hoping the WCA can urge Wiltshire’s residents and its elected representatives to join in demanding better, as the steering group say, “climate denial must not be replaced by delaying climate action.”

Their website is here, Facebook page here, there’s a petition; Wiltshire Council should make Carbon Reduction a top priority in every Council decision, a Facebook discussion group too, and a demonstration this Tuesday (19th October) at Trowbridge Civic Centre.


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George Floyd Statue, Defaced, Because, of Course, That’s the First Time Anyone Made a Statue of Someone Who Committed a Crime…..?!

The media reports the bust statue of George Floyd in New York has been vandalised for a second time since its erection, and eager after a day of downtime, keyboard warriors take to Facebook careful not to expose their hypocrisy and racism, with comments along the lines of “they build statues of criminals now, whatever next?!” Because, of course, that’s the first time anyone made a statue of someone who committed a crime. Really? Wind your neck in.

True George Floyd had some petty convictions, but I wonder if he was involved with the Royal African Company, and transported over 84,000 Africans to the Americas, of whom 19,000 died on the journey, and in turn, if they said the same when Edward Colston’s statue was torn down in Bristol.

One man’s martyr can be another’s terrorist, one man’s revolutionary is another’s extremist, consequently thousands of statues are controversially questionable, and historically suffered damaging attacks against them. Though President Trump lapped up his brutal methods of dealing with terrorists, we all recall Firdos Square’s Saddam Hussain’s statue coming down, and no one in the western world battered an eyelid, because he was the baddie of the moment, weapons of mass destruction, or not, or whatever, America, fuck yeah! In fact, just like Lenin’s statutes being brought down across Ukraine in 2014, conservative thinkers saw it as symbolic, and celebrated. Yet when the emphasis is on statues of Confederates and slaveholders, the tables were turned and knickers get in a twist. Stone Mountain depicts leaders of the Confederacy, how far should we take this?

I’ve always loved Westminster Bridge’s Boudiccan Rebellion statue, and I’d probably been rooting for her revolt against Roman rule, but if I were a Roman, I’d probably be slightly narked by it, being her army showed no mercy when brutally razing London, Colchester and St Albans, slaying 70,000 Romans. Similarly, if I was Fatty Fudge, (which isn’t so far from the truth as it may sound) I’d be offended by Minnie Minx’s statue in Dundee.

Despite his passive hippy perception, it’s reported John Lennon was violent, he kicked a fan in the face when he tried to jump the stage. It’s common knowledge he almost beat Bob Wooler the deejay at the Cavern Club to death at Paul McCartney’s 21st birthday party; imagine, still, they made a statue of him.

Mount Rushmore was built on seized land, and designed by a sculptor who allegedly had ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Statues are never impartial, they commemorate a person trapped in time, but our response to them isn’t, it moves with current popular opinion and attitudes. Our feelings towards a statute depends on who they were, what they did, who erected them, and in turn, who pulls them down.

Tokyo’s Yakusuni Shrine was established to “commemorate and honour the achievement of those who dedicated their precious lives for their country.” Included among the names inscribed inside the shrine there’s reported at least fourteen known criminals. The architects of Japan’s alliance with Germany and Italy during World War II are on there, there’s a general directly responsible for the attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbour, and another who ordered a battle that resulted in a massacre that killed 200,000 civilians in 1937.

“Anti-doggers” had a whole different meaning in 1906 London, they were hordes of rioting medical students, condoners of vivisection who police held back from destroying Battersea’s Brown Dog statue, erected to memorialize the infamous brown dog and the many other sacrificed animals. In the end the protests were too much and Battersea Council removed it under cover of darkness.

In reverse to the vandalism of the George Floyd statue, the Haymarket statues commemorating of the “robust policeman, in his countenance frank, kind, and resolute,” who were bombed by a raging mob in Illinois in 1886 was frequently damaged and marred by both bombs and even a streetcar rammed it. The reason? The bomb was thrown in retaliation to a previous protest in Chicago where, feeling threatened by the crowd, the policemen in question fired into it, killing six people.

And there’s my point, through the acquirement of all the facts over time, judgements will change, and justifications for tearing down a statue, or not, differ. For the people of Bristol of largely of Afro-Caribbean origin to have to walk past a statue of someone who factually oppressed, flogged and murdered their forefathers, overlooking them as a constant reminder of the horrors of our colonial past, every day, is prejudicial, and their peaceful campaign to have it removed was ignored for decades.

Boris Johnson said tearing down statues amounts to “lying about our history” and that it is “absurd and shameful.” Yet the Colston statue is a lie, a monumental historic fib, symbolic of the cover-up and deception of an unashamed industry, and to want to keep it absurd and shameful. But this all-seeing eye, a permanent fixture of an ancient bastard staring down at them from its plinth is a testament to racism, and that is a whole different ballpark from a simple bust of victim of police brutality over in the USA, which is vandalised while his body is still warm, while the movement is still in swing and youth of the era are still inspired by the occurrence.

If in a hundred- and twenty-seven-years attitudes have changed, or further facts about Floyd have been uncovered, and it seems justified to tear it down, so be it, but at least wait for time to heal the wounds of those effected by the movement.

Some Reasons Why I Enjoyed Jesus Christ Superstar at The Wharf

One reason why I enjoyed Jesus Christ Superstar at Devizes Wharf Theatre yesterday evening, is similar to why I like sci-fi and fantasy genres.

No, hear me out, long winded it maybe, but there’s a point! With sci-fi you can take an earth-bound concept, and moving it from its usual perimeters, see it for what it truly is, without being predetermined via propaganda or personal opinion. Example; racism. Take a green coloured race of aliens fighting with a blue race, and from outside looking in you can see how completely meaningless and rash it is.

Jesus Christ Superstar throws out preconceptions of this renowned Easter story, bought about by biblical re-enactments and more commonly accepted adaptions. In essence, it’s a rock opera, opera is tragedy, and rock music is modernised, least it was when Tim Rice and Andrew Llyod Webber created it.

I often wonder what it was like for Michael Jackson, in the limo to the show, mobbed by obsessive devotees throwing themselves unashamedly at him. In a way, the tragic desolation and isolation of fame is more the subject in question, rather than the biblical Easter story. Just like our sci-fi scenario, it never suggests a religious connection, never states definitively that Jesus is the son of God. It takes the story out of the usual context and reconnects the dots.

The set is deliberately void, mostly of black backdrop, and props are minimal. Rather than a school play’s amateurishly painted scene, the darkness leaves the setting to your imagination. While Nazareth and Rome are mentioned, there’s no depiction of it. The concentration is flowed into the characters and music. For Jesus here is unlike another representation; in fact, I’d argue Brian from Monty Python’s “Life of” is closer! Played convincingly by Jordan Overton, if this was intentional, I found Jesus actually quite irritating. Far from blasphemous given the circumstances, for here he’s unforgiving, frustrated at the mounting iconic hysteria surrounding him. Probably more likely how it would be, especially in the modern era.

If Jordan made a grand job of it, more so did the surrounding characters, for Judas is Jerry if Jesus is Tom, the tension between the two the narrative. Arguably Peter Assirati’s performance is passionately executed greater, the focus on his despair is equal pegging, as Judas feels overexposure will be Jesus’s ruin. Like washed up rock stars or actors in the modern era, we know from tragedies like Marylin Monroe, to Whitney and Kurt Cobain, the feeling is real. In a way then, the lines between protagonist and antagonist are blurred, another reason why I liked this piece of musical theatre.

More general is the third reason; the Wharf is such a splendid asset to Devizes. This historic shoebox theatre central to town is so welcoming, if the doormat was curled at the edge staff would lie over it so you don’t trip. Chat in the auditorium is not of condescending theatre-goers and thespians, rather an almost family ambience with an age demographic to match. As with most venues, lockdown flogged this theatre, kicking it while it was down. Those who can, bearing in mind ticket stubs here are far more reasonably priced than city playhouses, are dutybound to help it to its feet. I witnessed said devotion firmly in place already, as Jesus Christ Superstar plays to a full house.

The fourth reason I enjoyed it is simply the surprise element. I went in critical, didn’t expect to actually like it, given the theme tune’s school playground variant of yore, set to ridicule it with Yamahas and dustbin lids, was wedged in my mind. Anyone younger will have to ask Alexa about this; I’ve exposed my age enough already!

I tip my hat to the performances of additional characters, Pete Winterton casted perfectly for the seventies-fashioned game show host version of Herod, breathing one humorous element to the tragedy, at least! Francis Holmes as Caiaphas made for the textbook managerial role and convincingly bellowed his solo with professionalism.

Emma Holmes and Chris Smith’s recitals of Simon and Peter, respectively, being especially poignant. None so much though as Mary Magdalene, played by Cassy Swann, who, with her astute expressions of woe and loyalty, her superior voice commanded the stage above all else. In this, full credit has also to be awarded to Victoria Warren, music director, and the band, Jennifer Cardno, Bob Ball, Claire Borovac and John Joy, for limited to a four-piece, amalgamated the show to epic and euphoric proportions.

You should note, if you go see this, at the time, amidst the hullabaloo surrounding its controversial subject, it took the best part of decade to alter from rock opera album to the stage in London, and only because of its success in the USA. True music fans will recognise this more as an album of music than a play, ergo the dynamics of elaborate stage effects are deliberately stripped back, the opening of Jesus Christ Superstar rightfully displays the band playing the overture prior to actors taking their stance. But go see it you should; decide quick and seize a ticket post haste. It’s only running at the Wharf Theatre until this Saturday, the 18th September, and last time I checked, tickets are up for grabs weekdays, Saturday is sold out.

Please buy our compilation album of local music, all proceeds go to Julia’s House, thank you!
WIN 2 tickets to Gary in Punderland @ Devizes Corn Exchange by clicking on the poster!

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Devizes Street Festival; Black Rat Monday Lives on….

There are two giant kangaroos hopping through Long Street in Devizes, one bantering to a passer-by in a mock-Aussie accent, “no, I’m not into bondage, you can’t tie me down, sport!”

Meanwhile a gypsy woman riding a quad-cycle with a double bass attached follows a dapper man in top hat and tails, playing a piano on wheels, adorned with flowery ornaments and mirrors, past the Nationwide on Maryport Street. This isn’t your archetypal afternoon in town, this is a scattered post-lockdown version of DOCA’s beloved Devizes Street Festival, and while this isn’t going to be quite as simple for me to angle this time around, it is, unarguably, something fantastic.

With the main stage outside the Corn Exchange missing this year, there was no centrepiece binding the annual event together, therefore from the outside looking in, one could perceive it being all rather mishmash. I feel this was intentional, to avoid crowding, and a wise move considering the circumstances. The crucial point is, the magic was still there, for all ages; side stalls, street food, fairground rides, static and wandering circus acts and street theatre all played as colourful and lively part of the street festival as it ever did, it was just dispersed around the town centre.

If the lack of live music was a shame this time around, least it drew attention to side attractions. I’ve a particular penchant for the offbeat street theatre, fondly reminding me of sunny Glastonbury festivals of yore. It is, then, precisely this, and the variety of side attractions, especially catering for children which spells out to me, this is so much more than the perceived monumental piss-up locals dub, “Black Rat Monday,” with its monocultured ethos of cider-swigging debauchery.

However, and this is a big however, if DOCA wishes to cast off this label, that is it’s prerogative to do so, but they should note the nickname is not to be taken seriously, it is all part of a running joke in true west country fashion, an inward banter of ironic overstatement. Folk know it’s more than the sum of downing as much cider as they can, that’s the joke. Backside of the coin, though, a large part of the community does want exactly that. Far from loutish behaviour, the spirit of eat, drink and be merry is imbedded in our history.

But, as of yet, there’s no indication DOCA wish to cast the namesake off, being despite informing The British Lion, after their mainstay position serving the apple poison about-centre for a mere couple of decades, that their presence is no longer required, they themselves sold Black Rat cider solely other than Pimm’s, at their own bar. I sigh at this, considered titling this piece, “a shame,” but supposed later, DOCA’s overheads must be ginormous, laying such a memorable and legendary event on for free, scraping a tad back from sales of said cider plays a small part and the need to do this is understandable.

I’m impartial on this one, not here to cast accusations or play a blame game, taking on board, and agreeing with much of the hearsay and rumours revolving through the natives, though. Local politics isn’t my bag, if there’s monopolising tactics at the root of this, I think that’s unfair and certainly not in the community spirit of the event, at all.

And there it lies, in a word; community. Keep the “international” in the title, by all means, I, and I believe I speak for most of us when I say bringing the worldwide stage to our doorsteps with a plethora of top world music acts is a wonderful idea and we love DOCA for it, but this doubles-up, and always did, as a festival for the community. DOCA abide by this with plentiful locally sourced side attractions, but personally I think we need to honour local talent too.

I’d welcome artistic director Loz to give me a bell come the time for booking acts, and be it from my own personal judgement or a Facebook poll, ask me to name two local acts who deserve to be on the main stage billing. And at least two do, those who’ve excelled through these challenging times and take a little piece of Devizes with them around the country. If it’s a mouthful to call it, “the Devizes International Community Street Festival,” then just “Devizes Street Festival” will suffice.

Of course, DOCA did take heed, and allowed a secondary local music stage in 2019, of which Pete and Jackie of Vinyl Realm completely funded and organised. This was something beautiful, and became a key feature of the street festival that year. But no matter how large this goes, it will always feel like a bolt-on, when what I’d really appreciate is the pick of local talent up on that main stage.

There, said my piece, and don’t wish to end on a sour note, not that it was, just constructive criticism. Children are trampolining in Sidmouth Street, while a couple of, what can only be described as “rock n roll slappers” entice passers-by to peak into their ‘peepshow’ wooden box at the other end. Limbo dancers outside the town hall, with a man rolling around inside an oversized metal hull-a-hoop, and a giant exoskeleton puppet wanders down the Brittox, stopping to sniff the hanging baskets. How can I possibly be critical about any of this? Rising against the challenges, DOCA made an absolutely fantastic show of colour, curiosity and entertainment, amidst vibrant atmosphere, this is a town-wide show unlike any other and should never be taken for granted.

I tip my hat to DOCA as a samba band play by the Market Place cross, but I feel impelled to check out the British Lion, all things considered, and that lengthy beer garden sure is alive with punters, those loyal to the Black Rat. Tom Harris, Pat Ward, Claire et all, play unplugged as a barbeque for Dorothy House sizzles and friends gather to mark their appreciation of “the British.” And that is the true meaning of “community,” it doesn’t need props and extravagant shows, it just takes hospitality and compromise.

That said I’m pleased to see those trampolines, extending the street festival out from the Market Place, as it’s a stone throw from the welcoming pub, and combined it into the event rather than making it feel out on a limb, and for that, for the whole bank holiday weekend, what with Full Tone frenzy too, Devizes is truly great, when it works together. The British Lion is an institution here in the ‘Vizes, the reliably stable free house has stood the test of time with little need to fix its unbroken charm. This is the only regular gig on their calendar which sees them gallivanting from their bar and making an appearance in the Market Place, something which has become equally as traditional as the event itself. It is a shame not to have them present this year. Competition is healthily, remember, a range of breweries can compromise and find a solution, of that, I’m certain, and look forward to the possibility it will be so in future years.


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REVIEW – Creedence Clearwater Review – Long Street Blues Club – Saturday 18th September 2021

Up Around The Blues Club By Andy Fawthrop Well, it’d been a long old time but finally – finally! – we were back after 18 months to Long Street Blues Club, hosted by The Con Club.  The original artists for this gig had been the USA-based Billy Walton Band but, once one or two other … Continue reading “REVIEW – Creedence Clearwater Review – Long Street Blues Club – Saturday 18th September 2021”

REVIEW: Strakers’ Devizes Comedy – Corn Exchange – Friday 17th September 2021

You’ve Got To Laugh by Andy Fawthrop It really feels as if the old times are back with the very welcome return of Strakers’ Comedy Night at the Corn Exchange.  A fairly packed audience of about 200, with long early queues at the bar, settled down for something we all needed – a great night … Continue reading “REVIEW: Strakers’ Devizes Comedy – Corn Exchange – Friday 17th September 2021”

Is Devizes Ready for The Full-Tone Festival?!

Amidst the controversial decision by Emily Eavis to headline Jay-Z at Glastonbury Festival in 2008, in which included Noel Gallagher throwing his toys from his pram, while UK press went on a bender about an imagined ethos of exactly what Glasto is, and what it should be presenting, I read an American article hitting back with the headline “is Glastonbury big enough for Jay Z?”

One has to ponder if the author who penned such piffle in retaliation had ever seen Glastonbury, let alone been, and had any inkling what it means to so many people. On this basis I thought of, but then rejected, this headline to be “is Devizes big enough for the Full-Tone Orchestra?!”

Organiser and better half of the composer, Jemma Brown tells me the capacity of the Green is 3,000 but next weekend’s (28th-29th August) event is restricted to half, “so everyone feels safe.” But, it’s not a question of “is Devizes big enough for the Full-Tone Orchestra,” rather our fortunate premise, the Full-Tone Orchestra is now a part of Devizes, no less than the brewery or canal. They’ve ventured to other local towns, Marlborough College, Swindon’s Wyvern, to present their eclectic genre orchestra, but Devizes is home sweet home, and 95% of shows have been based here.

Here’s the biting point, and something I’ve come to understand better, staging such an event like this is not pocket money. Yes, Full-Tone successfully crowdfunded to put on a free show in the Market Place in 2019, but this is not an avenue any event organiser can slog and expect to come up trumps each time.

For an entertainment package as stupendous as Full-Tone to be in our humble dwelling, it needs and deserves our support, and while a majority will tell you so on the street, ears to the ground unearth some rather inexcusable and inappropriate notions. Firstly, you cannot expect anyone to provide you a free show annually, just because they did once before, and secondly, it’s an “erm,” to the idea Full-Tone is some kind of commercial enterprise gaining only to profit. “It’s just not why we’re doing it,” Jemma pledges, “we’re doing it to bring an orchestra into the centre of Devizes and for the love of all things music!”

At this conjunction, just one weekend away from the show, you have to ask yourself, would the same level of display as 2019’s Market Place not become tiresomely samey after a while? Full-Tone wish to expand on the experience, to progress and make it better. “The sound and lighting will be fabulous and to do that we have to pay good dollar!” Jemma tells me, and to do such, ticket sales is the only option.

Phew, glad I got that off my chest! Can we all be friends again? Anyone putting on any event right now needs our backing and deserves a medal, in my honest opinion. Anyone organising an event must worry it’s either going to go two ways, overloaded with a cabin-fevered raging mob or fail to impress enough to drag apprehensive troops out from their lockdown shelters, as if the hospitality industry isn’t it in enough deep water. My chat with Jemma today went onto me mentioning a time I was juggling the attention of three gigs in Devizes in one night; a time we took live music for granted, and looking back now, well, you go figure.

Least we can be sure, unlike Emily Eavis and her longing to update her father’s institution, Noel Gallagher won’t be on a wobbler because an upcoming US hip hop star is upstaging him! 28th-29th August sees the sixty-piece Full-Tone Orchestra present a very local affair, not only their all-encompassing themes, from big band and film scores to euphoric dance anthems, but Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats, jazz singer Archie Combe and The Red Bandits on Sunday.

It’s been some years since I sat in Rowde School after school hours. No, not like a kid in detention, rather to see the orchestra rehearsing the Star Wars theme. I believe Jemma was encouraging me to direct my satirical rant column from Index;Wiltshire, No Surprises Living in Devizes to more positive pastures, which kind of went totally against the concept of the column. But it was running fast out of ammo, because, underneath it all, Devizes is a great town and I love living here.

Hence, Devizine was born, a sort of counter-strike against all the negativity I once brushed Devizes with. So, if you want to blame someone, Jemma is also an accessory! The icing on that cake will be a Devizes rendezvous on the Green; hope to see you there!

Tickets Here.


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Tories Step Up Online Hate Campaign Against Wiltshire PCC Independent Candidate

With just a couple of days until the second Wiltshire PCC election, the first defunct by the Conservatives, local Tory supporters are rallying, keen to criticise and form an online hate campaign against the independent candidate, Mike Rees.

Should we flip this into a positive, clearly, it’s troubling them?!

After Conservatives corrupted the process of the original election by pitching candidate Johnathan Seed for the post, and cost Wiltshire taxpayers £1.4 million for a re-election, when it was discovered, on top of his suspicious activities as hunts master, drink driving convictions disallowed him from standing, it’s little wonder those able to think outside the box might be frustrated by the extravagant and costly campaign for the new conservative candidate Phillip Wilkinson. Especially being he’s tipped to win, based on Wiltshire’s silent majority historically being so blinded by Tory propaganda.

Phillip himself has rightfully been on the sharp end of some challenging questions on his own Facebook page, and has decided the hostile approach is the most suitable. Rudely responding to anyone with a genuine question he might not like the angle of, he’s also bashfully bantered about shooting people, wonkily suggested his military experience is favourable over the experience of policing, in a policing role and anyone dare criticise has been banned from his page. I’m willing to accept this is an oversight on his part, and etiquette on social media is not his field of expertise, still it projects the image of a punitive and unfairly harsh police crime commissioner.

I’m of the opinion here, and don’t let me sway yours, but cannot help but feel the only vision whereby military experience is superior over policing experience for a policing role, is that of Priti Patel’s, where clearly a Gestapo militia is needed to combat a naturally occurring rebellion from an oppressive regime; are we expecting or encouraging, even, a civil war, or are we just after someone to solve common crimes in our county?

In any other circumstance, say a sleeping Shire where crime is comparatively tame, an outstanding retired policeman might be more appropriate for the role, simply down to his on-hand experience. Promote from within though seems to be an outmoded concept, favoured by delusions of grandeur that every politician is super heroic. Evidently proved wrong by the colossal chain to scandals and corruptions of recent; nothing funny to say about it unfortunately, you can’t write comedy like it.  

Lie: He is associated with the Conservative Party, says so on his campaign leaflet!

There is nothing within these public inquiries on his Facebook page to suggest any allegiance to any other candidate, but while other candidates are available, Mike seems to be tenaciously linked. Fact of the matter, I’ve scanned Phillip’s page and find no interaction, be it positive or negative on his page from Mike himself or anyone else involved in his campaign, rather the Lib Dem candidate Brian Mathews, who has rightfully dared challenge Phillip on some of his pledges. Although Lib Dem candidate Liz Webster drew a second-place last time around, the focus seems to entirely rest on Mike.

Tory Devizes Town Councillor Iain Wallis on “the Devizes Issues.”

Spilling outwards from his own page, it’s clear the objective is to slate the independent candidate. While Tory Devizes Town Councillor and admin of the second most popular Facebook group in the town, Iain Wallis is adamant his group is unbiased, he took it upon himself to outright ban any post concerning or promoting Mike Rees on Sunday evening. A step up from outright banning of anyone who attempts to question the conservative candidate. A clear indication the group is about as unbiased as GBeebies, who axed a presenter for a gesture of equality and replaced him with a known fascist lunatic who might be dangerous if it wasn’t for the fact, he’s a man made completely out of foreskin.

We’ve been here before, call a spade a spade, this is clearly an act to condemn the opposition, and should not belong on a supposedly general local Facebook group.

Is it too much to ask for a level playing field, or can we agree Mr Wallis is not Mark Zuckerberg, and other sources for expressing opinion on local issues online are available?! Time to use them and not depend on petty bias Facebook groups political point-scoring.   

In another turn of affairs, on an uncensored Devizes Facebook group where Phillip is admittedly quite harshly criticised, keyboard warriors gathered to immediately point the finger at Mike’s supporters, again, despite there being no reference to him at all the post. Local online meeting points have become assuming while others jump the bandwagon; it’s even gone as far to suggest the support people are showing for Mike is, bizarrely, counterproductive to his campaign and, in another it suggests its angle is perpetrated by “loony lefties!”

Have to shudder at the laughable idiocy displayed here; Labour do have their own guy, Mr Junab Ali, you know? One which incorrectly aforementioned “loony lefties” can opt to vote for, and most likely would. Truth be told, support for the independent candidate is coming from all walks of life, class and political orientation, simply because common sense prevails, a man of past experience is favourable for such an important role, over a politician, no matter what colour rosette they pop on their top pocket. No point in calling an electrician for a plumbing job.

Besides, the hypocrisy is better measured by the bleeding obvious fact that Mike is independent, he’s apolitical, and his whole campaign is based on the PCC role not being a political one, rather the only allegiance he has being with the people the police are supposed to serve! Mr Spock would surely agree with the logic. In speaking several times to Mike, at no time did the subject of politics even arise, and Mike gave no indication to his own political preference.

Not forgoing, the former Detective Superintendent who solved the murder of Sian O’Callaghan, Steve Fulcher is backing Mike Rees, as would, I suspect most police officers, and hardly any of them could be described as “loony lefties!”

 

Mike Rees with Steve Fulcher

It would be a wonder where on earth the notion of left-wing sway in an independent campaigner derives from, if not this underlying concern, seemingly the average conservative thinker assumes anyone with the slightest concern for towing the Tory line completely, comprehensively and without question, must therefore be some kind of imaginary leftist extremist and as reformist as Jeremy Corbyn’s vest.

This is about as shallow as it gets, for the time being. I have to wonder what dirt they’ll pathetically attempt to smear on him next, he probably pulled down the Edward Colston statue, organised the suffragette movement, or is secretly Watt Tyler leader of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt!

Ah, bless ‘em; you have to salute their comradeship and solidarity, if not their canopy of disillusionment disallowing them gumption. You believe what you will; I’m getting no kudos here, no reason to back any side other than my own self-assurance Mike is without question the chap for the job. And in that there’s no reason for me to be dishonest. Mike is a genuine guy with time for everyone, hardened by the force, firm but fair, the man for the job.

At the time he threw me off the group for suggesting it was unfair to the conservatives to throw money at their campaign, when the outstanding debt in still is dispute, Iain Wallis was keen to suggest I met with Phillip; “if you get the chance to interview Philip, you should take it. He is a good man.” And that’s precisely the argument misrepresented here; they’ve missed the entire point. I’ve not criticised the guy in any way, I’m in no doubt he’s a good guy with personality and charisma. I’m certain he’s effective at his previous roles, and I’m in awe and grateful for the service he has undergone to defend the crown and country. I would never mock any of this at all, rather salute him for this. It’s the hill of these beans though, which I don’t think is in anyway better for the PCC role than a man of previous experience, and it’s as simple as that.

I’d go as far as to say I didn’t even want to come to this party today. I’ve not the time left to interview all candidates, man gotta have a break now and then, and so I decided not to interview any of them. You can read Mike’s interview here. I’d sooner take a backseat on this journey, but messages I’ve received show me this is clearly an issue which folk want me to rant on, therefore I’m always willing to please, if my tuppence is worth anything!

Meanwhile, on Brian’s Campaign trial there’s a petition to Make the Conservatives pay for the re-election bill, click to sign it.

Meanwhile, on Brian’s Campaign trial there’s a petition to Make the Conservatives pay for the re-election bill, click to sign it.

As for labelling this website as bias, I would, if it was, but I’m only here to follow my gut reaction, more often than not supporting the underdog and the righteous; that’s my only ethos, what rosette you wear is up to you, I’d sooner we were all friends, but while extremism is flooding the conservative party, I cannot be in support of it, and deliberately associating the opposition with any negative commentary about their own is unfair, uncalled for downright deliberately devious. I only hope this will blow up in their faces, and the good folk will decide enough is enough, and vote out politics in this PCC election, for the display of deception is clearly being corrupted and this gives me little faith for a well serving police force should the Conservatives win.

Only you, and your vote stand between them.

Gail Foster interviews Mike

Pop Up Youth Cafe Goes Down a Treat with Youth in Devizes

What a brilliant initiative on the Green in Devizes this week, and a pleasure to see what can only be described as a “mobile youth club.” It pitched up every day this week, with kids of all ages enjoying the facilities it provides. Me, ageing, either sleeping, working or complaining about sleeping or working, managed to completely overlook its very existence, while my kids and better half were aware of it.

Why am I the last to know about everything? Because I can’t be expected to look past my phone these days, relying on the book of face for my news, in-between sleeping and working! Councillor Jonathon Hunter Facebook posted about it, I inquired, perhaps unintentionally sternly, but only as a senior moment, I couldn’t see from the photos quite what the deal was!

So, I ventured down to see for myself, and aside the drizzle, it was in full swing. A volleyball net currently unattended, collapsible football goals with a group playing between them just beyond it, and at the van, children are surfing the net, or else playing a Tony Hawks skateboarding game on a console. There’s drinks, sweets and doughnuts aplenty, and Steve Dewar stands proudly by it.

Other features of the mobile youth club include a rock-climbing wall, which couldn’t come out to play because of the rain.

I was surprised to hear it had been in operation for five years. “I’ve been running Potterne Youth Club for about ten years,” Steve explained, and moved onto why it hadn’t been advertised on Facebook and other social media. “The reality is we don’t, because Facebook isn’t the best place to communicate with teenagers. It’s detached work; what we do is pitch up and engage with the young people there, we do it throughout the whole week, and day-on-day there’s an increase.”

Steve couldn’t see the point in me mentioning his mobile youth club, adamant the best form of communication for younger people is face-to-face, and besides, it was the last day it pitched on the Green, moving onto Trowbridge next week. I beg to differ, for if only to pay tribute to this guy and the wonderful work he does. In the plight of social facilities for children and youth clubs multiplied by this post-lockdown era, what Steve does here is at last as positive spin and proof amidst the doom and gloom of public services, there’s still saints like Steve, out their engaging youth the best way he knows how.

The opposite effect of a lack of amenities for youth is unfortunately anti-social behaviour, juvenile crime and possible drinking and drug taking, as we all know. Steve mentioned how the charity aided awareness and prevention of these difficult predicaments. But all the time, parents were always viewed as runners-up, his focus was entirely on the wellbeing of the children, except when he offered me a doughnut, kindly donated by Morrisons! The youth demographic there was all-encompassing, and clearly, they all enjoyed it equally.

It’s certainly evident here, social media is not needed to make kids aware of an occasion, it works by word-of-mouth as it always has. Grown up with it fed to them, rather it’s the adults who engage more with the internet, and while kids are still out, running, jumping and playing sports and games outdoors, a large majority of generation X are glued to their devises, ironically whinging that the kids are glued to their devises! I knew this, I’m guilty too, but it was great to actually witness evidence of it happening in our own town.

Steve also noted he attends local schools to let them know about the project. The van moves across the county, planning to pitch up in Trowbridge. “We’d love to do it more,” Steve expressed, “as a concept we could run this throughout the entire summer holidays, but because I work in schools termtime as well, my wife would kill me if I spent my entire summer holiday doing this! And also, financially as a charity, we get a little bit funding, and if we had more, we would plan to do more.”

And I conclude, ultimately, what an absolutely fantastic and inspiring guy, I tip my hat to Steve Dewar, and ask science, can we clone this chap?! We need more facilities like this, operating throughout the county and school holidays, we need more Steves!


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King of the One-Liners; Gary Delaney Coming to Devizes- Win Two Tickets Here!

What time did the man go to the dentist? Tooth hurt-y…. Okay, I’ll get my coat. Leave it to the professionals, one of whom announced this morning, Devizes is on his hitlist. Husband of comedy supremo Sarah Millican, and king of the one-liners, Gary Delaney delivers his hilarious tour, “Gary in Punderland,” to our honoured … Continue reading “King of the One-Liners; Gary Delaney Coming to Devizes- Win Two Tickets Here!”

Devizes Issues or The Ministry of Truth?!

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

1984 by George Orwell

As the jollity of a carefree leaflet campaigning outing, for the new Conservative Wiltshire PCC candidate, Philip Wilkinson, and backed by Danny Kruger, is brazenly and shamelessly shared across the popular Facebook platform Devizes Issues, anyone with a questioning opinion is immediately thrown out the group; including me!

Allow me thus, to throw my toys out of my pram in dismay, the best way I know how! Oh, the calamity, the drama! The only real issue in Devizes, is that even social media is a predisposition.

Yes, I shared the “almost” parallel Orwell quote above, after my comment was deleted, twice, expressing the anger felt by many Wiltshire residents as to why money is ploughed into the candidate’s campaign, while taxpayers could face a £1.4m bill to hold another election, because of the Conservative Party’s impertinence in running a previous candidate who had a criminal record making him unable to stand. I figured it was a genuine and just thought, considering the circumstances.

Hardly a big secret, heck, you all know the story; Conservative candidate Johnathan Seed pulled out of the first election after hit and run, and drink driving offences the party carelessly assumed could be brushed under the carpet, came to light. And rather than the cost effective and democratic process of simply going with the second choice, Lib Dem candidate Liz Webster, it’s been decided a Police Crime Commissioner couldn’t possibly be anything less than a tory, so the whole shebang would have to be rerun.

Meanwhile, Wiltshire Police launch an investigation into the scandal, which is, to-date, still in progress. Yet the election goes ahead on 19th August, when I ask you, them, and everyone of Wiltshire, if you think it right not to wait until the inquiry has concluded prior holding a new election? With such a shocking revelation, how can any of you trust a Conservative candidate ever again, if it was discovered the Party knew of the convictions? And furthermore, what kind of madcap, totalitarianism is this, which dismisses such an assessment as a thoughtcrime?

I personally don’t want anyone who stands for a party which allows criminals to run as a Police Crime Commissioner, there’s an irony there sky-rocketing over some serious heads!

Ever a poor imitation of the original, The Devizes Issue, and named in such a way to narrowly escape trade descriptions if it was a product rather than a Facebook group, Devizes Issues has a 12.9k audience. The Facebook group is perhaps the second most popular general page for Devizes residents, initially set up by local Facebook users disgruntled by the original group’s ruling of no political subject matter, but run under the iron fist of a local Conservative town councillor, I and many others have often criticised its naturally right-wing bias. My argument thus; call a spade a spade, if you intend to have a group for local Conservative thinkers, then call it something which relates to this, but do not disguise it as general local group, for that is deceitful.

Ha, nearly as deceitful as fox-chumping Mr Seed, see a pattern evolving here?

Now I’m advised, if I get the chance to interview Philip, I should take it. In other words, that’s my way out of room 101, and back into what is, primarily, a great and informative Facebook group. Day-to-day it provides an endless stream of informative local matter. Such a shame so many have been pitilessly shoved out of it, including many opposition councillors, MPs and candidates, simply for arguing a contrasting opinion.

The only element incomparable to Orwell is it’s far from the bee-all-and-end all of local social media. There’s more than one way to skin a cat; if you rely on me sharing Devizine articles there, you may well have to change your habits by ensuring you’ve liked our Facebook page, or followed us on Twitter, for the time being. There’s a thing, I think the heat is getting to him, he just needs a big, teddy bear hug!

Because of my local social media diplomatic immunity, I get a response from admin, an honour most traitors to the Tory line are not bestowed. I’m told, “he [the new Conservative Wiltshire PCC candidate, Philip Wilkinson] is a good man and has sympathy that he has had to refinance due to the previous election. Philip should have been the candidate last time and wasn’t, it’s a mistake but it can’t be changed. We have to move on and make sure people get a fair choice.” Yes, Conservative Party; pay the cost of the re-election, then we can move on.

An opportunity I would be honoured to, and welcome, as I have interviewed previous PCC candidates. A process which, I might add, is counter-productive for Devizine, as any one-party candidate I do interview tends to receive angered social media comments condemning my reasoning for allowing a platform to a party they personally don’t like, and any previous interviews I have conducted with other party’s candidates and independents is long forgotten. It must also be noted, the majority come from, coincidently, a conservative ethos, when in all actual fact, Johnathan Seed was the first PCC candidate I interviewed. So, stick that in your pipe!

Because, and please take heed Mr Wilkinson if you are reading this, the assumption seems to be my comment was an attack on you, when it never was about that. The point was if the Conservative Party are at fault, should they not cover the £1.4m bill to hold another election, rather than squander cash on a campaign.

And neither is this article an attack on you, or anyone else. Rather it is a shame, I believe, when political bias has to get in the way of a relationship otherwise built on pacification, by those who feel the need to pettily censor local social media. It’s not the Daily Mail, anyone with a Facebook group of over a thousand “likes” is not Rupert Murdoch; there is no need for political bias, the town is a guaranteed Tory haven anyway! The result turning Seed’s way despite all the well-publicised dishonour and humiliation is proof of this blind voting; if they splodged a blue rosette onto a lobotomised potbelly pig, Wiltshire would still vote it in.  

Unless, no… unless they suspect the tide is turning! We live in hope.


Wiltshire’s Solstice Troubles, Again!

Have you seen this, at the Euros? When in defence of a freekick they have a guy lying on the ground behind the wall like a human draft excluder. That’d be me, about as much use as a chocolate fireguard, finally a position I could play. Imagine the scenario; I’d be like “where do you want me to be?” The captain’s response would be, “tell you what, why don’t you take a load off, and lie down there on the grass, take as long as you need!”

The crowds thinking; that guy came to the wrong event, he wants to be at the solstice celebrations, maxin’-relaxin’, awaiting sunrise…. now there’s a confliction; while Wembley play host to 60,000 foreign media and dignitaries, exempt from quarantine, Wiltshire bans access to its world-famous Neolithic monument for significant less thousands of revellers whose only wish is to see in the solstice in a manner done centuries prior to the notion a bunch of lads kicking a pig’s bladder around a park might be fun.

Last year was understandable, and well reported, solstice at the henge would be via live stream only. Hardly the same, but adhered too. This year it looked set to go ahead, and was poorly publicised that it had been pulled last minute due to the pushing back of our Clown Minister’s so-called, “Freedom Day.”

Take a deep breath, refrain from calling it “Freedom Day,” please. Freedom Day in the USA remembers the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude, rather than being able to drunkenly hug your best mate down the pub. The only thing slightly comparable to it would be the day this government, intent on regurgitating and condoning the traditional hypocrisies and philosophies of prejudices, collapses, and a freer society which adopts the tenet live and let others live, replaces it.

A prime example this weekend, in my honest opinion, and here’s why; constraining a populace’s desire to celebrate a religious rite whilst allowing lucrative sporting events is nothing less than cultural appropriation. Far from Pope Gregory I’s era, who banged out a letter to Saxon Bishop of London, Mellitus, legitimately approving the reformatting of pagan cultural activities and beliefs into a Christianised form, (hence bunnies and chocolate eggs presented to mark Jesus’s crucifixion, and Santa Claus jingling bells on his birthday) but be certain, it’s the same ballpark; Interpretatio Christiana lite.

As I sift through social media commentary and local news reports, I find nothing but support and positive stories from those who either attended Solstice at our county’s heritage sites, or tried to, couped only by downright insolence from authorities to accept its importance to so many people, and made concentrated efforts to prevent it.

In this pandemic era, restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus is logical, we’ve had over a year to come to terms and implement these. Social distancing, basic hygiene, and the wearing of facemasks when in close proximity to another have all become second nature. These can be used to create a safer environment in which to gather, and we have done, but it seems only when it suits. A celebration at Stonehenge could have been policed properly, the standard model for Covid prevention could have be implemented, but to outright ban it, when it’s bleeding obvious there will be resistance, and people will attempt to gate-crash, is counter-productive to preventing the spread of the virus, compared to allowing it to go ahead with aforementioned restrictions. Ever been to Stonehenge? Hardly a confined and enclosed space!

If we put measures into Royal Ascot and made it a “pilot,” for Queenie and her affluent chums, we could have done the same with Stonehenge. But we only need to look at the controversial history of retribution by authorities to suspect there’s far more to the reasons for preventing solstice celebrations than the pandemic.

I need not reflect back-to-square-one, the Battle of the Beanfield, rather consider, through the Iron Age, the Roman Empire, and the early Mediaeval periods, while the meaning and significance of Avebury’s stone circle had been lost through the passage of time, people largely let it be, ignoring it, using as a fortified site or even, during Roman times, seeing it as a tourist attraction, much as we do today. It wasn’t until the early 14th century, Late Mediaeval, when England had been wholly transformed to Christianity, the circle was associated with the devil, and villagers ripped down the stones with such anger, one poor chap was killed attempting to topple them.

Imagine the fate, insanely yelling at an eight-foot stone monolith that it was the work of the devil, until it falls and crushes you to death, and your mate is like; yeah, story checks out; that’s gonna hurt in the morning! And why anyone would want to build their church out of stones considered the Devil’s Chair, or the Devil’s Quoits is beyond reasoning.

The irony is, if it wasn’t for Black Death in 1349, halving the village population, when manpower was focussed on agricultural obligations rather than taking their aggression out on a pagan monument, it’s likely there would be no remains for Alexander Keiller to have renovated.

And now, 672 years later, we’ve got our own plague, and on a rain-drenched, dull sunrise anyway, Wiltshire Police waffle, “We have taken the difficult decision to prevent further access to part of the Ridgeway, near Avebury, to maintain public safety and prevent potential damage to nearby farmland. This is in response to large numbers of people and vehicles in the area.” When really, it’s common knowledge locally, Avebury is a far less popular solstice celebration site than Stonehenge and would’ve only risked being inundated with vehicles because they closed Stonehenge; swings and roundabouts!

I spoke to a friend, heading to Avebury on motorbike, so able to take the byways across Hackpen Hill to avoid roadblocks. The point being; where there’s a will, there’s a way, folk are prepared to take a hike because, and here’s the thing the authorities fail to grasp, even if solstice is not your cup of tea, it’s time to accept that to thousands of British people, it clearly is.

Yet English Heritage pull their live stream of sunrise at Stonehenge, due to invasion, host Ed Shires announced, “I must say we have been disappointed that a number of people have chosen to disregard our request to not travel to the stones this morning and that is the reason why we haven’t been able to bring you the pictures that we would have liked to have done.” The pictures that they would have liked, is the image of solitude and splendour, as the sun rises over the stones, to promote the site as a lucrative attraction to tourists, rather than their attempts curb the real connotations it has for the indigenous folk, on what was a dull and rainy morning without much sunrise, anyway! Run the film, I say, show the world what is really happening at Stonehenge, and that it means so much to so many, they’re willing to break the law and lockdown restrictions to be there, and perhaps only then, the embarrassment might make them consider, perhaps, you know, we could have organised an event, with restrictions and made far safer environment than the inevitable invasion; give me strength!


Trending…..

Thirty Years a Raver. Part 6: Impact Zone

Final piece of the series then, and a conclusion… One More Tune!!!

By 1994 the Criminal Justice Bill had become an act. Attempts to enforce it were either greatly exaggerated, such as riot vans and police helicopters crashing a birthday barbeque, or were disregarded as an unnecessary government enforcement from the police on the ground. Though we may never have had another Castlemorton, the mid-nineties and even into the millennium, free raves struck back from the body-blow.

Urbanised parties took over railway arches, disused warehouses and squats, the people fought tooth and nail to preserve the culture, and in a way, they did. Rural parties continued, localised and smaller, but communal and friendly. Albeit any forces resisting against them, caused many larger ones to become more viciously anarchistic over time. There were attempts to party in aid of a greater cause, environmental issues for example, such as the Reclaim the Streets protests.

Yet in turn, rave bore an impact on culture and society, which outreached the free party scene. We spoke of musical genres breaking apart, so that large pay-raves erected multiple tents of differing sounds; house, drum n bass, techno, happy hardcore, speed garage, the list continued to get more diverse, until at Universe’s Tribal Gathering 1997, where originators of computer-generated music, Kraftwerk played a main stage, and everyone from each individual subgenre tent came out to pay respects to the roots.

Likewise, Liverpool super-club Cream wanted in on the large festival rave, and created Creamfields, where the likes of Run DMC played. And the scene redeveloped in many avenues, Acid Jazz was popularised, and if it was only short-lived, it birthed incredibly successful Jamiroquai. It also returned hip hop to the forefront, as breakbeat, chemical and big beat were the sounds of the later nineties. The indie and rave divide, parted dramatically since the days of Madchester, the Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, and Primal Scream’s Screamadeleica had realigned, with the punk nature of the Prodigy’s new look. The crossover blended once again, as indie kids accepted electronica wasn’t intending to lay down and die.

Clubs rocked to The Dust Brothers, later to be the Chemical Brothers. Mo-Wax, Skint and Wall of Sound roared a big beat, hip hop melting pot ethos, rooted by rave parties, and everyone flooded to Brighton beach to see Norman Cook “large it” as Fatboy Slim.

What was clear, by this conjunction, while the movement had altered, and divided, rave was now embedded in our culture, and was spreading globally. The paid peanuts DJs who once rocked up to an illegal rave now jetsetters, playing clubs worldwide.

Clubland never had it so good, buy a MixMag, relish in a party, legally, without the need of convoys, service station coups and risks of police brutality. I bought a silk shirt, wore it at Lakota in Bristol, but headed there after a free party in the forest of Longleat, the night before, and without care for basic hygiene, my paisley chic was ruined by the sweat marks of a boxer. I was oblivious ‘til presented with embarrassing photographic evidence afterwards.

But commercialisation of the culture had always loomed. In the race to become the “king of rave,” as rock n roll had Elvis and reggae had Marley, they failed to note this plastic throwaway ethos I’ve previously mentioned. In 1992, thousands of twenty-somethings blissfully unaware of the references, sang ‘Eezer Goode ‘Eezer Goode He’s Ebeneezer Goode, simply because the Shamen reached number one in the pop charts, in just the same way thirty years previously, no-hopers sang “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” oblivious to its blatant LSD connotations. I’d argue if we have to have a “king of rave” it’d would have been the ever-progressive Prodigy, but they never cared to call for the title.

The point is, commercialisation got the better of us eventually, as it did for every previous outrageous youth culture. It would be difficult to imagine in the days of Scott Joplin, that his rags would be considered conforming for a hoity-toity jazz festival in market towns like Marlborough, as in the 1910s, he played to lewd degenerates and desperate sailors in New York’s underworld and bawdy brothels.  In a short few years after the peak of rave culture, Leftfield’s Release the Pressure will be used in an advert for Cheese Strings. And don’t get me started on Yo Gabba Gabba.

And now we live in a time when reflections of nostalgia from forty-somethings comply with Albert Trotter moments, and a misunderstanding of what happened is ingrained in our culture. I cringe at how the tragic Wonder Woman sequel depicted the eighties, in an almost caricatured version of the fashion, and foresee bearded twenty-somethings attending wistful “rave” nights dressed in glow sticks like tourists on planet Mars. I never waved a fucking glowstick in the nineties, any more than I wore legwarmers in the eighties!

A van speeds past me, a youngster wears his hood up while driving. Why? Is there a leak in the van’s roof? Yes, we ravers popularised the hooded top in the UK long before the “hoody” culture, and if we wore the hood up, it was because we came out from a sweatbox into the cool night air with perspiration evaporating off of us. We did it to prevent dehydration from precipitation, rather than cos it made us look well ‘ard.

And then Ollie Murs’ heart skips a beat, with a drum loop the Ratpack would’ve rejected in 91, and I yell, NO! Get your own youth culture kids, nicking ours is disillusioned by commercialisation, unless you’re standing chilly at Peartree services at 3am, teeth masticating the life out of a slice of Wrigleys, eyes like saucers, and waving your arms about like a broken robot with a hundred others, surrounded by cars beeping their horn and playing a chewed up Easygroove cassette, then you are not a raver. And don’t you even let me see you asking Alexa to search the word cassette!

Last thing I want to do is end this series on a sour note, but duty calls. I read an article about how the days of the illegal rave had returned in all its former glory. “It was just like 1992,” they quoted in a story about a warehouse takeover, then informed partygoers discovered the happening via a Tweet. Eh? Have a word with yourself, Tweets were a novelty eighties band who rehashed an oom-pah so your granny could do a little bit of this and a little bit of that and shake her bum at some family disco of yore. We went raving without a clue what a pager was, while scare-story spreading tabloids suggested we all had mobile phones, in an era where mobile phones were thought of as the devil’s business. They couldn’t comprehend how an entire generation could all descend onto one field simply by word-of-mouth.

  “…and if you tell that to the young people today, they won’t believe you…”

The Four Yorkshire Men sketch, Monty Python.


In conclusion; as we say farewell to my little series reflecting back on those heady ravey dayz, I’ll confirm, there was numerous amazing times, the best times of my life, times evoking stories I could bore you into an early grave with. And by the thankful response to this series and the masses of posts of stories from so many old skool ravers in the variety of Facebook groups, it is clear I’m not alone in this theory. Although, my rose-tinted specs were large enough to engulf those dilated pupils throughout most of the examination.

Probably the most active of those groups, aforementioned DOCU FREE PARTY ERA 1990-1994 – WERE YOU THERE? was originally set up as a research project by one Aaron Trinder a filmmaker on a mission to document the era in a film. We wish him all the best of luck with this monumental task. And it is a monumental task, as unlike most previous youth cultures which borrowed from various trends and cultures, say the teddy boys borrowed extensively from rock-n-roll, mods borrowed from jazz, Italian suits and scooters, and so on, rave borrowed from everything and anything.

United, the melting pot came from any source, we electrified it and, even if it was relatively short-lived, what exhausted out inspired everything that went hereafter; modern pop, multiple dance music subgenres, fashion, video technology, literature, children’s entertainment, and most importantly, despite the authorises misunderstanding us and their traditionist values causing hateful vengeance upon us, a wealth of people power; the notion that masses can make a difference to life, society and politics. Evident by politicians consistently doing what our Iron Lady wouldn’t do at the time, make a U-turn to save their popularity and votes. For this, we should all be proud.

I would reward myself with one last disco biscuit, but I’m unsure if my ticker would take it. Slapped with a finale date though, it would be on my bucket list, and what a way to go, reaching for the skies in one last sweet harmony…..


Trending……

Devizes; an LGBTQ+-Friendly Community, a Devizes Pride?

As a new local Facebook page for the LGBTQ+ community, Devizes Lgbtq+ springs to life, I’m left wondering exactly what social and counsel interactions are readily available in Devizes today. So, I’m chatting with the page’s admin, Oberon, about his group’s aims and goals.

What I think was most interesting about it, while I dug for negativity, I’d suspect will be evident in our local community towards LGBTQ+, Oberon simply didn’t take the bait, and remained positive throughout our friendly chinwag. Sorry if you came here looking for controversy, this is just a plug for the page and hope it’ll strength both the community and opinions of others towards it.

Firstly, someone shared an already existing Facebook group for LGBTQ+ in Devizes. I supposed having a page rather than a group is less exclusive and not as restricted being it can make looser, more general connections. “I agree,” Oberon started, “a page is much broader and will be easier to reach out to a wider range of people, which will make it easier to advertise, make connections and get the word out.”

As I understand it, Devizes School has an excellent program to deal with the issue, but suppose once pupils leave, there’s little else in town, no real places to feel like a community. “I’m very glad Devizes School have a good programme to help their pupils!” he continued. “As far as when they leave goes, as the LGBTQ+ community grows I’d be happy to say that there will be a place to be a community online and, once the community has found its feet, offline and in person too. The sooner the better I say!”

But is a group like this is more important in a smaller town like Devizes, than say, a city, where there’s already more in place to bring together like-minded people? “I do think an LGBTQ+ community is very important in small towns,” Oberon expressed, “just as much as a city. Many people don’t live in cities or grow up in them, myself included. For a small town to be just as proud and just as accepting is important because it helps to reach everyone. Even if there are a smaller group of LGBTQ+ residents in Devizes it helps to create a safe, inclusive space for us and stops the feeling that small towns don’t ‘understand’ or ‘accept’ as much as larger places do. Furthermore, it can show people that aren’t LGBTQ+ what we’re all about and hopefully help them get a greater understanding of who we are.”

And there’s a thing, causing me to mention Pride. Pride is supported by many people outside the LGBTQ+ community, and that’s probably more important than just being there for those who are, because it’s about casting negative opinions of yore aside, especially in a smaller community like here. Because, and here’s the crunch, being honest, I do think there’s a number of insular people here who simply refuse to shake off the old stereotypes, maybe more so than urban environments.

We’ve come a long way even in my own lifetime, I suggested to him, flagrantly showing my age by citing the awareness in the eighties by singers like Boy George, Jimmy Somerville et all! As while they made it a recognisable subject and broke the taboos we now see in our society, at the time people were still hiding in shame, you still wouldn’t have same sex couples on tv shows like you do today.

The fear is, I do however think we’re in danger of letting that progress slip backwards, as all prejudices seem to be at the forefront and a right wing, or far right-wing gains popularity. I mean we only have look at the onslaught of negative comments when Wiltshire Police added a rainbow flag back in February.

Oberon replied admirably, I must say! “Every human being is an individual with their own beliefs and views, my aim isn’t to change people, it’s just to show them a greater understanding of things, and be who we are. I agree, we have come a very long way and, as with everything, there will always be a negative and a positive side of things. I choose to focus on the positive and that’s the light I aim to share.”

Okay, given that, let’s go for it; imagine, a Devizes Pride! At least, some smaller events, or a physical club would be a great start.

A Devizes Pride would be fantastic and of course that wouldn’t happen overnight,” he replied, which is just as well, as it’s past my bedtime already!

“I aim to start off with smaller events,” Oberon suggested, “community outreach and fundraisers. Physical clubs, meet-ups and youth groups are also something I’d like to get started, as I think they’ll help LGBTQ+ people find one another, in a safe space, and grow a strong community together.”

Still, he didn’t rule out the possibility of a Devizes Pride. “Devizes having its own Pride celebration is an avid goal of mine, amongst others! I believe that the stronger the representation of LGBTQ+ people in Devizes the more that people will have a greater understanding of who we are and what we’re all about. Devizes is a town with a strong community and I am for the LGBTQ+ community to have a ‘louder voice’ as it were.”

But, like any new venture, it would need the support behind it, and all this costs, at this stage is to “like” the page on the Book of Face, and join the separate entity group too, if you wished. It was nice chatting to Oberon, on what can be a touchy subject we need to open up to and address.


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Opinion: Kruger Perpetrates Local Rise of Condemnation for Travellers, Focused in Bromham

In a press release dated 24th September 2020, MP Danny Kruger claimed Boris Johnson had called upon him to report for government calls for a new era of ‘community power.’ This included “proposals to sustain the community spirit we saw during the lockdown.” He christened his paper, “Levelling up our communities,” a vision for “a more local, more human, less bureaucratic, less centralised society in which people are supported and empowered to play an active role in their neighbourhoods.”

As shpil it sounds a-okay, a far cry from a Conservative Party of yore set against the people it’s supposed to serve, a Conservative Party which, on 1st June 1985, ordered police to viciously attack a Peace Convoy, setting up the 1985 Stonehenge Free Festival. History recalls it “The Battle of the Beanfields,” any witness could better perceive it as a politicide massacre. Its aim, to eliminate categories of people who either chose to live their life on the road, happened to stumble across this way of life by unpreventable circumstance, or grew up nurtured in such an environment, for political advantages. As a blanket term we call them travellers.

But that’s all it is, a blanket term, there is no organised grouping anymore than people who own a home are assembled, therefore there is no reason to presume any individual classed as such is part of a joint ethos, a collective philosophy or tenet. Attitudes and opinions of such a grouping differ as vastly as those who live in a house, or a bungalow, or a flat. To note someone who lives in a flat breaking the law, is ludicrous for bungalow dwellers to make a sweeping generalisation that, ergo everyone who lives in a flat is therefore a law-breaker. Yet prejudge typecasting seems to be systematically accepted, ingrained and encouraged when focussed on travellers.  

Hard to define exactly as an ethnic group, as while Romany Gypsies are bound into the stereotype, not all are such, so, calling the racist card is unwarranted, but it is a definite form of prejudice, which aimed at other groupings would be frowned upon. Yet how does Danny Kruger remember the Battle of the Beanfields on its anniversary this week? His office, fronted by, I might add, Rebecca Hudson, the journalist who first broke the news of the Salisbury poisonings and therefore a far more articulate professional than the mere meanderings of a milkman, put out a Facebook post condemning the actions of a traveller site in Bromham. Despite Bromham isn’t his jurisdiction, it is in the division of Wiltshire councillor Laura Mayes, though.

I asked Laura why it’s necessary for Danny Kruger to get involved with, what seems to me, to be a simple planning permission issue. After all, planning permission disputes must be a regular occurrence in the county, and there’s never a need to involve an MP. Laura responded, “the problem is that the planning activity is illegal – there is an Enforcement Notice and an Emergency Stop Notice and the owners have ignored them.”

Danny’s post included the explanation, “deliveries of hardcore were made to the field, breaching the Enforcement Notice. The clear expectation is that an illegal Traveller encampment is being created and an influx of caravans is now expected.” Hardly an “expectation,” rather speculation; a big difference. A speculation driven by the aforementioned ingrained prejudge, is my “expectation.” Fair game by his own criteria?  

In discussion with Gazette & Herald reporter Kirsten Robertson, The Ward family say the delivery of hardcore is to form a bund, an embankment to control the flow of water. Face it, evidence that it’s not a plan to expand the site or allow more travellers onto it. In a heartfelt plea for peace Bridget Ward, 21, told the Gazette, “We just want to live in peace and become part of the community.”

Yet negative, often offensive comments and name-calling slurs flood social media coverage of the simple planning dispute. It doesn’t help bridge the divide when the council “recommends the public stay away from the site.” Neither does it help when an MP lashes out, the post calculatedly shared on only one local Facebook group, known for an absence of admin regulations and therefore being a highly opinionated group.

We should note, they are not residing illegally, the land was bought in 2014, with an article 4 direction on it, which makes it unsuitable for development anyway. Any attempt to improve the site has been refused permission, the adding of fences, planting of trees and creation of an equestrian area. Constant refusal of simple improvement plans, the hostility against them verbally, constitutes the notion they’re simply not wanted there. Where in Wiltshire would they be welcome?

Wiltshire Council own and manage just three residential Gypsy and Traveller sites, with a total capacity to accommodate fifty-one families, who, in contrary to popular belief, are subject to rent charges, Council tax and service charges for site, water and electricity. Across a whole county, it’s a failure compared with Essex, with twelve sites accommodating 188 families, Somerset has eighteen sites, seven sites in Berkshire, the list continues not forgoing Wiltshire Council looks to possibly sell the three sites they do own under part of the recently concluded Regulation 18 consultation to prepare a Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan Document.

While we should respect permissions for planning need to be made, and upheld, little is done to provide a legal alternative for travellers in the county. Coupled with the ramifications of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which could see travellers facing a fine or prison if they set up unauthorised encampments rather than currently being a civil offence, Danny Kruger’s “levelling up our communities,” constitutes of the eradication of a way of life which has operated for centuries. In fact, pre-Neolithic age, we were all nomadic. Chew on that fat for a moment.

One comment added, “we don’t live in a lawless country,” yet when Danny illegally posted his campaign posters around polling stations, when he ignored lockdown regulations by failing to wear a mask on the train, when he allowed his dog to attack deer on Richmond Common, we brushed them under the carpet, I even defended the latter as an accident.

What about when the High Court said government acted unlawfully by failing to publish details of more than 500 Covid contracts, or abolishing the permit-free training scheme for doctors who qualified outside the United Kingdom or the rest of the European Union without proper consultation, or the case where it departed from the UK’s longstanding policy on opposing the death penalty in all circumstances? Need I continue? Why then, can we not give a little leeway here? Is a delivery of some hardcore to create a bund somehow more damaging to society as the examples given above?

The fact Danny’s offending Facebook post had a grammatical error I’d forgive a primary school pupil to overlook, “and a influx of caravans,” suggests this was not the calculated penning of a skilled journalist, rather a knee-jerk reaction handsome-faced Danny K needs to take a chill pill from before the silver spoon launches from his mouth.

And I say this because, the issue at hand is clearly overexposed by our prejudice, a presuppose striking fear into a family with a young child, for crying out loud, take a look at yourself! I plead you put the political matter aside for just a moment and think outside the box, would you try defend yourself given such hostilities towards you? Is it any different from Afrikaans erecting steel gates and barbed wire to protect their property in apartheid-era Johannesburg? How you can expect travellers not to be slightly anarchic when faced with such exacerbation against them?

Especially in this, quite honestly, trivial instant, far from the given stereotype, where we have a local family simply pleading to blend in and be part of a community. Bridget tells me, “I asked him [Danny Kruger] to stand up for us, against the hate and racism, and to sign the pledge card, but he has just ignored that. We just feel helpless.” This isn’t about hardcore delivery at all, is it?

What do you get out of this Danny, a permit to touch Pritti’s petticoat?! Hardly the “proposals to sustain the community spirit we saw during the lockdown,” is it, mucker?!


Thirty Years a Raver, Part 4; “Get off of the Railway Track!”

I’ve parked the van on the opening of a farm track, to have a sandwich and scan the area. I’m looking for a quarry which runs alongside the train track. A few years ago, I was a delivery driver, and though I didn’t know the roads, I’d recognise village names with fond memories. On this occasion I’ve turned off through the sleepy Oxfordshire village of Cassington; my memory of it was not so sleepy.

Those reading this too young or not into the south west free party movement of the nineties might wonder why, while those who were will know exactly why, and no doubt will be screaming a delighted, “yes mate, red and blacks!” Later to be referred to as Dennis the Menaces, without concern to what Beano publishers DC Thompson may’ve made of it all.

The distant resonance of an MC echoed through the valley, alas only in my head. “Get off the railway track,” he warned, “that is a live railway track!” A memory abetted by a rave tape capturing the irreplaceable moment, one of thousands I carelessly released into a skip many moons ago, foolish to the notion they’d be sought after.

On rave tapes, we’d either have a “master” or a recorded, taped from Christ knows how many cassettes down the line. Often inaudible by today’s standards, but recorded live at various events, they chartered the era. Endless weekday hours spent cutting up flyers to use as covers, doubles of those already pasted on my bedroom wall. In 1990 I had obtained a few, in the space of a year the wall was covered with them, overlapping to hide the roached edges.

Akin to the accumulation of flyers, my rave tape collection increased like wildfire. From popping into Swindon’s Homeboyz Records, which at the time occupied a loft space in a head shop on Fleet Street, to ask for “the kind of tunes I’ve been hearing at the raves,” in which I was sold two, recorded from Coventry’s Eclipse; Frank De Wulf, and the second, Sasha and Top Buzz, to the point where an entire collapsing shelf was bursting with alphabetically arranged cassette boxes, with the wrong tapes in each. Ah, weekday timewasting activities; we lived for the weekend.

Another delivery driving time, after a few visits to Great Tew, I found the private airfield at Enstone. I recalled arriving there in 1991, one misty morning after a lengthy standoff at Peartree services outside Oxford. These were customary; convoys from every direction flooded in, police would surround them, rumours would circulate they were to search every vehicle moving out, meanwhile the bottleneck swelled, car stereos melded into one colossal clamour as kids danced on the embankments, blowing horns and whistles, undaunted to the likelihood of a tipoff, lawlessness supervened, petrol and spearmint chewing gum went mysteriously missing, and police finally acknowledged they were outnumbered, and allowed free passage out of there.

For the journey my mate spoke of nothing other this track he’d heard. “You remember the don’t talk to strangers’ advert with the boy and his cat, Charlie, went, like, Charlie says……” Yeah, I did, but hadn’t heard the song. Coincidently the DJ spun it as we arrived, and he wasted no time, leaping from the car prior to stopping, yelling “this is it!” and running off headlong into the fog.

I myself got lost in that fog sometime later, asked a friendly crusty if I could climb on his van to see if I could find my friends. The view of synchronised trilby hats and bobbed hair dipping into the low-level mist enticed me to dance, to which he seemed completely content with, as I stomped on top of his van. But as others, noting my joy, decided to do similar, I climbed off, persuading them not to follow my bad example, it was this guy’s home from home.

Charlie did say that, but with these carefree strangers, it didn’t seem to matter, hence the irony in the Prodigy’s song. Everyone had the smile of the Cheshire Cat, everyone would lend you a chewing gum in exchange for a rizla, and right in the moment, that was all that mattered. It was short-lived, a few years of complete bonkers, but it had a profound effect on society. Football fans returned from clubbing the night before, far too intoxicated with love drugs to cause the trouble the sport had become associated with. Football chants were adapted from “you’re going home in a fucking ambulance,” to “you’re going home in a fluffy ambience.”

In a clubland where once, to accidently knock over someone’s pint, or look at their girlfriend for longer than a millisecond, would likely evoke a fight. Now, the clubber sighed, “I know you didn’t mean to spill it, no worries mate,” to which the reply would be “sorry, I’ll get you another.” One clubber said, “is that your girlfriend pal? She’s gorgeous,” and that’d be seen as a compliment, perhaps understandably backed by an informal warning, but it certainly wouldn’t end in a drunken scrap.

Such was the scene expanding, a legendary party at the end of the summer of 91, somewhere near Banbury, extended into a nearby field, with a narrow track joining to two. A continuous stream of pedestrians sauntered to-and-fro, until a BMW hurtled through the wanders. A lone hippy cursed the driver, pleading he slowed down. The car came to a screeching halt and backed up. All four doors opened and some rather mean-looking urbanites, full of sovereign rings and bling stepped out to confront the scrawny fellow. Towering over him, the driver and his passengers asked him to repeat what he said; it was a setting akin to a violent scene of a gangster movie, and the expectant crowd held their breath. The crusty replied he had asked them to slow down, because someone could get hurt. The rude boys considered this, got back into the BMW and drove on, at a snail’s pace all the way to the end, carefully stopping for pedestrians.

An incident I’ll reiterate as an example to how genuinely passive and diplomatic raves were. We policed ourselves, troublemakers were dealt with, often in a medieval fashion. Yet troublemakers were few, unlike nightclubs you had to make reasonable effort to find a party, so most were aligned to the concept we were there for that and only that, to party. So too, if you overstayed a party till its conclusion, you willingly picked up and bin liner and helped clean the area, (okay, there was always a chance of finding some money or hashish, I’ll give you!)

The country suddenly seemed at peace, least it did to us, and the authorities had a problem with this.

There was a frustrated lost terrier, scrambling around in the dark, barking, scared without its owner; it was the Conservative Party. John Major walked into this, and knew if he was to overthrow the shadow of Thatcher, he’d need to take drastic change to society.

Me, my mates? We didn’t give a fuck. Other than the annoyance of the odd rave being broken up, when the police got the itch, we had no political opinion, we had no concern over much at all. Because, we knew there was a happy place, somewhere we could go, freely, and we were in the moment of building our own society, shaped as we wished, policed as we required, but as many adolescent dreams, we thought we knew it all.


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Thirty Years a Raver: Part 3: We Made Some Noise

Twas the night before my life done gone flipped upside down. It may not have been the colossal party the rest of the country were having, but Marlborough was, and always will be, lost in its own little world. Numerous attendees at the aforementioned Read’m and Weep rock concert on the common, just three years earlier, I’d suspect now joined us in marching up to the same common after the pubs called last orders, this time heading for an “acid house party.” Others, who failed to register or accept the change of era continued on their rocky road. No harm done.

With a fire at one end, and an older comrade who rigged a speaker to his Beetle at the other, blasting out whatever music he had which could be deemed as close to acid house as possible, it was a Marlborough-fashioned interpretation of an acid house party, and in rural backwaters you learned to make do.

The morning after undoubtedly the strangest of my life, for some reason everything I’d ever thought had been turned on its head. For the remainder of 1990 we continued with archetypical house parties, where gullible parents went away, but by the spring of 1991 we invited ourselves onto traveller sites, the first being the Belthane festival on Hungerford Common. And while it opened my eyes to see so many living on the road, they seemed unconcerned of our presence and were, on the whole, welcoming. If the urban raver story starts in clubland, note rural ravers didn’t have that luxury, least not without a vehicle.

Indeed, we had a small nightclub in town, but like many it favoured appeasing the old-hat drinking culture. If club owners were aware of rave clubs, they weren’t prepared to make the switch, fearing it’d only diminish their drink sales. At the time the closet place to head for was Swindon, where Extos held legendary nights at Hardings. By the time we’d scrouge a lift and arrived, the club was full, and we’d stand outside in blankets, waiting for a tip off to the party.

So, for a while, best my mate and I could hope for, was to loiter outside the pub, as going in would empty the wallet we needed to escape our town. As newfound ravers leapt in cars and soared off, one of us dared to ask, “alright mate, going to the party?” in hope of scrouging a ride. At art college I had a reliable source, two Oxfordshire individuals into the scene, with bob haircuts and a VW Beetle, one phone call would reveal a clue where to head, if only someone would give us a lift!

The Oxfordshire buddies listened to what we called, “bleep.” For many years I considered it, like ska, a description of the sound, but sources online class it as genre. Rave, or hardcore were the sweeping generalisations, and in 1990 little had been done to separate it into subgenres. There was mellowed vibes type rave, hardcore, house and garage, sure, but at the time it cured into one immense, chaotic noise. Subgenres would derive much later, as the scene exploded and separated. It was however, of small significance UK artists now created their own sound, aside acid-house styled bleep, German techno, which was stiff and structured but lacking soul, and the trancey Goa House, breakbeat house was looming on the horizon.

Here’s a thing; I argue with myself if we could even call all this a “youth culture,” rather class it a movement. Youth cultures of yore had a definitive uniform, musically and fashionably. Rave was a melting pot, electronics seeped its way into all genres, and new arrivals descended onto it from all walks. If the Northern Soul clubbers say it was them who inspired it, they’re not wrong. Neither are the travellers, punks and skins, new romantics, Rastas, or trendy eighties kids. What were once separate identities, rarely seen together, now flocked to the same party, danced and celebrated together, without fussing or fighting, save a mite of banter. This was the chief reason why I class this era as the most wonderful show of unification the nation had seen since the second world war, and I’m honoured to have been a part of. But I’m uncertain if it matched the definition of regulated youth culture, as previous mods, rockers, punks and skins did.

The music reflected this, a melting pot of inspirations, whatever angle you came at rave from, you added your portion into the mix. The upcoming trend derived from Britain’s ties with reggae through the Windrush generation, and the surging dancehall flavours we deemed “ragga.” Fused with the archaic hip-hop concept of breaking the beat, ragga and breakbeat house surged over bleep, and fast became the mainstay. X-L Recordings, Moving Shadow, Urban Shakedown and many other labels headed this change.

But here is the second thing; we were the throwaway generation, jilted, plastic population, and didn’t care for who created the music. There was no interest in holding a torch for particular bands or labels, unless you were master of ceremonies, the DJ. Leaving the choice to one person, it existed as a DJ culture, and they’d soon become the stars of the show. If it was genre-bending, we relied on their faith to perpetrate a certain style; when Sasha got on the decks it would be “fluffy,” whereas as when Easygroove did, it would be “hardcore,” with the upcoming breakbeat twist. That’s all we knew, and rightly cared about.

What swept at us as a trend became a way of life; we lived for the weekend, vaguely remembering to attend college or jobs in the week. Every weekend an ever-growing number roamed the roads at night, invading unsuspecting service stations, joining to convoys with a lead car who we hoped had an inkling where the party was. Bristol moved east, London moved west, meeting in the Shires, where police would be outnumbered and, rather prevent a riot, would grudgingly allow us free movement. Naturally there were times when they got flustered, upon service stations appropriations, for example, but suspect many appreciated the overtime, and left us to enjoy the ride.

At the Gloucestershire one fondly recalled as “the one with the haystacks,” someone drew my attention to the police standing on a ridge overlooking the site. To our amusement, and seemingly theirs too, they were imitating our dance moves, and you know what they say about imitation, sincerest form of flattery!

Despite the ruminates of bad blood with travellers, from the Beanfields and free festival movement of the previous decade, they tended to only throw their weight at them. Attempts to move them on, before ravers flocked to their sites turned hostile. Though if, as my friend and I did once at Pitton near Salisbury, ravers arrived early, they’d witness the true horrors of life on the road, as eviction resembled a massacre rather than a battle. There are shocking things I could tell, of which I’ve witnessed, effectively ethnic cleansing, destruction of a way of life, and homes. It was not the vision of Britain I pre-held, naïvely, reason enough for us to continue to rebel, when all we really wanted to do was party. Opps, some pig knocked off my rose-tinted specs.

Sorry to pop the bubble of happy daze, but there were downsides. Aside the growing harassment from authorities, which would see rave’s demise in the end, there was also comedowns, maintaining motivation for everyday life, failed attempts to find the party, else the event raided and broken up too early. The latter became greater with every weekend, as the sensation blossomed.

You see, we adopted a pyramid-selling technique, only wanted to spread word of our newfound love. Kids we hadn’t seen since leaving school would wander into the pub, they were looking for something, they didn’t know what, but we did. We had the answer, the escapism, and we welcomed them with open arms, took them under our wings and looked after them during their first rave experience. Then, the following week they’d shed their old identity, and we’d see them fully assimilated, like Star Trek’s Borgg, through the foggy morning, wearing a puffa jacket, round pink shades and diamond-cut trilby, giving it, “alright? I’m mullered mate, wot you done?!”

Thus, we all played a part in promoting the scene, until it got too big for the authorities to leave alone. Some weekends when we didn’t go party, somehow rave crept in. I ventured back to Essex to see old friends, and they’d have similar stories, of Raindance and other events there. One weekend we attended my mate’s brother’s wedding in Liverpool, only to find in the basement where the reception was held, a steaming club-rave. The sound attracted us, and we unbolted a fire escape to both gate-crash, and discover likeminded raves were happening nationwide. Meanwhile, his mum wondered where we’d got to, and wandered in to find us amidst a pumping party. Upon her return she’d been shocked, but happily reported the scene as “loads of kids, just dancing, having fun, no one fighting, no one drunk, and one gave me a hug!”

If a little old lady who accidently stumbled into a rave could see it for all its upsides and worth, why couldn’t the police and government? Why did it ever have to end? Because at the time we couldn’t envision that finale, we assumed it would go on forever.


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Gull Able

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

Thirty Years a Raver, Part 2: We Called it Acieeed!

A branch of a classy supermarket chain seems an unlikely place to start a story of one’s first rave experience. It was a shop which, on a later occasion, my mate and I decided to walk ten miles back to, to thank them for such a lovely pizza. Overlooking the fact, it was the extra topping of liberty caps we added ourselves which sparked the idea, and, in turn caused us to only make it a hundred yards out of the village before we collapsed in a hysterical heap. Just as well, given I worked there at the time.

Oh, for the time, I’m slipping down my rose-tinted specs again, but, while I’m grateful to those reading this who lived it, I’d rather those too young would too, who they need to understand the era leading up to it, to know why we did what we did……

A protest at end of term school disco, 1988. Teachers, thought they were “hip” enough to do the “in” thing, hiring a standard DJ to deliver the latest pop sounds. One year away from leaving the institution we saw ourselves as mature. Obviously not, but sufficient to warrant a plain and simple fact; the pop chart was not aimed at us.

A decade old now and electronica has become timeworn and abused by the Hit Factory and Stock Aitken Waterman. The formula was simple, derived from sixties bubble-gum pop, and aimed an even younger audience. An assembly line of drum machine synthpop churned out uninspiring samey trash, a monotonous drone promoting pop stardom to Australian soap opera actors, failing have-been musicians convinced by a fat cheque and dreadful teenage dreamboats. They punished the last part of the decade; they commercialised the once experimental epoch. It should have been a crime.

We all sat in protest on the dancefloor, booing, as the DJ spun, I Owe You Nothing by latest teen-pop sensation Bros, two brothers from Camberley with Pet Shop Boys manager Tom Watkins, stupid belt buckles and leather vests donning crucifixes, which seeing as what they did for pop, was actually quite apt. The only person left dancing was a good friend of mine, who took the ingenuity to bring a Sony Walkman, and he skanked out of time, through the protesters in his own little world, lip-syncing the words to Buffalo Solider.

For me, even my love of hip hop worn thin. While it still had a nostalgic place in my heart, as it spread out from the Bronx it seemed to be whitewashed, typecast far from the original ethos. Yes, Grandmaster Melle Mel rapped conscious lyrics on The Message, but that was the exception to the rule. Now, seemed every rapper had a chip on their shoulder, something to criticise, a plastic attitude and some serious bling. It was either this, or sell yourself like a cheap tart; take MC Miker G & DJ Sven rapping over Madonna’s Holiday as red for why hip hop lost its way.

 A far cry from the untroubled origins of hip-hop, where the idea was to throw your cares away for the duration and party. A notion closer to the new impending wave of electronic music, fresh from the underground.

In any case, at 14 I’d moved to Marlborough, where breakdance seemingly hadn’t the same impact as it had on my Essex town. Prior to starting school there, my mother suggested my brother and I attend a concert on the common, as promoted on GWR Radio, surprisingly. It may’ve been a tactic to encourage us to blend into our new home. What actually happened freaked me out. If I considered I’d descended time, back to the seventies, before this day, I certainly did now. I believe the band playing to have been popular local rock band, Read’m and Weep.

Looking back now, they were excellent, but through my trendy suburban Essex eyes I was shocked at the sight of scruffy rock kids perched on car bonnets, uniformed in black, smoking, drinking from bottles before me. I felt like the character Sam Emerson, the younger brother in the movie The Lost Boys, when they go to the beach fair. If one of these “weirdos” glimmered fangs at me, I was legging it.

In fairness, being bored with the direction of hip-hop, and annoyed with commercial pop, I had a sweeping overview of rock, as soft metal took the charts by storm. And as I emersed fuller into the cultural differences of my environment. I began to find it was the only musical avenue worthy of attention, and had to backtrack my knowledge to the classics. But as I was taking in Led Zeppelin, Hendrix and The Doors, in order to make friends at school, they became accepting of a new wave of electronic music called “house,” as it was, it had a commercial side, but looming was the psychedelic underground roots, sub-labelled “acid house.” We kind of met in the middle.

I find it amusing child-friendly raves have become a popular attraction recently. Organisers such Raver Tots and Big Fish, Little Fish attained a gap in the market with new parents who thought the stork has ended their raving days.

Ingeniously they create a pay-rave/soft play centre crossover, largely based on the hardcore era of the mid-nineties, as that’s the generation with easily persuaded toddlers. Way to go to push your diehard habits onto your saucepan and lids, but indulge now, as it doesn’t last! If you asked my daughter ten years ago what her favourite music is, she’d reply “reggae,” an obvious spoon-fed response. Now she’s engulfed by current pop, and you have to let them find their own path, their own thing. Pushy parenting backfires.

But that’s not the reason it amuses me, neither is the fact since the dawn of rave participants never take themselves too seriously. Yes, it’s “cheesy” by their own definition. Yes, there’s a childlike euphoria involved with raving too. Sucking of lollies, cuddling complete strangers, and dancing like a lunatic to a breakbeat sample of the Sesame Street theme. But it’s a notion the flipside, the “indie” kids could never fathom, in all their depressing reality-driven gloom; rave was never to be taken too seriously. It was quintessentially an escapism.

No, the reason it amuses me is thus, at the time rave was not the place to take a toddler and few did, save for perhaps the travelling folk who, for them, the sites were their home. Rave was illegal, primarily, until big businesses saw the opportunity to make a fast buck. Rave was daring, criminal and that’s what, unashamedly, made it exciting. In fact, the spread of the trend grew from a scare story, a tabloid attempt to frighten parents into believing every teenager, including theirs, was off their rockers in a dangerous derelict warehouse somewhere around the London orbital. Truth is, my friends and I hadn’t a clue about it, until now.

In fact, in 1988, just before some doughnut invited a lucky journalist to an acid house party, the scene was tiny, a secret association only a select few Ibiza diehards knew about. The desire to recreate their hedonistic holiday in the Balearics in London gained little attention, until one day the newspapers splashed it across their front pages. Needless to say, it backfired, now every teenager in the country wanted in on the deal. Including me.

As ever, the Sun was the main culprit, Gary Bushell pasting a light-hearted angle, often satirical and tongue-in-cheek but definitely in favour of the exploding trend, in order to sell their “acid house t-shirt.” Soon as sales dropped, they turned nasty on the surge they had a hand in prompting. It’s almost as if they deliberately blossomed a teenage rebellious phenomenon in order to flip it over and create hysteria, to sell papers; who knew they could be so callous?!

But it was too late. D-Mob sounded it out; We Call It Acieeed. Prior tunes to hit the charts never wrote it directly on the wall. It was always just about “house” music, pumping up the volume, or jackin’ your body. One could differentiate, draw a definite line between run-of-the-mill “house,” hence being commercial, or the evil, drug suggested “acid house.” At least to our adolescent mind. Truth is, it was all the same.

Yet meanwhile we were still convinced electronic music was sold out to commercialisation, therefore we’d rewound back to the space rock of psychedelic sixties and seventies. Unlike my peers though, I retained small penchant for the original hip hop, and swept house with the same brush. It was short lived, but I liked house for all the silly samples of Bomb the Bass’ Beat Dis. It was as if electro had turned full circle, and divided from the cliche of fierce rap styled US hip hop, particularly now the west coast had as much clout as the east.

It’s also worth noting, although we took its source as American, British acts like Coldcut were now producing house. As the media hysteria became old news and mellowed, by 1990, the average joe blogs could be forgiven for assuming it had all been a flash in the pan. Little did even we know the trend was growing, and since graduating from pupil to student, felt we had moral responsibility to check it out for ourselves.

Perhaps not just our age, but also rural Wiltshire was hardly cutting edge when it came to trends. So, two years on and the words on our lips were “acid house,” despite the term had metamorphosed into “rave.”

With local Tory backhanding secret social clubs’ slaps on the back, our school opened its doors and poured children into the only supermarket in town, where the branch manager welcomed weekend staff, he could offer £2.20 an hour to. I succumbed for want of my own pocket money. Surprisingly, it was there where my adventure into rave begun.

Yet it was there, working my Saturday job, allowing us the newfound financial freedom to maturely decide where best to invest our earning, which happened to be getting wasted. A friend, a year or so senior, dropped the killer bombshell, to which I hide my excitement and pretended to know all about. “You going to the acid house party tonight, up the common?” he inquired.

Well, my feet didn’t touch the floor before arriving at the opposite side of the warehouse below the store, where my buddy priced up tins of soup. Shocking to think barcodes were still some way off, and one would have to be like Clint Eastwood with a pricing gun. But nevertheless, he stopped as I told him the news, and his face lit up with excitement, and a slight evil grin.

1991 beckons next week, as I relive my rave honeymoon, be there!


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Thirty Years a Raver; Part 1: Planet Rock & Tooth Extractions!

New short series of articles exploring rave culture thirty years on, from a personal perspective….

In the early eighties my nan and grandad stood at the head of the hall, preparing from requests they adlib a speech for their surprise anniversary party. My grandad did the standard honours, thanking everyone for coming, excusing any clumsiness with his words by suggesting, “we’re still at ten thousand feet with the surprise.” At this point my nan’s sister interrupted with astute cockney humour; “bit like your wedding night, eh, Carrie?!”

“No,” my Nan causally retorted, “there were bombs on our wedding night!”

It’s a sentiment which will live with me forever, how anyone can pass off bombs during their wedding, in jest. Most people nowadays get irate if rains on their special day. Because, whenever my grandparents spoke of the war and living in the east-end during the blitz, it was a joyous transcript, never revealing horrors we know happened. I ponder my own memories of youth, wonder if it’s the same rose-tinted specs, or if the era really was as utterly fantastic as my memory of it is.

And in this much, there’s a thing; nothing we did was particularly new-fangled. Tribally, ancient folk gathered to celebrate and hypnotically dance to drum beats, and the occurrence never trended or waivered. Though it maybe debatable, I think, with the introduction of computer technology in music, designer chemicals and enough chewing gum to keep Wrigley’s in business, we partied harder, faster and longer than any previous youth culture did, and probably ever will in the future!

We made party a way of life. We did not think politically until they came for us. Our only concerns were where the next party would be and if we’d have enough cash for some petrol and necessities. Our only motivation was the joyous unification of a tribal-like movement, or in other words, a fuck-off legendary party. Our only philosophies were how beautiful said unification was, and how we could promote it to the world. Yet, unbeknown at the time, the latter was most likely our downfall. No one makes some fucking noise anymore.

Often referred to as “you remember, the one with the haystacks!”

I do recall the fabled week of the second bank holiday of May 1992, how we gathered at a common in Malvern. I also recollect wandering up a hillside on the first morning, observing how large the event had grown, and I remember thinking to myself, nice as it was, they were never going to let us live this one down, they were going to have to attempt to put a stop to it, politically.

So, I’m drafting a series of articles exploring the time, from a personal interpretation, hoping to conclude, it’s a bit of both; rose-tinted specs, and the most explosive period of counter-culture hedonism ever. Individual because events and accounts vary vastly from person-to-person; how, where and why they “got into,” the sybaritic nineties trend of rave. Lots of memoirs I do read or see, like the most successful, Justin Kerrigan’s 1999 film Human Traffic, are set in an urban environment. Unlike these, we spent our youth in the Wiltshire countryside, and this I feel is a major contributing factor which differs our story from most, especially prior to passing my driving test!  Thumbs out, “you going to the party, mate?”

I’m doing it now because of the significance of the anniversary. Thirty years ago, I class my “personal summer of love.” It was 1991, I was eighteen, standing in an unidentified field somewhere in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, gyrating like a robot through the morning mist, eyes large as saucers, and a jawbone tremor you could break a walnut with. Imagine, not alone, but with countless likeminded others. In fact, I’d lost my mates an uncalculatable time ago, which mattered not one iota. How did I get here? Why did I go there? Where the bloody hell was I anyway? To reflect back with any hope of clarity is not only to understand the epoch and the time, but the mindset, and for this we need to go back further, much further.

I put my pre-initiation to becoming a “raver,” into two significant recollections. The first was in the spring of 1984, in my Dad’s Ford Cortina, heading for the Asda at the Chelmer Village outside Chelmsford. Growing up in Essex had one advantage to my friends in the west country, we had pirate radio, and I mean pirates. Anchored off the East Anglia coast were the legendary Radio Caroline, where BBC Radio headhunted many DJs, but who appeased their fanbase by continuing playing sixties and seventies songs, and its sister, the short-lived Laser 558, which toppled Caroline’s listeners by using American DJs which played a continuous mix of contemporary tunes.

Hard to imagine at the time we considered having a cassette deck in a car radio as something only for the gods. In fact, I went to edit that last sentence to call it a car stereo, but reflecting back it wasn’t even stereo, just the one speaker below the dashboard! Reason why my brother and I would screech requests from the backseats for my Dad to turn it up. On this occasion we were particularly demanding, as there was a song, I’d never heard the like of ever before. Sure, Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte’s I Feel Love was timeworn, and we existed amidst the dawn of new romantic, the electronic eighties pop in Britain was governed by the experimental post-punks. They either got with the program or fell into obscurity, whinging about how Adam Ant sold out.

Nope, I hadn’t a Scooby-Doo what a Roland TR-808 was, but I knew what I liked. I wasn’t aware of Factory Records, but I knew what Blue Monday was, and I knew liking Duran Duran might make me more attractive to the opposite sex. But this American song was wildly different, it was like ultramodern sonic funk, it was Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force. I figured aside the Dr Who theme, this was the sound of the future, this was space-age, flying cars type stuff. And for the best part, I was right. Little did I know I’d be standing in a cold west country field seven years later, gnashing my teeth to electronic beats which made this sound old-hat.

I went out and loaded myself with American electro and early hip hop, discovering Grandmaster Melle Mel, Hashim, Newcleus et all, and we nagged Dad for a video recorder. My parents couldn’t see the point to recording TV, or hiring a VHS cassette, but the latter soon become a family weekend activity. We hired National Lampoons Vacation the first weekend, but prior to that, my brother rented the movie Beat Street, and everything, the Bronx culture, the graffiti, the breakdancing, the rapping, all fell into place.  

Before I knew what was what, we were breaking in the school playground to commercialised versions, Break Machine’s Street Dance, Ollie & Jerry’s Breakin’… There’s No Stopping Us and Hey, you The Rock Steady Crew. Well, I say breakdancing, but that was a showy skilful fad for flexible kids. As a shy, cumbersome one, surrounded by puppy-fat I ticked none of those boxes and made do with “body popping.” This was far simpler, just had to join hands with the kids in the circle either side of you and do a kind of connected wave. That will impress the fairer sex, we must have figured, least I don’t know why else we did it, but we did, and less said about it the better.

Just like our school playground….. or maybe not!

The second significant recollection as a pre-cursor to becoming a “raver,” was a trip to the dentist. I needed my four remaining milk teeth extracted. For this, unlike today where you stay awake, numbed but perceptible to the dentist tensioning a foot to the side of the chair while he wrenches into your gum full force, they put me to sleep using gas. The nurse held my hand and told me to count to ten, I remember feeling uneasy as the gas took effect, it felt strange, it was the first time I was high; destined to be a “raver,” I’ll leave it up to your imagination if it was the last!

Do come again next Sunday, for the second part; might actually get on to the party stuff by then!


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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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Song of the Day 39: Kirsty Clinch

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

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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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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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