Illingworth Celebrate Their 100th Gig!

Salisbury-based acoustic rock duo John Illingworth Smith and Jolyon Dixon play The High Post Golf Club, between Amesbury and Salisbury this Friday 2nd December, and celebrate that it’s their 100 gig.

Although the duo had been collaborating musically for over three decades, gigs dried out proir to 2019, and they stopped, as Jolyon vaguely explained, “for one reason or another!”

He told of how around the Christmas peroid of that year, “John and I were chatting about how we missed doing gigs, wondering if we should maybe get a set together and have go at performing again as a duo.”

We wasn’t certain if anyone would want to listen,” Jolyon continued, “if we could actually get any gigs at all, or even how to get the songs working with just the two of us playing.” Today it’s still a wonder to us how they manage such a gorgeous sound as a duo, but they do! At Bishop’s Cannings’ CrownFest this summer they stole the stage following two heavy rocks bands, and to see Illingworth stamp their mark on a cover as technical as Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, or The Beatles’ Hey Jude, is something really special.

To maintain a pub circuit, Illingworth have mastered the cover scene with a plethora of memorable and sing-along rock classics, but neither are they strangers to creating originals, knocking out two breathtaking albums to date. This is where their relationship with Salisbury’s Tunnel Rat studio producer, Eddie Prestidge, comes in handy.

Our good friend Eddie encouraged us to give it a try,” Jolyon said, “offered to become our manager and handle the bookings. So, we gladly accepted and sure enough we got our first booking in February 2020, with several more following soon after. Of course, early in March the lockdowns started and we couldn’t go out and play. We were gutted, but, undeterred we used the time to make a new album of original songs and we did gigs whenever the restrictions allowed.”

Well, this weekend will be our 100th gig, So we would just like to say thank you so so much to all the excellent venues that have booked us, the weddings, parties, festivals, celebrations and absolutely everyone who has come to see us along the way! It’s been an absolute blast getting to this point. We still love doing what we do, and hope to make it to our 200th gig!”

With the trajectory these guys are flying on, I estimate that’ll be around spring! What more of an apt venue name, then, for their 100th gig than the High Post?! But seriously, these guys could bring joy to punters and provide a cracking night to any pub. I’d wager they could even raise the morale of the Queen Vic in Eastenders given half a chance!

Congratulations to John, Jolyon and Eddie, and hope to catch you again soon, guys.


Devizes Girl Wins Vernon Kay’s Talent Nation

A huge congratulations to Jess Self, 13, from Devizes, who has won Vernon Kay’s Talent Nation…..

Presented by Park Dean Resorts, Talent Nation had over 2,500 applications and  ran at 52 holiday parks across the UK.

Jess travelled to Skegness where she made the final twelve, and was then crowned the overall winner by judges, including Alison Hammond and Strictly star AJ Pritchard. She performed a medley from Hairspray The Musical.

Jess said, “it’s like a dream come true. It was such an amazing experience and was a great opportunity.”

You can see Jess, performing as Red Riding Hood at the Wharf Theatre’s pantomime, Little Red Riding Hood, running from 9th to 17th December. Tickets HERE.

Jess, who loves performing, and is currently at Stagecoach performing arts school in Trowbridge, added she “can’t wait” to perform in the Wharf Pantomime and is excited to see everyone’s hard work come together. She says she’s extremely grateful for every opportunity that comes her way.

Well done, Jess; keep up the amazing work, fingers crossed, next stop, Broadway!


Town Council Register Warm Spaces Devizes

Like a descriptive paragraph from a Dicken’s novel, as similar across the UK this season, Devizes Town Council has provided information about a local “warm spaces” initiative, of which you need to resigter your venue or activity, if you can help.

Register HERE.

They will be adding a downloadable list of all registered warm space venues to their website soon. I hope we can replicate it here to spread word of this saddening yet essential service. Feel free to contact us if we can help in any orher way too.

Warm Spaces Devizes is a local community provision of safe, welcoming warm spaces that are free and open to all in Devizes and nearby villages. The spaces will provide a warm location, refreshments, companionship and information on how to weather the cost of living crisis. You do not need to freeze this winter.

This follows a similar pattern across the county, Wiltshire Council has created an online interactive community directory to help people find warm spaces and community food providers in the county to support them.

Access this HERE, to find what support is available nearby and across the county. Go to the directory and select your postcode area, this will automatically generate a list of what is available, as well as a host of other useful features.

Those in other locations, can find their nearest warm space HERE.

Naturally, they all suggest attending can help to reduce your heating bills. In this “starve or freeze” coming winter, make no mistake, this is a disheartening article to have to publish, particularly in an area assumed to be affluent.

While I’m pleased to hear such schemes are being created, it is clearly symbolic of the absolute failure of this government, and while county councils like Wiltshire continue to tow the Conservative line, I’m of the honest opinion they are duty bound to attend to this crisis. We will not thank them here, but we will acknowledge their efforts.


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 10th – 16th November 2022

Deliberating if these weekly roundups are worthwhile, being it’s already on the event calendar came up with some helpful feedback, not much, but some! Seems some don’t like to scroll through the entire month and the roundups work better for them. In that, I could do as I once did before the calendar was set out monthly, and delete past dates so the current week is always at the top. What do you think, good idea? Why not stick a broom up my arse too, and I’ll sweep the floor while doing it?!

Only kidding, if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it, probably be playing squash or something stupidly energetic like that; ha, imagine! So here, for all you lovely people is what we’ve found to do this week. I would still encourage you to scroll through the months as the bigger events need tickets and you’ve got to get in there fast these days, early bird, and something about a worm, and all that, and where was I anyway? Ah, yes……

Details on remembrance service and parade in Devizes, HERE, for all other places you’ll need to resort to relevant local Facebook pages, there’s too much to get down here.


Thursday 10th November then, and the usual Craft and Chat at Chippenham Library.

Keith James Performing the songs of Nick Drake at Chapel Arts in Bath. Meanwhile, tribute over in Swindon, Clearwater Creedence Reviva at Meca, but, and this is a big but, a contender for editor’s pick of the week, if it wasn’t for the fact it’s a Thursday, and I can’t make it, which isn’t fair but gammons tell me life isn’t fair, likely because they make it unfair, and I’m getting tetchy now, but one of most favourite-most reggae bands in the UK, Captain Accident & The Disasters play The Vic, and they’ve toured regularly supporting Toots & The Maytals, that’s how amazing they are!


Friday 11th running until Sunday, is the Terrace Soul, Jazz & Funk Winter Weekender in Swindon, and Friday night also sees our pick of the week, which I’m also gutted to have to miss, especially being Long Street Blues Club’s usually run Saturdays. Still, at the Corn Exchange, Devizes, they’ve the homecoming gig for guitarist Robin Davy, but otherwise all the way from California, Beaux Gris Gris & the Apocalypse, that one will go off, guaranteed.

Sheer Music is down the Pump, Trowbridge with Katie Malco, and the other prize gig this Friday, Harmer Jays with Chasing Kites and one of our new favourites, Nothing Rhymes With Orange at St James Vaults, Bath, has sold out. Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip is at Chapel Arts, Bath.

Travelling Wilburys tribute, The Unravelling Wilburys at The Melksham Assembly Hall. Sour Apple play The Mason Arms, Warminster, Taunts & Arizona Law at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, Michael Hennessy at The Wellington Arms, Marlborough.

No Middle Ground over in Swindon at The Vic, The People Versus & Tamsin Quin at The Hop Inn, and the Beverly Maye Band@ The Sun Inn, Coate.

Rob Newman is at Salisbury Arts Centre, The Scribes at The Winchester Gate. Sex Pistols Expose at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Saturday 12th and there’s the regular Lego Club from 3-4pm at Chippenham Museum. St Andrew’s Devizes Christmas Fayre from 10am-12pm. Saturday night in Devizes and highly recommended Clock Radio supports Cracked Machine at The Southgate. Rockhoppaz play Condado Lounge.

Sour Apple play The Brewery Inn, Seend Cleeve, and Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats are at Seend Community Centre.

Siren are at The Pilot, Melksham. Junkyard Dogs at The Somerset Arms, Trowbridge, while The Sylvertones play Stallards. Americana at the Pump, with Truckstop Honeymoon and the Shudders in support.

2 Tone All Skas play Chippenham’s Consti Club.

Wiltshire Police Band play a Remembrance service at the Bouverie Hall, Pewsey. Back to the 80s party at The Lamb, Marlborough with Rubix’s Groove, and a punky reggae party at The Barge HoneyStreet with Cara Means Friend.

Gaz Brookfield is at The Hop Inn, Swindon, with 12 Bars Later at The Manor Farm.

Bill Lawrence is at Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon, Emily Breeze & Leathers at The Three Horseshoes. Tony Christie & Ranagri – The Great Irish Songbook Tour at Chapel Arts, Bath.

And there’s The Hooten Hallers at Salisbury Arts Centre, Wishbone Ash’s “Argus 50th Anniversary show at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.


For a lively Sunday afternoon on the 13th, Plan of Action are at The Foresters Arms, Melksham from 5pm. For a mellower one, try Cantamus Chamber Choir at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.

TITCO’s Dinner Party opening night on Monday 14th at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes, and running until Saturday 19th. And other than our acoustic jam at the Southgate on Wednesday, that’s all I got for now; have a groovy weekend in a groovy kind of way.


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Billy Green Three’s Endless Scrolling

That Bill Green and his trio are back, WhatsApping me and spreading the news via social media about his new sardonic rap tune, condemning overuse of social media! Though any hypocrisy in that is forgiven, and not only because it’s an upbeat beguiling track, teetering with Geordie banter and end of the day, pertinent; course we all spend too much time on our phones, but if you didn’t you might’ve missed this nugget of brilliance.

It did get me contemplating days of yore, when there was always a book in my bathroom, but now, provided you don’t drop your phone down the u-bend, the book vanished along with those dolly toilet-roll holders, we’re Endless Scrolling, the very title of said satirical outpouring. The minefield maybe partially solvable through filtering; easier said than done, you want to remain Facebook friends with granny. Yet the perpetual stream of people’s dinner, dumbed opinion, cute cats, and FitBit stats and so on and so forth, is, as Bill rightly states here, boring.

A dilemma often commented on, and usually on social media, though the angle here isn’t thoroughly condemning internet surfing in general, or labelling anyone, just suggesting, it’s addictive conundrum and place in society in accordance with basic manners. Neither is the song cliché, as it’s accepting people will do it, rather than outright lambasting the whole habit, it’s about finding the right time and place; I might yet get let off for surfing on the loo.

At the dawn of smart phones there was an etiquette the popularity of has greatly reduced, so now it seems perfectly acceptable behaviour to scroll away while someone is addressing you in the antiquated fashion of face-to-face verbal communication, like there’s a more important world online than whatever it is they were going to tell you, which there might well be, but come on, manners! That’s where Billy Green Three are coming from with this delightful ditty, take a listen.

I get where you’re coming from Bill, though totally guilty as charged; hold on, just got to check my likes on our last post, then yeah, I get where you’re coming from, mate! Wey aye, man, canny toon.


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Fox Hunting Suppoter Ploughs into Sab with Car

Just a quick one from me this morning, as I’m at a total loss for words. A video has emerged on Facebook from the Herefordshire Hunt Saboteurs of a host and hunt supporter on the Ladywood Estate, home of the Cottesmore Hunt, running over a sab at high speed. The Sab organisation claim it was deliberate, I personally cannot see how you can possibly deny it anything less.

https://fb.watch/goKC1eWnhd/

Another example of the outrageous behaviour of hunt supporters in an ongoing national series of violent backlashes against groups only protecting wildlife in accordance of the law. Though I know, this is a little outside our area, it is the like we’ve seen at Lacock last Boxing Day, but so off the scale, it needs coverage, to highlight the extreme lengths hunt supporters are willing to go to; it is nothing short of attempted murder.

Aside the obvious that this aggressor should be bought to justice via the compelling evidence, it should stand as a testament to what the sabs have to endure, whether it is verbal abuse and harassment on a daily basis, or bouts of violence. Even if it were true, that the smokescreen of trail hunting are carried out legally, this should be used as a reason to outright ban the whole filthy charade, before someone is killed.

Our thoughts and hearts go out to victim and hope she makes a speedy recovery.


Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts; A New Chapter

Threw my cards on the table, and pitched being Father Christmas at Devizes Winter Festival, but was informed that was arranged by the Town Council…. so, that’s that idea well and truly quashed! It was great, though, to meet Annabel, one half of the new management team of Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts, to chat on changes and new visions for carnival and the various other annual town events they organise……

It’s been an autumn since I quizzed former DOCA artistic director, Loz, on whether she had a say on choosing people for the role. I was glad her reply confirmed this, through fear fond events like the street festival might get all ‘village fete.’ Make no mistake, keyboard warriors on social media were quick to sound negativity on decisions taken by DOCA recently, but I’d argue Loz justified these rightfully, did an outstanding job stamping her own mark on DOCA. This came to an apex at this year’s street festival, with the mind-blowing Ceres display telling the Ruth Pearce story, something I’d dub Loz’s farewell gift to Devizes. Annabel was due to be production manager on the project, but caught covid, though she praised Baseline Circus who staged it, explaining she’d worked with them before and would use them again for DOCA.

And that’s where we open said episode, continuing from Loz’s input. I’m partly aware of Annabel’s past experience on the festival circuit, I was as pleased as punch to hear she’s taken on the role, and I came away from our chat at New Society positive this opens a new chapter for DOCA. If one reaction to changes made, such as moving the dates of summer events to spread the workload and effort, not forgoing allowing time for schools to participate better, was this rather insular notion Loz was not from the area. Rather I liked this aspect, Loz bought in acts we otherwise may never have known. Put your pitchforks away, Annabel really is Devizes born and bred. The role though has been split into two, as Bristol-based Ashley takes the artistic side responsible for booking acts; best of both worlds.

“Ashley and I really love that she split the job between us,” Annabel began, “you’ve still got the element of someone who’s got their finger on the pulse of the artists, and I’m from Devizes. But though I’m based here, I’ve got the experience of twenty years of doing different festivals!”

I asked her what festivals, Boomtown, Glastonbury, I knew of. “All of them really,” she responded, “Secret Garden Party, Leeds Festival, and over winter I’ve been working in Edinburgh, so, Hogmanay and their street party. So, quite a lot of variety, but I always come back here.”

Not beating about the bush, my first question was on Street Festival, because personally it’s my favourite! I love that we get these colourful and lively carnival type bands full of brass and blend of gypsy ska-folk type shenanigans, but I’m also keen to suggest the event also highlights local musicians too. I’ve also heard criticism of lengthy changeovers on the stage, where Loz expressed it was to allow for the circus sideshows, of which the sound of would be drained out by bands on stage.

This idea was met in 2019 when Vinyl Realm funded and organised a fantastic second stage, my vision is now driven towards getting local acts on the main stage, rather than it being a ‘bolt-on.’ My pitch suggests if we host a number of acoustic acts between main bands, it wouldn’t drown out the circus acts, would satisfy bar loiterers, and it would highlight our local circuit to an audience who perhaps doesn’t make it out to our pub-venues. I’m pleased she made a note of this, though it was perhaps better put to Ashley, who wasn’t present. “Ashley’s got some great ideas on that,” Annabel replied, “about bringing in different types of acts from different places, and also keeping it accessible locally as well.

She toyed with this word, ‘accessible’ extending it to what’s important to her, “particularly in participation, whatever form that takes, whether it’s volunteering, attending, or performing, I want to make it accessible, finding out what will make it easier for people to enjoy it and in taking part as well.” Fire in the hole, golden opportunity for my summary on people’s, often passionate, feelings about the events, is it’s that delicate balance of pleasing everyone. “That’s the difficult bit,” Annabel confessed, “unfortunately you’re never going to please all the people all of the time, however I think by listening to people and communicating, would really help.”

And in fact, they’ve done precisely this, an online “carnival consultation” survey, which is still open, so too early to analyse results. Based solely on carnival, “because,” she explained, “I think there’s a particularly strong feeling DOCA wasn’t always listening to the people of Devizes, which they were to a certain extent, but maybe the communication wasn’t there, so we’re trying to make it as clear as possible, by opening it up and allowing people to have their say.” Annabel moved onto lower participation levels recently, due to difficulties of the pandemic era being “something we’d really like to address, and find out how we can make it easier for everyone.” A meeting about the results of the survey will follow, and really, you cannot ask for a better response than this, in my humble opinion!

There was one Facebook rant recently, comparing Devizes carnival with Pewsey’s, something I felt a tad unfair as Pewsey’s renowned reputation has taken decades to build, and a carnival is formed by people, Pewsey works because everyone comes out to play. “It takes an awful lot to get it to that level and keep it continuing,” Annabel mused, “it’s not a straight forward thing to do, and throwing in the spanner of a couple of years of nothing happening, and, yeah…” I trailed back to the tricky subject of satisfying everyone.

“The way we want to move forward is taking away the concept of us and them,” she expressed, “it’s all of us together, and that collates what you said as well, it needs to be something that everyone can feel they can get onboard with and get involved with, whether it’s something they’re already familiar with, or shared love of something new.”

If only those so quick to criticise could see, what I described as an iceberg, whereby it’s equal in size underwater as it is above, the inner-working of what it takes to stage these huge town events, they’d not, as dubious they do, take it somewhat for granted. Volunteering at this year’s street festival, which might’ve ended with me just clearing bins, opened my eyes to the mammoth task.

“Yes,” Annabel agreed, “and when you’re doing a good job, it’s when people don’t realise what’s going on behind the scenes, the amount of pre-planning, private funding, all of that sort of thing to bring it together, it’s a huge amount, especially these days when you’ve got all the red tape, but we trying to open it up, find out what’s going to make it easier for people to get involved, and do something about it. There’re a few different ideas we’ve outlined in the consolation, one idea was a ‘makers week,’ which could be weeks prior to carnival, where people who want to make something for carnival can come together and learn different skills.”

‘Together’ was becoming a word of the day, Annabel talking a lot on widening the volunteer spectrum to an almost ‘festival training core’ concept, and between this and her parenthood reasons for wishing to reduce her, what she described as “nomadic” festival life and be based here, “because I just love it,” is whyI came away positive from our chat.

The Winter Festival will be the proof in the pudding, Annabel and Ashley’s first DOCA event; had to wonder if this was possibly the most difficult of them to find a balance. “It’s all systems go,” she replied, “but I’m really excited about it already,” then told of the anticipation surrounding school’s lantern workshops, adding methods for creating similar enthusiasm for carnival.

For some unexplainable reasoning, I commenced waffling about Glastonbury festivals of yore, the different the weather makes, and we settled returning the conversation back to the beginning; changes, after Annabel spoke of Winter Festival’s indoor craft markets. “it’s difficult,” she responded, “but times do change. There’s a lot to be said for tradition, but a lot also to be said for new experiences; it’s about finding the right balance between the two, and making it work for as many people as possible, for the right reasons.”

As I said, I came away from our chat at New Society positive this opens a new chapter for DOCA, and I sincerely wish Ashly and Annabel the very best with their roles in our delightful carnival committee.


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Excelsior and Some Worried Men

Patiently awaiting the school run to take a listen to Excelsior, this new album by The Worried Men, after witnessing them at a blinder down Devizes’ live music ever-faithful, The Southgate, as I strongly suspected it’d be best designated as “driving music.” You know the Eye of the Tiger, Holding out for a Hero sort, of which those two classics have probably been the cause of many a speed awareness course.

Thus, suspicions confirmed; I’m bossing the school run with shades, and right arm causally hanging from window like a cool rocking daddy! Careful to keep the speedometer to restrictions, mostly so I’d get enough time to digest as much of this timeless nugget of rock n roll as I could; my daughter will immediately switch the car’s Bluetooth for her own phone, and brand of contemporary pop……rock n roll philistine!

I couldn’t rightly keep the engine running so the music will continue pumping, through fear groupie-like MILFs might piggyback each other, waving their band T-shirts above their heads, and no kid need see that; their topless mum posted on TikToc outside their school gates. But it certainly hits that spot. I managed to get to six tracks in, an emotive and paced instrumental called Dangerous Vision, after a fairly eighties raunchy-rock inspired, mullet-feel first couple of tunes, which was unexpected. You know the sort, where the “soft metal” pigeonhole revitalised chart success for harder bands, to leave their stage makeup on the dresser and comeback commercially, yet full force. The foundational Aces & Eights does it with bells on, feelgood air-punching, riding an AC-DC wave from ‘86.

Despite they do this with certain finesse, going on the live performance I was expecting something more seventies prog, least electric blues, the latter of which I got the very next song, Blodwyn and three songs in, Meadow Stone is where it really kicks, frenzied ZZ Top fashion meets surf-rock. Two awesome instrumentals ticked, Manacle Alley stands out, again exemplifying the ZZ Top feel, it’s vocally superior and most experimental to-date.

But the further we descend into this showcase of frontman Jamie Tyler’s sublime guitar work, the deeper the rabbit hole goes. Oddly grammatical, The Cat That Walks By Themself notches towards the electric blues I was expecting, Gershwin-esque, with some breath-takingly soulful female guest vocals from Julie Richards. Nova is a nugget of wonderful, an almost flamenco guitar intro drifts into something heavier afterwards, as if Santana recorded Floyd’s The Wall.

Two more tunes in this tenfold treasure, and we are truly rocking again, the first comes like a sonic Quo at their finest hour, the finale mellows you, leaving your air-guitar moment aside, you’re mystified and inspired as the journey comes to an end. An end you can follow-up though, since formation in 1994, The Worried Men gig relentlessly on our local circuit, and the wealth of experience and talent is something to behold. I believe I said this of the Southgate gig, “Jamie holds an expression of concentration, occasionally looking up at you through these spellbinding Hendrix fashioned excursions, as if to ask ‘is that alright for you?’ Like a dentist with his tools stuck in your gum, you feel like responding, ‘yes, fine, thank you doctor.’” Well, this album does everything to compliment the live show, it’s a musical anaesthetic.

Though I’m unsure where to pick the album up from, usual Amazon and iTunes I believe, their website is here, they’re busy on Facebook, but I think as timeless as their music is, so too is their antiquated ethos, and the best place to pick this up is to ask them at a gig!


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PREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Opera Is Back! – The Elixir Of Love! – Go See This Show! by Andy Fawthrop We’ve said it before, and we feel no shame … Continue readingPREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

SoupChick’s Georgian Feast Got me Contemplating Usage of The Shambles

Spud-gun is an amusing epithet underutilised as much as the Shambles often is in ol’ Devizes town, in my honest opinion. Spudgun, best describes the far removed from reality councillor who suggested a mezzanine floor is what’s needed to ensure the longevity of The Shambles. Is there even room for a second floor? I gazed upward to answer my own question, with a sigh of possibility, but would enough traders come and fill new units, if they did would it compensate for the cost of adding a second floor, and would shoppers even accend it to explore? Not forgoing lessening the aesthetic value of the building’s glorious height, it sounds like an impractical soultion focussed only on unachievable profit.

Having a feast in the Shambles casted a whole new perspective on the hidden beauty of this building, for me, and its possible usages too. SoupChick hosted a knockout supper there last night for near-on forty guests, celebrating owner Anya’s Georgian roots with an inspiring presentation from her artist mother, followed by a banquet of Georgian cuisine, but somehow, in that wonderfully tall hall, akin to a feast in the great hall of Vaulhalla!

I haven’t enough flowery shirts to be Jay Rayner, but I know what I like, and this was an experience my tastebuds will love me forevermore for! Pampered with a consistent stream of wine and gorgeous dishes, no expense was spared to show off the skills of Anya and her team in a unit the size of a bedsit kitchenette, and confirmed SoupChick is about as close to dishing out a mug of Cup-a-Soup as a daytrip to Canvey Island constituents a tropical holiday!

I feel for you if you missed this exclusive dinner, but keep abreast of their Facebook page or posters, as this was inaugural with future events planned, a Greek one, followed by an Italian, Anya’s partner Marc informed me.

Aside the continuing Devizes Food & Drink Festival, which coincidentally kicked off yesterday too, we’re somewhat limited for world cuisine here, like many rural areas, so this is a welcomed additional option, and just like the art show they organised back in November, it goes a long way in making perfect use of The Shambles.

Proof, I believe, that surely we should keep our feet on the ground, concentrate on what we have got? Starter whinge for ten, the entrance from the Market Place is hardly whetting the appetite, hardly screams come in here and take a look around; just some tables and chairs in a dank hall, occasionally occupied by a trader or two on market days. I accept an open space is practical and convenient, but this needs to occupy the rear end of it while those fantastic units in the middle and rear-end should greet passers-by at the beginning, much less it needs a lick of paint and some decoration.

Vibrant market halls of yore send me on a memory bliss, of sauntering Camden Lock, or the Lanes of Brighton. But this isn’t the nineties, and it’s Devizes, certainly not Brighton or Camden. And with that a chilling thought comes to me, of a couple of weeks ago, decending into the once bustling indoor market in Trowbridge town centre, to find it 99.9% desolate, my daughter reminding me it’s the after effects of the pandemic. By comparison with this, and not a bustling bygone city market, The Shambles is a wonderful market hall, and we shouldn’t take it for granted.

I’m guilty myself, I rush through it on my way elsewhere, but to add lively communal events, to welcome, as it once did, community groups like Devizes Living Room, and the addition of a piano were real positive moves. I’d like to suggest extending this, to welcome buskers, put some acoustic musicians in there, Devizes has plenty to offer.

I say they should encourage a flow of foot traffic through the Shambles by concentrating on adding arts, entertainment and street food, make it colourful and lively, add events such as book or record fairs, the possibilities are endless, let’s have a self-publishing zine convention with affordable tables, let’s have a creche, play area, and things to do for our younger generations, let’s go for it, and visting folk will bookmark Devizes as an even more fantastic day out than previously anticipated.

But hey, you know me, just a thought! For the best part of this is to thank SoupChick for a wonderful meal, it was interesting and an experience, I know now about Georgia, it’s culture and art, and certainly had the best possible taste of its food. All in good company, here’s a local event with a difference, truly tantalising the tastebuds, so much so I took to donning my modest gladrags, much to the shock of regulars at the Southgate, where I bee-lined afterwards for the contrasting headbanging thunder of Plan of Action!

The band were fantastic, though I wasn’t there for long enough to fairly justify a fuller review this time, mentioning it here it is only a method of expressing what a wonderfully diverse calendar of events we have in Devizes, and after last weekend’s gig excursion to Swindon, it was great to return. If buildings like the Shambles can be used as an addition for events, I believe we should make full use of it, diversify and celebrate the talent we have here inside it; go figure, miss-firing spudgun!


Weekly Roundup of Events 21st-27th September 2022

Apologies, I missed publishing last week’s roundup, one thing gets on another and so on and so forth; I’ve really no excuse, but you know you don’t have to wait for it, it’s all listed on the frequently updated event calendar, where if you’re new here, you’ll find ticket and info links to everything I will waffle on about here.

Those paying particular attention will find the calendar has been extended to December 2023, if anyone is still alive by then, but I wouldn’t bother too much browsing too far in the future just yet, as I’ve not added much stuff onto it; one stage at a time people!

So, back to this week and weekend. I was delighted to attend a dress rehearsal of a play called Hedda Gabler at The Wharf Theatre in Devizes last week. This show is running until Saturday and is very worthy of your attention.

 Wednesday 21st, then, and The Temperance Seven play tuneful jazz classics and original numbers with a Pythonesque, deadpan tomfoolery at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon.

Don’t forget the regular acoustic jam down the Southgate, Devizes.


Thursday 22nd and Chris Wood plays Pound Arts in Corsham. Chris Wood is an uncompromising writer whose music reveals his love for the un-official history of the English-speaking people. With gentle intelligence he weaves the tradition with his own contemporary parables.

Grand Slam headline and Sons of Liberty in support at The Vic in Swindon, while the Buddy Holly story is told at the Wyvern Theatre with That’ll Be The Day.

Oh, and The Seth Lakeman Band play The Cheese & Grain, Frome; nice.


Friday 23rd sees the opening of Bath Children’s Literature Festival, running until Sunday 2nd October, it is Europe’s largest dedicated children’s literature festival with a vibrant array of talks and activities for children.

I’m sorry I cannot be at this one, but the long-awaited new album from Swindon’s indie-pop favourites, Talk in Code gets a launch night at The Vic, with Riviera Arcade and Tom Moore.

Also, The Ultimate Boy Band Party Show at Wyvern Theatre, is not really for me, truth be told, but I thought I’d mention it.

Salisbury Arts Centre announced a gig called Ukraine a Go Go!! But I’m having trouble with that link, sorry, it may’ve been cancelled.

Dreamwave at the Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, Dirt Road at The Bear.

Humdinger are playing The Lamb, Marlborough.

At the Cheese & Grain, Bon Giovi…. quite; no prizes for guessing.


Saturday 24th and my tummy is rumbling already; yea-ha, barbeque my ham-hocks! The Devizes Food & Drink Festival kicks off with the Grand Market in the erm, Market Place. Running until Sunday 2nd October, it’s not just about this freebie, there’s a fantastic, super-sized programme of events happening, do check the website.

Once stuffed, Devizes, you’ll find Plan of Action at The Southgate, highly recommended, I am due to stuff my face, again, at SoupChick’s Georgian feast in the Shambles, but I firmly believe I might yet be able to fit all these in, we’ll see.

Due to the obvious, Pewsey Carnival’s legendary illuminated procession has been moved to this Saturday, 24th, and find the funfair running and Humdinger at an afterparty on Cooper’s Field.

The Pump has folk-rock’s Merry Hell, part of Trowbridge Festival, tickets are £16 from the Trowbridge Festival site. The Reservoir Hogs play The Dursley Arms and find Junkyard Dogs at The Wiltshire Yeoman on Chilmark Road.  

Another recommendation, 12 Bars Later, play the Talbot Inn, Calne. The Setbacks headline a triple bill at the Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, with Bottlekids and Prison Wives.

Cliff Richard tribute at Neeld, Chippenham; Simon Goodall and the Bourne Again Shadows.

This Ukraine a Go Go!! at Salisbury Arts Centre crops up again, I must have got this news from somewhere! But if in the spire, Ed Gamble plays Salisbury Playhouse.

The Wedding Present commemorate the 30th anniversary of the release of their album Seamonsters, at The Cheese & Grain. Recorded in just twelve days during 1991, the record reached No. 13 in the Official Album Chart, hailed by many as a true classic. Meanwhile, I’d thoroughly recommend Bath’s indie-pop sensation Longcoats, playing at the Cheese’s sister venue, The Treehouse.

That just leaves Swindon, where Al Murray’s Gig For Victory tour is at the Wyvern Theatre, there’s a rave, up at The Vic, when Midlife Krisis drop their milk-float round; there’s always a rave when that happens.

But also, onto our Editor’s Pick of the Week, where I dream of doing anything I wanted, VIP access and all gubbings, even if it’s not true! The Jazz Knight’s daring extraordinaire on Saturday, Swindon Folk & Blues Festival at Christ Church in Old Town. Line-up is truly grand, Ruzz Guitar, Lost Trades, Fly Yeti Fly, Joel Rose; did a half-preview with the Shuffle, here.


Sunday, 25th September, and there’s a record fair at The Cheese & Grain, Frome, Hip Route are at the Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon and Wyvern Theatre in Swindon presents Dave Gorman: Powerpoint To The People.


And that’s about all I’ve found for the weekend, unless you know different; have a good one. The Best of Queen at Wyvern Theatre, Swindon on Monday, 26th, and When Darkness Falls at Salisbury Playhouse on Tuesday, with Crimes On Centre Court at the Wyvern. From then on in, you know what to do, check the event calendar! But there’s two things you need to know about in Devizes on Wednesday 28th, I’ll drop the posters below, cos I’m fed up with typing now!

Trending….

Furlong Close Celebration

Residents of Furlong Close in Rowde mingled with staff, the new owners, villagers, councillors, and many of the campaigners which made up the Familes and Friends of Furlong Close steering group, at a party to celebrate the saving of the Close from closure….

It has been a drawn-out battle with former owners HFT, since October 2020, when, in the midst of the pandemic, the residents of Furlong Close, their families and friends were thrown into a state of anxiety and despair at the news Furlong Close was to close, and its thirty vulnerable residents forced to leave their happy and settled homes.

In July, the group were delighted to announce Furlong Close had been saved. The site had been acquired by a new owner, Specialised Supported Housing, and new care provider, Agincare, took over the provision of care to the residents.

Chair of the campaign group, FAFF, Antonia Field gave a heartwarming speech, thanking everyone for their efforts, and MP Danny Kruger reflected on the national mourning, suggesting this occasion was “what England is all about.” For me, personally, getting the chance to meet and talk with some of the residents put all the sterling efforts of the group and villagers into perspective.

The residents of Furlong Close are a welcomed part of the village community, always have been, the gathering today proved this, a truly monumental occasion for Rowde.

The ribbon was cut, symbolic of a new, brighter era for Furlong Close, and a marvellous example of how people-power can turn a negative into a positive.

I tried to chat with a representative of Agincare, but she was preoccupied talking to a resident about the Marvel film “Thor, Love and Thunder!” Along with the sunny autumn afternoon, this said it all for the occasion, giving me faith in the new owners and thier relationship with the residents.


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 8th-14th September 2022

Slight seasonal changes, wetter but still warm, slight Prime Minister changes, dryer but still a narcissistic numpty; ah well, let’s see, a day later than usual I know and apologise, what’s happening in Wiltshire over the next week……

The one link you need as usual, is our event calendar, where it’s all listed with ticket and info links, and it’s updated (fairly) regularly, so bookmark the beast and remain as you will be after reading this; in the know.  

Thursday 8th and there’s the Swindon Comedy Club at Kioki, with headliner Abi Clarke.

Friday 9th Hedda Gabler begins at the Wharf Theatre, Devizes and runs until 24th September. Hedda Gabler is recognised as one of the world’s great plays written by one of the world’s great playwrights and is generally regarded as Ibsen’s masterpiece. Hedda, on the face of it, is not your archetypal tragic heroine. Starting quietly, and quite humorously, the drama builds to its terrifying and riveting climax, involving the presentation set of pistols that Hedda inherited from her father.

One to watch, Sour Apple play the Pelican in Devizes on Friday, and look out for a new music program called Vamos, at The Old Road Tavern, Chippenham, they’ve got the wonderful Harmony Asia supporting Hoggs Bison. And find Illingworth at The Royal Oak in Marlborough, all free gigs.

“Hurrah, they are back to School” runs the tagline of the end of summer barbeque at Seend Community Centre.

Our renowned house DJ, George G Force is at Marston Park, Frome, while tribute The Smyths play The Cheese & Grain. Festival season hasn’t quite closed yet, it’s The Mucky Weekender Festival at the Winchester Bowl.

Meanwhile, In Swindon, Dangerous Kitchen play The Vic, The Salts at Swindon Arts Centre, and A Country Night in Nashville at the Wyvern Theatre.

Saturday 10th and back by popular demand, the start of the legendary Pewsey Carnival, yay! Procession is next Saturday 17th, with the Wheelbeero race on Thursday 15th, but this Saturday is Pewsey Carnival Wine Race.

Our editor’s pick of the week; Party for Life, Melksham

A world suicide prevention day fundraiser in the Sky Bar at Melksham Town FC. The Soul Strutters, Blind Lemon Experience and Roughcut Rebels play this big one, with DJs and pizza and others; sounds fantastic, we did preview it a while back, and I believe a few tickets are still up for grabs, follow their Facebook page for more details.

Staying in the Sham, The Pilot has a Family fun day with music and, fundraising for MIND, see the poster for details.

Crafts, stalls and entertainment are promised at Devizes Rotary Club’s Health & Wellbeing Showcase on the Small Green from 11am-3pm on Saturday, and for a musical evening in Devizes, rock covers band Black Nasty are at The Southgate, while People Like Us do their awesome thing at the Three Crowns.

Time also, for the Burbage Beer, Cider & Music Festival.

Another upcoming local band to watch is Salisbury indie-kids Carsick, who plan to blow the lid off of Trowbridge Town Hall.

Contrasts in Swindon as Rage Against the Regime play The Vic, while Shape Of You brings the music of Ed Sheeran to the Wyvern Theatre.

You might have caught him at Devizes Arts Festival this summer, Alfie Moore’s show Fair Cop Unleashed comes to Salisbury Arts Centre.

No prizes for guessing who Motorheadache is attributing, they’re at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, while Dana Gavanski plays their sister venue the Tree House, with Cornelia Murr in support.

And unfortunately, The International Comics Expo, ICE in Birmingham which I’ve still got listed, has been cancelled, I’m just being too lazy to delete it!   

Sunday 11th, after terrible weather last Sunday postponed Devizes Town Band’s Children’s Proms in the Park at Hillworth, it will be combined this week with the planned main Proms in the Park.  

And save a Recital Series at Swindon Arts Centre, also on Sunday, that about wraps it up for the weekend, unless you know different? Unless you dare to tell me that I missed something?! Please do, I don’t bite, at least only a nip, on the bum; it’s free to list stuff on Devizine, just message us, we’re in it for the love.

Through the week I’ve not got much, but you know updates of the event calendar occasionally happens, though I’m currently undergoing the arduous task of getting next year’s calendar up and running, so bear with, bear with.

Tuesday 13th, I’ve got Kaleidoscopic at Salisbury Arts Centre and a RSPB: A Victorian Birder’s Wiltshire at the same venue.

Next week though you can look forward to Pewsey carnival, Swindon Shuffle, and the White Horse Opera is back too, along with lots more events to get your teeth into; I’ll catch you around at one sometime, maybe? What else are you going to do, “Simpsonise” yourself with a phone app; get real?!!


Trending…

Sour Apple’s Kate Goes Diva at The Pelican

Safe to say, I’m reckoning, we’re now back to full velocity for live music and entertainment in Devizes post-lockdown, and once again, for a small town it’s punching well above its weight for choice.

Rare for me to be out on the tiles on a Friday due to real work commitments, but I’m off the hook and starting my adventure in a pub I also rarely frequent, Wadworth’s The Pelican Inn.

An historic stalwart in the Market Place, The Pelican reliably never changes its spots because it needn’t. It’s that testament to the community-led tavern you’d usually find in villages, housing estates or hidden away in a city alley, but in the centre of our market town. It’s welcomingly local, with a maze of decorative and comfy cubby holes, if you’d favour privacy from the lively communal area.

Kate stands close to the bar, singing along to well-known backing tracks, a practical method that while common and not really my cuppa, is a far, far stretch from Karaoke, with such a powerful and soulful voice at the helm. One half of acoustic duo Sour Apple, Kate can deliver a note crisp as if Alison Moyet came after Celine Dion, and affirmed regulars on the circuit, Sour Apple, onto my must-see hitlist.

Power ballads of era-spanning exceptional divas proved no challenge for Kate, and engaged the crowd to join in.

Friday is live music night at The Pelican, as landlady Sarah explained Saturday is a no-go, preventing a rude awakening Sunday morning to prep the kingpin of The Pelican’s agenda, the popular Sunday roast. With a takeaway option, capped under a tenner and with vegan alternative, the Sunday roast maybe the icing on the cake at the Pelican, but weekday specials make for a tantalising tradtional pub grub menu.

Considering comedy, but revealling their live music lineup up till Christmas, there’s a good variety of worthy local talent at The Pelican. On Karaoke, Confetti Battle night, 3rd September, sees the regular and ever popular Krazee Devil Karaoke, but not before Bran and Mirko’s unmissable Irish-folk duo, The Celtic Roots Collective play the bank holiday weekend, on Friday 26th August.

Kate returns as the aforementioned duo Sour Apple on September 9th, and master of all trades, the amazing Adam Woodhouse, regular support act at Long Street Blues Club, pays the Pelican a vist on 30th September.

Saxy local elders, Funked Up arrive on 14th October, followed by Krazee Devil’s Halloween Karaoke on the spooky 29th, again on Lantern Parade night, 25th November, and Funked Up provide a Christmas party on 25th December.

Though the real beauty for my personal tastes comes on Friday 18th November, when Chippenham duo Blondie & Ska play the Pelly. Part Blondie tribute, part classic Two-Tone covers with a hint of Blondie makeover, it’s orginal, progressivly acomplished, but more importantly, a whopping chunk of fun. Throughout lockdown this wonderful duo kept fans entertained prolifically live streaming, and for that alone, I bloomin’ love ’em!

With offerings as good as this, The Pelican is a welcomed return to the live music circuit, aside it’s cracking menu and cheery hospitality.


Weelky Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 11th-16th August

The heat is on, as Glen Frey once said. Whatever did happen to Glen? You don’t have to answer that, we’re here to find out what’s going on in the wonderful wilds of Wiltshire, not to discuss the heroes of eghities power-pop.

Thursday 11th, then, and James Kirkby plays Chapel Arts in Bath, ans Lone Bear is at The Beehive, Swindon.

School still out, and Aston Court have the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, on Friday 12th. Something on my bucket list, a hot air balloon, just so you know.

There’s a very interesting Lego stop-frame animation workshop at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, also on Friday, and it’s got later dates available should you not get in on Friday.

In Devizes those ever-popular mod covers band, The Roughcut Rebels play The Three Crowns, up against Peppa Pig in Hillworth Park, they are! Not sure about you, but I know which one I’d prefer to visit…. Roughcut Rebels, without doubt, need to be jumping in more muddy puddles, for point of reference, guys!!

Update, due to hot weather, Peppa Pig has been postponed until Monday, to prevent the event turning into an upsetting hog roast!

For more live music in Devizes, try a night of power and soul, with Kate at the Pelican.

The Reason do their thing at the Green Dragon in Market Lavington, and great to see Illingworth appearing at the Barge on Honeystreet; both highly come recommended from us here at Devizine.

Libre Stone play Komedia in Bath, and if you’re down that way, check out an earlier session from Devizine’s favourite singer-songwriter school teacher, N/SH in the bar.

And find a triple punk bill at The Vic, Swindon, with Riot City Radio, Street Outlaws & Two Sick Monkeys.

Saturday 13th, and there’s a soy candle workshop at Chippenham Museum, and The Trowbridge Weaver’s Market at the Town Hall.

Always one of the best village fetes around these parts, Seend Fete on the green Saturday 13th.

The Duskers play the Southgate, Devizes, and there’s the Unlock Reset festival #2 at the Consti Club in Chippenham.

Open Mic at 23 Bath Street, Frome, and The Dung Beatles play Chapel Arts, Bath.

Not a great deal listed this Saturday, to be honest, all eyes on Swindon, where my Editor’s Choice this week is Swindon Pride.

Arrive at H&M in Swindon Centre for 11, as the march starts at 11:30am.

We also wish Darren Simons all the best, as he stands down from The Rolleston and Level III, to concentrate efforts more The Vic. That said, you know it’s going to go off at both venues on Saturday, as Level III presents The Chaos Brothers, and there’s another loud and proud triple bill at the Vic, with Here Come the Crows, NervEndings & Something Underneath.

The Woodlands Edge in another venue worth venturing out to, Swindon direction, and Mark Colton will be entertaining there, with Ska , Punk , New Wave covers.

On Sunday 14th August, Fantasy Radio are back in Hillworth Park, 2-5pm. The lowdown on this is, despite me having a moan last week about not announcing who was booked, meaning I missed Phil Cooper play, because I wasn’t informed, I’m glad to have wandered through Hillworth, on my way to the Gate, and overhear them say another third of the Lost Trades, Jamie R Hawkins is playing this Sunday. Even if Fantasy want to keep these things quiet, for whatever reasoning, I believe it’s important for the artists and visitors to know, so I’m telling you now!

And breath; Luke De-Sciscio plays Komedia, Bath on Sunday too.

Monday 15th, and it’s the postponed arrival of Peppa Pig at Hillworth Park, Devizes, and Rock the Tots Summer Party at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon. They have a Name that Bunting session on, on Tuesday, a singing day and Fidgety Feet will br there too, with a children’s play, The Little Tin Soldier.

The new season on Jazz Knights starts on Tuesday, and they have The Alan Barnes Quartet, at their usual venue, The Royal Oak, Swindon.

And that’s your blooming lot! That said, our event calendar is forever being updated, at least when I’m not chained to the sink by Mrs Devizine, doing the washing up, picking my nose or asleep, probably dreaming about being chained to the sink by Mrs Devizine, or picking my nose.

Oh yeah, and, while we’re here; you got your ticket for The Full-Tone Festival yet? Get a jog on if not, it’s probably going to be last great summer blow-out in Devizes this year.

Have a great weekend ahead, apply sunscreen, and if we missed your event, we apologise, but ask yourself this; did you tell us about it? Did you? Really?!

It’s free to get listed here, we’re in it for the love, and cake, and maybe for the love of cake too, so either message us or don’t moan if I missed it!


Jon Amor in Residency – August 7th 2022 – The Southgate Inn

By Ian Diddams

After eight months of being other engaged on the first Sunday of each month, with run throughs of self-authored radio plays, Rugby weekends to Edinburgh, and rehearsals for Pirates of Penzance and Macbeth, I finally had a spare slot to come and see Jon Amor in residency at The Southgate Inn, Devizes.

Given this was Jon’s EIGHTH appearance this year at the venue it’s a somewhat daunting task to review him following in the footsteps of Messrs Worrow and Fawthrop .. but here I am in an attempt to not regurgitate the same old cliches and fawning sycophancy.

Errr… ummm… hmmm… ahhh…
So much for that attempt then! So leaving that aside …

Jon – the lanky piece of piss from the Hoax according to Jeff Beck – was as ever at his ease in his manor. Joining him were his constant companions (at least at the Southgate!) the incomparable Jerry Soffe on bass and Tom Gilkes on drums – more of them later. And after a couple of shoulder loosening openers of superb class this month’s guest … Muddy Manninen of Wishbone Ash, Patsy Gamble and Black Pearl fame. And even with the superb introduction to the gig, the class rose yet again as Muddy strummed his way through the first joint number.

And the evening just got better and better and better. Swapping between themselves on rhythm and lead, Jon and Muddy led us through raucous numbers to classic blues over and over again. And no sooner had it seemed they’d just begun … it was half time and a chance to replenish glasses and take a breather from the heady atmosphere outside in the delightful beer garden of the Southgate.

Soon it was however time for more of the same, and what a second half. How anybody can say they don’t like blues always defeats me and the guys took us all to even more stratospheric delights. Aside from the phenomenal talents of our two strummers, the backing boys shone though. Jerry every bit the standard bassist with t shirt, shorts and trainers had his own moment to shine with sublime solos and interjections, the coolest member of the quartet (well, he IS a basis 😊 ). And Tom… well… BLOODY HELL! I recall the first ever drum solo I saw aged about twelve maybe, at the Chatham Central Halls of the Dutch Swing College Band – the rest of the band left the stage – no doubt to toke and drink up – and the drummer did his thing for several minutes. I was mesmerised. I’ve loved a good drum solo since and I wasn’t disappointed as Tom got his chance to demonstrate his sublime skillset for many minutes until he finally begged for release from his band mates as he tired, to a standing ovation.

A chum I grew up with a million years ago is no mean drummer himself, and runs a recording studio in Southern California now; I sent him a video of Tom’s work and he replied “He’s a very good drummer. Those little grace notes he’s playing on the hi hat in that last clip is classy.” So there you have it – not only a brilliant drummer but also a Devizine review from San Diego!

All good things eventually come to an and we said farewell to Jon and Muddy and – of course! Tom and Jerry! The connection between all four of them was palpable and the joy palpable. Jon has always come across as a genial easy-going guy of course, but I commented to him afterwards that he looked really happy on set. Broad grins and smiles all round. Muddy was a total delight to see and hear play, true class again. We are so fortunate to be able to draw upon Jon’s circle of friends in the business in this manner, and it’s no small kudos to Dave and Debs at the Southgate for the residency slot and the concept of “And Friends”.

As a final world then, it’s only fair to quote my chum from SoCal once again …

“It’s a good day when you stumble upon players of this calibre down the pub!”

Isn’t it just?


Steeple Ashton Summer Spectacular Fundraising for Motor Neurone Disease Association and Others

Steeple Ashton’s Summer Spectacular at the church paddock on Saturday 10th September promises a three-course street food feast, with an auction from Paul Martin of TV’s Flog It, a casino, and entertainment from a magician and Abba tribute, Angels.

Tickets are £45 from the Steeple Ashton village shop, or online here, and proceeds go to a number of chosen and worthy charities.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance needs no introduction, but you should be aware it relies entirely on fundraising.

The organisers are keen to add the event is also supporting Motor Neurone Disease Association, which focuses on improving access to care for those people and their families living with or affected by this fatal disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.

And Evie’s Gift too, which was set up by Bryan & Patsy Clover after their 13 year old daughter, Evie, tragically died of an aggressive brain tumour. During the time she was in hospital they saw tired and anxious parents of very sick children sleeping on chairs, or even in their cars, as they couldn’t afford hotel accommodation.

The charity pays for accommodation and help for parents in these stressful situations. All very worthy causes for what sounds like an awesome party; tickets are on sale now.


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 3rd-10th August 2022

Bit cloudy, still hot, what have we got, for the coming week, quite a lot! Welcome to August one and all, nights slowly closing in, apples taking an early dive off trees, make the most of summer, though there’s no links, you can find more details and ticket links on our event calendar, plus of course you can skip ahead, early bird and all that; you know how it works by now!

Schools out, but there’s another art session, or play days at the Cause, Chippenham on Wednesday 3rd. Meanwhile Devizes kids can build their own bird box at Hillworth Park; costs £7.50 but lunch is included at the Café. Older Devizes artists need join The Lawrence Society of Art, who are at Marden, thatching harvest and stooks.

Thursday 4th and there’s a talk at Chippenham Museum on Robin Tanner & the Arts & Crafts Movement.

Three emerging local indie bands play the Vic in Swindon, Thursday, Kayble, which features Ben Kay, formally of Kaleido Bay, I See Orange and PX.Music; free entry.

And the Outcider Festival 2022 kicks off near Mendip. Still a few tickets, be quick, Dreadnought headline this awesome festie which promotes itself with the slogan “no tribute bands. No X-Factor. No Carling lager. No tossers!” Love it!

Closer to home Purton’s Festival on the Farm begins the next day, Friday 5th, with Queen tribute Flash headlining, other acts include a generous handful of local acts; Shades of Seattle, Rude Mood, Sebastian and Me, Rave Against the Regime, Get Carter, Groove Club Collective, Blind Lemon Experience. Tickets still up for grabs, an adult weekender is £50.

Meanwhile, Swindon legends, Penfold appear at The Vic, and here’s an artist on my must see hitlist, appearing at the Pump in Trowbridge, Lille Rode, also on Friday.

Marlborough College Summer School presents The Rocket Man: A Tribute to Sir Elton John, and over the Wellington Arms find popular folk acoustic duo, Bodge it and Scarper.

There’s Beatroot Jazz at The Bear, Bradford-on-Avon, and contemporary blues guitarist Aynsley Lister at Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Saturday 6th August then, there’s tours of Trowbridge Town Hall, and Braeside House, Devizes have a Summer Fair and Family Open Day. And don’t forget I mentioned earlier this week, if you were paying attention! Bromham’s fundraising Family Fun Fete, see here for details.

Salisbury’s, highly recommended by us, Strange Folk return to The Southgate Devizes, while the wonderful People Like Us go up against Smooth at the wonderful Crown in Bishop’s Cannings; just a whole lotta wonderful in that village at the moment!

Editors Pick of the Week!

Best of luck to Marlborough Town Football Club, holding their inaugural festival, Elcot Festival on Saturday, FREE ENTRY, with a great line-up, so good, so free, I’m making it my pick of week, an honour only bestowed to the best!!

Party parody band Kova Me Bad headline, with Marlborough’s finest ironic metallers, Pants. Ska-punkers Slagerij, and punk-indie The Vooz, alt-rock with Meeking, and Navajo Dogs, and Young Vintage. What’s surprising is to see The Dirty Smooth at bottom of the listing, maybe they’re unaware of what a brilliant Malmsbury band they’ve booked, yet, truth be told, there’s some great acts there.

The Barge at HoneyStreet pay homage to popular boater Beatrice, and they’ve Dub The Earth, Drop The Gun and True Earthers.

There’s a “supersonic Saturday” at the Neeld in Chippenham with The Britpop Boys, while the Consti Club clash a little with a Blondie tribute, Call me Blondie.

The Pump in Trowbridge is unusually open Saturday, with Steve Wickham of The Waterboys, and support from Joe Chester, and there’s local grunge at Stallards with The Black Hole Sons.

Spoiled for choice, Swindon, with a female-fronted ska, mod, new wave covers band Reboot at the Queen’s Tap, highly recommended The Worried Men play The Rolleston Arms, and here’s something which sound interesting; Siouxsie and the Banshees tribute Painted Bird at The Vic.

Devizes Fantasy Radio start their first annual Lark in the Park on Sunday 7th, ongoing for the next three Sundays, free music starts 2pm. A great picnicy afternoon in Devizes, but I do wish Fantasy would tell all about who they’ve booked; it’s pot luck I’m afraid. If you wish to promote and support local live music, you would surely announce the performers so people can earmark them in the future. Sigh, maybe it’s just me on a bad hair day, but I have to question, are the bands even getting paid for this?!

Nevertheless, you can be sure of one thing, the first Sunday of the month will never be the same again. Those who know, know; get down the Southgate at 5pm, for it’s the Jon Amor residency, and he’s bringing Muddy Manninen as guest. This is NOT a recommendation; this is a direct order!!

And that’s your weekend wrapped up, have a good one. In the week you can find some piano concerto with the Graham Dent Trio at il Fiume, Italian restaurant in Bradford-on-Avon on Tuesday 9th, and the following weekend starts early if you’re off Boomtown on Wednesday. But our list is never stagnant, constantly updating, so please check in regularly.

The coming month is packed, the big events to plan ahead for are Bristol International Balloon Fiesta Friday 12th, Swindon Pride, Unlock Reset Festival at Chippenham’s Consti Club, and Seend Fete on 13th. Bath Comic & Gaming Festival on 20th, and the start of the new season for the Long Street Blues Club, Honey Fest at the Barge from Thursday 25th, and bank holiday treats such as GoatFest, Reading Festival and of course, our very own Fulltone Music Festival 2022, Great Cheverall Soap Box Derby, Potterne Festival, Chippenham River Festival, and great mini-fests at Calne’s Talbot, and Bradford-on-Avon’s The Lamb. Top up your sunscreen!


Trending….

Devizes Food & Drink Festival, Back for 2022

Later than usual, the Devizes Food & Drink Festival is quite possibly the last major summer event in Devizes; their programme of events has gone live online now, the box office opens on August 12th; fill your boots, at least your tummy!  

The scrumptious proceedings run from Saturday 24th September to Sunday 2nd October, which, if you’ve not been before, operates as a vast series of both free and paid events, obviously food and drink related. So not to distract your browsing pleasure from their website, let’s just breeze over the goodies, summarise and send you in their direction, shall we?

The biggie is on the opening day; Saturday 24th September, 10am to 4pm, Devizes Market Place comes alive with the Street Food & Artisan Producer Market. Wadworth sponsored, with bar and pub game, it’s a bustling market of self-produce, where you can gas all you like, with purveyors of fine foods, blag a taster, buy a jar or two. Music comes from The Decades.

From there on afterwards, there’s a number of interesting and varied side-events, a movable feast at Winkworths, a meet with Rowdefield Farm’s beekeepers, a teddy bear’s picnic for ten years and under at Hillworth on Sunday 25th, dinner at the Wiltshire Shooting Centre, in the railway tunnel. The usual great foodie quiz is at The Literary & Scientific Institute on the Monday, entomologist, author, academic, television presenter and explorer George McGavin will be talking insects, and how we should be incorporating them into our diet, they’ll be reliving school dinners, Guardian’s creator of the How to Cook the Perfect column, Felicity Cloake will be in the house, and the Gourmet Brownie Kitchen gets in on the act on Thursday 29th September, with an expert from Hilperton based coffee company Dusty Ape.

Of all events from a murder mystery dinner, foraging, loitering in allotments, Come Dine With Us, dog food dinner for your four legged friend at The fox and Hounds, and pig welfare farm visit, the most un-foody has to be Wadworth signwriting workshop; not quite sure how that irrelevant one popped in there! But one of the best new comers to the usual goings-on, The World Food event sees the festival’s closure on Saturday 2nd October at the Corn Exchange, where for 50p a taste, you can sample flavours of the world, from Austria to Zimbabwe, exploring real home cooking from local residents who have far flung roots. New countries cooking this year include the Philippines, Guatemala and Mexico.

See, my belly is rumbling already now! Writing food festival previews should be likened to going to the supermarket, neither should you attempt on an empty stomach!

For more info, click here!

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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 27th July – 3rd August 2022

Fire up those Vespas and Lambrettas, because we’re revving into August scooter style! If last weekend in Devizes was all about beer, this one’s all about scooters….and beer! See our editor’s picks section for more details about that, otherwise, here’s the lowdown on everything we’ve found to do this coming week and weekend.….

As usual I’ve left links out, the one link you need for further details on all events is our event calendar, here for July, here for August. School holiday activates are building up, I’ll add some new ones on this article, as this list needs updating, but there’s still lots of great ideas to keep those nippers from nipping at your patience levels, HERE for god’s sake, pass the wine!

Wednesday 27th

 The Wiltshire Air Ambulance Roadshow comes to Hillworth Park, Devizes on Wednesday 27th, from 10-2pm, suitable for ages 7 and up; ha, 7-Up! No? Lost you now, have I? It’s been a long morning. Updated: sorry, event has been cancelled.

Staying with kid’s activities; Wednesday & Thursday also sees a Devizes Tennis Club Summer Camp session, the ongoing Multi Sports Programme at Hardenhuish School also starts, there’s art and play summer sessions at the Cause, Chippenham. And you can learn how to produce your own mini-movie, with an Introduction to Stop Motion Animation at Pound Arts, Corsham with resident artist and animator Caroline Rudge.

For grownups, there’s also a Lunchtime Recital with Matthew Taylor (violin) & Peter French (piano) at Pound Arts on Wednesday.

Thursday 28th

Of course, it’s Womad’s 40th weekend, and we wish all you lucky ticketholders a great time there. STOP THE PRESS, there are still tickets

And it’s a family day in space at the Weston Hub, Bath; see poster!

We say happy 1st anniversary to the Condado Lounge in Devizes, where you’ll find Mr Finley Trusler handling the entertainment.

For outdoor theatre picnic, try The Sensory Garden, just behind Trowbridge Town Hall, where the Apricity Theatre presents As You Like It, a rollicking romp through the Forest of Arden, celebrating love, life, and human nature. Staying in Trowbridge, but more fiery, post-punk, find duo Deux Furieuses hitting the Pump!

TaleGate Theatre Productions, producers of ‘Father Christmas Needs A Wee!’ and ‘The Giant’s Loo Roll’ comes to Swindon Arts Centre for another children’s musical full of songs and silliness, and a corgi or two, with The Queen’s Knickers! Older Swindon comedy seekers need to head for MECA for a Chuckles Comedy Club night.

Friday 29th

Film Club night at Melksham Assembly Hall, they’re showing John Carpenter’s The Thing. Meanwhile it’s going to steam your glasses up at The Vic, Swindon, with The Soap Girls, and Krooked Tongue in support. More causally, there’s the Bowie Experience at The Wyvern. Another tribute in the other direction, Guns & Roses Experience play The Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Clubbers head for Club Nomah, Bath, where the Shindig Festival head inside for the evening; see poster.

But bikers are left very much outside, which is likely how they like it, as it’s both Calne Bike Meet Weekend, where Siren play The Talbot, and of course, if we’ve had the rockers we also need the mods, our pick of the week….

Editor’s Pick of the Week: Devizes Scooter Rally 2022

Over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, yeah, get your cherry-red dockers and trilbies on, snap those braces, it’s time for Devizes Scooter Rally 2022. I’m not going to repeat myself, it’s all gone Blue Peter; here’s a preview I prepared earlier!

Saturday 30th

It was a shame to hear M for 2022 at Lydiard Park, was cancelled due to “the cost-of-living crisis” they claim. Paul Jones Live in Concert at Christ Church, in Swindon, though, Sack Sabbath play The Vic, and break a leg, students of Fitzgraham, on a journey into Wonderland at The Wyvern, where children as young as four years old through to adults will perform ballet, modern, tap, contemporary, lyrical, acro and musical theatre.

If you loved the reggae at Devizes Beer Festival last weekend, and noted I did, and may/may not have attained a small bruise to the elbow by falling backwards into the flower bed, you’ll only need to travel the A4 east, where Knati and Nick have a Reggae Garden Party at the Pelican near Froxfield; again, see the poster below.

Further Pewsey way, find another Bottfest Hog Roast session at the Seven Stars, Bottlesford, where Mick O’Toole provides the music. In Marlborough town, expect vintage blues with a hard-edged groove; yes, Barrelhouse play The Lamb.

Siren move across to Melksham, to play the Pilot.

Non-scooterists in Devizes, choose between the sublime sound of Illingworth, who plays The Three Crowns, or the more punker, Navajo Dogs, who do their thing at The Southgate Inn; both more than worthy, my jury is out on this and I remain undecided at the time of going to press!

For the horizontal, nineties ambient dub masters, The Orb celebrate the 30th Anniversary of UF-Orb at The Cheese & Grain, and oh, like, what a blissful trip that was!

Sunday 31st

Trowbridge Rugby Football Club Summer Camps go off every Sunday from now, with girls’ and boys’ teams for all ages. Great club, needing some players!

Calne Biker Weekend continues, with The Voodoo Penguins at The Bug & Spider, and The Cheese & Grain have Frome Record Fair.

Monday 1st August

Pinch, punch; maybe take the little ones to the Rock the Tots Seaside Show at Trowbridge Town Hall, perhaps?

Wednesday 3rd

Wednesday sees the start of a series of Crafty Kids in the Café at Hillworth Park, Devizes, and a second art and play summer session at the Cause, Chippenham. For grownup artists, The Lawrence Society of Art are in Marden, thatching harvest and stooks.

That’s all I’ve got for you, but keep updated via our event calendar, as more may well be added soon; have a great weekend, I’m soooo out of here….as soon as I grow up!


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Ten Lost Characters Funko Pop Forgot

If Forbidden Planet is, as I suspect, owned by Dick Turpin, I report those nauseatingly cute figurines, Funko Pops, have escaped and now they’re every-bloody-where. I even saw some in the Shambles market in Devizes; and there was me assuming I could saunter through with my offspring, without the need to dust cobwebs off my wallet; no siree Bob Kane, I’m not taking her in there!

If I whinge materialistic mutterings, in my youth once, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Danish consumerism swallowed me whole, and so did the George Lucas franchise. All’s fair in love and war; if I’d seen Lego Star Wars products back then I think I’d have had a seizure.

For those without geek kids, asking what the devil’s new haircut a Funko pop is, it’s an overpriced bobblehead figurine, an amusingly oversized headed icon or totem to a fictional character or celebrity. Bobbleheads have come a long way since the nodding dog, hence why they’ve not made a Kier Starmer one.

So, in the name of investigative journalism I’m out to out-nerd the nerds and prove my daughter wrong when she claimed, “they’ve made a Funko pop out of everything, Dad!”

Agreed, on searching for the weirdest or rarest Funko pops, I was shocked to note just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Seems the rarest come exclusively from The San Diego Comic Cons, Ozzie’s Collectables state the rarest is a silver Mickey Mouse from the 2011 con, and can fetch $1,130! Shut the front door Uncle Walt, it’s a malleable flipping dolly?

On the weirdest, oh, there’s plenty, from Laura Palmer of Twin Peaks to Hindu gods, and from Chris Oram from Alien: Covenant, unfortunately for him being attacked by a face hugger, to seventies afro-sporting painter Bob Ross. But, ah, there must be some characters this fledgling craze failed to recognise the importance of in popular culture….

Bob Ross Funko Popped

So, casting my aged mind back to the most obscure, yet strangely memorable to me, characters from my youth, sticking them in Google with the term “Funko pop,” to see, for no other reason than to satisfy myself, if they’ve indeed made a Funko pop out of them. Here be the lost legends, the ones Funko Pop seem to have either missed, or deemed to “Weird Al” Yankovic to produce; shame on them, because they’ve even managed a “Weird Al” Yankovic one. On that thought, a tear dropped to my cheek.

But so chuffed am I with my futile research, I thought I’d bore you stupid with it, on this slow news day; no one wants me to slag off local councils every day of the week, do they?

1. Hartley Hare

Pre-school psychiatrist’s dream come true, Pipkins’ well-spoken west-country hare, was first to spring to mind. Though ATV never even made any Pipkins merchandise during its run, it begs a Funko pop in the weirdest category.

Unusual, even for the seventies, not to have sold toys of the characters, perhaps such absence of familiarity is partially why it’s so creepy in our mind, looking back on it. That, and the fact Hartley was the dictatorial egomaniac Mr Krabs needs to take lessons from. A pawky, manipulating creep, the kind who’ll slime over your girlfriend the moment you turn your back.

Always on about “being naughty,” it’s a wonder why Operation Yew Tree didn’t pick this straggling suspect up on its radar, least cockney monkey Topov should’ve knee-capped the carrot-juice-injecting bastard, if, of course, he wasn’t just a hand puppet and therefore had no knees to cap.

2. Miner Willy

Strangely, except for retro-gamers, you can buy 2D figures of the unfortunately named Miner Willy (I said miner, not minor) online, but alas, no Funko pop. Despite holding a soulless persona, I personally believe he was a vastly misunderstood labourer. All he asked was to get some kip, but a foot-tapping madam with the touch-of-death prevented him until such a time he collected all the gems from the mansion, which was fucking impossible due to Software Projects’ programming incompetence; you needed a “poke,” apparently.

I’d favour, it was them who needed a poke, a poke back into reality. It’s Thatcher’s England, 1983, how many miners lived in a mansion?

Though just because the infuriating attic bug caused every Spectrum gamer a meltdown, with Fiddler on the Roof’s If I Were a Rich Man perpetually lingering in their nightmares, doesn’t mean the precursor to Minecraft’s Steve, who’ll have millennials and gen Z asking Siri what the heck I’m on about, Miner Willy deserves a Funko pop of his own, surely? He’s an icon, at least to everything that was shit about gaming in the eighties.

3. Servalan

Nearly failed by fanboy default, as, like an anorak’s wet dream of The Island of Doctor Moreau, some sad individual actually spliced two Funko pops to create their own Servalan Funko pop. I ask you, isn’t that the genius of a perv with a feathery evil fetish far greater than my own? Made me feel somewhat inadequate by comparison.

Still, I confess an unnatural obsession for Blake’s Seven’s arch-nemesis. Is this the same strain of sexual attraction which would, post-pubescent, morph into magnetism for goth girls, or perhaps Servalan is to blame, the raging hussy?

You don’t gotta answer that, unless your name is Sigmund Freud, but you have to agree, if Servalan appeared in the Star Wars reboot, she’d head the First Order fashion task force, with or without shoulder pads, and for that alone she’d make a better Funko pop tart than Avon, who only ever had a door-to-door beauty product brand named after him, or any other Bee-Gees hairdo crew member of the Liberator.

4. Bubblegum Bert

Anyone who can trap the legendary man of peel in a bubblegum bubble deserves his own Funko pop too. But, being they’ve not even created one out of Steve Bright and John Geering’s iconic DC Thompson superhero, Bananaman, or his arch-nemesis Appleman, I doubt poor ol’ Bert, a mere passing enemy, is sadly anywhere on their hitlist.

Shame, really, because Bert is unlike your average, pretentious supervillain, who never knows when they’re beaten. You know the score; every supervillain is an egomaniac, left for dead at the final scene, perhaps whirling out of control in a half-demolished spacecraft, or some other lethal scenario, yet still they seek vengeance in a relentless fashion, episode after episode. Bert, on the other, as far as my comic budget allowed me to be aware, gave it his all in a Beano comic library, was shamefully defeated, but accepted his failure and never tried again, not even at their home in Nutty. The true Homer Simpson logic here has to be respected, and Funko should acknowledge that, or be damned.

5. Goober

I want a full inquiry into this one, because I accept up till now, I’ve only provided British suggestions, whereas Funko is as American as the golden arches, still no joy. And I dare not Google the other gang’s great Dane; Scooby-Doo is bound to have multiple Funko pops. Yet Hanna Barbara’s greyish blue, poor pastiche of their own creation, Goober, who’s only upgrades were to articulate, but only when breaking the fourth wall, and involuntary invisibility, save for his bobble-hat, and for reasons of samey, his Ghost Chasers seems unjustly to be condemned to lost archives.

Why an invisible dog needs a bobble-hat aside, at least this gang occasionally found real ghosts, and in doing so encouraged to help them catch the hoaxes; far more effectively than the cowardly Scooby’s gang; chew on that Scooby snack fact, Funko!

6. Limahl

Pop star pops, makes sense, really, and is a reality, for both contemporary and legends at any rate. But what about mediocre eighties new wave ensemble, Kajagoogoo frontman, Limahl? Huh?

And if you think, for sardonic effect, I’ve erratically selected him from a catalogue of eighties throwbacks, you’d be surprised to note there’s logic in my madness. Predominately popular are superheroes in Funko popland, aren’t they? Well, just like a fan in a hairdresser asking for his idol’s style, X-Men character Longshot demanded a “Limahl cut” from his stylist, artist Arthur Adams, least the hair-do was the inspiration; Howard Jones must’ve been livid!

Either that, or I totally picked on Limahl at random and just happened to spot this pointless bit of trivia on Wikipedia. 

7. Tufty Fluffytail

It’s not a widely publicised fact, that young children in the seventies learned how to cross the road, thanks to Bernard Cribbins and a red squirrel in yellow joggers and a denim jacket. Tufty was on tele, and he came to your playschool, and gave you a badge, your inauguration into his exclusive club. I liked badges; it was a simpler time.

Nowadays cars have better safety technology, like seatbelts. Attitudes to driving has tended to steer away from the once standard notion you must drink ten pints in your lunch hour and drive back to the office as like a headless chicken, unless you’re a politician. And councils have improved roads by failing to repair potholes, forcing drivers to slow. But it’s offset by the quantity of vehicles on the road, the complete incompetence of parking with consideration for others and the necessity of text messages on the go.

But regardless of if roads are safer or not, kids now aren’t content with a badge, they need a Funko pop, but Tufty’s replacement has already been done. Unfortunately, road safety was shouted at the next generation by Darth Vader in white and mint green spandex. Hayden Christensen might not have been born, and we nothing of him slaying Jedi younglings, but we knew when he vapourised into reprimand children disobeying the green cross code, he was of an evil disposition Tufty could never be. Hence why that extinct squirrel needs a reboot, if not for conservation.

8. Smash Martians

Smash Martians, for me, are more than fictional wok-headed robot alien characters advertising a popular brand of instant mash potato. They’re symbolic of how times have changed.

Because, you see, the idea was to place the unusual, robots, in an everyday scenario, a family sitting for an evening meal. Whereas today while robots are everywhere, the idea of a family meal is the unusual, in this just-eat TV dinner era, where Dad works a continental shift pattern, and did a runner in 2011 anyway, the kids only communicate through WhatsApp and mum is a full-time blogger who has lost the basic knowledge of how to make a shepherd’s pie.

I deliberate, if a Conservative thinktank really wanted us to return to a golden era of yore, they’d be better electing a leader from the Smash Martian family rather than their crooked politicians. Then again, they were the ones promoting the use of instant mash, an abomination of a shepherd’s pie. So, maybe the fault lies with them, maybe they were the start of this throwaway, impatient fast-food culture. Therefore, I’ve retracted my pitch the Smash Martians should be Funko popped on the basis the deceiving wankers are no better than Tories.

9. Dempsey and Makepeace

In LWT’s attempts to bring seventies gritty back into British TV cop shows a cleaner decade later, it merged UK upper class pomposity with hard-edged New York rouge police type drama, and failed on all parts, save the eye candy element.

Dempsey and Makepeace were never The Sweeny, neither Kojak or Starsky and Hutch, but man, Dempsey was cool, and Makepeace, well, eighties school sex education at best, I wasn’t precisely sure what it was I wanted to do with Glynis Barber, but I knew enough never to tell my mum.

Lucky bugger, Michael Brandon married his co-star and they’re still together, the kind of relationship Cilla Black yearned for on her show, but in turn, their off-screen romance killed the “will-they-won’t-they” element of the show by blatantly flirting as their characters, so, neither was it Moonlighting either. Of course, none of this justifies why they should make Funko pop characters out of them, I just think it’s a shame they haven’t, being they have made one out of the teapot and cup from the 2017 live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, and Michael and Glynis rank just above them in my book.

10. 7 Zark-7

If I rejected the Smash Martians for being right wing, this abomination was truly the Mary Whitehouse of robots, but hear my pledge; it wasn’t his fault. Like Boris Johnson, per say, his clowning was a facade to a darker philosophy of conservatism, but unlike Bojo, he was a robot, and was programmed rather than nurtured to be a gammon.

Both American and UK kids wet themselves over Battle of the Planets, and was likely their introduction to Japanese anime before the term was popularised. But everyone was dubious of this bizarre droid, ripped off the back of the Star Wars craze, visually akin to R2D2 but with arms and cloak, yet with the pedantic camp persona of C3PO, and couldn’t quite figure why he was such a boring bastard.

It’s because he was never a part of G-Force at all, he was a fraud, poorly drafted in by Sandy Frank, to fill in the gaps of his heavily edited American version. Every time we saw this pathetic dustbin, acting like a school teacher trying to be amusing but failing abysmally, something deemed too extreme for US kids was going on behind the scenes.

The original, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman was chockful of reality; naughty words, scenes of death, violence, nudity, and of a sexual nature, but if you lived in the western world, you witnessed none of it, just this cover-up dumb-ass droid, being a twat. Tackling transgender issues, for example, simply wouldn’t do. Alien nemesis Zoltar never had a sister, it was hermaphrodite.

7 Zark-7 was a prostitute to censorship, symbolically wrapping kids in cotton wool, and now they know, every fanboy wants his head on a platter. But just how every market town in the UK without a railway station blames Dr Richard Beeching, when his hand was forced to make cuts, perhaps we should show a little sympathy for this misunderstood droid; because, while you can rebel from your upbringing, a robot cannot break its programing. 7 Zark-7 cannot be held accountable for his suppressive algorithms. And maybe a Funko pop might be the perfect way to exonerate him in honour.


Events in Wiltshire; Weekly Roundup: 21st to 27th July 2022

Here we are again, a tad hot and bothered, but happy as can be. And here’s what’s happening across the Badlands of Wiltshire this coming week, which you’d already know about anyway if you regularly check our event calendar. That’s the only link you need, right there; it’ll provide you with outside links of further details and tickets. I don’t have the time to add individual links twice, on this here roundup; excuse me, but I’ve got ice-pops to devour.

But before the impending brain-freeze, I’m here to tell you about, Wednesday 20th July, when Devizes Flower Club will be at the Town Hall from 7pm, with a floral demonstration, flower raffle and refreshments. Two of a Kind is a fiver entry.

Further afield on Wednesday, lunchtime, find the amazing Daisy Chapman pair up with Amelia Wise at Wiltshire Rural Music Centre in Trowbridge for a Tune @ Noon session. And Sarah Millican’s tour Bobby Dazzler at The Wyvern, Swindon.

Onto Thursday 21st, and I ain’t got much, unless you know different, know-it-all! Anton & Giovanni: Him & Me at The Wyvern, Swindon, and that’s your lot to-date.

Friday 22nd and The Lawrence Society of Art have a Plein Air outing to The Gallops, and Seend Community Centre has a Summer BBQ with music from the fantastic Day-Breakers.

Swindon Arts Centre has a comedy play with your name all over it, it’s called #Undateable!!

Punkers, Navajo Dogs play Marlborough Town Football Club, kick off at 7:30pm, free entry there.

Two editor’s picks up for option this weekend, the first is Not Trowbridge Festival, but as near as damnit!

In the absence of a Trowbridge Festival this year, organisers have sorted a rather special musical do over this weekend, at the Pump.  There are weekend tickets available, giving access to all concerts with a discount. Tickets are here: www.trowbridgefestival.co.uk/online-ticket-shop/

The event opens at 7.00pm from Friday 22nd July followed by day and evening concerts, continuing across the whole weekend. There will be five main concerts in The Pump venue plus other concerts, and open mic sessions in the pub skittle alley.

Concerts in The Pump venue as follows:

Fri 22nd, Doors @ 7.00pm – Johnny Morris / Phil King / Rob Lear Band (Over the Bridge Album Launch)

Sat 23rd, Doors @ 1.30pm – Merv Grist / Edwina Hayes / Harp and a Monkey

Sat 23rd, Doors @7.00pm – Phil Cooper / Ben Walker & Kirsty Merryn / The Model Folk

Sun 24th, Doors @1.30pm – Paul Hutchinson / Suthering / Rob Lear

Sun 24th, Doors @7.00pm – Lodestone / The Lost Trades / Greenman Rising

Other artists appearing in the skittle alley will be:

SATURDAY – Sandy & Graham Ball, Gerry Cooper, Bertie Wright, Phil King, Kate & Richard Harris, Andrew Bazeley and Jackie & Felix Byrne

SUNDAY – Issy & David Emeney, Merv Grist, Rosie Upton & Pete MacGregor, Iain Spence, and Ray Bradfield

Open mic artists are also welcome to bring an instrument and perform.

Okay, onto Saturday, the 23rd July, in Swindon, ravers Midlife Krisis are at Level III, Pink Mac at The Vic, Voodoo Room play the Old Town Bowl, and the Beehive have their regular World Music Club, but this time it’s a Hawaiian Shirt Edition. And Charlotte Johnsons School of Dance perform at The Wyvern.

Outdoor Theatre at Trowbridge Town Hall with Catch That Beast! And happy 5th anniversary to the Cider, Reggae & Rum Festival, happening at Rood Ashton Lake. It’s going off at The Barge on HoneyStreet, but I do believe camping has sold out. Melksham Rock n Roll Club’s next dance is Saturday, see the poster below.

The Glory Of Gershwin at St Francis School, Pewsey, and onto Devizes for aside a Vinyl Realm Listening Session at The Literary Club, and the crackling good Corinthian Casuals at the Southgate, last but by no means least, drumroll….

….Our second pick of week; they were both too good to choose between! Devizes Beer & Cider Festival

Yeah, I think you guessed it, if you’re from Devizes, and you like beer, which is one and the same thing, it is Devizes Beer & Cider Festival, which should need no introduction!

Tickets HERE, Beer List HERE, Cider List HERE and that’s about enough to go on huh? Music comes from Devizes Town Band, “How else could we open Devizes Beer & Cider festival…?” Tom & Claire, Vince Bell, Dr Zebo’s Wheezy Club, Celtic Roots Collective, and Triple JD. Word on the grapevine is, the night will end on a reggae tip when Nick and Knati of the Skenga Sound System come to nice-up the session!  

And that’s about all I’ve got, I confess I need to bash on and update the event calendar, this heatwave is slowing me down, and that’s the best excuse I can come up with; phew, it’s a scorcher! Don’t forget to check our SKOOL HOLIDAY activity listings, and tell me if what I’ve missed; we have the technology to edit the beast! One thing on the calendar in the coming week, I need to add to my skool holidays is happening Tuesday 26th, a Chippenham Kids’ Comic Club at Neeld, which sounds pretty cool, at least up my street!

Oh, and before I love you and leave you, Hillworth Park, Devizes, Wednesday 27th; Wiltshire Air Ambulance Roadshow from 10am to 2pm, do parachute into that.

 Have a good weekend, stay hydrated and apply sunscreen!


Trending…..

Party For Life Organises Suicide Prevention Gig in Melksham

Over 6,000 suicides were reported in 2020 in the UK, while marginally less than the previous year, statistics are based on suicide registration, which can take a year or more for statistical agencies to register them. Therefore, 2020 suicide data doesn’t necessarily reflect suicides during the coronavirus pandemic. Regardless of the maths, as that was never my forte, I know one thing; it’s too many.…..

World Suicide Prevention Day is annually recognised on 10th September, organisations and communities around the world come together to raise awareness of how we can create a world where fewer people die by suicide.

Today I spoke with Clare from Trowbridge, who lost her brother to suicide. “I want to do something super positive in Wiltshire that brings communities together through live music,” she explained, “in a bid to get people talking about prevention of future suicide. With my awareness, passion and commitment I will campaign locally and promote the series of events as a celebration of life.”

Tickets have gone on sale for Clare’s event, at the Sky Bar of Melksham Town’s Football Stadium, for 10th September. Under the banner Party For Life, Liam Bennett, aka DJ Rocks kicks off the party at 5pm. Our good friends The Roughcut Rebels play the first set, Wiltshire’s popular blues-rock and sometimes a bit of reggae covers band Blind Lemon Experience follow, and Bristol’s funky soul collective The Soul Strutters headline this extravaganza.

No stranger to organising fundraising events, Clare started Party For Life in 2009, raising funds for Cancer Research and the RUH Bath Cancer Care Centre. And it was revived in 2015 supporting the same charities. This time around the focus is understandably on suicide prevention, and we wish them all the best for what sounds like a great night, for a great cause.

Using the hashtag #STAY, Party For Life is hoping to make this a series of events, “because,” Clare explained, “those impacted by suicide have one big wish…that their loved ones #STAY another day.” Like their Facebook page for details. Tickets are £25, book via email to: tickets@partyforlife.co.uk or by Text: 07786 344 553.


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The Rondo Theatre does Macbeth

Review by Mick Brian

Photos by Gail Foster

“It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood.” So says Macbeth to Lady Macbeth following his vision of Banquo’s ghost….

And audiences at the Rondo Theatre Company’s performances of the titular show last week were not deprived of that substance. From slit throats, gory locks and shirts, to bloodied faces, neckerchiefs and a finale of a trail of blood as Macbeth’s body is unceremoniously dragged from his home, there was no letting up of the blood (pun intended) throughout the riveting two hours of the show.

Directors Matt Nation and Will Jesmond de Clermont’s vision of a 1920s London organised crime gang setting delivered – Peaky Blinders meets William Shakespeare with a gritty, no holds barred presentation of violence inherent in the struggles for supremacy, whether over rival gangs, traitorous turncoats or internal seizure of power and the retributions to maintain power. But this was no pastiche of Tommy Shelby and Co. – this was full Shakespearian tragedy brought into the 20th century brilliantly. Chrissy Fryer’s costumery sublimely captured the era with tweeds, caps, flapper dresses and the ubiquitous used of orange gang colours throughout as neckers, ties, hair ribbons and pocket handkerchief. And no more so that the thoroughly perfect witches, played by Sophie Kerr, Tasha Bye and Anna McGrail, as drug addled opium den management resplendent in flapper dresses, overseen by the powerful Maria Finlay as Hecate.

Set design was simplistically excellent. Duncan’s gangland headquarters a timber merchants’ front – the Birnam Wood Co. of course – and a gauze separated backstage area for the opium den. Which brings further praise for the lighting from Andy Cork, with the dark, sombre mood of the play enhanced by subtle changes… accompanied by the brightness of the opium den to display the rich colours of the silks and drapes therein.

And so to the rest of the cast. Not a single weak member – all thoroughly convincing and believable, fronted by the perfect pairing as Sam Fynn as Macbeth, and Alice Grace as his scheming, power hungry wife. We all looked to the lady as she ensnared her uncertain husband, then dealt with the lecherous and seedy Duncan in turn and tidied up the mess left by Macbeth. Sam Fynn portrayed the slide into madness perfectly as his world collapsed around him, culminating in his torment when Lady M kills herself. I challenge anyone to find a more harrowing depiction of these power crazed lovers, one coldly calculating, the other increasingly crazed.

Rob Finlay played the jovial Banquo who realises oh too late that he is on the hitlist, then the battle hardened and focussed Siward – once he had shaken his gory locks and broken the good mirth at the banquet of course. Maria Finlay as well as Hecate provided wonderful comic relief as the porter cum cleaner – and invented a whole new scene as an epilogue swabbing the floor of Macbeth’s blood. To complete the family set, Freddie Finlay in classic casting style played Fleance, Banquo’s son, as a no mean wielder of a razor himself.

More double up casting saw Steve Brookes as the contemplative, pipe smoking Menteith and a murderer, enacting Macbeth’s violent requests with his fellow despatcher, Ian Diddams. Praise is needed here especially – the fight scene between these two, Banquo and Fleance left no holds barred with stabbings, slicing, punches, and the razored throat cutting. As well as murdering at the drop of a surly hat, Ian Diddams opened the play as Duncan – far from the oft played kindly benevolent leader, this was a nasty, lecherous characterisation fully deserving of losing his life – and fully fitting the gritty vision of the directors.

Thence to Ross, played by Becky Waters, and Lennox , Natalie Prescott, two increasingly disillusioned gang members, And Jack Strawbridge as Malcom, whose journey moved from uncertain, shy son of Duncan to assertive, and even nastier eventual victor, his metamorphosis highlighted by the wash of red light in his victory speech… all that was needed was unfurled swastikas to finalise the image portrayed. Lady Macbeth’s doctor was elegantly and eloquently portrayed by Julia Marshall-Wessendorf… all crisp and professional demeanour, not totally supressing the disquiet and concern beneath. Two further younger cast members joined Freddie Finlay in the show also – Dilan Minto as the brave but doomed Young Siward, hatred for Macbeth pouring from his every pore, and Scarlett Nation, the youngest cast member effortlessly working her way through servant, messenger and slaughtered pretty chicken of Macduff.

And speaking of Macduff… Lucy Upward played the angry Lady MacDuff, remonstrating against the ills of the world as an abandoned wife… and screaming her way to her death before brilliantly appearing as a west country maid to the Lady of the house. Which leaves the hero of the hour… MacDuff himself, silkily played by Chris Constantine exacting revenge for his family’s slaughter by seeing off the chief protagonist in a slashed throat and streak of blood left on set.

Two hours of non stop action delivered at a frenetic pace. Two hours of truly class acting and technical presentation – the piece de resistance being the genius portrayal of Banquo’s lineage of kings presented to Macbeth by the witches. And this is “amateur” theatre – some bloody amateur production that was I say (NOT!) … and bloody they were indeed by the end.

“It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood.”

And they did.

Macbeth, by The Rondo Theatre company, at the Rondo Theatre, Larkhall, Bath, July 6th – 9th 2022.


Boots & Braces; All Set For Devizes Scooter Rally?

If Market Lavington hold their Vintage Meet next weekend, there’s another slice of retrospection a fortnight after, on the other side of town, as Devizes Scooter Club tie their boots, affix their braces and hope to replicate the absolute magic of their first Devizes Scooter Rally, post-lockdown……

The 2019 rally attracted scooter enthusiasts and adherents of mod culture from afar as well as appeasing locals with a different kind of musical event from the norm. In chatting to many attendees there, at the time, it seemed while aside the large-scale scooter rallies, most tend to waiver dedication to their music program, simply booking the odd local mod cover band and concentrating more on the aspect of standing around admiring each other’s hairdryers, much like caravan clubs do!  

And yeah, you know when a bunch of enthusiasts get together there’s going to be a little bit of that, but Devizes Scooter Rally last year was so much more than an appreciative window-shop of these flashy bikes. For a debut event it offered quality entertainment, market and food stalls of festival proportions, and was hailed a great success. A ton or ten of hard work from members of the Devizes Scooter Club has gone into replicating this success and providing our area with our own scooter rally, returning, but to a different venue near Whistley Road on the 29th – 31st July weekend.

To make doubly sure you don’t miss the news Devizes Scooter Rally is returning at the end of July, The Scooter Club team put up noticeboards on the edges of town, and even plastered their poster on side of refuse lorries; a mightily impressive bolt of marketing, I must say, but also, being scooter aficionados from afar won’t see them, it surely is a testament to the club’s wishes to welcome locals from outside of the niche market.