Save Furlong Close Campaigners Protest in Rowde

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

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

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

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

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


Trending…

Fish N Chips Getting Feisty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Trending…….

Song of the Day 36: Daydream Runaways

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

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

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


Devizes Town Band in Chippenham

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Naan Guru of Old Devizes Town

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helpline – 01380 722160

Website: www.lovedevizes.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helpline: 01672 487022

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


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Devizine to Release Various Artists Compilation, 4 Julia’s House

If it’s been a quiet week here at Devizine Towers, it’s not because we remain in the perpetual Groundhog Day of lockdown, things are beginning to open up and folk are gathering to take advantage. Time will tell if we’ve made the right move, and fingers are crossed, but we surely have to attempt to emerge from his global hibernation. Rather, I’ve been away for the week, playing the grandad role on the single most tranquil UK holiday camp getaway ever!

Don’t get me wrong, even with restrictions, it’s been lovely nonetheless. Now, I’m back, back like a bad smell on your shoe rack, and if you think I’ve been lazing around watching paint dry, you’re not totally wrong. But I do have an exciting announcement, which has kept me out of trouble for the last fortnight.

The announcement might be something more suitable for lockdown, but despite, I’m feeling this blossoming project is definitely heading in the right direction. We’ve 24 tracks kindly contributed already for a compilation album of local or music related to Devizine, however tenacious, subjects we’ve reviewed or covered in the past, or we simply love! Binding them together and hopefully presenting them as soon as feasible on one chunky download album via the most brilliant website, Bandcamp.

It’ll be a cross-genre extravaganza of music, and you’ve not even heard the best bit about it. To explain that bit I need to first stress my eternal gratitude and thanks to the wonderful artists already freely contributed a song for this, and those planning to. Now, where was I? Oh yeah, the really, really good bit; get this, all proceeds, 100% of them will go to Julia’s House.

Tree Image by Wolfgang Hasselman

Julia’s House is not a typical children’s hospice. They provide practical and emotional support for families caring for a child with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition, providing frequent and regular support in their own homes, in the community or at our hospices across Dorset and Wiltshire.

Devizine asks musicians and bands, be they locally based or otherwise, to send us an original song for us to add the already bulging track list, if you’ve one to spare. I’m fully aware the pressure is already on artists at this time, but I’m not asking you to create a tune especially, or give away something which is currently selling well. It could be pre-released from an album or an older single you have; just something in your archives, you wouldn’t mind allowing us to use.

I’m being harassed about a deadline, we should set one, although I firmly detest the word deadline! Let’s pencil in 15th May, so if you’ve a song you’d like to throw at us, please do send a WAV file if possible, mp3 if not, by then. Send via We Transfer or Google Drive to: devizine@hotmail.com

But don’t despair if you cannot make the gig. With the popularity of this project to date, I’m looking in my crystal ball and predicting a volume two on the cards.

Only thing I will ask you to bear in mind, if thinking of contributing, is that this is for a children’s charity, and while I’m not expecting The Wheels on the Bus, please avoid swearing like sailor. No NWA tribute acts, please!

It gives me great delight to tell you we have many fantastic songs already sent to us, a mahoosive thanks to everyone who’s bunged us a tune, and so many others who have promised to, shortly. A full track listing with details and links will follow nearer to launchpad day, but for now, I’m excited to let you know local legend Pete Lamb provides an apt title track, Julia, (actually it’s Julie, but who’s splitting hairs, I’m renaming it!) for which he’s teamed up Cliff Hall, pianist for The Shadows; a glorious benchmark to open with.

Other artists featuring, to date are The King Dukes, Erin Bardwell, Mr Tea & The Minions, Talk in Code, Timid Deer, Kirsty Clinch, Duck n Cuvver, Strange Tales, Paul Lappin, Billy Green 3, Jon Veale, Will Lawton, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective, Sam Bishop, Mr Love & Justice, The Truzzy Boys, Longcoats, Atari Pilot, Andy J Williams, Cutsmith, The Oyster, The Birth of Bonoyster, The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show and Richard Wileman.

UPDATE:

Wow, as of Monday 19th May, we now have a staggering 37 tracks contributed. The list now looks like this: Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall, King Dukes, Erin Bardwell, Timid Deer, Duck n Cuvver, Strange Folk, Strange Tales, Paul Lappin, Billy Green 3, Jon Veale, Will Lawton, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective, Kirsty Clinch, Richard Wileman, Kier Cronin, Sam Bishop, Mr Love & Justice, The Truzzy Boys, Daydream Runaways, Talk in Code, Longcoats, Atari Pilot, Andy J Williams, The Dirty Smooth, SexJazz, Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue, The Boot Hill All Stars, Mr Tea & The Minions, The Oyster, Nigel G. Lowndes, The Birth of Bonoyster, Revival, The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show, Julie Meikle and Mel Reeves, Cutsmith, Big Ship Alliance and Knati P.

And there’s more in the pipeline, hopefully creating a hefty genre-busting mega-box set!! So, please be part of it if you can, and bung us your song! More the merrier. Thank you! Oh, I love it when a plan comes together.


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DOCA Receives Culture Recovering Funding

The future of Devizes’ carnival and Outdoor Celebratory Arts is looking great, as DOCA announce today some exciting news; they are delighted to have received funding from the government’s #CultureRecoveryFund.

The much-needed funding will cover their overheads in the coming months. Allowing investments in developing their Board of Trustees, employ a Volunteer Coordinator and begin reconnecting with the existing “family” of volunteers. They also seek new recruits to help deliver the fantastic program of events. Such as new volunteer coordinator, Holly Solo-Hawthorn, who joined the team in last November. If volunteering with DOCA is something you are interested in please email: docavolunteer@gmail.com

Chair of the Trustees, Kelvin Nash said, “we know people can’t wait to get out and meet up with others and enjoy all the things we might have taken for granted before COVID. We also know we are very privileged to receive this funding that will help us continue bringing great events to Devizes. We hope everyone will continue to support us this year to make these events happen safely, plans are still tentative of course, but it does feel like there is now a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Artistic Director, Loz Samuels expressed although DOCA are able to start planning Summer events, not all of the usual events will be back this year. “This year will have a different feel but we know that it will be just as amazing as ever. There will be no Confetti Battle this year we hope to combine the Colour Rush with the Street Festival which will add an explosion of colour to the day and we hope to attract some new people along to the event.”

As we look forward to future events in Devizes, DOCA will be touching base with market traders and coordinating a hopeful new season of celebrations. Here’s the plan to date:

Sunday 22nd August 2021 – Picnic in the Park

Monday 30th August 2021 – Devizes International Street Festival

Monday 30th August 2021 – Colour Rush

Friday 26th November 2021 – Winter Parade

Saturday 27th November 2021 – 31 Trees and Counting

Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th Feb 2022 – Festival of Winter Ales

Image: Gail Foster

Song of the Day 34: Jon Amor

Here’s a thing, did you know the Michael and Janet Jackson duet “Scream,” is cited as the world’s most expensive music video, totaling a cost of $7 million? And Wacko dished the cash out of his own pocket?

Despite critical acclaim at the time, reaching number 3 in the UK pop charts, and the retaliatory nature of the song against the tabloid assault on Michael after sexual abuse accusations, I thought, and always will think, it was a bit shit, to be perfectly frank!

Look, I mean, okay, bit harsh were the allegations, so MJ thinks, I know, I’ll bag myself a B-movie spaceship, take my sister off the planet, buy us both matching knobbly jumpers, dance about in zero g, and cough up seven million dollars for someone to film it, that’ll convince the fans I’m not a complete fruitcake.

They didn’t even save enough pennies to get it filmed in technicolor. Input sad face emoji.

Compare and contrast to Devizes-own Jon Amor, who, with just the creativity of Lucianne Worthy, a big chunk of inspiration from Jim Henson and some snazzy blue loafers, pulls off this absolute beauty for the track Rider from the latest album Remote Control.

Smashed it, guys, and it’s in colour too. Proof you don’t gotta do a Wacko Jacko and push the boat out as far as Mars to accomplish something all together entertaining.

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


Wiltshire Council Leader Advises Tory Candidates to Block Correspondence With Save Furlong Close Campaign

It has been some time since we’ve covered the disgraceful fiasco at Rowde’s Furlong Close, where residents with learning disabilities face closure of the HFT site, their home, and undefined, separated relocation.

The reason being, the situation had fallen into a political stalemate, as HFT ceased all dealings with Wiltshire Council. It seems HFT are no strangers to closing sites down, and equally Wiltshire Council’s reaction is lacklustre. I cannot decide who is really to blame in all this, but something certainly doesn’t add up; perhaps they’re both as bad as each other, and the clock is ticking for May 19th when closure is planned. You know me, I’ve been concerned my anger at this issue will lead me to publish speculation, and the last thing I want is put forth misleading information.

Now, it seems, via a Tweet from The Save Furlong Close campaign group, in a memo released on Easter Sunday, Wiltshire Council Leader, Philip Whitehead advised councillors and future Conservative candidates to block all correspondence with Save Furlong Close Campaigners, in fear it’s being used as “an election matter.”

This is very concerning, while both sides battle the politics out, the Save Furlong Close campaigners are merely worried for the future prospects for the residents there, and least deserve a voice. So, I’m pleased to be able to publish an article, by Mark Steele, a member of the campaign’s steering group, which outlines the history and current situation.

I merely offer to endorse their rightful campaign and promote it as much as possible. If then, residents of Furlong Close are indeed moved out, it will be a terrible day for Wiltshire, and a shameful reflection on a county council, but if this happens and I stood there and did nothing, it’s a shame I would partly bear too, and I have no intentions of that happening. I hope our readers and supporters will agree, and I fully believe, with the permissions of the campaign group, we need to arrange a socially distanced peaceful protest, as soon as feasible. So, WHO IS WITH ME? Watch this space, but here’s Mark’s outline of the happenings in Rowde.


SAVE FURLONG CLOSE

“The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

(Mahatma Ghandi)

Save Furlong Close

For the last 30 years, Furlong Close has been home to 36 vulnerable adults with learning disabilities, including Down syndrome, autism and epilepsy.  The residents live in 5 bungalows in a cul-de-sac at the edge of the village of Rowde, sharing a community hall, workshops and gardens (including a market garden and pens for sheep and rabbits).  It is a short walk to the centre of Rowde and a short bus ride to Devizes.  Many of the residents have lived at Furlong Close for more than 20 years.  They are happy and settled, have formed life-long friendships and are a close and caring community. 

In October last year, however, it was announced that Hft (the charity which owns and operates the site) and Wiltshire Council (which funds the majority of the residents) had “jointly” decided that everyone was to be “moved on” by June 2021, the site shut down and the land sold off for development.  The shocked families were told that there would be no consultation or discussion; it was a “done deal”. 

Already reeling from the emotional impact of the pandemic and cut off from the support of their families, the residents were fearful and anxious.  Their disabilities make change extremely stressful for them and being forcibly evicted from their home of 20+ years would cause them great trauma and distress.  For some, the trauma would be life-shortening.  My cousin, David, who has lived at Furlong Close for 18 years, was left in fear of the future and telephoned his 95-year-old mother, Audrey, many times a day, often in tears, to ask her where he would go and who would look after him.  Sadly, Audrey passed away in March, spending the last months of her life wracked with worry about what would happen to her beloved and vulnerable only child (https://twitter.com/savefurlongcl/status/1374671484187242507).

So, why is Furlong Close facing closure?  At first, Hft and the Council said it was “not about money”, but was only about doing the best for the residents.  It was said that “moving them on” from their settled and happy homes would be an “exciting opportunity” for them, but no-one could quite explain how breaking up a happy community and scattering them to new and strange places would be either “exciting” or an “opportunity”.   Certainly, it was an “opportunity” which none of the residents or their families wanted.  Subsequently, it became clear that it was in fact “all about money” after all, with Hft accusing the Council of grossly underfunding the site over many years and refusing to pay the full costs of care.

Faced with this cruel threat to the well-being of our vulnerable relatives, the families organised and the local community rallied to our cause.  People became angry.  43,000 people, from Wiltshire and beyond, signed a petition.  Legal proceedings were commenced by the family of one resident, to seek to have the decision set aside as a breach of her human rights.

Faced with this local anger, Wiltshire Council promptly threw Hft under the bus.  It claimed that the “joint decision” was nothing to do with it, but solely a matter for Hft.  Hft responded angrily, accusing the Council of “lying” and trying to “hide behind” it, and gave notice that it was withdrawing services, not just from Furlong Close, but from Wiltshire as a whole.  With Hft and the Council each pointing the finger at the other, the situation deteriorated into what has recently been described by a judge in the pending legal proceedings as “a shambolic mess”.

As the clock ticks down to the termination of Hft’s contract for the site on 19 May, the residents and their families fear that we are being hung out to dry.  Hft has offered the Council the chance to buy or lease the site and bring in another operator, but neither has taken decisive action to make this happen.  Many suspect that the Council is just playing for time, to try and kick the can down the road until after the Council election in May.  Meanwhile innocent and vulnerable people are suffering and the families are calling on Hft and Wiltshire Council to act now to save Furlong Close. 

Please, if you want to help:

Thank you


Protect Drews Pond Wood Area

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

Please sign the petition, here.

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

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

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

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

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

Please sign the petition, here.


Osorio With Cutsmith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Song of the Day 32: The Lost Trades

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

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


Asa is Back in Devizes

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

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

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

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


The Lost Trades Live Stream in Advance of Album Launch

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

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

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

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

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


Trending…..

Hoping for a Summer of Local Music Festivals

Presented a punter-based cautionary piece on the hopeful move forward for live music this year, and how chancy it all is at this stage. If the playground remains uneven, I never intended the article to be pessimistic, though it may’ve been perceived that way. I just advised applying caution may be necessary prior to a compulsory detonation of over-excitement.

The other side of the coin of this vicious circle is that, without ticket sales there will be no show. While many organisers have cancelled their regular events, some keep their fingers and toes crossed, others are trying to work through it, and are dowsing a silver lining to this cloud with a summer of festivals planned.

Let’s hope and pray it pays off. Festival websites report that it is, and tickets are selling fast, which agreed, could be a sales pitch. So, you’re left to risk the call, and snap up tickets, especially for the most popular ones. I have faith most festivals will refund you if it either goes Pete Tong, or Pete Tong is booked to DJ, or else ask to retain your ticket for another year, because they organise festivals, and festivals are all about openness and sharing. Booking agents on the other hand, might be another story.

Personally, I’ve done gone got the festival t-shirt many moons ago, and the jester’s hat too, come to think about it; I can bide my time from power-napping in a spinning canvas pyramid, paying over the odds for a baggie of basil, and sliding headlong into a ditch of piss. For many though, particularly younger generations, festivals are essential, and vital, for their wonderful feeling of togetherness. For the music industry it’s crucial to maintain this notion; ignore my aged rant, there is no ditch of piss, not really, not in this clean-cut era!

Let’s run through the locally based choicest ones, which sound too good to miss… but remember to check the individual planned conditions of entry, some will ask you to provide evidence of licensed vaccination or negative PCR test within the previous 48 hour period.

June


11th – 13th: Kite Festival

Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire

Born from a Kickstarter campaign in January 2020, but cancelled for the obvious reasons, it’s this festival’s maiden voyage this year. KITE aims to combine incredible music and breakthrough ideas in a unique programme of live performances and interactive discussions. “We wanted to bring together contemporary and legendary performers, thinkers, writers and public figures from the world of music, politics, business, technology and the arts and give you the opportunity to engage with the people who are influencing the way we live.”

Cultural icon Grace Jones, multi-Grammy-Award winning jazz singer Gregory Porter and gospel legend Mavis Staples were set to lead the music programme for the original date last year, we wait in anticipation to hear the line-up now, as Kite announce they’re working on their 2021 programme. Sign up for their newsletter for updates.


18th-20th: Bigfoot Festival

Ragely Hall, Warwickshire

Another first outing cancelled last year sees its debut this June. Just the map is enticing enough, with a boating lake and woodland and all that stuff. Local breweries and bands, who share the stages with a great line up, including Primal Scream, Fat White Family, Hot Chip Megamix, Maribou State (DJ) Baxter Dury and Dinosaur Pile-Up. There’s also an intersting wellbeing programme with hip hop yoga, boxercise, Let’s Talk About Sex Meditation & Mindfulness, and biscuits & burpees; I’ll just have the biscuits, thank you! Find Bigfoot here.


July


2nd – 4th: Minety Music Festival

Hornbury Hill, Malmesbury

Fourth outing for this popular do. A community non-profit triple day extravaganza, run entirely by volunteers which raised funds for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, and local schools and charities last year. Guaranteed excellent music, a great, wide range of food and a well-stocked house Bar, Gin & Prosecco Bar and Cocktail Tiki Bar! There will also be a range of FREE activities in the Kidzone, including rock climbing wall, rock climbing digi-wall, an inflatable slide and assault course, bouncy castles, circus skills workshops and kids craft workshops, plus many more activities.

Line-up includes, Dr & The Medics, Space, Jesus Jones, Dreadzone, Crikey Minogue & Six Packs, a Ministry of Samba workshop, and a great local roster of Devizine favourites The Tribe, Talk In Code, The Dirty Smooth, A’La-Ska, Navajo Dogs, Sloe Train and Plucking Different. This is going to be a brilliant one, make sure there’s room in your backpack to sneak me in! Info Here.

Should get you in the mood…..

8th-10th: 2000trees Festival

Withington, Cheltenham

A largely rock and indie festival, 2000trees has a good reputation and won awards. This year sees Jimmy Eat World headline, with Thrice, Creeper, The Amazons, Dinosaur Pile-Up, The Menzingers, The Get Up Kids and many more to make me feel old!  Tickets & info Here.

9th-11th: – Cornbury Festival

Great Tew, Oxfordshire

Still in the planning stages, this ever-growing festival in the most beautiful Oxfordshire Cotswold location think it’s enough just to announce on headline act, yeah, but it is Bryan Adams; show offs! Should be good though. Info here.


22nd-25th Womad (?)

Charlton Park, Malmesbury

Still hopeful, Womad are holding off announcing acts, but you know, I know, we all know it’ll be the crème de la crème of world music on our doorstep, if all goes well, they’ve secured the date and tickets are here.


31st Mfor 2021

Lydiard Park, Swindon

A family orientated, affordable, one day pop-tastic festival I’ve only heard good things about, could be just the thing to introduce kids to festivals. And with Craig David, Rudimental, Ella Henderson, Phats & Small, Mark Hill (Original Artful Dodger), Lindy Layton on the line-up, it’s easy to see how this party is going to go down. I believe local acts will also be on agenda, certain our friends Talk in Code feature. There’s even an over 18 Friday night special additional event, with Five, S Club, Liberty X, Baby and Rozalla; everybody is freeeee, to feeeel gooood, apparently. Info & Tickets.


August


5th-8th: Wickham Festival

Fareham, Hampshire

New one on me this, but The Wickham Festival is an annual four-dayer of music and arts. Boasting three stages, and rated as one of the safest, most relaxed and family-friendly festivals in the UK, Wickham was voted ‘Best UK Festival, cap. under 15000’ at the Live UK Music Business Awards in October 2015; so, they know their stuff; I mean, they’ve got Van the man, and The Waterboys. Note also, Devizine favs, Beans on Toast, Gaz Brookfield, Tankus the Henge along with Nick Parker on the agenda; sweet! Tickets & Info Here.


6th: Love Summer Festival Devon: SOLD OUT.


7th- 8th: The Bath Festival Finale Weekend

And what a finale it is, Saturday; McFly, Scouting For Girls, Orla Gartland, Lauren Hibberd, George Pelham, Josh Gray, Novacub, Dessie Magee and Luna Lake. Sunday; UB40 featuring Ali Campbell & Astro, Billy Ocean, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Seth Lakeman, Bloco B, Hannah Grace, Casey Lowry, Port Erin Life, and Life In Mono, with more to be announced… Tickets HERE.


21st: Mantonfest

Manton, Marlborough

Any closer than this and it’ll be in your back garden! But that’s not the sole reason to grab a ticket for MantonFest! Just thirty notes for adults, a tenner for teenagers, and a fiver for kids, but that’s not the only other reason. Reports on this family, broad ranging charity fundraising annual do has never been negative, and we’re glad to hear it’s back for 2021. Number one Blondie tribute Dirty Harry headline, along with Dr. Feelgood, Ex-Men (five members of original 60’s bands), Barrelhouse, Jo Martin with his band, Devizine favs Richard Davies and The Dissidents, Josie and the Outlaw and homegrown Skeddadle. We previewed it last year before shit hit the fan; tickets bought in 2020 are valid for 2021. Mantonfest say, “we may have to introduce some anti-covid restrictions. These will be announced nearer the time and will be in line with the latest developments and best practice;” let’s hope this goes off this time. Tickets & Info here.


21st: Live at Lydiard

Lydiard Park, Swindon

Anne‐Marie, Sean Kingston, Roman Kemp [DJ set] Artful Dodger, Chaney, Fabian Darcy on the line-up over four stages for this day festival at Lydiard, with a dance tent, boutique cocktail bar and food court. Info & Tickets here.


21st: Bath Reggae Festival

Now pushed back to August bank holiday, this is the maiden voyage for the Bath Reggae Festival, and we bless them with the best of luck. With a line-up this supreme though, I’d imagine it’ll sell itself. Legends Maxi Priest, Aswad, Big Mountain, Dawn Penn, and The Slits solo extraordinaire Hollie Cook, Laid Back and lovers rocker Wayne Wonder, this is a must for reggae fans. Tickets & info here.


September


4th-5th: Concert at the Kings

All Cannings, Devizes

For locals little more can be said about how awesome this ground-breaking festival raising staggering funds for cancer research is. Since 2012 it has bought international headline acts to the sleepy village outside Devizes; legendary fables and the fondest memories have been had there. No difference this time around, save for some social distancing. Billy Ocean, 10CC, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Sweet, Strawbs, Lindisfarne and Devizine favs Talk in Code, with more to be announced; twist your arm anymore, sir? No; no need to! Tickets & Info here.


9th-12th: Swindon Shuffle

Venues across Swindon

A later date for this annual extravaganza of local live music, spread across Swindon’s premiere venues and hugely supportive of original homegrown talent, this is weekend to head for the railway town. Since 2007 the Shuffle raises funds for MIND, and is largely free to attend. Ah, there’s plenty time to arrange a line-up, which is underway, but you can guarantee a truckload of our local favourites will be there, somewhere! Info.


10th-12th: Vintage Nostalgia Festival

Stockton Park, Near Warminster

The mature place to glamp this summer if you want to get retro; classic cars is the concentrate, but there’s no shortage of great bands from rockabilly, doo-wop, blues to mod skiffle, boogie woogie jazz and beyond. Sarah Mai Rhythm & Blues Band, “Great Scott,” Shana Mai and the Mayhems, The Bandits, Junco Shakers,The Flaming Feathers, The Harlem Rhythm Cats, Little Dave & The Sunshine Sessions, The Rough Cut Rebels, Riley K, The Ukey D’ukes and loads more. Info & Tickets Here.


You know, this one could be for me, rather than trying to look youthful clutching onto a marquee pole for dear life while a hoard of sugared-up teeny-boppers check Instagram amidst a soundtrack of dubstep! But look, I reckon there’s something for everyone here, but if I did miss yours, let me know, for a squashy cup of cider at the festie bar, I must just add your do here too!


Trending….

Wharf Theatre Has Some Positive News

The struggle is real; the theatre world in general is facing many issues and they lit their exteriors and foyers up in a red alert tone. Devizes beloved The Wharf Theatre joined forces again with fellow venues and took part in the Light It in Red campaign. They say, “the message this year is one of hope and support and we are using the universal symbol of the heart with the message; We’re still beating.”

Anyone passing The Wharf next week will note a series of posters created specially to celebrate this campaign, but they also have some exciting news. Subject to government guidelines eight shows are in pre-production and the scheduled dates are:

JULY: Collected Grimm Tales

SEPTEMBER: Jesus Christ Superstar

OCTOBER: The Navy Lark; The Tommy Cooper Story; Glorious (subject to rights)

NOVEMBER: The Paul Simon Story

DECEMBER: Dick Whittington

JANUARY: My Mother Said I Never Should

Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website or, when open, at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. Whilst restrictions remain in place please continue to refer to their website for the latest details or and don’t follow on Instagram and Twitter.

In the meantime, there’s still a few places left for the on-line masterclass with West End star Luke Bayer on Thursday 25th March 7pm – 8pm.  Would you like to be able to spend an hour with the Star of Jamie the Musical, learn a routine from the show and take part in a Q&A afterwards?  Tickets can be purchased from TicketSource – see website for further details.


The Return of Local Live Music; should I add a question mark?

“But I’m bidin’ my time

‘Cause that’s the kinda guy I’m

While other folks grow dizzy

I keep busy

Bidin’ my time,”

George Gershwin

It’s important, I think, not to get over-excited, but I understand and expect a major outbreak of momentary bipolar disorder from myself and many others when we look somewhere over the rainbow at the prospect of events restarting, and live music in particular.

How the next few months pan out will be crucial to this concept of returning to normality, and we all play the part of Sarah Connor in Terminator 2; Judgement Day, when she said, “the unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope.” Hereafter the bit about a Terminator learning the value of human life is inconsequential to our particular occasion, but maybe has some relevance. We have to hold it down, guys, we have to be like little Fonzies here, and as Samuel L Jackson will ask you, Yolanda, what’s Fonzie like?

If we charge this thing it could backfire. It was heart-breaking and annoying too, running through our event calendar deleting everything, and despite the concern I’m going to be a busy bee updating it when events actually start happening, I’m like George Gershwin, biding his time. This said, you should note month-to-month the event calendar is far from void, there’s lots of live streams, online events and popup kitchens to check out; do not abandon it. But, and this a big but, bigger than the butt of Rod Stewart and Jennifer Lopez’s lovechild, we should keep in mind the word of the day is possibilities, and nothing should be set in concrete yet.

Still the local rag seems more gung-ho than me, which is odd until you figure they’ve staff to pay, advertisers to appease and content must be attractive. As I write this, they announce the headline “Fulltone Festival will be back in town this summer!” as I’m sure you’ll all be happy to hear this news, planning to go ahead on the 28th and 29th August, as am I, but I worry for the word “will” in this piece of clickbait, because right now can we really say will?

Look, my ol’ mucker, I don’t want to pop your bubble of optimism, I’m just playing the realist. Tomorrow sees schools and higher education heading back out; how strict testing will be, given pupils will test themselves in some circumstances, the same pupils who created the user-name “reconnecting,” so teachers would think they’re having connection issues with their online class! The R-rating hinges on this moment and its success, ergo the rest of this so-called roadmap does.

The second part of this giant step, on the 29th March includes the use of outdoor swimming pools, for example, but pubs won’t reopen until step 2 on April 12th. How are fifty-plus bods dribbling into a swimming pool safer than a socially distanced pint in your local? There’s inconsistences and flaws, to be expected, the further the pitch extends, but the wording is all made up of “we hope,” and “the government will look to continue easing limits,” there is no “Will,” therefore no media outlet should be using the word, unless mass hysteria is what they want.

The COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 (Summary) on Gov.UK is quite clear, “in implementing this plan we will be guided by data, not dates, so that we do not risk a surge in infections that would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS. For that reason, all the dates in the roadmap are indicative and subject to change.” Yet bands are getting bookings, events are being arranged, money is being pumped into thin ice. The Victoria in Swindon is planning a comeback with Ion Maiden, Iron Maiden tribute on 14th May, but The Tuppenny aren’t announcing yet. Bradford-on-Avon’s Three Horseshoes haven’t added anything on Facebook until 7th August, when the brilliant Strange Folk are booked, whereas same band are the only thing to be listed at Devizes Southgate on 9th October.

But can you rely on the Fakebook as a source? Southgate landlady Deborah has been “quietly booking up bands,” with seventeen in the pipeline to date, starting from 22nd May. “This year,” she explained, “we’re concentrating almost entirely on just one gig per week. The earliest gigs will be outside with early evening start and finish times, but we hope to get back to our pre-COVID timings as soon as possible.”

The Long Street Blues Club state “there is light at the end of the tunnel,” aiming to restart their program on Saturday 18th September with the popular Billy Walton Band. This is brilliant news, but here, I believe is where the boundary lies, the smaller pub and club gigs. The idea of large-scale concerts and festivals, and upholding conditions are simply incalculable, for some.

Devizes Scooter Club have sadly cancelled their brilliant rally, as organiser Adam Ford said after making the decision in February, “even if it were allowed to proceed, we feel it will not be possible to host any event to the standard we would want to, and that attendees deserve.” There’s a similar feeling at Devizes CAMRA who have cancelled the Beer Festival. This is, sad but true, the exact logical response we should respect from those in the responsibility of organising events, well done to them both.

One should follow the lead of the Eavis family, experts in, quite literally, their field. If Glasto says no, then you, as an organiser should perhaps take heed. Meanwhile, Lydiard Park in Swindon is set for MFor 2021 is set as early as 31st July, and tickets are 50% sold. They remain adamant they’ve not the massive structure and organisation as Glasto, and will proceed with social distancing measures in operation. What I am questioning with these events still on the agenda, will we need proof of vaccination, as we’re a long way from vaccinating the country? Unless you imagine an evening with only over-70s going to watch Craig David, it’s a melon twister.

Talking with Kieran J Moore of Sheer Music, he stated, “the proof question hasn’t been answered by the Music Venue Trust yet, so there is no guidance or anything for the venues to base their decisions on. We can’t do gigs until May either, so still plenty of time for the working outs to begin.” Sheer has something in pipeline in Frome at the end of June, but isn’t really resurfacing until the highly anticipated Jon Gomm gig with support from The Lost Trades at Trowbridge’s Emmanuel’s Yard on the 15th October.

Satisfied that their safety measures conformed to the government regulations last Summer, the Southgate will do the same this time around. “Government guidelines have not yet been published,” Deborah said. “Unless we are required to do so, we have no intention whatsoever of  demanding proof of vaccination.”

Loz of Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts, who give us the unforgettable carnival, street festival and winter ales events, among others is looking forward to coming back “to help us make amazing things happen in the future.” She said, “I’ve spent every spare minute searching for and writing funding applications to ensure DOCA can relaunch at the end of this crazy blip in our history. I’m currently working on an Arts Council Cultural Recovery Bid; it’s a lot of work and I am supported by our fantastic Trustees whenever I have a question I stall on.”

But still, carnival in Devizes hangs in the ropes. But this is how it has to be, unfortunately. Believe me, I am adamant my next gig will not be when a kindly lady wheels her Bontempi organ into my care home to recite Bridge over Troubled Water, all I’m urging people to do is keep things in perspective and not raise their hopes, or more-so, let their guard down, just yet.


Trending…

Happy 50th Anniversary Devizes Lions!

Join me in thanking and congratulating The Devizes Lions in celebrating fifty years of serving the community.

Two members of DEVIZES LIONS Club have together amassed over 100 years of voluntary service to the local community. This milestone has been reached during the year in which the Club marks the 50th anniversary of its founding.

Soon after the Club formed in 1970 David Bousfield joined, and John Hurley did so a few months later. Over the years they have helped to organise many Lions’ events, including assisting individuals and groups in need of practical or financial help as well as organising large scale events such as Gymkhanas and the May and Christmas Fayres

David was President of the Club in 1984 and again in 2014. Like many of the Lions, David is well known in other fields. He is a solicitor with Wansbroughs in Devizes and has lived in Potterne for many years, he is a former trustee of the Wiltshire Community Foundation and governor of Devizes School. A keen sportsman, he was previously a county hockey player and remains a keen golfer.

John was President of the Club in 1977, and now lives in New Park Street. He was Engineer & Surveyor to the former Devizes Rural District Council and then Kennet District Council. With his late wife Beryl he was active in the establishment of the Wharf Theatre and they were also leading figures in the Wiltshire family history scene, transcribing and publishing many records and giving talks over much of the country.

Both John and David remain active Club members preparing for the restart of the Club’s public activities and its next 50 years helping local individuals, families and groups in need of support.


Song of the Day 18: The Lost Trades

If you’ve not heard of The Lost Trades before, you must be new to Devizine! Not a problem, we welcome newbies with open arms.

For further information we have a search bar, use it!There are plenty of archived features on The Lost Trades, Phil Cooper, Jamie R Hawkins and Tamsin Quin: enough for Devizine to be an official fan club! These Song of the Day posts are brief and are not intended to be full reviews.

They’re also about introducing you to artists we’ve not, or hardly ever mentioned much of before. Today’s case differs.

I should explain, we’ve followed the individual careers of this local vocal harmony trio since the website’s creation, and they’re three out of many in through doing this, have become personal friends.

Naturally, there’s a danger to the bias of honest criticism in a reviewer befriending the creators; mainstream artists use “enemy” as a term to describe NME journalists.

Although they’re aware I’d be critical if there was ever anything to be critical about, this is also, never a problem, because, simply, the awkward situation never arises.

Partly, I believe, this is because Devizine isn’t a job, it’s a hobby, and if I thought for a second I’ll unjustly slag anyone off for kicks, then the whole objective of it is compromised. Though it’s a delicate balance to provide honest content and maintain relationships with the talented subjects, there’s no reason to wreck a career, and I’d sooner avoid scribbling anything on the matter at all.

The fact if you do search for the Lost Trades or the musicians which make the trio up, you’ll find a fair amount of matter on the subject, can therefore mean only one thing: there never is a problem because they’re genuinely awesome, and this would still be the case even if they hated my guts. Which I’m not ruling out, but suspect it’s unlikely; least I can hope for is they think I’m a headcase. A friendly headcase, but a headcase nonetheless!

Still, it’s a great song, as ever, with a fascinating homemade video fusing Jamie’s enthusiasm for stop motion animation. Get it here.

And that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on….


Getting Cosy with the Gyros; Greek Pop-up Catering Coming to Devizes & Melksham

For the love of Eros, what’s the plan for your Valentine’s weekend in this restricted era? Just a language of love suggestion in view of limitations, because I’ve not tasted a Greek gyro, yet, but boy, the ones at The Cosy Kitchen pop-up takeaway look scrum-diddly-umptious! And word on the street is; they’re heading our way. Find them at the Wiltshire School of Gymnastics on Friday 12th and The Moonraker Pub, Devizes on the 13th February.

I’ve been chatting to these SBS winners, finding out how it works and asking them, why Greek. The foremost is simple, just rock up, order and obviously adhere to social distancing measures. They don’t offer pre-orders or deliveries, it’s collection only, “we find it’s not fair to the people queueing to then stop serving them when they’ve been waiting, for someone who has called up,” they explained.

The Cosy Kitchen started in 2019, on the events circuit, which is probably what jogged my memory of their popularity at Devizes Food & Drink Festival that year. “It has been difficult as we have had every event cancelled and I feel most of this year is going to be the same,” they told me, “so we’ve had to adapt to how things are to ensure we’re adhering to guidelines by putting things in place to keep everyone safe, it’s not been easy but all our customers have been amazing!”

The Cosy Kitchen at 2019 Devizes Food & Drink Festival

I’m reckoning it’s great for towns like Devizes, despite awesome Italian, Chinese and Indian restaurants, the choice is mostly limited to these. But why did the Cosy Kitchen decide upon Greek cuisine? I asked if there was a connection.

“We love Greece,” they added, “it was the first place my partner and I went on holiday and we fell in love with the place, since then we go back a couple times a year, to a little village where we are friends with everyone! We would come home, wanting gyros or Greek food and would drive long distances, and not be 100% happy with it, either not tasting right or the wrong atmosphere. So, we thought, let’s just do it ourselves!”

With a chef in the family, a connection to Greek suppliers, and friends who had restaurants (one called The Cosy Corner, influencing the name) to teach them recipes, The Cosy Kitchen was born and it treks Wiltshire towns and villages, bringing them a taste of Greece; what’s not to like?!

Cyprus is as close to Greece I’ve been, personally. An island which seems to cater for the majority English tourist by offering, I found tiresomely, chips with every meal. Much to my initial delight, at one point we tried an Australian bar where the owner proudly acclaimed in broad Sydney accent, “today we’ve got the Sunday roast.” But to my horror, even this was served with chips!

Due to this, the sustenance experience of my life occurred there, and I’ve been a fan of Greek food since. Yep, we’re talking the meze, a boundless round of courses until you drop. Honest, I’m a big eater, but this broke me. There’s a photo I’m not sharing, of me at this conjunction, reddened in face and blotted beyond compare. The waiter noted my faltering and tapped me reassuringly on the shoulder, “not long to go now!” But it was a big fat fib, as they covered the table in traditional Greek dishes, and I’m not one to excuse myself. They were all so fine, I had to try at least a bit of each!

The Cosy Kitchen found my recollection amusing, “ha-ha! Greeks do not understand portion control!” Which led us nicely onto the details of what a gyro is. Akin to the Turkish kebab, its meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, typically served wrapped or stuffed in a pita, along with ingredients such as tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce. “In Cyprus,” those Cosy Kitchen folk informed, “they mostly don’t put chips inside their gyros, whereas in Greece they do.” I zoomed in their photos, story checks out, there be chips in there; fortunately, I’d just had my dinner, still got a tad eager though. But the Cosy Kitchen get only good feedback on their brand of “herby fries,” “people just love them!”

It all sounds good, and in my mind, I’m already queuing at the Moonies! But the proof is in the pudding, as they say, of which, incidentally, you can order cheesecake for £3 a slice, and I think we should report back on how they taste on the day, if you’re not tempted already!


Trending…

Carmela Wins Points of Light Prime Minister Award

A huge congratulations to Carmela and the Chillery-Watson family of Lavington, who knew nothing about the Points of Light awards until Carmela was rewarded with one this week. “We are absolutely bowled over with pure happiness at this surprise award,” mum Lucy said.

First established in the USA by President George Bush in 1990, UK Points of Light was developed in partnership with the US programme and launched at Downing Street in 2014. Since then, hundreds have been named Points of Light by the Prime Minister, highlighting an enormous array of innovative and inspirational volunteering across the length and breadth of Britain.

Points of Light are outstanding individual volunteers; people making a change in their community, and after her 300km challenge last year, we couldn’t think of anyone more suitable and deserving than our lovable Carmela.

Diagnosed at the age of three with L-CMD, a progressive muscle-wasting disease which weakens every muscle over time, Carmela is now six and has come a colossal way in raising awareness and funds for Muscular Dystrophy, and continues to be an inspiration to us all.

“Thank you, Boris,” Carmela said, “this is awesome news, I can’t believe it, it’s so amazing. Thank you so much.” Although the prime minister is just another celebrity notched on Carmela’s campaign trail, meeting with the likes of Beverly Knight, Frank Bruno, Jimmy Carr, and even Harry Duke of Sussex. Oh, and not forgetting last September when Wonder Woman actress, Gal Gadot, donated over £3K to Carmela’s fund. Face it, between Boris and Gal, I know which one I’d rather meet!

It’s a wonder, excuse the pun, if Carmela remembers the morning when she helped me on my milk round at all. I hope so, as it was a pleasure to meet her, Lucy and dad, Darren, and an occasion, I’ll always hold dear; even if I was a little tired and smelly!

CEO of Muscular Dystrophy UK Catherine Woodhead congratulated Carmela, and added, “everyone at MDUK is thrilled that Carmela’s outstanding fundraising efforts for the charity have been recognised by the Prime Minister. To date, Carmela and her family have raised nearly £50,000 for MDUK.” Which is simply, amazing. Well done Carmela.


Trending……


Rise of the Snowmen!

Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve waited for…. or maybe not. This isn’t the Greatest Showman, this is the greatest SNOWman! Yes, we held a little snowman competition, and here’s how it went…..

Two things didn’t occur to me upon posting a picture of our snowman on our Facebook page, offering others to do likewise in a competition fashion. Firstly, the colossal response, but I guess Sunday’s snowfall was a golden opportunity to get out of houses and have a little social distanced fun. Alas, now the power of the sun and rain has reduced the white blanket to the odd splatter here and there. We will always have photographic memories of our once proud sculptures, and a carrot on the front lawn. Here comes some now……

Secondly, how to actually go about judging a snowman competition, never having judged anything of the sort before. I gathered some thoughts to criteria, I Googled and found some rather serious rules from other such competitions.

Jonesy McSnow and Lucy (age 10)

Certain I wasn’t intending to make it half as serious as these, their judgements were much as I anticipated. There are factors to consider. Creativity for starters. Originality, tradition, competence, and dedication are equally important. Size is good, but it’s, as you know, not everything, when building a snowman that is.

Towering over the playpark on Devizes Green, Bally Bongo’s Bob stands at over 6ft 2. By
Archie(8) Blu (4) and a little help by the parents!
This snow Kong at the Henly’s has sacred everyone back inside!
The Russell Family’s got an outie belly button bigger than the average snowman!
The Waterman’s daughter’s first snowman is huge!
Stay back, he’s got a taste for meat, or is that a twig?!
From the tall to the small, it doesn’t matter, he looks happy!
Don’t, don’t, don’t you, forget about me!

Many were divided into age groups, which I figured awkward. Building a snowman is usually a group activity, it’s about families, all ages contribute. Kids run around trying to construct the starting ball, dads get the backbreaking task of rolling it up and taking half the grass and autumn leaves with it, while mums usually stay in the warm sourcing carrots and hats; it’s a communal experience for sure! Okay, I’m generalising for artistic license and know it’s not really like that, trying to be funny, when really, judging a snowman competition is snow joke (see what I did there?) But making a snowman has no boundaries or conditions, any age, and race and gender, everyone together, getting creative….

Amazing!
Best buddies!
Hide your carrots, there’s a snow bunny about! Pictured with it’s creator; grand job, Faith!
The apple of Pingu’s eye! Well done Willow & Jonah!
Very retro, Kiana!
Shiver me timbers!
Mange tout, Hoffman, you plonker!

He made snow chicks, cats and dogs….

Arrow through the head??!
Great rocket ship, Isacc…. oh, you’ve sledged away!
Shark invasion in Sam’s garden!
And a hoodie in Kev’s yard!
Buddha in Urchfont!
And some lounging about!

But part of the beauty of creating a snowman is the feeling of togetherness. Here is an art where anyone can be the artist, provided they’re willing to get wet gloves. And in that notion, where some strive to be original, often the traditional method is tried and tested. A good snowman doesn’t need to be carved by Henry Moore with flawless features; he needs a carrot for a nose, he needs two pebbles for eyes, twigs for arms and an old hat and scarf. We live in a traditional county, after all.

Tracey and Sara Whatley did the hard work, the horses reaped the benefits!

Then again, there’s something striking when creative genius gets to work and original ideas bend the theme. Some can be topical, facemasks a common theme this year, or culture based, whereas some can be funny, others damn-right rude….

The Barter family make use of their brussels sprouts after Christmas!
Zeb’s snowman has a snow booty!
Ol’ broccoli eyes is back; Guardian of the wheelie bins!
Either they tried to put wellies on this snowman, or it ate a small child!
Facemasks on, here comes the foreman tree inspector!
Dog photobomb at the Diskett’s!
Somebody call the snow doctor!
Anyone seen the funnel bit to mum’s vacuum cleaner?!
Take two bottles into the shower? No, I just wash n snow!
Anymore snow coming, I need a friend? Not for you, sprout-face!
Got to look your best when doing a spot of gardening…
Hit and run snowman attack!
Skateboarding on ice is dangerous, but when else can a snowman hit the half-pipe?
I’m all for gender neutral snow people, but this one has lady’s assets and a six-pack!
You’re only ever one jacket away from being a goth!
I thought about making this the winner; they’ve got to win something after all!
Office party, you know how it goes…..
Jimmy Saville goes skiing?

Rudeness I can take, live by it; but at least drag yourself away from Babestation for a few minutes to get out and actually build a snowman, rather than, as some did, Google “rude snowman” and share the first image which pops up. Sad, but true, spoils it for the kids, of all ages.

Rule Britannia, we shall, we shall never stuff a whole loaf in our mouths at once?
Heavy night, anyone got a paracetamol?
I’ve had enough of this, I’m off to live with the wolves…..
Will you be my friend?
I am robo-snowman!

Can I pick a winner?

Drum roll…… Tricky. I’ve narrowed it down to my ten favourites, and here they are. I apologise, I tried to source a snowman type of prize, but they’re a tad out of season and this was a spontaneous idea. I think a bit of future planning, for next year’s snow storm, being the idea was so popular, and we could have prizes. For now, winners can print off my certificate here, and a colour-me-in sheet, if they like that sort of thing! Thank you all so much for letting me see your brilliant snowmen, I loved looking at them all, having a penchant for snowmen, I admit unashamedly!

Oh, and if you do colour them, I’d love to see your fine colouring skills!

Never over-complicate the objective. Matrim Vaux, age 6 knows less is more with Bill the snow owl.
Leo, age 5, and Hallie, age 2 looking a tad cold, but like they’re having so much fun!
Topical from the Collins family, but he looks awesome!
I just love this picture, Casey, age 6 looks so proud as she strikes a pose, but Archie, age 3, seems distracted by something else happening elsewhere; it’s a guy thing Casey!
By Justina Hams and her seven year-old. Because he’s so smooth and grand looking!
Rob Jobson understated his snowman, saying “it’s the taking part that matters!” No mate, he’s superb in his simplicity!
A team effort from the Lake family, and a grand job made of it!