Stonehenge or Bust; Duck n Cuvver Scale the Fence!

The last thing Robert Hardie wants is to be portrayed as villainous, or condoning mass trespass, though he accepts some might interpret breaking over the fence at Stonehenge as such. Chatting to this veteran on the phone this morning, he described the exhilaration and sensation of wellbeing, wandering between Wiltshire’s legendary stone pillars, but expressed he doesn’t wish to encourage others to follow his example, only to raise awareness of his crusade.

Frustration with English Heritage was the prime motive for taking the leap, displayed in his video doing the rounds on social media. But one half of Salisbury folk-rock indie duo, Duck n Cuvver has been fundraising for over three years to be able to shoot the final part of a music video inside the stone circle. “Initially,” he said, “English Heritage said it would cost £750, then they suddenly upped it to £4,500.” I asked Rob if they gave an explanation, a breakdown of what the costs involved to them would be. He replied they hadn’t.

My musing wandered over the occasion two years ago when local reggae band, Brother from Another pulled a publicity stunt recording themselves atop Silbury Hill, to wide criticism, but how The Lost Trades recently played around Avebury stone circle without trouble. Rob and Ian cannot call a compromise though, being the subject of the song, Henge of Stone, is as it says on the tin. As he explained to the Salisbury Journal back in 2019, “This video will make history – singing about Stonehenge in Stonehenge.”

Clearly enthusiastic about covering our ancient local landmarks as song themes, Rob told me he’d written about Avebury too, and how he played them to the solstice crowd there. This part of our conversation ended with him reciting a few verses in song, and expressing the feeling of joy as the crowds sang them back to him.

While he didn’t rule out this was a publicity stunt too, we discussed the necessities of the project. Rather than being a colossal movie production, with the atypical entourage, trailers and crew, all that’s needed is his partner in crime, Ian Lawes, and possibly the accompanying musicians, Chris Lawes, Jamez Williams, Louis Sellers and Paul Loveridge, a cameraman and a few instruments. The mechanics of shooting the footage would be simple, it’s unplugged, being there’s no electricity on site, and Rob explained how mats would be provided to protect the grass. Besides, if EH’s concerns were for the welfare of the site they’d simply say no, surely, not put a price on it.

There’s therefore no justice, in my mind, really, on the exceptionally high price tag. Only to assume English Heritage is out to profit. Contemplating on recent outcries concerning activities around Stonehenge; the solstice parking debacle, closing for winter solstice and of course the tunnel, which we mutually dismissed as ludicrous on the grounds excavating there would obviously turn up some ancient findings and archaeological digs, and protection rights would whack the project way over budget, it feels the quango run agency is not the best method to protect our heritage sites, if the conservative ethos is revenue driven rather than insuring it’s splendour is for all to enjoy and savour. As Rob points out in the film, “Stonehenge belongs to fucking us!”

Ah, story checks out; even English Heritage states similar on their website, if not quite so sweary! “The monument remained in private ownership until 1918 when Cecil Chubb, a local man who had purchased Stonehenge from the Atrobus family at an auction three years previously, gave it to the nation. Thereafter, the duty to conserve the monument fell to the state, today a role performed on its behalf by English Heritage.” It’s basically one extortionate babysitter, calling the shots.

I enjoyed chatting with Rob, even if my plan to record the dialogue backfired due to my poor tech skills! I apologise to him for this improv article.

I’m surprised to not have previously heard of Duck n Cuvver, we tend to get vague coverage of the Salisbury area; something I need to work on. We did rap about our mutual friend, the pianist prodigy, young Will Foulstone, among other things.

The duo are sound as a pound, though, real quality folk rock come indie sound, the song is cracking, proper job. Which is why they’ve supported the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs and The Feeling, and recently performed at the National Armed Forces Day. Ardent about his music, this veteran explained his service inspired the band name, and continued to express his passion for this particular song, something which has been evolving over five years, and it shows. He described it as a “celebration of life,” dedicated to a friend who passed away, from cancer.

Both members of the duo are good, charitable folk, and if Rob did climb the fence at Stonehenge recently, note he lives within the restricted range of it to constitute it being his daily exercise. From our phone call alone, I could tell they’re not the sort to abuse the trust, if it was given to them, to perform at Stonehenge, that’d be a magical moment, and, well, we could do with a magical moment right now. So, if you can help fund their campaign, you’ll find a link to do so here.

I’ll pop the song which is kicking up all the fuss below, and leave with a thanks for the natter, Rob, and I wish you all the best with the crusade; Stonehenge or bust!

    


Wiltshire Council Welcome Proposed Road Signs

Since a Wiltshire Council highway engineer advised Devizes Town Council that a sign at the High Street junction with Long Street is not big enough or in the right position last week, the highway engineer has been around our area suggesting other improvements which must be enforced for safety purposes.

 
Devizes Town Councillors were warned people might not spot the present ‘No Entry’ sign, and that it needs to be 600 CMs wide, wider than the road itself. “Maybe even larger, the bigger the better,” said a Wiltshire Council spokesperson, the one who really has the mentality to grasp simple English. “If it means we have to knock down a few historic buildings to make room, then we will.”

 
“We’d really favour,” the spokesman continued, “that the sign is lit with flashing neon letter-lights and overhead floodlights, twenty-four hours a day. Perhaps, it could also repetitively play a Bonnie Tyler song, or even the soundtrack to Rocky 4, to raise awareness of it too.”

 
“Devizes Town Council is clearly not accounting for the prerogative of speeding businessmen in BMWs belting through Devizes without a finger of fudge to road safety. They may have important calls to make on their phones, be preoccupied trying to locate a Starbucks, or generally too busy eyeing up totty to notice the clearly one-way street has standard no entry signs.”

 
The Wiltshire Council spokesperson, who cannot be named because their nametag fell out of their work jumper, because their mum didn’t iron it on well enough, stated, “those who think there’s no accounting for stupidity are wrong. One blast of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ or ‘Holding out for a Hero’ will alert the most insensitive arsehole; it’s certainly one of my favourite songs.”

 
With this apparent compete lack of competence of town councils to identify these issues, the Wiltshire Council highway engineer has proposed a new selection of signs be erected in obvious danger areas, using visual aids rather than a report, as he can only write in emoji.

 
Devizine has received these exclusive graphic representations for residents to swoon over in delight. I asked the Wiltshire Council spokesperson if he thought they were slightly aesthetically intrusive. “No,” he replied, “I think athletes will love them too.”

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Adverts & All That!

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EH raise price to visit Stonehenge

 

EH announced entry price to Stonehenge is set to rise in April from £16:50 to £19:50 per adult, and from £40:70 to £50:90 for families.

I find myself wondering how much of this is for the upkeep of the monument and how much is pure profit, or to make inadequate new infrastructure alterations, or even, dare I say it, to fund a security company who many have complained about their heavy-handed attics and rude responses to visitors.

It also questions, just how much are people willing to pay to see Wiltshire’s primary internationally renowned wonder, and how these prices, which already seem extreme, affect smaller local businesses relying on tourism?

Already disgruntled with new rules regarding solstice celebrations at the site, and the charges for parking on these scared days, Pagan High Preist, Arthur Uther Pendragon opened a government petition, stating EH are “not fit to manage” Stonehenge.

“Since splitting with Historic England,” the campaign says, “English Heritage has commercialized Stonehenge to the extreme introducing a ‘Pay to Pray’ Policy at Solstices and priced Tourism out of reach for the General Public to whom it was left, and supported unsuitable road improvements in the World Heritage site.”

“They have rejected the advice and concerns of UNESCO, Senior Archaeologists, Historians, Druids, and Environmentalists. This shows they are not fit to manage the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of a World Heritage site.”

Please sign this petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/200246

 

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