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

On Social and Political Matters……

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

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

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

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

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

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

January

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

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

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

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

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

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

February

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

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


Onto Devizine…. kind of.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March


On Music……

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May

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

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

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

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

June

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


On Arts…..

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

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

July


On Food…

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

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

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

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

August


On Stats, Spoofs and the Future….

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

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

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

September

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

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

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


On Other News and Miscellaneous Articles……

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

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

October

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

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

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

November


In conclusion….

It has, in conclusion, been a hectic year, without the need for live music reviews, though some might’ve been nice! Here’s to a better day. We reserve our right to support local arts, music, and business, whatever the weather, and pandemic. We offered you, on top of the aforementioned; Father’s Day; Keeping Ideas Local, Floating Record Shop Moored on Kennet & Avon, Devizes Town Band Comes to You for Remembrance and Zoom Like an Egyptian: Wiltshire Museum Half-Term Activities! to name but a few in the wake of our move to online events, although they’ll never stream as effectively as being pissed in a pub alcove unable to find the loo.

We also did our easy-reading list type features which are the trend; Top Twenty Local Music CDs For Christmas and Fairy-Tale of New Park Street; And Better Local Christmas Songs! I went on my Devizine Christmas Shopping Challenge, and tried to tweak the website to include podcasts to fund our musicians.

Yeah, that one is put on hold, I couldn’t do it as I saw able to, but it needs work and I’ve another plan up my sleeve, just takes a bit of planning is all, which I guess is why they call it a plan in the first fucking place! You did blag a Free Afro-Beat, Cumbia and Funk Mix out of the deal. Maybe I could do more, but upwards and onwards, Devizine is now operating as both international music zine and local affairs. I maybe could separate them, but this means building a new audience and starting over. I like it as it is, and besides, I’m open to feedback, love to hear what you reckon, and will promise to act on suggestions, which is more than I can say for this fucking, cockwomble-led government; just leave it there shall we?!

The only gripe is that I ask that you have to believe in what I’m trying to do and supply me with the news, what you’re doing, creating or getting narked about, else I don’t know about it; hacked off with Face-sodding-Book, see?

Sure, you could put your trust in a real journalist through all their generalizations and unbiased writings, and grammar errors, or you could try here, where we deliver more than just a pint of semi. Look now at the going back to school debate, you know, I know, we all fucking know, senior school kids can stay at home because they can look after themselves while parents go to work, whereas primary kids can’t, so have to go back to school. It has nought to do with the spread of the virus, and everything to do with what’s best financially, and that, my friends, is not only the way this government have applied regulations throughout, but also not the kind of truths you’ll be reading in the newspapers.

All hail Devizine then, please do; I’m trying my fucking best amidst the wankology of Britain’s governing regime. I’m planning to rock on for another year, trapped in Blighty with flag-waving, panic-buying tossers until we’re queuing for bread or waging war on France like the good old days, namely the dark ages, let’s see where it gets us; with or without loo roll.

No, I’m not bitter; just slightly narked at the difficulties made in making people laugh by these idiots, so I find it apt to aim my satirical guns at them.

December

Human Traffic; Richard Davies & The Dissidents

Gaining rave reviews and a new European audience, particularly in Spain, I confess I’m a little late for the party. How can I excuse myself, turkey-stuffing, abundance of toy packaging, putting batteries in gadgets and other Christmassy eggnog shenanigans? Nevertheless, Bucketfull of Brains Records released this album, Human Traffic by Wiltshire-based Richard Davies & The Dissidents back in June. I’ve only just caught wind of its timeless rock n roll splendour, anthemic and emotive, and I’m letting you guys know, if you didn’t already.

Not to be confused with a movie about welsh clubbers, Human Traffic is pure road-driving rock. Maintaining a regressive, tried-and-tested rock formulae it never strides into experimentation but rides the eternal recipe with bells on. I’m getting UK-Americana crossover, the classic smooth eighties rockers, of Steve Winwood, Springsteen in all his Darkness/Born in the USA glory, Traveling Wilburys and particularly, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

There’s also a subtle hint of English punk, Heartbeat Smile exemplifies this though upbeat and jubilant, one cannot ignore a rawness of the Clash. My valuation overall comes to a head with Way of The Wild, probably the most beguiling, but this ten-track strong album rarely comes up for air, and never diverts off its chosen path. Ergo, if confident, driving, ageless rocking out is what you want, it’s double-strength concentrate.

If cliché abound doesn’t matter, lyrical subjects matches the music, with long road to hearts, wild ways, getting under one’s skin etc. Yet maintaining the fashion is good, and they do it so, so well; it worked for Clapton, et all. This is why I think you, you with your black band t-shirt in the loft and memories of friendship bracelets up the arm, will love this album, perhaps even more than me. Because it flows, doesn’t jolt metal unexpectedly at you, or push an unwanted genre down your throat with that one oddity, tentative track.

There’s deffo something moreish about this, we want guitarist Richard Davies front and centre again, after years as a collaborator, gun for hire and band member, most notably with London bands The Snakes and Tiny Monroe, this is debut as lead vocalist and principal songwriter, but his background paid off. Also, the perfect band-gel of these “dissidents,” the backing of Davies’ friends, drummer Chris Cannon of Mega City Four and The Snakes, and bassist Tim Emery of Case Hardin and Last Great Dreamers, of whom I’ve not met since our schooldays. Fortuitously, it’s nice to be reviewing something inspiring with a local connection, that’s the principal reason for blogging here.

“Recording this album was something that I’d always wanted to do but never really got round to doing until now,” Richard explained. “Some of the songs are about me, some of them are about other people, but they all capture reality as I see it. I wanted to record an album that was about real life and with all the highs and lows that go with it”.

Richard began his career playing guitar for indie band Tiny Monroe in the 90s, recording several singles, an EP and an album for London Records, touring with The Pretenders, Radiohead and Suede and appearing at the Glastonbury, Reading and T in the Park festivals along the way. Following this, Richard recorded three albums with The Snakes: Songs From The Satellites, Sometime Soon and The Last Days of Rock‘n’Roll , as the band became major players on the UK Americana scene, picking up mainstream national airplay from the likes of Bob Harris and Mark Lamarr.

Vegan for Life, not just for Christmas!

Thinking of going vegan? Maybe after your turkey and pigs in blankets?! I have a chat about the possibilities, lifestyle and, you know me, a number of silly tangents, with Wiltshire foodie blogger Jill; to see if she can convert me!  

I dissented my daughter’s culinary request on peculiar grounds; two everyday objects, sausages and bacon, when the latter is wrapped around the other, are, for some outlandish reason, a treat retained for Christmas dinner only, and to have them on our mid-December roast dinner would spoil the magic of the imminent feast. But once served, I ate ‘em anyway!

An oddity, why certain things, like Brussel sprouts are attributed only to Christmas dinner and eating them at any other time is like swearing at a vicar. Absorbed by the explicit naming of pigs in blankets too, like a hog-roast or rabbit stew, and unlike venison or beef, they don’t attempt to disguise the notion you’re munching on dead animal. Rather celebrate pride in the fact.

Such is my allure for something in blankets, if not pigs, I was intrigued by a recipe for a vegan alternative on a local based website, Especially Vegan. The site’s creator, Jill, uses parsnips wrapped in vegan bacon. I quiver at meat alternatives, but love a good parsnip; becoming vegetarian is something although I consider pursuing, I never attain. I blame pigs in blankets; oh, the smell of bacon cooking, chicken and numerous other dishes of god’s creatures great and small.

Roasted Butternut-Squash Skin & Seeds

However much I preach about environmental issues, I find the idea we all must go vegan the hardest pill to swallow. On principle I agree, but the reality, the golden aura of a roasted chicken, just overrides my carnal appetite and I cave helplessly like the carnivorous beast I am. If it was going to happen, you’d have thought my years working at a butcher, skinning rabbits and watching turkeys meeting their maker might have dissuaded me.

Can Jill help? Especially Vegan is a fantastic website, chockful of hints, tips and recipes. Can Jill convince someone as thick skinned as me to turn vegan? No, not really, she’s not the pushy type. “That’s the thing,” she explained, “I am not trying to change your mind. I would like a happier world, you know, world peace,” she laughed.

“I am not trying to change your mind. I would like a happier world, you know, world peace.”

Rather stereotypical of vegans, they rarely preach or thrust their ideas down your throat. Perhaps this is the undoing, I need the direct approach, a seven-foot skinhead vegan to order me to give up   hotdog-stuffed pizza, or else!

I put it to Jill I could meet her halfway, reduce my meat allowance by 50%. Environmentally if everyone did, we’d reduce carbon emissions from 18% to 9%. “I feel we should all make our own choices about what we eat,” Jill clarified, “but obviously, the more those choices are based on the environment and health and, for me personally, animal welfare, the better.” A dislike of meat-eating is perhaps the most common reason, Jill wrote a post on the blog explaining why she became a vegan; “in recent years it’s more about health for a lot of people. For me it’s always been about animals.” I was still keen to gage her on her feelings about the environmental impact of not turning vegan.

Vegan Couscous & Halloumi Salad

“Absolutely,” she replied, “it has a big influence now. But not when I ‘turned’ back in the nineties! I feel any reason that people eat less meat is a good thing. It is fact now, regardless of what the meat industry says, less meat will help the planet. But there are other things we could all do that will also help.” Jill continued on recycling and the supermarkets cutting down on packaging. “I also know that cost is a big factor.  When low-income families can buy cheaper meat due to the way it is farmed, they may have no choice.  I think the government should make well-bred and cared for animal meat affordable for all.”

But if you know the methods, I figured, most of the recipes on Especially Vegan wouldn’t break the bank. It was Jill’s husband who came up with the idea for Especially Vegan, in May, and the blog was launched in August. “So,” Jill enlightened, “it’s still quite small but growing weekly.”

Jill still cooks meat for her friends and family, “that’s their choice,” and was keen to point out her blog is not just for vegans. “I take the meat, etc, out of recipes I like, so there’s no reason why people can’t add meat to my recipes. The hope is that they will try it my way. So, try parsnips but with your bacon!”

“There’s no reason why people can’t add meat to my recipes. The hope is that they will try it my way….”

Jill was direct when I asked if she felt there’s a lot of misguided information, “meat propaganda” which ridicules or gives incorrect facts about vegans? “Yes, I do. I haven’t researched it fully myself because I do not preach about being vegan, my choice!  However, I do belong to some Facebook groups and see posts about industry starting rumours about vegans and it being a dreadful, non-healthy diet.  I am pleased to say, I have thrived on it for over twenty-two years and have never taken a supplement, which is another area for misguided influence from the drug companies who sell supplements.”

I did read the blogpost on her not taking vitamin supplements; it’s necessity to is a given stereotype, isn’t it? “Yes, a stereotype!” Jill replied, “however, not everyone can absorb vitamins naturally and do need help. But, not just vegans. There are a couple of things that are a little more difficult to obtain as a vegan. B12 – I get from marmite and fortified cereals and milks. And the new one is Vitamin D.  Which can be an issue, but if you are careful and research your dietary needs well, then it can be overcome. However, I am not saying there is not a need, but that need could be for anyone whose body needs it, non-vegans too!”

Vegan Date & Nut Chocolates

If I was going to consider this, is it a good idea to dip my toe in the water, you know, try being a vegetarian first, or diving right in to vegan?

“Way back when,” Jill elucidated, “I didn’t really know much about veganism, so vegetarianism was the way for me.  It was only later as I learnt more about vegetarianism that veganism crept into what I was reading. No internet to hand back then, like it is today.  And cheese was the hardest for me to give up when I turned vegan. I think with all the info there is today, and you are really sure it’s what you want, then, yeah, head straight in.  But otherwise, take it slow.  If it’s your end goal, the importance is getting there, not how fast you get there.” Meat was Jill’s favourite thing on her plate, growing up, and said she couldn’t stand vegetables. Internet or not, though, I wasn’t put off by Iceland’s chicken tikka lasagne; it’s surely too late for me!

“Cheese was the hardest for me to give up when I turned vegan.”

The internet is an information minefield. I typed into Google: “do we need to go vegan to…” intending to add “environment,” but a more popular choice suggestion freaked me out. It was “…to get into heaven?!” Seems people use the word of god to encourage their own opinion on it. There’s some shocking stuff suggesting you’re on your way to hell for not eating meat! But equally there’s many who say, and I’d agree, if I wasn’t an atheist, you’d be a higher tier in heaven for not eating God’s creatures.

“Say no more!” Jill agreed, even as a bellringer, “I have to honestly say, what a load of rubbish. But that’s what happens with everything, there will always be people out there who say stuff like that. I’m sat here with a G & T so I must be heading downwards, surely; but it is vegan!”

The Especially Vegan website has hosted events and cookery courses, and offers a free tapas recipe eBook on signup. I asked Jill what was next, if a paperback was an option. “I will try to grow it and, yes, would love to have some books in print, also looking to develop a YouTube channel, but for now, I will just keep developing and adding recipes to the blog. It would be lovely to have friendly people subscribe as that’s an incentive to keep going.”

Our chat drifted on tangents hereafter, ending with me waffling. I cannot believe I bought up the subject of Douglas Adams’ ironic “Amegluan Cow,” with a vegan; an animal which wants to be eaten. Served live it offers the diners its rump or its organs, and they’re horrified, save for the alien Zaphod Beeblebrox, who offered to Arthur Dent that he would gladly eat a creature which didn’t want to be eaten. Furthermore, the Ameglian Cow added many vegetables were “very clear” on the point of not wanting to be eaten!

Mind you, Jill bought up a horrible scene in The Waking Dead, where they ate a horse, likened it to Tesco’s burgers, and suggested she hoped she never meets an Ameglian Cow.

But she was an endearing and interesting person to chat with, and Especially Vegan is a well-written, personal styled foodie blog, you should check it out. I noted my sad hypocrisy, given the horsemeat refraction, as I wouldn’t eat nice and fluffy animals. But perhaps my hypocrisy is my reason for an interest in veganism.

Jill mentioned how horrified she was by shark catching fishermen who put big hooks through live dogs’ jaws. She can be horrified, but I’m a hypocrite for being equally horrified, does she think?

“No,” she replied, “just the way we are.” See, a genuinely nice person, and she left pondering her next recipe post, orange zest cake. Nice, in my mind I’m there already!


Small Wonders Art Auction in aid of Arts Together

It was one of my most memorable days following a story for Devizine, when I attended an Arts Together workshop in a sheltered accommodation hall in Bowerhill, last February with the artist Clifton Powell. I found out these sessions meant so much more than “art therapy” to the folk there, and it was delightful to talk to them about what they were doing. You can read about it here, and the amazing work this charity does locally.

This Christmas, Arts Together are hoping to raise up to £5,000, to enable them to continue supporting isolated and lonely older people in the community. Several of the thirteen accomplished artists who help, and many others, have donated artwork for an online auction. The auction is currently running and will last until 13th December.

You can take a look all the beautiful paintings, prints, photographs, ceramics and crafts on show, and make your bid to own one, by clicking here and browsing the images. All the proceeds are going to Arts Together to help them continue our support for older people during this winter.

If you are an artist and would like to donate a piece of small artwork, Arts Together would be delighted to add it to the online auction. Plus, alongside your work they will add a link to your own website and social media.

Please give this some attention if you can, such a brilliant charity, plus you could bag yourself a piece of fine original art for Christmas. Here’s a look at some of the variety of offer:

Leaping Frog from Roy Evans
Small Salt-Glazed Jug by Lexa Laurence
Beetle by Clifton Powell
Christmas in Snowdonia II by Penny Leaver-Green
Storm Warning by Jeff Pigott

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“We Cannot Let our Young People go Hungry;” those locally rallying the call to #endchildfoodpoverty

Time is against me to get this out with haste, forgive me that I don’t to go on one of my usual longwinded rants, I know you love them, plus, you know I’m aching to do so!  

Suffice it to say we’re all horrified and angered by this government-voting-down-free-school-meals fiasco and Marcus Rashford’s righteous campaign. It’s been suggested by HuffPost, MPs have a bee in their bonnet about being called “scum” by Angela Rayner! Something about sticks and stones; let’s not dwell, but have a local honour’s list of who is here to counteract this appalling decision from the scum, sorry, I meant kindly government, and help out anyway they can.

Marcus Rashford asks one thing of us in a Tweet; sign the petition.

Nationally there’s many independent establishments rallying to offer what they can, and after the bad card the lockdown dealt them, their generosity should be awarded; a massive thank you to everyone offering their services. Least we can do is compile a list of local places, who, if you are struggling to put food on the table this bank holiday or Christmas break, can help.

If I missed you, please message us and miss you we will no longer! Bless you all.

Update: Wiltshire Council are on the case!

Press release from WC, and it’s good news…..

Free meals for vulnerable children in Wiltshire during school holidays

Wiltshire’s vulnerable children will benefit from free meals during October half-term after Wiltshire Council agreed to ensure families struggling with food poverty in the county are supported.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills, said: “We know that many families are feeling the financial pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we want to do all we can to support them.
“We want to ensure that children do not go hungry during these school holidays and want to ensure that Wiltshire families know that they will be supported during these difficult times by putting these measures in place. Therefore the council will be funding free meals during the October half term. This will be reviewed throughout the pandemic and we will continue to make sure that any child and family who needs help gets it. As we have done throughout, we will continue to work with our partners in the community and voluntary sector to make sure the needs of our residents are met at this unprecedented time. The work of our community groups has been, and continues to be, amazing and I must thank them for their tremendous support throughout the pandemic.

“If you are entitled to free school meals or universal credit and struggling to pay for food over half term, please contact the Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub for support.

“Everyone in Wiltshire needs to play their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We ask that people regularly wash hands, maintain social distancing and wear face coverings where appropriate. This is the best way to keep us all safe as much as possible, and helps to prevent the spread of the virus.”

For more information on how to claim, please contact the Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub Team on wellbeinghub@wiltshire.gov.uk or call 0300 003 4576. The team is available Monday to Friday between 9am-5pm.

Devizes

The Gourmet Kitchen Brownie in Poulshot is offering free packed lunches. Please message their Facebook page for more information.

The Cavalier on Eastleigh Road are offering a free lunch pack, (sandwich, drink, piece of fruit and a bag of crisps to takeaway) available to collect from the pub for any child, during half term from 26th October. If you are in need of a packed lunch or know someone who might, please send them a message or call on 01380 725193

The Eastleigh Road Fish n Chip Shop is also offering free sausage and chips to school age children this half term, on Wednesday 28th between 4.15 -5PM.

The Raintree Indian Restaurant on New Park Street has taken the initiative too, during this half term week from Monday 26th to Friday 30th Oct.

For this special occasion, they will be open from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm for collection of a lunchpack everyday.

For every child, the lunch pack will include one chicken curry and pilau rice, one juice and a piece of fruit.

Parents or guardians, feel free to call them on 01380 725649, or send them a Facebook message, to request your free lunch pack. You can call between 5:00pm- 8:00pm everyday for the next day order. A massive thanks goes to the Raintree, who are really going the extra mile; “as a parent,” they say, “if you are going through difficulty during this hard time, please feel free to order one extra meal for yourself as well. No question will be asked.”

Please note, they won’t be able to take any order for the same day collection. Every order needs to be placed the day before during the mentioned time above.

Pearce Electrical Contractors in New Park Street, have decided as a business to support Marcus Rashford’s movement. In partnership with Biddles Cafe in the Shambles, they will be providing a warm bacon roll and hot drink to any child that usually receives a free school meal throughout half term free of charge, No questions asked. These will be available until 2pm each day Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Potterne

The George & Dragon are providing free lunches and hot food over half term. Collection from the Pub for any child,

If you would like a pack lunch or a hot meal this half term for your child/children then please don’t be afraid to phone or text to book in their meal.

Available every day, collection times between 12pm-1pm

Phone 📞 01380 722139
Text 07814182252

Seend

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the Brewery Inn at Seend Cleeve will have packed lunches made up ready to collect from 12 noon, offering a free school lunch during half term to those that our eligible. Please message them in confidence to make arrangements.

Melksham

The Future of Football organisation. From Monday next week Future of Football FC will be providing free takeaway packed lunches for those in the Melksham area, available for collection from Bowerhill Sports Field. Starting this Monday with 50 lunches and if the demand is there, we will up numbers for Tuesday and so on. Simply turn up at Bowerhill Sports Field and collect between 11.00am and 12.30pm. There is a GoFundMe page here to donate.

Marlborough

In Marlborough, a Facebook group has been set up, Love Marlborough Kids Meals.  A community initiative to make sure all Marlborough children have access to free meals during the current crisis. No fuss, no forms, no referrals. Just meals for kids who need them. Please like the page for more information. There are details of places taking part, including Sue Brady Catering operating in conjunction with the Town Hall. Meals are being distributed at St Marys Church hall on Silverless St.

Pewsey

If you’re in Pewsey and need support of any kind, from food to help with shopping and library services, there’s a community website which can help.

https://pcca.org.uk/

The PCCA says, “we have stepped up to fill a gap that government should provide and will be offering school meals through the school holidays. If you would like to offer time or donations please sign up at pcca.org.uk or phone 01672487022.
If you are a family who needs help you can call us confidentially or email meals@pcca.org.uk

Pewsey Spar shop say, “We will be providing a lunch for any child in need from Monday October 26 to Friday 30. Just pop instore with your child/children and we will give them a lunch. There is no shame in asking for help and accepting a helping hand. We, as always, are there for you.”

The Little Lunch Box in Pewsey High Street is also offering help. “With many children not receiving free school meals during the holidays we would love to help. If you are affected and finding it difficult during this time, please feel free to get in contact totally confidential, no judgement. We’re all in this together, no child should go hungry and  irrespective of the Free School Meals for half term decision – if you run out of food or necessities, or times are just tough, please don’t let you or your kids go to sleep on an empty stomach.

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send us a private message. We will do anything we can to help. It may simply be a case of dropping off a food parcel and leaving. No one has to know and where others are concerned, it never happened.”   Phone: 01672 564901

The Woodbridge Inn are also providing lunches, see the poster.

Upavon

Contact the Ship if you require a free packed lunch for kids in Upavon.

Calne

There’s a Facebook group called Calne Town Dinners. Any volunteers who has cooked too much food and can supply you with a meal are encouraged to donate to the needy, for any reason.

Corsham

If you normally get a free meal at school, please visit to the cafe at Pound Arts with your adult, and they’ll give you a healthy meal for free. No need to buy anything. No questions asked.

Tasty Bites Sandwich shop on the High Street says, “if your child is normally entitled to a free school meal then bring them in,” and they’ll give you a free lunch bag for your child during half term.

Salisbury

Popeyes in Estcourt Road are offering free kids meals to those who need it. These are available:- For collection only- Between 4-6pm- Any kids meal option on the menu- Until Sunday 1st November 2020. You will also be able to choose:- Pot of beans OR- Side salad- Either Orange OR Apple & Blackcurrant fruit shoot (instead of a can of fizzy drink – if you wish). If ordering by phone, please just quote free kids meal. If ordering in person, please just show this message (taken from their Facebook page) when placing your order. Not available online.

Chisldon

The Patriots Arms is offering a free lunch pack available to collect from the pub for any child. The lunch pack is made up of a sandwich, drink, piece of fruit and a bag of crisps. Please message or call Sunny on 07807 037231 or Sanjay on 07587 694373 

Swindon

Mazza’s Munchies has teamed up with G Waste and Your Sport Swindon to offer free lunch packs for any children who are in need of food. Please message them if you can to arrange collection or simply turn up at our snack van at B&Q Swindon, Great Western Way.


Not just businesses helping out…

Another interesting angle to this I’ve just been informed about, is that out in the villages some people have been posting on their village Facebook pages, inviting any needy over to their home for lunch. For me, this proves undoubtedly, they are not doing this to promote a business, only to help in a time and issue the government are callously snubbing.

Potterne

Anna Villette in Potterne contacted us to say she had done just this, posted on Potterne’s village Facebook group for people in need to message her, where they could be invited over for tea as their guest, with her own children. How utterly selfless and decent is that? Well done and thank you, Anna. If you’re in Potterne and do wish to contact Anna, please message the page and I will pass on her phone number. She is even willing to put portions in a plastic tub to takeaway if preferred. “I knew I was hoarding those tubs for a reason,” she told me!

Devizes

If anyone in any other villages or in towns are thinking of doing similar, and wish us spread word, do let me know! KJ Jeffreys in Devizes is also willing to help.

Trowbridge

Caroline Jackson (click name to email) is planning to cook Spaghetti Penne Pasta on Monday for families in need in Trowbridge. Please could parents let Caroline know how many meals they would like & their address. She plans to deliver on Monday afternoon between 3-5pm.

Barred from his own local!

That’s all I’ve found so far, going to get this article up and running as time is short, but please, if you’ve a service to offer you’d like to me to list, contact Devizine and let’s get as comprehensible list as possible. Half term is upon us, but this could extend to Christmas holidays too.

Here, Danny Kruger, MP for Devizes, admits he doesn’t read your emails, “These citizens send abusive emails which, they may like to know, I never read: my team just delete them without bothering to show me.” You have to admire his honesty if nothing else.


Ros Hewitt’s Glass Art Open Studio

Stained glass and mixed-media artist, Ros Hewitt takes stained glass to contemporary levels. Using fused and sandblasted glass techniques, her designs are refreshingly modern and graphically stunning. She opens her studio in Great Bedwyn on Saturday 24th & Sunday 25th October. 11am-5pm.

Working as a graphic designer in the field of scientific illustration, it was a quirk of fate which embarked Ros on a new artistic career in stained glass, initially while living in Sydney, Australia. On returning to the UK, she took a course in traditional stained-glass painting with Paul San Casciani, (author of The Technique of Traditional Stained Glass) in Oxford.

Ros has been using her lockdown time experimenting with capturing air bubbles within glass, and reflecting on her residence in Wiltshire, she has a new collection of bestselling Wessex White Horses, painted and fired onto glass.

There’s also a collection of acrylic paintings of local bird life, something that has long been a favourite subject; professional scientific illustrator graduate, see? As I said! Yes, I did!

Might be the perfect opportunity to buy some lovely, local, artisan gifts for Christmas, they really are quite special. No appointment is necessary to see the artists’ work, and you can meet Ros, discuss techniques, equipment and discover her inspiration.

Due to Covid-19, all visitors are required to use anti-bac gel provided, wear a mask, and enter the small studio one at a time. Parents/guardians can enter with their children. For details:  http://ros.glass/index.html Email: ros@ros.glass Phone: 01672 871 025. Location: Ros Hewitt Glass Studio, Great Bedwyn, SN8 3LT


Crusader Vouchers to the Rescue!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, just shopping I’m afraid, but a marvellous idea to help small businesses locally!

With a striking superhero comic-book themed corporate identity, a small group of marketing agents from Westbury have donned cloaks and set up a voucher system in support of our local high streets.

Claire Rowlands runs Fundraising in the Community, a local company dedicated to supporting businesses in Wiltshire, whilst helping schools, groups, charities and organisations raise funds. They plan to launch Crusader Vouchers as a subsidiary to FITC Media. As it sounds, it’s a voucher-based concept akin to the website Groupon, but for local small businesses, the ones hit hardest by the lockdown.

Fundraising in the Community is a quality, professional service that offers a unique platform with a tailored audience to help drive prospective new business through the doors of local companies; whilst helping schools, charities, clubs and organisations within the community fundraise for their good causes.

Their voucher idea launches this October, and asks you to “put on your mask, grab your vouchers, support local businesses and bag yourself the best deals in town!” They have a website, but the majority of action is via Facebook, so like their page, where you’ll be able to access monthly vouchers for independent shops and small businesses throughout the South West.

These crusaders of independent shopping say, “the offers that we provide are free for everyone to enjoy, no catches, just straight forward vouchers to take advantage of each month for local small businesses and independent businesses. Due to Covid-19 our businesses need us more than ever so we’re appealing to you to put your mask on, grab your vouchers, buy local and bag yourself the best deals in town!”

Since the successful IndieDay in Devizes, I’ve noticed many similar schemes in local towns but here’s something truly original but like any new scheme, it’ll only work if people get behind it. So please do, everyone loves a voucher!


Jon Veale Flicks the Switch

How long does it take to take to put together a single, and how much longer during the lockdown?

I dunno; don’t ask me, I just write about this stuff, and don’t make a great job of that! I suppose you’ve got pull in all the elements, y’ know, paste together drums and vocals and stuff like that, and y’ know; okay, I’ve no idea what I’m talking about. But they do down at Potterne’s Badger Set.

Marlborough guitar tutor, singer-songwriter and bassist of local covers band Humdinger, Jon Veale’s single, “Flick the Switch,” is flicked on tonight. As the name suggests it immediately hits you square in the chops, despite the drums were recorded prior to lockdown, by legend Woody from Bastille, and Jon waited tolerantly for lockdown to end before getting Paul Stagg into Martin Spencer’s studio to record the vocals.

Jon Veale

Patience paid off, with a speedy vocal harmony intro, this song packs a steady rock punch, yet none too metal. It appeals wide, as a driving, rolling-stone-themed belter, and Paul’s vocals are stimulating, reminding me of a grinding Jamie R Hawkins. Yet, for what it’s worth, it’s the composition which makes this a winner; a couple of listens is all it takes to be singing the chorus, allowing the drums and guitar combo to wash over you like a warm wave crashing on a tropical beach, or, something like that, (apologies, I need a holiday.)

As well as this supportive team, the distribution through Emu Records, Jon also thanks Christine Hurkett who has produced “an insane” lyric video and cover for the song. “In case you’re wondering what did I do on this song,” he jokes, “I wrote the music, the lyrics and played all the guitars!”

I’m intrigued to hear more now, for if this was a track on an album it’d be a title track, unless Jon has something else up his sleeve, there’s already a previous tune featuring the vocals of our Sam Bishop on the iTunes link, so yeah, I dunno, don’t ask me, I just write this stuff!

Spotify Link

iTunes Link


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Help Pewsey Mum on her Campaign to free her Children from Abduction

So, Devizine exists to highlight and promote local events and I try my best, apart from the odd bit of cheeky satire, to steer away from political matters. Yet I’m both heartbroken and at a loss for words this afternoon, chatting online to Pewsey mum, Tanya Borg. But within it, there is an event I need to let you know about, in this horrid mess, please read on….

Tanya’s two daughters, Angel and Maya were abducted by their father five years ago, and taken to Libya to live with his family. After being granted full custody in both nations, Tanya travelled to Libya to rescue them, but Tanya explains when they tried to get away, they were bundled in a car and driven away. She hasn’t seen or had contact with them since.

Red tape between the Crown Prosecution Service and Wiltshire Police has prevented further action from being taken, and under advice of the CPS, Wiltshire Police have closed the case. “The CPS are saying they don’t tell the police what to do,” Tanya explained, “But Wiltshire Police are saying the CPS don’t want to take the case.” I cannot imagine how distraught she must be. “You have no idea,” Tanya continued, “Angry. Frustrated. Sad. My daughters need help.”

In fear for the treatment of her daughters, Tanya went to explain how, after a court order for joint custody, their grandmother wouldn’t allow them to leave the house, so Tanya tried for full custody, but they ran away with the children. Angel is now twenty, and Maya just eight. A Daily Mail article exposes the issue, with a video of the father’s family driving them away. It is with hope the video will pressure British authorities to reopen the case.

This is where I asked if Tanya had or has any further contact with them, and the short answer was “no.” In England we complain about this, whinge about that, the bus being delayed etc, we really don’t understand how life is in Libya. “Because there is no authorities inside Libya, due to the situation, as Libya is at war with itself,” Tanya detailed, “it is dangerous, and that is their excuse, but now there has been a newly elected government, they could at least try, that is what is most upsetting, they haven’t even tried. I feel like my children don’t matter, because I am not of status.”

Firstly, Tanya has a GoFundMe campaign page, where you can contribute. “It’s a corrupt country, and money talks,” she explains, “I can’t do anything without it.” Tanya has spoken to Claire Perry, who passed it onto the Minister of the African Department, “which say,” Tanya claimed, “They cannot do anything.” MP Danny Kruger has been emailed, which was my first port-of-call, and we await a response.

Tanya plans to take a protest to Downing Street on the 8th August, but has also staged an event in Pewsey on the 25th July. Meeting at the Cooper’s Arms at 3pm, the protest will follow the eminent carnival route. “My eldest daughter,” Tanya explained, “was carnival princess back in 2011.” They will be chanting “Free Angel and Maya,” but ask protesters observe social distancing and wear facemasks. “I would love as many people to attend and support,” she hopes, “to help me bring my babies home.” Tanya will also be organising a local coach for the Downing Street protest.

Adverts & Stuff!

Eat Out to Help Out, Locally, Independently

I am listing local restaurants, cafes and pubs who are participating in the “eat out to help out,” scheme and encourage owners in the Wiltshire area to contact Devizine, to be listed freely. Although you know me, have to have a little rant beforehand, so scroll past my waffling if you wish to get direct to the list! Note the list will be updated, so check back in August.

For information on how to apply for the scheme, see here. Note the scheme comes with restrictions. Only available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from the 3rd to 31st August 2020, and offers a 50% discount, up to a maximum of £10 per person, for food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in.

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“I believe I dust my broom.” Robert Johnson sung that, the bluesman who sold his soul to the devil at the Mississippi Delta crossroads, in exchange for faultless musical flair, so he must know what he’s on about. Although, to dust your broom actually means to make change, derived from the expression “get up and dust,” or get out of town fast. I didn’t need to do that, just get out of B&Q!

Had my old outdoor broom for decades, but timeworn, it finally gave up the ghost. Sunday, I nipped into B&Q and returned home proud owner of a new broom with a screw-on handle. Too loose, one swipe and the head fell off, tighten it and it passes the thread and…. the head falls off. Time passed and my patience caved by numerous attempts to secure the handle on the head. I came to the forgone conclusion, it’s either fate; star alignment’s fault, since NASA claims I’ve moved from Pieces to Aquarius, or, more likely, it’s mass-produced shite.

After hand sanitising, queuing and following the one-way circuit around the entire store, I returned it, swung into town, parked dead outside Mainleys and picked up a far cheaper, better broom. By very design, glued and stapled, it’s old-fashioned, but a coupling method which has worked for centuries. If it’s not broke…. A lesson learned, then; should’ve shopped local.

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Make no mistake, I consider this soundbite “eat out to help out” nauseatingly haughty, coming from a government who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to provide basic meals for school children. Guaranteed, this is yet another move to line the pockets of big business, the mass-producing restaurant chains.

Never forget Boris’s bum-chum, Tim Martin and how he refused to close during lockdown, refused to pay his staff and suppliers. If a Frankie & Benny branch sadly closes, the staff will be the only ones to suffer; that’s sorrowful reality, I’m afraid. Note the variety you think you’re getting with a parade of Wagamama, Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquitito, et all, is false, they’re all the same company and will subside each other; different sauce, same old chicken, pal. If the government are going to open taxpayer’s wallets, I urge the small business and independent eateries, who would otherwise close, lock, stock and barrel, to dip in before the fat cats.

big-mac

Unfortunately, I’ve experienced the rubber chicken which bounced off the floor of Wetherspoons first hand, lost teeth on Hungry Horse waffles, and felt famished twenty seconds after eating an air-pumped big mac. Like my broom experience, I’m at my tether’s end; best to shop local.

Not that I’m trying to persuade you, the choice to eat out is your prerogative and risk; many pubs and restaurants are continuing to provide takeaway services, many established takeaways are delivering and continuing to provide an excellent service too. Sometimes though, it’s nice to be able to eat out, remember your mask. If you can, here’s a list, then, of local places participating in the 50% off “eat out to help out” scheme; let’s support them.


If you missed my social media requests for participating places to be included, do not worry, I can update this if you twist my arm with some love…. and remember the best way to a man’s heart! Ah, insert laughing emoji here; only kidding, cheeky blagger that I am. Just message me and I’ll get your café or restaurant added! Do take heed though, while we’re here, overflowing with banter, our foodie reviews are the most popular articles, and we’d love to do one for you.

You can find more participating eateries via postcode search on the Gov site here.  


Devizes

Massimo’s Ristorante

For twenty-seven years Francos was the finest Italian restaurant in Devizes, but with the departure of Sicilian chef, Massimo Pipitone things were never quite the same. Two years ago, Massimo returned to Old Swan Yard to recapture the restaurant’s reputation and with a name change, has succeeded in putting it back on top. Still operating the takeaway service, it begun during lockdown, they’ve now reopened the restaurant, excellently observing social distancing regulations. They serve traditional Italian and Sicilian cuisine, and the pizzas are awesome!

Take it from me, one who loves his tucker, you will not find better service, quality and tastier food this side of Roma!  Booking at weekends is essential. 

The Pelican:

Splendid inn situated at the Market Place, known best for its roast dinners, which can be takeaway too. The Pelican have various cuisine events and has a scrumptious bar menu. An example from this weekend’s roast option:  Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb. Chicken is always an alternative every week with a beautiful Home-Made Vegetarian Option. Vegan or Gluten Free diets also catered for with advance booking. £8.95 per person, £5.95 per child, £4.50 per Home Made Dessert. Please telephone 01380 723909 to book.

pelican bar menu

 

New Society:

Sitting somewhere between glorious pub grub and restaurant, New Society in the Market Place was quickly established as one of our best eateries. Our review last September has always been one of our highest hitting articles, and they were glad to announce reopening on 3rd July. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, or perhaps a coffee stop, New Society is a comfortable setting and serves a large selection.  Operating usual daytime opening hours, but currently evenings are restricted to Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It is advisable to pre-book for these nights (01380 722288).

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1Spice

One of the newer establishments, it did not take long for 1 Spice in Maryport Street to earn the jewel in the crown of Indian restaurants in Devizes, and rightly so. It’s my chosen place for a knees-under, and is often cited top of majorities’ list. Conventionally, Indian restaurants convey an aptitude of exceptional customer service and etiquette, and 1Spice is of no exception. Expect to be welcomed, but what is more, expect a wide and gorgeous selection, mixing the flavours and spices of India with the finest seasonal ingredients the West Country can offer. It’s driving my appetite for a Ruby just typing this, and I’ve had my dinner already!

The Hourglass:

Tucked away at Devizes Marina, the Hourglass is a perfect location and serves a high-quality pub menu. Options have been restricted since reopening on 4th July, but expanding now, and takeaway service is available. Booking is advisable for food. Subject to change, opening hours are 11am-9pm every day, with food served between 5-8pm, Thursdays through to Sundays. Book online here.

hourglass

Tea Inc

A cup of Rosy-Lee for me, I’m not a coffee guy. Still, I’ve not been in Tea Inc in the Ginnel (just off the Market Place) and now in Marlborough, sovereign of tearoom towns. This must change, I’m coming for you guys, ensure you have some custard creams! This humble teashop throws off the doily and delicate fingertip-cup-hold stereotype of tea rooms and prides itself with an eclectic, quirky environment they affectionately call “The Shoppe.”

Serving crumpets (fnarr, yurkk, yurkk) sandwiches, salads and soup, this could just be the essential shopping stop-off for tea drinkers; get away from me with your X-L vanilla Nespresso dripping down your MacBook!

Times Square

Central to Devizes Market Place, Times Square is simply the perfect little coffee shop for a light lunch. Cakes and ice cream, say no more. As the name suggests it may have started by being inspired by American cuisine, yet only in the best possible taste. Times Square is no stranger to hosting the odd event, and is a welcomed shopping stop off.

  Brogans Café

Brogans Café in the Brittox is one I confess I’ve yet to try. Outside space, ice cream, cakes and milkshakes and smoothies, Brogans prides itself on its vegan options. “Vegan Jaffa Cake style cake” as pictured below, might just twist my arm!

Bengal Bite

Throughout my years here in Devizes, Bengal Bite in Sheep Street has always been the tandoori kitchen of choice. The Bengal Bite offers contemporary Indian and Bangladeshi food. It’s comfy and hospitable, a romantic place to woe a prospective love with a mild Korma, or equally a place for you and the lads to blow your pants off with a blistering Vindaloo! The Bengal Bite has been voted the best restaurant in Wiltshire by the readers of the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald, and 2014 finalist for Small Business of the Year in the Wiltshire Business Awards.

The Fox & Hound

A little out of town but worth the trek down Nursteed Road, The Fox & Hound is an inviting family pub, offering romantic carriage rides followed by lunch or candle-lit dinner, and successful horse-drawn ghost and historical tours of Devizes start and finish at the Fox.

Jeffersons

The most down-to-earth café you’ll find in Devizes, this is Monday Market Street’s gem; great service, gorgeous homecooked breakfasts and lunches at affordable prices, never had a bad fry-up there yet!