Middle Yellow: An Interview with Local Lib Dem Candidate, Jo Waltham

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Now I know what you think; I’ve got red on me, politically speaking. Really! I’m just trying to know what’s best for everyday people, and my family. Truth is I could clash an orangey colour (no, not skin tone, do I look like Trump?!) I’ve added a hint of yellow in the past but they sold my vote to the Tories! It’s unforeseeable today the Lib-Dems would form a coalition with the blues, being their opposite position on Brexit; which blows my primary concern, and angle of this interview. Do I care? I’m going to ask about coalitions anyway, intending to question the name “Democrats,” when their stance on Brexit is to remain, and well, that’s hardly democratic being the slight majority voted to leave, but most importantly, the scope and support for this middling party in a left-right divide epoch.

Yep, I’m having a cuppa in New Society again, politically flirting with another candidate. This time I’m somewhat cagey, considering the Nick Clegg era, only to find myself thoroughly supportive of another pleasant, and local lady, Jo Waltham. Meanwhile pressure amounts in messages about interviewing Danny. He seemed up for it via email, so I fired some questions and await his response. Though have you noticed a fantastic number of little yellow signs this election, perhaps more than usual, and on land too? It’s getting exciting, as far as politics does, when our landowners seem keen to make a change.

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Rurally then, does Jo think they offer the best deal for small local businesses and agriculture, as generally they’re the safest Conservative slices in previous years.

“In previous times yes, I think they would have been,” Jo stated, “but I think the Conservative Party of 2019 is very different from previous years.” She suggested there was, “a lot of in our manifesto for small businesses.” Jo herself runs a small website design business in Marlborough, “so I certainly understand the sort of issues small businesses have. I know the changes in the IR35 legislation are creating a lot of concern, and trading with the EU. The power of the internet means it’s been easier to trade internationally, so leaving the EU will impact small businesses as much as bigger companies.”

“With regards to rural affairs, I think for the farmers, naturally they’re equally concerned about leaving the EU and losing the funding they rely on. They worry about lowering of food standards in a trade deal with the US, and how that might impact them,” she expressed, and I had to drone about the dreadfulness of that outlook. “It is a major concern, so obviously the Lib Dems are fighting to stop Brexit.” Jo predicted at tomorrow’s NFU hustling the majority of questions will be what will happen when we leave? “My simple answer is let’s not leave!

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It all boils down to Brexit doesn’t it, the anger in confusion when we should really be prepping for joy to world and the peacefulness of Christmas. I stressed purposes of being here was to keep issues local, but suggested we get the big one out of the way. “I feel there’s two big ones, or maybe three,” Jo interjected, “it is about stopping Brexit, it is about climate change, and it is about investing in public services.” Time then to throw in my sold my vote to the Tories whinge and see if Jo thinks the Lib-Dems would consider a coalition with anyone else. “Andrew Neil was pressing Jo Swinson on this point again and again, and I think she was incredibly clear, that if we end up in hung parliament territory, we will vote on those policies that we agree with and won’t on the ones we don’t. So, we would vote on for any policies that come through, like the people’s vote, votes for sixteens, allowing EU nationals to vote, all of those things we agree with we would vote with, whatever party get them, but I don’t see us in a formal coalition with Boris or Jeremy Corbyn.”

Here’s the point in our nice chat when I questioned this “democrat” namesake hardly being democratic when the slight majority voted to leave. I’m asking for it, I know; time to munch the freebie biscuit! “It’s a fair question, lots have been asking it, it’s absolutely fine,” Jo laughed it off. “Basically, when you write a manifesto, you’re writing for what you’re going to do if you win a majority government. If you don’t win you can’t do those things. If we won, we would take that as a mandate to do what is in our manifesto, that’s why we revoke, because we’d take this new mandate as being acceptable to do that. Obviously, it’s sadly unlikely we’d get a majority government, but who knows? Still a week to go, otherwise we continue to campaign to get a people’s vote. We would have to think what would we do if we did get a majority government, would we then go back to negotiate a new deal, which we don’t believe in, and don’t want, we couldn’t, it’d be a mockery of the whole system. So, the idea is if we did win, we would need fifty percent of the vote because the first-past-the-post system and that would be a mandate to do what we said in our manifesto. Any majority government would.”

“Also,” Jo snapped, “I find it frustrating it’s regarded as the remain parliament which is stopping Brexit, when isn’t it the ERG who voted against Theresa May’s deal, isn’t it even Boris Johnson himself who voted against her deal? If they voted for it way back when, we’d be out by now! It’s not the remain parliament, you can’t expect people who don’t want to leave to enable leaving, but you should expect people who do want to leave, to enable leaving, and they didn’t!” She is critical of this first-past-the-post system and used the confused reasoning behind the referendum result as an example, stressing a key Lib Dem policy is to change to a proportional representation system, “so every vote does matter, and people will be engaged with the process.”

I have to wonder if the importance of Brexit to the masses or to the party is the reason why it’s above environmental issues on the manifesto guide on the menu of the Lib-Dem website, but it’s time to quote our previous interview with Emma Dawnay, who said no mainstream party is doing enough to tackle the issue. Jo agrees with this, so I asked for the party’s stance. “We need to get started now,” she expressed, well, we needed to get started thirty years ago, but c’est la vie!

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“There’s talk about the Conservatives saying 2050, Labour is saying sometime in the 2030s, and Lid Dems are saying 2045.” I had to chuckle despite being the fate of the planet we stand on, as it’s symbolic of this straight down the middle approach. I mean, I like if it’s multiple choice on a TV quiz show to opt for the middle question, but this is a smidgen more serious. There is no date, there is only speculation and scientific evidence, and it’s not good news. Much as I’m enjoying our chat, here’s the issue, just as Labour and definitely Conservative, where I quiver at pondering the divide between talking the talk and walking the walk.

“What is critical, the Lib-Dems have introduced some interim targets,” Jo explains, “because it’s not only about how much CO2 emissions we have each year, it’s the cumulative total. So, since the industrial revolution we have emitted about 1,500 billion tonnes of CO2, which has led to 1% of warming. Which means if we want to limit it to 1.5% warming, we’ve got about 750 billion tonnes of CO2 left to emit. We’re currently emitting it at about 50 billion tonnes globally. So, if we rapidly start reducing that now, get it down to say, 30, even, that gives longer before we get to that 1.5. So, that’s why it’s about the cumulative total, and getting started is more important than that net-zero. By reducing now, it gives longer to solve the things which are more difficult to solve. One simple Lib-Dem policy is to have 80% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030. That will be challenging, but it’s doable. It’ll make a huge difference because if you think about our energy, everything else comes onto it, like electric cars, the only point in switching to them is if we getting electricity by the renewable sources. Then there’s also reducing the gas and electricity we’re using to heat our homes and public buildings, so we’d retrofit insulation, particularly people on income support.” Jo suggested it’s a win-win, for environmental and poverty issues.

Jo stressed encouraging more to use public transport is tricky, locally, “but there’s things we can do to improve that, Lib-Dems are investing to improve our bus and rail networks, we’ve a fund earmarked for it.” It’s a point I need to return to, but Jo continued about encouraging local government to take more action. Proudly she cited Wiltshire Liberal Democrats who implemented a zero-carbon strategy together, and who proposed a climate emergency motion to the oppositional Wiltshire Council, “and much to our surprise, it passed! But they’ll need money to implement the changes we need, and a Lib Dem government would help fund local councils to take part in those local initiatives.” This led onto us both criticising the Conservatives for lowering buying tariffs, signing of fracking, “they’re doing the wrong thing about climate change,” Jo exclaimed.

Locally, I asked about the tactical vote being a grey area, being while Lib Dem come second more regularly, Labour did last time. Why would anyone risk their vote on yellow? “If you take Wiltshire as a whole, we have twenty-two Lib-Dem councillors and three or four Labour ones. So, there is a strong Lid-Dem vote in Wiltshire, you only have to look at the five 2019 local by-elections, Labour stood candidates in only two, Lib-Dems in all five, Conservatives won two, Liberal Democrats won three. Where Labour did stand, they came fourth. The Devizes Town Council election in February, won by Conservatives, we lost by something like seventeen votes, it was quite close, then Iain Wallis, then a tie,” she contemplates, “wasn’t it, between The Guardians and Labour, but the main point was, they were fourth or fifth.” If your response is voting is different in general elections, Jo offered, “Yes, they do, but we can only go with the information we’ve got.”

More stats about EU elections followed as I refilled my cup! Given these, Jo pondered, “I think, we’ve got a good bit of data which suggests Lib-Dems are the tactical vote here. I was encouraged to look closer at the local demographic, and who we need to change their vote, suggesting they need to switch the Conservative voters. “Moderate conservatives, probably voted that way all their life, are remainers, and actually have a lot of liberal core values; who are they most likely to vote for, Labour or Lib-Dem?” Yet Jo stressed their growing numbers include some who switched from Labour, which was fortunate as her campaign manager joined us moments later, who I happen to know was a former Labour supporter!

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I asked about the Lib-Dem stance on our gypsy and travelling community, after Priti Patel’s recent proposals to criminalise unauthorised encampments which to me, sounds like legislative cleansing. Plus, of course, would put further strain on housing. Jo stressed she was unaware of a particular policy, and although she circled the question, the result expressed a Lib-Dem vision of tolerance and equality for all, “helping everyone live their life in the manner of how they want to live it, regardless of race, gender and sexuality.”

This point brought about discussing the LGBTQ community and the terrible trend in opinion regressing to abhorrence, generally. I asked how they’d deal with making them feel safer and more respected. Jo was firm on this, “we don’t tolerate it. We should not tolerate the intolerant, at the end of the day.” This change in values, which we both saw as corrupting raised Jo’s thoughts of the 2012 Olympics, “how as a nation we felt so different, to how we feel now, and that’s due to Brexit, and popularism and hatred coming into our politics.” Interestingly, and allowing a little background on our Lib-Dem candidate, Jo expressed this was her reasoning for coming into politics. “I’m standing because I’m standing up for the reasonably-minded, ordinary person. If you’d asked me five years ago if I’d stand for parliament, I would have really laughed, really laughed!”

“Basically, it’s a case of I can’t stand what’s happening, not just Brexit, it’s about the tolerance, openness. Therefore, I find myself standing in what seems to be the craziest thing for me to do, but here I am. All it takes for evil to flourish is for the good people to do nothing.” I agree, it was an eyeopener for me to read right-bias critical of the celebration of the NHS portrayed in the opening ceremony. See, I like Jo, I like the way she opened up about her motivation; all three candidates I’ve talked with have convinced me politicians are human. I confess, if many see me as a leftie, as I begun this article, I’m just hunting for what’s best. I accept conservative theory has its place in the debate. That there’s nought wrong with upholding the pleasanter sides of tradition and hierarchy, but I honestly cannot see this ethos inherent in the current cabinet.

Then I suggest, if you cannot stomach leftism, you could at least meet in the middle, a Conservative-lite! Rather than this far-right leaning, of which I challenge you to find me an example, historically, where its ever done anyone any good, ever. And that’s reason to consider yellow this Christmas, I think.

In this middle-ground defying moment, I returned to the notion of Devizes Parkway train station, which all parties seem in agreeance in supporting. Reason being, Labour manifesto calls for scrapping the HS2 in favour of fixing and opening local lines, and nationalisation would make it rail travel affordable, while the Conservative are gung-ho on HS2 and give little response to improving local lines. The Lib-Dem manifesto states they’d cap ticket prices, which would retain price, and support both the HS2 and the repair of local lines. I find it symbolic of this middle-ground ethos, and question the expression; you can’t please everyone. Where would the budget come from to go ahead with both rail propositions? “We had this £130 billion budget which is coming from borrowing, because interest rates are low, we may as well do the investment. As long as you’re borrowing to build something it’s okay, so we’ll use the money to invest, because we need to; to negate climate change, to boost the economy.”

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We certainly do, and with the election date coming upon us like the speeding train that never was here in Devizes, Jo Waltham and the Lib-Dems thoroughly deserve your consideration. I sincerely thank you for your time Jo and Lisa, it was a pleasure to meet you and wish you the very best of luck.


For our interview with Racheal Ross, Labour: Click Here. 

For our interview with Emma Dawnay, Greens: Click Here.


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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Urban Lions Champion the Sound

Back at the Lionheart Studios, our local reggae forerunners Urban Lions have rinsed an alternative style for the single from their forthcoming debut LP,  it’s out today, and a sound system killer.

Some tunes launch themselves at me, instant like, Champion Sound is a grower, creeps up on me after a couple of listens. This doesn’t make them any worse, just sometimes there’s an innovative modification in style which takes ears some adapting to. Unlike Urban Lions’ steppa dub tunes we’ve reviewed in the past, ‘See Me Rise’ and ‘Forward to The Sound’, this one partially retains the fashion, but the riddim nods heavily to dancehall.

Rather akin to when Dreadzone released Once Upon a Time in 2005 and I confessed I’d lost track of their progress somewhat. Upon first listen and expecting the loops of nineties charged techno-dub crossed with creative sampling, I was like, oh, it’s got a dancehall edge. Yet I think Champion Sound’s direction is justified, particularly around these waters where what little reggae we receive is archetypical, what we’d consider “traditional one-drop reggae,” as when Bob Marley and the Wailers ruled the day. Elsewhere reggae has moved on, dramatically. Full points to those Urban Lions for pushing us up to date!

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Publicity shot by Siobhan Boyle Photography

Unacquainted, the sparse beats of raw dancehall can feel alien to us aging country bumpkins, vocally lending closer from Jamaica’s folk music, mento, than the ska sound which belched this preconceived model at us through the punk and skinhead cultures. Yet contemporary pop wouldn’t be the same without it. Splicing brief toasting solos into a pop tune, like Little Mix featuring Sean Paul; such a cliché since The Soup Dragons gave Junior Reid an indie platform in 1990. With that thought in mind, isn’t it overdue to give dancehall its fuller affirmation, to start to mould an independent inspiration from? You don’t need answer that; yes, it is!

Yet Urban Lions don’t overkill the angle, retaining their style, and not considering hiring a dancehall rapper to guest or some such puerile concept, gives it a unique edge and something which feels more like home than attending a Top Cat V Capleton soundclash in Rae Town, Kingston. Yeah, it’s exceptional and affable; love it and can vision it lifting a festival marque or ten this summer. For the more outdated crusty-heads, there’s a melodica dub cut on the flip akin to Augustus Pablo, which rocks, rockers style.

Champion Sound will be up on all the online stores today and limited edition dubplates can be cut to order.

Bandcamp Link Here, just a couple of quid digital


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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REVIEW – Cutsmith @ The White Bear, Devizes – Sunday 20th October 2019

Not Everyone’s Cup Of Tea

Andy Fawthrop

Cutsmith derives his moniker from being the Wordsmith from the Cut (canal). Aka Josh Alej Bowes, he describes his music as “imagine Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Jamie T, John Martyn and Lauryn Hill jamming by a fire pit on the towpath”. Fittingly perhaps, he had played a gig the previous night at The Barge at Honeystreet, a place with which he was intimately acquainted, having been brought up in the area immediately around the pub.

I’d not seen him before, so thought I’d give him a look-see. Overall, I think I’d describe my experience as a mixed bag. On the positive side there were some soulful, heartfelt lyrics with stories based in personal experience (as you might expect from a singer/ songwriter). There were some nice spoken parts, almost dub-style, over the top of the guitar, which added some welcome texture. I was even minded of a slowed-down Arctic Monkeys at times.

On the less positive side, I felt his set lacked any particularly stand-out songs. Quite a few seemed to merge together at times. The only one I specifically remember was in fact a cover of Gershwin’s “Summertime”, which lacked the song’s normal haunting quality. Cutsmith is not the strongest singer I’ve ever heard, and there was nothing particularly outstanding in his strumming guitar style either. And – it maybe me (don’t judge) – I found his in-between song patter a little grating at times. Whilst friendly and outwardly engaging, some of it felt a little forced. Just my opinion of course, and I realise that he’s probably crossed me off his Christmas card list, but others might find him more to their liking than I did.

Competent and engaging, but not particularly outstanding. But, as they say, you can’t like all of the people all of the time, and Cutsmith wasn’t really my cup of tea.

Future Sunday Sessions at The White Bear:

• 27th October George Wilding
• 10th November Wade Merritt
• 17th November Ian O’Regan
• 15th December Phil Jinder Dewhirst
• 22nd December Vince Bell


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Andy Fawthrop)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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Back at th’ Argy Bargee

Ahoy, took a journey across the downs to Honeystreet Saturday, the ol’ stomping ground never looked so good.

Amidst affluent villages of the Marlborough Downs few pockets of counter culture hide. Notably, none more renowned than The Barge at Honeystreet.

With memorable days of yore, the pub, its adjoining wharf and campsite has always thrived with the spirit of a mini festival. If this lively reputation has been dubious recently, with changes of ownership and a community buyout, it’s now confirmed; the once jewel in our live music scene has regained its dynamism and essence.

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On adding gigs to our calendar, I’d noticed a consistent drift of local acts adding regular nights at this scenic old mill house, and with our prime sound system attending Saturday, I couldn’t hold back any longer, the desire to investigate was paramount; fetch my tie-dye tee.

Rammed carpark, a straggler sitting on a sarsen stone with a can of Strongbow took it upon himself to police parking, and kindly directed me back towards the sawmill. Sauntering the track on foot, familiar sounds of a gypsy boater’s haven blessed my ears; jolly laughter, dogs barking and the compulsory thunder of bass.

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The front lawn was chock-full of revellers upon my arrival, dogs and kids running wild, drinks flowing merrily around a strategically positioned speaker by the door. Struggle to ascend to the bar without smiling greetings, welcoming hugs, and the customary handclasp from Razah heading the controls to a tower of speakers. The bass is positively throbbing inside as merrymakers mingle and skank, I’d expect no less.

I observed, design wise things looked fresh; same ol’ extensive bar, retaining the previous open-plan renovation. Wow, must’ve been my stag do last time I was here; complete with charred sausages from a drunken campsite barbeque, perpetual rounds of tequila and a druid grudgingly cast as the wizard-o-gram.

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Speaking to the site manager, who’s name escaped my lobes (Dylan?) due to the sweet reggae vibes of our local purveyors of sound system culture, Razah and Knati P, I’m informed most Fridays and every Saturday is dedicated to live music. Where the crop circle centre of the world identifier perhaps waning with trends, the inescapable music scene is blossoming once again.

 

This Saturday evening as lively as ever before, if not more, engrained what I’d anticipated, The Barge is back on the circuit and the news is out. With the rotting neighbouring barn replaced by a plush wooden extension with showers and camping washing facilities, upwards there’s a community arts space, which opens up to the rear garden.

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Outside table areas are equally as jam-packed as the front, beyond, the fire-lit campsite resembling a free party of days gone by. A basic play area for kids and table tennis balances something for all here, yet the icing on the cake is eternally unchangeable, the stunning surroundings of Alton Barnes and the White Horse on Milk Hill.

What a wonderful setting for a gathering of any sort, but with the inimitable radiance of the inhabitants of the Pewsey vale, and the ethos of bringing the best local live music acts, you know it’s going to go off. Any normal night will cost £8 to camp, and good homecooked food is served, so despite its middle-of-nowhere location, you need not fuss about getting home, even to feed the dog. The site is dog-friendly, if you haven’t got a dog, you’ll be issued with one for the weekend.

From those twisted masters of the dark Somerset blues, The Black Wood Redeemers, to Devizes-own indie-pop People Like Us, and from Swindon’s skanking hip hoppers, The Tribe to Avebury’s star George Wilding, The Barge wasted no time whamming its pin back in the map.

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Coming Friday (2nd August,) sees the ferocious and whimsical galloping of gypsy boat folk, with Calico Jack, while reggae vibes return Saturday with both a live set from The Urban Lions, a band who campaigned and fundraised to get this Barge back on waters, and their dub sound system Lionheart Vibration. In contrast, perhaps, I’m equally pleased to see indie-pop upcomers, Daydream Runaways headlining August 17th, with Ben Borrill supporting, and a suburb bank holiday festival line-up.

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With Punjabi style Bhangra outfit, RSVP, headlining, The Argy Bargee Weekender on 23rd-26th August, set in a marquee in the camping field, may come at a £12.50 day ticket stub, or £30 for the whole weekend, but also promises People Like Us, Matt Cook, Phil Cooper & Jamie R Hawkins, Panacoustic, Tripolar and The Tribe, with Knati & Razah’s sound system too. And of course, the given notion they’ve got the know-how-to-party t-shirt, it’s more than tempting.

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So, topper-most respect t’ Brenden ‘n co, th’ new crew o’ th’ Barge, th’ acts ‘n that crazy crowd; yeâd be a land-lubbin’ mug nah t’ bookmark th’ destination this summer!


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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A Get Together with Arts Together

“What we have learned is that simply offering support or information is sometimes not enough,” states Age UK, “older people who are in the worst place often feel there is no hope, leading to a vicious circle of low self-esteem, lack of motivation and reluctance sometimes to ask for, or accept help.”

 
What sounds bad on paper, is often not as the eye perceives. While undoubtedly this is fact, I’m visiting Kestrel Court in Bowerhill, sheltered accommodation for elderly. I bear witness to a lively group, not just engaged in an art class, but merrily lapping up every minute of it. There’re cakes in abundance, tea, and some Mozart as background music. At one-point Gerald gets up to strum a guitar, and once the class is all but ended, the artist Clifton Powell slipped on some reggae; despite hard-of-hearing and cataract, Gladys, from Paraguay, is up dancing.

 
This is the doing of a charity group called Arts Together.

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“I’ve never been a person who joins groups,” Sue tells me as we sit together admiring her still life watercolour, “always been on the edge looking in. I really feel part of this group; that’s so unusual.” Arts Together is perhaps a slightly misleading name for this local charity, as while indeed it provides members with tutorials and equipment to engage in a wide variety of art projects, it also acts as wellbeing, and an invaluable social group.

 
I asked Sue about the community side to it, did she balance it’s worth with the actual art as half-and-half. She agreed it was equally vital, describing her battle with depression. “But this kind of thing really addresses it. There’s so many of the things they say you should do, going to your doctor, behaviour training and what have you, which has never helped me. And then you get something like this, which has been a real help. If this was on prescription, I’d be asking my doctor for it!”

 

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Sue reveals a creative nature, she’s written poems and performed them. Other members of the group, such as Carol, who proudly holds up her painting to show me, has no previous artistic calling. There’s a varied degree of skill, but Clifton commends and encourages all, a reason they all sing his praises. He was joined last minute by Rachel Heard, a Wiltshire artist, known for her “explorations of natural forms,” painting.

 
Arts Together have thirteen accomplished artists, and many group volunteers. In the last year they’ve delivered 180 art sessions, over their six locations across the county. Arts Together meet, in Bradford, Trowbridge, Devizes, Pewsey, Marlborough and here, in Melksham. Projects are as wide as wire and clay sculptures, mosaics and textiles. Sue particularly warmed to the puppet making workshop. I’ve invaded the final meet of this still life project, frames are scattered over the table, once completed a windowsill becomes a makeshift gallery, presenting their work.

 


Arts Together works to support older people who have become physically and socially isolated. I did ponder if they catered for dementia patients and such like, but was informed care homes and hospices organise their own activities, while the elderly in sheltered accommodation are often left out. “There’s nothing like this around here,” I’m told. So, while I didn’t class this as “art therapy” in similar light, it’s indubitably therapeutic, it stimulates and actively encourages the participants to try new things, to be creative and social. In a word, it’s wonderful.

 

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But I’m moved by Arts Together manager, Karolyne’s announcement, “We are on the brink of closure and desperately help.” While this is not the first time the charity has been under financial pressure, they assure me it’s the worst. “Any statutory funding from public money disappeared years ago and it has been our supporters and some enlightened Trusts that have helped us survive.” I find myself shrugging; sad sign of the times.

 
This isn’t some large charity with a whole department dedicated to fundraising, managers balancing campiagns with sessions. It’s lunchtime as I get my coat, I’m invited to stay but cannot. Agreeably I attended for some media exposure, but so welcomed I left with sensation of making real friends. I imagine life for these newfound friends without Arts Together, and shudder.

 
Without Arts Together members return to a solitary, empty week, consequently effecting their health and wellbeing. Wellbeing was a word passed around a lot today, the charity take pride in their achievement, help them maintain it.

 

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There’s a coffee morning at Rick Stein’s on the High Street in Marlborough, on 1st March. Admission by £5 minimum donation, includes coffee tea and cake.

 

I’d like to thank the members I met today, it truly was fun and an inspiration to meet you, and the team behind it. I was enlightened, and think Devizine should stage a fundraising event too, as soon as possible. Anyone interested in helping with me on that please get in touch.

 
Until then, you can donate on the website; please, please, if you can, do. If you’re an artist consider volunteering some time. Any donation from you will help around 80 very frail older people to rediscover their zest for life. Arts Together enables them to rebuild their confidence, self-esteem and resilience and remain living independently in the community for as long as possible.

 

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Pewsey Carnival Photo Gallery

It’s been a few too many years now since I attended Pewsey Carnival, at one time the largest and most renowned carnival in Wiltshire; I wonder if it’s still as madcap and brilliant as it once was? Ever wondered the same? I mean, howling winds, raining cats and dogs this year; surely they wouldn’t have all……..

If you thought like this, you’re not from Pewsey! Do these excellent images by James Kellar answer your questions?!  Thank you very much for allowing us to publish them James!

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Pewsey Carnival’s Signature Wheelbarrow Race Never Loses Its Cool

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There’s something frivolously unique about Pewsey. Tucked deep in our exclusive district, it thrives with lovable brashness and an inimitable eccentricity which is hard to hide at the best of times, let alone during carnival week.

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For those who recall Pewsey Carnivals of yore, as I do, ranting things wouldn’t be the same, rambling off health and safety procedures like they wrote them, I’ve nicked this lovely gallery from Peter Emblin to prove otherwise. Thank you, Peter, most kind of you.

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For those not in the know, this is the precursor to Saturday’s parade, called the Wheelbarrow Race, locally dubbed “wheelbeero race,” for self-explanatory reasons.

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If I remember rightly, if there are any rules above visiting each pub and stumbling back to the finish line, they’re blatantly overridden.

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For outsiders, it’s truly something to behold, a spectacle of rural hilarity and misfit in which every man and his dog, from youngest to oldest, the WHOLE darn village, and boy it’s a big village, dresses up fancy and celebrates in self-regulating panache.

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So, have no doubts; Pewsey Carnival never loses its cool, and ponder, shit the bed, I missed that; I’d better bookmark next year’s.

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