Erin Bardwell Gets Organised

A new album released yesterday from Swindon’s premier reggae keyboardist and producer Erin Bardwell made me contemplate a section of Henri Charrière’s book Papillon. The autobiographical account of a fellow no prison or penal colony can seem to keep incarcerated. There’s a point where Papillon deliberately causes a disturbance in order to be put in solitary confinement. He claims he prefers it to the regular cells, because away from the other inmates, alone in pitch darkness he can reimagine, practically hallucinate and relive his better days.

For the concept of the album and accompanying film Get Organised is largely reminiscing and reflecting on his past. Possibly, I suspect, due to age becoming, the fact this marks a thirtieth anniversary of the formation of his heyday two-tone band, The Skanxters, but largely due to lockdown.

Myself, lockdown has been parttime. I’ve worked throughout, galivanting through the villages, meeting early morning risers, and it’s all been much the same as it ever was, just cannot nip t’ pub, or see family living out of the area. Which is frustrating at times, but I accept it’s not as bad as those shielding and self-isolating; that would’ve driven me insane my now. It’s common in isolation to consider one’s life and recollect, but Erin does it over a reggae beat; and I approve!

We’ve been here before; this is not Erin’s first reflection of lockdown. Pre-pandemic he directed a collective who were pushing new boundaries in rock steady. But April last year saw the solo release of Interval, a deeply personal reflection and mind-blowingly cavernous concept album, diving into the psyche and exploring past events; scarce formula for reggae.

Erin Bardwell

Yet Erin’s style is such; relished in unconformity, individualism and freethinking, factors which make it so utterly unique it’s hard to compare. It’s this standout signature which Erin stamps on all projects, be them solo, as the Collective, or side projects such as the experimental dub of Subject A with Dean Sartain, or The Man on the Bridge project with ex-Hotknives Dave Clifton, which defines the very sound of reggae in Swindon and puts it on the skanking map. If there was a skanking map, which I wish there was!

Whereas Interval’s morose mood merged styles through experimentation, some often out of the confines of reggae, be they jazz, ambient and space rock, Get Organised will wash better with the matured skinheads, scooterists and Two-Tone aficionados, for it sits with more golden era reggae, particularly of the sixties Trojan “boss” reggae epoch. They tend to know what they like, and favour tradition over risky and radical progressions.

In this notion too it’s sprightlier and more optimistic than Interval, a result of vaccinations and this “roadmap” out of lockdown, perhaps; The Erin Bardwell Trio booked for a gig at Swindon’s Victoria on 1st July. Though at times there’s still the thoughtful prose Erin is fashioned for, reflecting the effect of lockdown. The lyrics of Eight O’clock, for example, which notes despite the usually lively nightlife at this time, the town is quiet.

The Erin Bardwell Collective

They’re all sublimely crafted pieces, the title track’s mellow riff nods to Lee Scratch Perry’s middling Upsetters period with something akin to a tune like Dollar in the Teeth. And in that, we have to consider the great producers of rockers reggae for comparisons, rather than the artists. Aforementioned Perry, but of Niney the Observer, of Harry J too, and Get Organised subtly delves into dub, so I guess King Tubby also. Yet the opening tune reminded me of the earlier, legendary producer Duke Reid.

Erin has the proficiency to cherry-pick elements from reggae’s rich history, effectively merge them and retain this said signature style. The Savoy Ballroom has the expertise keys of Jackie Mittoo, with the vaudeville toytown sound of Madness. That said has opened another Pandora’s box, as Two-Tone also has a significant influence on Get Organised, naturally. The grand finale We Put on that Show is reflective of the era, along the lines of the steady plod of Do Nothing rather than the frenzied ska of Little Bitch, if we’re going to make a Specials contrast, which I think is apt.

Equally, you’re going to love this if, like me, you cite the debut album Signing Off, as UB40’s magnum opus rather than their following pop covers, or just if you’re looking for something different from the norm.

These recollections are visualised in a half-hour video, making it more poignant. It’s a scrapbook film, with homemade clips of The Skanxters setting up or driving to a gig, footage I’d expect to have been largely unseen until now. There’s also a montage of memoirs chronicling Erin’s career, as the camera pans across gig posters, bus tickets, vinyl and press cuttings. Though far from documentary, the sound plays out the album, the material an aid to the songs, and a fascinating art project to accompany it.

 “A second solo album wasn’t really part of the plan,” Erin explains, “but with the current climate as it is, I still found myself coming up with music and songs. These tunes started following a theme, that led to a film idea, and the sounds and visuals grew together influencing each other.”

The point in the early nineties, when the Skanxters were the pride of Swindon’s two-tone scene is captured well, and while those on the circuit, or even living locally then, will love recognising the many memoirs, anyone into the scene at the time will thoroughly enjoy this outing. Overall, though, Erin continues to break boundaries, and this album is a blessing and pleasure to listen to, alone from its narrative and meaning, as all good reggae should.


Trending……

Hoping for a Summer of Local Music Festivals

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

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

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

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

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

June


11th – 13th: Kite Festival

Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire

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

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


18th-20th: Bigfoot Festival

Ragely Hall, Warwickshire

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


July


2nd – 4th: Minety Music Festival

Hornbury Hill, Malmesbury

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

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

Should get you in the mood…..

8th-10th: 2000trees Festival

Withington, Cheltenham

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

9th-11th: – Cornbury Festival

Great Tew, Oxfordshire

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


22nd-25th Womad (?)

Charlton Park, Malmesbury

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


31st Mfor 2021

Lydiard Park, Swindon

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


August


5th-8th: Wickham Festival

Fareham, Hampshire

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


6th: Love Summer Festival Devon: SOLD OUT.


7th- 8th: The Bath Festival Finale Weekend

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


21st: Mantonfest

Manton, Marlborough

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


21st: Live at Lydiard

Lydiard Park, Swindon

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


21st: Bath Reggae Festival

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


September


4th-5th: Concert at the Kings

All Cannings, Devizes

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


9th-12th: Swindon Shuffle

Venues across Swindon

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


10th-12th: Vintage Nostalgia Festival

Stockton Park, Near Warminster

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


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


Trending….

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

“But I’m bidin’ my time

‘Cause that’s the kinda guy I’m

While other folks grow dizzy

I keep busy

Bidin’ my time,”

George Gershwin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Trending…

Swindon Sound System Mid Life Krisis Live Streams

If you’re missing a tubthumping club night, you could clear your laminate flooring of breakables, blag your kid’s colour-changing lightbulb, overcharge yourself for a Bacardi Breezer from your own fridge, and belch up kebab behind your sofa.

All these things are optional to simulate the full lockdown nightclub in your own home. But, even creating a cardboard cut-out queue for the downstairs bog, or hiring a doggie tuxedo so your pet can double-up as the bouncer, extreme measures in extreme times will doubtfully replicate the genuine clubbing experience; sad but true.

However, if props don’t make the neon grade, the music can. Swindon-based tri-county sound system, Mid Life Krisis, abbreviated to MiLK, announce an online schedule for live DJ feeds and multi-genre events. “We will be putting on events post Covid for the people of Swindon and beyond,” they say.

There’s an interesting line-up ahead, prompted to me by Pewsey acoustic performer Cutsmith, who is on this Sunday (28th Feb.) Yet most are hard floor, afro/tribal house, trance, techno and drum n bass DJ sessions, freely shared onto a Facebook group, here. Join the group, throw your hands in the air, scream oh yeah, just don’t set your own roof on fire, it’s only going to increase your insurance direct debits, mo-fo.

Your exhaust cannot drop off en-route, girlfriend needs not to spend umpteen hours sorting her hair, and there’s no over-vocal knob jockey giving you all that in the carpark to distract you. No excuse for unattendance; no dress-code either, get funky in your jimmy-jams, if you like, you know I will. Shit, I’m like the Arthur Dent of Mixmag!

Now, I’m also gonna start adding these posters to our event calendar, which despite being about as tech-savvy as Captain Caveman, I’ve taken the time when nought is really happening to redesign it, to be more user-friendly.

All needs doing is directing buggers to the thing, as we’re listing global online and streamed events, and until a time when Bojo the Clown finally stops mugging us off and announces a release date, it’s not worth adding real live events for me to have to go delete them again.

That said, I find difficulties in keeping up to scratch with what’s on in the online sense, partly because I’m fucking lazy, but mostly because they pop up sporadically and unexpectedly.

Else they’re mainstream acts begging via a price-tagged ticket. I can appreciate this, it’s a rock and hard place, and we all need to get some pocket money, but from a punter’s POV, charging to watch their own laptop screen in hope they get a good speed for their feed, can be asking a bit much and one now favours a PayPal tip jar system.

Such is the nature of the beast, where a performer or DJ could be slumped in front of Netflix one minute and suddenly decide they fancy going live. Thankful then, we should be, to these Facebook groups hosting streams, in order to create some kind of structure.

The positive, for what it’s worth, is boundaries have been ripped down. Without travel issues, online, your performance has the potential to reach a global audience, and hopefully attract newbies to your released material. Who knows, pre-lockdown you played to a handful of buddies at your local watering hole, but afterwards tribes from Timbuctoo might rock up at your show. Okay, I’ll give you, they might not, but potentially, the world is your oyster. Just a shame its shell is clamped shut.


Trending….

Song of the Day 1: Atari Pilot

Irregularly I share a music video to our Facebook page with the status “song of the day,” or week, or whenever, as if it’s a daily occurrence. When the reality is it’s a big, fat fib on my part, it’s only when I happen to find such a video and can be arsed to share it. What-cha gonna do, sue me?

So, just in case your lawyer says you have a case, I thought I’d streamline this sporadic idea for 2021, make it an actual feature on the site rather than a Facebook post, and show off that I know what long words like “sporadic” mean.

Little more gone into it than this, you should be used to it by now. I’m not going to review them, just embed them here for your own appraisal and entertainment purposes. Potentially, it’ll be a groundbreakingily breif post, a simple but effective phenomenon, and something I can do without missing the Simpsons.

The challenge is consistency; whether I actually stick to the idea or, like others, it’ll be a flash in the pan. Who knows, this could be the start of something beautiful, this could be the thing they’re talking about in decades to come. A holographic Ken Bruce could be asking “what was the very first Devizine Song of the Day” in a Pop Master 200 years from now.

And you can answer it with who I bestow this honour, Atari Pilot. They’ll be revelling in the triumph of the hour if it wasn’t lockdown, I bet.

History in the making then, the only issue I foresee is I over-waffle any old crap, which is, incidentally, not what’s happening now and rarely does here; I had to explain myself, didn’t I?

Okay, I get message; here it is then, enjoy the tune, enjoy the rest of your evening. Good job, carry on.


  • Reggae Perfection; Winds of Matterhorn

    Again, we find ourselves in the most unsuspecting part of the world to find the perfect reggae sound, Switzerland. Fruits Records release Winds of Matterhorn at the end of this month, 30th April.

    Rather than the unanimous Rastafarian camp, Jamacia’s hills of Wareika, Swiss-Italian trombonist Mattbrass and producer Jackayouth have taken inspiration from the eminent mountain in the Alps for this four-track instrumental EP. Unlike the progressive nature of the Jamaican music industry, Fruits Records, as ever, find their penchant in a more classic sound. The tried-and-tested formula of roots reggae may be deemed old hat on the island of reggae’s origin, but no one can refute the global influence of Bob Marley and the Wailers, and the consequential epoch which followed.

    The mechanics of the profound effect reggae’s golden era has had on music as a whole is inconsequential here, because there is no fusion or experimental divergence. You will not hear rock or soul’s pastiches of the formula, there’s no preaching vocals, you will only hear a crisp and refined approach to the true sound. This is reggae at its finest, a driving riddim, occasional wail of an electric guitar, heavy bassline and saturated in sublime horns.

    To emphasise these classic elements of reggae are evidently profound, each tune is singularly named after the four classic elements; earth, air, fire and water.  

    Earth is marching one-drop reggae, the kind you’ll identify with the later works Bob Marley & The Wailers, such as the 1979 album Survival. But Air is no lighter, there’s a real deep, roots feel to it, a plodding bassline fills said air, but throughout there’s this continuation of a tight horn section, managed to perfection. Fire has more upbeat jollity about it, so much so it near-verges on the classic ska of the unrivalled Skatalites. Water brings it back around, with that proud one-drop march.

    This is the traditions of reggae, elsewhere at its very best, the only thing it lacks is the vocal affirmation to Rastafari, or anything else uniquely indigenous to JA, rather a structured salute to the sound, as if it was performed by Mozart or Beethoven. There’s the nutshell, if Beethoven went to sister Mary Ignatius Davies’ class at Kingston’s Alpha Cottage School, with Don Drummond, Rico Rodriguez, Roland Alphonso et all, his symphonies might end up sounding something like this; it is that accomplished.

    Top marks, as if they not done it before on Devizine, and I’ve still not gotten fully over how awesome Wonderland of Green was!


  • Chapter 4: The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead

    The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole

    Chapter Four: in which our heroes awake in unusual circumstances.

    Recap: Can you stop asking me for a recap, and just read the chapters before this one? I got to keep going over the same shit, just because you cannot be bothered to keep up with the story, is that it? Look, just read the previous chapters, or wait for Spielberg to notice the movie potential of this humble fable, won’t you? I’m done with recaps.

    There was something divinely erotic being one of thousands of workers in a foetus position, imbibing on one of the many lactating teats of a larvae queen with the head of Margaret Thatcher in a sado-masochistic pupae dungeon, at least to Councillor Yellowhead there was.

    Hymenoptera knew their place in the nest and never questioned authority; he liked it here. When the lactose ran dry, they’d head out for duties without question. Though to Yellowhead feeding was sexually stimulating, he never wished for it to end. He yearned the Gyne would churn her pulp royal jelly once more, but with bellowing, unquestionable authority her words echoed around the chamber, “to those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-churn, I have only one thing to say: You churn if you want to. The lady’s not for churning!”

    Yellowhead squirmed with excitement, near ejaculation, as she continued in a less conversant voice, “now, Mr Speaker, I suggest you wake up, wake up, WAKE UP!” Confusion to the alienness of the accent, saw off his climax, and he felt rejected despair. Yet, somewhere deep in an archive of Yellowhead’s mind, it had familiarity, as if from long lost past, another time, another realm.

    Yellowhead’s mouth overwhelmingly tasted of mud, water spurted from deep down his oesophagus and sprayed from his lips. The light hurt his eyes as their lids unlocked involuntarily. The Thatcher Gyne fizzled out of reality, ignoring his pleas to stay, and the equivocal outline of a human head came into his focus. “Wake up!” the voice came again, this time he recognised it.

    “Get off me this minute, Briggs,” Yellowhead commanded, “you necrophiliac homosexual!”

    “You lost breathing,” Briggs pointed out, highly tense, “and had no pulse…. I……”

    Yellowhead pulled his torso up and rested on his elbows, “did you perform CPR on me, Briggs, just answer me that?”

    “Sir,” Briggs implored, “there was nothing else I……”

    “You are a sexual predator, Briggs, a sexual predator of corpses, and I was your prey!”

    “It was necessary,” Briggs pleaded his cause, “there was nothing else I could have done to save you, and sir, I did it, I saved your life!”

    Yellowhead stood up as Briggs scrambled away from him. Remaining on the tarmac he looked up to his superior, feeling the wrath of his outraged expression. But Yellowhead took a moment to compose himself, and sighed. In a whisper he told Briggs, “young man, tell no one of this, for as long as we both shall live. Do I make myself perfectly clear?”

    “Yes, sir, oh yes,” Briggs whimpered, “I’m just glad you’re alive!”

    Yellowhead bit his bottom lip, it still tasted of sludge. “Quite; well, I must say, I mean, I find it difficult, erm, in a situation, I find, you know, at times I, and there are times, many, of which the erm, timing is not right, but let me say, if I can, that, I, damn, Briggs this is hard, so very hard for me, to, you know, find the right words, but yes, I erm, I thank you, Briggs, for, you know, saving my life!” He sunk in his own admission and self-loathing.

    Briggs beamed a smile from ear to ear.

    “Look, Briggs, I think that’s enough for one day,” he confessed while composing himself from his horrid ordeal; showing his gratitude was an unimaginable desolation of his principles and character and an unwarranted prevalence for Yellowhead, the near-death experience wasn’t particularly nice either. “Just paint that yellow circle around the pothole and we’ll be off, I think, Briggs. There’s a good fellow.”

    Herein is where Briggs showed signs of astonishment and confusion. “That’s the thing, Sir,” he announced, “there is no pothole!”

    “What are you dribbling about, Briggs?”

    “The pothole, all of the potholes, they’ve all disappeared!”

    “Don’t be so stu……” Yellowhead looked around him. Scanning the area which once looked like an asteroid impact site. The A342 appeared untainted, completely even, and not a pothole, rut or divot could be seen as far as the horizon. Yellowhead scratched his bald patch, looked to Briggs for his expression, which was the confused jollity of a maniac headless chicken. He mumbled, double-checked the road, double-checked Briggs’ grin, felt faint, and suggested, “well, I guess, erm, I guess our work here is done, erm, Briggs, me lad. Let’s head back to Davizes; I think a pint of best is the order of the day.”

    “But, sir, how did……”

    “Don’t ask, Briggs.”

    “But, sir, the road, it couldn’t……”

    “What did I just say Briggs?”

    “It couldn’t, like, repair itself, I mea……”

    “That’s an order, Briggs.”

     They got to the van, parked just as it was before the incident, but it looked somewhat different. Briggs noted the subtle changes, Yellowhead became outraged by its graphics. He slammed his palm on the side panel. “Briggs?! Why has this van still got our old motto printed on it?”

    “You mean the, Where Everybody Matters one?”

    Yellowhead quivered, “Don’t! Just don’t even say it! We rid ourselves of that slogan some time ago, and for good reason, Briggs!”

    “Because it’s untrue, everybody doesn’t matter, sir?”

    “NO! Because, Briggs, because, there’s too many letters, it costs too much to keep adding it the vans,” Yellowhead explained, “and that’s the truth behind that. What really gets my goat up and sends it galloping from its pen, is the stupidity of you to book out an old vehicle with the incorrect graphics, Briggs; these should’ve been put out of service years ago.”

    Briggs stood motionless, his face one of ghostly expression. “Sir, I didn’t, there’s the thing, it’s out there….”

    “Didn’t what, Briggs?” Yellowhead questioned, “think? You didn’t, Briggs, you didn’t think at all!”

    “No, sir, I didn’t take out an old van with the old slogan printed on it. It wasn’t like that when I took it out. In fact, it’s not an old van at all, but a new one. Look, it’s electric-powered!”

    “Ye gods!” cried Yellowhead, “a monstrosity! What low-level leftie scum replaced our vehicle with this, this environmentally-friendly milk float!”

    Briggs pointed out the horizon. “It’s, erm, not just that, Sir, look!”

    Yellowhead followed the angle of his pointing, to note across the land was situated tens of wind turbines, their propellers turning by the gentle breeze. “No!” he screeched, “get Christina Brownie on the phone, development project department, I want names, I want dates; who gave permission to wreak havoc on our beautiful landscape with these, these conservational eyesores?!”    

    “Sir,” Briggs hesitated, but it was the only explanation he could fathom. “I think we were out, you know, drowned in that pothole for longer than we think we were.”

    As Yellowhead wore an expression of total disbelief and confusion, a horse pulling a gypsy caravan passed by. A gaunt dreadlocked Caucasian youth with full beard and Romany attire called out, “hi there, y’ need any help?”

    Yellowhead looked up at him with distaste, “not from you, beatnik heathen! Solstice is not for another two months; get your hippy bandwagon out of our county, or I will be forced to have you removed by force, by our constabulary! For the love of Priti Patel, I thought you lot had been deported to the inferno of abyss you came from?!”

    The hipster shrugged as the caravan passed by, “suit yourself!”

    Yellowhead confessed to Briggs that he didn’t feel well. “I fear I’m going to puke, if I don’t pass out, Briggs. This overload of leftie growths is like a wart on the backside of Satan, and they’re making me nauseated.”

    “Maybe we should get in the van,” Briggs suggested, “and make our way to town. I think you need to see a doctor.”

    “I am not getting in that van! Not without petrol in it!” Yellowhead least tested the water, by peering in through the window, and outraged, “reformist bastards have replaced my Bollinger for soya milkshakes!”

    As a succession of eco-friendly traffic, hippy buses and horse drawn gypsy caravans gently passed them by, Briggs supposed, “maybe it’s always been this way, and we’ve been so wrapped up in our conservative ideology to notice!”

    “What conservative ideology, Briggs, you daft wazzock? It’s just the natural order of things. There’s no obsessive notion to any such right-wing agenda with me,” Yellowhead assured him. “No, I think this is still part of my dream, the nightmarish end section. I favoured the beginning part most, would you care to imbibe on Thatcher’s teat too, Briggs?”

    Briggs looked sincerely at Yellowhead. “I think I’ll give that a miss, sir, if it’s all the same to you?”

    “As will I to your requisition I board this eco-fiendly passion wagon!” asserted Yellowhead with arms folded.

    “Eco-fiendly?” Grant smiled, appealing to his better nature, or searching for it at least. “I see what you did there, clever stuff. You can sing your patriotic hymns all the way to Davizes.”

    Yellowhead gulped, held his nose and sat in the passenger seat. “You should note I’m getting in because there is nothing better to get into. Besides, I am reasonable, you may listen to some pop music, if you wish……”

    “That is considerate of you….”

    “……provided it’s Morrisey or the Who.”

    “The Who?” Briggs laughed, observing the small compact disc selection had mysteriously changed to the likes of the Bob Marely, the Clash, and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

    “Indeed!” Yellowhead announced proudly, “great bunch of Brexiteers. Boris listens to the Who, he was instructed to listen to the Who, even the lefties said he should. I trust I can let you know, Briggs, I was with him and a bunch of others at the Cheltenham Festival, just last year. We sat in his limo, drinking Chateau Le Pin, snorting a nosebag off the tits of some top brass prostitutes and listening to their greatest hits, when we suddenly realised, they meant The World Health Organisation. Oh, how we laughed!”

    Briggs sighed, and tried to hold in the notion it was a mistake which caused the spread of Covid19 and the deaths of thousands. Yellowhead was so engaged in his fond memory he had failed to notice the vast changes in Davizes, and how they increased the closer they got to the town centre.

    Hordes of youth walked at liberty, grouped they wandered the streets attired in crusty clothing, many with braids or dreadlocks. They were a wider racial demographic then before too, and they mingled with joviality. Houses hung speakers from their windows, and small crowds gathered to dance in the streets below, as DJs spun their tunes. Live acoustic music too was sporadically dispersed along the road, tents hosting wellbeing workshops, Buddhist meditation and Indian head massage. People held up signs for free hugs, others responded. Children ran free without care, playing together and making petty mischief for their own amusement.

    By the time they had arrived in the Market Place, gone was the void and the patch of grass. A multitude gathered around a huge stage in the centre, an afro-funk band played lively African rhythms on drums and guitars. Scattered around it were hundreds of stalls, selling a variety of street food and international cuisine, chai, clothes and charity fundraising tents. A comedy marquee sat at one end of the market place, a children’s area at the other, with traditional fairground rides rising behind them both. The whole place lit up with the colours of the rainbow, décor and dress, the smells of food, sweating people, unwashed dogs and cannabis melded and the sounds of joy, laughter and the bass of the music, blended; it resembled a festival. Grant Briggs gulped.

    “There was a time, Briggs, when….” Yellowhead continued, then looked up, “what in the good name of Mosely is going on here?!” He stuck his head out of the window. Briggs suggested he didn’t, but it was too late. “What in the name of Thatcher do you think you beatnik scum are doing?! This is not some Glastonbury love-in, this is a level-headed insular Miltshire market town, full of law-abiding conservatives, you have no right to invade it with your hippy bandwagons and freeloading festivities; now go, clear off before I am forced to inform the police. This is against lockdown restrictions, and even if we weren’t protected from a pandemic, I’d still enforce the limitations of showcasing what is clearly a leftie act of terrorism on England’s green and pleasant land!”  

    A slender earth mother dressed in a loose Kaftan pointed and giggled, “man, you are like, too funny!” She nudged a fellow next to her. He wore a tie-dye t-shirt, khaki sand shorts and sandals, and was currently engaged in sliding a cold, half-eaten burrito in his wiry beard for safekeeping. “Farquhar, look! There’s some street theatre. A delightful comedian, clearly too old to be from the council is shouting abusive satire and pretending to be all anti-alternative, from a mock council van; it’s hilarious!”       

    “I’ll give you too old!” Yellowhead screeched back her.

    “Is he for real?” Farquhar gasped, “like hey man, git outta there, there’s no one allowed to be on the county council aged over twenty-seven!”

    The earth mother elbowed him in the ribs, “silly man, it’s a joke, Farquhar, you fool!”

    The man went for the burrito, “well, it’s not funny.”

    Councillor Yellowhead burst from out of the van to parade the area, verbally assaulting everything he saw in such quickfire horror the puss of his global acne turned a fiery red and looked certain to blow at any given moment. Concerned, Briggs followed behind, trying to warn him yet keeping what he considered a safe distance. If the yellowhead was to detonate, Briggs was uncertain of the epicentre of its impact zone.

    “These, these, vehicles are parked here illegally!” Yellowhead ranted, while people formed a circle around him, still believing it was a comedy act of street theatre akin to that of Alf Garnett, though they never had heard of that character. “Even if they have paid the fees, which I highly doubt, and can and will be checking, they are not within the white lined parking spaces. And are these street stalls licenced?” He leaned into a noodle bar, the lady at the counter nodded her head to inquire of his order, but he lambasted her, “licenced, are you? Permission to be here?”

    Without waiting for an answer, he begun addressing the crowds once more, too many inconsistences and misconducts were happening at once for him to focus on a particular one. The earth mother and associate known as Farquhar sauntered behind them, still debating if this was a comedy routine or not. “You are all here illegally!” Yellowhead continued, “Miltshire Council has given no permission for any kind of, of, whatever this is, a hippy love-freak-out festival, you should stay in your homes, watch Netflix!”

    “Hey buddy!” someone called from the crowd, suspicious this was no act, “this isn’t a festival, this is just an average weekend in Davizes!”

    Yellowhead spat his words as his face reddened, “it is a Thursday!”

    “Ain’t no one work Fridays, man, not for centuries!” laughed another, imagining the absurdity.

    “You should come here when we do have our monthly market place festivals!” another giggled.

    “The guy is a sham!” the calls came quick and fast;

    “I think he’s funny!”

     “Do the one about the pandemic again; like, too funny man!”

    Yellowhead’s yellowhead was spinning. “the Covid19 pandemic is not a subject for comedy! I am not a comedian, it is very real, and you are contributing to the spread of the virus!”

    “Ha-ha!” the crowds laughed, “the virus was obliterated a year ago, government closed the country down!”

    “I remember,” one said, “how they stopped international airship travel, boats too. I remember how they vaccinated the key workers first, how they only invested in bona-fide companies making protective clothing and how that wonderful app worked so well because they funded the contract to a renowned and established internet organisation! They capped new laws until objections could be heard effectively, ensured immigration was protected, housed the homeless, secured care homes foremost, and yes, it was a hard six months, but with faith in our government and their ability to set a good example by complying to the regulations themselves, we got through it!”

    Yellowhead was lost for words, confused in mixed emotion. These people were not the extremist anti-governed anarchists he believed them to be. “Yes,” he stumbled, “I errm, well, I am glad to hear of your love and respect for the government, but still, this illegal gathering is unlicenced and no permission has been granted by the council to allow it to happen! So, I order to cease your festivities, return to your jobs, if you have one, return to the jobcentre if not!”

    The crowd laughed once more. “Where is this guy from?” many questioned, or similar responses.

    A nearby dreadlocked crusty leaned into Yellowhead, “you need to chill, my friend,” causally he offered Yellowhead a large hand-rolled smoking cigarette. It smelt rather exotic to Briggs, who tried to stop the crusty. Yellowhead took a look at the fellow, aghast.

    “Is that what I think it is?! Is, is that a cannabis cigar? Is that Tweed you are smoking?” He did not wait for an answer, but yelped to call it to the attention of a casually dressed passing police officer. “Arrest this man at once, officer!”

    The policeman strode towards the commotion. “Hand over that spliff!” he demanded.

     The man handed him the smoking implement. The officer took a puff, “where did you get this from?” The crusty pointed out a small stall, in front of Greggs. “Cheers, I knock off in an hour, might get me some, it’s good shit!”

    In absolute revulsion Yellowhead quivered, this was the final straw. Briggs warned the officer and the crusty to step back. The chief councillor looked up at the sign for the Greggs bakery, which now read: Greggs Bakery and Riff Raff Spliff Café.

    Now desperate from leftie surplus and in a state of horrified overload, he turned urgently towards Briggs for assistance. “Tell me this is a nightmare, Briggs,” he uttered insanely, “pinch me, punch me, clout my very chops with an iron if you must! Whatever it takes to wake me, I plead, I implore you!”

    It was at this injunction he noted his assistant had his mouth sealed tight enough to whiten his lips, his cheeks were bulging, and with an unintended giggle, a puff of smoke exited his lips. “Briggs!” he shouted with all his might, “are you……”

    Behind his back, Briggs quickly attempted to pass the joint back to the crusty unnoticed.

    “…. Are you?” Yellowhead gasped.

     Briggs turned his head downwards and pointed it away from Yellowhead, to exhale the smoke. It was a pathetic attempt to hide the truth.

    “….. Smoking…….”

    Briggs looked back at his superior with the fake expression of shame.

    “A…A….” Yellowhead enraged, his pimple-head boiled puss at critical mass, “…. A…. A…. A whacky-baccy cigar? For crying out loud to the good god Oswald Mosley, man! Are there no depths of depravity you are willing to descend to? Is there no act of villainy you will refute?!”

    With that, those who took cover were shielded as best as they could. Others, unaware of the explosive nature of Yellowhead were covered in yellow pus.  

      


    Will our hero councillor survive this weird influx of unlicenced carefree festivities? Just what is going on with the usually conservative town of Davizes, and has the whole world gone as mad as Diana Abbot on nitrous oxide, or is just the moonrakers? Find out in our amazingly liable continuing fable, next Sunday morning….

  • Summer Solstice Celebrations Looking Likely at Stonehenge

    With the green light given for the A303 tunnel at Stonehenge, the lockdown restrictions at winter solstice and EH’s solstice parking fee demands, it’s understandable we haven’t seen a positive message from the pagan high priest, Uther Pendragon for a while. But this week proved different. If Uther used emojis on his social media posts it would be near all smiley faces, but he’s not the type to, so there wasn’t!

    Nevertheless, the leader of the warrior and political arm of the modern druid movement, The Loyal Arthurian Warband, reported back from a virtual RT meeting with English Heritage, Police and other interested parties, save Wiltshire Council who Uther noted, “steadfastly refused to attend.”

    Assurances about this year’s summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge appear positive. Urther called for “assurances from EH and their partnering ‘authorities’ that there are no plans to restrict access by ticket and/or advance booking, or to take part in any Goverment pilot or other such ‘trial’ that restricts access to ‘all-comers’ due to perceived health issues or certification. And that no pilgrims will be denied entrance, save for those who’s anti social behavior dictates such.”

    EH are continuing to make plans and arrangments,” Urther reported, “for the managed open access to go ahead as scheduled for the night of 20th/dawn of the 21st June, subject to the lifting of Government restrictions, due to end by this point.”

    On the eve of lockdown last year, English Heritage said, “we know how appealing it is to come to Stonehenge for Winter Solstice, but we are asking everyone to stay safe and to watch the sunset and sunrise online instead. We look forward to welcoming people back for solstice next year.” And with that, and this positive development, we hope things will run smoothly for 2021.

    https://youtu.be/-bEEaA9Rzvs


  • Song of the Day 34: Jon Amor

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

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

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

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

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

    https://youtu.be/hX3yX37q44g

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


    SAVE FURLONG CLOSE

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

    (Mahatma Ghandi)

    Save Furlong Close

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Please, if you want to help:

    Thank you


  • Chapter Three: The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole

    Chapter Three: in which our intrepid heroes arrive in Davizes, stop for refreshments and move onwards to face the mighty potholes of the A342.

    Recap: As our heroes head out into the big, wide world and have shaken off the seagull obsessed councillor at Matalan, Yellowhead has pointed out the standard procedure for repairing potholes in the county of Miltshire, and it’s fair to say, it’s quite longwinded. Out story continues, for what it’s worth….


    Councillor Yellowhead snarled at the lack of people parking in the Market Place, as he dismounted his lard from the van. Potential revenue was being lost here, Yellowhead made a mental note, tripling the parking fees would be the best solution, and he need add it to his notes for the next meeting.

    From the safety of the driver’s seat, Briggs peered out in wonderment at the goings on in Davizes Market Place, while Chief Councillor Yellowhead ventured outside to fetch some light refreshments. Briggs observed a bus leaving the stop, how pensioners on it seemed to wear their facemasks as chinstraps, and they sneezed on students on the seats in front while brandishing them for not social distancing.

    Other than the odd passer-by, and I mean odd, not much was happening. The only gathering appeared to be centred around a tacky layer of fake grass akin to what fruit and veg market stalls used. A few pub benches were busy with coffee drinkers, chatting happily away and breathing carbon monoxide from the few passing cars with affluent drivers able to afford the parking fees. Others circled the town endlessly looking for a free parking spot on-street. Some only popped in for a loaf of bread, the cost of which would be quadrupled if they had to pay the minimum hour parking fee. Others could not understand how to use a smart phone to pay for the parking, ergo no other option was available.

    Briggs recalled the memo, it was something the Council promised to fix, maybe, he figured with no clue of his impending fate, when he passes his training, and became a real councillor it was something he could raise at a meeting.

    Yellowhead returned laughing hysterically and pointing profusely at a small child who had tripped on the fake grass, which was curled up at the edges. A dog had just urinated on the exact same spot minutes before. He struggled back in the van launching a brown paper bag at Briggs and waving two bottles. “Here you go, partner!” he smiled, “a pheasant and truffle bake, and two bottles of Bollinger!”

    Briggs looked surprised. “Is that your definition of light refreshment?”

    “You’re not wrong, the foie gras and swan bakes were overpriced and my expenses form is already maxed. Just thank the good lord Enoch Powell no snowflake Corbyn legionnaire recognised me; they’ve still got their knickers in a twist over the traffic lights system on the London Road in this pathetic market town.”

    “It just needs a filter light for the traffic heading right,” Briggs observed.

    Yellowhead snatched the pheasant bake back. “Watch your step young trainee, we’ve not got that kind of cash lying around for filter lights,” he warned. “Now, head out towards the proposed new railway station site, there’s a good fellow. We need to prioritise the potholes closer to my house first.”          

    Briggs shrugged, he wanted to sit and admire the fake grass and white picket fence, which didn’t look at all out of place in a historic and idyllic town centre, not one bit. Yellowhead noted the direction of his gaze. “Ghastly, isn’t it?” he sniggered. “That’s the lively entertainment space those nonces at the town council were forced to put up to keep keyboard warriors from losing their shit over, and still, they lose their shit over it.”

    He belly-laughed, “And they call themselves Guardians! Ha, of all things; Guardian readers more like! Meanwhile we rake in parking fees,” with a huff he scanned the lack of parking in the Market Place, and the traffic building to find on-street free slots, “least that was the plan; bloody freeloaders.”

    “Why they ever accepted your ultimatum, I mean acquisition of duties, sir, is beyond me,” Briggs laughed. “I mean, you just gave them control of all the shit bits Miltshire Council couldn’t be arsed to take responsibly for!”

    Yellowhead popped the champagne and lugged at the bottle top, clearing quarter of the contents before coming up for air. With a burp he noted, “precisely Briggs, have your bake back. Because, young padwan, they’re do-gooding busy-bodies with the political awareness of a hedgehog, in command of an indoctrinated majority willing to blindly conform to Tory totalitarianism. Putty in our hands, Briggs, putty I say.”

    “They crave more power; we say they can have control of the swings in the playpark but you must raise two thousand K in parking fees annually; it’s a win-win, really is!” He took another gulp of Bollinger, “the land out in Rude, by example, Furry-long Close, worth a fucking a mint, but houses adults with so-called learning disabilities. Adults, for crying out loud into Nigel Farage’s blessed lap, if they’ve not adjusted to real life yet the losers never will. So, we close the facility, blame the charity, and send them out into the real world; it’s easy to convince the majority here it’s in their best interest.”

    Yellowhead projected his arm across the windscreen, encouraging Briggs to look at the view beyond.  “Look around you, Briggs, look at these imbeciles; the Furry-long Close residents will blend in just fine, and the land is ours for seven thousand luxury homes, and four affordable one bed flats. I’m on for a new stable if we pull this off, the old couple are looking a bit dated. You’re welcome to come visit once the pandemic is over, I’ll have some guttering jobs for you.”

    Briggs just shrugged, and drove on.

    Past the school, Yellowhead continued his rant. “Houses, houses, houses, Briggs my dear fellow, take heed, rich people need houses too. Look at the size of that sports field, and for what, I ask you? Most kids are obese anyway, what do they need a sports field for, dropping empty packets of Wotzits on? They can’t even vote! No, lower the school budget, I say, and the council are mostly unanimous, make them pay for their repairs by selling off that land. The Constabulary headquarters too. Protected wildlife they cry. Why? Tress and fields and country walks, so dog-walkers can hang doggie poo bags on trees?”

    Briggs just shrugged, and drove on.      

    “Look around you now,” Yellowhead demanded, “and tell me what you see?”

    “Farmland?” Briggs answered, though wondered why he bothered.

    “Are you drinking that plonk?” Yellowhead asked, snatching it from the driver and launching his empty bottle out of the window. “I see potential! A railway station, so our lustrous MP Danny Cougar can get to Westminster, a business park, alive with industry, a tunnel under every monument so tourists don’t get a sneak peek of it without paying, a velodrome, Briggs, think about it my boy, a velodrome, a monorail, glass tubes vacuuming people to work, a space shuttle launchpad, the possibilities are endless.”

    “Affordable homes too, sir? Homeless shelter?”

    “Don’t be a dreamer, Briggs,” Yellowhead snarled, “we don’t have a bottomless pit of funding.”

    As ordered Briggs pulled the van over. The potholes here resembled an asteroid impact zone. “This will save us some pennies,” Yellowhead observed, “something to do other than blasted Zoom meetings. Cut out the middleman, Highways Agency are a hinderance on our budget,” he stated as he gulped Briggs’ Bollinger. “If a job’s worth doing…. Now, get out and spray a yellow circle around that one!”

    Briggs got out to paint the circle, despite not be trained. Yellowhead followed suit, to fart. Briggs opened the van’s rear doors and climbed inside to fetch the spray paint canisters. Upon his return he looked rather flushed, but Yellowhead failed to notice it. A gull, of all things, had descended upon him and was frantically fluttering around his head. He shoed it off with his arm, when a random and unsolicited thought occurred to him: find love for your fellow man, and take heed of all god’s creatures, for they may hold a message for you.

    Yellowhead questioned his own thoughts as he scared the gull away, mumbled something about leftie snowflakes invading his psyche via telepathy being the final straw, and yelped, “Nora! Where are you when we need you the most?!”

    “It’s quite a deep one,” Briggs observed the pothole, despite it was filled with water, so hard to tell exactly how deep. “Maybe pop a cone in it?”

    “Yes, yes, whatever!” belched Yellowhead, the kerfuffle and also, the fresh air taking effect on his drunkenness.

    Briggs dropped the cone in the centre of the pothole. It floated for a matter of seconds and then sank out of sight into the muddy puddle. “Oh, it is deep,” he noted.

    “Get that cone out of there!” Yellowhead demanded as he retched up pheasant chunks. “We’ve not the cash lying around to lose a cone.”

    Briggs hesitated, then attempted to straddle the puddle, but it was too large. His right foot went partly in, and so he naturally extended his left foot outwards into the centre. Next thing Yellowhead noted was Briggs completely disappearing under the water. “For the love of Thatcher!” he moaned to himself, and pulled his phone from his pocket. “Yes, it’s me,” he reported, “yes, I will fill out the minutes to the last meeting as soon as I get back. Sorry? Yes, on a mission, yes. Look, this is an emergency, I need a new junior councillor sent out, one with some water wings.”

    There was a cold silence as Yellowhead listened aghast to his superior. He tutted at Briggs’ stupidity, but supposed he asked for it, his naivety cost him his life out here. It was untamed territory, life was hard. He wasn’t completely inhumane, and he mourned the boy’s death for the best part of ten seconds. “What do you mean, the one I’ve got? He’s an idiot, sir, with all due…….”

    Another cold silence as Yellowhead listened, even more aghast. He gulped, “erm, drowned sir, in a pothole……Have I what, sir? Well, no, I erm…. Now see here, you cannot seriously be propo…. Yes…… Yes, I know that, but……paperwork, sir, liable?…… Okay, okay, I will see what I can do!”

    With that Yellowhead sighed like he’s never sighed before, not even when Tony Blair outlawed fox hunting. He waddled reluctantly to the van, cursing under his breath that lefty altruists had infiltrated the top hierarchy of Miltshire Council and plagued it with a sickening level of compassion. Once there he thrust open the van door, examined the contents of the footwell, considered the quarter-full bottle of Bollinger, exhaled, and selected Nora’s machine-gun.

    Waddling over as close to edge the pothole as he could bear, still complaining, he pushed the barrel of the gun into the puddle. “Briggs!” he bellowed, “Grab hold of this!” That was when the gun accidently went off. It had a kick harder than Yellowhead’s hunting rifle, and stunned, it knocked him backwards.

    Unaware, perhaps due to his levels of intoxication, that a spray-can obstructed his path, and rolled under his left foot, Yellowhead then fell forwards with a cry out to Churchill to save him, and with a splash he entered headlong into the water.

    Tumbling and frantic he gurgled under the water, scrambling to find the edge, but failing. All he discovered was a sunken traffic cone, which promptly bobbed away. The surface seemed unattainable as he gasped for air and the scene fell into a ghostly dark black.


    How will our heroes survive the devastating predicament of sinking into a gigantic pothole on the A342, if they have, and would you really want them to, anyway? How much more would it have really cost to put some decking in the Market Place, rather than tacky fake grass? How can you have any faith the council will build these extravagant projects, like spaceship launchpads and train stations, when it cannot even fix a pothole? Find out, or not, next week, on The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole!


  • Horses of the Gods; We Wish You Health

    I once reviewed a cassette with a photocopied punk-paste zine style picture of Mr Blobby as the cover, where a distraught male voice screeched, “take an overdose, ginseng!” continuously over some white noise. Thank heavens that’s in a long-lost past!

    Fortunately, I’ve never had anything quite so bizarre to review since, not even this week when, Erin Bardwell messaged; “one of the drummers I do things with, Matty Bane, has a side duo project and wanted to let you know about their latest album.”

    Sure, I’ve heard of Matty, seen him listed as one of Erin’s collective, trekking with them to Jamaica in 2003 to record with Recoldo Fleming at Dynamic Sounds. Further research shows he’s drummed in Bad Manners for over ten years, and is now part of Neville Staple’s From the Specials setup, headhunted from days as part of the Special Beat tour with the original rude boy.

    Given this, I was naturally expecting said side-project to be reggae, stands to reason. What might’ve eased the surprise was to have pre-known of Matty’s own band The Transpersonals, a minimalistic, psych-rock outfit lounging somewhere between Pink Floyd and Spaceman 3. Still, nothing was going to prep me for what I got; We Wish you Health by Horses of the Gods.

    There’s only one reason for facetiously mentioning the eccentric Mr Blobby cassette, because this is unusual too. The likeness ends there, though. “Bizarre” can connote excruciating, as with the cassette, but, as with We Wish you Health, can also imply uniquely stimulating and inimitably disparate. So much so, it’s astonishingly good. For those seeking the peculiar, those at their happiest dancing barefoot in Avebury’s morning dew, or for whom reaching the summit of Glastonbury Tor before sunrise is priority, will adore this, with jester’s bells on.

    Matty teams up Mike Ballard, a media and games lecturer with a penchant for folk. And essentially this is what we ought to pigeonhole Horses of the Gods as; Somerset folk, is as near in modern terminology you’re going to get. But for comparisons I’m going to have to max my flux capacitor way beyond my usual backtracking.

    If I relish in music history without the technical knowledge, I understand one has to either accept four-time pop, or untrain their ear to acknowledge other musical metres, in order to appreciate folk, classical, even jazz, but particularly the kind of sounds We Wish you Health is embracing. There’s something medieval, least pagan mysticism about the influences here, of shawms and hand-cranked hurdy-gurdies, miracle plays, and Gallican chants of plainsong. And it’s swathed with chants and poetry as if in variant West Country Brittonic tongue.

    We have to trek beyond futurist Francesco Balilla Pratella’s Art of Noises theory, to an olden ambience of nature, of birdsong, storms and waterfalls. The opening track starts as a spoken-word toast and ends akin to medieval court jester entertainment, over a haunting chant. Equally passe but equally amicable is a sea shanty called Down in the Bay. Then a clocktower chime follows; left wondering if this was Dark Side of the Moon recorded in 1648. Sow In uses mellowed hurdy-gurdy to mimic what the untrained ear might deem an Eastern ambience. With a solstice theme, it’s so earthy it makes the Afro-Celt Sound System sound like Ace of Base! (Joke; I love the Afro-Celt Sound System!)

    In many ways the next tune Ostara follows suit, more eastern promise yet slightly more upbeat. Consider George Harrison’s collaborations with Ravi Shanker. As the album continues, experimentation with traditional abound, obscure instruments are thrown into the melting pot; the Victorian circus sound of The Thing and I, the rural west country ditty of Digger’s Songs, in which you can almost smell spilt scrumpy as folk rise from haystacks to jig.

    Throughout you’re chopping randomly at influences, this medieval court running theme, blended with an oompah band styled sound on The Whole World Goes Around, will make you want bells on your shins like a drunken Morris dancer at the village fete. Else you’re haunted by the chill of evocative soundscapes, unable to pinpoint an era this falls into. I’ll tell you now, it was aptly released at Samhain last year.

    We Wish you Health may be bespoke, and some wouldn’t give themselves adjustment time, yet Sgt Pepper and Pet Sounds were famed for pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in contemporary pop. This is a fissure to the norm, a testimony of yore, for while there’s a demonstration of newfound passion within ancient realms, it is fundamentally timeless. Though I suspect there’s myth and history behind each track, which extends the album from a set of songs to a research project for the listener.

    The finale, for example, has a reference in Wikipedia; John Barleycorn, a personification of the importance of sowing barley and of the alcoholic beverages made from it, beer and whisky. Though in the House of Gods, cider gets a mention. John Barleycorn is represented as suffering indignities, attacks and death that correspond to the various stages of barley cultivation. It goes onto reprint a Robert Burns version from 1782, though stating countless variations exist; Matty and Mike use an earlier version:

    There was three men come out o’ the west their fortunes for to try, And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn must die, They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in, throwed clods upon his head, Til these three men were satisfied John Barleycorn was dead.

    I’ve rushed out this review to make you aware of it, and because I’m so utterly astounded by its uniqueness, but fear I’m only teetering on the edge of its fascinating historical references myself. Thus, is the general nature of folk music, to dig out lost fables which once would’ve entertained young and old, and bring them to new audiences, and The Horses of the Gods does this in such a way, the negative confines and stereotypes commonly associated with folk music just melt away.

    Link Tree to album


  • McDonalds Coming to Devizes….

    Yes, you read it right, it’s been confirmed in a Devizes Town Council Zoom meeting this week, permission has been granted after decades of rejections, to build a McDonalds restaurant on the outskirts of town, and work could be starting as early as July.

    In an exclusive conversation with MP for the Devizes district, Danny Kruger said he is delighted at the news. “With the Devizes Gateway station proposal looking likely,” Mr Kruger explained, “this will be of great benefit to the town’s economy, will provide jobs for local chavs, thickos and acne-covered juvenile delinquents, and will also fill in all the potholes along the main road with discarded slices of pickles.”

    “Face it,” he continued as if someone cared, “no one is going to stop off to visit Devizes if they look out of the train window and see the Lydeway as it currently stands; all muddy fields and an elderly trailer trash park. No, people need to see the golden arches, they need to know they can get a Big Mac, or a Fillet o’ Fish. Heck, when I get back from Westminster, all I crave is a nice Twirl McFlurry, but no, not here, pal; whad up wid dat shit?” 

    Danny K is Lovin’ It; you will too!

    Despite the train station project not being complete until a predicted 2025, local franchiser and entrepreneur, Mr Michael Hunt of The Bottom, Urchfont has pushed for development of the land surrounding the site into a multi-purpose entertainment complex, with many other facilities, including chain restaurants Wagamama and Nandos, as well as a multiplex cinema, and an American style bowling arena, with a regular free bus service from the town centre and surrounding villages. But, for Mr Hunt, construction of the McDonalds is paramount and prioritised. “I’ve given the Town Council an ultimatum,” he claimed, “build a Maccy D’s now, or businesses will shift out of the area long before the first train stops here.”

    Asked if Mr Hunt is laying down a rather rigid and uncompromising petition to the Council, who have rejected many past proposals of having the fast-food giants in town, Mr Kruger replied, “No way, Mike Hunt is a softy. Anyone can enter [the debate] and slip their piece into it.”

    Therefore, local busy-body Liam Wallis, no stranger to a burger or three himself, has set up a steering group on Facebook, The Devizes McIssue, here, where tory partisans can air their views, but has warned members of the group he won’t stand for personal attacks on the businessman, who is known for making outlandish claims. “I love his proposal of having a McDonalds,” he cried, “but many locals see my Mike Hunt and laugh. I will not have Mike Hunt compromised, if people come to stick two fingers up,” he demanded, “they will be banned from the group.”

    Clerk for the Town Council has spoken negatively about the idea, but feels they have no choice. “We don’t think it’s time to change our traditionist ethos and move with the times. But Mike Hunt is big, and hairy, and everyone on the council is afraid. He’s not just some tittering schoolboy blogger’s running joke wearing very thin, and one which, I might add, will undoubtedly get him in a lot of trouble. He is a risk to everything we stand for, and Chick-o-Land. I went to a McDonalds once, when I was about twenty- eight, or was that The Michelin star Hand & Flowers in Marlow? Oh, whatever, they gave me this cheap plastic toy with my meal, and it broke within five minutes of playing with it and I cried all the way home, and my mum told me off. Is that the kind of fiasco we need for our children?”

    You can join the Facebook debate group, and give your views, by clicking here. Perhaps you think a McDonalds is well peng and you is lovin’ it, or is as unlikely as a train station, or maybe symbolic of an undesirable insignia of mass US commercialisation, an institute of Satan, or maybe you just prefer the gravy in KFC.

    Or perhaps, you’re bitter because I led you up a garden path and everything I’ve said, if you’ve bothered to read this far, is simply an April Fool’s joke, and now, right, you’ve got a craving for a thick shake. Well, friend, you’ve gotta, like, get out of your onesie to drive to the Sham, else chance an underpaid Deliveroo driver will enter our Tory haven with gun-toting rednecks waiting to pick them off in the hills of Bromham.

    Oh, and if you get to the Sham, be sure to adhere to the local tradition of jettisoning your mountain of waste packaging out of the passenger window onto the leafy lane of a quiet, unsuspecting village at three in the morning, you know, so your mum doesn’t see it and tell you off. Yeah, I like your cut G, you is Chuck Norris gangsta. Big up Danny K for gittin’ us a golden arches!


  • Cult Figures; Deritend, Yes Mate!

    It’s not just me, is it? Eighteen seconds into the Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary, you know, when it breaks, and you’re like, that’s it, right there. It matters not what youth culture you were into, at the time, or even now, it doesn’t give a hoot about your favoured genres, haircut, colour of anorak, age, gender or race, it just does it, and you, you’re like, as I said, that’s it, right there.

    Something similar happens with this Cult Figures album Deritend, out last week; heck, if they haven’t even got a comparable name. Perhaps not so nostalgia-filled, as these are all originals, though the sound harks back to an era or yore, when cookies were in a biscuit barrel rather than your web browser, Tories were governed a demoness made from iron rather than a clown made of teddy bear stuffing, and a wet wipe was when your mum spat into a handkerchief and wiped it over your Space-Dust covered chops.

    Mind, as happens when I’m sent files not numbered, it lists them alphabetically rather than in the running order, so the opening track is actually the penultimate Camping in the Rain, but it makes the perfect intro into the world of these London-based masters of retrospection. From its off, it’s, well, off, leaving me to reminisce about those classic post-punk new wave bands of the eighties. At times though, as it’s a mesh of this and reflective of the scooterist mod culture of same period, I’m thinking of the likes of the Jam and Merton Parkas too. Contemplate the musical differences are subtle, though worlds apart at the time, and this sits comfortably somewhere in-between.

    To add to their perfection of authenticity, one must note this is the second album from Cult Figures, and is comprised of tracks written in their earlier incarnation between 1977 and 1980, just recorded more recently.

    The real opening tune, Chicken Bones, has the same impact, something beguiling and anthemic, setting the way it’s going to go down. Donut Life, which follows, sounds like carefree pop, the Chords, for a comparison. In fact, as it progresses the guitar riffs of next tune, Lights Out, is sounding more pre-gothic, Joy Division, yet with a catchy whistle more akin to The Piranhas. Things get really poignant with Exile, almost dub Visage meets the Clash, and Omen extenuates the seriousness of a running theme.  

    “Deritend draws a line under the past,” they explain, “all eleven tracks composed and recorded since our 2016 comeback, simultaneously reflecting a maturity gained in 40 years of life experience, whilst still embracing the accessible three Ps of the early days; punk, pop and psychedelia.” The album’s title owes to a historic industrial area outside Birmingham’s centre, “a few miles from where Gary and I grew up.”

    The mysterious iconic name was a bus route terminus and has a strong emotional connection to the band, “evoking the nervous excitement of those long rides into town on our way to Barbarellas. But it conveys so much more: Deritend is an album that reflects on the past, speculates on the future, but for the most part is fairly and squarely a comment on the lives we are living now.” They convey this well, for through its retrospection, subject matter, growing up with the dilapidation of a working-class industrial chip, could equally apply to then, or now.

    A timeless piece of art within a captivating musical style which embraces the traditions of generation X, just curled up at an edge like an old poster on the congregated iron fence of a closed factory. I mean Silver Blades and White Noise crave you dive back into punk; there’s a definite Clash feel to the latter. As girl’s names for titles generally do, Julie-Anne is archetypical upbeat but themed of desire, and the sound of it is particularly challenging to pin down, there’s Weller there, but a drum roll you’d expect Annabella Lwin to surface from (of Bow Wow Wow if you need to, Google it, youngster!)

    Most bizarre and experimental is the brilliantly executed talky sound of Concrete and Glass. Cast your mind back to 86, if poss, remember Jim’s tune, yeah? Driving Away From Home by It’s Immaterial, and you’re not far from the mark.

    The aforementioned Camping in the Rain which could’ve been the opening track, is next, and it’s the epithet of all we’ve mentioned. This combination is not juxtaposed cumbersomely like a tribute act, rather the genuine article lost in time, and it, well, in a nutshell, absolutely rocks. The finale, Privilege is plentiful to summarise; Clash-styled punk rock, themed on the expectations of irritated propertyless youth, akin to Jimmy Cliff’s You Can Get It If You Really Want.

    But, unless all you want is a zig-a-zig-ah and to spice up your life with commercialised bubble-gum pop, nothing here is oven-ready for criticism, just relish yourself in a bygone era, and rock.


    The Lost Trades Live Stream their new album on Friday; tickets here
  • Song of the Day 33: Andy J Williams

    Having a great album reviewed fairly recently on Devizine doesn’t exclude you from being in the spotlight of our Song of the Day posts. And if it ever does, call me out on it. Just ask me who hell I think I am, Vlad the Impaler, or something similar.

    Check the review of Buy All That $tuff by Andy, here, or just enjoy today’s video, Night Terrors, exposing where the band practice, under the beds of children, obviously! Which kinda makes we wish I was a kid again, as there were no bands practicing under beds back then. Just once I’d like to have discovered, I dunno, the Bangles perhaps, practicing under my bed!

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cOjGTwr1XBk&feature=youtu.be

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


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