Sunday, 18 October 2015


It feels odd flying into Banjul that bit later than usual.
Instead of the middle of the afternoon plus an hour-ish if there wasn’t a wind, that being the case we’d usually be there bang on time.
Now we’re heading in very late afternoon into that early evening bit which never seems to last that long in The Gambia ?
But that’s what being closer to the equator does for you.
Grab the bags when they come off the belt and promptly get a ‘pull’ for bringing in food.
There’s a bloody great ‘F’ chalk-mark on my suitcase now.
This is true.
I’ve brought along some of Haddy’s chillies to prove to the kids that we can grow hot ones in Britain too…
Which, strictly speaking, I shouldn’t have done without filling in a bloody great form that I’d probably have had to pick up from the High Commission in London, so I’d thought…
Yeah… You know what I thought, don’t you ?
And here comes another miscreant…
Apparently my wife has been ‘pulled’ for drugs…
And there’s a bloody great chalk marked ‘D’ on her suitcase !!!
‘Yes Officer… Yes, it is my wife… Honestly mate, I’m not making this up, this lady is definitely my wife…’
You couldn’t make this shit up, could you ?
The one bloody time that she didn’t bring a prescription for her diabetes pills.
I’ve got mine for my heart pills, ok it’s not been changed since last year but the pills are the same, and all my wife has is her name printed on the box label without the covering script.
The word ‘BOLLOX’ springs to mind…
Ten minutes with the ‘Official’ who gives us both a reprimand for ‘smuggling’, and we’re outside getting in the taxi and only one hundred dalasi and a couple of British chillies lighter…
So please, if you have to take any form of prescription medicine and you are traveling to The Gambia, remember to take a copy of your prescription about your person and honestly you can avoid all this.
It’s not always WHO you know, is it ?
Sometimes it’s what you know…
I really do dislike that way of doing things because you never know what you could possibly be getting into, but it seems to be a fact of life here throughout most of society.
And I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it ?

We ask our driver to stop at the local supermarket at the top of the road where I can load up with a few drinks for me and the kids, cheese triangles and some biscuits and whatever Haddy wants, and then it’s a quarter of a mile down the road…
So we got there a day earlier than they were expecting us.
The look on their faces was priceless.
And then we’re covered in hugs…
Hi kids, we’re home…  
Everybody is there, even Sainabou and Adama are there, but Sibo is still at, or on her way back from school.
Apparently her new school has a system where all the Christian children get the first shift (there are two) and only the top twenty five of each year if you’re a Muslim ?
I’m not sure she’s going to like that system because she’ll never see Ida or Jalika until late and she's stuck in the house doing jobs until lunchtime when she goes to school.
Oh well, she knows what she has to do to change it, and by the end of the first term too…
That is going to be a bit of a bummer to say the least.
As is the fact that the children’s schools will not be closing for a Tobaski holiday as the President has decided to take that week of celebrations and move it to the week that he and his celebrate their coup-de-tat anniversary…
Which is definitely going to be an even bigger bummer !
Six fucking days with the little ones ?
Is that it ?
Six fucking days out of three weeks ???
Well I guess we’d better suck on it because there sure ain’t anything else on offer ?
I was right…
You couldn’t make this shit up.

Of course by the time Mariama finally gets home the word had got round and we’ve got a compound full…
It’s going to be a late night, I can feel it.
I think I’d better have a beer…

Thursday, 15 October 2015


Three weeks later it’s my Mother’s birthday and a week after that is the date of her wedding anniversary with my late Father.
Not surprisingly she’s at her lowest ebb at this time, feeling that she has nothing to celebrate without Dad being there, and so we’re going over to see her on the wedding anniversary weekend.
She has said that she wants to go to the Garden of Remembrance and lay some flowers so we will be accompanying her.

It was, as you can imagine, one sad day and that is likely to continue as we both know it's not something that she will ever come to terms with.
All we can do is be there as much as we possibly can.
Not the easiest thing in the world when you are having to work as much as we are to feed the children and we're seventy miles away...
But we do what we can.

As soon as we get back from Mum’s, Haddy puts in for her final ‘Englishness’ test.
This is the spoken one where she has to converse and ask questions while she is being examined as to her comprehension of speech.
She has to talk non-stop on a specific subject chosen by the examiner for a period of five minutes,
the subject to be determined on the day.
It doesn’t seem too insurmountable as there are times that my wife could talk for The Gambia were it to be an Olympic event…
Check out the rules for applying...
So we have a couple of practice sessions at home on three of the specifics from their list of ten.
Not bad…
She can do this.
And so she takes another day off to go to Euston for a ten minute examination.
As soon as she gets there, the staff warn her that the examiner she has been given only ever gives C’s to E’s which are failures…
Nice !
That’s a confidence booster…
Nobody needed to worry though, before she’d even officially started in the ‘Name, Address, Passport I.D. and How are you getting on bit’, the conversation had already started.
She’d got music as a subject in which she had to answer general questions and to keep the conversation going on for five minutes, remembering to ask the examiner at least one question whilst it is going on.
When the examiner asked her if she liked any artists in particular, she’d come back with Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton as particular favourites, both here and in The Gambia and hopefully she’d get to see one if not both of them someday ?
That turned into working at Rhythms of the World Festival and having just come back from Cropredy
Festival (Festivals being another possible question on the list) so she didn’t do too badly, did she ?
Bearing in mind she could have got ‘Transport’ or ‘Family Occasions’.
At the end of ten minutes, the examiner calls a halt and actually said ‘Ok, you can stop talking now…’
(Told you she could talk for her country…)
And then she said that it was quite obvious that she would be perfectly alright living here, and that her speech was definitely one of the best she’d heard in months and she had absolutely no hesitation in giving her an A plus mark for her efforts.
Then, and this is the final clincher, she told her that she had absolutely made her day and it was a wonderful change to actually meet somebody who could actually converse and not just come back with stilted answers, and well done because she had passed with distinction.
And that was it.
Haddy of course, walks out of the examination room as if she’s on cloud nine and is immediately asked by the staff how she got on ?
‘A plus’ says my wife.
‘No… ‘
‘Yes, A plus…’
And then the examiner herself came out and said to all and sundry ‘I wish everybody who came here was as good as that. That really has made my day…’
I don’t particularly want to go into the politics of it, but it does make you wonder why, if they cannot converse in English, some people are trying to gain UK citizenship ?  
But at least now she can apply for hers because she’s passed all the tests.

Whilst we’ve been doing all this, the World news has not been good.
There has been an Ebola outbreak in West Africa and it's been getting worse.
Sierra-Leone, Guinea and about three other countries are affected and Senegal has just announced that they think they have a victim too ?
The Gambia is stuck in the middle of the lot of them.
It’s a killer, and people have been dying by the hundreds on a daily basis and will do so until screening and quarantining takes effect
Ok, give me a chance to do some overtime and we could be there at the end of October or maybe the beginning of November ?
Either way it’ll probably be for Tobaski again which is definitely not the time to go if you’re trying to save money…
That is, of course, if we are actually allowed into the country ?
The President has closed the borders of The Gambia and currently nobody is allowed in unless it’s through the airport at Banjul.
This has put a complete spoke in the wheels of the Gambian economy because so many traders go to Senegal and the other outlying countries to buy their merchandise for their establishments.
The kids, obviously, are as frightened as anybody else.
Haddy has told them to keep the gates to the compound shut.
Nobody who has recently been travelling is allowed through those gates regardless of whether they are family or not, and nobody who has relatives who have recently been travelling is allowed in either.
It might upset and annoy a few, but I wouldn’t give them a cat in hell’s chance of trying to influence Hassanatou on that one.
If they push their luck she’s likely to use boiling oil…
Common sense is common sense after all and she will enforce that decision down to the wire…
I have to admit that the way things are going I’m scared for them.
Ebola is one of those diseases that the area is prone to.
Caused by infected animals, most of which we would label as 'bushmeat', it is spread by flu-like symptoms, one cough and you could be the next victim.
Check out the details and symptoms here...
The airlines that fly to the infected areas are all shutting down their flights and nobody can now get in, and right in the middle of the whole infected area is The Gambia, which, so far, has not yet had a case.
Haddy has put in for a holiday at work but because it is in school time and not an official holiday period, has been refused.
She works in the kitchen for Christ’s sake.
It’s not as if she can’t be covered for three weeks, is it ?
But no…
The refusal stands.
Ok, you want to play that game and not take into account any compassionate considerations then screw you.
It’s not as if we can bring them here, what with Parliament’s complete refusal to do anything other than support the members of the European Union and shit on everybody else.
So the letter goes in.
‘Bye… I’m leaving… The children are more important, so stick your job…’
The staff cannot believe it, but she is adamant and quite honestly I think she’s right.
They cannot get it through their heads that they are now the enemy…
Along with six hundred and fifty parliamentary pricks, the European Union and the Human Rights Act which does not seem to accept that Africans are human too.
My attitude is the same as it has always been.
Act reasonably and we will do the same.
Act unreasonably and you loose the whirlwind…
And when that occurs, shit happens.
To use Mariama’s expression, if it is ‘unjust’ then you fight it because if you don’t then the injustice continues.
Fuck ‘em.

At least they were a lot more understanding in her second job.
All they asked was that she take care of herself and they’d see her when she got back.
They understood.
It’s family, and you don’t fuck with it.
They can go home after work and see their children but my wife cannot.
She would be able to if she wasn’t being discriminated against by the UK government and their slavish wish to remain as part of the European Union which stops African children coming to the UK to be with their parents, but allows any and all Europeans to do so.
And that, as they say, is the problem in Black and White.
White’s in and Black’s out.
Check all the European Union’s members census results if you don’t believe me.
An apartheid system by any other name.
So, come the end of October we’re flying out so long as the Ebola thing doesn’t spread and the plane can still land ?
Which has definitely not pleased my Mother.
But at least the Senegalese victim is now thought to have been suffering from influenza and not Ebola and so the Gambian border has now been opened again.
Oh well, it’s a start…
And the truth of the matter is, I miss the kids terribly so God knows what it must be like for her ?

It’s the end of October and we’re ready to go.
I don’t really know how we managed it, but we’ve got a Monday flight out in the late morning ?
This is all well and good but it’s a pain in the arse getting to Gatwick through the traffic at that time of day.
Not only is the M25 busy but so is the motorway to Gatwick and to make matters worse I managed to miss the turn-off for the long term parking.
They’ve sent instructions as usual as to how to get there but unfortunately there seem to be one too many roundabouts on the instructions…
Eventually, after doing the turn off instructions twice I give up following them and guess it ?
Nearly made it…
I just shot past the turn-off but at least we’re off the motorway, so turn around yet again and drive back to the last roundabout and have another go…
And finally we’re parked up and getting their courtesy bus to the airport.
Jesus, I could have done without that.
But at least we’re there now.
Sitting in the departure lounge after going through all their security checks which, to be quite honest, are an absolute pain.
I know of no other country where you have to remove your belt and boots, and now the laptop has to be packed separately…
Security is a fine thing, but I can’t help thinking somebody in the government who makes these things up has never actually had to do it ?
Oh well, it is apparently for our own safety so I’ll go along with it, but when they open one of the cases I wear over my shoulder I begin to wonder if it’s not just a bad dream ?
'It’s a minidisk recorder... That’s the microphone and that’s a stand to rest it in and those are minidisks,
the headphones are in my hand luggage, ok ?'
God help us !!!
I can’t possibly be the only passenger who’s ever carried one to listen to something worthwhile on the flight, can I ?
Who knows ?
But finally, after the usual half-mile walk to the aircraft, we are ready to board...
We started off this morning at about four-thirty and now all I want is a sleep.

Thursday, 10 September 2015


Sorry about the delay in keeping the posts up to date because we are now over a year behind but we’ve had ‘family stuff’ going on and it tends to get in the way of whatever free hours I’ve had to do it, but finally we seem to be coming out of it and it’s been a bit of a bastard to say the least.
But don’t worry, you’ll get to read about most of it in the forthcoming posts…



It felt really odd setting off after being back at work three days after Rhythms.
It was like there was something missing ?
And there was…
There was no ‘build up’ to it.
It was like we hadn’t stopped even though this one was all pleasure and no work.
Apart maybe from putting up the tent, which is the one thing actually guaranteed to start
arguments !!!
When discussing it with some of the others I knew were going, and that’s not just our lot but members of the other two intrepid groups from our part of the world who I tend to bump into when I’m actually working, there were a few divisions.
It’s far too ‘Proggy’ was the one I subscribed to
as against
It’s brilliant.
Marillion, Steve Hackett and… The Australian Pink Floyd !!!
Fuckin’ A… I’m in heaven…
Which I didn’t.
I’m afraid my serious ‘Prog’ Rock’ days were over back in about 1974 when we’d gone to see Jethro Tull tour their ‘Passion Play’ album.
Tull, as always, had been great but I wasn’t sure about the material ?
That was definitely when I’d lost all inclination to see another Prog’ Rock band.
I suppose being in attendance at the Genesis ‘In Concert’ recording for the BBC hadn’t done me any favours either ?
Genesis, who I’d always been in two minds about came over as too clever by half, and were blown away by the support band, who, a couple of weeks previously, had managed to drive their tour bus off an alp…
Honestly, I’m not making this shit up, they really had.
Everyone in the bus had survived the crash but not necessarily without breaking a few bits that they might need if they were musicians…
But an ‘In Concert’ on the old Beeb was a prestigious event back in those days so they’d elected to do it regardless of the state they were in.
The band’s name was Max Merritt and the Meteors.
They weren’t the best band in the world that was for sure, but they certainly rocked hard enough and they went on stage with arms in slings, legs in plaster (and with crutches) head bandages, finger and wrist bandages and whatever else we couldn’t see, and proceeded to tear the roof off the
sucka’ !!!
The accident had been in all the old music rags like NME, Melody Maker and Sounds and nobody really gave them any hope of continuing, but they did what all good rock bands do…
They ‘Went For It’ !!!
And they only bloody got it.
Well, they did at this gig.
They laid down the gauntlet and basically said ‘Follow That’
And Genesis were too prissy and arty-farty and it didn’t really happen for them.
And so, to misquote an old Dustin Hoffman line… ‘That was the end of my progressive period…’
I can always still listen to those that I’d bought over the years if I liked them, but the new-wave of Prog’ to which Marillion belong has always left me cold.
So was I looking forward to it ?
Yes and possibly no, and I’d never felt that way before.

Anyway, the drive was uneventful and we fetched up first again at the Hare & Hounds, closely followed by the rest of the nutters with a few new ‘Cropredy virgins’ in tow. 

Karen & Shakey

Please note that last line is what we refer to new arrivals to the festival as, it has nothing to do with anybody living in the village…

And when everybody had arrived and slaked their thirsts we set off for the site.
Guess where ?
Well if you read this stuff regularly and I know some of you do because one of the ‘Cropredy’ posts has had more ‘hits’ than the next five posts combined, you will be able to guess that we are on…
Field 7.
Well where else would we be ?

I think we’ve been there for the last ten years at least ?
And we’re only four rows away from the showers which proves that God does sometimes smile upon you…
Tent up without coming to blows (Just) and a first drink of alcohol and then the wristband queue while discussing Colin’s latest invention…

Colin's shower. Made from a small garden greenhouse, a burner and a few bits from the local plumber...
He has invented a ‘hot shower’ which is going to get its first Cropredy outing and that sounds good to us.
But let’s face it.
Anything which circumvents the shower queue is going to sound good to us and so we await with bated breath and a lot of hope.

Colin, our 'mad scientist...'

Annie, Shakey & Rob.

He’s going to put the finishing touches to it while we’re going to queue to get in.
Yep !
It’s me, Haddy and Annie again.
The rest can’t be arsed to move at the present or are going to the pub.
See you all later.

Fairport acoustic are what it says on the tin.
ie. Fairport playing acoustically.
I actually really enjoy their short opening acoustic sets these days.
It took a couple of years but now I just love seeing them ring a few changes in styles on some of their older material and even some of the newer stuff that I’ve bought and got to know.
Plus, opening and closing their own festival makes perfect sense to me.
There is so much work put into making it the success that it is that I do think that it was one of their most inspired decisions.
It feels right.
And if it feels right then it is right.
So let there be an end to any argument to the contrary.

Anyway, if you click on this link you can see them play a bit of acoustic...

Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble are…

Just go and see them if they are appearing anywhere near you.
That was a serious high point.

An absolutely wonderful and entertaining set which has cheered everybody up immensely.
Not that anybody is feeling bad about anything but it does help when the first band after the residents play a set like that.

And here they are in all their ragged glory...

Just go and see them, you won’t be disappointed and take the kids too.
If that lot can’t take a studious swot and turn them into an ordinary fun loving music lover then nobody could.
The sun’s still out…
Just thought I’d mention that, Cropredy being known for the opposite…
We seem to be getting a field-full of our lot, too ?


Mickey & Andrew

Vicki & James

What’s happened ?
Pub run out of beer ?
Not likely, they’re all here for Steve Hackett’s Genesis Extended slot which is after Capercaillie’s.

I quite like Capercaillie.
Check them out here...
I play them at home, usually on a Sunday morning after I’ve breakfasted if I’m not working before I hit the Grateful Dead or whoever is going on rotation throughout my home hours.
Unfortunately they had to follow Joe Broughton’s lot so they came over a bit bland.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a really good set but how do you follow Joe’s lot ?
My interest has been piqued.
This is going to be a very different festival than that which all of us were expecting…

And then there was Steve Hackett playing Genesis stuff.
Which, I have to admit I actually liked.
The difference being, it rocked.
Yes it was the same tunes, but beefed up way beyond anything Genesis ever did.
The singer was a bit of a posy tart and a little too 'histrionic’ if that’s the right word, but in general terms…
Nice one, Steve.
Check out 'I Know What I Like' here...
I can’t say you’ve made a convert out of me but I can say you were bloody good at the event I saw you at, and if any of you out there fancy a punt, well I can recommend it.
Ok, there were probably a few too many guitar’y bits for the average Genesis fan, but those with an open mind should definitely enjoy it.
Oh, and fans of that genre which never seems to die but just lies under the radar of most music fans these days, and yes, I’m referring to ‘Prog’ rock’ will definitely enjoy it.
And what was it our compere said after they’d played ?
‘A fitting show for what is, without a doubt, one of the largest ever Thursday night crowds at Cropredy…’ 
So there !

Which brings us to Thursday’s headliners who I have deliberately not mentioned as yet because they are the one band on, excepting Fairport, that most of us have come to see.
The one band that every one of us has said ‘And I’m not missing The Waterboys whatever the bloody weather chucks at us…’
And were they as good as we thought they were going to be ?
Check it out...
How Mike Scott managed to actually get the full moon to show itself from behind the clouds when the band went into the first ‘You Saw the Whole of the Moon’ is something that you can all argue about…
But sometimes something special occurs, and it did for The Waterboys.
And the other thing is that you find you know a lot more of their tracks than you think you did.
I don’t tend to play the first two albums these days, I’m definitely a Fisherman’s Blues head and Room to Roam is also up there, but they were absolutely great.
Nobody from our lot, and I really do mean nobody had been disappointed by them.
Somebody did something right, didn’t they ?

Right, it’s over for the day so we’re all back to the tents.
I say it’s over and it is except for one thing.
Everything is over bar the drinking, and we’ve brought along a little addition to those proceedings…
And I refer your honour, to that bottle of stuff that we’d discovered when going to one of Haddy’s friends party’s.
A bottle of toffee flavoured vodka.
And what’s more we’d got some plastic shot glasses to serve it in…
Not bad.
Well it isn’t after your fifth shot anyway.
We lost Shakey after his fifth which I’d been matching him on, but then he’d definitely drunk more beer than me.
Discretion being the better part of valour, we saved half the bottle for tomorrows revels and went to bed.
(it’s better than any sleeping pill, warms you up inside too…)


Uuuurgh !
It’s tomorrow…
I know it is, I’ve just opened my eyes and it’s not dark.
It’s early.
I know that much because I can’t hear too many people gabbling away outside but those I can seem to be heading for the toilets or showers.
Thankfully, we’ve got our own little camping loo stuck in the other half of our tent so we don’t need to queue and at this time of the morning it’s a godsend…
What’s it going to be ?
Veggie sausage, fake bac’ (pronounced bake) tomato and egg all chucked into a bit of oil in the frying pan and a couple of slices of bread which might end up as fried bread if the oil holds out, plus the kettle on the other burner.
That’ll do me.

Of course the smell of cooking wakes everybody else up also…
I have discovered some numbers written on paper in a glass next to Colin’s shower so I’ve just picked out numbers three and four.
I don’t know, but I do suspect… 

And it turns out about an hour and a half later that my suspicions were well founded because he’d worked out that was the only fair way of establishing an order as to who goes when ?
Now all we have to do is wait until he’s heated the water which apparently is going to take about seven minutes…

Frankly I’m gobsmacked… It works like a dream.
Haddy and I take about three minutes each which leaves plenty of water for the others.
On a full tank at about three minutes each it’ll do about eight people.
Five minutes and it’ll do about four and then you have to re-fill and re-heat the water.
Brilliant idea.
Hat’s off to our Colin.

Haddy has decided on cereal for breakfast and so there’s really only one lot of washing up.
Right, that’s that sorted, now let’s decide what we are doing today ?
Well I want to see Churchfitters and that’s non-negotiable.
I’ve already seen the Australian Pink Floyd Show and Chas & Dave so I know what’s coming there, Annie, Liz, Andrew and Vicki are down for The Wonder Stuff, Mickey’s a goer for The Travelling Band and so we all make plans to meet on site for The Wonder Stuff.
And so, as usual, me, Haddy, Annie, and Liz, James and Mickey make our way to the site to ‘chair up’.
The weather looks a bit iffy, but it’s not raining yet…
Oh well, It’ll shine when it shines as any Ozark Mountain Daredevil can tell you…

When we finally get on site, Haddy and I go shopping.
Kids t-shirts and CD’s a speciality…

The staff at the hospice stall (I told you I would... hahaha)

The top of the field toilet block...
No CD’s that we fancy but we get the t-shirts and take a few pictures and that’ll do.
Hopefully I’ll find a few bits on the Boot Fair tomorrow ?

There’s definitely time for a kip before the main events but I think the weather may make even that a bit difficult because the sky has darkened somewhat and precipitation is not just expected, it’s looking like it’s more a bloody certainty !!!
Oh well, you can call me Weather-Diviner Chris if you like ?

The acts are all much of a same.
Until Churchfitters hit the stage anyway.
Good, but all a little too ‘earnest’ for me.
I’m turning into a vampire, I crave a bit of blood and fire or at least some signs of life…
And in Churchfitters we all got that.
They are definitely mad, I can tell you that much.
Homemade instruments and all…
And you can find their first four numbers here...
Mad as a Hatter.
Well that livened up the party somewhat.

It was at about this point that Haddy discovered the Jamaican fish stall...

The Travelling Band are on next and they’re ok.
I remembered them from last time which according to the programme was three years ago and whilst I could say that first time out they rocked, this year the rock had taken a bit of a formulaic turn.
Mickey loved them but I can pass.

So far only Churchfitters have shown that spark that I love today but then it’s time for the Wonder Stuff and so long as it’s better than the size of a cow…
Fuck me !!!
They were seriously good.
You have to remember that I’m in my sixties now and probably the eldest of our lot here but you know, you try and remain honest and objective about music.
It’s not worth lying about, even to yourself because that way madness lies and an exaggerated view of your own importance.
Hopefully anything I write is reasonably objective and only coloured by my own prejudices…
Ie. Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan are the best we are ever likely to get and the rest inhabit the trails of getting to their standards.
I know not everybody is going to agree with that, especially those whose first objective gigs were in the ‘punk’ era, but…
Bill Shankley once said of football that it was more important than life or death (I’m paraphrasing) well music is one hell of a lot more important than football so why delude yourself even if you attempt to delude others ?
If a band is crap then bloody well say so, even if they are mates, because you do them no favours by telling them they’re great if they’re not.
Yes, I find things bland sometimes (not just here either) that doesn’t mean the band is bad, just that they didn’t mark the event by stomping their particular patent all over it.
And if it doesn’t ‘rock’ then nobody can induce me to say that it does, and even well known bands and singers can do things which leave you cold.
As I’ve probably said before, all you have to do is apply the Ken Tyler foot tapping test.
If your feet don’t tap then it’s probably not for you.
It worked for Ken and it works for me, and my old mate Ken was a serious Jazz fan.
Music, if that’s what all those other genres were, left him cold.
Jazz however was ‘Hot’, and nobody was ever going to persuade him otherwise.
Now, you can argue all you like about that last sentence but you cannot argue about the guy’s commitment to his love of it.
It was TOTAL .
He taught everybody who came into close proximity to him to look beyond the names, the genres and the styles.
He liked Jazz, but he did not expect everybody to be or do the same.
There was always a choice and you’d better be able to justify your own by your own standards.
Know what ?
It works.
You like Punk ?
Justify it.
You like Folk ?
Justify it.
You like Rock ?
Justify it.
Provide examples to turn on a friend or neighbour.
That was the biggest kindness you could ever do for them.
To get them to look outside their blinkers by justifying something else and you can’t do that without some form of enthusiasm because it doesn’t work.
Passion and fire because music deserves it.
Yeah, that was Ken, that and a foot that wouldn’t stop tapping and if by chance he had a cup of tea in his hand then so much the better…
To hear him and Frank (who hates Jazz) argue the merits of Vassar Clements Hillbilly Jazz album was a lesson in verbal ping-pong that should have gone down in Olympic history.
Fast, funny as fuck, and even tempered but both of them leaving barbs in the other which would surface somewhere down the line.
Frank met his match in that one, but then so did Ken.
Both agreed that it was a wonderful album, but both from vastly differing perspectives.
And let’s not even go through what they said about David Grisman’s ‘Dawg Music’.
It’s Country.
It’s Jazz.
It’s just bloody good music, so can we all have a cup of tea and coffee and just shut the fuck up ?
You keep out of it.
Aaaargh !!!
Shut up !  Or I’ll put some Mahler on…
Ok (x2)
And it would quieten down for five minutes before starting up again after they’d had a tea and coffee break truce…
Anyway, enough digression, let’s get back to the main event
The Wonder Stuff.
All I could remember was Size of a Cow.
Until they started playing that is…
Then I remembered damn near every song they played.
I’d always had them down as second division but this was premier league stuff.
Check it out...
Bloody Hell !!!
Another band who changed my perceptions of their previous material.
See, that’s what Cropredy is all about.
Really all about.
It’s not just a bunch of folkies regurgitating past glories.
It’s new and vibrant.
It’s older and still relevant.
It’s fuckin’ brilliant, and there is no way you’ll get me to change my mind about that.
And that’s how The Wonder Stuff became the first real ‘hit’ of the day.
At least amongst our lot, that is.
Cue Randy Newman’s ‘I think it’s going to rain today…’

Modelling the 'Cropredy Condom'
And it did.
The first real drenching of the weekend as Chas and Dave hit the stage.
Now I quite like Chas & Dave.
I’d seen them before a couple of times and so I knew what to expect and they delivered just that.
What people don’t see perhaps, is the affection that they have for old time rock’n’roll and they play it superbly.

Vicki.  'Don't bogart the beer, dear...'

Jim.  'Sorry...'
All their hits have really been novelty numbers and so when they actually rock out it takes some by surprise that they do it so well.

 Shame about the rain in the middle of the set but notwithstanding that the guys done good.
Nice one.

Which brings us to the Australian Pink Floyd Show…
Haddy had enjoyed Chas and Dave but this was new territory to her as it’s not the sort of thing they tend to play on British radio let alone Gambian and so most of their set was going to be new to her.
Well, she lasted until their fifth track which coincided with the heavens opening again and then asked if we could go back to the tent ?
Here's a bit of them at Cropredy...
It was a shame as the light show was beginning to rival the band and that’s when they really get good but the rain was torrential so I couldn’t really blame her.
That’s it, we’re off, see you all later…
And we retreated from the field of sound and light.
Straight back to our tent where we made a cup of tea, laced it with brandy or tequila and waited for some of the others…


Oh God…
That was a mistake.
There was about half an inch left in the toffee vodka when we both woke up the following morning and so I glugged it before my cup of tea.
I can remember having about three shots with some of the girls and Andrew and Karen but I don’t remember much else…
Apparently it was a good night and everybody enjoyed themselves.
And the toffee vodka.
So that’s alright then.
Right… Breakfast the same as yesterday and let’s hit the Boot Fair.
We seem to be running a bit late (Who knows where the time goes…)
But I now own another half dozen cd’s of things I’ve been looking for cheap and she now owns a few more dresses and tops.

Leg it back to the site, drop off the gear, pick up our chairs and go.
Finally arriving just as Richard Digance is exhorting everybody to become the biggest Morris team in the world again…
Bugger it !
I like ol’ Digance.
It’s the best way I know to start off Saturday and we’ve managed to miss most of it.
Oh well, it can’t be helped so let’s get settled and see what the day brings shall we ?

Blackbeard’s Tea Party were enjoyable in a raucous folk-rock sort of way.
They were obviously used to playing venues that don’t go ‘shuuuush’ when you’re in the middle of a conversation at the bar…
Really good set, so let’s see if this Reg Meuross bloke is any good ?

It’s difficult for me to talk about Reg without going into overhype.
He was THAT good that half way through his set I was legging it, literally, to the cd tent because I knew without a doubt there would be sod-all left if I waited until he’d finished, and when I got there it seemed that half of the crowd had worked out the same scenario.
They certainly weren’t selling anything else at that point in time.
Reg’s set was the classic singer-songwriter one.
Get a good enough band to do justice to the material and then get out there and show folk what you’ve got.
He had me hooked by the second song and by the fourth I was trying to get served the two cd’s the tent had left…
Click on this for 'And the band played Sweet Marie' from Cropredy
Absolutely great set so how come I’d never heard of the bloke before ?
Who knows, but I bloody have now.
Just book the bloke, preferably with his band because they seriously are a wonderful outfit.

Vicki.  'He's bogarting the beer again...'

Vicki. 'This time I want at least six inches...'

It’s probably just as well that I’ve seen Treetop Flyers and Cara Dillon before because after Reg’s set nothing was going to measure up.
Both of them played fine sets but Reg’s lyrics in that setting were the synergy of perfection and when that happens to you then there is no way that you’re going to be able to enjoy them as much as you would otherwise, and it’s a shame because they are both first rate.

Blimey !
I think they’re all here ?

It’s not the usual occurrence I can tell you that.
Must be something special happening ?
Oh yeah…
I will say that they played a very professional and very acceptable set and everybody loved them and gushed over them…
Except me.
There’s nothing wrong with them, or me for that matter, it’s just that I haven’t managed to ‘connect’ with what they do.
Maybe one day it’ll occur ?
Apart from Astral Weeks it had taken me ten years to ‘get’ Van Morrison, so there’s always hope.

I was definitely up for Al Stewart.
I can remember his early folkie stuff back in the old CBS days when he always managed to get a track on all those old sampler albums that they and Island used to punt out.
Fill Your Head with Rock and all that…
Well apart from that transatlantic accent he didn’t disappoint.
It was about two thirds RCA and one third CBS so he definitely covered the bases.
Not bad…
Now let’s see how the main men measure up to what’s gone before, shall we ?

Well they definitely started as they meant to go on.
It rocked and it rolled and it folked and it balladeered and we were all Fairported to that special place a couple of hours later when you’re all guessing where the first notes of Matty Groves are going to come in ?
And now even Haddy is up there with our loony tunes dancers…
There’s something about this lot.
I don’t know what it is because you can’t bottle it and take it home, but it’s there regardless.
Check out a great big chunk of them here...
If the words ‘A People’s Band’ mean anything then forget the Pistols or The Clash or anything from the punk era, but Fairport ?
They just might deserve the monicker.
They truly are a people’s band.
So let’s meet on the ledge again next year, shall we ?

And there was me thinking it was a weak and unenjoyable line-up with all that ‘Prog’ stuff ?
This year had been one of the best.
What do I know ?
Just a mere punter at a yearly event.
The rain had mostly held off which was good, so let’s not stay up too late, eh ?
But of course God has to get in his final joke…

As we started dismantling the tents to leave on the Sunday morning it fucking well pissed it down !!!
You have to laugh…
But that’s Cropredy, innit ?