Wednesday, 21 March 2012


It’s back into overdrive as soon as we get back…
I’ve got my stage at Rhythms of the World to complete, plus for Parnassus, we’ve got Stevenage Arts Festival coming up, and, I’ve got an invite through Jon Falconer to appear at a ‘Charity Micro’ Festival’ up in the wilds of North Bedfordshire and a girl by the name of Toni' Harrison will be contacting me about it.
So much for having a rest ?
Haddy has taken to growing her own in a big way and so the back garden has now been turned into what passes for the local allotments.

You can’t move for grow-bags full of plants…

Chillies, peppers, about eight different varieties of tomato, potatoes, onions, sweetcorn…
You can’t open the patio doors without tripping over another grow-bag.
I’ve decided on one thing and one thing only.
I’ve bought a small grape-vine.

If it grows, then all well and good ?
If it doesn’t then I’ll know for next time, but there is a house about a mile away whose garden is full of grapes so I know it’s not impossible in the vicinity.
Thankfully, my fellow Parnassian Grant Meaby has taken on the Stevenage Arts Festival event, which takes a bit of pressure off me and leaves me free to concentrate on ‘Rhythms’.
It’s not going to be the easiest few months as my brother is flitting back and forth, from his home in the U.S.A. to here, trying to sort out a nursing home for our Father whose health is giving cause for concern.
He’s ninety-one years old and it’s plain to everybody except our Mother that she cannot cope with his constant falls at home.
She herself is eighty-six and the nearest person in the family she could call on for help is me… And I’m seventy miles away.
Problems, problems, problems…
Why am I not sorting it out ?
Ask my Mother.
It’s caused a lot of grief and a lot of problems, but at least it’s finally getting sorted.
My reality is finalising the Arcadeclectic Stage for this year’s Rhythms of The World festival, and quite honestly that will do for me.

Mark, who runs the ‘Roots’ school charity at Albreda/Juffereh in The Gambia from his home in Hitchin, invites us to his latest ‘do’.
The headmaster and his principal assistant are over here to be presented with some funds for the children in their care, and because it’s a worthwhile event we take time out to go.
Mark has been raising money for the school out there for a few years now.
He is one of the most self-sacrificing guys I know, and will do literally anything to raise a few more pennies to help those kids.
Just as a matter of interest, it is the only Gambian charity advertised in The Gambian High Commission/Embassy in Kensington, so it seems he must be doing some good, as otherwise the posters asking for support would not be on their wall and that’s a fact.
The event itself just consists of a short talk, a short film show and a presentation but it seems that everybody there has come for the right reasons.

Mark is definitely pleased with the turnout and the weather managed to hold to the good, if a little windy, but on the whole a good and informative time was had by all.

I’ve told Mark that at some time I’ll do my best to put together a charity fund-raiser gig for him, but that’s for some time in the future.

Apparently there is going to be an exhibition at Hitchin’s Museum this year to commemorate twenty years of Rhythms of the World ?
Blimey !   It’s become respectable ?
Don’t get me wrong, it deserves every accolade going, and some of those involved deserve medals for the bureaucracy they have been put through just to stage the event, and to finally get official recognition by the museum might be a small thing in ‘Rhythms’ terms but when you consider that the whole event has only ever been staffed by volunteers from the local community who put in time, effort and money to get it staged on a yearly basis, then ANY official recognition is well overdue.
As for my own involvement, let’s just say that it’s a small thing that I am happy to do and happy to contribute to.
If it takes effort on my part, then so what ?
It’s my choice and I believe in it, so I keep on doing it and what’s more I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished on that little stage, so far.
Obviously there’s always more to do and more effort involved on a yearly basis, but I’ve had a great team with me over my years of involvement and their contribution to the stage’s success can never be calculated.
I love ‘em, each and every one, and I couldn’t do what I do without their involvement and that goes back a few years now…
Every time we lose a member, then we manage to get one equally as good as a replacement and we just carry on getting better and more professional on a yearly basis.
Apparently somebody else is writing the notes about ‘The Arcadeclectic Stage’ so that just leaves me free to send in a few photo’s and bits of memorabilia.
The exhibition itself will take place for the complete month before the festival itself so there is still plenty of time…
I say that KNOWING with complete certainty that both Sod and Murphy both have laws likely to put a spanner in the works, but what the hell ?
The artist list is shaping up nicely…
I know I’ve got Skip (Little Axe) McDonald as a headliner, and Jesus, what a headliner !
When Steve asked me if I knew anything about the guy and he’d been offered him, I’d just gone into excess mode.
‘Just bloody well get him… Don’t sod about, he’s a MUST…’
At the time I had no idea that I’d be offered him for the Arcadeclectic, it just mattered that ‘Rhythms’ got him on board, but now I’d got him for his second set of the festival and boy, was that a triumph or what ?
Skip’s a blues player these days and works with loops, dub and Adrian Sherwood and the On-u crowd, but he’s a classy act and I know when it gets announced, that there is going to be a lot of interest.
I’ve also got one hell of a surprise reunion lurking in the pipeline, but that must stay hidden for the moment as if it gets out in advance it could put the kibosh on the whole day.
And then the bombshell hits…
Mick Mac’ is going to Australia and won’t be available to do the sound.
Shit, bollocks and fuck !!!
But not necessarily in that order…
I’ve worked with Mick on and off for over twenty years and he’s always been my sound engineer of choice, so that is going to be one hell of a blow and there’s no denying that.
Pete is a possibility ?
He helped out Mick last year when exhaustion got to him and what’s more he did a great job.
Unfortunately Pete is currently hired for the Take That tour over the same weekend and will therefore be unavailable…
Bummer !
Oh well, these things happen…
And then, just like that, I got a ‘phone call from a guy named Ben who’d worked with Craig from Scum of Toytown, when he had his studio at Bowes Lyon House.
Right mate, you’re in.
Pick your own assistant and supply us his name and that’s it.
Easy, huh ?
Actually no, not when it takes place over a couple of weeks, it’s quite a worry because you have to be able to trust the engineer to do the job and if you’ve never worked with them personally, then you can only take other people’s words at face value.
Ben however, came seriously recommendable by everybody I’d spoken to.
Problem solved.
And then we’re into June and Stevenage Arts Festival is upon us.
Jon had designed a great poster in the true Parnassus tradition of taking the piss somewhat, with a wonderful punning title, and then he’d designed and drawn the cartoon around it.

Nice one !
Sort of inoffensive and offensive at the same time…
At which point I tell Haddy that she’ll be joining me onstage again which means incurring the wrath of a demon, but hey-ho…
Now apparently the Mayor or actually the Mayoress or the Lady Mayor will be joining us, so we get the usual ‘Could you please be on your best behaviour ?’ speech, from The Arts Guild…
No !  I think is the usual answer ?
We won’t go out of our way to be offensive, but we won’t be pulling any punches either.
That’s the way we work, and that’s the way we’ve always worked.
People get treated as ‘Adults’, regardless of who they might be ?
We’ve upset a few people over the years, but at the same time we’ve managed to keep our integrity intact.
People have to take us as they find on the night.
We’ve also managed to sell some tickets…
Which for a small poetry society at Stevenage Leisure Centre’s Ellen Terry Suite is no mean feat in itself.
We have problems selling tickets in ‘posh’ venues.
I dunno why, neither does anyone else ?
We can get between fifty and a hundred into a predominantly rock oriented venue, but try getting people into the local Leisure Centre and usually it defeats us.
This time however, we’re over twenty sold already…
I’m impressed.
As usual, a month before the event disaster strikes…
Grant’s false knee decides to explode within his leg while he is climbing the stairs at home, leaving him in a fog of agony and morphine in equal measure.
Taking over at short notice with little or no communication is difficult but I’ll have a go…
The music has already been booked, as we’ve got Ade’ and Sean and the Floor 9 bunch who are also opening for me at ‘Rhythms’ on the Saturday and Grant has also got a tentative running order. If nothing else goes wrong then we MIGHT actually get through this ?
It’ll be Taye’s and Jon Falconer’s first Stevenage Arts Festival with us, so hopefully they’ll enjoy themselves enough to want to do another and stay within the group ?
We’ve been static for far too long and ‘new blood’ is always stimulating and challenging at the same time.
Jon we’ve worked with before at ‘Twist of Fete’, but Taye we got through Grant.
In one of those strange serendipitous moments Grant was at work, and as he does occasionally, ‘performing’ at a colleague’s presentation when somebody unconnected with his department said to him that he was as mad as one of the lads in his with this poetry lark…
Grant immediately wants to meet his ‘competitor’ and that’s how it started.
He met Taye, asked him about whether he wanted to perform, sent me a copy of Taye’s cd of poems, and that was that.
I immediately wanted him for ‘Rhythms’ and so it goes…
I guess that’s pretty much how it works for us all the time ?
One casual moment leads to a lifetime of trying your best to represent a genre which at it’s best is as stimulating as anything going (John Cooper Clark, Pam Ayers) and at it’s worst (see your local press for details of your local rapping and rhyming anti-Tory egomaniac) an abysmal attempt to inflict a personal attack on anything resembling a Tory government.
The whole industry is riddled with them, and they’d all been consistently quiet since 1997 when Tony B’liar had taken over.
We’d just sailed off into the usual anti-government stuff.
I have to be honest, I can’t see any difference whatsoever ?
I predicted in 1996 what would happen IF Blair was voted in, and was proved totally correct on corruption, immigration, the N.F. youth crime and our wonderful ‘benefit’ culture, because it was patently obvious (to me at any rate) what the bloke was all about.
People were so glad to be able to get rid of the Tories after Maggie’s reign (even though she’d been gone for six years already) that they were going to vote for a Tory because he’d said he was a socialist…
Laugh ?
Well, you have to really…
Are people really that stupid ?
In a word, YES !
They got conned.
It had been patently obvious to me, even though it had upset a lot of people I knew and respected when I’d voiced it, and I don’t claim to be the brightest star in the solar-system, so if it was that obvious why did so many miss it ?
Blame Maggie Thatcher.
Because she had been so reviled for actually standing up to the unions, and putting down Scargill and his bullies (sorry, working class men and women) anything was going to be an improvement, and actually thinking for yourself had gone straight out of the window for most people…

Now after the years of Labour incompetence and corruption, the local scenes were all going virulently anti-Tory again because some freeloading parasites might end up losing their benefits and might actually have to work or they wouldn't be able to afford their plasma screens and two foreign holidays a year...
Oh fucking diddums !!!
Round and round and round we go…
You have to laugh.

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