Sunday, 22 December 2013


Work was coming on apace.
After eleven years of being a minion I’d finally managed to get myself on a management course which should have happened four years earlier but unfortunately I was in Africa when they held it.
Now with one of the two people who always rejected any application I made having left, I was finally on one.
Unfortunately, I was working for the other one at the time and he made it abundantly clear he didn’t want me on it.
So what do you do ?
You know that expression ‘When the going gets tough… ’
I didn’t get tough, I got downright hard.
Since it was being made impossible for me to actually do the damn course by not giving me a team to lead, the tutor had to intervene…
And somebody got TOLD that I was on it and was going to complete it.
My tutor actually asked me if, bearing in mind the problems I was having, I'd wanted to complete it ?
I said yes.
So he’d asked me why ?
‘Pure spite’.
‘That’s not the best reason, you know that don’t you ?’
‘Of course, but right now it’s as good as any other… I’m not walking away and I’m not backing down, I’m going to finish it despite anything or anyone standing in the way.  If I’m no good then that will come out, but if I am then any damn reason will do…’
‘Ok, you’re in…’
Of course the problems just became bigger, time was running out and I still hadn’t got a team to lead so I was asked if I’d ever led a team ?
‘Yeah, Rhythms of the World… It’s a music festival and I run one of the stages…’
‘Ok, write what you do and provide evidence and I’ll submit it…’
Christ !
You could have knocked me down with a feather…
THAT I can do.
So I did.
Apparently it was so good my tutor wanted to keep it as a ‘demonstration model', including the bits when I went off on one about not actually having a stage and when that arsehole Ross tried to shut us down which included the odd swear word or ten...
Gobsmacked !!!
I’d passed.
Stress, stress, stress… Who needs it ?
It’s actually called ‘Bullying in the workplace’ and it shouldn’t occur at all, but try telling that to management and they’ll shy away from you as if you’re poison.
Still, it was done and I’d passed.
The strange thing about it was that we’d got a new management structure and they were advocating a system which I’d managed to advocate ten years ago and still believed was the best way to go.
Maybe I was ten years too soon ?
Ok, because of needing to save money they had been sort of forced into it, but I was going to be one of the few who didn’t have a problem with it.
All those who had been building their own little 'fiefdoms' and doing as little as humanly possible were now going to have to work, and that was going to hurt them somewhat.
I couldn’t help laughing inside.
What goes around, comes around… 

Wow !!!
Within a week of Haddy finally getting her Biometric Passport she has had three companies ask her if she wants a full time job ?
Yes please, and thanks very much.
(About bloody time)
So she took the first two that came in because they don't clash with each other, time-wise.
It means that the school is going to have to pay the 'transfer fee' to the agency, but the other one is early evening and so the agency don't need to be told.
Finally... Something to celebrate.
It will make her feel a bit happier anyway.
At least now she can compete on level terms and not feel as if the powers that be are treating her as useless or second-class.

I had realised a few years ago that writing stuff for performing on stage was becoming more difficult.
If you’ve dissed one political party and it fits with another one then you can either keep the original if you’re happy with it, or write something else which usually turns out inferior to the original one anyway.
I’d shied away from doing any repeating and usually kept the originals unless I’d got a suitable ‘hook’ to hang it on.
Besides, I wanted to see what the kids made of what I was doing, so I’d concentrated on writing about how I felt and what I saw in Africa.
One country isn’t a continent and all the countries had their own problems it seemed ?
So I’d written a monster.
Sixteen verses long, and I knew it needed tidying and editing but there had been no real chance to test it in a live situation, mainly because I couldn’t be arsed what with all the rest of the shit that was going on in our lives.
Now I was going to have a chance to try it out.
Stevenage Arts Festival was rolling around again and I’m told the Mayor and Lady Mayoress are coming to our little show.
Oh bollocks !!!
Best behaviour again.
We’d entitled the show ‘Pencil Din’.
Clever eh ?
Actually we can’t take the credit for it as it came from one of the Arts Guild, who had sent us an
e-mail to say we had been ‘pencilled in’ for a particular date.
For some reason everybody at Parnassus had the same idea when they read the e-mail.
Ok, Grant’s doing the sorting out and I’m doing the back-up for him.
We’re probably going to be a little short this year as we’ve got three off sick.
Murray is failing fast and although she doesn’t want to appear she does want to be there.
Sarah is having problems so getting some of the schools involved has gone on the back-burner for this year and Jon is in and out of hospital.
Jackie has joined us and it’ll be her first one with us as a performer.

First try out for the publicity poster

Joy and Grant between them had just come up with an idea for the poster when we heard the news from Percy her husband, that Murray had died.
She’d managed to get to her eighties but her body had finally given up the fight.
She was the gamest out of all of us and I’m going to miss her.

Murray Weston in full flow back in the 1990's
She had a great imagination and when she ‘went for it’ you went with her, carried along inexorably on a roller coaster ride of words, passion and emotion.
I think it fair to say that we’re all going to miss that chirpy little spirit who managed to keep all of us on our toes.
It did put a damper on what we were doing, but her attitude would have been one of ‘get up and get on with it…’
So, a little bit saddened and a little bit chastened, we carried on with getting it together.
I suppose we all look upon Parnassus as a family of sorts and losing Murray really was like a death in the family.
While all this is going on, the ‘Rhythms’ team has been in touch…
We’re doing three nights at Club 85 over the traditional Rhythms weekend in July so do I want the Sunday night for an ‘Arcadeclectic’ bash ?
Is the Pope Catholic ?
Don’t be a pillock, YES I want the Sunday.
Friday or Saturday would have been better, but Sunday will do nicely if that’s what’s on offer ?
There will be other things going on in the town square, but only the three nights of what is traditionally ‘Festival fodder’, ie artists and bands.
So… What’s happening ?
I’d previously asked Blyth Power if they’d be up for returning to Rhythms if we had a site and they had assured me they would, but to get them there from all points North was going to cost us a bit.
It all depended on whether I could get a balanced bill of three because I reckoned that if I got my ‘dream ticket’ gig then we SHOULD be alright ?
Oh well, you can only ask…
Three yesses and we’re away.
So the bill for Sunday will be Scum of Toytown, Blyth Power and The Astronauts.
Something for everyone providing you don’t mind dancing, moshing and watching three of the best bands around.
Budget wise, we were on the limit.
Anybody wanting or needing any other expenses was going to come up short.
But… All three bands knew each other from times past AND they all respected what the others did so there shouldn’t be any ego problems.
Everything was going along quite happily until Steve, our program director, told me he’d quit.
Apparently his vision of where we were going wasn’t the same as the Rhythms trustees ?
For fuck’s sake !!!
This was going to end in tears…
Anything that starts with a vision and ends up ‘political’ always does.
But at least we could start advertising the events.
Oh… We can’t ?
Apparently we need a ‘Corporate flyer’ with all the information on ?
Ok, well get your arses in gear and get one sorted then.

One week before ‘Pencil Din’ Haddy’s Aunt Rose died.
I’ve now got a heartbroken wife who is making plans to get to Senegal for her funeral.
There’s no way I can go with her because we can’t afford two tickets, but at least Haddy can go.
She’ll be away for a week which will include the gig but honestly that doesn’t matter.
The twins hadn’t managed to get their Mum because she couldn’t have her phone on at work, but they had got hold of Fatou up in Glasgow.
So when Fatou rang and told me after not being able to get in touch with her Mum, I’d told work and said I needed to be with my wife when I told her.
Thankfully they’d understood and I was now on the way, but Haddy had about ten missed calls on her phone so I kept calling, hoping to get to her before she made a call.
I did, but it didn’t go well.
Thankfully the school staff looked after her until I’d got there.
It was not a good day.

Aunt Rose was one of the nicest people I’d ever met and also one of the best cooks.
We’d spent our honeymoon with her and her husband in Senegal and she’d pronounced my Chicken Jalfrezi that I’d made on charcoal at Sainabou’s wedding as ‘Tres Bon’ and that was good enough for me.
She’d been to the hospital a couple of days earlier with a splitting headache that wouldn’t go away, they’d got it under control and so she’d gone home.
The next day she’d rung Haddy to let her know and the following day she had gone.
To say my wife was upset was the understatement of the year.
If it had upset me the way it had then how do you think my wife felt ?
The following Tuesday I was seeing her off at Gatwick at six-thirty in the morning after staying up all night to get her there, three hours before check-in.
That really is one soul-destroying place at that time in the morning and it meant I hit all the work traffic when I drove home.
Knackered and totally wrung out.
All I could do now was await her call to say she’d arrived safely…
First Murray from our ‘poetry family’ and now Aunt Rose from our own family…
The omens were not exactly auspicious.

Sunday, 1 December 2013


I bet the last post got rid of a few readers ?
But then if Edward Snowden is correct, and I really think that there is no evidence whatsoever to doubt him, then I really don't give a damn.
If anybody wants political correctness then start treating my wife politically correctly otherwise go and shove it.
If it happens to you, then I bet you start feeling the same as I do.
Hey !  I never said everything was gonna be nice.
The problem with being involved in some of this shit is that it creates a lot of feelings inside you that you don't want but can't help feeling.
My wife being treated like shit at the expense of another nationality just because we're supposedly part of the European Union being one of them.

What a sad country we live in.
There are at least six homeless people living in the same town as me.
They have to come off the streets and live in a hostel for a time but only if there is a space vacant before they can be offered housing…
Every immigrant from Europe can be offered a house within three months and virtually immediately if they have children ?
My taxes support these people and yet I am being taxed… Oh, it’s a what ?  A visa ?  Yeah, that’s what I said… Taxed, to bring in my wife and any of our own children at the expense of theirs ?
Something is wrong.
Very wrong.
I am all in support of people moving to contribute but nowhere did it say in anybody’s election manifesto that we were going to be treated as second class citizens by my government.
Unfortunately that is currently the case AND I FUCKING WELL RESENT IT !!!
And what's more I don't give a flying fuck who knows it.
One day maybe we’ll get to live in a country where all of its residents are actually treated the same without any fear or favour ?
I can’t see it being the UK though.
Labour want to stay in Europe.
The Liberal Democrats want to stay in Europe.
Fifty per-cent of the Tories want to stay in Europe.
The other fifty per-cent want out of the Human Rights Act because they cannot expel anybody who poses a threat to democracy and its rules are set by Europe…
As for UKIP ?
If we vote for them then EVERYBODY will pay.
There will be no free ride.
So what can a poor boy do if sleepy London town has no place for a street fighting man ?
Most of the people want out of Europe because we are supporting a failed union where all we seem to support are bloated overpaid bureaucrats whose families (Neil Kinnock being a prime example) are all on the payroll.
There will be blood at the next election.
That is a prediction and you may take it how you will ?
A change is gonna come (cue Sam Cooke) but will things change for the better ?
I have my doubts.

Back to music because it’s depressing otherwise (just like life) and the Songlines Magazine awards…
If you haven’t come across Songlines then I can tell you it’s a magazine devoted to ‘World’ music.
If you want music from the USA or the UK then there are quite a few magazines you can buy, Mojo, Uncut, Q, even the New Musical Express limps on, but there is only the one that I know of that’s purely World music and that’s Songlines.
It’s not a bad read and sometimes I buy stuff that sounds as if I might like them from their reviews.
Fatoumata Diawara had been a small paragraph within which intrigued me until the album came out and was reviewed and I bought it because I thought I might like it ?
It was now the most played cd in the house with both Haddy and I raving about it to anybody who would listen.
Our Program Director, Steve, at Rhythms of The World had been offered tickets to the magazine’s first awards ceremony and Fatoumata was playing and he knew how much we’d raved over her so he had asked us if we wanted in ?
Yes please and ta very much, so it was up to the Barbican we went to see Fatoumata crowned as best newcomer, Anoushka Shankar crowned as best artist and Tinariwen as best band.
Tinariwen were playing a more muted set than their usual heavy desert blues otherwise they’d have creamed the opposition, so whilst walking away we discussed the event.
Who was best on the night ?
Because all the acts are totally different it’s a bit mean to compare them, but Fatoumata ‘went for it’ and the other two not so much.
Both she and Tinariwen come from Mali which is going through the problems of occupation by Islamic militants at present who are inflicting their warped version of Sharia law upon the land and that is not helping anybody, with musicians being threatened with amputation of hands if they play music.
It brings it home to you what a sick world it is when there are people in it who would happily maim somebody else just for bringing a little light into the world.
Music being one of the few things in this life that actually brings people together.
Especially since Mali has always had such a strong musical base with some really talented artists who grace ANY stage they play on.

Anyway, if you click here you will see a bit of the acts and a bit of the presentations:-

And a good gig was had by all.

There would be no gigs at Christmas because we were having visitors…
Fatou, Vincent and Vincent Jnr would be arriving for the weekend and I’d promised Fatou, much to her disgust, that I was going to introduce Vincent Jnr to his first drum…
Providing I could get a word in that is ?

It was nice.

Haddy, Fatou & Vincent

Mother and child reunion and all that except that there’s no chicken and egg…
(If you know what the song’s about then you’ll get the inference ?)
Fatou, Vincent Jnr & Vincent
Vincent Jnr has grown somewhat and isn’t so ‘Shuggie’ looking any more.
He still can’t speak but he uses what he can of his voice to communicate.
As for the rest, he crawls around and tries to stand like all babies of that age and he screams loudly if he doesn’t get what he wants pretty instantly.
Ok, we 'posed' a bit, but a drummer has to start somewhere...
In other words he’s forming a personality.

We’re going to take them to visit my Mother as it’s quite likely that it might be the only chance she has to see her great step-grandchild.

Let’s see how she gets on with the little monster ?
No problem.
Vincent Jnr actually managed to behave himself pretty well.
Unfortunately all too soon it was time for them to go and Haddy’s going to be sad again.
And… I have to go to work.
Not THAT work, real work…
Rhythms of the World.

We have no site this year.
We lost The Priory because after the festival it had looked a bit like one of Flanders Fields circa 1916 after a bombardment.
The rain and twenty odd thousand pairs of feet over two days had turned it into a quagmire of mud and unfortunately we have to put it back into the condition it originally was.
Let’s face it, that isn’t going to happen overnight is it ?
And The Priory use it weekly-ish as a wedding venue…
Despite the problems we seemed to face we’d all grown accustomed to its contours.
Oh well, whatever ?
A phone call from Steve…
Do I want to check out a couple of other smaller venues in Hitchin ?
Yes, I’m up for that.
Unfortunately the cost was going to be a bit prohibitive, especially if we had anything like a ‘name’ artist.
Oh well, back to the drawing board.
And then, out of the blue…
Do I want to put on a fundraiser at Club 85 ?
Yeah… Why not ?
It’s not as if we’d ever been asked before but let’s give it a go…
Problem was, it was going to be on Haddy’s birthday.
‘Darling, would you mind awfully if you cooked some African food to give to the artists on your birthday ‘cause that’s the date I’ve been given for the ‘Rhythms’ fundraiser’ ?
Ouch !!!
She said yes, ok…
And we started making plans.
First, a headliner…
Edgar Broughton had wanted to play the festival again, so I wonder ?
Edgar’s in, now for the support…
Who deserves it ?
Ok, got them.
Hazel Turnock’s bunch of Finger Choppers, and POG are going to come up from Brighton.
All we have to do now is get bums on seats on the night…

Oh lookee, lookee, lookee, my wife has just been allowed to stay in the country providing she gets a ‘Biometric Passport…’
More bloody time off from work because you can’t just order one up.
You have to go to a specific post-office with a form that they have just supplied along with the letter they’ve just sent her.
Of course there is no guarantee that she’ll get seen, but that’s the luck of the draw.
We have to get to St Albans which is pretty easy if you have a car but Haddy doesn’t drive so here we go again…
But, we get up early and drive to St Albans where we find ourselves second in the queue for biometrics.
Forty five minutes later she’s being photographed and fingerprinted again and is then informed it will be sent to her after it’s been processed…

Well, we’d tried.
We flyer’d, we posted and we advertised the gig everywhere we possibly could, Haddy cooked the food which was all free to the artists and we sat through the soundchecks.
Then we started feeding the bands…
Bloody hell !  Did they go for it or what ?
You’d think they were starving the amount they ate ?
Second helpings for at least seven people.
And Deacon from POG managed to eat the chilli pepper.
He didn’t actually mean to, as Haddy had warned everybody that bitter tomatoes are green and chillis are red, but he forgot…
I've never seen a musician run that fast to the bar from the dressing room.


Apart from that, EVERYBODY seemed to enjoy it.

Edgar’s driver, an enthusiastic vegan, was most complimentary on the rice and pureed beans.
Edgar’s Missus was enthusiastic about everything she tasted.

Fed, watered and ready to go...

And the Finger Choppers and POG turned into gannets before our very eyes…
We might just do food again sometime ?
It definitely needs thinking about anyway.

And then there was the gig…

Joy T. did the compereing

Joy T. introducing the first act

Claire and Haddy, the birthday twins...

The Finger Choppers were first on and they seriously went for it.

Hazel decided to do the whole gig in a bondage mask (strange girl sometimes) but at least she could still sing through it.
Great set, and even Edgar came out and filmed a bit of it.
Then there was POG.

How many bands do you know that sing happy bouncy songs about being miserable ?
There can’t be that many but this lot manage to get away with it most entertainingly.
And finally, Mr Edgar Broughton…

Who did what Edgar Broughton does so well.
He sings in that marvellously deep growl that he has and in the next moment he’ll up an octave and demonstrate that banshees are not the only things that howl.
His acoustic playing is exemplary and anybody who only ever caught him years ago with The Edgar Broughton Band is thoroughly recommended to check out his solo acoustic shows.
He’s like me, he hates people talking through his set, especially if he’s in the middle of a quiet number, and is quite ready to tell them to shut up or fuck off.
And he got a cheer from the audience for doing so.
Good for him.
An absolutely wonderful set.
Did we make any money ?
We came in just under, but at least we tried.

Steve and Haddy
And we got some great feedback from some of the ‘Rhythms’ crew and committee who all thought that the gig had been an absolute cracker, and so it had.
Unfortunately there was another gig going on locally and we split the audience about equally.
Shame about that, but these things happen.
You book the gig in advance, you can’t publicise it until you have an idea of who’s playing it and if you do it the same time as another promoter then it’s just unfortunate, but no excuses needed because it was an excellent gig and I was told that the rival one was, also.
And I begrudge CC Smugglers nothing because they are also an excellent band…
Let’s see what happens…
We’ve only got three months until the ‘Rhythms’ dates.

Finally, the biometric passport turns up.
Too late for me to take any time off in that financial year so all the holidays that I’d been saving up are now useless but at least Haddy can now go in and out of the country without any problem.
Maybe one of her employers will now offer her a full time job instead of her having to work through an agency ?
Maybe she might feel included now instead of excluded but I doubt it ?
It’s a horrible thing to have to say, but this country, my country, really fuckin’ sucks sometimes.
It doesn’t give a shit for anybody who actually wants to be here and actually ‘works’ here, but is more interested in kissing the arse of those who don’t or won’t.
Cameron and Clegg now have as much to answer for as their predecessors.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


Things were now all coming to the boil… Literally.
The fun time was over apart from the following two Saturday nights when we’d been invited to friend’s parties, one a fortieth and one a fiftieth.
Plus we’d got Haddy’s visa to sort out and that was a serious pain in the arse and was going to cost a few quid and a few days off work which we were both going to have to take as holidays.
At least I’d get paid for mine but when she was off, being an agency worker, she wouldn’t.
Nobody wanted to take her on full time because her entry visa only lasted for three years and then had to be renewed.

Let’s talk about being an agency worker for a moment and clear up a few misconceptions.
One:  They were treated as the lowest of the low on a minimum wage of about six pounds an hour, no holiday pay and a maximum of about twenty days paid holiday a year but only if you’d worked constantly for them for a specific time.
This is absolutely true.
Ten years ago I’d done it and things hadn’t changed much in the meantime.
Two:  The government had brought in a law which stated that if an agency worker was seconded to a company for twelve weeks (or more) then they would have to be paid the same as the full time staff in that company and be subject to that company’s holiday rules, meaning that they would be treated in exactly the same way as the full time staff.
Now bearing in mind that the firms hiring these agency workers were paying the agencies about sixteen pounds an hour for their services, the agencies were paying out about six pound an hour and keeping ten, then the agencies were making some serious money if they had any good-ish workers on their books.
So nobody could have a problem with the new law, right ?
The agencies had a problem with it because they earned less money.
What they had done since the law came into place was make sure that all their workers only worked ten weeks at a maximum in the same place.
This enabled the greedy, grasping bastards to avoid paying out any extra money and also avoid giving the agency workers any extra holiday entitlements that they would otherwise have been entitled to by law.
So after working happily for ten weeks at one location, Haddy would be moved for a week into another workplace before going back to the original, despite the original employer threatening all manner of dire imprecations if they couldn’t keep her.
And what did our wonderful government say about this ?
They issued a statement saying that people preferred part-time work.
This HAD to be true because more people were doing it.
Not true.
More people were totally stuck in it.
It didn’t matter how good the agency staff were, no company would get them for more than ten weeks which makes an absolute mockery of firms wanting to keep anybody who was any good.
They couldn’t.
If any firm wanted to keep one of their agency workers then they would have to pay the agency a 'transfer fee'.
It's just like football except that the agency worker is being kicked around and not the ball.
The agencies were going to make money whether the government liked it or not and that system is still in place as I write and nobody gives a flying fuck about it.
It’s wrong and that’s that.
Unless of course you work for an agency in which case it’s a way around the law.
This of course makes you wonder why the government brought the law into being in the first place unless it was to make themselves look good ?
On paper of course, it does…
The reality is somewhat different.

Anyway, that’s the position that she was in.
Not perfect but then what is ?

Where were we?  Oh yeah, I know…
Marcus’s fortieth.
Sarah’s other half Marcus is a film maker and an all-round nice bloke.
For those who read this thing, he'd filmed the gig, half of which was posted in the previous post.
I’d known Sarah since she was a schoolgirl hanging about in the shop to cut lessons.
She was the same age as my eldest daughter and in the same form as my ex-guitarist Emma.
Now she was a co-member of Parnassus Performance and a writer, mother, housewife, supply teacher and God knows what else ?
After her marriage ended, she and the two kids, Charlotte and Jonathan, had moved back to Stevenage, hooked up with Marcus and they’d been together ever since.
Marcus does the filming for the Arcadeclectic Stage at Rhythms of the World and makes sod all money at it because he actually believes in helping out the bands.
Of course once he has them, then he has them hooked.
But then he’s pretty good at getting what they want from a live-action video, so after the event if they want him again, then the fee is negotiable.
Now he’s hitting the big four-O the week after he's given us a freebie down the museum.
Haddy says she’ll help out with some  African food instead of the usual sausage rolls and we make plans.

He has hired the Lytton Players hall

which includes a stage and has got Silent Smiles (a band we both quite liked to reform as they’d split) and Marching Donald
as cabaret, sent out the invitations and off we both went.

Both acts were well received and everybody there had a good time.

Nobody got completely wrecked, which tends to detract from some people’s general enjoyment of the event and so it must be counted a success.

Haddy’s African nosh was well received and although some food was left over because I think they’d catered for two hundred people eating double portions, Sarah and Marcus went home with enough food to stock the freezer for a couple of months.

For some reason we didn’t take that many photo’s of the event.
Dunno why ?
It just happens that way sometimes.

The following week we were at Rockin’ Jonny T’s fiftieth which was altogether a different kettle of fish because it was going to be fancy dress.
Ok dear, what are you going to dress up as ?
Now I’d known Jonny T since he’d just left his teens which means since the mid nineteen seventies at least.
On and off.
He had his thing and I had mine, so when the Sex-Pistols shook up the music industry he’d formed a band with a few like-minded souls and they’d only had a hit single.
They were called Chron Gen and anybody with a vague interest in the punk scene will have heard of them.
It didn’t last that long for Jon however, as the term ‘musical differences’ intervened and he was out.

He’d messed around throughout the early eighties and then he’d found another bunch of like-minded souls and they’d formed a ska-punk band named Scum of Toytown, released a few singles and cassettes, recorded an album ‘Strike’  for Words of Warning records and split up in the late nineties
In that time he seemed to have played with almost everybody of any note, including me, Emz and Andy when we recorded our album (cassette actually) as Kocaine and Jon asked if he could supply the sandwiches when we recorded it ?
It was either Emz or me who said ‘Fuck that.  If you’re coming then bring your guitar and you’ll be on it…’
Needless to say he did, and stuck a great guitar line on our cover of Bruce Cockburn’s ‘And They Call It Democracy’.
At one point he was going to sell all his musical stuff and quit but I collared him at a gig in Hitchin and implored him not to.
There may have been others who did also, but I definitely did and thankfully so because he didn’t, he met Jo and formed Ike who mutated into Lika Sharps when they met G-Man.
Then of course Scum reformed and he was in both bands…
A stint with Eastside Jimmy made it three and that is where it stands today.
So yeah we were definitely going, the question was, as what ?

We made it easy on ourselves by going in African dress.

Jo had asked me and Grant

to provide a poem for the occasion which sort of summed up Jon.
I thought about it for a bit then decided it was going to be one that was already written.
It was definitely ‘Jon’ and would probably apply to more than a few of the other guests also.
Ran a copy off, signed it with love and bought a frame.
Present sorted.

Jon and Jo
I’m not sure Stevenage’s Cricket and Hockey club had seen anything like what turned up ? 

Four old queens...
It was a classic.

Druid and Grim Reaper
Everybody had made an effort and dressed up.

Mickey... Nice blouse mate.
Jon’s Mum had even ‘punked up’ for the occasion.

Ok, it had been done for a photo' session for the cake, but what a trouper...

Shakey was doing the disco.

It certainly wasn’t like playing a four stringed guitar for the Drug Prowling Wolves that’s for sure…
Thing is, if he wasn’t such a nice bloke and held in such high esteem by everyone then it couldn’t have occurred.
But he is, we love him because he’s Jon and he’s a special sort of guy.

Anyway, enjoy the photo’s and see if you can recognise anybody else ?

Little & Large or the original Bass Relief. Mark and me

Cap'n Hook

Jill and Ian are in there somewhere

Here’s the poem.
Please don’t think of stealing it and passing it off as your own ‘cause I’ve been doing it for years on and off, and have the recordings to prove it.
Plus, it still gets in the set as you will have noted if you’d watched the video from Stevenage Museum in the last post.

Typically in the first draft I spelt Jon's name wrong... Doh !

And a good and drunken time was had by all.
Reality was about to hit home the following week...

Let’s talk about visas.
I realise it’s an emotive subject and some of my views are going to get right up the noses of the trendy left wing Guardian and Independent reading muesli knitters, but quite honestly I really don’t give a fuck.
If they and/or some of our new European economic migrants feel offended by anything written here then I have to say I really don’t give a flying fuck what they think, either.
The reason is because none of them are in the position I am, where my wife and inclusively me because I’m married to her, are deliberately being treated as second-class citizens in the country I was born in and lived in all my life just because she happens to be African and/or Black.
Got that ?

When we got married my wife was given (Joke:  it cost six hundred and eighty quid) a visa to come here and live with me just as she should have been.
Ok, it took six months and there was absolutely no reason for the delay except for the reason that she was Black and/or African and we’d got a new Conservative political regime in place to replace the corrupt shenanigans of B’liar and Brown’s hard labour party who had opened the floodgates in the U.K. to any and all including all the jihadists who flocked here from…  Let’s see... Pakistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia etc,  all of whom claimed their inalienable right to ponce off the state and stir up trouble outside any mosque or on any streetcorner.
If you criticised them then you were immediately called a racist or worse.
We couldn’t get rid of them because he’d also signed up to the European Human Rights Act and it would breach the Act and their human rights if we did.
Of course it doesn’t take into consideration that the murderous bombing bastards had breached everybody’s human rights in the past by killing and maiming innocent people somewhere else, but what the fuck ?
But even worse than that, B’liar had sold out everybody in the country by signing a European Union document giving the right of abode and benefits to any freeloading ponce (economic migrant) from Europe who wanted to cross the water.
Of course they had to cross France first where they SHOULD have been stopped, but the cheese eating surrender monkeys were actually helping them onto the boats at Calais !!!

Then the European Union made the Eastern European countries members and we were inundated…
First it was the Czech’s, then it was the Poles and in the near future we’ll have the Romanians and the Bulgarians.
Not only are they allowed to come here and claim housing if they say they are homeless but they can claim all the benefits from the DHS also.
Unlike my wife who isn’t allowed to claim for anything.
She’s entitled to use the NHS but then so is everybody else in the country so big fucking deal.
Unfortunately the visa only lasts for three years and then has to be renewed at nearly double the price of the first one and now her time was up.
Right, first things first, look up the procedure for renewal on the internet on the government’s website.
First we have to apply.
We also have to supply thirty odd pages of information about ourselves, most of which has previously been submitted on her original application.
Then there are the ‘Original’ copies that we have to supply of information that they have already been given.
Things like marriage certificates, house deeds, consecutive bank statements, utility bills with her name on…
So we get it together and now we have a choice.
Do we pay to get the documentation checked over by yet another government department before we send it off ?
My view is yes we do.
It means that we both have to take more days off, and spending a day in Hatfield is never my idea of a fun time but if it helps then let’s do it.
In the meantime Haddy has to take an ‘Englishness’ test.
This is to prove that
(A)   She can speak it and read it, and
(B)   She knows a little bit about the history of the country that we call home.
This is done at the local college and she is one of five in her group (about 20) who pass the test.
Now I don’t have a problem with that.
What I do have a problem with is the fact that if you receive benefits then you don’t have to pay for it. It’s free.
If you can’t speak or read English then please tell me why the fuck you are here ?
My wife isn’t allowed to claim benefits so she has to pay.
There is something intrinsically wrong with the way that system works.
It doesn’t make any kind of sense.
One of the questions she was asked was ‘What year was the Magna Carta signed ?’
She knew the answer which is more than can be said for that thick cunt we have as Prime Minister who didn’t have a fucking clue when he was asked the same question on a radio show.
Maybe my wife should be running the country instead ?
As a previous headmistress of an infants school she couldn’t do a worse job, I know that.
Still, now the ‘Englishness’ test is done she can answer yes to another question on the form.

Hatfield in the morning…
It’s a bit like waiting at a border crossing in a colour film and crossing the border into a black and white one.
Nothing to do with the colours of fleshtone, but everything to do with the fact that Hatfield is a dilapidated grey dump which really ought to be bulldozed flat and rebuilt, or better still, left off the map altogether.
Anyway, we’re here, that’s the main thing.
An hour’s wait in the lobby before we are called through and she has already had to warn me twice about my attitude which can legitimately be described as ‘cynical as shit’.
It won’t do me any good but this whole affair is so fucking distasteful that I can’t pull myself out of it.
We’re paying another seventy six pound for this service and when we send off the form we have to send another nine hundred and ninety one with it.
Another thousand quid less nine, but what’s nine quid when you haven’t had a raise in salary for three years because the government have pegged your pay ?
According to the form it’s going to take a government department another three months to process it, but according to the lady who saw us it’s more likely to take four…  (at least)
And in the meantime my wife can’t leave the country as she’ll have to pay it all over again if she does.
What happens if one of the kids gets sick ?
What happens if there’s a death in the family ?
Cross that bridge when and if we have to.
To be fair to the lady who went through the form, she did help us by pointing out the badly written bits where we’d answered wrongly.
I swear the bit about dependents and children is worded so badly that more people are going to get it wrong (as we did) just so that the government can call you liars, but she pointed out the anomaly and we re-answered it correctly.
That bit alone was probably worth the seventy six quid.
The biggest laugh came when she got to the question about ‘Have you ever made threats about anybody in the government ?’
No more than ninety nine per cent of the other residents of this country.
I’d like to finish the job that Guy Fawkes started, preferably with all the venal, self-serving cunts within it when it goes up…
Obviously I’d written NO, but the thought was there.
Apparently all the extra stuff I’d brought along was quite helpful.
My wife doesn’t pay any utility bills.
I do.
I see no reason to screw up my accounts with the gas, electric and TV people just to put her name on them.
If you’ve ever tried to alter anything previously and it’s all gone tits up for you then you will certainly understand my reticence, so they got a letter explaining why I refuse to change them.
None of their staff seem to speak English and when they’ve taken YOUR money and stuck it in the wrong account and won’t sort out the problem until you have paid AGAIN, then why would anybody want to go through that ?
Dealing with people in their Indian sub-continent call centres who can’t speak English can be exasperating in the extreme…
So I don’t.
Anyway, we finally got it finished, paid nearly a grand and left it there to be put into the diplomatic bag or whatever it is they do ?
All the children are listed which is good, but now we also know how much it’s going to cost to get them in if she gets her visa…
THOUSANDS of pounds.
And that's just for a six month holiday visa...
I don't care to know right now how much it'll cost to reunite them with their mother.
Maybe we should get them to become Polish ponces- sorry, citizens so they can come in for nothing ?
Not that it matters right now because we don’t have any money left.
All we can do right now is wait.
I swear if David Cameron comes out with that expression ‘family values’ ever again, then he’d better have eyes in the back of his fuckin’ head !!!