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.