Thursday, 23 December 2010


Thanks for all competition entries. I was pleasantly surprised by how many people sent me suggested set lists. My favourite was sent in by Mags. I especially liked Mags list because she didn't expect me to play some of the heavier songs on an acoustic classical guitar lol. 

1. Speak down the wires
2. Poppy
3. Green Lights
4. Six white horses
5. Evening over rooftops
6. All I wanna be
7. Hotel Room
8. For Dr Spock 2
9. House of Turnabout
10.Red Star

So Mags, if you email me your postal details I will send you the signed ONE cd and a little extra something.

                                   A Winters Tale                                    

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Thanks to all who turned up in the CHAT BOX on Saturday 9th December.It was a lively chat and fun. I think we might give it another blast some time next month. Watch out for details. Would you like to suggest a topic in advance or shall we just leave it open?
The comments of THE FIRST SUPPER were a bit lively also. It seems the current unrest in the UK has focused some very strong views among First Supperists related to the looming cuts and the inevitable political unrest. Remember - United we stand divided ... well you know the rest.

I would like to draw your attention to the following message sent by John Pilger, political journalist, to the students. I don’t suppose he is a stranger to most of you. Did you see his film - The war you don’t see on ITV the other night? I met the great man many years ago on Clapham common and we had a short chat. This was a huge “fan moment” for me as John is one of my all time heroes. Any way this is what he had to say. 
“Your action, and the action of your fellow students all over Britain, in standing up to a mendacious, undemocratic government is one of the most important and exciting developments in my recent lifetime. People often look back to the 1960s with nostalgia – but the point about the Sixties is that it took the establishment by surprise. And that's what you have done. Your admirable, clever, courageous actions have shocked and frightened a corrupt political class – coalition and Labour – because they know you have the support of the majority of the British people. It is you, the students on the streets – not the Camerons, Cleggs and Milibands – who are the authentic representatives of the people. Keep going. We need you. All power to you”.
John Pilger 02 December 2010

On this note I am going to leave the student fees issue for a while, until the next demo, with a quote from Mahatma Ghandi.
"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." - Gandhi.

Competition time.
I need a little bit of help with a task that always does my brain in and this it.
I would like people to email me with a suggested set list for my Fair days pay for a fair days work tour.
Please send a list of ten songs that you think will be suitable for my acoustic set to  or - as comments on this post. I will publish the list I like best on here on the blog. The sender will receive a signed copy of the ONE cd plus a little surprise gift.
A single called Feel me by your side from Luke and myself will be released before Christmas on the EB website and, if we finish the video in time, also on Youtube. Well that is about it for now. Gotta keep digging my anti Christmas bunker against the commercial torrent. I know “ bah humbug etc, etc”.


Friday, 10 December 2010

On Sunday the 12th of December I will be around in the CHAT BOX from 7pm until 8pm. All welcome for questions / discussion or a nice cosy chat. Your agenda.
This will be a first so, I don't know how it will work out but I hope to see you there.

Kettled in Westminster

Yesterday I set out at 12.15pm to go to the Student demo in Parliament Square. The bus went as far as Lambeth Bridge where I got off and walked to Westminster Square.
I’d arrived at 1pm, as planned, just as the main body of the demo arrived. The assembled people in the square were well behaved and the so were the marchers as they arrived. I noticed that now the entrance at the junction of Whitehall to Westminster Bridge was blocked to pedestrians. At this time the access to Whitehall itself was open.

The police were very calm and had discussions with the protesters. The atmosphere was quite friendly. Word soon spread that now access out of the square into Great George St and Victoria St was closed. The atmosphere slowly changed as people began to realise they were kettled in Parliament Square. Now I was to learn first hand what this was all about. I couldn’t help think that there was something ironic about the venue for my first experience of the practice. At the Victoria end of the square protesters had pushed the police line, who were kettling, abaout 60 yards. Soon horse mounted police arrived and began to advance pushing back the protestors. Fireworks were employed by the protesters at this point and a police rider fell off his horse which then kicked him in the chest. The mounted police simply couldn’t cope and were forced to with draw. Eventually the riot cops held the line after some very heavy handed baton swinging. I remember wondering how the mounted police would feel after being so easily dismissed by a few hundred kids.
After an hour or so of wandering around chatting with folk from all over the UK and overseas students I decide to walk out of the square towards Whitehall and Trafalgar Square. The way was blocked so now we all knew the square was sealed off. We asked why? The answer was that other people were still trying to join the demo and that there were incidents happening nearby and our safety was important. When we further questioned this we were told they had their orders and even if they didn’t understand them they would obey. So they were asking thousands of intelligent young protesters to stay contained on the basis that it was all for their own benefit. We later found out that they didn’t want people to join with protesters in Trafalgar Square. It was not for our benefit but actually a tactical exercise.

Eventually we were allowed to proceed up Whitehall and then a line of police with full riot gear appeared barring our way and telling us we had to go back in the square where by now the police were under attack on all sides when ever they pushed people further into the square. The police in White hall were struggling to push us back because we did resist. All of my feelings about being subject to another’s will and being a prisoner in the streets of my hometown were coming to the surface. It was uncomfortable and new.

I thought the horse mounted police had come to get revenge for being driven back in Victoria St. I had wondered if they might. They pushed us back against the line of police vans blocking off the square. People were being crushed and one young lass next to me was hysterical. She was behaving perfectly lawfully. She was terrified. I admit I was very uneasy and I shouted at a police officer to slow down their advance. I told him there was nowhere to go and people were being crushed against the vans. He ignored all appeals for reason. The young women disappeared and I hoped she was not under the retreating protesters feet. By chance I saw her later and we had a chat. She told me she never would have believed the police would ever be so cold and indifferent.
Soon after a police officer began to push me directly, eyeball to eyeball. It was not pleasant. Like looking into the eyes of a low level robot. I only just managed to keep my footing at times. My personal rugby forward copper gave me a huge push and I still don’t why I did it but I turned round and round on the spot and he and the other officers kind of rolled by me leaving me safe and in space. Just after this it became clear to all that we were totally contained and all hell broke loose in my area. One officer leaned forward as a young guy passed and slashed him on the neck with his baton. Immediately the young guy karate kicked the officer under his visor and chin and he fell to the ground. His fellow officers tried to drag him back but the crowd held them off easily while the young man punched him a couple of times then disappeared. I saw a gap on the nearby low wall that ran to our right and I climbed up on it pulling up a couple of young guys who were as shaken as me by the whole affair. I have never seen young men so utterly unafraid to wade into the police lines when attacked but I never saw an unprovoked attack by a protester.

I have to say that most of the officers present behaved extremely well but I also saw how much damage can be done by the “bad apples”.I made my way back into the square and people were breaking into the Treasury Building while under the full glare of the police helicopter searchlight and police photographers who were with officers diverted to prevent occupation of
the building.

The kettling was a real mood changer and more and more of us began to sympathise with the more extreme protest tactics that followed it. I was angry. I remember one young woman weakly shouting "Whose streets"? I took over in full voice and was immediately gratified by the huge response of "Our streets". I suspect that for a while people were quite happy about the old guy with the big gob as they rested their tired voices.Later a little group of young women asked me if I was o.k. Bless them. Who knows what I looked like in that moment or what my face was saying. I asked them if they were ok and lovely beaming faces told me they were ok but they said that they were cold. I felt warmed by them and then a young guy asked me if I was cool. I was in that moment. We then chatted for some time and he introduced me to his friends who were very nice, ernest young students from Leeds.By now many people had wanted to leave the area for a long time. Many were not dressed for the cold evening or provisioned. We shared what we had. It was dark now and the kettling would last until around 7.45pm. Eventually some of us were allowed to leave our pen via Westminster Bridge where were told we would be decanted. Others were leaving via different routes. This was a lie and we were all held on the bridge for two hours in a biting easterly wind. Eventually we were let go into Waterloo in small groups. We were all captured on video close ups as we walked through a gauntlet of two lines of police from Westminster bridge exit to waterloo station. One officer said sarcastically “ Thanks for coming”. I looked him in the eye and told him - I will be here again but cuts are coming and you might not be. I’d had some ding dong arguments and banter with coppers before we were kettled and it was all taken in a good humoured way on both sides. In the face of chants- "We'll be back" a copper shouted - "Good I earned £400.00 today".
I was feeling very cold and I could hardly put one foot in front of the other after being made to stand for so long in a crowd. Some of us had asked the police guarding our rear to fall back a bit in order to leave a space for people to move around in and they did so but only after the decanting began. We had been held against our will for more than 7 hours. It was 11.15pm when I arrived at Waterloo Station.
I believe that almost all of the violence and damage caused by protesters yesterday was a measured response to police action. Cameron’s statement that “ The protestors were clearly there wanting to pursue violence and damage to property” is not true.In my opinion kettling caused most of the problems yesterday. It is counterproductive to peaceful protest and is probably illegal. No one I met seemed demoralised by the kettleing. Many discussed tactics for the next time. Most of them are really looking forward to Summer and better weather. I think it is evident that we are entering a period of civil unrest if the current underlying causes as well as the effects of cuts to come cannot be addressed. What ever you think about events yesterday ask yourself what great causes of real value to the people in our great democracy were ever achieved with out a fight? Standing in our pen with our jailors, the men and women in blue, I found myself pushing away images that were assembling in my head of the lines of faces peering out from behind the fencing of the nazi camps. It was an awful thing to be penned in only yards away from one of the so called great bastions of democracy and freedom. The times they are a changin’ but… you know what? THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT!

the atmosphere in parliament sq at 1.30 pm

On Sunday the 12th of December I will be around in the CHAT BOX from 7pm until 8pm. All welcome for questions / discussion or a nice cosy chat. Your agenda.

This will be a first so, I don't know how it will work out but I hope to see you there.


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

 hero or villian?

PAYPAL recently withdrew services which allowed Wikileaks org to raise funding by donation. If you have a paypal account , as I do, or even if you don't email them to protest. went down but soon enough a new one with a new name ( emerged. So have hundreds of mirror sites with different domain names.

It seems the provision of water by the Met to kettled protesters in Whitehall recently was not matched by the provision of toilets, as promised. To provide water and no toilet is a low level tool of the white noise brigade and the exponents of water boarding.
Thankfully I am no expert in these practices but I do know one thing for sure. This practice of giving something with one hand and taking more at the same time is neat, cheap and is an effective way of undermining the peaceful protester exercising her democratic rights.
Solution - Take the drink and make sure your comrades can be discreetly hidden when they need to relieve themselves in order to avoid being charged with at least some public order offences. 

map of Whitehall kettling

Article 5 of the Human Rights Act sets out the right not to be deprived of liberty except in five well-defined exceptions and is an absolute right. The exceptions concern detention to effect a lawful arrest or compliance with a court order, detention of a child who is unsupervised or of a person in breach of immigration rules, or "the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts or vagrants".

THE NEW REALITY suggests we must find new ways to reach out to each other so that we might be inspired , encouraged and supported in positive, effective,  direct action.
Interested ? On Sunday the 12th of December I will be around in the CHAT BOX  from 7pm until 8pm. All welcome for questions / discussion or a nice cosy chat. Your agenda.  
This will be a first so, I don't know how it will work out but I hope to see you there.


Sunday, 28 November 2010

Recent Tory comments re the fiscal disincentives for the middle classes to breed and the incentives to breed for the working classes says it all regarding the contempt for us held by some of the current ruling political class. They should not be playing any significant part in the decision making that will soon affect us all. Regarding the recent comment that some people have never had it so good? Yes and they are still expecting a fat bonus for Christmas. None of them are facing redundancy and none of them face losing as much as twenty percent of their income as is potentially the case for many people legitimately receiving some form of disability benefit.
As the farce continues perhaps we can at least take some comfort from the likelihood there is no great conspiratorial, Illuminati styled group whose hand is on the tiller, steering this government to some Orwellian future. This lot are so clueless they are fortunately, more of a danger to themselves than they are to us and most of them will not be in post after the next election. We should let them know this at the earliest opportunity. Give them time to adjust to the new reality that they will have brought on themselves. As for the center ground we see it collapse a little more every day as the Lib Dems begin to reap the harvest of blatant betrayal. I for one will be interested to see how the Milliband brotherhood fares in view of new revelations pertaining to New Labour’s undoubted collusion with the rendering and torture of Coalition detainees. It was brother David who forcefully denied any involvement when questioned by journalists after the first signs of something rotten at the highest level.
The new Police policy to provide water and toilets for KETTLED demonstrators as was the case in Whitehall, London last week is very interesting. It is quite a good move to offer sustenance and comfort to those you have jailed, albeit temporarily. Is it a variation on the good cop bad cop theme? The message is – if you demonstrate in a way that causes little or no inconvenience and can be ignored by government we’ll look after you. If you don’t abide by this we will contain you and show you who is boss. Over time we will condition you into acceptance that our way is best.
I say take the street. Take water and high protein food, cereal bars etc. Take a sleeping bag in a small bag, a torch and something to read and make sure your mobile phone is charged so you can call people to let them know what is happening. Make it clear to the police that you don’t care for their idea that you are contained when in fact you are now occupying this section of the street and will stay there until you want to leave. Be polite but firm. The problem for KETTLED demonstrators is that they don’t expect to be detained. Go prepared and take up their time not the other way around. Take the streets. Turn the tables. A few pop up Gelert tents hidden inside placards would add to the fun as the KETTLED mass settled in for a twenty four hour sit in. I expect I might see you at one or two demos in the future so you bring the soup and I’ll bring the sandwiches. Cut back – fight back – cut back - fight back – cut back – cut back – fight back – fight back.

Sign up here to support Student campaign for a fairer funding system


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

militants at millbank

Earlier today students marched against the new proposed student fees and a relatively small group hi-jacked the march at Millbank, not far from where I live, in London.  Surely the police could have forseen the possibility but they appeared to be completely taken by surprise for some time. Many of the police offers on duty today were not up to the new improved standard we have been promised and could be seen beating and kicking protesters who were not attacking the police.
I am sure we will see more protest as time goes by though many people I speak with have the expectation that “the community” will not respond no matter what happens and that people will accept THE NEW REALITY with out a whimper. It is still early days and I hope they are wrong.
I wonder if you will march against the cuts or the other excesses of this CONDEM alliance yet to come. Has the current economic crisis already affected your life detrimentally? Do you believe in direct action?  Some years ago Lambeth residents had been complaining about rats on their estate for months. With the support of community workers they  filled sacks of dead rats and mice from their homes and marched into a council meeting at the Town hall. They threw the contents of the sacks on the tables and on the floor saying to the assembled meeting - "You live with it". Next day a team of exterminators showed up on the estate and within days the problem was solved.
Taking to the streets today is a risky business. Successive governments have dismantled many civil liberties. Blair’s lot were among the worst vandals. They did nothing to overturn Thatcher’s anti union law though they promised they would. I feel sure the u turns of the Lib Dems will prove costly to them in the long run.  If they continue to renege on their election promises it could rule them out of the political equation for years to come . Clegg and other Lib Dem MP s were allowed to abstain from the student fees vote at Westminster as part of the coalition agreement.
It is clear that the most vulnerable and those at the bottom of the economic pile will suffer most if planned cuts go ahead. As well as raising student fees this government plans a 40% reduction in funding for higher education across the board.
A recent report that described standards of care at a UK hospital as appalling, has cited the obsession with meeting unrealistic government targets as a major contributor to the problems. The resulting target driven paper work from the demo today will keep police officers busy for days and will take them away from real and meaningful policing.
If I met you and we began to chat I suppose what I want to know most about you is - What do you believe in? Today I would also want to ask – What are you willing to do about it?
Three options come to mind.




Have some of you gone a bit quiet or … have I forgotten to take my headphones off again?


PS Hi folks. I have been getting reports that some of you have had problems leaving comments on THE FIRST SUPPER, my weblog. BLOGGER have changed the way their pages operate inside another web site so it is no longer possible to post comments from inside The Edgar Broughton Band site or from within any other site. I just tried it and nothing is moved from the comments writing window to the blog. So, if you experience this problem try leaving comments by going to BLOGGER via or paste the URL of THE FIRST SUPPER into the address window of your browser and go into my blog directly. Please email me if you continue to have problems with this.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Leamington College for Boys

This post came about after I was looking on the net to see what had happened to my old school. It’s been re-developed into private retirement apartments. Can’t see me ever wanting to go back to Royal Leamington Spa to spend my last days in a part of my old school. Now that is a very scary idea.

“No one is more truly helpless, more completely a victim, than he who can neither choose nor change nor escape his protectors.”
"Since we cannot know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned."  - John Caldwell Holt

The first quote above, more or less, sums up how I felt about my secondary education. The second seems completely reasonable to me. How ever, what ever my criticisms of life at Leamington College For Boys back in the 60’s they taught me how to learn.   
At school and at home language was important and powerful. Speaking "properly" was  mandatory. At home I was encouraged to communicate even when people very definitely didn’t want to hear what I had to say. At school I just carried on as usual which didn’t always win me friends but did gain some respect. In spite of my typically working class background some people think I am posh and when I ask why they say it is because of the way I speak and the words I use. I enjoy language and it all started long ago when I was very young.

"The destruction of words is a beautiful thing"
"It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought ... should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words." - George Orwell, 1984.

During my time as a youth and community worker I often wondered why so many young people I knew had such poor spoken and written English. This was often and unsurprisingly accompanied by a lack of comprehension regarding some of the most basic areas of general knowledge. I remember a conversation where several young men, aged between 11 – 16, were discussing the causes of war. They confused the Japanese and the Pearl harbour episode with The Vietnam war. They didn’t seem to know anything at all about the Falklands War.
One evening a quiz game developed but no one could answer any of the questions. They insisted I be the question master and after some time elapsed, during which no one answered any thing correctly, I quickly lowered the stakes asking questions I felt sure some one would answer correctly. I rather foolishly offered a pound coin for the first correct answer not realising how long it would take. They all wanted to win and I feel sure no one needed the pound. The youth club should have closed for the evening an hour earlier.
After another half hour, which they seemed to thoroughly enjoy, I asked what was the flag of St. George? Immediately a lad answered – the football flag. He described the red cross on the white background. I gladly gave him his pound and we all went home. The thing that concerned me most was that these young people had such a weak grasp of verbal and written communication in their own language. Although it took time it was quite easy to engage with them in ways which added to their vocabulary and general knowledge. I wondered why was this not done in schools to a level that would sufficiently equip them with the basic equipment for self learning that would be neccessary post school. After all they all have to attend school by law.
Recently the head of an online graduate recruitment agency wrote that they reject one third of all job applications from graduates with good degrees from good universities, because errors in English in their CVs and covering letters show ignorance, carelessness and a bad attitude. This being the case what obstacles lie in the path of the young who are basically illiterate in the formal language necessary to progress through life? They communicate with each other but struggle to do so outside of their grouping.
Can it be that texting is adding to the problem? While it's clear that economics plays a part in the form of texting it is usually inappropriate to transpose the technique to a letter ,c.v. , 
exam paper or job application etc.
Exam markers have increasingly expressed concerns over the use of text messaging language in exam answers. The proof of its increased usage came when a 13-year-old Scottish schoolgirl handed in an essay written completely in text message shorthand, much to the bemusement of her teacher.

One extract said: "My smmr hols wr CWOT. B4, we used 2go2 NY 2C my bro, his GF & thr 3 :- kids FTF. ILNY, it's a gr8 plc."
Can you translate the above passage? R U a txt addict? Do you think txting is killing off the English language? R is it jst gr8 4 tkn 2 m8s?

I am well aware that language is a living thing, that it is constantly changing and that the English language is probably more alive than most but I fear this is not the experience of many of our young people, where basic formal language skills are not learned in the first place. I cannot imagine conducting my own life with out these skills but is that just because I am of my time or are there real grounds for concern?
I text, I use a computer, I use a spell checker and a calculator. I don’t want to do irritating (to me) arithmetic in my head when a machine can take the strain. I am not a follower of Ned Ludd but I don’t want to see the English language reduced to a point where we are significantly poorer for it.
Am I becoming a language conservative? Is this another step towards getting old and grumpy? Am I being snobbish about the whole thing?

I end this post with a poem written by a 15 year old schoolboy in 1962.
A fellow old boy scanned it from my old school magazine. I found it on his flickr page.
By the way I didn’t get expelled from school and never hit a teacher as mentioned on the flickr web page.
It seems the legends, both true and false, began before I left school.

Poem by R.E. Broughton IIIN The Leamingtonian Vol.26, no.2 1962


Tuesday, 19 October 2010

 See ya there ?

"Kafkaesque" is an eponym used to describe concepts, situations, and ideas which are reminiscent of the literary work of the Austro-Hungarian writer Franz Kafka, particularly his novels The Trial and The Castle, and the novella The Metamorphosis.The term, which is quite fluid in definition, has also been described as "marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity: Kafkaesque bureaucracies"and "marked by surreal distortion and often a sense of impending danger.  Wikipedia

I first found myself using the above term to describe the bizarre conditions and circumstances of my employment as a youth and community worker as the mountain of paper work gradually began to overwhelm and undermine the real work with people. Where, in the past, workers combined to facilitate the participation of fifty plus young people, in weekend residential work shops, to explore issues such as "Power and how it operates in your life" now typically, a senior youth worker sits tapping big brother style data into a computer with the aim of tracking the young “victim” through out their daily life. Oh sure they can justify it to themselves and even some of us but I tell you there is no heart nor love in it. For the "victim" the only option is compliance or be moved down the ladder of entitlement. I understand the professional term is "exited". I also know that there is still good work going being carried out but for how long?
Surely Kafkaesque can also be justifably applied to many of the machinations of the Condem coalition. Example – A result of defense cuts announced today, brand new Aircraft carriers that have to be built because it would cost as much to not build them and …they won’t have aircraft for 12 years.
I am beginning to think that with expert support, a caucus of young sixth formers untainted by the Westminster virus that seems to obliterate common sense, would make better and fairer choices. No wonder that the term referendum terrifies most of those who purport to represent us at Westminster.

I could go on and on about how only a few years ago Social Services offered several layers of service attempting to cater to several layers of need and now there is only one. Critical need.  They are rolling out a new system now.  So if in need call the call centre and eventually some one will assess your needs, presumably after they have dealt with the critical needs of more urgent cases. Some one will visit you and by using a points system they will put a price on your needs, give you the cash and advise that you might engage a neighbour or relative to assist you to buy the services you need. The level of qualification, expertise and experience of the new social worker will of course be governed only by cost and the work will likely be put out to tender to the lowest price. If you think Social Services is a mess now, and it is, it can only get worse under The New Reality. Oh dear! I am going on and on about it.
There will be a myriad of opportunities to participate in the struggle to try to overturn the more damaging plans of the Condem coalition to cut the national debt. This might be the last chance saloon for the people to speak and be heard, for a long time to come.
While it seems the bankers are still virtually immune from the back lash created by their greed and ineptitude and there is no sign that they will be made to make amends, some of their closest compatriots are losing their jobs. Locally this is evidenced by the scant few manning the phones at the Nearby Foxtons Estate Agency. A year ago their large office was filled to capacity with young eager beavers trying to sell local property at Kafkaesaque prices for all they were worth. Meanwhile the effect of government cuts on social housing programmes will be disastrous if recently announced plans are to be carried forward.
Ofcourse we are in debt. Ofcourse some thing must be done to address it and there will be a cost to all of us but, if the quality of life for those folk living at the lowest economic levels, the vulnerable and the dispossessed is to be further reduced I suggest it is incumbent on all of us resist this by what ever means necessary. Put another way the time has come when WE have to help those who represent us decide what should and must be done.

You may remember a post I wrote some time ago about Nurse Margaret Haywood who was found guilty of misconduct at a hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). It decided to remove her from the nursing register. Margaret became a “whistleblower” by secretly filming the neglect of elderly patients at Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton for a television documentary. There was a massive nation wide response from supporters and it was widely reported that Margaret was re-instated. How ever I understand that this was not a full re-instatement. I recently heard on the 1st supper grape vine that Margaret has suffered with her health since the episode and is unable to work. I understand that she does not regret her actions so bless her and all who stand up for what is true.

The New Reality


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Nylon strung? Not highly strung .. almost perfectly pitched.... travelling, south and west, across the Severn wide and low at neap tide all bathed in golden sunshine…. then rain and hopes of summer Indian are seemingly dashed along with hope of clean redemption from the mess that is the Port of Talbot. Steely sprawl across the coast edge, a scar on any landscape but still, many toil there. Anonymous hotel, as per usual, all the same and…. there is some comfort in that. Then down to Arts centre villaged in the valleys, quaint and picturesque…real and lively with the lovely sound of welsh folk speaking like singing. Sound check for five minutes. All is well. The half hour up there in the lights goes by in a flash. Me clutching onto my electric,  classical axe…jamming with my happy voice. The crowd is warm and funny. I don’t say a word. Let the music speak. Hear the music ….Message Clear. Then up with George Jones and co. One of his dad’s songs. Emotional …powerful. What a great night and it went on and on. Every one pulling together to remember Micky Jones the man from MAN. Blasted with pumped up juices flowing all through. Job done. Said goodbyes. Curry in Swansea at the K2. No half and half for me though. Then boats and packing, sea and sand and ports of call and all. Playing guitar when ever, how ever I want. My arrangements changing and forming new bridges, whole songs strung together in a kind of out pouring then strangled, chopped up bit’s, songs half written…. all coming to life. I can pick up the nylon axe and free my head…run with it. I think some of it is completely new to me. Plugged in, classical fuzz, sounds great to me.

A big tide pushing along the northern coast of Cornwall, fishing in the thick of it. Almost caught a seal… I mean surfer. The seas are dying. If we continue to empty it at this rate there will not be enough sustainable stocks of fish by the year 2050.  I take a fish or two a year on hook and line. Japanese eat lot’s of fish and make beautiful gardens, fabulous electronics which I can’t afford right now and there isn’t enough mackerel for sashimi so it’s off to a zen garden to chill and chant. Do what I truly like with out let or hindrance
how I love those words!

Cooking later as per usual in my galley, my domain and in my element. Making food for people is surely one of life’s greatest pleasures….feeding the folk. Looking at an ebb tide …wondering if ‘tis time to go a wading in the evening surf for a bass or pluck some more…stringing strange chords together to see what happens. Later I re-invent For Dr Spock and marry it to Red Star. Gin and tonic …that’s the spirit. No pool to sit by just the rocking motion of the endless sea and right now, I’m not even on a boat. I write some book. I have to. It has been too long in the writing and any way I just found out what happens at the beginning….and at the end so it should be easy now. If it isn’t I shall blame you for distracting me for the last few years, you coming to gigs and then, I had to show up but ..I am glad I did.

Gazing at the Atlantic rolling in ten waves in a row. The weather has been lovely for days. Watching the surf rolling across the wide bay. Six white horses running in with the evening sun flashing through their opalascent tops. Beautiful! Let me tell you how I am feeling ...can't believe this is real.
Shopping for some thing unusual to eat at The Co-op. Cool shop compared to almost any other. Cool people run it or Tony Benn ain’t my hero. Cornwall is a strange land re-peopled by the new merchants….greedy with an unrealistic sense of entitlement. St Ives typifies the exploitative seam that runs through the place. Wake up! The artists of real merit upped sticks years ago. Half of them couldn’t have afforded a pastie in St Ives were they still around. Grumble and bloody moan. The pastie was shite. The dawn crept away like the uninvited non Cornish person who sold it to me should have .
Much later ....up a fresh water stream from estuary …pike is mine but only for a little while then back he goes to grow to be a bigger one or be eaten by his mother. Some more meditation….cogitation and a long digestion of recent events then….peace. Where is that guitar? Of course I nearly always know where but, then again, there are two now…sisters…electric sisters, with a classical mein, who wait to be caressed by these aching fingers. It will be a while. I think I am overdoing it.

Yoik on a beach. Chant in a zen garden. Gotta cut it all up and fix it together. Just found notes for a new song Can you feel me by your side – wrap your fingers around mine – I will stand between you and the darkest night.

at the Micky Jones memorial gig
with George and Son of Man
koi in pagoda pool

you don't yoik about some thing.
you yoik something ....

in the rock garden there is
the sound of falling water in a pool
the green home to koi
wind chimes sing in the gentle breeze
joy and sadness are together here
as the air is joined with sunlight
as I am joined with you

Monday, 23 August 2010

Hi folks my new website is live.

If you have come to this blog through the EBB site and you click on the above URL then my site will open in the EBB web site window. If you write the above URL in your browser, and save it to your favourites, not only will I get a warm glow lol, but also my web site will open independently in it's own window. You probably knew that already. I was a little bit apprehensive about the last stage involving uploading to the net. It's a bit like that first plunge in a cold fiord lol. Scary but really nice afterwards. 
I'll be away for the whole of September so things might be a little static on line until I can add new things in October. I will write posts on this blog when I can. All web site feedback and suggestions would be very welcome.

Update on fair days pay for a fair days work gigs is that there is now only ONE of TEN left so if you want it email me asap. See details below or go to the special offer page on my new site.

Book me for your birthday party, anniversary, barbecue, garden party or any other private event, any where in the world and any time between May 1st 2011 and December 31st 2011.
You’ll get me and my acoustic guitar and a solo performance of my songs just for you.This will be your private performance and only the people you want to know about it will be there.

What will it cost? One day of your wages what ever that might be plus travel fares, accomodation and my supper.
If you are interested email for more details


Friday, 13 August 2010

vulcan nuclear strike bomber circa 1962

Born in 1947 by the time I was 11 years old, along with my younger brother and our peers, I had been exposed to the cultural fall out of World War Two through out my formative years. It is not surprising then, that much of a boys pocket money was spent on the miniature toys of war back then. Model Soldiers, military vehicles and the iconic Airfix model aircraft construction kit. My army took turns to defeat my brother's army or be defeated on home soil which was our large back garden, on The Forbes council estate, at 38 Kipling Avenue in Warwick. My brother successfully destroyed many of my Airfix fighter planes as reprisals for undercover ops.
Meanwhile it was business as usual, the business of the Cold War, at RAF Gaydon 9 miles from Warwick.
On 1 January 1955 the first, 138 Squadron operating Vickers Valiants reformed at Gaydon as the first V-bomber squadron and the airfield then settled down as the operational training unit for Valiant and later Victor squadrons.
It was  a Bomber Command 3 Group squadron in its previous role, flying Lincolns until 1950. However, its’ main claim to fame, is as a wartime Special Duties Squadron. Flying Lysanders and Stirlings into occupied Europe and dropping off and picking up agents.
Although the station was used as a training establishment, recently de-classified information reveals that Gaydon was part of the strategic plan and in the event of war it was one of airfields to which Victor bombers would have dispersed ready to carry out nuclear strikes against the Russians.

This eleven year old wrote to the Station commander at RAF Gaydon, telling him that he wanted to be a bomber or fighter pilot though my real intention was to get him to send me photos of the new V Bombers , the older Valiant and newer Victor and Vulcan. A box of glossy pics came by return post with a letter informing me that the RAF would be happy to take me on when I was old enough. I remember the family went to an open day at the Gaydon base so I could gawp at all that lethal hardware.
The idea of me wearing the uniform of the RAF, or indeed any uniform at all, was anathema to my mum. The war had left her with a distaste for chrysantheums( the Japanese national flower) and clear political ideas about how her sons should be raised and the military was not on the plan.

On October 14, 1962, a United States U-2 photoreconnaissance plane captured photographic proof of Soviet missile bases under construction in Cuba. In 13 days time I would be 15 years old.

The U.S.  demanded that the Soviets dismantle the missile bases already under construction or completed in Cuba and remove all offensive weapons.
The entire western alliance was at alert level 2, the highest ever during the entire Cold War. The Americans had a naval blockade ringing Cuba. Nikita Kruschev wrote in a letter to J.F.Kennedy that US quarantine of navigation in international waters and air space constituted an act of aggression and would propell humankind into the abyss of a world nuclear-missile war.

A few miles away in the heart of leafy Warwickshire, Gaydon air base was now a Russian target. In the event of a nuclear strike by the Soviets every one I knew, everything I could see and touch would have been vapourised.

Had the Russians attacked the V bombers would have set out with their Hydrogen bombs in retaliation. Three H bombs were designated for Moscow alone. None of the crews setting out would have expected to find an England if they made it back though incredibly, their orders were clear. Get back in case another strike is necessary.

My birthday on the 27th October came and went and the world didn’t end. The most dangerous moment in the history of the world had passed us by.

The confrontation ended on the 28th October, 1962 when President John F. Kennedy and United Nations Secretary-General U Thant reached an agreement with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to dismantle the offensive weapons and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for an agreement by the United States to never invade Cuba. The Soviets removed the missile systems and their support equipment. The so called quarantine was formally ended at 6:45 p.m. EDT on November 20, 1962. As a secret part of the agreement, all US-built Thor and Jupiter IRBMs deployed in Europe were deactivated by September 1963.The first telephone hot-line was set up between Washington and Moscow so the leaders could talk directly to each other. The Soviet missiles were taken out of Cuba and shortly afterwards American missiles already based in Turkey were quietly removed.

In 1964, along with a bunch of like minded friends, (all “Young Socialists”), I took part in a CND march. This was the first time I had participated in a political demonstration. It was what first lead me to look at direct action. I met so many good people then. We were all enthused by the idea that there is always some thing that can be done, that we have a voice and should use it. Among others it was the steadfast support of my parents, the words of Bertrand Russel, others like him and the comradeship of like minded, fellow travellers that accelerated my politicisation. During the march I remember we stayed over night with The Society of Friends (Quakers) who were very supportive and kind. They found a battered old radio so we could listen to some music, fed us and gave us shelter.

Come in you’re quite welcome
There’s room at the shelter
Take food and warm clothing for yesterday’s men.

So, most of my old comrades from back then are still around though we are scattered to the four winds. A few have passed inevitably. Life goes on inspite of the near misses. The V bombers have been replaced by nuclear submarines and the demo’s still take place albeit on a smaller scale. We have to keep their fingers off the trigger. Let them know we haven’t gone away. Most of us will be reeling from Government cuts in a years time and some of us will have to warm up our protest voice and sharpen our tactical tools. It’s been a while for some of us and we might be a little rusty. For most of us the nuclear threat is probably on the back burner of our current fears and it seems likely that domestic fiscal  issues and the War in Afghanistan will continue to be the main preoccupations for some time. On a difficult day I will think back to October 1962 and be thankful that sanity prevailed. Breathe and be glad………

Update : There are now only 2 of 10 Fair days pay for a fair days work shows still available to be booked for 2011.
Book me for your birthday party, anniversary, barbecue, garden party or any other private event any where in the world.You’ll get me and my acoustic guitar and a solo performance of my songs just for you.This will be your private performance and only the people you want to know about it will be there.
What will it cost? One day of your wages what ever that might be plus travel fares, accomodation and my supper.
If you are interested email for more details


Wednesday, 4 August 2010

a statue in broad st oxford

I have been very pleasantly surprised by the response to the fair days pay for a fair days work idea. It has really caught on. Thanks to all those who have booked the shows so far. Contracts are on their way to you.
Update : There are now only 2 of 10 Fair days pay for a fair days work shows still available to be booked for 2011.

Book me for your birthday party, anniversary, barbecue, garden party or any other private event any where in the world.You’ll get me and my acoustic guitar and a solo performance of my songs just for you.This will be your private performance and only the people you want to know about it will be there.
What will it cost? One day of your wages what ever that might be plus travel fares, accomodation and my supper.

If you are interested email for more details
I have been working on the YOIK vocalisations project components. Trying to sort the wheat from the chaff while trying convert new ideas, as I get them, into recorded musical, performances. It's a new way of working for me. I'm also writing some more conventional material if that term can ever truly be applied to my stuff.

The new web site is finished though I keep tweaking it. Gotta get up the courage to go live with it. It's all work, work! It's a hard life lol!

I bought a little nylon strung electro classical guitar for the
Micky Jones Memorial Gig at Pontardawe Arts Centre, Swansea on the 3rd of September 2010.
I thought I'd do some thing a bit different but I might chicken out and strum the old steel strings. We'll see. Any way check out this link for more details.

I've been working hard putting it all together but in September, right after George and Micky's gig in Swansea I'm off to the cornish coasts for the whole month. Gonna plot and plan and write and

Speaking of Swansea, Ramblin' and I met a couple of guys and the wife of one of them, on our recent trip. The guys were doing a sponsored walk from Swansea to the top of Snowdon in aid of the Welsh Air Ambulance Service.  We shared a few goodies and had a very nice evening before their last hike to the summit. They had set out on the Sunday and had arrived a day before the last yomp on the Friday. They'd had a few set backs and one of the guys had really had enough but as the rain poured down they de camped and set out to finish what they had begun. Quality stuff I say.

Any one want to organise a Christmas time benefit for a good cause? This wandering minstrel is ready and willing. Perhaps there is a needy organisation local to you.

I am compiling a directory of first point of call services for the new web site so I'm also looking for web addresses / URL s of people or community oriented support agencies/services that are local to you and who you know, provide a good service. Please send them to me for inclusion.

That's all for now. Be safe , be happy.


Monday, 2 August 2010

When Ramblin' first suggested a trip to Wales to shoot some video I was a tiny bit  concerned knowing his taste for "summiting" any thing that tips up into the clouds. I had visions of dragging behind him up into the sky. He did actually get me some way up a very steep ( for me ) walk called Watkin's path which gave me a taste of why people do that mad stuff. It's not at all mad. In fact it is a clear indication of sanity in my opinion. I shall try it again and try to go further. We shot some yoiking at the edge of a beautiful lake by a tree that had bent in the wind and looked like a large bonsai. We shot some more on our walk. Some of the bits and pieces look quite good. I haven't seen what is on the other camera that Ramblin' used yet. Wind was a problem but I know how to fix that. main thing was we had fun. In the end it will be about ideas, atmosphere and spontaniety in an evocative setting. 
On the day before we left I could see Ramblin' needed to do his walking up mountains thing. 
We had been looking at some caves made by copper miners many years ago. These poor guys used to live in small stone huts in the mountains working all hours. The missus could visit once a week to bring them neccessary provisions. They could only buy the candles they needed for their work from the boss so he always took a percentage of their earnings back. It is difficult to imagine how these people survived on the slopes of Snowdon in winter. Their lives must have been sheer drudgery. I wonder what they enjoyed and how they relaxed if and when they could afford to. Fair days pay for a fair days work? Not for them.
We both sat looking at the mountain and Ramblin' decided he would try to reach the lower cave. I said I would stay in our camp while he walked up the mountain.
He is pictured below just before disappearing into the tree line at the base of the mountain.
I watched him through binoculars later on the top of the climb striding along with his hill walking sticks and then shooting some footage at the top. He waved and signalled he was coming down. In what seemed like a short time he re-appeared by our tents exhausted but happy. He'd failed to reach the cave so decided he would go to the top instead. 

Camping with Ramblin' is like having an eccentric Sherpa who speaks your kind of language and knows you very well. He has all he needs with him and also all you need ( Apart from best Welsh bacon which I had to provide for myself. Fair enough he is a vegetarian after all lol!).
Ramblin'just called as I was writing this. I told him what I was doing and he said " How embarrassing". It's not though is it? I've bigged him up 'aint it tho?
Thanks mate it was fun, educating and, as always,  a bit special.

Update : There are now 7 available Fair days pay for a fair days work  shows for 2011.