Saturday, 21 December 2013

see you in 2014

Latest feel good news > Helene Donnelly (L) and Julie Bailey NHS whistle blowers are acknowledged in new years honours.

Another year draws to a close and it has been a satisfying and interesting year for me. It has been a great pleasure to have met so many of you and some of you on several occasions. I feel I have got to know many you via the fair days pay gigs. I have become so used to playing these shows for you I really don't know why I didn't do some thing about it earlier. I first had the idea years ago but there it is. Better late than never and so the fair days pay gigs will continue next year. Looks like there is one or two  in the pipe line already.
The gig high light of 2013 for me has to be The Drug Store shows in Athens and I am looking forward to a return trip.  

The electric band stuff has been held up by illness and the vagaries of life but next month is crunch time. Time to stand and deliver. I do enjoy my trips back to Warwick as long as I don't have to visit Warwick town for a bit of shopping. It is the most disappointing place if you discount the historical interest.

Some how I seem to have been less active on the fishing front this year. Other interests take over slightly and I seem to have been busy or the weather has been against it. I do seem to be gently sliding into the mould of fair weather fisherman these days. I didn't get a bass this year though Wales always throws up a fish or two from the sea and I had a few perch and pike here and there and some fun with tiny ultralight gear in Weymouth in the summer.

I am writing a lot these days and endlessly sifting through ideas for the ones that might fly. So much to do. I spend an increasing amount of time in front of my  Mac book's screen developing the songs for the 2014 shows and album. 

The Condems continue to assert they are saving the world but it is unlikely that new planned cuts to services and resulting unemployment will assist in maintaining the upturn they are crowing about and unfortunately it is the poorest who are paying the price. I believe the recovery lauded by the Condems is built on sand. There is always a way to make the figures/data they have fit the avowed, political intent. No one was more adept at that than Blair. He still lurks on the world stage, in the background, like some gaunt and grim spectre waiting for apocalypse.

In 2013 we have discovered, it is official, to become a whistle blower is not a good life style choice.  Lots of sympathy but no legal protection and in some cases, no future in your line of work. Whistle blower Chelsea Manning was treated like a terrorist insurgent then jailed for years because she told the world about a US helicopter gun crew shooting civilians for fun. She also released documents, such as the manual of heavy handed protocols for dealing with the induction of alleged insurgents into residence at Guantanamo Bay, all of which the US government would like to have kept secret. They know decent Americans and Brits would be appalled at the low level ethos employed in so called anti terrorist practice.  After Edward Snowden's revelations Obama is desperately trying to placate US criticism of UK/US spying on "ordinary citizens". According to commentators, there is a growing awareness in the US that Obama only applies the laws he likes. Obama spouts about Mandela's achievements as though he could almost take credit for some of them yet Guantanamo Bay operates on a business as usual basis.

Among the large and growing world community of dispossessed, the refugees of Syria are hanging on in barely tolerable conditions on minimum rations in camps with out sanitation.  It is obvious their salvation is not part of the US foreign policy lead grand plan, what ever that is. It doesn't seem to be working any where in the world. It seems the big players only manage to make things worse. Start with ten radicalised insurgents. Kill half of them and some of their their civilian brothers and sisters in Pakistan with a wayward drone strike , now there are twenty new ones and an English Boy Soldier dies in Woolwich. It was shocking but was it so surprising? US lead foreign policy is out of control and with plans for imminent military pull out of Afghanistan, the so called War on Terror is failing.

Such is life in the modern world that some times the world can seem to be a dark and very depressing place where the obstacles to being happy seem insurmountable but it is also a very beautiful place to be and there are good people every where. I meet people all the time who do amazing selfless stuff. They are the ones who keep the standards high, save us from ourselves and yet it never seems to be enough. It's easy to see why some people give up and why others will not. Those who will not give up in the struggle to make a positive difference are the best of us but they are embattled and under pressure in the front lines.  In 2014 let's hope for more unity in the land from the grass roots and more participation from some of my generation who only watch.  

Mean while, is any one else sick of Supermarket and other's seasonal ads vying for your custom? Beautifully photographed images of tables heaving with every kind of food imaginable and then, the ads such as those from the perfume industry that just don't know what to do or say because their product is expensively  superficial and superfluous. Still they hope another bloated Christmas is on the cards.
This winter charities such as The Salvation Army are stretched to the limit and say demand has never been higher for years. Our prosperity in the UK cannot continue be measured, in part, by the Christmas take in the High Streets while 80,000 homeless children will be dependent on charity for any Christmas cheer they get this year. 

So I am not doing old school Christmas. I don't need or want presents. I am going to give to people who need it this year and I am not the only one. I know a good few people who will be doing some thing similar. Having said all of that, of course I get why people still do Christmas and for little kids its so special and cool. So, if you are having what I call an old school Christmas, have a good one and I hope 2014 is a great year for you and yours.


p.s. from jan 21st 2014 check your mail box to see if you will be receiving a free MP3 single titled the noise. watch this space and your email inbox.

Friday, 29 November 2013

post cards to a prime minister and other things

The above post card sent to Harold Wilson, UK Prime Minister from some where in Germany a long time ago.

'Dearest Harold, Here we are in Germany again. Hope you received our last card. Hope you can put a block on Enoch [Powell]. We don't dig your politics, any ones, but power to the people of all colours. Best wishes Edgar Broughton Band' 

The above photo was sent to me by Brian Sexton. Don't ask me where he found it though I shall ask him. It is always strange when I am reminded of the things we did back then that I have no recollection of until i see the evidence ha ha! It occurs to me that it was possibly a very stoned idea to send a post card to Harold Wilson especially as Brian says the other side of the post card had a 3D picture of a topless woman. Not very politically correct today but it might have appealed to the beer and sandwiches P.M.

Back then we were rampaging polit rockers as described by German media branding and young Mick Farren was a UK Panther who wrote prolifically and also had a band.
I set out on Friday last for the Borderline club in the heart of The West end. Last time there was sad and bleak after Mick collapsed during his performance. We few who remained were mostly quiet or made hopeful, positive noises but it was all in vain. I stayed until there was nothing else to be said and no one I wanted to say any thing to. Out side, in the world, it was humid and the sky was full of warm rain. The air crackled.
I feel sure we all went home slightly stunned and feeling blue that humid night back in July. I remember how good that dank, Blade runner, dirty city air felt when I eventually took the stairs, up and out of the club. The audience had long gone and I stood in Charing Cross Road just breathing and feeling how good it is to be in this world, for all it's grimness and dark iniquities. The rain poured down and I stood watching the folks rushing by. Just to be there and to witness it all felt wonderful. It is amazing how some things that might have seemed mundane and routine only an hour before, can seem to have become wonderfully fresh.

So back in the room. A quick and easy sound check and then off to the dressing room with no coat hooks to hook up with Here And Now for the second time. They are a very nice crew who play some pretty out there toons that really deserve closer inspection.A really banging outfit with passion and imagination. All sorts going on here with weaving analog synthy stuff that reminds me of the days of the incredible EMS VC3 modular synthesiser and other psychedelic wonders.

Time to roll. The sound guy got me off to a good start with a lovely onstage sound and I enjoyed every minute of it. The audience was attentive and mostly seemed to get me so I guess the out front sound was cool too. I poured it all out and got lost in the noise for a while. It was kind of cathartic. I wanted to out some of my own demons this night along with those of the gig that never happened. It was fun and the audience were very nice to me. I elected to play some very new songs including my song for Mick [The Sound Don't Come] and a couple of old ones. The time passed and I was done and it was time for Here And Now. I watched the band for a while. I loved the physical experience of the Here And Now's bass player knocking some very tight, chunky bass lines out of the sub woofer of the p.a. system, a few feet from where I stood. Lovely!

Time to go. I started up the stairs once more into the West End night. Outside it felt good in the crisp November air and I was buzzing from the gig. 
Thanks to promoter Jim Driver for keeping the faith and battling against the odds. I think Mick would have dug it.


Last night I played Billy Blake's birthday bash at the Ivy House in Nunhead. It is a great idea to celebrate the great man of the people on his birthday. It was the usual off the wall happening with some quite extraordinary musical and poetic offerings of hugely varying types. Some of it was quite riveting. Absolutely Mad! 

I had another lovely time on stage with another warm and very appreciative Mad Pride audience.  Some people here have interesting and deeply moving things to say. Some struggle but they don't given up the fight easily. 
I headed off into the night and on to the night buses.  I love that part. Off the stage and into the world where I am immersed in the intrigue of the night people, the lights, the all night eateries, exotic 24/7 shops and the constant flow of people from all corners of the world. I was buzzing on a bus as we watched the world go by, as we passengers passed through the world. Brixton was still bubbling with thronging peoples and would be for some hours to come. This is a great city.

So I have played my last gig for this year. Now I am going to take some time to advance one or two top of my list projects for the next few months and get some work done on the electric project in Warwick. 

Some of my own personal high lights from 2013 happened at FDPFAFDW gigs as they have since I began playing them. One of my better ideas, I think. So Fair days pay for a fair days work gigs can be booked for 2014 from the 1st of January 2014.


p.s. hi sue in brum. sorry you missed the borderline gig. hope you are recovering well from your recent op. x

Monday, 18 November 2013

mad with Billy

So it's nearly time for Billy's birthday and another cracking night out with the Mad pride squad. I always look forward to Mad pride gigs. Always interesting and entertaining. This one is free so be there and give your head a proper treat.
I'm playing the The Borderline on Friday so if you were at the last postponed gig or if you were not but you plan to make it on Friday then, I shall look forward to seeing you and hopefully we can out the demons from last time when poor old Mick Farren passed on.

I had a delightful time a week or so ago with a Fair Days Pay gig in Walsall and a private party in Lincoln. They were both birthday parties. The Walsall gig was at the very wonderfully appointed Black Country Arms which is a lovely old pub with real beer and a lovely atmosphere. Big ups to Chloe Anderton and family for putting it all together for dad John. Also a big up to The 58's Blues band who were ace. The second gig was in Lincoln for Kaz who was completely unaware of the plan to get her to a little church hall on a cold November night to meet and listen to me. It was the same in Walsall where John Anderton was also completely in the dark about arrangements for his 60th party. I love to see the surprise on folks faces when they realise I have come to play the minstrel for them.
I so enjoyed the Lincoln gig. The wooden floor and stone walls of the little church hall provided perfect acoustics for a completely unplugged gig. I was relaxed enough to run a few new ideas out and I was very satisfied with the results. I was fortunate to get the chance to chat with Terry Wellbourne, T.C. Lethbridge biographer and musician. Terry arranged the gig for his partners mum Kaz. Terry and I have said we would make some sounds together for a long time now and I hope it happens.

I am currently playing around with various pedals and gadgets to enhance the 2014 electric/acoustic show I am developing. I feel a little bit more of an electric vibe is imminent.

in the vibey Travel Lodge underground car park at 
Fort Dunlop in Birmingham

I had a very interesting evening on Friday past when I went to Rick Mantovani's studio to drop some pretty strange electric guitar utterances over some of his mega drone material. I had a great time but I suspect poor Rick will be ages sifting through and editing to pick out the parts that worked.

With out boring you with the wrinkly detail, I have been experiencing some of the not unexpected out comes of growing older. My ethos around growing old disgracefully has more than a little truth to it and probably more than you might expect. I am not sure this is of help. A sign of my times, and those of friends and colleagues, is that often when we meet we are almost biting our lips so that we shall not descend into a fully detailed litany of of our various ailments. I seem to have begun to visit hospital and my lovely doctor as often as I get into a fishing tackle or music shop these days. Still I fare quite well considering and so far, apart from a heart attack earlier this year, I am not doing so badly. Most recent episode and visit to A and E via 111, was a suspected detached retina in my left eye but it's not actually that. Oops! You see I am beginning to talk about the boring detail. Nothing too worrying though. 
The Internet plays a part in this. It is so easy to establish that ones inevitable demise is now imminent because digital doctor says so and that all the answers to desperate questions around my health always seem to point to the worst case scenario possible. I have scared myself stupid wading through reams of on line medical question and answer pages. Today I feel good and in good spirit. I am getting through a few important tasks which always makes me feel quite worthy. 
In London today the skies are grey. I fear it is about to get much colder out there so enjoy the relatively mild temperatures while you can. My bicycle leaning against the wall for days on end mocks me and my poverty stricken assertions that I will go for a ride soon.

That most despicable and plastic arcane ritual is about to descend on us all so I shall try to enjoy the days leading up to the woeful holiday of darkness and I shall ignore the ludicrous free market attempts to coerce me into joining in.


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

snake pass dreaming

I have been mostly travelling since the beginning of September with three weeks in Wales, a week in Weymouth, a week on the East Anglian wet wilderness and a week in Wigan staying with my good friends Val and John Bradshaw. John is my northern road manager and both John and Val have been and are hugely supportive of my new adventures and projects in music. Even in the middle of settling in their new house they went to great lengths to support and assist me. The plan was to play for Gary's dad in Sheffield, a fair days pay gig on the 4th October that I had been looking forward to for some time. I met Gary and co at Tony and Helen's Fair days do, also in Sheffield. Their's was the second FDPFAFDW gig after John and Val's. Sunday was designated a chill day and I managed to get on a canal down the road and caught a feisty little Jack pike. It was nice chucking lures with John and my mate Aztec, the German Shepard. Her twin Inca died recently so it was a bit sad. I missed him cos we were tight. Enough said.

Monday we were to host Walter Kohl a writer from Austria who came to discuss a collaboration on a Faction involving yours truly. As well as being a life long fan, Walter is a very well respected writer in Austria so I was looking forward to meeting him very much. Tuesday was reserved for a meet with a guy in Wigan who has some great ideas around an alternative style gig which resonates with me perfectly at this time. We are planning a charity benefit gig involving a couple of other musicians. Details to follow but it's all in the brainstorming stage right now.

Saturday soon arrived and John and I set out towards Sheffield in his trusty BMW Rover. I always feel a little like I used to in the old EBB Range Rover, safe and secure. John had an idea of the route he would usually take but his super robot Sat Nav had other ideas and I am so glad it did. We left the thronging traffic on a section of motorway and drove out on the back roads, through lovely villages headed for the hills. My heart leapt as we rounded a corner and there was the sign SNAKE PASS. I had never been there before or if I had I was almost certainly asleep in the back of the EBB car. It's not a route a band on tour would take if a motorway was handy. Joy of joys! As we climbed the mountain out of Glossop I began to study the road from a lapsed cyclist's perspective. It's quite a climb that I would prefer to descend than ride up and I wondered if the descent into Sheffield might be the easier side to climb. Currently I have the first item on my so called bucket list and I intend to realise this next spring in the Tour de France climbs of France. 

The plan is to have John drive Ramblin' and me up a few climbs such as The Tourmalet, Ventoux and other notable climbs so that Ramblin' and myself can descend. Down hill for miles, LOVELY! As John drove me up Snake Pass I thought this might be a good rehearsal zone and decided I will do it after the winter snows, that close the pass, have abated. John seems up for almost any thing and is very encouraging as my eyes scan the climb. At the top the views are spectacular. The descent is twisting and quite technical with false flats and a few twisting hairpins that come out of no where fast as you pass the river Ashop and huge Ladybower reservoir on your right and head past the Rivelin dams along the river Rivelin. To ride or fish that would be the question ha ha!
Any way I decided the climb from the Glossop side would be easiest, how ever slowly I might go if I was to ride it, and the descent into Sheffield would be very fast and demanding. I could always drop in for a cuppa with my Sheffield FDPFAFDW mates.
Soon we arrived at Gary and Sally's home where we were warmly greeted and made very welcome.

birthday boy

My performance took place in the kitchen. I had such a great time. drinks in the interval, another set of songs, some very new, and then supper fit for a King never mind a minstrel such as I. What lovely, lovely people! We chatted about the state of the nation and lots of other cool stuff and I met little Ronnie again. I met him at Tony and Helens bash when he was tiny. We had a lovely chat and he had a strum on my guitar. He is the brightest little chap and a fan too. How cool is that and he's not yet four years old.

After some photos together John and I headed back towards Wigan. 

the "family"

We left with warm hearts and sweet memories of another lovely evening out in the north. It was dark as we climbed back up the Snake pass and I had remembered the road well. I knew when the top was coming  and as we crested the summit the view out over the valley towards Manchester was truly spectacular. I am determined to try to ride that road next year as soon as the weather is good and the road dry.

I fished the next day  and met up with Walter Kohl on Monday. He interviewed me for most of the afternoon. We found we had lots in common and most importantly discovered we have similar aims as far as art is concerned and so we spent a long time talking about writing. It is true that I should write more than talk about writing but the meeting gave us both insight into how we might proceed on a couple of projects.
We all went out for dinner later in the evening and then spent another couple of hours chatting. Next day John and I took Walter to Manchester airport and we said farewells and vowed to meet again soon. We headed to Wigan to discuss plans for the benefit gig and left with a good feeling. Mission accomplished.

I am about to begin two weeks rehearsal with the guys in Warwick and then I am off to a FDPFAFDW gig and a private party gig in Lincoln. I am very busy and having a great time.
I am also getting a few ideas together for a collaboration with Rick Mantovani. Some of you might remember seeing him when he toured with the EBB as Steve's drum tech.
As well as being an accomplished drummer in his own right, he has developed a very interesting music form based on drones and time stretched sound elements. Just my kind of thing. I just have to play some wacky guitar and try a few "no language lyrics" out on some of his pieces.
I haven't had any success finding an electronica person for the new band so the thinking is to find another musician who can also take on that role. If you might be interested the gig could be yours.

I'm working on a new show which will be a FDPFAFDW part 2 for 2014. I'll keep you posted.
You can see some of my new stuff at THE BORDERLINE on the 22nd of November. I promise, after what happened last time, with poor Mick Farren, it will be special. 

All good stuff going on across the land. LET THE GAINS BEGIN!


Friday, 12 July 2013

imaginary electronica score for a mess of men 


Some one with an interest in electronica, sound sculpting etc. You should have some midi keyboard skills with PC and Mac based systems. Ideally you should have experience with Logic 9.

Age, gender, race immaterial. You should be committed to exploring musical ideas in an experimental way. You should also be a " team player" and a good time keeper. Ideally you would be living in Warwick or the Warwickshire area of the Midlands.

Job description.
We are looking for some one to help design sound scapes and sampled / synthesised elements to underpin and enhance a varied and dynamic range of guitar based songs from gentle and sweet to hard and bitter .
We are willing to offer some training to an enthusiastic applicant, with skills who displays an understanding of the basic concept at interview. Please note there will be no remuneration during a lengthy writing / rehearsal period.
If you are interested please email


Sunday, 23 June 2013

is any one there?

acknowledgements to the guardian newspaper

Like Mary and Bob, I was a bit surprised by the lack of comment re my last post on PRISM the UK/USA GOVERNMENT SNOOPING program. (Is any one there?) I have removed the recently added anti spam sign-in procedure in case it was too much trouble for any one thinking of leaving a comment.

Meanwhile....... perhaps it is really high time we all revised our thinking on spending priorities from the top down and took a long hard look at the real cost of austerity cuts. The national deficit remains exactly where it was at the start of the ConDem dynasty. This a truth they refute while the latest reports by independent experts maintain it is the case. It is increasingly clear that the most vulnerable people in these lands are the ones paying the highest price and suffering the most as public services crumble and morale among their workers goes through the floor.

A young school girl is suicidal. After assessment she is returned to school where her teacher identifies there is still a problem. She is held overnight in a police station where she says "police officers looked after me really well" for forty eight hours but "it was a frightening experience" and she says "I felt like a prisoner". There was no other accommodation available. Places of safety are disappearing along with Social Service staff and other relevant workers and agencies because of Government cuts. A Shelter worker told me their available drop-in time for homeless young people in London, has been halved......

A man on TV is thrashing a car around a race circuit. He is learning about drifting, a new style of motor racing. During the experts demo for the novice, a tyre was shredded by the constant skidding and drifting at every camera loving corner. The fifteen minute session cost three hundred and fifty quid in rubber. By the time the newbie had finished his training, then participated in a competitive race , the combined cost of every drivers burnt rubber must have been in the thousands...... 

It has been suggested that if the budget clothes retailers put an extra two pence on a T- shirt then the wages of the clothing workers in Bangledesh could be doubled.

I'm off to Lincolnshire for what promises to be a lovely little gig at THE FUNNY AS FOLK FESTIVAL in Cabourne next saturday. I hope the weather is fair. 

From time to time I might post a little piece on here about my summer travels and may be  a photo or two but, I won't be posting much for a while.

I'm a story teller from now and then
it's been a long hard winter driving down
its a cold rain beats on this train
while waiting to be warm

crow sits waiting in an oak tree
which gonna live longer than me?
who gonna say the winds blow
which way?

see my sen with a few good fren'
  brothers and sisters united come the day
and feel your love
from a way away

I know you know me
I shall fall through sparks
in a shower of stars
soon in your arms

          Laters ………. 


Monday, 10 June 2013

lies, damn lies and gchq statistics

GCHQ - heart of big brother?

In 1990 the Berlin Wall came down. One of the outcomes was the facilitation of citizens of the bankrupt GDR to have access to secret files kept on them by the hated Stasi, the Ministry for State Security. The Stasi has been described as one of the most effective and repressive secret intelligence services in the history of the world.
protesters against the Stasi in East Berlin

When people accessed files on themselves they discovered that even some family members had spied on them for rewards such as moving up the waiting list for housing or a new “cardboard car”, the Trabant. It might be said that the GDR government, with its KGB association and support, has done much to dirty the good name of socialism. The spying on “ordinary citizens” by their fellows extended to reporting them for illegal political meetings and action that could be described as political dissent of any kind.

The tendency of governments to lie about their worst excesses has never been more apparent. During New labour's term of office Jack Straw (Home Secretary) categorically denied UK involvement with rendering. This is the practise of kidnapping individuals and housing them in friendly countries such as Turkey with out recourse to legal representation. Straw vehemently denied accusations of UK involvement with the torture of these political prisoners in the name of anti terrorist security policy. Turkey has more imprisoned journalist than any government in the world. It has since become clear the UK involvement was rife with co-operation with the CIA who were the biggest player in the practise of rendering.

whistle blower 

Edward Snowdon the man responsible for leaking the latest revelations around American Prism spying on it's citizens is in hiding in Hong Kong. He used the name VERAX meaning truth-teller in Latin, in his communications with the Washington Post. He said he earned 200,000 dollars a year for his work as a CIA employee but leaked the Prism information "because there are more important things than money". This is another example of a whistle blower who will probably pay dearly for his revelations like Bradley Manning the American army intelligence officer.

When Obama spoke about the leaked information yesterday he stumbled and stammered uncomfortably like any common place liar. Another politician who puts political expediency before the truth. This is the man who vowed he would dismantle Guantanamo Bay prison, the practise of keeping alleged terrorists with out trial and water boarding the American's favourite form of torture. 

As I write this I am listening, on the radio, to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, making a statement in the House of Commons in Westminster. He denies all improper use of spy ware used to spy on “ordinary citizens” but, why should we believe him? I do not believe this governments assertions on much at all and the Prism scandal is no exception. This is the man who only a few days ago apologised for the torture and murder of suspected Mau Mau terrorists during Britain's rule in Kenya back in the bad old days of Empire. This was denied by successive UK governments for years. I repeat why should we believe him now or at any time?

When I was “kettled” during the Westminster square demo against student loans cuts the police took photographs of every one leaving after we had been held on Westminster bridge for two hours after five hours being "kettled" in Westminster Square. It is technically illegal to take photographs of a police officer. We were, for the most part, UK citizens demonstrating in a peaceful manner. What were they afraid of?

Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act, passed by New Labour in 2000, allows our own security agencies to gather information about people's phone calls and peruse our web-surfing histories. The RIP Act is an extraordinary piece of legislation. It restricts the right of private companies and individuals (including journalists) to hack into people's data and baldly decrees that only the state and its trusted offshoots shall have such powers of intimate hackery. It allows agencies(including Defence Intelligence Staff, MI6, MI5 and Her Majesty's Revenue and Custom) to intercept our communications, including tapping our telephones, getting access to our emails and checking our web-browsing antics. It also allows "lower level" forms of spying, or what it calls "directed surveillance", and this power can be invoked by all the security agencies as well as local councils, the Office of Fair Trading, the Serious Fraud Office and others. Local councils have used the RIP Act to spend loads of public money on buying zoom binoculars, night-vision goggles and GPS tracking devices, which they have used to snoop on our telephones and access our emails.The RIP Act gave Britain what were then unprecedented powers of internet spying. It gave rise to a new institution, called the Government Technical Assistance Centre, which can carry out surveillance of the email messages held by ISPs. The aim of the RIP Act is as simple as it is terrifying – to allow the authorities, in the words of a Home Office official, to “ obtain a picture of a persons life, activities and associates”.
The increased surveillance of our every move has reached almost total saturation. Cookies on web sites provide information on our purchasing habits and a lot more. It was recently discovered that when Sony BMG hid a “rootkit” on their CDs, they spied on you the music lover and let hackers into your computer. What were they thinking?

It is not possible to travel any where with out our every move being recorded on CTV cameras and through banking card transactions. We often hear the assertion that if we have nothing to hide then we have no reason to be concerned. This was an assertion often heard in the early days of The Third Reich which heralded the full blown horrors of the Nazi regime in Germany. The culture of a any government spying policy directed at what the government call “ordinary citizens” will lead to a decline in transparent political standards and values and a relaxing of political moral practise. It will be increasingly easier to by pass the usual protocols that are designed to protect us from state intrusions into our private lives and the price will be high.

Privacy as we knew it began to decline some time in the 20th Century and we see that the continued erosion is almost complete. For some time George Orwell's idea that one day the state would remove all personal privacy appeared to be mistaken. In fact it was more the case that we were watching Big Brother and it's propaganda on television. This is no longer the case. Big Brother is more than likely watching YOU in spite of protestations that this not the case.

So, is Edward Snowdon a traitor or a hero? Do you accept what William Hague has said about GCHQ and the Prism affair? Do you believe that this government will act responsibly over surveillance of suspected criminals or terrorists and not extend their surveillance  to ordinary citizens who democratically oppose their policies?


Thursday, 6 June 2013

at the monarch

camden lock

Just down the road from Camden lock is a great little pub venue called The Monarch. I played there last night and for me, it was a night out with the young 'uns. Wooden Maria, A Girl Called Ruth and Mia. It was so good to sit and watch these young performers before I took to the little stage by the window where, just outside people passed by in a never ending colourful stream. If you have never been to Camden or Chalk farm this has to be one of the must see destinations in London. Even on a Tuesday evening the place is filled with the young and beautiful and some of the more elderly and interesting. If you like people watching you need look no further, this is the place. People will tell you that Camden is not what it used to be but then no where is. Every thing must change. It is a vital and busy place and a great area for live music. 

The Monarch is a small well appointed venue that serves good food and hot tunes. Lewis Borthwick who runs The Davenport Collection promotes his gigs there once a month. He is a very energetic young guy who is a singer song writer and promoter of slightly off the wall performers. Young Mia is typical of the kind of acts you might see there. Playing a national steel style guitar she oozes the blues in her own style with just a touch of Billie Holiday. The supporting acts were all good and distinctive in their own way and so I only make special mention of Mia because a white, female blues singer of her kind is rare and special.

Brother Steve and his partner Moni came to see me which meant a lot to me. We have been through some thing of a separation since the end of the EBB and I was so very pleased to see them and that they both enjoyed the gig. Steve said they were coming so when he turned up it was very special for me and meant a great deal. That he liked the gig was also very cool and the high light of the evening for me.

I only managed to play about half of my usual set as time was tight but I loved playing there with one of the best onstage sounds for a long time. It makes every thing easy and I admit I took special care to be on my game because Steve was there. Most of you will know what I am up to by now so there is no need for me to run through the songs I played. Suffice to say the mostly young crowd enjoyed it so it was job done. It means a lot to me when the young 'uns get me.

After saying my farewells I walked outside where a bus stop stood and waited for the night bus to take me south via Trafalgar Square. I saw a guy closing up the cafe next door to The Monarch and noticed he had a bright yellow vintage bicycle with an Allin frame. Allin was a Chinese guy who worked for Stan Bates a bike frame builder in Croydon. When World War Two began Stan went off to fight leaving Mr Allin in charge. He obviously did well in Stan's absence and his frames are quite desirable items these days. I have an Allin racing frame that I had painted pink and equipped with modern Campagnolo parts back in the day when I used to ride the odd time trial. Ha ha! Odd was the operative word. There is nothing like the ride of a quality steel frame though now I ride an aluminium frame with carbon forks. Any way we had a good old chat and then my bus came, headed for Pimlico. I usually get a mini cab on my way to London gigs but love getting the night buses home. I am always fascinated by the coming and goings of the night people. I have met some amazing characters in the night, in London.

So another day another dollar and a very satisfying night out in Chalk farm. I will definitely be heading back there if Lewis is kind enough to invite me. He said he will so, here's to it and thanks Lewis.


Friday, 31 May 2013


dusk on water = pike

First I must thank every one who has sent kind messages after my last post.
I have been quite busy over the past weeks. Last saturday I played a FDPFAFDW gig in the home of Barry O' Connor and family. The gig was actually part of a birthday surprise for Paul, Barry's best mate. I was told that Paul doesn't like a fuss so the whole thing had to be a top secret so no mention of this was made on this blog prior to the event. Our small party arrived in Liverpool at twenty five past seven. We had been asked by Barry to arrive at seven thirty so that was a great start. We were welcomed warmly and ushered in to the house just as the assembled guests were singing happy birthday. A birthday cake was handed to me and I walked into the room. Paul, in his own words, was stunned.
I chatted with Paul for a while and sang a few songs. Both Paul and Barry had been to the gig at the Wirral in November of 2011. I took a break and we all ate and chatted some more. I sang more songs and  we all chatted some more. It was a very successful evening that according to Barry, had gone  exactly as intended. This is always extremely satisfying for me. Hospitality at the O'Connor house was superb and a good time was had by all so thanks folks. It was special.

Looks like I might be heading for South Africa for some gigs for another Barry, Barry Tocher, in August. That will be very special. I'm playing in Camden on Tuesday next so if you are in London I hope you might come along. See details on the gig page of my web site.

I will be playing some guitar on a track on the new Taurus Trakker album. I met the band at a Mad Pride gig. We jammed a version of Out Demons Out, something that won't happen again with out my own band but it was fun.

The film The Head Of John Hayes that I was involved with back in August last year will be premiered later this year. Some of you might remember the photo of me dressed as an executioner. I also sang a version of Speak Down Wires which is the only music in the film. Looking back over the past couple of years life has been varied and full of exciting adventures and it looks set to continue for some time.

I am feeling very well after my recent health issues and am taking part in a rehab programme at a sports centre in Victoria. My beloved Bianchi bicycle is no longer abandoned and will be playing a large part in my road back to fitness. I am enjoying life very much at this time and looking forward to a better summer than last year. It could hardly be worse.

I am working hard on new music with the aid of my lovely Macbook pro and Logic 9. What an amazing tool that is. Contained within the software is every studio tool I have ever seen and used down the years plus a range of software instruments that covers my every need. So no excuses then. I just have to get on with it all and the music will flow. By the way if any one with an Android or Apple based platform, computer or a tablet wants a very user friendly music toy, check out Node beat. This has a to be one of, if not the best intuitive music software application that anyone can use to make ambient music. It truly rocks and is an astounding, intuitive piece of kit.

Well the sun is shining and I am off to the river bank to chuck a few plastic fish at a hungry pike or two. I will report back about the Camden gig from the Davenport Collection at The Monarch pub on tuesday next.
There are still a few weekend dates  this summer for any one who wants to book a FDPFAFDW show so check out the special offer page at edgar

As you can see from my expression there were no pike for me or my friend today. How ever, it was great to be out in the fresh air though the first of June did not herald the warm weather we are waiting for. In fact as we packed up our gear it was getting very chilly.


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

hale and hearty

Some of you will know that I have been ill which is the reason I am citing for my lack of blog posting recently. A couple of weeks ago I had another small heart attack though the term small is academic. In fact each such episode     (sounds better) causes irreparable damage. My first episode was in Newquay, Cornwall many years ago. I shrugged it off and went surfing with my son Luke on the following day.

On November 14th In 1999 I had another episode. This was serious and I went to The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital where I was very well looked after. I left after five days and later I had a stent placed in an artery to increase blood flow. Now I have two of them. Almost the full set as there are three arteries. Please don’t take my tone to be flippant. I take this seriously and don’t want to repeat the experience ever again but I won’t be morbidly dour about it.

The reason I write this today is partly due to the ongoing debate around the efficacy and validity of The National Health Service that battles on against all odds and vehement criticism, some of which is obviously well founded.
The last time I was in The Chelsea and Westminster hospital I was there five days followed by a rehab course for one day a week for twelve weeks. This got me back in some sort of viable shape.
My stay at The C and W was sublime. I could easily have stayed there for longer. This time it was not the same. It was only when I asked the ambulance guys who came to take me from the C and W to the Royal Brompton for my stent procedure that I realised I was actually in the same ward as I was in 1999. The difference was, to say the least, extraordinary. The whole place was filled with noise day and night and staff worked round the clock as though it was day time. Last time I could rest and sleep more or less when I liked except for the early morning breakfast which is a completely foreign concept to me. I realise this is not so for the average patient who does not keep the rock n roll hours that I do.

Through the noisy chaos a team of seemingly very young nurses and doctors worked with all the dedication and expertise one would hope for. The nurses who looked after me very well seemed to be around fourteen. Some thing I get used to as I get older, as the young inherit the earth and all it’s problems, medical and otherwise. I cannot complain about the service and care I received. It was perfectly adequate and better than one often hears about these days. There were folk who were much worse off than me and I watched as they were dealt with on an individual basis affording dignity to their situations.

I am happy to tell you I am well if a little chastened by the experience. I no longer smoke tobacco and I am beginning to readjust my life style towards a healthier regime. I am grateful to all of the people who have cared for me and about me and I have made solemn promises not to let them down or to invalidate the sterling work carried out to keep me breathing. Like most of you I have heard about shocking negligence and mal practise in the NHS but I can only speak from personal experience when I tell you,  it is all working very well in some places. I am aware of what is called the post code lottery and all of the variables this seems to bring to an otherwise truly wonderful institution. A couple of days ago I was offered a sixteen week rehab course which I will attend. So top quality service for yours truly from the NHS.

I was supposed to fly to Norway for a Fair days Pay gig but the airlines stipulate a four week gap between surgery and flying. So I am sorry for Gry and all his people who had arranged the gig. I will go there when another date can be arranged. I did manage to play at a 60th birthday bash for Nigel Cross an old friend of the EBB. This took place on the Sunday after I left hospital on the Tuesday. It was held in an upstairs room of a lovely old pub in south London not far from Vauxhall which is also near where I live. The gig was just what I needed and it was lovely to meet up with Pete Frame old campaigner and founder of the magazine ZIG ZAG. John Hurford ( psychedelic artist) who I haven’t seen for many years was also there. He designed the poster for Nigel’ gig. I also met the grandson of the elderly couple on the EBB Inside Out sleeve. Now they are Mr and Mrs Bennett not some anonymous couple which is a nice thought.

Looks like summer is slowly shaping up so why not book me for your own Fair Days Pay For A Fair days Work gig. There are some dates left so now is the time to book one of the summer weekend dates.


Friday, 19 April 2013

RIP Storm


Graphic designer

R. I. P. 

you were a gentleman and a scholar sir

Friday, 12 April 2013

the lady is for burning

I'm in room 666, please wear that pink thing I like Augusto

Thatcher is dead and I say good riddance. It is not surprising that the Tory establishment has rushed to extoll her virtues. Yes she was strong willed ( didn't listen to any one else ) and she was an individual ( not a team player). She professed to care about these lands but wanted a nice little Daily Mail lead culture ( it was all about those who can and have) and she didn't give a toss for the common people. She took school milk off the kids and she tried to smash the trade unions. I remember some of the union excesses but the treatment of the miners was a disgrace and will always be regarded as an atrocity by reasonable people.
With the aid of the Met in London and some of them could justifiably be ascribed the term pigs, she attacked the miners and their communities because they were on the opposite side of the political fence.

Later when struggling to maintain her personal power position she decided to sink the Argentinian Belgrano. The ship was running away from the Malvinas at full steam but she knew that this would make all out war unavoidable. She won but did we? Her old friend Pinochet, who apparently helped out with intelligence about the Argentinian situation, was a nice piece of work wasn't he? She did seem to have a soft spot for the odd fascist and fascist principle. 
Our troops killed many very young Argentinians in some of the worst hand to hand fighting seen since the first world war. Our troops paid dearly for that little rock in the South Antarctic seas. Was it worth it? Yes if you are a Thatcherite style imperialist but there seems no doubt that if that little rock we call The Falklands has no material value to us in the future we will hand it over to the highest bidder. In other words it was kept under the Jack because of it's material worth rather than some high ethical foundation around sovereignty. It is a staging post for oil exploration and yet more eco disaster down there and, in theory, has some strategic value. If the islanders are still grateful perhaps it is time to begin to consider the possibility that they may have been used by Thatcher and that their security may be time limited.

Some of you might remember a post I wrote, some time ago, about the Life boat principle. It requires one to make an imaginary list of the people you think most acceptable to be part of your survival crew. I would have let her in my boat so that we would be guaranteed some thing to eat. How ever unpalatable that idea might seem it seems a far more viable option than voting for her.

She had a son and a daughter who must be among the least impressive progeny in the history of tory politics. Her old man Dennis was a complete arse who played with and invested with some of the worst regimes in the world. Maggie's claim to the moral high ground did not extend to Dennis and they both benefitted massively from income derived from the exploitation and repression of people far from these shores. I won't bore you with the details. It is all out there on the net.
If you ever voted for her then shame on you. I feel shame enough for voting for Liar Blair so if you voted for Hag Thatcher you should drag out the sack cloth and ashes on Wednesday and dress for the occasion. I will join the protest over the money being spent on her over blown funeral rituals. I say just hand her over to the ex miners of South Yorkshire to chuck on the pyre. By way of memorial I suggest vinyl images of her could be stuck on every urinal in the land.

Thatcher said there is no such thing as society while Cameron speaks of the Big society. Thatcher spawned a generation containing a large group of self serving individuals who still put their own interests above all else. With out them there could be not be the current Condem pogram on the disabled and vulnerable.



Saturday, 30 March 2013

soup any one?

The above picture is a poignant reminder of hard times gone by, specifically the Great Depression when the line for the soup kitchen was long. The Salvation Army recently reported a huge increase in demand on their services for those in most need of basic essentials. The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken out against some Government welfare cuts stating that the cuts are increasing the number of those entering poverty and will have the most detrimental effect on children in that grouping.

I know of a small trust that gives out cash, up to £50-00 for those in need. That £50-00 has made a huge difference to many people who find them selves with out any means. The trust has limited resources. It has to maintain a level of capital so that it can continue as it was always intended to do so. 

The emergency money is paid out at the request of professionals who have no other resources to offer to an individual or family. The trust requires no receipt and works on knowing and trusting those who call on them. This is a rare and special thing and I hope it might continue to be able to make a difference long into the future though organisations such as this and the Salvation Army, were intended to ease the load for the few in dire need and not to become the front line in the struggle to help those whose dire need is caused directly by the banking sector and government policy.

The need for food hand outs through out the UK is increasing on a daily basis. In a small town like Colchester Chairman of trustees at Colchester Food Bank, the Rev Andrew Fordyce, predicts the continuing recession and looming changes to the benefits system in April will result in hundreds more people in the town struggling to put dinner on the table.
Last year, the charity handed out 16 tonnes of food, feeding around 1,500 adults and 600 children. But, it is predicted in 2013 in excess of 20 tonnes will be needed. This is not an isolated problem. Food banks with similar projected needs are forming all over the UK.

Food stamps are to be issued in Britain next week to tens of thousands of vulnerable people as part of benefits shake-up. Vouchers will be redeemable for food, nappies and other essentials.

I don't know if it is still the case but a while ago, when a refugee / asylum seeker in the UK was awaiting assessment, the living allowance awarded was £22 per week. The award, if you can call it such, was given in the form of coupons. Here's the Kafka bit. The coupons could only be spent at Sainsburys, not a store such Liddles or Asda where, it is obvious to any one that more goods could be purchased than at Sainsburys, what ever that company might say.

The so called bedroom tax is regarded by many as some thing that might have had it's inception based on common sense reasoning but got dreadfully mauled by those less gifted than the mandarin responsible for the idea. The chaotic policy means those on the left and right of the centre ground have the gravest mis-givings about the idea in practice. I know old school Tories who are dismayed by the machinations of Cameron and his gang and they are very concerned by the lack of fairness in so much of ConDem policy around welfare.

There are those who see the policy as justice for the "welfare scroungers" but the evidence shows that, if implemented as it stands, the so called bedroom tax will affect thousands of people adversely disrupting their lives and limiting their quality of life massively. Like the disgrace that is ATOS, the disability assessment police, the bedroom tax reflects very badly on the ConDems whose concept of a "big society" seems to me to be the shabbiest of things.

I say to those becoming genuinely concerned for the first time, what did you expect? This is The New Reality and it's been crap for some time.
 Mean while there are things that can be done though I understand it is difficult to see a way beyond the current malaise if, for example, you have spent your life dedicated to the service of others. I know morale in the NHS is at an all time low and we are not looking after any of the people we depend on most. 
We undervalue the people most important to our continued prosperity and welfare. I am talking about the folk who provide essential services and what happens when you decimate the numbers of police, emergency services and social workers.

On top of government cuts, u turns and confusion we have to try to get to grips with some of the strangest logic from the same stable. There are many examples of dodgy government thinking that are quite shocking to me. It bothers me immensely that the government has decided to remove the requirement for "people workers" to have Criminal record checks and for there to be 30% checks instead. For a start the government receives £150 for each CRB clearance provided. Nice earner! For some workers who worked in several settings a separate certificate was required for each setting. I always thought one current certificate should be sufficient but who decided to drop the whole practice at a time like this when the need for the protection of vulnerable people is so obviously necessary? 

In this bizarre New Reality if you work with and for people, it might seem that no one in charge wants you to the job you trained for but, they do want you to do your best to meet the new and ever changing criteria. This is mostly about form filling and killing your body and mind for no good purpose while you watch the service you were proud of reduced to a holding operation, at best. 

The New Reality dictates that young people must provide for their own pension and general social security at a time when the value of a pension paid for by their parents is diminishing every day. The likelihood of a meaningful entitlement to a state pension in the distant future seems highly improbable. The New Reality is that we have learnt that we will not get back what we pay in and that there will be a new underclass for whom there will be little or no state support.

This is the country where child poverty is on the rise, where low wages and a reduction in decent working conditions will be normal, the Lords of Capital will consolidate their holdings and the bonus culture will continue with little control. So much of what we were once proud of, here in the UK, is crumbling and will continue to do so until we get some fresh ideas and a new improved ethos in every part of UK governance.

The plan to dismantle and privatise the NHS, and the welfare state was planned years ago by the Conservative Party, their chums and their business partners, long before the General Election. Three generations have been born into the finest of Labour’s creations, and are so now familiar with it that they have come to believe it is an intrinsic part of life in Britain, so that to imagine life without it seems surreal. Basically, complacency has set in. Voters believed Cameron’s lies, didn’t listen to them as apathy reigned, or if they did they had lost all faith in an impotent voting system, and the supposed democratic system which so many fought to preserve.

We have seen this government spend wastefully and borrow while they condemn the very principle. They are still blaming the last government for their own poor performance. The economy is flat lining as many predicted it would. The ConDem assertion that we are on the right path is a fallacy at best and at worst, a lie to keep us hard at it. The message to the battered British public is - Be thankful you have work and get on with it no matter what we demand of you. 

This government promised that no one who worked would be worse off than those not employed. This is a blatant lie. A young couple I know with one young child, would be better off by £600 per month if they split up and the mother claimed all of the benefit she would be entitled to. The father works full time for a very low wage. Big Society, family values?

You might not agree with every thing or indeed, any thing I have to say on the subject, but who believes the ConDem way forward is the right way? Who believes that new welfare policy is fair and will help lead us to a better place as a civic society? Who believes that a government whose economic policies fly in the face of expert opinion in industry as well as the public sector, can effectively change the predicament we are all in? Who believes any of their employment and growth statistics? 

Only weeks before the budget they were running around stopping Whitehall departments from spending parts of their budget and urging heads of departments to defer spending to the next financial period / year in order to fudge the figures in support of the Chancellor's statements. It is similar to what the banks did when they knew they were deep in the proverbial. Why did they do this? Because they could and still can, with impunity.

We let them do this and get away with it but for how long? Will you participate in the struggle to combat the ConDem culture? Are you involved with local campaigns or perhaps you participate on the 38 Degrees lobbying and petitioning website? There are things that can be done and they must be done soon. We have to send a message to Cameron and his gang that cannot be ignored. People are suffering and if we do nothing I feel sure that our shame will last for generations.