Saturday, 26 December 2015

bye bye 2015

Another year is almost over. This has not been a very joyous year for the people struggling to scrape by whether they are the homeless citizens of the UK or refugees whose countries have been devastated by war. There seems to be no end in sight to these huge issues. It is difficult to look back on 2015 as a good year when so many people are in such trouble. 

As I watch news footage of the floods in the north I am reminded that it has taken governments years to accept the reality of Global warming and still they drag their feet.  

On a positive note I saw a news clip of a young, newly married couple who were just about to sign contracts for a new home on the day their new house was flooded. A lucky escape and at least they did not have to start off in a home, in an area that might now flood on a regular basis. 

Still, in the midst of the chaos there has been some positive  achievement in some areas  of UK life. We have seen the advancement of political expression that must be of benefit to us all.  The digital referendum has had a good year and 38 Degrees and others, have demonstrated that with enough participation governments will listen and will make u turns. Looking back at some early victories such as stopping the sale of UK forests and looking at the current collection of battles won, it seems the electronic petition has come along way. 

I think it is still early days to assess the real impact of Jeremy Corbyn's election as Labour leader.  I really hope that the issues and perspective he will bring to the debate will enhance the possibility for a fairer society and a more ethical governance. 

It is tradition that at this time of year we wish each other peace and goodwill.  It is a good all year round policy and while the struggle to overcome Daesh continues, we must not let frustration and confusion lead to the victimisation of the UK Muslims who stand with us against the tyranny of Daesh.  We must try to embrace difference and not be afraid of change and we should all participate in the debates that will influence the future in any way we can. These are the days when if we look away for just a moment we will lose hard won, precious rights that will not be easily returned to us. If we take our eye off the ball, political and ethical values and standards will surely drop.

So to art and music. I have had a good year and played some happy gigs to some lovely audiences and on all my travels I have met many good people doing all they can to make a positive difference in the affairs of their communities. I want to thank all of the people who have supported me and who have been a constant source of strength and encouragement. The list is longer than I would have ever thought. Thank you. You know who you are.

There are UK public gigs booked for 2016 with more in the pipeline plus a few Fair Days Pay For A Fair Days Work gigs booked. One of these is in Sweden so I shall look forward to that and meeting new folk. 2016 is also a recording year when I will be going in the studio for the first time in many years. I have the material written and I have pre production material ready to be used in the studio. I am very excited about this as I am about bringing some electric guitar back in the show. I am currently experimenting with this to see what can work. It is early days and a lot of fun right now but I know it will get to be harder as the work begins to become about repetitive rehearsal.

I expect to do even more fishing in 2016 than previously and I hope some of that will be in Norway when I return in the summer with Luke. I expect Luke and I will be doing a few gigs together next year. Meanwhile he has added a new song titled BATTERSEA to his Soundcloud page at

A while ago now I went to Austria to meet Walter Kohl and to play for his brother at his birthday party. Walter is a writer and I first met him in Wigan at the home of my friends Val and John when he came over to speak with me about his ideas for a novel. We spent some time getting to know each and discussed what Walter described as faction about the EBB. We also discussed my involvement in a gallery installation based on an idea I had called The definitive interview which has become an ongoing project.  Some time later I met with Walter and his family in Austria where I played for his brother. Walter and I spent hours and hours recording  material for his book and some time later we had a couple of days in London doing the same while Walter's colleague, Oktavia shot some video as reference for her installation ideas. It was an exhausting and intense work period but very interesting for me.

Time passed and recently an email arrived from Walter with an attachment of his English translation of his novel Out Demons Out. I was stunned. His translation from German to English is flawed but mightily impressive enough to give a good idea of the story. I have begun to read it and early on I was torn between correcting a small historic detail and leaving the artist to do what he wants with the truth. I do it all the time in my songs and writing. There are corrections to be made, as in any first transcript, but I won't interfere with Walter's licence to tell his story the way he intends. He has no chronological pathway to his story and I found that exciting. This is not a biography but a novel. I quickly got used to reading this very intriguing take on the EBB, Walter and his friends and events and people of the time. Initially this will be a German language novel and Walter also wants to get it published in English. I am fascinated and quite excited as I am working my way through Walter's translation. More on this later.

So it is time to wish you all the very best 2016. I hope to meet some of you as the year rolls on.

Finally, The Edgar Broughton Band will re release Super Chip - The Final Silicon Solution. It will be available as a down load on all major download distribution site in January 2016. The album had the track The Virus added for the 2010 release and there will be a new track added for this 2016 release.


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

impossible dream

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 exploded after being hit by a Russian-made Buk missile over eastern Ukraine. Russian president Putin denied all responsibility. It was said at the time that break away Ukraine militia did not have the expertise to use the Buk system. So who did?

Daesh ( formerly IS) recently claimed responsibility for the bombing of Metro Russian airliner downed in Egypt. Putin began bombing Daesh positions in Syria as well as rebels against Assad who had been bombed by Russian aircraft for some time. Putin offered 30 million for reward leading to apprehension of Metro bombers. As we all know Daesh claimed responsibility for the bombing in Paris. Allende declared war and here we are poised for another major conflict.

It is likely that current bombing by France in Syria, is killing more innocents than those killed in Paris. It is also likely that reprisal will come to all who join the growing alliance against Daesh. It is also clear that Daesh cannot be allowed to continue to expand it's operations. Meanwhile, any one not fighting under the bombs in Syria will probably be heading for a boat. I know I would be.

We are currently courting Turkey to get with the programme to prevent more refugees entering. They might tow the line more if they believe it might be the key to joining the European community. Again this is a country with an appalling human rights record but if it suits us we'll play along.

It is possible that if the numbers of refugees continues to escalate then borders will be closed and the 1985 Schengen treaty that opened the borders will be no more. In the near future the scale and the cost of accepting refugees into Europe could well bring about major sea change in attitudes to the problem. As we seem to move to a more dystopian future it might well be seen as expedient and profitable to form a new world order police force. The UN with teeth, that would include Russia and the NATO and non NATO nations. The objective would be regime change in all of the counties that refugees are leaving. The prize would be new free markets and a centralised control of major resources such as oil and water.

Cameron says he has the legal mandate to bomb Syria but many polls suggest the majority of the British don't support the proposed bombing. Corbyn is not alone in his belief that bombing is not the priority. Many military experts say the extra RAF missions will have little effect. The bombing of London during the second world war has been cited as an example where bombing did not break the people of the UK but actually hardened their resolve to overcome the enemy.

After the bombings what comes next and what happens after that? How will things be managed after Deash? 

Are we going to fly missions in Syria in a sort of loose alliance where if for example a UK aircraft is accidentally shot down by a Russian aircraft or ground fire, will we will call it friendly fire and accept the loss as more collateral damage. We are hardly friends are we? 
The US say there must be communication with the Russians to prevent this. They shoot up their own in less crowded battle scenes and with Russian, French, British and US aircraft on missions the possible random effects are terrifying. 

We should ask why Cameron did not want to bomb Syria to support the anti Assad rebels but now he says he must. It looks like he will do so with a haste that will omit vital chunks of strategy from the plan, according to some serving, senior military officers.

We must find a way to cut off income to Deash and to sanction those who buy Daesh oil. We must stop trading arms that have proven to have been used against the UK military when dodgy regimes turn against us. We know that countless times these regimes use the weapons we sold to to them to oppress their own people or to expand their own territory. There are many examples of this. Tensions between Iran and the US have eased a little recently but there have been times where relations were more than tense. If the US had ever decided to fly missions against Iran, to support Israel for example, they would have been up against Iranian F-14 fighter aircraft they had sold to Iran.

We must stop trading with Saudi no matter what the financial loss might be. How can we take the moral high ground against Deash when we are allied with a country whose justice system regularly carries out Deash style executions, stonings and beatings.

We must stand side by side with Muslims, here in the UK, who are equally opposed to Deash. There must be no mindless back lash or scapegoating.

These past days we have seen a large part of the Labour party and others struggling with a new way of prioritising the elements of major national policy. Change is uncomfortable and challenging. Change is needed and we all have to contribute and participate if we care. We know what is right and proper and we cannot continue to claim the higher moral ground on the world stage if we continue as we are. We need to clean up our act and make way for a fairer more just and reasoned way of governing ourselves and relating to the rest of the world. 

Like most people I would like to see Deash and all they stand for defeated and eliminated but a UK knee jerk reaction to the atrocities in France is not the answer.

I don't want to live in a country that bombs civilians and trades with dictators. I don't want to live in a country that has food banks and a growing number of homeless citizens while the average price of a home in London is £350,000. I want to see our priorities changed. I want to see a real move to fostering parity and opportunity for every one of us, with out prejudice or discrimination. I want to be proud of what this country stands for. It is time for change now and while Jeremy Corbyn might not be the solution, he at least wants to have the debate around fundamental issues that have been neglected for decades. I am hopeful for the first time in a long time. I don't believe the changes we need to make are an impossible dream.


Saturday, 14 November 2015

water, water every where

water , water every where to our hotel in Haugesund

Luke and I set off for Haugesund, Norway on Thursday 29th in the morning and we arrived via Oslo at around 10.30 pm. The hotel was very nice but we were not prepared to pay £60 for a fish supper and so after a local Donner kebab, with a curious sauce we both liked, from a nearby cafe, we both retired. It had been a long day.

Next day we found the gig was only a two minute walk from the hotel so that was great. Luke and I were having a coffee in the hotel cafe when we saw Jarle arrive. It turned out he was staying in the same hotel as us so that was very cool. It is always good to see him. Nothing changes no matter how long has elapsed between meetings.
Jarle invited us for cognac in his room and it was a fine cognac. We sat and chatted and Luke caught up a bit. He hadn't seen Jarle since the church gig in Upholland when we all finished the evening at Val and John's home. The next day Jarle had gone off to see Liverpool play at home and we won.

Time passed and after collecting our guitars we all walked across to the gig to sound check.
The club Haugaland is a wonderful wooden building by the waterfront. I felt right at  home there and realised if I had brought a small travel rod I could have fished there earlier in the day. Still it was nearly show time as Luke and I wandered around the club taking it all in. One of the bands was sound checking as we arrived. The PA sounded superb and it was obvious from the start that the house engineer really had his stuff sorted.
The building is almost entirely made from wood and it has that wonderful aged, golden colour through out. Great space with great acoustics. It used to be a Salt House and then it was a Herring processing factory. This was way back in the days when Herring was the Norwegian's gold. Now it is oil, while it lasts.
The stage was quite large and the front of house was great with a balcony at the rear and a restaurant/bar on one side.

The band, scheduled to appear last, was an interesting set up. We watched the sound check with some interest. A guy on guitar and a young woman on drums and bass was very cool. White Stripes and Royal Blood came to mind and we wondered if they would be successful outside Norway.
So Luke took to the stage and sound checked a couple of songs. We were both very slightly nervous which is usually a good thing. Complacency is the enemy of all creative endeavour. Luke asked for a fairly extreme reverb setting which is a long halo around his sweet vocal. The sound guy was masterful. Beautiful. We were both well pleased. My turn and again my sound was easily and quickly achieved.

We headed back to the hotel with Jarle and it was not long before we returned and were ensconced on the third floor of the club. From there we watched the first band on and then Luke took to the stage. All nerves disappeared after his introduction and he soon had the audience's attention. I love to see their reaction as he slips from his low voice to the sparkle at his top end. I think they soon got him and considering they had never heard him before he soon got them onside. I noticed that there was a mix of older and very young folk who were most attentive through his half hour set. I could see Luke was very happy and for me that was relief. I didn't want to drag him all the way to Norway only tor him to be disappointed on his first solo outing there. 

While Luke was courting his new fans below I sat up in the gallery and I ached. My neck and shoulders were tight and I turned to some people connected with the club and jokingly said that the only thing missing from this great venue was a masseuse. A woman told me her partner, sat nearby, was a healer. He came over to me and worked his shamanic magic with out laying a finger on me. I am a little used to that part as my lovely friend Val Bradshaw has given me Reiki sessions when I have been a little stressed. 

After the healing I felt much better and I thanked him. By the time I was walking down the stairs to the stage area I felt really good. So thanks again my friend. I hope we see each other again.
As I walked out onto the stage I was warmly greeted and bless them they listened to my new songs and the old ones with equal interest. I loved playing the show for them. The on stage sound was perfection and I revelled in it. I finished with a couple of old songs and left the stage very satisfied with the nights work. Next up was the young duo. They rocked and all was good. It had been a great night. We said our farewell at around 1.30am and left to walk the few yards to the hotel in pouring rain. We had a pickup to the airport at 8.30am so it was no partying for us and we went straight to bed. 

Luke gave me a shout at 7.50 am and we soon piled out into the morning air to get in our transport to the airport. All was good and we were glad to be moving on. The journey back went with out hitch and we had a great time in Norway. I love the place and would even more if it were not so expensive. 

Thanks to Stig for picking us up when we first arrived, to Bjorn for all his good work and Knut for having us at his his top venue. We both hope we will be invited back to Haugaland.


Thursday, 22 October 2015

Psychedelic Britannia

Psychedelic Britannia gets it's first screening on BBC 4 at 10pm tomorrow, 23rd. 

All a bit last minute, I just received an email to tell me so. Yours truly will be making an appearance. 

Don't know if I'll be around for Reformed rocker turned minstrel Britannia but I was in Metal Britannia with the EBB ha!


The competition is still running until the end of the month. See below.

The best caption for the above photo will win two places on the guest list for one of my 2016 public shows. Usual process. Write your entry caption in the comments section of this post. Leave your name. You can make as many entries as you like. Competition ends October 31st 2015.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

@the Reitens


The flight from Gatwick airport to Oslo was uneventful. I slept for most of it. I usually sleep during flights and often wake up just before landing. I think that over the years I have learned to sleep on the road when ever I can and often when ever I am bored. It's a good trick and comes in handy very often.

My host Morten met me at the airport in Oslo and then we took a train from Oslo to Lillehammer. I had never been on a Norwegian train and so this was interesting. There was a modernity that you don't get on your average UK train unless it one of the very nice Virgin trains. Morten and I chatted about music and so got to know each other a little. I could tell he had quite an elaborate plan for his friends coming to visit on his fortieth birthday. Unusually it was to be a "mens group" apart from Maria Morten's wife and Karianne his younger sister. I was not only the surprise entertainment but part of the recalling and celebrating the music from and around the year 1975, the year Morten was born.
Maria met us at the station in Lillehammer and soon we were at journeys end.
I slept well after a very nice meal and slept in quite late. I had to be around and hidden for when the other guys arrived. I had already seen Morten's man cave where the little gig was to take place so it was there I waited as people began to arrive. I had been made very welcome and I was very relaxed and intrigued to see what Morten's plan would bring.

Eventually I came upstairs and was introduced to the very surprised gathering. We all ate lunch together and then we returned to the cellar where Morten showed a clip from a German TV show from the 70's where the EBB played American Boy Soldier live. Morten ran this like a radio show and I think he would be very good at presenting the music he loves. Morten has played bass in bands and has a very wide ranging knowledge of modern music. We all chatted about music back in the day and I answered questions and told a few tales from my experiences of the business and life on the road. Every FDPFAFDW has a different character and this was no exception.

in the blue

After a splendid dinner we returned to the cellar where I played my set and told my stories related to the songs. This was very well received, early on and I soon settled into my stride rolling through the songs. I played for a long time and only left out a couple of songs. I had a ball.

the invited guests

Morten's friends meet a couple of times a year to play music they love. the evenings are usually themed around a time in music history and every one bring music they like. They are a varied and very interesting crew and very knowledgeable about music from Black Sabbath to Kraftwerk and pretty much everything in between.
After my gig we all sat around and listened to tracks from albums and cd s brought by every one and all from around 1975. It was an eclectic collection and I was very interested to hear each contributors introductions to the songs and why the songs played were chosen. I had met many of their chosen artists and was able to tell a few related tales from my recollections.
It had been a long day and I was quite exhausted by around 2 am so I left the guys chatting and went to bed.

yours truly and the Reitens

After a wonderful breakfast I chilled for a while and got my stuff ready for the train journey from Lillehammer to Oslo airport. I had enjoyed my stay with Morten and his family and friends very much. I think we connected early on and I will never forget their warm welcome and kindness. I was very happy but a little sad to be leaving. I am very fond of being in Norway and the Norwegian people. They understand me and what I am trying to do. It is my favourite over seas country.

Maria drove Karianne and myself to the station where we were both headed for Oslo. The rail journey south travelled along the length of a great lake for almost the entire journey. Water is never far away when in Norway and I keep promising myself that one day soon I will travel to Norway just to explore and fish these great waters. 
Karianne was very good company during the journey and had good tales to tell from her world wide travels. She is training to be a teacher and I am certain the kids she teaches will be well served. I liked her philosophy and attitude to life. I say again the young people are all right. In fact the world is blessed with a generation of young people like Karianne who will make great things if they are allowed to.
Karianne helped me get checked in at the airport and then she left to go home. I wish her well and all of the Reitens and their friends. I'd had a very nice time with these warm, kind hearted folk and I hope that one day we will meet again.


check this

"just another letter
she opens
       and burns" ......

Thursday, 8 October 2015

just popped in

Just popped in here to say I have just returned from an idyllic trip to Cornwall. It was the best fishing holiday ever and very rejuvenating. 

The best caption for the above photo will win two places on the guest list for one of my 2016 public shows. Usual process. Write your entry caption in the comments section of this post. Leave your name. You can make as many entries as you like. Competition ends October 31st 2015.

yours truly all togged up for action

a nice pair of pollack

I am just preparing to head out Norway again tomorrow. This time it is a FDPFAFDW gig in Lillehammer.
I will write a full report of my trip to Norge when I return on Sunday. Then I will have a couple of weeks to work on new things for the show before heading back to Norway with Luke for a festival in Haugesund on 30th October. Next year will see some electric action. I want to see how much noise I can get away with on my own with a few new toys ha ha! More later.


Sunday, 13 September 2015

here we go!

Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader of the Labour party. The nay sayers will have their day and Mr Corbyn will have the opportunity to silence the doubters. Will he? Who knows but at least we shall have the benefit of real debate over the issues that concern us all and in Corbyn we have some one who will offer a radically different point of view. He says he will increase people participation in politics and he says the alienated young must be brought back into the political fold. It is clear that much of his support came from the young as well as old lefties like me.

Corbyn must modify some of his basic policy ideas if he is to unite the Labour party and he will have the very capable Tom Watson to guide him. Corbyn's and Watson's land slide victory must be seen by the old Blairite guard as a complete rejection of their values. 

Some of us are very tired of the lack of real opposition to the increasingly right wing policies of the Tories and clearly, there are a lot of us. 

Andy Burnham looked devastated as the leadership election results were announced. Earlier in the campaign he resembled Archie Andrews ( remember him?) with the unseen hand of Tony Blair pulling his strings as he jumped from one populist theme to another in his futile attempt to garner votes. While Archie looked gutted and could not get his face sorted, the defeated women candidates seemed much more dignified and magnanimous.

The voters sent a very clear message to Archie and his cohorts. We need an alternative view of what is ethical and decent. We need to put people before profit and we need to stop the poor paying for the damage done to the economy by the excesses of the banks. We need to look after the vulnerable much better. We need to change the way we take care of the children. We need to eliminate the need for food banks in the sixth richest country in the world. We need to fight back against Tory values so that we can take real pride in the policies of the UK. 

Look how shaming European reaction to Cameron's foot dragging over the refugee crisis has become. Of course you might be one of those who say no to the refugees. I have come across some incredibly right wing views from some so called EBB fans. I would say to you that the times are changing and we must move with the times. The only way to happiness is through our determination to help the needy and equalise our society. We must restore pride in our nations and then productivity will boom. Otherwise every thing else will fail as we slip into a dark age where if a man or woman is sick or has nothing to sell, they will be isolated and considered to be with out value or merit. 

I warn you now if Cameron is allowed to continue along his chosen route we will all be very sorry and some of you will have good reasons to be ashamed one day. Meanwhile Cameron seems determined to overturn hard won Trade Union rights and to undermine real democratic participation by the people. Fight back! I despise what he stands for and I despise the Lavender Tories who gave him a majority.

We shall have to wait a while to see what Corbyn really has to offer but thus far I am happy about his election to Labour Leader and the powerful message sent to the Blairites and their diluted Tory values. I look forward to more realism in politics, honesty, integrity and compassion. It is time for the old Blairite guard to put up or shut up. They are the big irrelevance right now and Jeremy, you had better deliver the goods.


Ramblin sent me the link below to a short video by professor Hans Rosli from the Gapminder Foundation.


Thursday, 3 September 2015


grosmont station

It has been a while since I played for the sleep out crew who were fundraising for the Brick Homeless Project in Wigan and so it was a treat to be going back north to stay for a few days with our good friends John and Val Bradshaw. John is my tour manager and Val and John were responsible for the larger part of the organisation for the gig last October in Upholland at the church.
This time was to be a little different as Luke was to join us for a gig in another lovely little church at Grosmont in North Yorkshire.
On Saturday we went to see Wigan v Crewe at the Latics ground. Wigan won 1-0 and it was a nice way to spend some time in the fresh air and, it didn't rain.

Sunday rolled around and after a reasonably early night, for a change, we began to prepare for a day on the road to the gig. The scenery on the way was very beautiful. Luke was especially taken by the views on the moors and I realised he hadn't seen this part of the world on our travels with the EBB. Back in the day the EBB travelled up to Whitby and Scarborough where we often played the Penthouse in Scarborough which was run by Peter Adams. We became good friends and often stayed with him in Whitby.
One summer Peter organised a lorry float for us to play on in the Scarborough Carnival. The very evil Jimmy Saville turned up to order every one around and I decided then that he was a narcissistic freak. We soon f+*-ed him off and he disappeared. Now I wish we could have made it permanent.

John's sat nav decided to take us down a narrow, winding and steep track towards Grosmont and it was a good opportunity to test out his new car, a classy four wheel drive VW. The car did good and after crossing a couple of shallow fords under a canopy of sunlit emerald leaves we were in the delightful village of Grosmont. John is an avid steam railway enthusiast and the timing of our arrival at the level crossing was perfect. A train puffed it's way into the station and John looked like a little boy on Christmas morning. While he and Luke parked up I dashed onto the platform to video the last of the moving trains for John as he and Luke arrived just in time to see the last train pull out towards the sheds.

Now we had to find the church where the concert was to take place. St Mathews is on the side of a hill. The whole character of the village speaks of the need for accommodations and a church at the height of the Industrial Revolution when the steam engine was the engine behind all mechanisation. There is a co-op shop in the village which is truly that, a locally owned resource that reminds one of what might be possible if we ever decide to take more control over our own lives and culture.

st.matthews church

The church is not grand but its simple design is very appealing and almost puritanical in a good way. Cool and light with a lovely vibe. 

The "supper in the basket styled jazz band" had sound checked and Luke and I sound checked after a hiccup or two with me finding my way around the system. Soon all was resolved and we were ready to play. It was so nice to see an old friend from way back standing at the back of the church. Always good to see you Alistair and here's to the next time.

John sneaked off to the engine sheds to have a close look at some engines and on his return, the evenings entertainment began. After the "supper in the basket"  support act Luke took his seat and began his show. It was beautiful if I do say so and I will argue with any one who doesn't get it ha ha! He has become more polished after recent shows and his gentle amble through his own songs and a couple of well chosen covers is compelling and evocative. A woman came over to where I was sitting during his show and simply said " mesmerising". The audience was very warm and appreciative. I did notice that as the evening wore on and the beer flowed the ambient noise increased with chatter. Still it was not a problem and mostly people listened intently. They were one of the nicest audiences of my recent gigs.

It was time for yours truly. I had a ball. I loved the way the sound rang around the stone walls of this superb venue. I'd had a conversation with a very nice chap earlier who was in fact the local doctor. I didn't know this at the time. During my gig his table became quite noisy and I am afraid his wife became very drunk. I had to pause while they moved their table with much scraping and banging. The good doctor then helped his good lady through the crowd to the toilet at the rear of the church. Eventually they left and I continued. I could say more about this but suffice to say if I were he I would have been very, very embarrassed.

The rest of my set went smoothly and I threw in Belle of Trevellyan, a song I have not performed before and it all went very well. So that is a new permanent feature of the set list. It all seemed to fly by and soon we saying our farewells and heading across the moors en route to Wigan.

Many thanks to George Morton for organising the whole thing and thanks to all of those who helped make it work.
If you are ever in the area you must visit Grosmont the village that time forgot, It is one of the most charming, unspoiled places I have ever seen. A jewel on the landscape.

on the road again

Thank you for every thing John and Val. You are so special!


Thursday, 20 August 2015

Norway my second homeland

Dag Ringstad with his wood cut print of yours truly
photo by Karen Valeur

Dag Ringstad is an artist and musician who gave me the print he is holding in the photo above. Thank you my friend this was special. Dag did not know that this is a selfie.  I took it on a beach in Weymouth in the UK some years ago and so I feel this was a happy collaboration.

I was very pleased to see my friends Karen Valeur and Birger Westergren waiting for me at Kritiansand airport. My arrival in Norway was slightly marred by the non arrival of my luggage and guitar. How ever the very nice SAS airline woman gave me a T-shirt and toiletries for the night to come. The luggage arrived the next day so all was well. 

I stayed in Kristiansand with my very good friend Karen Valeur who looked after me so well. We spent most evenings and long into the night,  talking about our lives and work and found we had very much in common. We have experienced many similar obstacles along our journeys trying to make a difference to the lives of others. It is so good to share with some one who knows and who understands.

After a good sleep I was ready for action. A fishing trip was planned and I was very excited to be heading out. Birger drove us to the airport where we collected the delayed luggage. Later we met up with Roar Jacobsen. I had met Birger and Roar who drove me from Kristiansand to Larvik to meet up with Gry and Ragner of the Larvik Vinyl Club, last year. 

Soon we were on our way to meet with Kai Severinsen who was to be my guide for the day. I noticed Kai had a couple of fly rods fixed to his car. I later found out he had a couple of very nice spinning rods for me to use. 
We drove to a farm on a high bank of the river Tovdalselva, a fast flowing salmon river that runs through tree covered high cliffs and mountains where wolves and moose roam.
After a quick tour of the farm and facilities for fisher people wanting to stay over we headed down to the river bank. There we found a wooden shelter and picnic table. Soon a picnic was laid out and we all relaxed in the sun as we ate. 

Kai and me
photo by Karen Valeur

Karen took photos while Birger prepared for his exploratory adventure in and along the river. Roar was very relaxed and Kai and I were ready to fish. 

Birger is like a little boy on an adventure. His knowledge of nature is vast and for him this was a paradise of flowers, insects and all the creatures in his sight. Kai had rowed me across the river to the opposite bank where we began to fish, he with a fly rod and me with a spinning rod.

2 men in a boat
photo by Karen Valeur

While watching Birger on the opposite bank I remarked to Kai that it was so good to see the boy in the man as we watched him splashing around in shorts, in the river, then examining the undergrowth along the river bank. Kai smiled and told me that Birger had always been that way.

We both fished hard. Big salmon jumped all around us and I saw a couple actually slip along the edge of the rocks I stood on. They had jumped onto the rocks where they appeared for a second or two before slipping back into the fast running channel I was fishing. I glanced to watch Kai flicking his fly into the river. We didn't catch but it is fishing not catching.
Kai rowed us back across the river and I had a few casts that covered all of the pools and creases in the current but still no fish.

We all set off up the bank to where we had parked the cars. It was a good climb and I walked slowly with Karen. Roar and Kai were soon out of sight while Birger came up behind us with  a handful of wild berries he was collecting, saying he was "eating his way up the hill".
We drove to another fishing mark by a raging waterfall that produced the most amazing pools and eddies.

boys together Roar - Me - Kai and Birger
photo by Karen Valeur

yours truly fishing hard
photo by Karen Valeur

By this waterfall the salmon were jumping feet away from me but though I tried all I knew I couldn't hook one though I did get a few knocks or tentative bites. From here we drove to Boen Gard. This is an old farm with a very beautiful house lovingly restored by Johan G Olsen. It hosts weddings, corporate events and of course it caters for all the needs of the salmon fisher who wants the best.
I fished the river there until dark and then we made our way back up to the farm.

Boen Gard in the  dark - photo by Karen Valeur

Johan gave us a very interesting guided tour. The size and complexity of his restoration of the house and surrounding accommodation had presented a huge task and it is still a work in progress.

Johan - Kai and yours truly sampling the local cider inside the house
photo by Karen Valeur

Johan -  Kai and yours truly
photo by Karen Valeur

I didn't get the salmon I fished hard for but I'd had a very special day on the river with my good friends. I will never forget it. I have been invited back and I will have to do that all again. I must add that Kai Severinsen is one of the dedicated people responsible for getting salmon back in the river after acid rain drove the salmon away. The evidence of the success of this great achievement can be experienced by any one fortunate enough to watch these great fish jumping in the boiling waters of the Tovdalselva.

Next day we all assembled again for a salmon dinner at Birger's house.  The salmon was caught by Kai some time before our trip on the river. It was so nice to meet Birger's family. The dinner was splendid with lots of fresh seafood which is my favourite food. It was a very pleasant and interesting evening. I remember Kai explaining the process for bringing the salmon back to the river and Birger's stories of his times on the north sea oil rigs as a helicopter health and safety expert. 

Next day was show time. After a sound check at Vaktbua, outside in the garden the sun disappeared and the rain began to fall and banks of rain cloud poured in off the sea. It wasn't long before it was decided to move inside. This meant moving all the gear inside and special thanks must go to Alf Solbakken for looking after the P.A. system and for recording my show. Alf is another renowned local artist and avant garde musician who exhibits his work regularly at the Vaktbua venue.

While this going on Elisabeth Labdon, Vaktbua's owner, dashed around making things work. Vaktbua is a community of people who work for the ideals of Vaktbua and voluntary contribution is made by many. Karen Valeur is one of the people who steer and guide the progress and development of this remarkable community.

I began the show with an expanded Speak down the wires. The reception from the packed in audience was lovely and I proceeded through my song list. I threw in some oldies including Home fit for heroes at my brother Steve's suggestion , some weeks ago. Actually the audience sang all of the words and I just sang along. Lovely!

the show - photo by Karen Valeur

Some people were quite happily drunk. I say happily because they remained good natured. Some folk were noisy but the ones who wanted to hear prevailed and only a few delinquent fans persisted with loud chat. I ended the set with Poppy and the unavoidable encore was Ice on fire. I asked that all be quiet for this and thankfully they were. Job done! They were a lovely audience and I really enjoyed myself from beginning to end. I noticed that some folk were singing along with the choruses of some of the new songs and that was a very cool thing for me.

I walked from the little stage to the garden outside where I met four young people aged around 18. One young man and three young women. Meeting them was for me the high light of the day. They sheltered me from the rain with their umbrellas and I joked to an older fan that finally the kids were looking after me. These youngsters were delightful and it meant so much to me to find that I had reached them and touched their hearts in some way. It was time for them to go and I began to shake them by the hand when one of the young women asked for a hug. I was very touched. Then they all asked for a hug and I was quite overcome by this lovely connection. My heart sang!

Some of us stayed around quite late talking and drinking. It was very nice and I had the opportunity to learn more about my old and new friends. I feel very at home at Vaktbua. I was quite sad to leave Elisabeth and the people of Vaktbua but I will be back for sure.

During the week some people in Stavanger had asked if I could play for them. It so happened that my very special friend Jarle had come from Stavanger to see the show at Vaktbua and so with the chance of a drive with my friend and the possibility to stay with his family I agreed to play the gig. I can tell you the rain that had begun on the afternoon of the Vaktbua gig kept on all through the night and all along the road to Stavanger. We arrived at the gig for a sound check after a quick drop in at Jarles home where we ate some great pizza. Thank you for that Kirsten. It was a life saver.

I can't tell you much about the secret gig in Stavanger but I will say we arrived for the show in time to see the fascinating experimental music set from a couple of the guys who run the place. This a co-operative collaboration by a small group of community minded musicians and artists. I received a very warm welcome from the audience who had turned out at short notice in torrential rain. The show went well and the quiet, attentive audience was a delight.
Jarle and I said our farewells and we headed back to his home. Still the rain poured down. I slept like a log that night and next day relaxed with Jarle, Kirsten and the very delightful young Ingrid who, at eleven years of age, makes the best English style tea in Norway.

Time passed and we had just time to see the first goal of Chelsea's drubbing on Sunday before it was time to fly out.  I was sad to leave Jarle as I made my way through the check in at Stavanger airport. It had been a wonderfully satisfying trip and my connection with Norway and my very good friends there grows with each visit. I will be going back for FDPFAFDW show in Lillehammer on the 10th October and for a festival with Luke in Haugesund Oct 30th.

So my love and thanks to all who made such great efforts to make my stay so special. I will never forget the kindness shown to me by all. Special thanks to Elisabeth for asking me back and to Karen, Dag, Alf, Birger and family, Roar, Kai and to Jarle and family for their friendship and support.


Saturday, 8 August 2015

norway again

17/8/15 - I will post a full report of the trip to Norway at the end of this week.

I am off to Norway again next week. I am playing on Friday the 14th but going a few days earlier. Very kind people have arranged for some fishing for me including river salmon fishing. 

One of these would be very special.I will probably take a very portable lure set up with me including a four piece travel rod for fishing around the island where Vaktbua is located. Then I will play the gig. This will be the high light for me. It is an honour and a privilege to be invited back by such lovely people.

More later.


Sunday, 2 August 2015

time for change

The battle for Labour leadership is on. Neil Kinnock throws his support behind Andy Burnham and warns that “Trotskyite” forces with “malign” intentions are trying to drag Labour to the far left under Corbyn. He says" he understands the “rage” that is compelling many genuine members to support Corbyn, but insists the party must choose its leader with “sincerity and realism”. He warns that a Corbyn victory would turn the party into a powerless “discussion group”.

Kinnock was a total disaster as Labour leader and as for a powerless discussion group, what is else is the Labour Party if it is not just that? The woeful performance of Miliband on television during the run up to the last election was the writing on the wall.  Remember his response when asked if Labour had overspent during their time in office? He answered with a simple " no". It isn't just that of course. Labour has struggled to offer a truly different set of policies based on different principles for years. This Tory government is possibly even more right wing than Thatcher's so isn't it time for a clearly left of centre vision? Scaremongering about the rise of Trotskyite elements in the party is nonsense.

I am not a Trotskyite, far from it. I am a socialist who believes that it is time for balance lest the young forget what it is to have a political party that cares and demonstrates it through radically fair minded, principled policy. At this time there is little hope of that among the Burnhams and others. The spectre of Blair, the warmonger, still haunts the party and it is clear that his success has forced Labour policy into pink impotence.

Today I re-joined the Labour Party. It has been years since I was last a member. I have joined on a monthly basis and if I do not like what happens with Labour over the coming weeks I will resign. The local Labour HQ is just around the corner from me so I can assure you they will be hearing from me at regular intervals.

I have researched the other leadership candidates and I say if we want more of the same pathetic and  weak opposition to Cameron and if you think it was perfectly ok for the Interim Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harmon, to vote for Tory welfare cuts then Jeremy Corbyn is probably not the man for you. If like me you think it is time for real change then act now and make a difference.

I am appealing to all of you Lavender Tories. Stop the rot. At Glastonbury Festival, earlier this year, the Dalai Lama said-

“I speak to you now just as another human being. Like you, I too am subject to mental disturbances. Like you I love my life, in fact everyone loves their own lives and everyone has a right live a happy life".

The young will not thank us for leading them deeper into mass apathy and into a place where if a man or woman has nothing to sell they will struggle to exist. This is the sixth richest nation on the planet and still we have food banks, still the poor and disabled pay the most towards reducing the deficit they did not cause. According to Unicef, British children are catered for and cared for less than in nearly all other developed nations. We sit just above the US at the bottom of the pile with Scandinavian countries at the top.
Time for real change? What say you?


Thursday, 23 July 2015

a mixed bag


Today is a lovely summers day with a soft  cooling wind wafting through the metropolis. Life has thrown up a few curved balls over the past few weeks and so I have been fairly inactive, hence no blog post for a while.  However I have been planning and rehearsing a new show with some old songs, new to my solo set, and some new songs I haven't performed live yet. I have also been collecting all the new bits of lure fishing end tackle I need for  next month's fishing expeditions and the big one to Cornwall in September.  I love playing around with the stuff and making sure I have everything  I need. It has been a while since I caught a bass for dinner so I shall be exploring every avenue until I do. I won't be neglecting the pike and perch lure fishing either. I recently caught a beautiful little Jack pike on a tiny lure on the river Stour in Essex.  It was the healthiest  looking pike I have ever seen.  It indicates the river is in very good condition.

Tonight I will be venturing out for a cycle ride on my Bianchi for a night ride. I shall be going on my own as I don't want to be a slow coach for a companion to be frustrated by. Ramblin' will get the call sometime soon, when I have a few more miles under the belt, and off we shall go. There are some lovely day time rides that are only a few miles from where I live and  I love riding through the city at night and heading east down the  river Thames.

I have a couple of FDPFAFDW shows in Sweden booked for next summer in Sweden and Luke and I are looking at putting some shows together for the winter. He is doing gigs on his own to considerable acclaim. He is well on his way to developing a very fresh and special show. He was so good at the last Robin gig we did I realised then that it won't be long before he won't be supporting me and I 'aint gonna get blown off my by son ha ha! Seriously though, I expect him to do well and if he is more successful / better than his dad then that is all good. It is how it should be.

I'm off to Norway again in August. I shall be returning to Elisabeth Labdon's lovely gig, Vaktbua on the island of Odder√łya, Kristiansand. I plan to spend a few days there and get a bit of fishing in as well as hook up with old friends. 

Behind Vaktbua is the ocean. Lovely!  Vaktbua is a small cafe with a garden and the garden is where I will be playing. It is a special venue and well worth a visit for it's unique atmosphere and community  spirit. I hope I will also be able to renew connection with the folk at Happy Days, a project for folk with disabilities. My friend Karen Valeur runs the project and she is an inspiration to anyone who gets what she is doing.  As I write this another email came to invite me to play a Norwegian festival. I wait to find out the details. I am really beginning to think I could go and live there for six months of the year and work quite a lot.

Meanwhile, back in the room, the  Labour party seems intent on tearing itself to pieces. The "Ministry of Data" seems to have lost sight of the facts around the economy. Osbourne is floundering and trying to work out how he is going to break the news that he has underestimated some cuts and must increase them. Is this because he has decided to spread his austerity cuts over a longer time scale than he had intended? A quarter of a million marched against austerity only a few weeks past, just before the budget. Who says marching is pointless? 

I couldn't be at the march this time but I did contribute to the 38 degrees full page newspaper adverts in the same cause.  A couple of days ago the Financial Times reported that the people most adversely affected by the cuts, announced in the latest budget, would be the vulnerable elderly, the disabled, low paid working families and children in poverty or at risk of it. Local Councils are struggling to provide services and we all know which services will be cut. Example - Child protection Services cut by 8%

Last night I down loaded a copy of the Quran. In fact I down loaded three slightly different translations. I felt it was time to investigate the good book for myself. It is too early to say much about this but I will keep you posted. I can say that some of it is very beautiful and some of it seems to present foundation for some of the dark side misinterpretation by modern day Sharia Law. One passage, referring to transgression by a female, allows for her to be struck. I mention this only because another translation adds the word lightly in brackets. So then, struck lightly? How lightly and who decides? Is it Allah or the husband? Sharia Law requires that all adulterers should be struck, with 100 lashes. In practice, this often applies only to a woman.

So to I.S. We have seen the young gay men being thrown off buildings to their deaths or to be finished off  by stoning by the mob. I recently saw a documentary that took place in a god forsaken desert landscape where a young woman was brought before her executioners. She was alleged to have committed adultery but there was no witness  present as prescribed in Sharia law. An IS soldier asked if she had anything to say before she was punished? 
She replied to the effect that she wanted to send a message to young girls and women to protect their honour and to be virtuous. Her father was asked if he could forgive her. He replied that he could not forgive her but he hoped that God would. Did he mean this or were his words formed by his fear of the IS men all around him?
The woman was thrown to the ground and the stoning began. She screamed as large rocks were thrown by several men. Her father rushed forward. He was very close to her, standing over her, then he threw a rock at her head. I will never know if he was trying to punish her or to end her suffering quickly.  

This is the abomination of feral humans who fight for gold under a black flag. They do not love God and it is clear they do not fear God. I never thought that I would be capable of feeling what I do towards these travesties of men but I say- eradicate them entirely. They are the worst clear and present danger to our world other than its ecological desecration for which we all have some responsibility.

Today is a lovely summers day with a soft cooling breeze wafting through the metropolis and I am minded of those who are oppressed without relief nor any means of escape.