Thursday, May 05, 2011

Bristol Folk Music Festival (0)


This weekend I have

1: Drunk Gem Ale

2: Worn flowers in my hair (artificial)

3: Danced (there may be photographic evidence)

4: Drunk Gem Ale

5: Eaten three different kinds of hamburger

6: Played a hammered dulcimer ("You might want to hold those sticks by the other end")

7: The flowers, I mean, not my hair

8: Laughed (e.g at the little man singing about busking, and at Phil Beer's joke about the nerd in the music shop.)

9: Cried (about Joe Peel, John Ball and (actual proper sobs) Cousin Jack)

10: Points 1, 4 and 9 may be related.

11: Joined in, frequently.

12: Worn a union jack tie

13: Seen Steve Knightley dancing along to Remember You're A Womble

14: Seen Jim Moray playing his accordion in the bar

15: Seen English people queueing politely for the bar

16: Drunk Gem ale.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Thought for the Day

I have not rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him
Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul.
Job 29

Friday, April 29, 2011

and the really great news is the BRISTOL FOLK FESTIVAL, so there's more of this to come.

Just as well there's nothing on TV at the weekend.

Robin Williamson / John Renbourne

Bristol Folkhouse 23 April

You remember Robin Williamson. I've mentioned him before: described by the Archbishop of Canterbury as "sacred"; by myself as "holy"; and by Bob Dylan as "quite good". He really does just radiate warmth and joy from the stage. There are different kinds of Williamson sets; this one was quite heavily focused on the bluesy (Don't Let Your Deal Go Down, Whang Dang Doodle) the whimsical (Sweet as Tennessee Whiskey) with a bit of Dylan (Buckets of Rain). When you go and hear a singer more than once, you expect to hear the same songs. I could listen to him plucking out Dylan on the harp a thousand times over. I still can't tell if he's parodying the song -- accentuating Dylan's tortuous rhymes ("well everybody can be like me, obviously / but not everyone can be like you, fortunately") or just drawing out a humour that's already there. And I'd have been positively disappointed if he hadn't, with that twinkly voice, finished on "Will anybody tell me where the blarney roses grow?" ("set to folk tune number 2). I love the way he makes the audience speak the words before joining in the chorus; as serious and deadpan as when he was teaching us names from Irish mythology, the last time I head him. You do, however, after several gigs, start to get used to some of the jokes and in-between patter. However, the story about how Don't Let Your Deal Go Down was taught him by Tom Paley was new to me. (As he loves to say, the song is usually played on blues harp, but works okay on an actual harp.) He's changed the chords, the tune and some of the words from when he learned it, but its still bacislly the song that Tom Paley taught him. (Tom Paley's the old guy (must be 90) who played at the Folk Against Fascism gig in London last year, notable for having appeared in a duo with Woody Guthrie --or, if the biography I'm reading is to be believed, for playing by himself because Woody Guthrie hadn't turned up. I love it that there's a tenuous continuity between Woody Guthrie and the Incredible String Band.) John Renbourne's moody jazzy slippy slidey guitar playing is never less than wonderful, but I was surprised by how passive he was tonight: Steve said you could have mistaken him for an accompanist, even though he's at least as eminent and venerable as Robin. No Incredible String Band songs or story telling tonight. Just tunes. Magical, magical tunes. Quite good, indeed.


Chapel Arts Center Bath April 15th

That damn woman with the nasty sister. She gets about, doesn't she? This time the bad sister throws the good one in the sea rather than in a river, and it's three minstrels who fish her out, with no miller in sight. She still gets dismembered and recycled as a harp, and the harp limits itself to singing "Lay the bent to the bonny broom", as opposed to "bow and balance to me" or "oh the dreadful wind and the rain" or (more helpfully) "my sister dunnit".

"You obviously like songs about death and doom and killing" said Jaqui McShee after the very enthusiastic ovation that the song elicited. Well, yes, possibly: or possibly the audience were (like me) giving their approval to a very traditional song, given a very satisfactory make-over, without losing any of its narrative drive.

Pentangle were, of course, one of the very biggest names of the second (or was it third?) folk revival of the 1960s, and more or less invented "jazz folk". This group is, in fact "Jacqui McShee's Pentangle", with Ms McShee's astonishing unearthly voice being the only link with the original group. This incarnation seemed more jazzy than what I've heard of the original: several numbers had longish sax and flute interludes which sounded (to me, and you really shouldn't pay much attention to anything that I say) like fairly traditional jazz riffs.

I associate Pentangle with "jazzy, tinkly versions of old songs" and I could have wished for a little more of that this evening. The opening number, with a whirring, droning undergrowth over which McShee's crystaline voice comes over, first with a traditional number, then with a self penned piece about the very important subject, life, thrilled me with its strangeness.  But over the course of the evening, I felt perhaps I had had as much "ethereal" and "jazzy" as I needed, and would have liked some more, er folk songs.

The Old Dance School

Bristol Folk House April 8

Ah, yes. Eight horribly talented young people. They met at the Birmingham Conservatoire. All the boys were studying jazz and all the girls were studying classical music. One of the girls teaches classical violin. They all think Andy Cutting is wonderful. They finish the night with a long jiggy instrumental piece that leads into John Ball, which it will be remembered that Andy Cutting's friend Chris Wood sometimes plays. (It's almost compulsory for modern folkies to play at least one Sydney Carter song. What price a contemporary version of Friday Morning?) It's always an inspirational number whoever plays it. The jazz-classical influence is very obvious. I don't swear if you had played me the instrumental stuff, I would have instantly identified it as folk. Not that that matters. It's all music. The instrumental riff ends with two fiddles going "peep-peep-peep" like a string quartet, not "diddly-diddly-dee" like a folk group. There was something of Lau in the jazzy way the melody gets passed around, although it was more like melody and less about rhythm, and never stopped being music. The double bass provided some rhythm in lieu of percussion, like Miranda Sykes does with Show of Hands. It was clearly very clever indeed but for my personal taste, I couldn't help feeling that there were, er, too many notes.

Steve Tilston

Wed 16th Feb Jazz@ Future Inns

Don't seem to have taken any notes at this one.

Steve Tilston was every bit as good as he always is, and his sidesman and mouth organ player Keith Warmington is simpy charming. He was mainly trying out material from his forthcoming album: regret to say that I wasn't taking notes. He sang one about a Mexican rebel, and one about what this generation is leaving to the next. He carried off all his new songs with aplomb, and almost got through My Love She Speaks Like Silence withut a hithc. ("What comes next -- come on, there must be some Dylan-heads here?") .....and then managed to mix up the verses of Slipjigs and Reels on the encore. But no-one minded at all because he's so wonderful. What the correct procedure for getting the Queen to declare someone a national treausre?

Woody Sez

Arts Theater London

Not a concert, as such, but a play about the life of Woodrow Wilson Guthrie. Started life in America, but now touring Englandland.

The programme notes described the creation of the show as being a little like a jazz improvisation, with David Lutken, the creator, who also takes the role of Woody Guthrie, acting as a kind of conductor. That's certainly what the evening felt like. The four-person cast clearly know Woody's songbook intimately, and there was a sense of the evening being a tapestry; almost a symphony. It lacked the dramatic ingenuity of This Land at the Yorkshire Playhouse last year: but it was musically far superior.

The Arts theater is a very small venue -- thirty seconds from Leicester Square, but feeling like the "fringe". It wasn't full, but that allowed the cast to create a real connection with the audience. They come onto the stage as the auditorium is filling up and play some old time instrumental numbers. Lutken says high to the audience, asks them to check their mobile phones, apologise for the frog in his throat, tells us they'll be a "hootenanny" after the show on Saturday, and then starts to talk about how much Woody meant to him when he was first learning to play the guitar in Texas.

That sets the tone. The cast are telling the story, and singing the songs, and acting out some of the characters, but it's never really a play. More a concert with dramatic interludes. Some of the numbers are performed in full. Darcie Deaville  gives us Union Maid;  the entire company does So Long It's Been Good To Know Ya.  Andy Teirston, with his big, smiley, old-timer eyes takes us through Talkin' Dust Bowl Blues ("filled it full of that gas-o-line -- that's what you call PETROL...") as well as providing a cross-talk partner for some of Woody's jokes. Including the one about the one-eyed banker who bets the farmer that he can't spot which is his glass eye ("Oh, I just looked for the one that had glint of compassion in it...and knew that had to be the glass one.").

But other songs only come through in snatches. We're asked, cleverly if not quite convincingly, to see the Grapes of Wrath as a kind of template for Guthrie's life, and verses of the Ballad of Tom Joad run right through the evening, as a kind of chorus.

It's Lutken's night, of course. Everyone is on their feet, clapping, for the final reprise of This Land, although, in a way, the scene in Act 1 where Woody tries to sing about that big ol' sign saying "Private Property" and is kicked off the wireless (and replaced with a Pepsi commercial!) is more telling. The play's maybe a little coy about Guthrie's communism. We see him singing "Ain't Going Study War No More" with the left-wing Almanac singers. He pulls a clipping of one of his newspaper columns from his pocket, and reads that if the capitalists and land-lords didn't build walls and create borders, there wouldn't be no wars. But then he decides that "There's a difference between wanting something to end and wanting to end it" before going into the ultra-patriotic Sinking of the Reuben James. Well, yes: but mixed in with that pacifism was surely a disturbingly pro-Stalinist communist party line.

The most telling moment in the production isn't Union Maid or Reuben James or even Lutken's brilliantly melancholic account of the Great Dust Storm Disaster. It's Woody sitting on the edge of the stage, describing how he returned from a gig to find that there had been an electrical fire in his home and his baby daughter for whom --indeed, with whom -- he wrote Car, Car and the other nursery ballads, has been burned to death. Almost immediately, the narrator figure goes into the last line of Tom Joad ("wherever people are hungry and starve / wherever people ain't free / wherever men are fighting for their lives / that's where I'm a gonna be"). Woody replies with "nobody living / can make me turn back / this land was made for you and me"....and begins his long slow decline which ends with him in the mental ward of Brooklyn State mental hospital.

Woody Guthrie was a more complicated character than you can put into a two-hour play, and it isn't unreasonable to "print the legend" when you are dramatizing the life of a man who spent most of his short career inventing mythologizing himself. This was a pretty damn good play, and at absolutely first rate musical tribute.

Sid Kipper

7 April - Bath Comedy Festival

Lester and Mick used to periodically played Sid Kipper on Folkwaves, back in those glorious old days when we were still allowed to have folk music on the wireless. From his records, he appeared to be entirely mad, with a dangerous weakness for puns. ("On Feb 29th, the squire awarded a haunch of venison to any lady who successfully proposed to a young man. It was a case of meat buoys girl.") So I was pleased to have the opportunity to hear him live. He was originally part of a duo called the Kipper Family, and if you find that remotely funny, you'd probably have laughed at his songs as well. (*)

Well... You'd probably have laughed at at least one of his songs, in a very broad, carry-on style music hall way. A fair sample of the tone:

Now our Norfolk turkeys are simply the best,
They sure knock the stuffing out of the rest
And if you tried one I'm sure that you would
Agree that our turkeys are Norfolk and good.
Audience: Norfolk and Good! Norfolk and Good!
You'll say our turkeys are Norfolk and Good!

Beneath the silliness, there are some sharp folk in-jokes. "People debate whether or not women can Morris dance. Since they do, you'd think that would have finished the argument." (While you take part in this frolic / Remember that it's all symbolic.) I enjoyed the one about the young lady enthusiastically sending her young man off to fight in the wars, while he sings response verses coming up with excuses to stay at home. And the entirely daft cod Latin reworking of Gaudete

Troilus et Cressida, In Loco Parentis
Honi soit qui mal y pense, Harry Belafontee

And the entirely genuine 17th century protest song, played on a harpsichord.

How roads many roads must a dodo walk down
Before you can call her a dodo?
How many seas must the white Dodo sail
Before she rests by the road-oh.

In fact, rather than reciting the entire set list, I liked nearly all of it. And the way Sid (actually comedian Chris Sugden, but don't tell anybody) keeps up the endless stream of cod Norfolk patter and malapropisms, without stepping out of character once is actually very clever indeed. ("....or you can look at my webpage, or go on Myface and Twat me...but I digest...) But I did start to feel by the end of the evening that I had now heard the joke, and that 25 of the best Kippersongs (sung in order of their royalties: "this one has earned by £178 in the last ten years") is less funny than one of them.

Also worth mentioning the support act, a local duo called Man Overboard, which I can only describe as "quirky": guitar guy Martyn Dormer follows a comedy ukele number called The Phantom Wanker of HMV with a creditably bellowed Port of Amsterdam, interspersed with some perfectly straight jiggedy jiggedy jigs by the fiddler Brendan Jones. The mixing of the very silly with the not particularly silly at a gig being done under auspices of the Bath Comedy Festival was very courageous, but I thought really worked. Will try to track these people down again.

(*) English folk music was invented by a group called "The Copper Family": get it?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

O'Hooley and Tidow

Bristol Folk House March 11

I have been reading a book called Electric Eden. Apparently, Bristol Folk House was implicated in the abortive 1922 scheme to stage a series of Arthurian operas and establish Glastonbury as a sort of English Bayreuth. This isn't especially relevant to anything, but it gives me a sort of warm feeling of continuity.

Tonight's show takes place in the bar, rather than the main hall. Belinda "used to be in the unthanks" O'Hooley sits at the piano; Heidi Tidow stands and sings. They're both wearing masculine suits. (The BBC informs me that O'Hooley is a "lesbian icon".) They keep up a self-deprecating banter throughout the show. There's a man in the audience in a kilt, who seems to think everyone came to see him. You could easily feel that you'd blundered into a rather camp cabaret.

And they start singing. They run through the darkest and most depressing set I think I've ever heard. Oh, there are some bright moments. They open the second half with What Shall I Do If I Married A Tinker, lovingly ripped off from the Silly Sisters. (If you are going to imitate, imitate the best, as I always say.) But really. This is the sort of evening where a song about about child-victims of concentration camps ("they were like you in the same year/ but you grew up, they were scarcely even here") leads into one about the execution of Edith Cavel, and then into Whitethorn, a song in which an ancestor of the singer mourns the seventeen babies she gave birth to, not one of which survived. Things don't cheer up noticeably when we get to the duo's contribution to the the "Christmas single" genre. "She is the flower that I trod on when I went to post this card...She is the plastic I wrapped up for a child to undress She is the the shadow in the darkness, the object of my distress." God bless us every one.

O'Hooley has a highly expressive, sometimes almost violent style on the piano, and Tidow's declamatory, monolithic, by still highly emotive delivery put me slightly in mind of June Tabor. The encore is based around Belinda's day job, working in an old folks home. There is some banter about memory loss and wet seat covers, before going into a mercilessly bleak piece about old age and love and regret. ("She walks with the aid of a zimmer / to the chair on temporary loan / But then, she was a dancer / The quick step, the cha-cha...")

Truly, this was the kind of evening that might make you want to go home and slit your wrists, or at the very least, have several large whiskeys to cheer yourself up. I enjoyed it very much indeed.

Chris Wood / Martin Carthy

Feb 9 Kings Place London

On Tuesday, Chris Wood had been nonchalantly crowned "best folksinger" and owner of the "best song" at the Radio 2 folk awards. ("Hollow Point" had made me cry all over again. "Folk music is like a raspberry pip in the back tooth of the establishment" he'd said.) Tonight, he was "curating" the first night of a series of talks and concerts about "the anonymous tradition", at the Kings Place art center in London. ("Think of it as like a festival, but for grown ups" he explained. I only managed to get to the first night, because the series was unreasonably in London and I work annoyingly in Bristol. So I missed my chance to be in the crowd singing Butter and Cheese and All on Folk-Song a Day.) Chris never fails to say that he regards "anon" as the greatest song-writer who ever lived.

First half of the evening was a panel discussion, also featuring Simon Armitage (a man who writes pomes) and Hugh Lupton, the story teller and lyricist who wrote the words of Chris's contemporary fairy-tale tear-jerker One in a Million. Hugh didn't say a great deal, which was a shame. The net of the discussion was cast, perhaps, a little too widely: Mr Armitage talked about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which he has recently translated into Modern -- a poem by a single author, whose name happens to be lost to us; where Chris Wood and Martin Carthy were more interested in poems which don't really have authors, but which are the product of that nebulous thing called The Tradition. Chris said that occasionally, at sessions, he plays one of his own compositions without letting on that it is his, in the hope that other people will pass it on. "I've taken so much from the tradition" he said "I want to put a little back in" . That's about the only time I've heard him drifting towards the folk equivalent of luvviedom.

There was an opportunity for question from the floor, which, as is the way with these things, the audience interpreted as "could you say randomly whatever comes into your head for the next two and a half minutes." Chris said that he wouldn't quite regard his songs as "finished" until, presumably after he is dead, they start to circulate without his name attached to them. I asked from the floor how that could be possible: his songs are intensely personal: his wife, his children, his allotment. (@Sam: He really is married to a lady called Henrietta -- at any rate his second album is dedicated to someone of that name. She wasn't just brought in for the sake of a rhyme. Did Dylan ever really date anyone called Angelina?) He said that he thought that his song "No Honey Tongued Sonnet" which is, on the one hand, very specifically about English schools and particularly the daft and thankfully now obsolete 11 Plus examination, was actually more generally about being labelled as a failure and rising above it. He said he'd done a a song workshop with some sixth form kids, and many of them didn't know what "Hollow Point" was about. Six years is a long time: perhaps great injustices only get remembered in the forms of song?

In the second half, he and Martin took to the stage. Chris sang No Honey Tongued Sonnet and My Darlings Downsized, and part of Listening to the River, an absolutely extraordinary thing he composed for Radio2, in which he talked to members of the public who lived near the Medway and used their words to build up a sound portrait of the river: actually imitating the inflection of his informants voices on his fiddle, and then incorporating it into a melody. I think of him as an interpreter and writer of folk-songs: I sometimes forget that he's an absolutely first rate violinist. Martin sang Jim Jones, which on some days of the week is my favourite traditional folk song, and they sang Three Jovial Welshmen together. (Martin invariable introduces the song by saying "I'm going to do a song called Three Jovial Welshmen....why does that always get a laugh?" The Kings Place audience were far too respectful, and rather spoiled his punchline.)

At the beginning of the evening, Martin looked...very much like someone whose wife has been in intensive care for the last three months... but he seemed to uncurl and come to life to re-tell the story of how he was turned onto folk music by hearing a Norfolk fisherman at Ewan Mcoll's folk club singing a long ballad which appeared to obey no musical rules. The question of what makes Carthy such a uniquely special performer is one that's hard to answer. Gavin put it nicely in a review last year: he's not the greatest singer; his guitar playing can be awkward, but "some invisible magic sparks between them." Martin himself explained it poignantly and perfectly tonight. When he was a younger man, he was just singing the words and tunes. "But now" he said  "I believe them. I believe every word."

The most touching moment of the evening was Martin's warmly congratulating Chris after he's finished the set with an uncompromisingly nuanced meander through Lord Bateman. To steal a line from a review on Amazon: you can just see the torch of traditional English folk music being passed from the older man to the younger.

Steve Knightley/Jim Causley

Jan 29 - Q.E.H Bristol

It never stops amazing and delighting me, that performers like Steve Knightly who fill the Colston Hall and Wells Cathedral and the Albert Hall are quite happy to come and perform in a not-quite-full school theatre in front of I suppose 100 people. You might almost think they were in it for the sheer love of the music, or something.

Maybe I have started down a path in which all music -- and all political literature, and all episodes of Doctor Who -- can be neatly divided into "authentic" and "inauthentic"; maybe this will lead, inexorably, to me sitting in the back of the Albert Hall in 2012 shouting "Judas!" But I liked Steve better in this format than I have at any of the book showpiece Show of Hands gigs I've been to - just the words and the music. Take Galway Farmer: I only knew it from the "Best Of..." album, belted out in front of a big Irish band, with an audience that already knows the words and the punch line. Tonight, Steve presented it as nature intended. Unaccampanied. Almost....dangerous....just your voice and and a story and faith that the audience is going to care

But at the first she nearly fell
I cursed my farmers luck to hell
The second and third she took quite well
Way behind the leaders
Then moving swiftly from the back
Found the rails and caught the pack
Ten to go and from the back
Her hooves were drumming thunder

Steve is amused that the song now appears on website listing "tradtional" Irish ballads.

Similarly, his grim, murderous re-imagining of Widdecombe Fair "

But the landlord said that the last thing seen
Was a boy and a girl out on the moor
That was all he knew and he showed me the door

has a real intensity when you are only ten feet away from the singer.

It was clever idea of someone's to pair the rather grim and gravelly Steve with the sweet, baby faced Devonian Jim Causley -- no longer with Makwin, it seems, but more than able to to accompany himself on the accordian. Although I very much liked the the musical jiggery pokery in the Mawkin:Causley version, the solo Jim Jones seemed to do a better job of capturing the dramatic intensity of the piece. Jim stands on the stage with a sparkly, twinkle eyed persona, and then sings songs which are so much older than he is with total conviction: poor Dylan Thomas dreaming about the Summer Girls he's never going to get off with; the Radio Ballad about the old unemployed railwayman whose "given his whistle one last blow and swapped his old pole for a hoe". A survey once revealed that Mr Hitler was the most hated man in history, but that Dr Beeching came a close second.

Not everything works. I really think that the mighty Country Life needs the full amplified pop treatment to deliver its punch, although I could see the point of pairing it up with Downbound Train (written by some American.) But in between your angry songs, and the grim murder ballads and the worthy political torch-songs like Santiago and Cousin Jack he can be very very funny. He finished the first set with a daft number suggested when his kids started playing that infuriating "repeating everything you say" game. "Stop Copying Me", it's called, and, of course, its a call and response song with the audience repeating every line. (Which, come to think of it, manages to make some serious points about file sharing and selling exam papers.)

Yes, Show of Hands are ubiquitous, too popular to be kosher, sometimes drift into over-indulgent singer-song writer stuff and once blotted their copybook by writing a patriotic number, but this is the pure, raw story telling of a man who really does know what it is to stand in the street with an old guitar.

Olden Days

So, my extensive fanbase (Sid and Dorris Bonkers) is on tenterhooks (whatever a tenterhook is) to hear my answer to the question on everybody's lips. Namely: "Andrew: have you been to any folk concerts recently."

Well, yes. As it happens, I have...

If you really wanted to, you could have a whole book of this sort of thing.

How Many Folksingers Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb
On the news yesterday, there was a vox-pop quote from an American lady, referring to the Leader of the Free World and Commander in Chief: "He isn't even an American citizen."

Last week on Have I Got New For You, a Tory politician (such a minor one that she was preapred to appear on Have I Got News For You) said "A.V is such a bad system that only three countries in the world use it. All the rest use first-past-the-post."

I can sort of understand how someone can believe in Six Day Creation or Homeopathy or something. But these Tea Pots and Naysayers don't even understand their own arguments.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I spend a lot of time slagging off journalists and politicians for being evil lying pondscum. Because most of them are. I have really really really never been more annoyed about anything than I am about the  "In AV, the loser can win" poster campaign.

So could I draw everyone's attention to this piece in the New Statesmen, about what we're now pretending was a "war" which broke out at the bottom of my street last week.

It's a piece of sane, balanced, accurate, properly-sourced journalism that reports on what happened, and gives quotes about what people think about what happened.

And you know what the sad thing is: when I read it I was surprised and said "I didn't know anyone was still doing that sort of writing."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

This is England...

spotted in Brizzle yesterday...

several people with musical instruments, singing about how much better things were in the olden days

Girl Guides serving tea and cake...

Real live Morris Dancers!!!!!

and most importantly of all:
no riot

(do you think someone should have told them that it wasn't technically St George's day?)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare

this made me happy for a week

And Happy St George's Day

please stand for the national anthem...

...excuse me, i seem to have something in my eye

Friday, April 22, 2011

update -

we can look forward to the image of a severely broken tescoes with "closing down sale" scrawled across it adorning many a left wing bedroom over the next few years

there seem to be two distinct narratives emerging

a lot of ground level spectators seem to be under the impression that there was a concerted, deliberate attack on the shop by some lefty / anarchists which the police stepped in to stopped (ask someone what caused the fuss, and they will say "tescos"

on the other hand, other people are saying that seventy police with helicopters and horses converged to evict four (4) people from a squat, and that when they saw 70 police on their street, a lot of other locals emerged to find out what the hell was going on and things escalated from there

there is a film on the interwebs of tescos being "ramraded" (not firebombed -- it doesn't look burnt out to me) and this looks very much like spur of the moment vandalism -- not something pre-orchestrated

and now, here is a true story:

an old man became very scared, because he thought that there was an unidentified intruded in his garden -- whether a drunk, a burglar or a some kids fooling about, he did not know

he dialled 999, or, for listeners in America, 911, and asked to speak to the local police "I am very scared because I live alone and there is an unidentified intruder in my garden"

"it doesn't sound like he's committed any crime" said the officer "and at the moment, we really can't spare any officers -- we will send a car to check it out, but it might not be for three or four hours."

a bit late the old man phone the police again

"you don't need to bother with that police car" he said "the intruder was holed up in my potting shed, so i got my old shotgun and killed him"

five minutes late, the house is surrounded by panda cars, armed officers, searchlights and a helicopter is circling over head. in all the commotion, a very surprised looking tramp emerges from the potting shed, and his led away by a liason officer

The police officer in charge is absolutely furious

"You told us you'd killed him!" he said
"Well, you told me you didn't have any spare policemen" said the old man

Thought for the Day

ok : this is how it looks to me

-- tescos opens, after a long campaign by (some) local people to stop it from opening (Stokes Croft / Cheltenham Road / Gloucester Road are a characterful part of Brizzle, with cafes, independent shops, two bakeries, original Banksy graffiti, refreshingly free from all the faceless highstreet brands; the fear is that tescos will put the small shops out of business, and the empty small shops will be taken over by more subway and more startbucks. I rather like starbucks, but I think eight is probably sufficient for one town.

-- some campaigners stage a rather raucus but from what I could see peaceful and good natured demonstation outside the shop. although i use sainsburies, scumerfield and the independent one by the arches, I don't go in tescos if for no other reason than that you don't cross picket lines; you just don't.

-- meanwhile, there is a squat going on in a building near tescos, full of dangerous media studies students and sociologists. squatting isn't against the law -- it's a civil matter.

-- however, mysteriously, the State discovers that the squat also contains a lot of "potential" petrol bombs, or "bottles" as they are usually known

-- the State decides that the best thing to do is to evict the squatters -- i.e send lots and lots of bobbies onto a street where there is already a raucous, but essentially peaceful, demonstration going on

-- they further decide that the best way to do this is to close off both ends of the road so that even local people who have nothing to do with the squat or the demo can't get to their own houses (which is presumably why they surged towards my street)

-- they also decide to do this is on a Thursday before a public holiday, when lots of people are out, have been drinking, and don't have to get up the next day

-- whatever you may say about Chris Chalkley, and he's always been very charming to me, his think national act local campaign (painting murals on boarded up buildings etc etc etc) has either created a sense of a Stokes Croft Community or plugged into a feeling of community that was already there: I certainly have a "sense of place" and am pleased to live in the area in a way that I haven't felt about many other places where I've lived. so naturally, telling people that they can't walk down their own street in a street which has quite such a strong sense of identity was never going to be pretty

-- sure enough a riot develops, bricks get thrown and riot shields and truncheons get put into people's faces and tescos gets smashed up

-- in a fortnights time, when the windows have been repaired and tescos has reopened the peaceful hippies will want to stage another peaceful protest, and presumably the State won't let them because of what happened before

-- result!

this is just my impression: i don't know any more than anyone else does, and maybe there really was a bomb making factory and maybe V really was bussing anarchists in from Wales. the State controlled media is largely ignoring the story

off to the cathedral now