Sky summer evening

Sky summer evening

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Bournemouth Folk Club 18/8/2011

I came as a performer, but I'll definitely be back to join the audience.

Bournemouth folk club is a pleasure. I'd say it is Bournemouth's best kept secret, but it seems that everything creative, marginal and grass-roots in this conurbation is a well-kept secret.

I got lost on my way to "Centre Stage", the venue for said Folk Club. This is not a flaw in the location of the place, it's just that I didn't look up the directions before heading out. I never do; in a sea-side town, it's never difficult to find a place by following signs, rough ideas and by asking along the way. So when, minutes before the performance was due to start, I could still be found (or rather, lost) approaching strangers to find directions to "Centre Stage"I was unpleasantly surprised! It took a grudging chain-B+B receptionist collaborating with a search-engine to find that it was thirty seconds around the corner. Turns out, it's not a well kept secret - it's just that very few people are asking the right questions....

Andy Stone - ethereal, honest folk by a song-writer who worked seamlessly with his guitar to draw pictures in the air. His songs together told a story through which his wandered like a true folky. Listen out for his tale of African swallows, and his atmospheric instrumental "The Wrong Kind of Snow". He wants the listener to feel and enjoy his songs, guiding us through the lyrics to charm us into joining in- this is a performer very close to his audience. Refreshing

Rabbit Run - intelligent, bluesy music from a distinctive singer. The boy-girl pair have a stripped-back kind of class, as the stunning pair regale us with melancholic tales, told with real consideration for the words - which is rare! Having said this, the lovely singer's voice doesn't lend itself to clarity, so it was sometimes difficult to keep the thread of the stories. Enjoyable nonetheless with her unique vocal texture and a very skilled guitarist.

The Mother Folkers - stole the show for me! A fun, talented 6-piece on tour from Sheffield with great rapport within the band, and a whole range of instruments (gotta love the "Box" percussion instrument - a must-have for added quirkiness in any folk-group). The lasses carry off elegant energy while still maintaining their individuality (well done ladies!), while the lads are happy to take the essential backing-role - their skills on bass, guitar and box speak for themselves where their stubborn jeans-and-t's don't bother to. Clearly a hard-working group, making use of the stage space (and height-levels at one point) and the vocal talents of every member to spin some escalating harmonies. Awesome dance-able folk - go see them while there's still room at the front, but don't be afraid to start off the dancing - you'll regret not doing so!

Check this place out - Lovely community atmosphere, tolerable drinks prices and an impressively diverse audience. Details on upcoming events + prices available here:

This folk society are responsible for both Purbeck (25th-29th August) and Bournemouth (March 2012) Folk festivals. They hold a £1 raffle for worthy prizes like wine and vouchers at most events, and while the night had a decent turn-out, it deserves to be one of those stuffed, energetic nights full of people, straw, the sound of feet on wood, the occasional goat...

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Power-Looting After the Riots: Be Prepared (draft 1)

We all know that the violence of these riots we have seen are inexcusable. Let's make that clear. The left perspective is not "this is okay" and it is ridiculously simplistic to say "This is not okay, but it's understandable: they're poor". But rioters' violence does not exist in a vacuum without build-up and - most importantly - without effect on legislation.

I hear them called "youths" and "rioters" and "animals" - any word that is not "people". The rioters are not a different species. We seem to want to distance our own race from these "rioting youths", but it is not just possible. We need to remember that they are humans, and then ask what made these thinking people into cruel, selfish, violent, destructive ones.

It's anger, it's opportunity, it's more than just "taking stuff", but that will come out in time. I have ideas, speculations, things of which I'm certain, but explaining why we do what we do is a wing of academia that could fill Croydon...or Hackney or Ealing, and simplifying isn't useful. In a way, it's too late to discuss why; what's done is done, as was said by a young man who used social networking media to arrange some community clean-ups. Maybe he's onto something. Right now, while we watch the riots continue, we need to prepare ourselves for our own fight - one to maintain what freedom we have.

So looking to the future: what happens now? "Precautions", more invasive police powers – “robust” is the Government's favourite word this time – and a link which is forging in so many minds between peaceful protest and riots. One fool (a politician at that) stated on the BBC news around midday today that the riots demonstrate that water-canons should've been used, but furthermore - that they should have been used in the November student protests! The gathering of forty-five thousand people, mostly students brought by University Unions, last year ended in a damaged window, a small fire and a heavy fire extinguisher chucked into a crowd from a roof. It was, of course, these images that made it into the papers, and it is the idea of chaos that sticks.
The Government line is that the riots had nothing to do with the protest of around 120 people in Tottenham following the shooting of Mark Duggan by police (the details of which were withheld from even the family). This is probably the Government line because it prevents a link being made between a police act and the riots. And yet the Government seem happy to relate riot-response by police to protest-response. It's a clever use of outright statement ("this has nothing to do with the Mark Duggan shooting protest") and tying together unconscious connections between"dealing with riot" and "dealing with protest". No one should be allowed to have and eat their cake. Especially not cats who are already excessively fat. Now the job's done: the link has been drawn between protest and riot, which attempts to justify brutal – sorry, “robust” – police response as the solution to both.

We saw this same story-line with the 7/7 terrorist attacks, when horrific but isolated acts were used to justify expanded police powers. These powers were then abused; implemented completely out of context – to search the bags of children during political party conferences, to quash peaceful direct action, even in the countryside, and to keep people imprisoned without charge. The police will take whatever powers we let them. They are learning from patterns of the past – we, the folk of Britain, need to learn too.

Name-calling at the august riots

word "youth" you think
represents-na-is our nature
do you think
that you call us by name
when you call us

? you go quiet and nod
like you understand

tell the smallest kids to nod too
and they'll squint
hiss to eachother: "i think
they look more like people"

and they will wail to understand
and then smile that there is hope
that they are not alone in thinking
it through

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Snap-shots: Forest Leisure Cycle-routes

The perfect job is currently open. One problem: I'm not the perfect person for it. What would you do to prove your potential?

Bicycles, Birds and Bugs – oh dear!

It’s not just the deer that you’re in for when you take a ride along the Deer-Sanctuary cycle-route in the New Forest. A dynamic landscape and sound-scape awaits.

You’ll become familiar with the marbled rustle-sound of gravel under tyres as you cycle into the forest from Burley. It’ll accompany you, along with the quiet rings and clicks of the bike cranks. I associate the sound with arriving at Gran’s house in the car, but after you’ve tried this 20-mile route a whole new memory will be triggered by that crunch. If you’re taking the kids along, maybe years later they’ll hear the stones grinding outside their front door and remember the gravelly routes provided by Forest Leisure Cycling, such as the Deer Sanctuary path which circles twenty miles of rare wildlife for the nature-spotters amongst you, and leaf-shaped sun-beams for the stop-and-thinkers.

Your eyes are likely to be open to more than the direction you’re taking; scanning the route for deer and ponies and squirrels – but while looking for the big mammals, don’t miss the smaller things. You will probably spot a Dartford Warbler (a tiny, rare bird not much larger than a wren) or come across a Wild Gladiolus (a striking, rare flower) without knowing why it’s amazing to see them. I blame the daft names that the British like assigning to unique things. It’s hard to get excited about a Hobby or Tree Pipit, and yet some of these creatures are found exclusively in the New Forest. Just wait until you’re out there, seeing something that won’t be looked upon anywhere else in the country; it’ll be hard not to get excited! Searching them out requires nothing more than patience, but to make it easier when you go, take my advice: focus first through your ears; you’ll hear more than gravel. There are some great websites out there (some of which are listed below) with audio recordings to help you identify what you might hear en-route. With a little attention to the surrounding sounds, you might just be able to direct your eyes to something very small and very special.

Take the voice of the world’s forests – the New Forest Cicada (Cicadetta Montana). It’s a good indication of how bizarre this forest really is; it’s one of those creatures that, as far as we know, you won’t find anywhere else in the country. This noisy bug lives in sunny clearings near scrub, or at the edges of woodland. In short, keep your ears open on the Deer sanctuary path and you might just be in luck. As bugs go, this cicada’s not hard to spot; it’s quite a big bug, harmless, and its zippy chirrup is unmistakable.

The draw-back of moving so quickly through the forest is far outweighed by the positives of riding a bike when you go nature-spotting; it involves covering a lot of ground, getting some good exercise, and being very close to nature – no car-doors to separate or loud motor-engines to mask the landscape’s own dynamic noises. Combine this with the collage of rare birds that, like the Cicada, reveal their position in their songs, and you’ve got yourself a perfect bike-ride.

But it’s not just the tiny and rare that will keep your senses filled in the New Forest; there are bigger things, too. If little tweeters that fascinate we birdwatchers aren’t enough, how about the Northern Goshawk which can zoom near ground-level through woodland; moulding its body through nooks and tiny gaps at blistering speed to capture live prey. And look out for the mighty Red Kite, once nearly extinct, now flourishing. It’s hard to mistake, with its eye-catching red plumage, kite-like glide and forked tail that catches golden in the sun. The New Forest is by no means the only place to spot them, but what a backdrop the forest would provide! Even this stunning bird does its bit to recycle, preferring to find its dinner already dead – it searches out carrion, and occasionally terrifies drivers with spectacular split-second dives for road kill. To spot one, the sound you’re looking for is a cry that you might mistake for an eagle – high, long, ringing like a cicada, and slightly hoarse like the squeak of a bicycle-chain, or like the sound of tyres on gravel.

For bicycle-hire and cycle-route maps, visit Forest Leisure Cycling in Burley BH24 4AB

Or get geared up and your own bicycle serviced before you go at Forest Leisure Cycles on Christchurch Road in East Boscombe, BH7 6BW

New forest wildlife: Find out more

The New Forest Cicada (Cicadetta Montana) sounds like this:

Brief summary of some New Forest birds and their songs:

Rare and local plants

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Thursday, 10 February 2011

blindfolded+ running: no more

FLAG: From 30,000 feet up, looking down, it seems nothing is hiding. Actually, there's an entire dimension you can't see until you hit the ground with a splash. Then you can see what must be done and a new, sprinting motivation bursts outwards in every direction fueled on its own fuel.
SEMI-OBSESSIVE-LISTENING: Still beats and bars music!
POETRY? Much, something I can do to help

Finland isn't where I need to be.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


After Leda and the Swan

Lashes; tail-flicking
Cashing-in on the cock
of a swan-head – a bill in her direction
malted teaser, he sees her
and takes; plucks her

Crossed; he came
Across a lost child, prayers
Skirting her lips in rich O’s, unknows
The stark revere of the flinch
Of crossed legs. Biting,
Her necklace