A Reply to Geoff’s Question Regarding Events On My Birthday.

Hi Geoff,

Who cares, really, about birthdays in the grand scheme of things and especially when one is moving along on the relentless conveyor belt walkway, (shuffle way?), to older age? Not me for sure.

I was 68 this time which of course means I’m in my 69th year and it’s OK but that’s mostly because there’s nothing at all I can do about it; it’s gonna happen whatever.

You asked me: ‘How did your big day go? Mine was dreary.’

Well, my day was certainly less dreary than yours due to the excitement that inevitably, though accidentally, followed a mishap during my routine of domestic cleaning on Saturdays.

Let me explain.

I was in the shower some day in the week before my birthday and had noticed that the bath was not draining as it ought to; there was a growing delay with the water’s egress and therefore a puddling pool at the plughole. (Good title for an album dear?) I suspected hair balls at a flexure and used my rubber plunger (steady now!) to force the water under pressure down the outlet pipe so to dislodge whatever was obstructing the flow. I later saw that this had made little difference to matters and was beginning to consider getting some branded drain cleaner solution.

Then, out of the blue, the shower gave up the ghost so, as the house maintenance man, I was employed in finding a suitable replacement at a reasonable cost. I made enquiries of mates, friendly plumbers and electricians, one of whom got me a trade price quote for a shower unit. This was approximately £120.00 and he wanted nothing for getting me one at that price. My mate Alan the plumber said he’d gladly fit any replacement I bought for £150.00 – £180 (this variable figure to accommodate any problems he might encounter in the way of piping etc. so the guts of £300.00 for a new shower up and running.

You know me. I abhor wasting money, it’s in my blood and bones I believe.

I surfed the net and found a very similar, if a little bulkier, unit at £52.50, free delivery etc. it did seem to tick all the boxes regarding no disruption to my beautifully self tiled bathroom wall in fact it would probably cover the site of the previous one with a little extra to take out blemishes and previous ‘repairs and touch ups’ from previous replacement units. All good.

I therefore ordered a new shower unit at £52.50 and in the waiting time we made do with a bath taps hose attachment which, in my case, was a fecken nuisance but needs must etc.

The unit duly arrived and I ran around getting the bits that I needed and that were not a part of the delivered package, i.e. 15mm compression fittings and large plumber’s spanners. I also felt some deep dismay when I saw the electrical cable entry was on the opposite side to the old one. Never mind: I persevered and in true R.A.F. trained engineer tradition I soon (after some serious struggles mind) had the bastard on the wall with suitably heated water coming through on demand.

When the dear wife used it first she mentioned, not having experience of manly fixing of things, that the bath was not draining as it ought to; there was a growing delay with the water’s egress and therefore a puddling pool at the plughole. Had this anything to do with me and my recent plumbing related engineering? No, I told her, it’s probably obstructed by hair which gathers and adheres to itself and other greases and gunk then gets stuck at a bend or somesuch. My wife has beautifully kept, long blonde hair, which I find in all areas when on my cleaning rounds. I will admit that I also find some of my silvered patrician type hairs along with hers but mine is shorter so it’s helplessly and innocently trapped by the longer, fairer, strands. Not my fault!

On the Saturday of my birthday Chrissie went to shop in town and I began a round of my cleaning chores and had just cleaned the bathroom sink, bowl, tiles and the bath shower facility when I saw, on the rinsing element of my chore, that the bath was not draining as it ought to; there was a growing delay with the water’s egress and therefore a puddling pool at the plughole. Ah! I’d forgotten about this, distracted by some important man work stuff no doubt. I also then remembered I could take out the screw bolt in the centre of the chrome drain fitting and this would give me access to the outlet pipe in a much better way. I’d be able to look into the S-bend and push a bottle brush in to dislodge debris and maybe even pull some back out. I had a suitable screwdriver in my fist and before you could say, ‘Mic, don’t do this. Get a plumber and pay him the call out charge instead’ I undid the bolt and removed the drain cover. It was then that I saw the remnants of some plastic or polythene but certainly perished seal had torn away too. Worse was to come. I then was extremely dismayed to see that the action of removing the drain cover had caused the outlet pipe to fall back and down and come to rest on the floor under the boxed in bath. I considered my options and very quickly realised that the bath and its showering facilities would be of no use to us unless it drained in a proper way i.e. to the outside network. We stood to lose a lot of the kitchen ceiling below if I didn’t somehow get the two items re-connected. I knew instinctively that I needed access to the S-bend if I was ever going to marry the two parts back together.

I wrestled with the bath panel and after a while it was out and on the landing as was the long piece of wood it was fixed to. Now I had much better access to the S-bend and was able, after a struggle, to reconnect them. This I accomplished with a happy heart.

I tested the joint and it leaked. It leaked very well I must say. It was as though it had been waiting to show me how well it could leak. I had the presence of mind, and a mild though growing sense of rising panic, to put the bath plug back into the plug hole and this of course stopped the flow. I mopped up under the bath with a fat copy of the weekly local newspaper, The West Briton, and spread the Leisure Section on the floor under the bath drain as a precautionary measure against future bad luck in this now clearly ill-fated venture.

I now stood back and on shaking legs took stock. I saw I’d need to get a replacement seal if I was ever to recover the natural equilibrium and balance of drains and dry floors in our bathroom. Chrissie had returned by now and greeted me in her usual friendly way. I told her about the situation upstairs and she smiled enigmatically, recalling I’ve no doubt the time when I’d ‘fixed’ the leaking tap on the washbasin and ended up with a flood across the bathroom, which made its way very easily down through the floor via the kitchen walls, and a smashed basin (when tools fell on it) which resulted in a, successful, insurance claim that ran into the mid hundreds and brought us a brand new sink complete with taps which I fitted myself! Or perhaps the other time when I’d replaced the shower unit and had, just as I was finishing off, dropped a spanner and caused a crack in the bath of the colour coordinated suite just big enough to cause a leak. This bath was boxed in too but this was easily removed for access and I very soon fashioned a repair with the broken piece and some trusty Araldite Epoxy resin which, after some time curing, worked fine on testing but then leaked when weight, in the form of a person, or a weight of water, was added to the bath and the whole thing flexed. This bit of bad luck was what had caused us to replace the entire colour coordinated bathroom suite last time.

We had lunch and decided that, as nothing could be gained in the bathroom fiasco until I’d found new seals, we should make the best of the rest of my birthday by going to sit by the sea, visit friends and perhaps even have an ice cream to eat in the rare sunshine of this summer. Chrissie drove us to Penzance where I knew there was a branch of B&Q and there, after some browsing I found, bagged and priced at £4.97, a complete S-bend with all the relevant seals I’d need and I bought this. Chrissie was also delighted to find a new lampshade to fit in with her plans and designs on our newly refurbished front room. We set off to sit on the beach at Marazion where we each had an ice cream and relaxed with the cares of the world far behind us. We then did our visiting and eventually made our way home again. It was much too late now to begin wrestling with the bathroom bath and drains so we spent the night in happy harmony watching a film and relaxing, I may have had some wine, it was my birthday after all.

Next day dawned as next days will and after the usual coffee and chatting in bed I got up to do battle with the bath drain. I opened the bagged package and removed the seals I thought I’d need and fitted these onto the new outlet assembly. Might as well get all new bits in there, I thought to myself. However, it was immediately, though very disappointingly, clear that this assembly was bit smaller than the one I’d removed. It was for a sink! Not a bath! I had a brief moment of ferociousness in which I considered taking a sledge hammer to the bath and all the fixtures and fittings just to show them who was in charge but I realised, with the mellow maturity of my advanced years I like to think, that this would be a lot worse then just having to drive to our local branch of B&Q, return the incorrectly purchased items from yesterday, and get one that fitted a bath.

This is what I did and had the good fortune to be directed to Eddie who was a retired plumber now working part time at B&Q. Eddie deftly showed me the items I required, in a see through polythene bag and priced at £8.97. Due to my experiences the previous day I was uncertain if I had the kind and size of seals so asked the kindly, and patient, Eddie if I needed any other seals. He said I had everything I  needed in the bag but then his years of experience must have led him to see the uncertainty in my eyes and he asked me what it was I wanted to do. I explained, in a much shortened version, what had occurred. Eddie told me there was no seal where I’d found, and torn out, the perished one. I insisted there had been and after a few minutes of polite (I knew I desperately wanted his help) debate Eddie decided that the installing plumber, my mate Alan, had most likely put in everything that came with a new bath just as a sort of belt and braces affair.

All I needed, he gently informed me, was a tub of jointing compound, Plumber’s Mait, at (£3.97). IMG_2249This is a sort of flexible non setting putty that I should generously smear round all mating surfaces then refit the pipes and couplings etc., and I’d be fine. Even as I drove home with the tub of jointing compound on the passenger seat, I wasn’t convinced, but I knew the store would be open until 16.00 so I went with it. Once home I did as Eddie had told me and when I tested, tentatively at first, there were no leaks. I tested twice, once with a little water and once again with a lot more.

I noticed on this second test that the bath wasn’t draining as it ought to; there was a growing delay with the water’s egress and therefore a puddling pool at the plughole. Once again I brought my trusty plunger (steady, I told you, steady!) back into play and after a bit of grunting, as workmen and amateur plumbers are apt to do, as if by magic the water disappeared down the recently and most efficiently resealed plug hole – like it should. Further workmanlike and determinedly thrusting plunging (I won’t tell you again!) saw me bring the state of drainage from the bath shower back to their previous levels of efficiency. The furniture and fittings were all replaced and we once again had a properly functioning bathroom.

Plus, I’d saved the cost of a plumber’s call out charge and/or the cost of the drain cleaning solution!

So, yes Geoff, my birthday was a tad less dreary than yours!

Salut!

mic

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Solo Pub Entertainer – First Gig.

Alexandra Inn

Solo Pub Entertainer.

 

My very first gig as a solo pub entertainer was at The Alexandra Inn at the bottom of Alexandra Road in Penzance. This was probably about 1973/4 or so. I may have been sent there by an agency but I have no real recollection of how the gig came about in the first place. It was a pretty frightening and traumatic affair; I had no P.A. equipment whatsoever, no amplifier or microphone, and on arrival had been directed to a spot in a corner very close to the dartboard where I stood, utilising the dartboard light, with my sturdy if rather quietly toned Eko Ranger 6 acoustic guitar and began to sing my rehearsed repertoire to the noisy drinkers who, since they could probably barely hear me, paid scant attention to my musical offerings. Like a seasoned performer I soldiered on; I was used to some noise from my folk club gigs but as the time wore on and the noise increased exponentially even I was having trouble hearing what I was doing! After around a hour of this I stopped playing. Right in the middle of a song. I pulled my guitar off over my head. No one noticed or, if they did, they didn’t care. I felt my temper rising, it was always just floating beneath the surface calm I displayed to the world at large in those days and never an easy thing to control given my youthful angst and insecurity. Now it was rising and rising fast at this plainly rude behaviour to a struggling and relatively inexperienced performer and I just let go and roared out angrily. ‘Give us a bloody chance here, will you?’

 

I have been blessed with rather a loud voice and at times of stress there’s an unmistakeable Irish, but sometimes Scottish, accent colouring it. It can sound quite intimidating. The silence following this outburst was almost absolute and now, as I very quickly realised, I was faced with several hard drinking, pretty rugged, fit looking, working men all curious to know who was shouting and making such a noise in their regular drinking hole! Gazing at this by now mean looking and truculent crowd with my heart now in my mouth I realised I might have to change tack a bit if I wanted to get home in one piece so I modified my belligerent tone and continued in a more plaintive reasoning voice.

‘Em … Look lads … I’m doing my best here, will you just have a listen and then if I’m no good you can tell me and I’ll pack it in and just go home. OK?’

Looks were exchanged, heads were nodded; they were decent folk after all, and a silent agreement was reached between us all. To a man they all shut up, well nearly all, some still hadn’t noticed what was going on but they’d been there when I arrived and looked as though they’d been there for all of their adult lives.

The rest faced me expectantly so, now challenged, I strapped my trusty guitar back on and sang my arrangement of Gordon Lightfoot’s song: ‘In The Early Morning Rain’. I gave it all I had, running the riffs up and down where they interacted with the lyric of the song, flat-picking the chords with fine style, and I ‘sang the story’ to them. And they listened. They didn’t make a sound. When I finished there was a heart stopping silence before a single pair of hands began to clap and then some others joined in and then some more and some of them were calling over to me that I was ‘quite good’. I’d like to write that the whole pub was up and standing on their feet cheering and whistling, swamping the room with their loud applause but that would be a fiction, that didn’t happen. There was a fair amount of what I believed was genuine applause and, smiling at them, accepting their genuine plaudits, I thanked those who were applauding, thinking I’d won through when a solitary voice, clear as a bell and easily carried above the now diminishing noise spoke out.

‘Right,’ it said, ‘we’ve given you a go, now you can f*ck off home!’ My heart fell into my boots as I heard this but then that bald unwelcome and negative statement was immediately followed by the room erupting with loud and sustained merriment as the wag was back slapped and congratulated on his scintillating wit. I couldn’t help myself, I laughed along with them and I think it was this that finally won them over to me.

Well that and the landlord shouting above the laughter.

‘Oi, you b*ggers! I’m paying this lad good money to sing here so shut up and let him do his job!’

Everything improved from that point on, I got back on with my show, they did listen and some applauded after every song and I found the courage to tell a joke or two in between songs. When I’d finished and was having a pint with the landlord and the remaining punters we ended up chatting and laughing away like old pals. I got paid the agreed fee, probably around a tenner back then, and the landlord told me he’d have me back but only if I brought a P.A. system next time.

As first gigs go it was a real eye opener into the difference between folk clubs, where audiences arrived with expectations, wanting to hear you sing your songs, and pubs where you were just an added attraction, a commodity, designed to please the drinkers and keep them in your pub a bit longer than they might have planned to stay.

Happily, as my reputation grew and I learned how to work in pubs, the gigs got a lot easier and more well paid too. Incidentally, I’ve just been reminded by Martin Val Baker the famed South West Music Promoter who did so much for the arts in Penzance and St Ives, to mention just two towns, that The Winter Gardens, scene of many a Folk Concert staged by Martin, was just around the corner from the Alexandra Inn. I would become quite familiar with the Winter Gardens some years later when Martin began to use me and some others as support acts for some fairly well known ‘names’  in the Folk Scene who performed in concerts there.

A Nonsensical Exchange With My Facebook Friend Mark On The Surprising Effects of Flatulence

The following exchanges took place because I’d mentioned on Facebook I’d had Jerked Chicken for the first time. This prompted my friend Mark to comment on how the chicken got jerked in the first place and things just developed from there.

Mic

Hiya Mark, re your question on the Jerked chicken. I asked them if they’d been tugging at it before they smothered it in spices and cheese but they averted their eyes and looked a bit abashed then they asked me to leave – immediately. I suspect there’s something dark and sinister happening to Jamaican chickens in the deli Mark. You know me . . .

Mark

Thanks for that Mic, my mind is now at rest. I thought it was maybe some obscure American 60’s type go-go dance that they made it do before cooking it. Well done for making an issue of it and I’m sorry you were asked to leave. I suspect you hit a nerve there. A visit with an axe may be on the cards, we hope the air is good where you are.

Mic

My goodness gracious me! It’s like you can see right into my situation Mark! i.e. ‘you hope the air is good where I am’. I made us a McPhartie curry last night – a fiery chicken madras with ample garlic and chillies and now that along with the jerked poultry item has produced a fowl smelling, possibly noxious, gas which is being unwillingly and forcefully ejected from my toilet exit way. As I’m working upstairs in my home studio I’m afraid I may be slowly suffocating and in extreme danger of spontaneous combustion. I have opened a window but this has served only to swish the gases around a lot more. I can’t get up to close the window again because the fumes have made my legs wobbly. When I finish this note I’m going to try and crawl out onto the landing using the cat as a form of traction. I hope I make it because I want to continue being among the audiences The Flaming Infidels attract. Oh. oh, it’s getting hard to breathe and uh, oh there goes another pherocious phart!

Mic

Phrrrrrrrrrta !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mark

Ferocious eh? Noxious you say. Fumes and other words. This may be a case for the environmental dept. Not only could it peel the paper off your walls (causing damp and stuff not to mention the dermatological aspects of this outburst) but it could have repercussions that go beyond your four walls and affect your neighbour’s ability to live a normal life. I really hope this settles down Mic, I’m a bit worried now. Regards to the traction cat.

Mic

Dear Mark, I wonder if you could come over to assist me? At present I am on the roof sitting in a shambles of tile and plaster. How, I know you’ll be wondering, did that happen? Well Mark it was an accident. As I lifted the rear end of my bottom off the cushioned office chair where I sit whilst working on audio/video projects, a particularly phorceful phart escaped me and, like a jet pack thrusting thruster thing, it propelled me through the ceiling and loft right out onto the roof. There are sea gulls near me and they’re looking a me in odd way and making sidling advances towards me. I couldn’t eat any more fowl meat at present so I may have to kill them using my bear hands – if they attack – which they may not. Anyway Mark, I need some help as I’m worried I may phart myself right off this roof onto another! Currently my phart valve seems quiescent but it’s puttering like a fuel-starved moped engine and I fear it may be building up to something spectacular. I await your arrival with anxiety.

p.s. could you bring a poncho? – my clothes are in shreds.

Mark

Dear Mic, my nerves have been shredded by this situation and as a result am writing this from my decompression tank. Panic is not the word. Why? because I DON’T own a poncho or any other type of Mexican apparel that would be of use in this grave situation. This hurts me deeply because I’m well known round here for helping anyone that needs it. I had a friend once who went through this and I got there too late only to find him completely turned inside out. You can imagine my horror at my failure and its haunted me ever since. I will be dispatching my 108 yr old neighbour to do what she can…she should be with you at some point this week (she’s on foot…not feet cos she’s only got one). Its the best I can do. Regards….me

P.S I’m guessing Chris has left you to it which is not nice (but understandable from a health perspective) Winds here light to variable.

Mark

Oh yeh forgot to say, when she gets there be aware: she only eats lettuce.

Mic

Chris is not allowed near me on Thursdays – not since the Court Order. I’m so sorry to have caused you such trouble and indeed I was about to write to you: ‘Don’t come!’ This is not because I don’t want your help or indeed even your company but is because I’m no longer at my previous position, nor the one previous to that. There have been a succession of violent take-offs since we last exchanged information, I’m afraid that while I have fuel to use up, energy to burn if you like, it will continue to throw me around the sky so I’m beyond help in the geographical sense at least. The sea gulls scattered soon after I wrote you of them, an extremely strong blast from Arse Station Mickey frightened the living shit out of them and they vacated the roof pretty pronto, leaving smears of fish based shite in their wake. I’m having mixed feelings on this situation and my ever changing location; on one hand it’s nice to fly up into the air on a sudden chance but the landings can be harsh. To be fair though I must confess I’ve had some soft landings due to a release coinciding with a come down which as you’ll easily understand, has acted a little like a reverse thrust, and though it has left my arsehole like the fat end of a trumpet, it has provided some relief. Some other touch downs were all too brief however as I let off just as I touched down and was instantly launched back up into the air again! I’m currently in a tree near Portreath and, as I came in to land – just by Hardacre near Portreath actually – I had thought to shout out to ask Alden or Kath if they can help but now I may not need to – I’ve had a stroke of luck which has buoyed my spirits a bit; I was thrown through some washing drying on a line and managed to grab a king size duvet cover in a floral pattern and with a button down closure, I plan to keep this close because I’ve realised it will serve to cover my nakedness while I’m airborne and I’m reasonably sure I can utilise it as a form of parachute once the wind has died down a bit. I saw the old lady you mentioned and I thank you for your efforts but I’m afraid she’ll be of no use to me as she’s heading for Bodmin steadfastly chewing on iceberg leaves and hopping neatly to a lively tune of her making, wait a minute . . . uh-oh . . things appear to be building up again so I may not be able to finis…..

Mark

I’m beginning to understand this now Mic you old fox. Its all a ruse so you can carry on stealing peoples personal effects from their washing lines and keep yourself with a ready supply of floral shirts for your forays into showbiz. Oh no ..you cant fool me with your tales of flatulence. I have friends in Culdrose that have been watching the radar for any disturbances in the area and apart from some freaked out seagulls ( I’ll give you that one) there has been nothing to report. Putting 2 and 2 together is one of my fortes and I can tell you its 4. And to think I’ve spent all this time in my decompression tank for this. I dread to think of my electricity bill. However being partial to the odd bit of thieving myself, rest assured this information will stay with me and me only, providing you agree to a course of cognitive behavioural therapy to help you understand the complexities of various shirts and their intended uses. I trust you’ll comply, it’s for your own good. I’ve been through it myself for string vests and found it liberating. I hope this finds you well and please don’t feel any embarrassment. I know I don’t.

P.S if I’m wrong about this I can only offer my apologies and a further offer to help with any medical bills.

Mic

You, have broken my heart! I thought you were my friend but now I find your scurrilous accusations in this reply I think perhaps you’re not. How very sad you’ve made me as if I’m not in enough trouble already with the anal explosions and so forth. For the records; I have no need to purloin items from washing lines for the creation of my show biz shirts. The local Salivating Army are positively drooling as they fall over themselves to provide me with suitable material for my creations. Not only that thy also keep me well supplied with other commodities for my unusual appetites. They, as you’ll know, save fallen women and indeed have just offered me an aged one-legged lady they found munching Lolla Rossa near the chip shop in Lanivet just a few minutes ago. Though she stinks of Baby Bio I know this can be quickly remedied with a good hose down from an industrial model Karcher Pressure Washer and there’s room in the cellar now the other item has departed. My difficulties with the sudden bouts of high energy propulsion have been reduced quite markedly due to a lessening of the pressure which has meant fewer take offs and indeed landings. I’m dejected knowing you doubt the veracity of my reports, indeed if you run out now, go on, run out now, into your garden and look up, go on, look up, (you may need binoculars) if you get this in time and indeed get a view you will see me parasailing over the East End of Truro that I’ve been able to modify the king sized duvet into a parasail and indeed I am now sailing over St Just-in-Roseland which is indeed just-in-Roseland though there a those who will argue it’s a little outside of Roseland they are known to be Luddite in their behaviours. I’m happier to be able to report that my situation is slowly resolving and as I sail up towards Veryan I am confident I’ll soon be back on home turf. Due to me comprehensive local knowledge I am fully aware that the wind from up that way blows downhill only so I expect to be home or at least hovering above home by two of the clock this very day! My only regret in this matter is that I hadn’t the presence of mind to pick up a camera as I was hurtled through my roof, there have been myriad opportunities for aerial photography this fine day. Actually I have another regret which is that with the lessening of the gaseous expulsions there came an extremely smelly and loose diarrhoea which I was unable to contain and so I’m afraid I spoiled some lunch dishes and indeed clothing with my uncontrollable purgings, although it may not have looked like it I was definitely not aiming at the policeman exiting his car at Trafalgar Police Station car park just after lunch. Truly I was not. This last report ought, I think, bring an end to these missives but I will end on one more serious and indeed you may think sombre note. It is this: I hereby officially give you warning that I have in my possession a 15 foot bullwhip, fashioned from the pizzle of a three ton bull who once roamed the plains of the Russian Steppes in former times. I am not afraid to use this lethal weapon on those who secretively, slyly, scurry snidely in sewers seeking to sleight me. I am a dab hand with this device so be aware. I’m just saying, not stating, not making a mission statement just letting you know, putting it out there so you know . . . that’s all.

Mark

Please bear in mind that the following has nothing at all to do with bullwhips of any description nor any veiled threats pertaining to the bullwhip (hereafter called “bullwhip”) real or imagined. Any resemblance to anyone represented in this article or said bullwhip is pure coincidence and should be treated as such. Ok, I gave you the benefit of the doubt and took you up on your offer to go outside and have a look in the sky. To my utter shock (bear in mind I have spent a great proportion of my day in a decompression tank and as a result I am now completely decompressed and 4.5 inches bigger than I was aiding my view considerably) there in the sky travelling at great speed heading over to the Roseland was your (dare I say) ample frame just as you said. My timing was impeccable. You were there and then you weren’t. Had it not been for my fast shuttered son I could have missed the moment and continued with my predilection with missing washing items/shirts etc. I’m just glad that you had retained enough strength to prevent an outpouring (euphemism) whilst passing over our home. Should there have been anything of this sort it would surely have caused serious grief to our washing and incurred the wrath of my missus. No doubt I would have born the brunt of any punishment for this …not you. Anyway to mark this event I enclose a small picture for your perusal a copy of which is going viral on the inter-web as we speak. Your friend and mine…. Me.

P.S copies are available in all good police stations around the country.

Mic

Ah! See??? The truth will out! I am vindicated! Thank you so much.

p.s. any threats you may have perceived, real or imagined are the sole responsibility of your drug addled brain and fevered not to say decompressed mind. A bird in the hand is usually because you’re taking a leak but it can be there for other reasons/functions/obsessions. Nothing wrong with that. . .

Mic

Seriously, I have to say: that photo is an excellent finale to this nonsense!

Mark

X

Jerked Chicken Finale

A Close Run Thing – Another Cycling Mishap.

Another chance encounter and another innocent remark which might have caused a minor ‘incident’ so yet one more tale to add to my catalogue of true cycling stories…

 I was riding my bike the other day on my daily fat burning exercise route while the sun was making a rare appearance and I was in the narrow country lanes behind where I live. My bike is fitted with a hand operated, old fashioned, car type, bulb squeeze, honking horn of the ‘Hoo-Hah’! variety. I use this device carefully, I don’t want to upset or frighten people who are enjoying the peace and quiet of the countryside. I’ll often sound a gentle Hoo-Haw from a distance making a sound not too dissimilar to an InterCity diesel train coming from far off. I like to give people time to get used to my approaches though I will admit I do give a properly strong squeeze on the rubber bulb and emit a loud warning and state my presence to oncoming, vehicular traffic especially, on blind bends. Thankfully these are relatively few and far between on this particular route so disruption and noise pollution can be kept to a minimum.

 As I do this ride almost every day, and at least as often as I’m able to, I’m known to others who also use the lanes to walk dogs and exercise etc. However, on this particular morning as I came around a tight left hand bend and knowing there was a huge puddle ahead by the nearside hedgerow I knew I’d need to swing out wide to avoid wet legs and feet. As I skirted round the far right hand side of the puddle I was therefore placed on the wrong side of the road where, unfortunately, I also came into the full glare of the sun reflected off the still wet tarmac. Temporarily blinded I suddenly saw I was bearing down on a silhouetted female figure walking a dog. I instinctively knew that if I sounded my hooter I’d frighten the life out of her and that she might just jump into my path, I was also aware that I might perhaps also frighten her dog enough to get bitten in a defensive pre-emptive strike, so I decided to concentrate instead on not running her over.

It was a near thing; I passed so close to her I could have reached out and touched her. I knew the proximity of my bike and I had probably given her quite a shock so, as I sailed past I called out an apology, ‘Sorry,’ I said, ‘I didn’t want to startle you with my horn this morning!’

 There! The words were out of my mouth and into the public domain, eternally irretrievable, just like that! She may not have recognised the potential double entendre – I don’t know, but when she replied sweetly, ‘That’s nice.’ I did have cause to wonder. I also fancied I recognised her voice as belonging to someone who lives quite close to me. Discretion, I felt, was required so I never looked back, I began to whistle a lively air quite loudly and sped off as fast as I could. The rest of the ride continued without further encounters or mishap.

 

Mic McCreadie

 

Lyrics For A Song Written In February 2012

Old Love

Mic McCreadie

In the silence of my midnight room

I’m picking through the past

The photographs and memories

The things I thought would last.

The picture shows a happy scene, our faces lit by laughter

It fills my heart but then it fades

And I go chasing after:

Who were we? Who were we?

Maybe I’ll never know

Who whispered all those words of love

So very long ago?

The sighing sea lulls on the land

Lays kisses on the shore

I sit alone on sea smoothed stone

Can’t bear it any more

Who were we? Who were we?

Who walked this empty strand?

Who laughed and cried

Who kissed and sighed

In Love’s bright happy land?

-Suggested Oboe Solo-

Who was I? Who were you?

What did we ever know?

Why am I alone tonight?

Where did you ever go?

I smell the rain come creeping in

I feel it on the breeze

I pray it brings salvation

On desperate days like these

Let it wash my cares away

Let it ease my soul

Let it free my heart today

Let it make me whole.

Who were we? Who were we?

Perhaps I’ll never know

Who whispered all those words of love

So very long ago? …Oh, so very long ago…

© MicSongs 19.02.2012

Further Nonsense With My Facebook Friend Mark On The Genealogy of Bob Dylan

Mic: There was a question on the BBC1quiz show Pointless tonight: Question: Which Scottish singer performed, ‘My Old Man’s A Dustman’? Answer: Bob Dylan!

Mark: Excuse me Mic but I think you’ll find Bob’s (Abe) was a dustman and that he recorded it as a tribute to him and changed his name to Lenny Goonigan so that no one knew it was him, just saying…

Mic: Abe Zimmerman was, as you rightly point out Mark, a dustman who operated mostly in the area known as Scotch Corner. I just happen to have a short potted history at hand and, if you’ll graciously indulge me, I’ll set it out below for the edification and education of others who may find some interest in the matter. Able, was quite a remarkable character, celebrated by his peers for his uncanny ability to pick up two (sometimes more – depending on the weight and the fluidity of the contents) bins simultaneously then execute an amazing back flip, done so quickly that centrifugal force was produced allowing the contents (save for the exceptions noted above) to remain in the bin before he deftly landed them onto the rubber topped guardrail of the bin lorry. Over time, because of his tricks, Abe became more well known and was eventually invited to perform his specialised ‘lifts’ first at Kensington Palace where he delighted the Royals ensconced therein by producing some inadvertent though happily subtle anal expulsions whilst ‘straining’ in the Pre-Lift Position (PLP). What was not so delightful however was the accidental but coincidental release of a noxious (thought not to be deadly at that time) arse gas as he sprung from the aforementioned Pre-Lift Position, sometimes also known as the Pre-Flip Stance (PLS). These demonstrations and performances, with their concomitant ‘extras’ very soon led to an invite to Buckingham Palace to perform his constantly developing feats for the then reigning monarch King George. This patronage led to fame, sadly fame led to pressure and sadder yet pressure led to drink. Abe became an alcoholic and tragedy struck when, in a fit of drunken anguish and artistic frustration, Abe tried to develop and enhance his waning, and by now commonplace, and it must be admitted, now somewhat unremarkable feats for a fickle public who had begun to drift away from his performances. There were reposts of disenchanted audiences booing and hissing, stones and stained undergarments were thrown. There were also some who took things a little further and other matter was hurled to the sound of cat calls and loud, unpleasant rasping phaa-aartt like noises. Strangely a lot of cats were reported mysteriously missing in the various in which and around the time Abe was performing. Therefore, unsurprisingly perhaps, rumours began to circulate. No charges were ever laid but sly accusations were made and it was noted in the local Press that Abe never seemed short of food or meat in his sandwiches which oddly were kept in a fur swaddled lunch box made of the new lightweight material Felinite, produced, I’m told by those who know of these things, by boiling cat gut with other suitable materials! He was also known to possess and indeed was seen wearing fur-lined jodhpurs, hats, large overcoats and other clothing in Winter weathers). However he pressed on and began a comeback performance to regain his previous fame and status. In making his comeback attempt (the first of many it’s claimed though this is at present still uncorroborated) Abe began by introducing a tap dancing routine (beginning with just a few steps initially which blossomed into a full ‘Putting On The Style’ foot routine) into the so-called ‘double bin swing lift’ This might have restored him to full fame and glory had it succeeded but Fate had a nasty surprise in store for our dear Abe. In a desperate attempt to regain his crown and in front of all his workmates and peers, and a selection of society’s elite Abe bent to hoist not just two but three bins! It was with these two thirds full cylindrical metal tubes that Abe intended to perform a newly perfected and stunningly amazing feat. He bent, and then from the well known and regularly practised Pre-Flip Stance, he strained, he surged upwards and – at that precise moment – his braces burst! With three well loaded bins in his meaty fists all heading unerringly for his muscular shoulders he faced a stark choice: drop the bins and lose all prestige or carry on knowing he might well expose himself and his heretofore hidden nether regions. What, I hear you gasp, happened? Well, I’ll tell you! Pride won and it was pride that brought him down. As he rose, attempting a simultaneous graceful pirouette, his foot slipped on some cat shyt, he veered off to one side, the bins in their forceful velocity and now wildly out of control, forced him into a painful arabesque, his trousers fell swiftly to his feet and everything was then revealed. As the bins sailed off over the heads of the assembled throng dropping their foul contents hither and thither (Abe insisted on full reality in his performances) and as folk scattered for safety Abe’s under garments were then revealed. At first there was hushed gasp of awe which then suddenly turned to horror as the gathered crowd saw Abe’s customised under pants! Made from the back half of a large tabby they covered his genitalia in luxurious fur and it was with some slight admiration though tinged with deep revulsion that onlookers noted the cat’s tail had been hollowed out to provide a snug home for Abe’s long thread-like member. Thus it was that Abe was brought to shame, dragged down to the gutter by cats and their shytz, the very animals he’d abused for his own ends. He became a laughing stock and folk would jeer him cruelly as he shambled along the dirty streets. He eventually moved to Scotland and opened a soup kitchen with his pregnant wife known locally as Fat Mary even before she met with Abe. Some say a child was born, some say it was a boy, some a girl, some say it was an awful apparition, resembling a human but only a little and some say all was as it should have been but was not. All I can report is that around this time I began to take an interest in local culture and the Arts. I heard stories of a thin yet somehow not thin youth. I heard he sang a good song, I heard he had a style, and so I went see him and listened for a while. and there he stood this young boy, a stranger to my eyes, strumming it plain with his fingers, singing ‘My wife is a prawn’. Is it true? I think we’ll never know unless – we find out! Join me next week for more truthful revelations of the music biz. and the making of our so-called legends!

Mark: Indeed Mic, and did you know that god said to Abraham, ‘Gimme a son.’ And Abe said, ‘Man, you must be putting me on!” God said, ‘No!’ Abe said ‘What!!?’ God said, ‘Well you can do what you want, but the next time you see me coming you better run!’ I think Abe did hand him over in the end and he was next seen on TV singing about digging his potatoes and stuff like that.

Mic: That’s absolutely correct Mark, you have it almost verbatim! At the time this was going on I was employed on Maggie’s Farm but I ain’t gonna work on that no more – no suh! As you know I studied Abe’s career very diligently and indeed wrote the only published reference work on his long and eventful life: ‘Maybe Abie’s Baby’ but it may be that in spite of your digesting that weighty tome, you too are not aware of other developments that occurred as time progressed. Let me update you, if you will.

Fat Mary and Abe did find a true love and they both flourished in that warm comforting embrace, so much so that a child, a male boy if you will, was born. Abe took to singing lullabies for their baby son and one of his favourites was ‘Coulter’s Candy’ a well known Scottish lilting tune which could soothe even the most drunken and aggressive of children. It was then perhaps from this lyric that our present day Bob Dylan, for it was of him we first broached these exchanges, emerged as it contains the immortal poetry of such lyrical wonder. Listen without prejudice if you will to the softly sung words: ‘Ally Bally, ally, bally, bee, sitting on yer Faither’s knee, greeting for a wee bawbee, to buy some Coulter’s Candy’. There! There it is! Hidden! Well, almost, in that fabulous lyric is the genesis of how Robert (Bob) Zimmerman came to be known to the world as Bob Dylan. It began slowly; first it was as Wee Bawbee, in reference to his Scottish beginnings and ancestry (later Wee Boabie) though in truth the young Zimmerman suffered cruel taunting and bullying from his scruffily dressed, under fed, undernourished, under the mattress, under the weather, under the spreading chestnut tree, and uneducated peers who would call him ‘Jobbie’ a colloquial term used to describe the turds the boys used to hurl at him when he was in the vicinity of the communal shyt house (itself being no more than a discarded torn and ragged tarpaulin hastily draped over a bomb crater in a tenement back yard where the customised toilet paper was the fur of the multitude of rats that infested the area). This though was then softened over time to Bobby (as in Dylan). It is a well known and documented fact, in fact, that Zimmerman adopted the surname Dylan after watching several episodes of The Magic Roundabout whilst off his trolley and high on pharmaceutical products usually only found on illicit prescriptions. If I can render any more assistance with this subject please place a perfectly clean £20.00 note in a recently washed and rinsed milk bottle, wrap in a back number of the Radio Times then wet it with pure spring water and bring it around to my wee shack. Yours in the first instance but never the twain shall meet me in St Louis Armstrong was a trumpet player of great Scott and skill but – nevertheless – was oft-times called a bug eyed buglist by cruel men who wished him harm. There’s no justice – is there?

Big Boys Don’t Cry

As a child I learned; men don’t cry. Men don’t show their feelings. Indeed it was extremely rare to see my Dad, or Mum for that matter, show affection to one another or to their kids with the exception of the very young. Which is not to say our parents didn’t love us, they did, without a doubt. It just wasn’t shown in a soppy outward display of affection, the hugs may have few and far between but there were hugs and there was care, consolation, ointment and Elastoplast for cuts and bruises earned in the everyday business of growing up. Stoicism and coping was the prevailing Scots/Irish attitude, so by and large, the norm was; men, big boys, didn’t cry. I guess I carried this through my formative years though it never seemed to be in my mind as a conscious thought. Apart from the normal everyday immature childhood tears I just didn’t cry. Many years later, now a grown man, married with all its concomitant responsibilities, and paying off a mortgage, I was working as an N.H.S. nurse caring for profoundly mentally handicapped children and young adults in Redruth. I was also entertaining as a musician in pubs sometimes three or more times in a week at nights to make ends meet. One night however I came home from a gig, just as I had been doing for years, having had a sufficiency of ale, and then, as I was manoeuvring the car into the garage, suddenly and without any warning something came over me. I felt a terrible overwhelming sadness and a lump came into my throat. I began to cry, softly at first but then it grew until I was in full flood. I was slumped in my seat, snuffling and sobbing as though my heart would break at the same time as I was wondering what the hell was going on? I sat in my car, parked in the square outside the house where my wife was asleep in our upstairs bedroom and for over five minutes tears poured from my eyes, I was coughing, sobbing loudly, loud enough I thought to be heard in the nearby houses. I wanted to stop but at the same time I didn’t want to stop not that it mattered: I had no choice in the matter. I instinctively knew this was a release of something, tension perhaps, maybe guilt but what, which? This first episode set the scene for successive bouts, sometimes as many as three in a week. I began to sense when it was about to occur and then I’d drive the car fully into the garage, switch off the engine and just let it out. It would usually happen at home but, once or twice, it’d come upon me as I was making my way home and I’d have to find a quiet country lane away from public, and local law enforcement’s view. Almost invariably occurring when coming home late after a gig and having consumed alcohol a pattern emerged. I would be overwhelmed by great hacking sobs, tears would stream down my cheeks, my nose would run and drip down onto my shirt front, I would be coughing up mucus and phlegm and, never having seen a need for tissues in the car before, would have to mop it up with the sleeve of my shirt. I would just sit there powerless, completely consumed, out of self control of this bizarre phenomenon and I didn’t have a clue why it was happening. The crying as a rule usually only occurred whenever I was alone though on some odd occasions there was a witness to this unmanageable crying. I remember it happening a couple of times when my wife was with me and she was obviously deeply concerned and wanting to help and comfort me but I would send her away and sit alone until the outburst had run its course. These episodes would last for ten minutes or so until I was emptied, cried out and I never ever, even to this day, knew why I was crying. I could associate all sorts of vaguely possible reasons with it but in truth I never knew and I still don’t. The occurrences grew less, fewer and further between until they eventually stopped over the course of perhaps a year. The important thing about all these outbursts though was the purged, cleansed and liberated way I’d feel afterwards. It seemed to have relieved some unknown inner conflict, helped me acknowledge some reality or whatever my current situation might be, accept and come to terms with difficult decisions I’d had to make, to understand more of realisations I’d come to, in short it made me feel better about myself and my place in the world. It was because of these strange emotional outbursts that I came to realise, and to firmly believe, that crying is as natural to humans as breathing is. Another time, many years previously, when I was ‘lost in the world’ just wandering the country at will, and was attempting to write songs almost every day, though sadly nothing worth keeping, I came up with a line which stated that crying was only laughing in a different key – a line I still like today. So from my later experiences I learned that crying really is an emotion akin to laughing and it is immensely important to our well-being and mental health. If we deny it then I believe we constrain ourselves by that denial. I believe we should embrace crying as we do all other natural human needs and emotions and rejoice in its abilities to help to heal us, lessen our stress and give vent to our feelings. I believe we should learn to use it as a cleansing and liberating resource.   Mic McCreadie.

The Denis Clixby Recordings Archive

Denis Clixby
Denis Clixby was a St. Ives hotelier and avid Folk Music enthusiast. He was a regular attendee at Pipers Folk Club from its glory days with Brenda Wootton and John the Fish in The Great Western Hotel, Penzance through its many transformations and varied locations such as The London Inn, The Trencrom Revellers Hut, The Gulval Meadhouse, until its dying days at The Old Quay House in Hayle. Denis recorded each and every club session he attended, firstly on a reel to reel machine and then on a cassette machine and in doing so documented all the performances that took place, from itinerant singers, who came along on club nights whilst on holiday, to the Club Resident Singers and all the other folk enthusiasts who came regularly each week to sing and to hear folk music.

He also recorded the so-called ‘names’ i.e. the Guest Artistes who travelled the national circuit performing all over the country and somehow was oddly tolerated by these people even though it was in all likelihood a breach of their recording contracts with whatever Recording Label or Company they were signed to. Such was the casual attitude of the performers and of the times and it wouldn’t be unfair to state that the laid back hippy ethos certainly held sway out of the eyes and ears of the label managers.

Thus it was that a comprehensive recordings archive was brought into being. Denis sadly died on December 05th 1999 and about a week or so after John the Fish had officiated at Denis’ funeral, he had a call from Denis’ nephew(s) at The Belyars, in St Ives where Denis had lived, to say that the place was being cleared prior to a sale and if the tapes weren’t collected within the next few days they would have to go to the dump! John, who presented a weekly folk show on BBC Radio Cornwall, knew this mustn’t happen so he arranged to collect them. As he stated in a letter to me recently, ‘my only knowledge of recording tape, gleaned from the BBC, was that it was fragile and had a limited life and needed to be kept in a stable environment – all I was able to do at that time was to house them – I considered contacting Adrian Tuddingham, who had the knowledge and the equipment to work with them, but John Alderslade said that he could arrange the finance and he knew of someone who could take on the task.’ So, eventually, John Alderslade drove down from his home in Wiltshire and collected the archive.

As John reported to me in a recent letter; he first took them to Keith Gould, in Newton Abbott, the chap who had bought the entire Sentinel Recording Studio Master Tapes. He said he would transfer the reel to reel tapes to Compact Disc. Keith had also told him that the tapes were already ‘difficult to play’ due to their age and the fact that there was no lubricant left on them. He also said that only one pass of the heads would be possible before they were gone. John visited Eddie Upton at Montague (?) House who said he would obtain funding from The E.F.D.S.S. to complete the project. None of this came to anything so then John Alderslade drove back to Newton Abbott, collected the tapes and brought them back to his home. John Alderslade contacted several archive companies and all said that the cost of retrieving the contents would be prohibitive. So, sadly although plans were made and funding sought, they never came to fruition and the recordings lingered, slowly ageing and therefore naturally decaying, in storage for some thirty odd years.

After some discussions on Facebook and by email with all the involved parties: Rupert White, author of Folk in Cornwall, Richard Prest, of Kernow Beat, John the Fish, John Alderslade and myself and other folk enthusiasts, musicians and performers, the recordings then came into my possession.

This came about because I elected to carry out the reviewing and salvage attempts in my home Recording Studio free of charge because I wanted to save what I thought of as a valuable archive not only of Pipers Folk Club and the West of Cornwall’s Folk Music Scene but also as an important and informative local social history. The archive promised performances from many local artists who were still performing locally to this day. I wanted to salvage it too because I knew that without any intervention the tapes would slowly decay to the point where the material would be lost in any case. I also saw this as an opportunity for me to make a contribution and as some return for my many happy years as a folk performer in Pipers Folk Club and other clubs throughout the County.

I must record my thanks here firstly to John the Fish for his timely rescue, to John Alderslade for his care and stewardship of the archive and to Richard Prest of Kernow Beat who diligently catalogued both the Cassette Tapes and the Reel To Reel tapes which has made my subsequent work with the archive much easier.

The Archive.  

The Denis Clixby Recordings Archive consisted of two large cardboard boxes one containing 84 cassettes the other containing 41 reels of tapes of mixed brands and sizes.

The Cassette Tapes.  

Of the 84 cassettes in the Archive 50 are of performances either by named Guest Artistes i.e. the recording touring Artists booked by the clubs and supported by local folk club musicians and performers. I already had three others in my possession borrowed from Denis but never returned which brought the total to 53. The remaining 31 Cassettes are self made compilations, some radio broadcasts, i.e. Opera, Jazz, Light Entertainment etc., and some copies from vinyl L.P. releases by various Artistes. Two are of a pantomime staged by The Trencrom Revellers and the performance recorded by Denis in 1971! Some are pre-recorded Album type products and some of these bear no relation to Pipers Folk Club whatsoever i.e. The Dubliners. Some however do and there are cassette Album releases by the likes of Jon Betmead et al. The cassettes were labelled by Denis but, sadly, over time some of these labels have become rather illegible, mixed up and confused and therefore somewhat useless as the cassette contents often don’t correspond with the labels.

Working Practice.

I decided to divide the relevant cassettes into two groups; one being local performers and/or Guests at the Pipers Folk Club and one being Concerts held in St. Ives Guildhall, probably as part of The St. Ives September Festival. As these latter tapes were of signed recording artists, though supported by local artists, I felt there might be some copyright issues when it came to the final decision on what to do with the digitised archive.

I then decided to test one cassette to see if there would be a problem with oxide shedding on playback as this might then entail heat treatment to fix the oxide but would also render the tapes to a one-pass condition. I started with cassette #14 as it was labelled as a performance by me. I thought that if this material were lost it would not constitute a great loss to the archive. I was delighted to find the cassette played without serious hindrance as this spoke well for the salvaging of the other cassettes. I then set up a routine whereby each cassette was inspected for physical condition, what the label purported it to be and which part of the Archive it belonged to. The work entailed playing and reviewing and documenting the entire contents, i.e. both sides of each cassette, into a MS Word Document one for each cassette as the audio is concurrently recorded in real time onto a Hard Disk Drive therefore making a digital copy. The actual contents i.e. performer and song, spoken references, location and date if possible were also notated. There have been a few ‘hidden’ i.e. not documented, surprises such as Brenda Wootton with Al Fenn (of Decameron fame) in a New Year’s Eve Concert! Another undocumented find were so-called ‘floor spot’ sets from myself and Larry Law!

At the present time I have reviewed and salvaged all of the relevant cassettes and so far have found only two to be irrecoverable by this method. It might be possible to recover these tapes with heat treatment but as this is prohibitively expensive I question its worth as the material, in my opinion, is not that important and other performances by the artists concerned are already salvaged. This cassette part of the Archive salvage and digitisation was completed in January 2013. The material has been saved in two separate folders: one on my main PC the other as a back up on an external HDD.

The Reel To Reel Tapes.

This work was begun in February 2013. My very grateful thanks go to Rupert White for the generous, long term loan of his Akai 4000D Reel to Reel Tape recording machine.

It was soon clear that the Reel To Reel tapes would be more of a challenge. There are two types of Reel To Reel tapes.

Club night performances. Mostly from Guest Artists, i.e. Alex Campbell, Steve Tilston, John Betmead etc., some from Club Residents, i.e. myself, Niall Timmins, John the Fish and, rarely, some from regular contributors or so-called itinerant floor singers i.e. Pete Reynolds, Peter Vastl. Some of these recordings were made in lowest speed available and could not be reviewed or saved due to equipment limitations.

  1. Compilation Tapes on which Dennis has ‘decanted’ material from other tapes making dedicated reels of several performances, i.e. myself, Dick Reynolds, John the Fish, etc.
  2. Denis recorded on all four available tracks to save tape and expense and thus each 90 minute tape can have up to four times that amount of material. This material is therefore in mono and at best only fair in terms of quality.
  3. Some of the tapes appear to be the original of the material contained in the Cassette Archive, or vice-versa. Some had been recorded over in parts. Some of the labels bear no relation to the tape’s contents. Reels which were not labelled or loose, i.e. unboxed, were not reviewed. Similarly reels which were unrelated to Pipers Folk Club recordings or Guildhall Concerts were not reviewed either.

Where it was thought that the oxide on the tapes would be shedding due to age and storage conditions and that sophisticated heat treatment might be required, there was in fact little trouble with this. The tapes played back very well in this respect and very little oxide loss was seen. There were instances of heavy ‘crosstalk’ on some reels, i.e. where a performance on an adjacent track breaks through the material being monitored and saved. This was not able to be corrected and so was unavoidable. 

Working Practice.

I approached this work in the same manner as I did the Cassette Archive, i.e. beginning with a reel labelled with my name and containing my musical contributions over the years since I considered any loss of this material due to tape condition would not be too serious a matter. There were two tracks of over 90 minutes so it was both time consuming and labour intensive as, and highly frustratingly, I also had to remake countless failed splices of both leader tape and other inter reel repairs Denis himself had made.

It soon became clear that, due to the extreme generality of Denis’ personally selected contributors and the quality and age of these Reel To Reel recordings, the time and effort required to salvage the whole Reel to Reel Archive would be counter productive.

Knowing the tapes were in such a condition that they could be reviewed further at a later date if required I decided to salvage only that material I considered to be of value both historically and artistically and further decided to prioritise and save recordings made by artists who:

  1.  Had achieved National fame and who had since died. (i.e. Alex Campbell, Tony Capstick)
  2. Still had a major ‘presence’ in the National Folk Scene (i.e. Steve Tilston, Mike Silver, Johnny Coppin)
  3. Had an historical influence on Pipers Folk Club. (i.e. John the Fish. Brenda Wootton)
  4. Had shown interest/involvement in the Archive. (J. Alderslade)
  5. Had been regular stalwarts of the local Folk Scene who had since died.

I decided against saving material already well represented in the Cassette Archive. I also decided against saving material from recording artists.

In making the above decisions I was aware that these recordings were made on low quality recording devices and that much better recordings of at least some of the Guest Artists were still available in their back catalogue of professionally recorded releases.

After asking for opinions from the other interested parties, it was generally agreed that a realistic price for making copies of these recordings might be £10.00 per CD. I sought other opinions on this and now reiterate for clarity here that I have no intention of seeking recompense of any sort for the digitisation of this material. It was always my intention to salvage and reclaim this material for the public benefit and as a posthumous tribute to Denis and his stalwart efforts, a man who I knew and valued as a friend. I do however think I might be allowed to seek recovery of my expenses. I do not seek to make financial profit from this project but I don’t want to lose money unnecessarily either. Bringing this often confused, patchy and at times with ‘muddy’ sound quality material to a better state is labour intensive and involves a lot of time. When it comes to processing, the material has to be cleaned, edited to remove unwanted passages i.e. long winded tuning and periods of silence, false starts etc. The performances often need pitch shifting too, due to discrepancies between the various recording/playback machines. Some editing, cutting and pasting is often required before final mastering – all of which has to be done in real time. Add in raw materials, blank MDs and recordable CDs, sleeve design and printing, postage and packaging, and the costs soon mount up.

Copies of any these performances can be cleaned, edited and processed and made available on CD or other preferred media to interested parties at a not for profit nominal sum (£10.00 per item) to cover costs outlined above.

I plan further documentation and back up of the audio as mpeg files. These will be unprocessed, unedited, simple true copies i.e. warts and all, of everything on each particular cassette. In time, when all the documentation etc., is complete, I plan to offer the digitised Archive to St. Ives Archives for posterity.

Current list of all materials salvaged so far:

Cassettes.  

  1. Ray Austin,
  2. Johnny Coppin,
  3. Bob Rundle,
  4. Niall Timmins & Friends,
  5. Niall Timmins Country Life, Terry Mike, Aime, Bob Rundle.
  6. Falmouth 3 (No Artists listed)
  7. Dave Paskett & Jon Betmead
  8. L.P. of The Battlefields Band (not saved)
  9. L.P. of The Battlefields Band (not saved)
  10. Roy Bailey.
  11. Tony Capstick Sat. ‘79.
  12. Alex (Atterson) Fri. ’79.
  13. Lowe & Foley (Pipers)
  14. Mic McCreadie Pipers Gig.
  15. Brenda ’79.
  16. Kemysk (sp?) & Rhombus.
  17. Bernie Possy (sp?)
  18. Tape lists ‘London Boys’ from L.P. (not saved)
  19. Club and personal tracks, no artists listed, only song titles.
  20. Sheila Hearne (Hearle?)
  21. Skiffle.
  22. Mac McKenna.
  23. Dave Treharne.
  24. Tannahill Weavers at Pipers Club.
  25. McColville/Halpin/Stroupe 1981
  26. Earl Okin & Adrian O’Reilly (Guildhall Sept ’81.
  27. Gwehagen, etc. Murf
  28. Chris Flegg.
  29. Grossman/Rembourn/Graham (Guildhall ’79)
  30. Tannahill Weavers Pantomime Jan ’71. (Just the pantomime: Trencrom Revellers)
  31. ‘Radio worth having’ – Adrian O’Reilly.
  32. Illegible.
  33. The Chieftains (Guildhall Sept ‘82 #01.
  34. The Chieftains (Guildhall Sept ‘82 #02.
  35. Kicking Mule.
  36. Gypsum.
  37. Brenda.
  38. Derek Brimstone Sat ‘78/Falmouth 2
  39. Chris Flegg ‘79
  40. Chris Flegg (Sunday)
  41. Creepin’ Jane.
  42. Roger Brookes.
  43. Stefan Grossman
  44. The Chieftains (Guildhall Sept ’82.
  45. Dave Swarbrick & Friends (Guildhall Sept ‘81.
  46. Dave Paskett/Jon Betmead 2
  47. Grossman/Renbourn/Graham (Guildhall ‘79.
  48. Bonheime 1-2 (not saved)
  49. Bonheime 3-4 (not saved)
  50. Adrian O’Reilly
  51. Noel Murphy.
  52. Noel Murphy.
  53. Noel Murphy.

 

Reel To Reel Archive Salvaged:  

To date, from the Reel to Reel Archive I have salvaged – but not processed – performances from:

  1. Dick Reynolds,
  2. John Alderslade,
  3. Franklin, (Probably Tony)
  4. Mike Sagar,
  5. John the Fish,
  6. Jake Walton,
  7. Bill Clifton,
  8. Alex Campbell,
  9. Steve Tilston,
  10. Tony Rose,
  11. Rob Bartlett,
  12. Wizz Jones,
  13. Mic McCreadie,
  14. Clive Palmer,
  15. Clive Palmer & Bob Devereux,
  16. Four Fifths Jug Band,
  17. Roger Brooks,
  18. Vernon Rose,
  19. Peter Bond & Vernon Rose,
  20. Adrian O’Reilly,
  21. Derek Brimstone,
  22. Tony Capstick,
  23. Bert Jansch, Polly Bolton, (not Jacquie McShee), and Martin Jenkins (Guildhall Concert ‘78).

Mic McCreadie

Driving into Winter Sun – An Incident from December 2013.

IMG_2165Some things sometimes just sort of work by luck – don’t they? I was driving out of Goldsithney, a week or so ago, after visiting guitar maestro Adrian O’ Reilly, and on my way to see my old mate Clive in Penzance. The sun was shining directly into my face and, as I approached a narrowing of the road where the sign clearly indicated I should give priority to oncoming traffic, I saw a car positively hurtling towards me. I was in no danger but with the sun in my eyes and flaring on the smeared windscreen I was slightly concerned at the speed of the oncoming car. I put my hand up to shade my eyes from the sun and stopped my car. By then the offending car had drawn level with me.

Inside was a young woman who I thought at first glance to be around 25 or so. She was sitting in her car with the windows closed, screeching and making some very grotesque faces as she was gesticulating at me in an extremely furious manner and thrusting her index finger up pointing at the sign above me showing that she had the right of way then pointing this very same finger at me – to indicate it was me she was communicating with I presumed. To my puzzled mind it seemed she was clearly though possibly inappropriately angry about something and evidently not at all pleased with me either. I then realised she must have taken by my hand raising movements to shade my eyes from the glare of the low winter’s sun as a gesture indicating to her my criticism of her driving.

I sat quite still and quietly observed her as her fury remained undiminished while she gave full vent to her extremes of raging frustration. I had no plans to get involved in a shouting match with someone this heated, plus I was enjoying the spectacle, so I remained silent just staring intently at her, watching her wrath spill forth. Then, suddenly, I was surprised to feel the left hand lens of my plastic wrap-around sunglasses (the frames of which I’d cracked and therefore weakened some days previously) shift ever so slightly then simply fall out from the frame and down onto my lap. The woman immediately shut up and just stared in blank confusion as I stared back at her with one eye covered and the other not.

I quickly occurred to me that I had a perfect opportunity to indulge myself with a comedic moment. Keeping my head perfectly still and without any movement of my upper body whatsoever I kept eye contact with her and gave her a long slow salacious wink with my uncovered eye then blew her a kiss off my fingers. She was gobsmacked. Her rant was over, ceased, her mouth dropped open in stunned surprise then she sped off seemingly in total bewilderment.

Ah, the joys of everyday life, meeting folk, exchanging views and having fun!

Mic McCreadie

A Silly Discourse With A FaceBook Friend On Molly Mal Owen

Mic:    I knew a fish counter once, used to tot them all up down and around Newlyn when the fishing fleet came in. A lady named Molly Malone, sister to a brother who shared a mother with another. She wheeled a real barrow through the streets broad and narrow crying: ‘Grockles, I’ve Brussels’ as she attempted to flog stale vegetables to the tourist trade. She had seven different barrows, or barras, as she called them, one named for each day of the week but her favourite was Barra Monday. Oh, honestly, she was a dab hand at the fish counting but she gave it all up when she’d reached a total of 2013 on the musical scale and then lost her plaice. An odd looking lady she had a bottlenose and a full and generous mouth with luscious lips that looked for all the world like two fat peeled prawns. She had an odd way of sidling up to you; she walked like a crab because of a precariously balanced red mullet hanging over her eyes, and two huge pollacks which she used to juggle whilst racing round on a pair of skates, without a flounder, squatting on a perch and whistling ‘My Ting-a-Ling’ (though from a distance, and that was always the best option with Molly, it could sound more like ‘Why-ting-a-ling’) She performed this musical rendition a whole tone and three quarters above pitch and would fiercely screech: ‘What Char!’ or ‘On yer pike’ at anyone who complained. She married a Piscean, a German Cockle Fancier (Herman the German Merman) who quaffed gills of anything spirit based, so she was always ‘Herr-ing’ him and he’d be fiddling with her fillets. He, Herman the German Merman, it must be stated, was a gifted fiddler too; he could fiddle with fish fingers, a strange congenital abnormality he suffered with, wherein his fingers, seen from above, (reminiscent of a scene from ‘Above Us The Waves’) resembled nothing less than some several skinny deep fried and battered slices of mechanically recovered fish meat in breadcrumbs. Yet they were exquisitely and delicately arranged in a fan like flourish. He absolutely adored soul especially that of Lemon Louie the brown and pinkly striped man who used to sunbathe behind a slatted wooden pallet at the back of Mallets in Truro. (Although to be fair, at a pinch he’d do it wherever the mood took him and conditions were collectively conducive). Herman, the German Merman, could play all sorts and not just Bassett’s mind you in spite of a speech impediment which caused him to add a ‘Chrissie’ sound to his words. To hear him help Molly with the fish counting was extremely amusing on a wet Wednesday as he’d be uttering ‘1-ch, 2-ch, 3-ch, 4-ch, 5-ch, 6-ch, 7-ch, 8-ch, 9-ch, 10-ch! They lived happily just off Cod Row near the harbour and he, Herman the German Merman, used to carp on about how he could sleep anywhere any time; he claimed he was a natural kipper you see. All was well until she fell under the spell of a well endowed sardine squasher and debonair de-boner, who’d perfected a natural style of smile. This he applied to his mouth at any and all opportune moments thus ensnaring the yearnings and desires of any young fish orientated females. He, a young Finn called Pil Chard, late of a small village called Dor Salle processed selected sea-harvested items for Shipham’s Fish Paste Products and she lost her heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and spleen to him and left Herman the German Merman squirming with a sermon which he’d deliver at the river where he’d shiver and quiver crying: ‘I’ll never forgive her.’ Sadly all without effect or authority. He got himself a dog, a coley I think, then later joined with a canny Scottish lady, a mother of four called Ma Kerrel and together they made a recording of ‘Salmon Chanted Evening’ on which Herman played bass and it did well – somewhere.

Oh, oh, it’s time for my medication, must go; I have to have cod liver oil on my cornflakes.

Mic McCreadie

A.H.    Game, set and match… Enjoy the cornflakes.