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.

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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.

The Funeral Of Alistair (‘Larry’) Law.

LazThis Report for those who could not attend.

The funeral of Alistair (‘Larry’) Law took place at 13.00 on Monday 29th September 2014. It was held at The Weston Mill Crematorium, Plymouth. The dress code was ‘informal’ to reflect Larry’s ‘laid back’ attitude. Larry’s coffin was borne shoulder high into the chapel by his family and friends: brother, Jonathon Law,  his two sons, (Larry’s nephews: Adam and Philip), Marc Physick, (brother-in-law) Bob Mills and Mic McCreadie (long time friends).

Bach’s ‘Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring’ played as the coffin was carried to and laid upon the bier with respect and ceremony. The chapel was filled to capacity with family, Larry’s many, many friends, many of Larry’s work colleagues including the Assistant Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police and other high ranking officials. There were so many mourners in fact that some folk were not able to find a space within the body of the chapel and had to hear the service relayed on the P.A. system speakers.

The service was conducted by Police Chaplain John Howard, himself a one time colleague of Larry’s, who then made the Introduction followed by the first hymn: ‘O God Our Help In Ages Past.’

The service took the form of a celebration of Larry’s life and achievements. Emotional eulogies were given and poems were recited by his brother Jonathon and two of Larry’s closest friends, Mic McCreadie and Bob Mills. After the eulogies, prayers were said and the congregation then sung ‘The Lord Is My Shepherd’ and this was followed by the ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ before the Committal when a recording of the traditional air: ‘The Flowers Of The Forest’ was played as the curtains were drawn across.

The Chaplain gave the Blessing and a recorded version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’ sung by Larry and Mic was played as the family and congregation filed out through a Guard Of Honour of uniformed Police. A collection box, for those who wished to make a donation to support the work of the  R.N.L.I., was available on exiting. This collection raised a little over £400.00.

A reception with refreshments including champagne was held in The Future Inn near Derriford and this too was overflowing with family and friends who’d come to make their last farewells to a dearly loved man. Gifts and tributes were presented to Larry’s parents, Iain and Rosemary, and among these was an especially compiled scrapbook by Linda Cory Stoneman containing photos, mementos and the collected posts and writings Larry’s friends had made on Facebook throughout his illness and hospitalisation in Derriford. It would be impossible to even attempt to list all the people who came to see Larry off but among those who travelled up from Cornwall were musicians John The Fish, Adrian O’Reilly, Keith Hills, Tom Palmer and Mic McCreadie all of whom had interacted musically in some way or another with Larry. These same musicians, and many of Larry’s musician friends from Plymouth and its surrounding areas, will be involved in the Charity Benefit Concert which is to be held on Sunday November 23rd 2014 at The Lowenac Hotel, in Camborne, Cornwall with the music beginning at 5pm. Entry will be free of charge but donations will be requested to benefit the R.N.L.I.

Some Utterly Nonsensical Exchanges With A Facebook Friend.

10:20

Mic McCreadie

Lungworm. Can you make a viable soup from them? Discuss

10.26

Richard Stevens

I am still attempting to but it’s not that tasty even with lashings of paprika. I will not, though, be defeated.

Mic McCreadie

Do you gut them before cooking or is it all grist to the mill, so to speak?

10:52

Richard Stevens

No time for gutting Mic. I do slow cook them to ensure that all of the ‘goodness’ remains within the liquor but I’m not sure I would recommend this meat to Heston.

11:56

Mic McCreadie

Mmm, I think I know what you mean. I’ve been given a half ton of the little buggers – well they were flung over the rear garden wall sometime during the night, and am thinking of stuffing them with mushrooms, garlic, fatty pate and a smidgin of proper, real toe jam. (I still have some of the proprietary brand of ‘Sweaty Palmer Toe Jam Preserve’ ©™. I’m having trouble finding a suitable funnel though, that’s my main problem today. They’ve got such small mouths – and arses. We’ll see, I suppose.

12:09

Richard Stevens

I wonder if it is worth force feeding the little bastards before dispatching them. Save on the stuffing. Just a thought…

14:22

Mic McCreadie

You’ll not believe this: the little f*ckers have formed a circle and are fighting back. I’ve been squirted with some foul smelling fluid as I tried to smear them with brown sauce (non faecal) and when one or two hundred died they got shitty – so to speak. I’ve called the police but they’ve refused to get involved and told me to try worm powder. I didn’t know you could get powdered worms. If I had I’d not have bothered with this rig-ma-role I can tell you. Hang on, some of the little bastards are trying get into the knife drawer, I’d better go.

14:27

Richard Stevens

I am so sorry. I should have warned you about this. A similar thing happened to me some years ago. A group of the little bastards took control of my Kenwood Chef and used it as a weapon against me. I was alone and cornered in the kitchen. Imagine my fear. In the end I distracted them by turning on the radio. Steve Wright In The Afternoon was on. For some reason they all threw themselves into the mixer simultaneously and met their mortal ends. I am certain to this day that some of them had a little smile on their faces. I shall never forget that day…

14:59

Mic McCreadie

I’ve only time for a quick note while the Fire Brigade are mopping up and the ambulance men have finally accepted my refusal to go to the local Casualty Department. Richard it was all out war, nothing less. Unbeknownst to me, and hidden by a worm shield they fashioned with their own little repugnant bodies, one of the little f*ckers had burrowed through the keyhole of the knife drawer which I keep locked due to being married, as you’ll no doubt understand, you being in a similar sort of circumstance and what-knot (know what I mean when I put ‘knot’ and not ‘not’?) Anyway a surgically sharp knife was quickly gotted and I was threatened with it, I’ve been up the sharp end before having, as you’ll readily understand, been married before. I had to act decisively or lose my life so, like a Springbok gazelle, I turned a neat pirouette whilst at the same time turning on and igniting the gas ring,

‘Come on then’, I screamed, ‘if you think you’re squidgy enough. Come and get me you furrocking shite bags!’

I uttered this challenge in a high pitched sing-song voice because I knew they’d be infuriated by that and sure enough they were incensed and made a very slow rush, well more of a sludgy, slimy ooze across the work top and, just as I’d planned, straight into the fierce heat of the gas ring where, I’m happy to report, in seconds they were toast!

I was victorious and elated, of course I was; I had vanquished mine enemies in the face of death. That was why I did the arabesque and leapt upwards with such force. It was this action that caused me to puncture the plaster of the ceiling and rupture the gas pipe which feeds the upstairs. The resulting fire has utterly destroyed the kitchen and half of next door’s penguin, though to be honest it never, ever looked happy in my humble opinion. I was severely lacerated by exploding glass and ceramics and have sustained quite painful injuries to my nether regions. I was naked, as I tried to explain to the police (who now were more than happy to get involved) and the firemen, because clothes in a war zone can be constrictive and impede one’s free movements, not recommended when fighting a pitched and seriously deadly battle with lung-worms or other nematodes etc. Happily the end result means I am free of these vicious little bastards and even as the men are smacking me around the arms and buttocks with their rubberised truncheons and wrapping me in a stiff blanket festooned with various straps and buckles and making shushing noise as I struggle to bite them, snapping hungrily at their noses and ears, I am firmly resolved never again to have lung-worm on my menu! I must go now, it seems I have absolutely no choice in the matte…

Mic McCreadie

James Taylor at Plymouth Pavilions. 05th September 2014.

The James Taylor Concert at Plymouth Pavilions last Friday night (05th September 2014) was a delight.

We arrived in good time to have a drink and meet up with some friends as we milled with the growing crowd in the bar – where there was no seating and us paying customers were being managed and corralled by grim faced, muscled stewards like so many cattle. We had what we initially thought were good seats; we had no choice during the booking process – you got what they gave you, and were about two thirds up the first tier in Row KK, very slightly stage right as you faced it.

The man himself was effortlessly charming, natural, self effacing and genuinely modest. His stage presence was all those things rolled in to one so the concert seemed like a personal one-to-one interview and the balance of songs was, in my opinion, well thought out and meticulously planned. There were new songs interspersed with many of the old favourites all performed with precision and grace and such innate ease. I was disappointed though by the sound. In my opinion and also possibly because of our position in the hall, the sound in the first set especially was a tad disappointing with Mr T. being drowned out both by the band and also by the backing vocalists so much so that in full flow the overall sound was mashed and indistinct. More separation would have helped I thought though on speaking to our friends during the break they, in their seats nearer to the stage, reported that they had no such problems with the overall sound. A musician friend and also a man who knows his way around a recording studio had this to say: Plymouth Pavilions is always tricky from a sound perspective. ‘Mashed and indistinct’ describes my experience there very well and overall has put me off booking tickets for shows. The venue wasn’t designed for great acoustics and even the finest touring P.A.s can’t overcome the deficiencies in the building’s construction. Everything I’ve heard there has been woolly, lacking clarity and separation. Great to hear you enjoyed JT in spite of the sound and annoying neighbours.

The band were good, tight, displaying an intelligent grasp of interplay in harmonics and chord inversions. It was clear they all knew very well what they were doing and how to do it, they were well rehearsed and enjoying themselves too and the whole evening was a study in how to present a laid-back, feel-good vibe (I know – but factor in the fact that I lived through the 60s musical revolution and hippy culture so…) There were many high points and memorable moments but, for me, the best was when he, J.T. sat to perform ‘Fire & Rain’, for it wasn’t only sung; it was ‘delivered’ in all its sad sincerity. The stark content of emotion in those lyrics was brought to life by his simple, uncluttered and telling performance. Standing ovations were de rigueur, the encores were ‘spontaneous’ with James acting as though they hadn’t expected them, good easy fun but better was to come. After a full-on night of performing, as the crowds shuffled their painfully slow trudge to the exits James came back out to sign tickets, shake hands have photos taken with punters just like he was any old everyday musician and not the internationally respected artist we all know and love. A very charming, genuinely humble man.

My only other disappointment was caused by the fact that we, my lovely missus Chrissie and I, had the bad luck to be seated right next to a woman who was completely off her face and, again in my own opinion, certifiably insane. She spent much of the concert throwing herself against the seat backs thereby affecting the whole set of chairs all buckled together as they are, so we all rocked back and forth to her crazy rhythms. She was waving her arms like she was actually ablaze, screeching as she flapped, yes flapped, her legs open and shut. Her sense of timing was notable by its sheer absence as she clapped along inappropriately and out of step with everyone else and this grew more apparent as she replenished the diminishing fluids levels in her sweating body with copious swigs from her back-up rations resource i.e. the clear liquid contents of a large unlabelled plastic drinks bottle. She and her partner had clearly come prepared and did not have to queue for drinks at the bar during the 20 minute interval. People beside and behind us offered their condolences as they witnessed this one woman maelstrom become totally and physically involved with ‘Steam-Roller Blues’. I wanted to punch her (kindly) to sleep and give her peace but Chrissie wouldn’t hear of it. She bore the onslaught, which lasted more or less the whole length of the concert, with a patience and fortitude that simply amazed me. There was a moment of savage pleasure for me at least when she stood to screech her approval at the end of a song then forgot that when you stand your seat defaults to its ‘up’ position.

When her ample arse smacked heavily on the floor and she became trapped with her knees jammed against the back of the seat in front of her, I exulted! For the briefest of moments I believed there might indeed be a God after all!

This delight was savoured inwardly though because no noise I made, such as shouting, (nay, fecken roaring), ‘Serves you f*cking right!’ would have penetrated her selfishly blurred and fogged consciousness. She was that much of a twat! It was though, an undoubted moment of unforgettable extra joy for me as her partner manfully tried to assist her out of her predicament. As they fought together to return her back to a sitting position it soon became clear that he too was also somewhat ‘tired and emotional’ and the synchronised manoeuvres required to manipulate her and simultaneously fight to keep the spring loaded seat in the ‘down’ position proved almost insurmountable. So I happily witnessed her struggle to maintain her dignity as her track suit type trousers caught on some sharp edge and her undergarments were suddenly on public display looking, to me, to be none too fresh.

I’m happy to report too that the second set sound was a lot better and that overall we both had a lovely night and enjoyed it all immensely no matter the few ‘disappointments’ we had to bear.

Mic McCreadie.