It seems to have been a really long year for me. I’m not sure why, it may have been a lack of gigs and music events attended in London or just the fact the pace of life is slower in Norfolk and I’ve had one good thing after another to look forward too.
Let me get the losses and sadness out of the way first so I can focus on the great and fun positive events of this year. In no particular order, my Uncle Clifford – I think he was really my cousin, who was a cultured, intelligent and educated man and published novelist, died in London. Sadly I could not attend his funeral due to work commitments but thankfully I was able to witness his send off as it was streamed live for people like myself and family in Ireland.
A Norfolk farming and folk legend passed away on Valentines Day and not only will his wife Phylis and family miss him greatly, but so will the whole Norfolk folk scene. I’m not a fan of the piano accordian but Colin Tate was a brilliant player and generally lovely man, who would also perform many a Kipper Family song brilliantly with his rich Norfolk accent, winning smile and beautiful humour.
A lovely young woman on my street died suddenly, which was shocking and very sad. Her name was Vicky Robinson and she was always wondering around and would stop and chat for ages, she loved her ginger cat ‘Biscuit’ as did I, he was a real funny character. I would have taken him but a closer friend around the corner took him in, so now I miss them both.
My sister-in-law’s dog Ruby died which was a very big blow particularly for my Julie who adored Ruby and that little dog changed how Julie felt towards animals for the better for ever. Thanks to Ruby, Julie is no longer frightened of animals and I even caught her stroking Biscuit the cat on occasion.
Vicky Biscuit Ruby
My beloved Ford Focus complete with automotive lipstick was written off in March. I wasn’t T-Cutting that out of the door anytime soon!
There was a lot of sentimental value to that car and I would never have sold it because my Dad had given it to me before he died, and I had the pleasurable honour of driving him all over Ireland in it. He had driven me everywhere in Ireland and Norfolk when I was a child, so it was lovely to get the chance to do the same for him.
Having released my ‘From the Vaults’ album in December and it neither being a particularly Celtic, Punk, Folk or Traditional I was delighted when it scraped in at number 10 of the best Folk/Trad Releases of 2017 by the London Celtic Punks.
Like every year recently ‘Us Locals’ give thanks to the apple trees with the Elsing Wassailing ceremony
Good Pals Piers & Jayne had a lovely party to start the year where some very fine food and peculiar cheese was experienced.
Another annual tradition Julie and I like to attend is the Fond (Friends Of Norfolk Dialect) Pantomime. It is very low budget, under rehearsed and truly hilarious. Beauty & The Beast this year or as they say in these parts ‘Bewtiful Belle and the Gret ole Beast’; I even had a win on the raffle and chose a dog bone for Ruby.
Julie gave Ruby the bone when we visited her sister after the panto. Ruby was very excited by the marrowbone inside and somehow Julie ended up with a sloppy bit of marrowbone on her finger which she presented to Ruby ‘expecting the dog to just gently lick it off’ but in her excitement Ruby sank her teeth into Julie’s finger and just held on. I did manage to get Ruby to release Julie’s finger, when I finally stopped laughing!
I collected my restored Bowler from Locks & Co, St James and had a stroll around the Palace and bumped into Milton Jones who transformed from normal bloke in the street to funny man from Mock The Week before my eyes and camera.
The first Irish event of the year for me was a visit to Camden Irish Center for a celebration of the life of Constance Markievicz (The Rebel Countess) with a great informative talk by Irish historian, Elizabeth Gillis. It must have inspired me a bit because I have attended and performed at more political events this year, than ever before.
Not only was I already booked to do a set at The Burston Strike School Rally in September but when one of Norwich’s finest and most popular singer songwriters Matt Watson was too ill to perform at the ‘Labour Lovers Ball’, I was asked to step in and of course was delighted too.
It was around this time that The Limes acoustic session in Fakenham Wetherspoons celebrated it’s 1stBirthday. About a dozen or so musicians started meeting for breakfast in the pub chain every Thursday morning for breakfast. Thursday is Market day and there is a good food market, flea market and auction, and so the town is vibrant. Joe & Mary a very talented couple, started talking about running a session on a Wednesday night. I remember them asking me at breakfast “would I go if they did?’ to which I replied only if it’s every week, not once a month like most of them. Pretty soon after it happened, it took a few weeks to settle in but when it did it was great. It’s not a folk session so we don’t have a great deal of unaccompanied singers and it’s very inclusive instead of exclusive. There are all levels of ability and I only abuse those I feel can take it!
I have never been one for doing sponsored events to raise money for charity for a number of reasons, firstly the obscene amount many of them pay their CEO’s while exploiting the volunteer system. I spend most of my small income in charity shops and while these charities are funding stuff, the Government are being let off paying for things they should be. When I heard about Swim 22 to raise money for Diabetes UK, I thought why not? I did it and raised a couple of hundred quid for them, while reminding myself why I won’t do anything like it again. When I signed up you got a free swimming cap and starter pack and it said when you raise £25 or more you’ll get a Swim 22 Beach towel. When I reached over £100 and had not heard about my towel, I enquired only to be told that was only an introductory offer, now when I raised over £300 I would get the towel. I love a charity shop but only because there is nothing else in the High Street anymore, I think the bubble may burst soon with ‘Chuggers’ outside supermarkets and rich celebrities asking us poor folk to part with what little we have for starving, blind donkeys with cancer in Yemen!
For the first time in years I was not booked to play a gig on St Patrick’s day, it wasn’t without offers but not anything I wanted to play, so it was quite remarkable when my life long friend Aiden invited me to his wedding on the 17th of March just a few weeks before. What was also remarkable was who he was marrying- Mary, the lady who had given him several children and put up with him for decades and whom I’d wrongly assumed he had tied the knot with years before.
Julie and I drove down to London on the Thursday and stopping in Brandon on the way down, where I picked up this rather fetching Kermit the Frog outfit.
We checked into the Royal Arsenal Hotel, quickly got ready and drove over to Clapham to attend a production of a play by my friend and artist Brian Whelan. He and his wife Wendy were over from the States for it and it was lovely to meet up with them. The play was called ‘A Tragic Carmody’ and was a triumph. Based on the life and death of a brilliant artist called Daniel Carmody, whom Brian had tried to help achieve recognition. After the show we drove back to the hotel via Forest Hill and popped into the best Irish pub in London ‘The Blyth Hill Tavern’ and the trad session was in full swing, I sang a couple of songs before retiring for the night – very happy and contented.
Friday the 16thwe headed to Camden for pie & mash and to pick up my Loake’s airwear tassle loafers that had been in for repair with the Great British Boot Company since late November but it was well worth the wait. Having a very minor split on the side of the sole after two full years of regular wear, I popped in and asked the best way to repair it. They sent them back to the factory and now four months later they were returned with brand new shiney soles in a box wrapped in Loake’s embossed buffing cloth. The evening if I remember was spent with my Mam & sister. Saturday St Pat’s day we drove over to my native turf of Maida Vale to attended Aiden & Mary’s wedding and it was a great day and I saw so many people I hadn’t seen since my childhood.
Every year for the past four or five years I’ve attended the St Patrick’s Day parade in Trafalgar Square but this year was the first I attended with Julie, instead of a guitar. It was bitterly cold and blowing a gale. I wasn’t sure what we would do, as I was unsure of my purpose without a guitar, but as we walked down to Green Park we found a very pale and wind swept Michael Carty and his Comrades in the Connolly Association frozen to the spot with a banner and flag hoisted waiting for the parade to start moving. So we joined them and helped with banner holding and flag waving in the strong winds. It was a very proud moment for me.
I really do feel blessed with good luck, so much so that even when I wrote my car off I only broke a finger nail! What could have been fatal for the biker that hit the side of my car, was not serious! And it taught me a valuble lesson and opened the door for me to get a car that was much more practical, economical and suitable to my needs. Some of which will become apparent when I get to my evening with The Rumjacks.
Back to the Limes acoustic session in Fakenham, where an amazingly beautiful and talented young couple had joined the ranks. Jaz & Emilie wanted to start an Arts hub in Fakenham and when they found a good venue asked me to be their first guest performer. I was flattered of course and delighted until I discovered the good venue was in fact The Conservative Club! After lots of uncertainty, reliable sources assured me there was no affiliation to the Conservative party, much to my relief. So The Vibe was born. Sadly it only lasted a few months before Jaz & Emilie had to move away due to work commitments but it was a fantastic room, well organised, promoted, attended and a lot of fun.
Fakenham Beer festival was an experience, for the second year running. Performing with a 4 piece Pirate outfit Picaroon as cajon player but switching to guitar and vocals and bodhran on certain songs, all 4 members took lead vocals at times and changed instruments regularly. This caused no end of issues for the sound man – whose equipment was state of the art, but he was more out of the ark, so it ended up being like a painful 3 hour sound check! To be fair we regularly rehearsed acousticly but never with amplification, so every gig was fraught with sound issues. Thankfully Picaroon are now just a wonderful duo. The last show we all played together was a private function in Yaxham where all sorts of things were asked of us in preparation, such as a request for Celidh tunes which on the night transformed into line dancing tunes.
My solo set at Fakenham Beer festival was much less challenging, as was my solo set at Dereham Beer festival. Both were huge halls with big high stages which does make it quite difficult to connect with the audience, but I think I’ve got used to it a bit now and still enjoy it immensly.
The ‘Save The NHS’ picnic in Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich was a lovely afternoon. It wasn’t greatly attended but it was nice to spend afternoon with my good friend, Uke playing activist and brilliant photographer Ann Nicholls, and chat with Roland, her significant other, about bicycles. Highlight of the day was the honour of getting a reading by the remarkably perceptive ‘Truth Fairy’ in the sunshine.
I applied too late to get gig on the Fringe at Folk On The Pier but contacted the organiser to offer my services if anyone cancelled and was absolutely bowled over when he asked did I want to host the Open Mic on the Pier for the whole weekend. Despite doing some flyers and circulating them around the bars a few days before hand and it being in the programme, it wasn’t that well attended by performers so I was performing most of the time. However those that did perform were great and none more so than main stage artist Chris Fox. On the final day at the final Session, all my pals from the Limes Session turned up wanting to play, as did one of Norfolk’s top female folk balladeers Gemma Khawaja.
I was also delighted to see one of my favorite folk performers, leading lights and all around nicest person on the Norfolk scene Brian Gaudett, who I pressed into doing one of my favorite songs. Brian’s rendition of ‘Butter and Cheese’ is something to behold and I’d never tire of watching him perform it.
Having the new car I found an idyillic place with sea views to spend the night. The only problem was it was on a residential street and I hadn’t discovered how to disable the immobiliser and so everytime I moved around inside the car, the alarm went off! Not only woke me up but the whole street I should imagine.
It was certainly a major highlight of my year and I’m delighted to be doing it again in 2019. I met, saw and heard some fabulous artists and none more so than Gerry Colville, who I’m delighted to say I’ll be opening for at the Sheringham Little Theatre for his return to the county in February 19.
May’s edition of R2 (Rock ‘N’ Reel) arrived in the shops. Not only is it the the best national folk music magazine, but the most widely distributed and easily available one. It featured the review for my ‘From The Vaults’ album. It has reviewed most of my releases and has always been kind, but this was the best yet.
The 17th May saw my only London gig of the year supporting the brilliant American folk punk accordian player T.C. O’Connell. Also on the bill was The Lagan’s front man Brendan O’Prey. It was a bit of a quiet Thursday night, but the advantage of this was that I got the chance to have a chat with Frankie McLauglin of top Austrailian celtic punk band The Rumjacks. Review and live footage here..
I escaped the Royal Wedding on the 19th by performing while it was actually happening at Clippesby Hall Music Festival. It was another super sunny day and the festival had a great line up of local artists. This event was organised by Justin Burgess, a Norwich promoter that does it for all the right reasons.
Brian Gaudett (who I mentioned earlier in the Folk On The Pier section) put together a folk show about the life of ‘Norfolk Hero’ Admiral Nelson. He had asked me to take part by singing my shantie ‘Half God Half Nelson’ I agreed, and added a small section about Nelsons Pillar in Dublin which lead comfortably into ‘Nelson Farwell’ a song about the IRA blowing the Pillar up! It was a great show and we did two performances one in my old local ‘Tracks’ and another in Sheringham Library. There was another later in the year (but I couldn’t do that one) and hopefully some more in 2019.
Julie and I had bought a large tent and a collosal amount of camping gear that we hadn’t had the opportunity to try out, so like small children we decided to camp out in her mothers garden; which was not too far from a late night convienience shop and on a housing estate, so it was quite a noisy night but a lot of fun. I also discovered that I am a cruel husband, when Julie informed me that she wore a belt while setting the tent up soley to stop me giving her a wedgie!
Another trip to London this time for ‘ The Life & Times Of James Connolly 150thBirthday Event’- another great informative event and chance to see a few London Irish pals and take me Mammy for a cream tea.
Tim Chipping is the main man behind folk band LongShoreDrift, and one of my very best friends. We often share billing, go to gigs together, and he also runs a record club that I try to attend each month. Just occasionally we will perform together and Elvden’s Pickled Onion Festival is one of those occasions. It is held in a lovely old wartime village hall, in possibly one of the prettiest places in Thetford.
Tim and I have done this gig together for the past couple of years but this year we had to drive down separatley because when we had completed our set that evening, I had to drive through the night to Glastonbury Tor to meet Fred McCormac a friend I’ve know since my teens who sadly lost his brother ‘Crazy Chris’ last year. Chris was a Glastonbury Festival veteran of well over 20 years, so we were going to spread his ashes on the Tor. He was a hard core Londoner with a sensitive soul that belonged in Glastonbury, and the only time I had been up the Tor was with him in 2007. I got there for sun rise climbed the Tor took some photos and film footage before returning to the bed in my Roomster for a little sleep, before climbing it a second time at midday to meet Fred, his Mum and friends for the spreading of Crazy Chris’ ashes.
When the opportunity arose to see London Irish punk legend John Lydon with his band Public Image Ltd in Norwich, it had to be done. I went with PunkFolkers bass man Thim Fleximon and met my old QK school Ben there, which was a nice surprise. Although Lydon has disappointed me with comments on Trump, Brexit and being London Irish, I still love him and he was absolutely brilliant on the night.
Having donated a Punkfolkers song ‘Angry Man’ to the St Martins Housing Trust ‘Homeless charity’ compilation CD ‘Under One Roof’ I was booked to perform at the CD launch ‘Under One Riff’ at Norwich Art Center. I was in a bit of a tizz, as it was the night before the Folk In a Field gig with the Punkfolkers and running the merchandise stall the whole weekend and so I’d been on site for two days setting up tents, gazebo & sorting out stock. I had foolishly replaced my guitar strings with some ridiculouly light gage ones, so when I took to the stage at the Art Center, the flappy rattley strings sounded horrendous! So I just ploughed through the short set and got out of there and back to Folk In A Field issues.
The day had arrived….. Punkfolkers live debut at ‘Folk In A Field’ festival. I hadn’t found time to replace the rattling strings, but I had a sticker laden cheap Westfield guitar that I used instead and it did me proud, as I only played guitar on two songs. The Westfield guitar with stickers I sold the following evening to a member of The Nobel Jacks. They were a great band and a good bunch of young fellas too.
The O’Reillys and the Paddyhats headlined on the Saturday and their show was something to behold. If you want to know more …..
The whole festival was brilliant and seems to get better each year.
I have had this one friend since I was 3 years old and he was 5. We have grown up together and he now lives in France so I rarely get to see him. When we have met in recent years we have had our differences but our bond has always been stronger than any row or disagreement we have had, and he brought his wife and two children to visit us this year. He had arranged to buy a car near Kings Lynn and I was to help him find the place, which I did. We all went out for dinner, they stayed over in our little house and Sean and I never had a cross word, it was wonderful. We chatted about it after and put the change in us down to a lack of booze, because I drank nothing and he drank very little. On the day they were due to leave it was a scorching hot day, I had to play at The Bintree Mill folk party so they came along to that for a while and they loved it. I honoured his visit with ‘Sean The Leprechaun’ before he headed off home to France.
28th Of July was nominated ‘Norfolk Day’ and I was performing on The Albatros, an old clipper ship docked at Wells-Next-The-Sea. I’ve been happily performing on it for over a decade now and I still find it as exciting as I did the first time. On hearing about Norfolk Day I thought I’d try to fill the evening with songs only connected to Norfolk. I spent a couple of days writing a list of the songs and how to link them coherently into a running order. I typed and printed out a set list. I never write set lists and rarely make any plan of what I will play. I love the spontaneity of performing in the moment from what is in my head. And this is why…. no sooner had I put the set list on the table beside me, than I knocked a pint all over it, causing the ink to run and making it completey illegable.
With my forthcoming gig at Burston I started to rehearse with the resident band The Red Flags and attend more demonstrations as these are difficult and divisive times, where we need more than ever to stand up and be counted. Donald Trump was visiting and there were demos all over the country and I joined my closest one in Norwich where I performed a couple of alternative renditions…..’Blood on the Shamrock & The Rose’ was altered to ‘Blood on the hands of Donald Trump!’ and ‘PunkFolk’ became ‘Dump Trump!’ It felt good to perform on the steps of City Hall, Norwich.
After this performance I was approached to perform in Chapelfield Gardens again but this time for the 60th Birthday of CND and as part of the giant 3D logo tour that was coming to Norwich for a couple of days. It was very poorly attended on the day I played, due to really heavy rain storms all day. The good things about it was that not only did I get to play on a proper quintesselly English park band stand but ex-Punkfolk cajon player, Death Mick Garvin was there to play with another act and was able to join me too.
I also played the first of two lovely sunny mornings in Norwich city centre busking with some of Norwich’s finest musicians to raise funds for the Love Music Hate Racism movement.
Saturday August 11th I was booked to do a late slot at Easton Park’s White Noise Festival , I’ve done it a few times now but this was the first time I had brought Julie with me. She was quite impressed, it is one of my favorite festivals of the year as I’ve always loved VW Beetles and Campers ever since Sean took me to the Santapod Bug Jam in the early 1980’s.
I was to play a 45min set, as was the chap before me, but when a young man with Downs Syndrome called Leon stood at the front stage talking to him. I don’t think he could cope and after 2 of 3 songs, he let Leon take over and perform a song with his guitar before packing up and heading off. There was no sound man about but I took to the stage and did what I could until the sound guy turned up, and got me going properly. I played for well over an hour and once again the weather made it difficult (not for me or Leon who I’d humored into being a roady for me on the dry stage) but for the audience and poor Julie trying to sell merch and film proceedings from under a tree with umbrella! When I was performing the heavens opened and despite Neville Staple of The Specials being on the main stage, and there being a few ‘dry’ dance tent, still several people endured the rain to enjoy my long set. When the sound man came back, he was astonished that I was still playing and even more so by the fact that I still had an audience! I even sold a few CDs after.
The next day was another huge stage for Punkfolkers first headline slot at Folk In The Town (The Town being Kings Lynn in this case). We thoroughly enjoyed our 40 minute set, as did the audience I believe and there was a little rain but not enough to dampen any spirits, especially ours! We performed better than we did at Folk in a Field and had a fantastic time.
My brother in law Steve was celebrating his 60th Birthday with a family party at his house in Northolt. My other brother in law and sister were unable to attend as they had booked a weekend away. They don’t get a break very often and really deserved some time away from looking after our elderly mother and their son who has Downs Syndrome. The idea was that I stay with my mam and maybe take her to the Steve’s party, if she felt up to it. At about 8am they were all ready to set off when there was an almighty crash in the hall. Mam had taken a short cut down the stairs, instead of taking the lift like she should have! We ran to the hall to find Mum upsidedown on top of the Henry vacum cleaner, with her walking frame holding her stable where she was. Amazingly she didn’t appear injured apart from a small scratch on her face. Without thinking we helped her up, she walked with my help to her chair, while my sister called the ambulance. My sister wiped the scratch and it wasn’t a scratch but a splash of blood. She had cut her head open. My sister and brother-in-law had a train to catch so I told them to go and Mam told them if they didn’t leave she wouldn’t go to hospital when the ambulance came. Luckily my niece Heather came over to help, so they could get away. Mam and I went to the hospital in the ambulance, where she had a couple of stitches and was right as rain. On the lighter side, I didn’t have to do a drive across London to the party, as I wasn’t looking forward to it! My mam appeared to feel much better and was more with it.
Some years ago I donated a song to a compilation charity CD called ‘Rock The Lobster’ but never got to meet any of the other people involved but following the Cromer festival ‘Folk on the Pier’, I was invited to play the Rock The Lobster club in Sheringham. It was a great evening and I enjoyed all the other acts but none more so than local ceilidh band Fezziwig.
August also saw a couple of Red flags performances at Norwich County Hall in support of children’s centres threatened with closure and on the Britvic Factory picket lines.
One of the funniest incidents of the year was when I went to see The Rumjacks at the Norwich Waterfront. Having met lead singer Frankie back in May I managed to lig my way onto the guest list, and when I arrived I was delighted when Frankie came out to say hello and have a little chat. It was the best turn out for a gig I’ve seen in The Waterfront for a long time proving that this type of Celtic Punk music is evergrowing in popularity. The Rumjacks played a craicing set and towards the end I was bowled over when Frankie announced on the mic ‘I’d like to thank local legend Anto Morra for coming out to see us tonight!’ Full of pride, I left the venue to drive home only to find that the car park where I’d parked, and where I always park on a Friday night in Norwich, had locked it’s gates until the morning! So I was twenty miles from home,and there was only one thing for it….. I had to scale the fence and sleep in my car! I was neither dressed nor used to climbing, and I can honestly say I’ve never felt so old- not being able to pull myself over fence not much higher than my head. I headed off to Wetherspoons on Riverside and got myself some water for the night, before returning to the forboding fence. I searched about the area, found a piece of wood which I wedged against the fence and used that to wedge my fat auld arse over the fence and into the car park. Once in, I opened my top box got out my bed rolled it out, got into my pyjamas…. I even had my toothbrush and slippers with me. I moved the car away from the bright light it was parked under, and found a dark corner and settled down for the night. I slept better than I do at home, and when I awoke in the morning the carpark was full again and been open for about an hour, resulting in me being charged an extra hour parking!
BURSTON Some years ago Julie and I went to the Burston School Strike Rally and I thought I’d love to perform at that. For me it is more important than any traditional music festival because of it’s history. I managed to get a slot at the Ipswich May day event in 2017, when I finished my set the chap on the mixing desk asked ‘Have you ever considered playing at the Burston Rally?’ I replied ‘I took this gig in the hope I would get a slot at Burston’ and I was delighted when he said ‘Consider yourself booked’. He was true to his word and I was given the peak time slot. The speaker due to go on before me was unable to get there, and so they asked would I mind going on early? So I did assuming that I would finish early but once again I just kept going, I was on for at least 90 minutes. I think this maybe a record for the longest solo artist at Burston Rally. Before my set I played cajon with The Red Flags who perform every year, and as I am now an official member, so will I from now on.
Another gig I really enjoyed was a benefit for Greyfriars art space in Kings Lynn. It was organised by my good friend Tom Thompson and featured his band Daisy’s Cat, Wolfswood and myself. We brought a PA but opted not to use it. It was reasonably well attended considering it was in a Methodist church hall and no alcohol was allowed. Daisy’s Cat opened, I followed and Wolfswood finished the evening as it was sadly to be their last gig. I enjoyed the evening a great deal especially getting to play a couple of songs with John Lawson on bass. John ran the music shop in East Dereham for many years.
Julie and I made our annual pilgrimage to the sun, sea and sands of Majorca and did lots of shopping, swimming and eating. There was an Arts Festival on in the capital city Palma so we went to that and it inspired us to finally visit the Joan Miro museum which I found quite unimpressive. We also visited the King of Spain’s garden which featured several Miro sculptures and this was a wonderful place. Truly beautiful.
It was around this time I found that I was featured in Wikipedia and an Anto Morra page had been successfully constucted and approved.
October was mostly taken up with scare acting at Primevil- the Dinosaur park in Norwich but I did get time to go and see Jilted John in Cambridge which was fantastic and well worth the forty year wait I had to see one of my favorite albums performed live. He was supported by another favorite that I’ve see many times, although not for a very long time and that is John Otway- he was brilliant as ever and I was quite relieved he didn’t attempt some of the things he used to do. I also got to see the reggae legends Toots & The Maytels in Norwich, and I realised after they are the only proper reggae band I’ve ever paid to see. I’ve always seen them at festivals and as support acts.
When not working at Primevil I started to upcycle some shirts I have had knocking about for ages, giving them a new punk rock lease of life and managed to sell 4 or 5 on eBay on their 1stlisting. The bass player of punk legends The Angelic Upstarts even bought one.
PrimEvil was hard work but a lot of fun and and I met some great people. I hope I can do it all again next year.
When I get the chance I like to take my mam to M&S café in Charlton for an afternoon tea. On one visit in October, I got talking to an Irish woman serving me and she told me of an open mic at the Old Mill pub in Plumstead, that very evening; I was due to drive home but decided to stay for the open mic and drive home after. I was so glad I did because not only was the woman who was running it really nice, the Irish woman ‘Tara’ from M&S was behind the bar and I saw one of the most enjoyable duos of the year Apoplexy, and once again I met some lovely people.
Another annual ritual for Julie and I is a weekend away. It’s usually London but this year we opted for Colchester. We booked a good hotel and explored the town and shops. We also visited Frinton On Sea, which was a lovely little town and I found a great charity shop that sold just records, books, camera stuff and musical instruments and equipment. Over the weekend I bought 3 guitars and over £100 worth of records.
I went to see The Levellers in Norwich at the end of November and although they perfomed well, the sound let them down.
At the beginning of December, Julie and I attended our great niece’s 1stbirthday party, where the children all had fun but not as much as the fat, thirty somethin’ fathers did playing football! We sat with my mam, it was lovely to see everyone and a great day near the Dartford crossing. I had been to the Fakenham chocolate factory shop a couple of days before hand and bought 36 advent callendars for only £2 and they went down a treat.
The sound man I got to know while organising Mayfest back in the 00’s left us, and his job at the BBC after forty years. Iain Miekle is a great chap and I wish him lots of luck with his new life in Belfast.
If I didn’t have enough guitars I stumbled over this unique one on eBay and just had to have it. A cut off acoustic that has had an electrics added but set out like a Les Paul so it is now known as my Gibson Lindsey de Paul.
It wasn’t feeling too much like Chrismas. Something seemed missing. I got my ticket for the BibleCodeSundays Christmas boat party on the Thames and so did my brother in-law Steve, who only made the launch time because the boat left the dock a little late. It saw a fabulously rowdy night and the BibleCodes played a great show. There was about 300 people on board and apart from the poor woman who spent the entire evening throwing up into a dustbin due to motion sickness, every one seemed to have a great time. Good to see Jim Filgate & Dave Lally too, as I don’t bump into ‘em much these days due to my limited trips to London. After the show I got the tube with Steve but got off at Bond Street and walked down to Selfidges and up Oxford Street, Regent Street and always the best these days Carnaby Street. NOW IT WAS CHRISTMAS!!!
Although the BibleCode Sundays are my favorite band and tick all the boxes, the best band I went this year was Stick In The Wheel at Norwich Art Centre.
I was invited to Christmas Lunch by Fakenham Ukes at the Freemasons Lodge in Fakenham. It was a lovely morning watching them rehearse, followed by a very tasty Christmas Lunch and then an invitation to see the Masonic Temple. We weren’t however invited to sit in the grandmasters throne, we took that liberty ourselves!
After two lovely lunches with Julie, her sister and Mum; a flying visit to see my uncle in Attleborough, I ventured over to Fakenham for the Wednesday session which was pleasantly quiet and our good friend Jaz returned to play us a few of his terrific songs.
Julie and I headed down to London on the 28th for 3 nights stay in the Royal Arsenal Hotel again. I can honestly say it was the laziest London visit ever. We hardly left the hotel room but got to see my sister and the family and take my mam out for a few hours and a bit of lunch. As always we will spend the evening with them and drive home to Norfolk as soon as possible in 2019.
Happy New Year everyone xxx