A phone call, a fire alarm and a disgusting newspaper

Dear all,


It’s been a busy old week since coming back from Canada so I’ll bring you up to date with the gigs. After a brief trip home (i.e. a day) to wash clothes and other similarly thrilling tasks it was off for two gigs in Surrey with a gig in…er…Northumberland in between. Logical. Anyway Dorking was first as I played with the legendary Alistair Anderson at Dorking Folk Club. It was a joy as was Guildford two days later. It is scarcely possible to exaggerate what a thrill it is to play with Alistair. He radiates such astonishing renewed passion and quality even as he gets further and further into his sixties, not that you’d know! The man has been everywhere and is responsible for so many great records and projects in folk music. More gigs with Alistair to come next year!


In between was a gig in Ashington with a solo set alongside the Unthanks as part of Ashington’s music and arts festival. I say alongside, obviously I didn’t play a solo set while they were playing their band set. That would be kind of wrong. But anyway my set was fun and I did very well off CD’s so all good there. I’ll be returning to Ashington in the spring as part of my solo tour. This drastic geographical detour was of course fairly…well drastic, but it did mean that this whole three-date trip, plus teaching a banjo workshop in London on the Saturday night, was done on British rail so I was reunited with the trains. I was disappointly shorn of rail disasters but happily I did have a very funny overheard conversation to share with you.


I’m happy to say I remember the transcript so here it is in full. Self employed people, we’ve all been here. Overheard phone conversation of lady on the train:

‘Why can’t you understand, you owe me £300. I invoiced you when you told me to, have done the work and am now in debt. Just because you decide you can only pay people on the second Thursday after your granny’s birthday is irrelevant. If you don’t pay me today, the union will kick you from here to Inverness. Bye.’

After a brief pause following hang-up:



I rather enjoyed that. Anyway on a more serious note, the Daily Mail. How does anyone read this rag and justify it to themselves? I am not an avid fan of Ed Miliband and yes I disagree with so many of the Mail’s views on many many topics. However, that does not come into it. To have the headline ‘the man who hated Britain’ for a man who is dead merely to try and turn more people and in fact scare more people into not voting for his son. Much has been made of the fact that this man fought for this country. In truth, that is far from my main concern though it is a point. It doesn’t appear as though he hated Britain but frankly even if he did, why does this affect which politician to vote for exactly? Is it not best to focus on what Miliband proposes or doesn’t propose? Then there’s the fact they’ve based the article on a single diary entry by the man when he was 17 which essentially criticised a section of British society (note the word section) which were not exactly above criticism. It’s cheap and pathetic and appears to have backfired on the paper which I’m pleased to see.


Anyway to finish on a lighter note, another funny incident occured yesterday. I did a Live Music Now gig at a club for people who have suffered from strokes which was really lovely and the audience said they enjoyed it very much as did I. Afterwards someone’s birthday was recognised with the obligatory cake…and candles. But these were no ordinary candles, they were sparkler candles which were fairly severe. I happened to notice a smoke detector but no sooner had I noticed it…it went off. So after having a chat with the nice people who had watched my show and expecting to leave shortly, I instead helped some of these older folk out of the room and stood outside having a chat while we hoped the alarm would go off…and the fire brigade turned up. It’s a funny old world!