Finance departments

Dear all,

I write to you a little refreshed after a much needed ‘light on the travel’ week last week. I was feeling a tad burnt out, hardly surprising after a very gruelling few months. Nonetheless there was plenty on up to that point! After returning from the States it was straight back into touring because I am of course a very silly man. So the day after returning I headed up north to Sheffield, Doncaster, Swaledale, Northumberland and…er…Birmingham. The northern leg was a delight – Sheffield was an old favourite gig Nether Edge Folk Club which is always a blast and this was no exception. Then onto Doncaster on election night where I played to a small but perfectly formed audience at the Brewery Tap. Then Swaledale festival, a bloody marvellous musical extravaganza held in the Yorkshire dales which is always fantastic and we played in a beautiful church to 300 people who gave us a wonderful time. Thanks to Malcolm Creese, organiser extraordinaire. Finally, the northern bit was completed by a gig at Woodhorn Museum with the legend that is Alistair Anderson.

On that subject, pleased to say Alistair and I are releasing an album (finally!). Our live album will be available at Furness Tradition Festival in Ulverston next weekend and then on the Sunday night at Coquetdale Music Trust in Thropton, Northumberland. Alistair is a bona fide legend, having been one of the leading ambassadors of folk music around the world throughout his stellar career (which also included playing concertina round Kate Bush’s shoulders live on Wogan at HER request…). We’ve had great fun doing our gigs over the last few years so it’ll be great to finally have it on record 🙂

After the northern bit came Birmingham playing Power Folk, a little mini-festival run by my UFQ colleague Joe Broughton and featuring his mind blowing 40-piece or possible 50-piece or possibly how-many-musicians-can-you-actually-fit-on-a-stage-piece Conservatoire Folk Ensemble. Great to jam with Ciaran Algar and Jamie Roberts as well. Mighty stuff!

Then after a few days came the most ludicrous weekend of my life. It ran as follows:

15th June – drive to Newport, Wales to play Lyceum Folk Club
15th June – finish gig and drove to Stanstead Airport
16th June (early hours) – sat in the car park in my car and didn’t sleep
16th June (slightly less early hours) – check in for a flight to Prague and eat a breakfast that I didn’t need because it was an airport
16th June (a little later) – board flight and remember just how much I hate British stag parties, particularly those with t-shirts
16th June – played the utterly brilliant Banjo Jamboree in Caslav, Czech Republic where I was treated wonderfully well and discovered there are some seriously good bluegrass players in Czech Republic
17th June (very early hours) – went to bed
17th June (3.30) – got picked up from my hotel and driven back to Prague airport
17th June – flew back to London
17th June – arrive at Stanstead and drove to Beverley folk festival in Yorkshire
17th June (afternoon) – played at Beverley folk festival
17th June (early evening) – collapsed
18th June – played Beverley folk festival
18th June – concluded Beverley folk festival was marvellous then drove home

So it was rather fun! Then on the 19th came an all day workshop at a school with my UFQ colleagues which I was so awake for. It was lovely though, great to introduce so many kids to folk music! Next up on a similarly schooly note, it was off to Stourbridge to continue the ‘folk fortnight’ tradition that began eleven years ago when a bunch of us poor students approached the school with the idea of a week of folk teaching and a gig. And so it continues! Lovely stuff then finally it was to Manley Village Hall in Cheshire for a gig with banjastic John Dowling before he drove back to Penzance because HE’S A NUTTER.

So that was all good fun, but I must confess this last week has been extremely nice! Bit of relaxing, writing some music and catching up on various jobs and whatnot. I really do need to learn to schedule a break or two in my life…anyway lots to come for the rest of the year…

So then…finance departments. I don’t wish to tar everyone with the same brush of course, but I really have found them singularly tiresome throughout my career. I recall my dad saying that there was a section of society he had to deal with on a regular basis that were the only one that he was rude to from the outset. I almost find myself drifting towards that with some of the finance departments I’ve had to deal with. Now you may be thinking what’s brought on this particular rant now…I submitted a particular invoice for some work I’ve done at an establishment not so long ago. There were quite rigid requirements for the invoice which were sent to me prior to me sending it and I followed every one on my invoice which was submitted three weeks ahead of the deadline I was given. So I didn’t really anticipate too many problems…

Then I realised it had been a good month since I’d sent it and I had received no acknowledgement email so I sent an email to check on the progress. The reply the next day pointed out some problems with the invoice. A) these weren’t mentioned on the invoice guidelines B) WHY DIDN’T YOU REPLY AND TELL ME THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE. I then corrected these guidelines and they said that because of the delay the invoice would now go in the next batch a month later. A MONTH. I pointed out that the delay would not have occurred had the issues been pointed out that hadn’t been pointed out to me before and they said simply they can only pay on certain dates.

Some choice words ensued.

And now I’ve been paid. So obviously it was possible and this was just another case of people being difficut for the sake of it. My dad might have the right idea…