The banjo case issue (and hi from New Zealand!)

Dear all,

Yes I’m finally here after that lovely long flight…I’m missing that already but it is fantastic to be here. I’m not long out of bed after that mammoth journey which involved precious little sleep so thought I’d blog a while until I head out. Auckland Folk Festival starts today and my main set is tomorrow afternoon before I have a little break and then two and a half weeks of gigs. I am very excited indeed about the whole thing and very pleased indeed that I can finally see my old school friend Tom Swain in New Zealand which has

been his home for eight years. I realise I used indeed twice in that sentence and it looks a bit crap but I hope you’ll forgive me. Those of you who remember me from my teenage years will no doubt remember Tom who played saxophone and sang in my first band The Glinics.


I will of course keep you informed more about my New Zealand happenings as they happen. Another great sentence there Dan. The journey was pleasingly hitch free in the end though incredibly long. I was delighted/surprised that Emirates allowed me to take my banjo on board thus avoiding the stress of it being in the hold. This was slightly ironic after my preparation for the trip but more on that in a moment…Minor delays aside there were no problems and I even got a free hotel room in Dubai because my wait was 9 and a half hours. It was a shame not to get out into Dubai but it was the early hours of the morning there and I was knackered. After an impossibly revolting breakfast I then boarded the 14 hour flight to Sydney which then went on to Auckland.

So yes not a great deal to tell you about New Zealand yet but of course there will be. I do need to just catch up on pre-New Zealand exploits though as I had a cracking couple of gigs to start the year. First up I was in Walton on Thames to play the Riverhouse Arts Centre which is a great room and a very nice crowd to whom I very much enjoyed playing. Then two days before flying to New Zealand, I played the Poppy Folk Club in Nottingham which was absolutely packed and a really great night all round. I’m very glad the lady who feinted is ok as it was a rather worrying moment for us all!

My preparation for the trip then…well I’ve been anxious for some time to get hold of a flight case for my banjo. You know, for flying and stuff. The company I ordered one from are regarded as the best and everyone I know with a banjo flight case uses these guys so it seemed a pretty sound idea to go with them. I ordered one last year in March and they said the waiting list was so long I might be waiting til October. Fair enough, and even when it didn’t arrive by then I didn’t mind as no promises had been made. Finally I got the message through on the 11th December that the case was finished. I should add that by now they had relocated from England to the US with a new guy doing it but all exisiting orders would be honoured at the original agreed price. So this all sounded fine and the email contained the words ‘just need to send it to the UK but you’ll have it well before your flight to New Zealand’.

You always know a rant of mine is heartfelt when it goes to two paragraphs…So on the 4th January I emailed to find out the latest but got no reply. I tried again a couple of days letter with the word urgent added to the subject and no reply again. This continued for a while until I realised I had better make an alternative plan so I asked my friend in Hertfordshire if I could borrow his and because he’s nice he said yes. In the meantime I had to ring the new UK distributor to get any word from the case company and he apologised profusely and rang the American guy to give him a bollocking. I then get a fairly meaningless email from American guy saying he’d let me know when it was ready. Finally I get word it’s arrived and a simple email from the original UK guy saying ‘how do you want to pay’. I explain that I would like a small reduction, to the tune of the £50 I spent on fuel to get my friend’s case but no this apparently isn’t possible despite the fact it was their fault. So I was a little annoyed about that…and for the record I still don’t have the case. It would be unprofessional of me to name the company so I’d better not but I was NOT HAPPY.

It was Calton Cases.