Variable speed limits…

Dear all,

Work-wise it’s been a wonderful couple of weeks. After the alarming chaos of Boomtown came a festival that I have a very soft spot for…BROADSTAIRS! It’s always wonderful and this time it was doubly exciting as I got a solo gig in the day and then a 90 minute set with UFQ in the evening. Both were well received and I was reminded just how much I bloody love this festival. Thanks to all of you who came out to see me/us and thanks to Kim for being the usual wonderful organiser she is and for buying little Sabela (Joe and Paloma’s baby, I didn’t forget to tell you something VERY big…) a present!

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, along came Green Man festival. Wow! Seriously, just wow! The audience went crazy for us and we had such a ball. I was promised it was the mother of all festivals and I’m inclined to agree! I thought any gig after that would seem a comedown but Folkeast on the Sunday was bloody marvellous as well with a well received set and lovely people and a real musical discovery – the Sam Kelly trio. Great stuff.

Two more festivals followed the weekend just gone but prior to that a lovely wee gig at Housman’s in Church Stretton took place, in front of family members which is always lovely of course. A great night was had and hopefully another will follow too! Also, one of the very best pre-gig meals I’ve had!

So, those festivals. First up was Shambala. Now this is one of the very greatest festivals you will ever see and possibly one could say one of the more surreal ones too! To look out from a stage and see an awful lot of people dressed in some of the most ludicrous get ups I have ever set my eyes on is a rather odd experience. As you may know from previous blogs, I’m not much of a lad for fancy dress. In fact I find it one of the most tedious institutions known to man and generally my reaction in a pub for instance when a group walk in in fancy dress is to think ‘I don’t want to talk to these people’ or possibly, if they really are acting like tossers I think ‘they’re tossers’. But…at such a fun and happy festival it was impossible not to admire the costumes on show.

And then came Towersey…one of my very favourite festivals. Best of all my old friend Jenny was over from Hong Kong and it was great to see her for the first time in too long. As for the gigs, well both solo and UFQ were really really fantastic. Great audience, great festival and for one day good weather. Marvellous.

I have some profound things to say about my recent Live Music Now series in an Oxford care home and the loss of a friend but I don’t feel this is a blog to do it – I’d like to give both their own blogs so will do shortly.

So, a rant for you. For the first time the other day I received a letter in the post from the police – a speeding ticket. Now, my initial reaction was of mild disbelief given that, and I really mean this, outside of the occasional 75mph flourish on the motorway I really do not speed. I read on and discovered it was a variable speed limit sign on a motorway. Apparently, the limit given was 40 and I was doing 47. A fair cop you might say. A limit was given and I exceeded it. I rather felt that everyone exceeds the limits at those points and that I’d never heard of anyone getting caught. So feeling fairly cheesed off with this, I was on the road again yesterday and of course in light of this ticket I now immediately go to whatever limit is given on these things. But I was reminded just how ruddy ridiculous they are and why I must have sped. Just what exactly is the need for everyone to drive at 40mph, a flashing sign saying ‘obstruction’ and my journey taking twice the length it needs to when the only ‘obstruction’ is a broken down car in a layby further left than the hard shoulder? How is that an ‘obstruction’ when it’s not even in the bloody road? And why do we need a 50mph limit on an overhead sign when the outside lane is empty? Could it possibly be to catch out safe drivers and collect some fines to invest in a thoroughly crap transport network? Yes that could be it.