Friday, 22 July 2011


StringFing had a good time at the New Inn last night. Not so many people came along this month as schools have broken up and we’re into the big holiday season, but there was well enough for a good time.

Many of you will be aware of the name of legendary singer/songwriter Mick Softley.

Back in the days of the St. Albans beatnik music scene of the early 60s - a motley and loosely assembled crew consisting of the likes of Mac Macleod, Pops Kerr, Henri Harrison, Donovan, yours truly, Maddy Prior and a dozen other guitar strumming (piano strumming in my case) musos coming and going – Mick Softley was the guv’nor; the godfather; the standard to reach for.

His rambling ways and roving eye, his biting politically aware songs, his anarchic attitude were the bench mark.

The main model behind the music was perhaps Jesse Fuller, an American one man band who played guitar alongside a large homemade bass guitar type instrument played with his right foot and a lo hat played with his left foot. On a neck harness he carried a mouth harp and a kazoo. Have a look:

Fuller’s San Francisco Bay Blues, a one-time favourite of Mick’s, spawned a lot of new and similar songs from the St. Albans ravers.

Mick, though, was our local role model: a terrific singer, guitar picker and writer, an accessible dood who was living the life.

After the Cops and Robbers had brought about Donovan’s fame (and not in the fanciful, self-aggrandising way Don likes to tell it), Donovan recorded a couple of Mick’s songs (from memory they were: Gold Watch Blues and War Drags On), but, in my view he didn’t pay him the dues he should have done.

Anyway that was then and this is now. And now, Mick lies in a bed in a Northern Ireland hospital recovering from a severe stroke.

I had a phone call last week from Gladys, the lovely lady who is looking after him. Gladys says Mick is doing well, but it’s a long hard road he’s travelling on.

While I was thinking about him, I thought of how, in the days I remember him best, he would have relished the latest political shenanigans and how he might have responded to them in song.

So, I came up with one myself: Lyin’ Politican Blues. StringFing played it last night. Twice, by request, in fact.

It’s a rocky bluesy jazzy 12-bar vamp in the key of F. The audience joined in on percussion and singing. It was a joy to be a part of.

We did it to try to send a good vibe across the water to NI to speed Mick’s recovery.

Here’s the song:


Woke up this morning switched on the news
Gotta tell ya people I got the blues –
If it doesn’t make ya larf, gonna to make ya cry
Why does every politician think they got permission to lie?

It really doesn’t matter which way ya vote
Conservative or labour, or even if ya float
When ya cross is on the paper, God knows why
Every politician thinks they got permission to lie

Black is white, they say without a smile
Half a millimetre, it’s a country mile
Stick em in a pot an’ boil the friggin lot, say I
Why does every politician think they got permission to lie?

There’s a house on the river, a den of thieves
Their lyin’ ways bringing Britain to its knees
They wouldn’t know the truth if it punched them in the eye
Why does every politician think they got permission to lie?

I saw a politician, his face all creased
From living in the pocket of the chief of police
Polish on his lips from licking Murdoch’s shoes
Yeah, an’ that’s why I got these Lyin’ Politician Blues.


I hope it worked. Get well soon, Michael.

I’ll blog off now and catch you later. I've got a form to fill in.


Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Twizzlebird Creative, the Chester-based web design and branding partnership completed their first year of business on July 8th 2011.


And what a year it has been for them! Their talent and capacity for creative work is awesome.

They moved up from Bristol to settle in the beautiful Chester, launched their business and hit the road running with their empathetic attention to their client’s needs and up-to-the-minute grasp of contemporary design and technology.

They have been gathering speed ever since, leaving a continuing succession of very happy clients in their wake.

A vested interest has to be declared here: Amy is our lovely, lovely daughter and Dave is her lovely, lovely partner. Two nicer people have never walked the earth and they are both unfeasibly gifted. They have integrity too – a rare combination.

Talking about Amy like this recalls what Jackie Turpin once said to me about his daughter, Gina: ‘I know I shouldn’t boast about her,’ he said, ‘but I can’t help it cuz she really is great!’

Keep flying high Twizzlebird. Here’s to your second year. XXX


StringFing is playing at Keele University Postgraduate Association Club this Sunday afternoon as part of a grand reunion day for past students.

Fingers crossed for the weather as we hope to be playing outside. People are coming from all corners to be there. Can’t wait.

Travel safe, one and all,