Monday, 7 November 2011


I do understand the whole blogging bag, really I do. You’re suppose to blog up gigs and stuff you’re about to do, aren’t you? - so people can come along if they want to. Soz.

BUT blimey, mates! blogging is taking time out and I get so busy doing stuff I have little time left to post anything, and no mistake.

My last blog was on August 9th. It seems like I were only a bit of a lad back then in those olden times. A callow youth with an optimistic smile on his spotty face, blissfully unaware of the cruelties of human existence that lay in wait for him . . .

. . . like finding out there are people who go around calling themselves poets when they clearly don’t know what a poem is and who should be prosecuted under the trades description act. I can’t name names for legal and social reasons and, sadly, they’ve no idea who they are.

I do write blogs in my head, though. And that’s where they stay most of the time. It ain’t my fault that communications technology is so ill-advanced that we still have to use computers and phones and things instead of being able to think stuff out to people.

The necessity is there, so get inventing mother . . .


WARNING: This posting will be long and rambling cuz, like the man said, I haven’t got time to write a shorter one.



Not previously given much thought to my initials. They were just the first letter of each of my given names, that’s all. Then the glorious short-handing of cell phone texting came along and re-invented their meaning altogether. I now like them very much indeed, not only as my initials, but also as my waking thought for each day.



I’m back teaching again at MMU Cheshire and loving it. Some triffick students this year.

On the down side, the whole uni vibe has changed to become a more-muted, more-restrained, more calculated gig since fees were introduced.

Fees!! What liberty that is!! Undergraduates, in my view, are academic apprentices and should be paid for studying just like any trade apprentice.

Tuition fees have turned the whole uni Creative Writing experience into an extension of compulsory education with classes getting more and more prescriptive.

A digital wedge is being driven between teaching staff and students with the increasing use of computerised interaction – paving the way, it seems, for turning the whole thing into a correspondence course.

Anyhow what ain’t changed is the students are ace and it’s a pleasure to be working with them.



This in reply to Phil, one of the founder members of the Danger Mouse Rally Club, who kindly got in touch with me in search of recordings of Heymaker:

There are some out there Phil. Unfortunately, I don't have any as I tend not to keep hold of any of my past stuff. Rightly or wrongly, I suppose I see it as merely leading up to what I am currently doing. I am obsessive, but I am not a hoarder, and people borrow stuff from me and I don't get it back or I probably haven't bothered to get a copy for myself in the first place.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to hear some of my old tracks. When I occasionally do, though, I'm disappointed and immediately want to do it again only better.

Can anyone help Phil? Please let me know.



Philip K. Leese’s book of the above title is out now, and jolly good it is too! You’ll find it on sale all around Kidsgrove. I couldn’t get along to the book launch so picked up a copy from Bargain Booze in the Rookery.

Among his glorious, painstakingly-researched anecdotes and facts of life on ‘The Hill’, Philip has kindly quoted from my Village Verse collection. It’s curious, ain’t it, how a writer becomes part of the history of what they write about?

Philip and I have both approached our writing of Mow Cop in a celebratory way. The indigenous people of Mow are a rare breed. People are, after all, products of their landscape. Mow Cop is a unique place.

Philip is kind enough to express regret in his writing that he did not have enough space to print my Heathery Weathery Hill, so here tis folks:


Are you never quiet and still
Heathery Weathery Hill
Where leaves riot in the thrush-loud wood
And seeds burst green where the hay bales stood
And out of the byre cattle spill
Heathery Weathery Hill?

Are you never quiet and still
Heathery Weathery Hill
Where the sun beats in the lark-loud sky
And the hyssop bows as bees hymn by
And moths at dusk dance at the sill,
Heathery Weathery Hill?

Are you never quiet and still
Heathery Weathery Hill
Where the Ferguson ploughs a gull-loud rut
And old leaves slop in the gutter’s glut
And the waters rush to Moreton Mill
Heathery Weathery Hill?

Are you never quiet and still
Heathery Weathery Hill
Where the fox trots in the owl-loud night
And lanes are lost in drifts of white
And the wind through the castle tower blows shrill
Heathery Weathery Hill?



StringFing is having some excellent nights at the Holy Inadequate on the second Wednesday of each month. We’re there this Wednesday (9th Nov). Come along. It’s a great pub. We’re working on a Christmas Special too for December 14th.



I played a cool gig at Keele University’s Postgraduate Society bistro in September. Spike Crossley, the incomparable manager of said venue who’s revolutionised the place and brought it out of the 1950s into the 21st Century, staged his first beer festival there.

He brought in shelf upon shelf of firkins of guest ales – firkin marvellous! (well, you were all thinking that, weren’t you?).

The place was crowded and I was jammed up in a corner with my SM 58 and my J-45 going through my Marshall AS50, having a great time knocking out the songs.

The noise of happy real ale drinkers was awesome. Half way though my first song, I thought no one was listening and that I was in for an introspective evening. Not a bit of it, doods. The response was more than gratifying and I ended up having the best time and extending my set by half an hour.


Talking of the AS50 Marshall acoustic guitar amplifier, when I was carrying it out of the KPA I noticed the handle stitching was coming away. I phoned Marshall to get the price of a replacement: £21.76 plus postage plus fitting.

That strikes me as relatively a touch expensive for a handle that clearly is a design weak point since the amp’s fairly new and I’m needing a replacement already. I told the Marshall sales person, ‘I really need this handle, but I’m going to have to sell the amp to afford it. I’ll get back to you.’ Well, it amused me, anyway.



Jason Hill – folk legend – phoned me: would I support that wonderful Irish singer and member of the Dubliners, Sean Cannon, at the Potteries Folk Club on Friday 28th October.

Who wouldn’t want to do that? Ah, but I was scheduled to have a practice of some Alf-Alfa Ceili Band tunes with blues maestro and mandolin picker Pete Latham on the same night.

Why don’t me and Pete do the gig together? Excellent! And excellent it was. Sean was his usual self. In other words: top drawer, effortlessly beautiful singing of a whole range of traditional and contemporary folk songs sewn together with Sean’s humorous introductions.

Here’s one of Sean’s jokes:

A consultant was showing a new intern around a ward where there was a whole lot of mumbling and talking going on. The consultant led the young doctor over to the first bed where the patient was lying with his eyes closed mumbling: ‘Wee sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie, O, what panic’s in they breastie . . .’ The consultant looked at the patient’s chart and moved on.

In the next bed a patient was anxiously declaiming: ‘Ye banks and braes and streams around the castle o’ Montgomery! Green be your woods, and fair your flowers, your waters never drumlie . . .’ The consultant looked at the patients chart and moved on.

In the third bed, its occupant was practically screaming, ‘How lang and dreary is the night when I am frae my dearie . . .’ The consultant looked at the patient’s chart and moved on. For bed after bed the patterned was repeated.

When they came out of the ward, the young doctor asked, ‘What on earth is going on in there?’

‘Oh,’ the consultant replied, ‘that’s the serious Burns unit.’

Me and Pete went up together and took turns with our offerings. A bottle necking blues from him, a homemade song from me, and so on, turn and turn about. It worked well. We were a nice counterpoint to each other. I wouldn’t mind doing a whole night with Pete like that.


Goodness me, is that the time? I’ve got to sort out some material for my new class. I’ve been given a second year Culture and Popular Music class to teach in addition to my Creative Writing classes. We’re currently working on the origins of the blues. Celtic music is scheduled for our attention after the blues assignment. Culture and Popular Music, eh? - what a brilliant subject to be lecturing in, doods. I’m a lucky geezer, to be sure.



Just got time to tell you about another upcoming gig:

Congleton Library’s Mike Drew is presenting an evening of live music and poetry celebrating the right to speak out ‘featuring Phil Maddocks, WT Fox, Dave Dove, Dave Wedgebury, John Lindley, Andy Stubbs and others’ on Wednesday 16th November, 7:30pm – 10:00pm. There’s a bar on and tickets are £6.50 or £5.50 with a library card. It’s going be right on right enough.

Gotta go. Tra-ra. Keep safe,


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