Newsletter - Sept 2014

Posted Sep 05, 2014

I have tried repeatedly to send this to my mailing list and FAILED!  So I resign as a failure with huge number of mail-outs stuck in the "try later" box/folder. Sorry but here it is:

Newsletter/Blog - Summer 2014

OK I agree! Towersey’s fiftieth birthday celebrations were fantastic. I can’t think how they might have been bettered? Guests all rose to the occasion and sang and played their hearts out. For my part, I felt the Monday afternoon concert was fabulous – Jim Woodland, the Wilsons and John Kirkpatrick were all great, you couldn’t have asked for more of them. I really enjoyed singing with John K again. It has been too a long time without him. I’ve said it many times, his style of playing energises me as few others can. I was exhausted at the end of it (perhaps that should be ‘elated’?)  My thanks to Marc Block for adding percussion to my efforts and of course to the wonderful Andy Cutting for playing in my ‘Combo’ [is that the right term?] His presence is so reassuring. He is a great musician – everything is absolutely right and it looks so easy. Thank you, both Marc and Andy.  Jim opened the concert and won the audience over. He finished off a great set – humour and yet serious – as I’ve said before, “… you don’t have to be solemn to be serious!” The Wilsons were so powerful they hardly needed amplification! We have been friends for a number of years and they are all so supportive of me I can’t thank them enough. They joined me on ‘Ben Kenobi’ without a rehearsal – nothing. I don’t think they’d ever heard the song before the moment I sang it?  I drop people in because I’m confident they have the skill and talent to respond. Like John K at the little party to celebrate the ‘birthday’ I suddenly asked John to join me to play a song he didn’t even know I sang! As he said “I’ve known and played for Roy for almost 50 years and I’ve never heard him sing this song.” But listening, you’d never have guessed this had been the case!

I had a wonderful concert and I enjoyed being the MC for the whole afternoon. I got home about 10pm on the Monday night and simply collapsed into bed. My heartfelt congratulations to Steve and Joe Heap and to all the people, the administrators of Mrs Casey Music to the dozens if not hundreds of volunteers who so generously give of their time to make this and every other Towersey Festival (for 50 years) a joyful and wonderful experience.

I didn’t really recover till the Wednesday, when I had another concert, now at the New Bradford Playhouse Theatre. A benefit for the horrific conditions of the Palestinians in the ‘prison camp’ that is GAZA!  To my surprise and honour that great group, Chumbawamba joined me on stage to sing their wonderful song ‘Word Bomber’. As someone said it was worth attending the concert if only for this moment!  Hot on the heels of this concert found me off to contribute to the final festival in Fleetwood. Sadly, Fylde Folk Festival is no more. We owe a great deal to Alan Bell, the founder and Director of this festival, 42 years ago.  He and Christine, his wife and secretary have brought joy and music to thousands of people over the years and deserve our love and respect. Long may they both continue to enjoy their retirement - I suspect Alan will not cease to have an input into whatever replaces the Festival.  And a replacement there must surely be?     WOW! That was a week that was! Emotional and joyful and exhausting.

Now, thankfully, I have a week off. I actually went to the gym on Monday and almost fell asleep on the bicycle – the trainer told me to have a shower and go home. I did as she advised! I went again this morning (Tuesday 2nd Sept) and enjoyed it…. I say ‘enjoyed’… I’m not quite sure this is the appropriate term in this instance! Well, I do go every weekday morning. Not bad eh …. for an old’n?

Sunday (7th) I’ll be at the Burston School Strike Museum (nr Diss) in Norfolk. The annual Strike Day Rally with music, speeches and a few songs from me. The Burston School Strike was and remains the longest strike in British history: April 1st 1914 to 1939!! Google it and you’ll find out about it. I’m delighted to be invited. Tony Benn was a regular speaker at this Rally and I’m proud to accept this invitation. Just to follow in his footsteps is enough for me! [Is it wrong to feel this? I don’t know and I don’t want to sound either arrogant or foolish.]  (for diary click on 'Live Dates')

The Scottish Referendum is upon us. The television and the radio are full of the arguments. The BBC I think, while trying to maintain what it sees as an independent and unbiased voice is for all that ‘batting for the No vote’ (I could be wrong. I somehow get that impression!]  I suppose as an Englishman I shouldn’t engage in this debate. It is after all an issue that the people of Scotland must decide.  However I was delighted when the Scottish parliament decided that 16 yr olds would be eligible to vote. This is exciting and I hope Scottish youth engage in their debate and vote! When in the late 19th and early days of the 20th centuries, women were arguing for their enfranchisement, the opposition to it was largely on the basis that women would simply do as their husbands told them. Such was the culture and politics of the time, this sounded a likely outcome! I’m sure that many who oppose the lowering of the age of political enfranchisement to 16 year olds have similar views. “They’ll just do as their parents tell them.” Yet, I also think, how many 16 year olds do, in reality, as their parents tell them? Their parents didn’t and their great, great, great grandmothers didn’t do as their husbands bade! They were independent voices with their own views, their own agendas and they expressed these through the ballot [at first women were allowed to vote when they were 31 yrs old, later lowered to 21, same as the men and have followed at each lowering of the voting age (now 18) and might yet be lowered further?] The future we’re constantly told belongs to our children. Hmm…..?

To get back to the Referendum!  My critique of the debate as it is presently portrayed, is too much concentration on the problems that might follow a Yes vote, the currency? the economy? pensions? welfare? defense? These are important issues, I don’t deny for a moment but so too is freedom to govern yourself, the ability to sack a government  - I recall Tony Benn’s comment about democracy: 

“When you meet a person with power there are four questions to ask:

What power do you have?

Where did you get it from?

In whose interest do you exercise it?


How can we get rid of you?”

Do those arguing for a “No” vote think the questions they pose are not equally valid questions to confront the Scottish people if they do, indeed, choose to vote “No”?  If they vote for the status quo? The problems that are used to frighten people into voting “No” wont disappear should the “No” vote win.  At least if the “Yes” vote were to win, Scotland can confront all these issues as a free and self-determining sovereign state. For me this is an important condition for confronting the future. A future full of uncertainty, of gains and losses – whether they vote “Yes” or “No”!   Anyway this is for Scotland to choose. I wish them well – the “Yes” and the “No” the bewildered and the abandoned.

            One final comment. The Labour Party is arguing for the ‘Better Together” vote. I think I understand why. After all, I’m told if Scotland becomes independent, England and Wales are left with a Conservative government (forever?). Crucial Labour votes from north of the border, would be lost, hence future Labour parliamentary seats would be no more. Ouch!! Better get Scotland to stay dependent. Such a campaign commitment has led Mr Milliband and his colleagues to argue an independent Scotland could not expect the Bank of England to act as its central bank and hence an Independent Scotland couldn’t expect to have the pound as its currency! Seems to me that after that, should the No vote win I can’t see all those “Yes” Labour voters happily going to the polls in 2015 and voting Labour – can you?   Then perhaps if such a dreadful future be in store, if Scotland gains its independence then the Labour Party might become a democratic Socialist Party again! A Party that offers a different world view to challenge the Tory view that is basically for the rich. It believes by supporting the rich and powerful, namely themselves, the wealth so created would, slowly ‘trickle down’ to the many, namely, the rest of us! So it goes…….to what and why and when and where?

In conclusion (for now) here are the words of Robb Johnson’s fine song ‘Undefeated’. A song we included in our benefit recording for the NUM back in 1982.

What will they say of us

One hundred years from now

When the look back on these

Unhappy days

They'll shake their heads at how

So many swallowed lies

That dog eat dog so long went



And will they curse us then

That so much death crept in

There was so little left to build again

Or will their smile salute

And like a song recall

The ones who through it all went



I'm tired of wearing thin

These same old words of rage

Some days the bad guys win

But nothing's changed

For though the language pales

And the nerves of love grow numb

Somehow we carry on



Holding all peoples lives

To be of equal worth

More dear than the money talk

Or the tricks of the State

The hands that work no wrong

The breath that lifts the song

The hearts that hold each other


            I trust you have had a fine summer or at least a bearable holiday? I’ll talk to you again soon I hope….

 Love   -   Roy  x

Sheffield  -  September 4th 2014