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End of year catch-up... let’s have a look at 2012, shall we?

Well, I started the year with a LOT of gigs booked up, and the band expanded to 6 strong for a while, so rehearsing and arranging expanded to match for much of the year. As usual several of them were overnighters, some festivals, others simply far enough away that they made a good excuse to visit nearby friends for the night!

So, lots of gigs, good, right? Some lovely, a few I’d probably not do again, with honest hindsight. Top of the list in my memory was the gig in Lincoln, where the vibe was lovely, we played as well as we ever have, and all the green songs were just eaten up by the audience and stallholders at the event. We made new friends there, and spent time with old ones, and that was a joy. Band changes followed shortly, as we said goodbye to one bandmate, and another felt it wasn't right for her, so we dropped to three/four. In practice, we're mostly three now - Simon and Chantelle and me (with occasional Jan) - and we have done a lot of excellent work in this new and tighter lineup, stressing the harmonies and streamlining the instrumentation. Accordian’s out, bassoon’s back in and loving the fiddle parts, percussion’s lighter and tighter, and several songs have more schtick than they did when we first performed them. The Fforde Ffiesta (Spoons!) and Little Green Gathering (Steps of St Pauls, and Canterbury Tales, oh yes!) were also especially enjoyable gigs, alongside my Seattle coffeeshop gig at the Soul Food Cafe (all there on Youtube!) – in company of transpondial bandmates Dave Clement and Betsy Tinney on ‘Cello. However, Festival at the Edge takes the crown for, well, just having it all, really! (Shonaleigh Cumbers, Ruth Bramley, The Bailey Sisters, a romany vardo and Peter Chand’s fantastic grin...)

I'm still loving my concertina though I am no better on it than I was a year ago. I played it for the carols in the pub again before Christmas, and I keep meaning to find ways to bring it into arrangements for songs. I've written several things I treasure this year – ‘Cecilia's Face’, after a trip to the Da Vinci exhibit, a series of songs inspired by BBC’s ‘Wartime Farm’, and ‘Second Born’, inspired by a workshop on ancient and Icelandic music, are foremost in my mind. My writing’s been as prolific as ever but I’ve slowed down on arranging them for band as we’ve been enjoying the existing extensive repertoire a great deal! Checking back, I see that ‘Can You Knit, Brave Boys’, ‘Canterbury Tales’ and ‘Common Ground’ are all this year’s vintage as well, plus the political ranty-shanty ‘Damned if you Don’t’, Autumn’s introspective ‘Dragonfly’, and the herbalist fantasy ‘Ladies of the Bower’.

I’m refocussing my gigs chiefly in the folk music world as a change from flitting between several other communities, so I'm doing my apprenticeship twenty years late, by attending folk clubs and taking floor spots to introduce my music to people. This is proving a positive step, and is great fun besides.

The garden shows nearly three years' neglect, and this 'Summer' was a great one for slugs. Call me Kali of the trowel. Organic, fast, unequivocal. However, thanks to two garden angels, I have found my garden mojo at last, and have tackled the potager again this Winter - when it's not raining. I hope for better gardening next year, and indeed expect it, now that I have some space clear, and a plan, and local friends to swap seeds, energies and ideas with.

There was rather more in the way of medical emergencies amongst my tribe than I strictly needed. Let's just say Longest Night came early this year. That made a few things... trickier, but we managed not to let anyone down, after all, with regard to gigs booked.

One of this year's changes in my thinking has been a growing awareness of the UK’s benefit cuts and the fact that they're targeted at the poorest and the sick and disabled. My friendlist here and elsenet has widened to include some very articulate and frank reading on such subjects. Please, if you think I'm exaggerating, go read 'Diary of a benefit Scrounger' (online blog) and other such. I am ashamed that in this country I have friends who work and haven't enough to live on, and others who are too ill to work and are having their living reduced and reduced along with their care allocation, in circumstances where they are made to battle the system repeatedly to get even the little the system says they are due.

I'm struggling to get all that into song, however...

Other random highlights of the year would include sitting round the new firepit singing with friends... a birthday party for a special sheep, a lovely visit to Shrewsbury (Laura's Tower! Must finish arranging that song!) and a house concert for Heather Dale - another, from 'Folk at the Green' for Dave Clement later on; my new black fair trade dress, many snuzzes with the boycats, red enamel pots from France, Ruth's dragons, singing rounds with the Bailey Sisters, Aquae Sulis with C, Avebury several times in assorted company, many more things I've forgotten, and others I'll remember after posting... it's been a year.

So much of the world is going to hell in a handbasket - even so, there are things we can all do: plant beans, build social capital, and make stuff happen.

Next year, I plan on better gardening, more local community stuff, more recording, more new songs brought to life, and performing with my splendid band at plenty of folk clubs and festivals.

...and maybe do a bit of patchwork in there as well. It's a good analogy for a lot of things, is patchwork, after all.
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EQUAL

In the dear old Church of England

I’m welcome to attend

I could help out with the cleaning

There are cassocks I could mend

I could make and serve the coffee

And all the while pretend

That this meant that I was equal after all...

As a candidate for Parliament

I’m welcome to apply

If I look well-groomed, wear decent shoes

And catch the camera’s eye

As the minister for motherhood

I would give strength to the lie

That said that I was equal after all...

On the radio each morning

I’m welcome to tune in

To the news and sport and commentary

With which the day begins

But in a gender-counting tally

‘S funny, women never win

So tell me that I’m equal after all...

Never mind, let’s watch this drama

Or a film if you prefer

Is the Bechdel Test so difficult?

Didn’t she say that to her?

Go on, tell me just one more time

‘Things are better than they were’;

And aren’t I nearly equal -

Why go on about this ‘equal’ –

You don’t hear men ask to be equal, after all!

Well, don’t you tell me that I’m equal

When I know this isn’t equal

Which means you’re not equal either, after all.

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Words by & © Talis Kimberley 20th November 2012

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SPACEJUNK

Twinkle Twinkle little star, not very bright is what we are

Up above the world so high, all of our spacejunk filling the sky

Every probe and satellite we have sent to the starry night

Adds to the mess of junk up there far out of sight, though, so why should we care?

Twinkle Twinkle little star, not very bright is what we are

Up above the world so high, all of our spacejunk filling the sky

Each new launch seeks passage through a highspeed layer of spacejunk stew

And in turn adds its own mass: one more obstacle the next must pass

Quite the tiniest bits of stuff travel at speeds giving force enough

(To) Punch straight through whate’er they meet and render the target incomplete

Twinkle Twinkle little star, not very bright is what we are

Up above the world so high, all of our spacejunk filling the sky

Space is not an infinite bin fit for keeping our spacejunk in

All’s held close by Earth’s own pull; what will we do when the skies are full?

Will our debris seal us here in one vast rotating sphere?

Twinkle twinkle and goodnight, we will have locked ourselves in tight

Up above the world so high, all of our spacejunk fills the sky

Twinkle Twinkle little star, not very bright is what we are

Here we’ll stand and here we’ll stay, the junk will ensure it remains that way

The best result may yet have been keeping the rest of the universe clean

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Words & music by & © Talis Kimberley 20th November 2012 

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At least, I think it was episode 3 - the farmers dreading the visit by the man from the Min of Ag, who could take their land from them if he felt they weren't farming it well enough. We heard of the farmer who stayed put, was besieged and shot, and died later in hospital of his wounds. I wonder how many stories of that nature never got widely told? 

Tune's playing silly beggars on this one. Will catch up with scratch tracks soon, truly!

THERE’S A WAR ON

I walked the farm this morning as I’ve done these forty years

It’s not the bombs and bullets that inspires this sense of fear

And the fellow from the Ministry // he’s headed here

Don’t you know there’s a war on, don’t you know there’s a war on

I spent the night out ploughing while he spent the night in bed

We’ve culled our cherished herds, done every damnfool thing they said

And if they mean to take my farm they’d better shoot me dead 

Don’t you know there’s a war on, don’t you know there’s a war on

They said: ‘Plough!’ I said: ‘It’s marginal land, far too wet to turn.’ //

Too late now; they’re grading us today, that bridge is burned

            We’ve sown flax – though goodness knows if that will thrive, we’ve done our best //

            Bent our backs – jumped through all the hoops for this unwelcome guest

They don’t sow the crops, they don’t work the land but it’s them as calls the

Shots and it’s out of our hands         

Don’t you know there’s a war on, don’t you know there’s a war on

Don’t you know there’s a war on, don’t you know there’s a war on

You’ll find me in the farmyard with my dogs and with my gun

I’ve worked as hard as any since this bloody war’s begun

Here he comes to grade me... and tell me how I’ve done

Don’t you know there’s a war on, don’t you know there’s a war on

Don’t you know there’s a war on, don’t you know there’s a war on

I said don’t you know there’s a war on, don’t you know there’s a war on

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Words by & © Talis Kimberley 1st October 2012
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This was last week's episode - the segment where it was made clear that every bit of food the rats ate was one more bushel that the beleaguered merchant navy needed to bring ashore... no tune yet but I haven't gone looking yet.


MRS RAT

I charge you all good yeomen

That live on England’s farms

Take arms against the rats before

They do us all much harm

For every single bushel

The villains dare to eat

Is one more bushel added to

The burden of the fleet –

And it’s one more run in the teeth of Hitler’s guns

And it’s one more crew takes the risk for me and you

I charge you all good yeoman

That fight upon the land

The enemy are many and

The battle is at hand

Set traps, lay down the poison

Don’t let them settle, please

We don’t work night and day so Mrs

Rat can take her ease –

Set your traps, train your dogs, lay your poison, do your best

To rid England’s farms and granaries from this unwelcome guest.

I charge you all good yeomen

Whose brothers are at sea

Take arms against the rat before

They eat our hope of victory

For all the spoiled bushels

And all the eaten grain

Means one more merchant crew must

Run the gauntlet once again –

And it’s one more run in the teeth of Hitler’s guns

And it’s one more crew takes the risk for me and you

Set your traps, train your dogs, lay your poison, do your best

To rid England’s farms and granaries from this unwelcome guest.

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Words by & © Talis Kimberley 15th October 2012 

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It's the segment about the Bevin Boys that got me from this one... I have a tune for this, and it's a cracking tune too, but in absence of ascratch track yet, I'm catching up by sharing the lyrics...


THE CINDER ROCK

Got my marching orders in the morning post today

When the brindled pups arrive, I’ll be long miles away

Don’t expect a postcard from the desert or the Rhine

Mama’s youngest gets to go where no sun ever shines

John and Jack and James and Joe get called up and off they go

Peter, Eric, Sam and Ned learning how to shoot men dead

George, he gets a piece of sky, has the knack and loves to fly

Bevin says – god rot his soul – I must go and fetch the coal.

The King gives you a uniform to make you look a man

I get told to turn up in the oldest clothes I can

Strangers think I’m conchie and this copper wants to know

Why I’m out of uniform – I’ll tell him where to go.

John and Jack and James and Joe get called up and off they go

Peter, Eric, Sam and Ned learning how to shoot men dead

George, he gets a piece of sky, has the knack and loves to fly

            Bevin says – god rot his soul – I must go and fetch the coal.    

Out of ten conscripted men the Army’s taken nine

Last one out the bag gets told he’s working down the mine.

Take your shot at glory then stand your battleground

Mine’s a different story where the cinder rock is found

John and Joe and James and Jack – went to fight and won’t be back

Peter, Eric, Ned and Sam don’t remember who I am

George, he got his piece of sky, died the way that heroes die

And Bevin says – god rot his soul – I must keep on fetching coal...

John and Jack and James and Joe get called up and off they go

Peter, Eric, Sam and Ned learning how to shoot men dead

George, he gets a piece of sky, has the knack and loves to fly

Bevin says – god rot his soul – I must go and fetch the coal.

            Take away the Fuhrer’s toys; with coal you got from Bevin’s boys.

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Words & music by & © Talis Kimberley 5th October 2012

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Well, it'll be a song if it grows a tune. But in the meantime, here are the words...

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FIVE GOLD RINGS

Oh what a five-ring circus, roll up, roll up to see

It’s world-wide peace and harmony galore

There’s a new and shiny pool down where the lido used to be

But I can’t afford to swim there anymore.

We love our seaside semi and we like to watch the boats

The public park’s our favourite place to walk

But now they’ve built a wall there hiding anything that floats

We’ve lived here forty years, but money talks

Community means ‘those who buy the tickets’, it appears

Perhaps they’d like to charge us too for listening to the cheers?


Five gold rings: the law forbids I name it.

Five gold rings: the trademark’s nailed down.

Five gold rings: they’ve bought the right to claim it for their own and send their

Circus through our villages and towns.

Who’s pulling on the strings?

‘Cos they’re attached to five gold rings.

My Gramps loved his allotment and it kept him fit and strong

For a hundred years that’s what the land was for

But they bulldozed eighty gardens that had been ours all along

And Grandpa doesn’t plant things anymore

‘Perpetuity’ no longer means forever, so it seems

And Grandpa’s not too active now, but there’s gardens in his dreams:

Five gold rings: the law forbids I name it.

Five gold rings: the trademark’s nailed down.

Five gold rings: they’ve bought the right to claim it for their own and send their

Circus through our villages and towns;

Who’s pulling on the strings?

‘Cos they’re attached to five gold rings.

Fire up the corporate lawyers with the words ‘cease and desist’

Tell knitters that they denigrate the games

Our sponsors’ cash investment needs protection after all

Fizzy drinks, fast food and chocolate bear their names

            And let’s have lots of music, and we won’t shell out a bean

            They’ll be glad to play for nothing, won’t they? ‘Least it gets them seen!

Oh what a five-ring circus, roll up, roll up to see

It’s world-wide peace and harmony galore

There’s a new and shiny pool down where the lido used to be

But I can’t afford to swim there anymore.

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Words by & © Talis Kimberley 22nd June 2012  
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mf6RYekCJeg&feature=youtu.be

Following on from the lyric and the audio file I've presented here in recent days, here now is a YouTube by Kim Parker, of my song 'Telling Canterbury Tales' - literature, history, the Occupy movement and church politics all together in one song.

It's very much a companion-piece to 'The Steps of St Paul's', and the audio version is part of my online project 'Songs of Common Ground' on BandCamp.

Please, share and link if you find merit - I'd love for the Occupy movement - LSX and everywhere else that's been 'cleared' or is about to be - and politically-aware Christians both to hear this. Thank you.
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That lyric I posted a couple of days ago: it grew music and I've caught a scratch track. It's now up on Bandcamp as a free download.

http://taliskimberley.bandcamp.com/track/telling-canterbury-tales

You know the drill - if you approve and find merit, copy and link, share and generally point and stare at it... thank you!

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Trawling the net for update and comment in the last two days following the removal of the St Paul's Occupy camp, I found that the good Reverend Fraser had not been silent. St Paul's itself had released a brief statement, visible on its website, on which I shall not directly comment here. I wondered what the leader of the Church, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, had to say, and looked for his website.

There was no mention on the blog there of the events which had taken place on the steps of the C of E's foremost cathederal, not a word. 

Instead, there was a sermon on lent.

I felt... and feel, that this was a sad omission on his part, and did not display the leadership one might have wished for - especially as his predecessor, Dr Carey, has been vocal on such subjects himself in recent days.

Rowan Williams, you may or may not be a good man, a Christian, and a caring soul; why are you silent when you should have spoken? Did you even know what was happening in your name?



TELLING CANTERBURY TALES

Pilgrims all gathered from far and afield, let me tell you my Canterbury tale...

Tell me, Archbishop, you’re comfortable here

Does the populace ever get frighteningly near?

Are your windows well-soundproofed so all you can hear

Is your voice, telling Canterbury tales...?

So tell me,

What’s the church for with its buildings and treasures?

For visits by those with the means and the leisure

To purchase a guidebook and stroll at their pleasure

While listening to Canterbury’s tales.

Didn’t your man say some things about the poor

Isn’t that what your faith is about, anymore?

Here’s a vast institution, what lies at the core?

Are you telling me Canterbury tales?  

INSTMTL

If the pilgrims rode past your cathedral today

And they wondered whose homes have been tidied away

Would you know? Would you care? Tell me, what would you say?

I’ve no faith in your Canterbury tales...

Tell the Knight and the Franklin, the Monk and the Squire

Tell the Clerk and the Cook and the Reeve and the Friar

That compassion and hope have joined love on the pyre

There’s no justice in Canterbury tales.

            St Thomas a Becket, St David of Kelly, we pray you forgive us our sins

            Jean-Charles de Menezes, & Blessed Ian Tomlinson, when does the rising begin?

            When does the rising begin?

Pilgrims all gathered from far and afield, let me tell you my Canterbury tale...

Now the Archbishop’s writing a sermon on Lent

The Physician and Parson are riding to Kent

There was sanctuary once, I don’t know where that went

But it’s not in these Canterbury tales...

And the Man of Law’s busy, and the Miller’s downed tools

And the Merchant’s convinced that we’re everyone’s fools

And the Pardoner’s sorry... but these are the rules...

And they’re all telling Canterbury tales.

They’re telling us Canterbury tales

I’ve no faith in these Canterbury tales

We deserve better than Canterbury tales

I’ve had enough of these Canterbury tales!

INSTMTL
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Words & music by & © Talis Kimberley 29th February 2012

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Yes, I have the music. Yes, I will Bandcamp it as soon as I can. You know the drill, my friends! :-) If you find merit in this, share and link away. Thank you for reading.

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It grew music. Listen to it for free here:

http://taliskimberley.bandcamp.com/track/telling-canterbury-tales
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