The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
Loads of gigs at the moment and even fewer dull moments than usual, which is saying something.
Started off with a fun night at the magnificently named Bogiez rock club in Cardiff - snot difficult to find, everyone nose where it is - and special thanks to up and coming Welsh bilingual singer-songwriter Efa Supertramp for a storming support set of spiky acoustic songs.
There seems to be a new swathe of young, vibrant stroppy women with acoustic guitars emerging at the moment - alongside Efa, Grace Petrie and Louise Distras are two to look out for and here's advance notice that you'll be able to see all three at my Glastonwick Festival on the south coast next June.
Then to Carmarthen for a gig at the Parrot, a record shop turned cafe, and the hub of the local creative community.
There I caught up with David R Edwards, a friend of 30 years' standing, a living legend and huge inspiration to the burgeoning Welsh language independent music scene.
As the leader of the band Datblygu, a superbly intelligent cacophony loosely classifiable as the Welsh Fall, David is one of the pioneers who has brought his native tongue firmly into the 21st century. For that, he is revered by many and excoriated by a few traditionalists, which is a shame.
The English ruling class's attempts to stamp out the Welsh language in the last century have their parallels in Franco's attacks on Basque culture in Spain. It's much easier to control people if you know what they're saying.
As an example of this I vividly remember wandering round a graveyard in Wrexham and noticing how nearly all the stones before the 1950s had their inscriptions in Welsh and hardly any of the later ones did.
I heartily applaud all those who are helping to revive and nurture the language and Dave Datblygu is in the vanguard of that. None of this of course means that I understand Welsh although David has helped me with some essential words: "cwrw" ("beer") "pel-droed" ("football") and, from Monty Python's Anglo-Hungarian Phrasebook sketch, "mae fy nethau yn ffroidro gyda mwynhad" ("my nipples explode with delight") which is always a good one to have up your sleeve.
From Carmarthen I drove east to my next show in Malvern, which took me directly past Lord Hereford's Knob, a landmark on the Welsh-English border celebrated in song by Half Man Half Biscuit, the finest band ever to emerge from Merseyside.
I thought it'd be rude not to cycle round it, so I got my collapsible bike out of the boot and did just that.
And so to the Malvern Poetry Slam, then on to Milton Keynes and a great night with Thee Faction at their album launch in London and then a special show last Saturday on London alternative station where I performed a few of my poems and played some of my favourite music with radical singer-songwriter Robb Johnson and original punk poet Patrik Fitzgerald live. Phew.
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