Roddy Boyse

Roddy Boyse

Interviewed on 25.07.2012

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[TRACK 1]

 

RODDY BOYSE:

Where I’ve come from or the short one?......Do you want me to drivel on, basically? [laughing]

 

TONY WRIGHT:

Well…..we’ll get to that in a minute. This is Tony Wright; it’s the 25th of July 2012 and I’m talking to Roddy……and…….I think the long answer would probably be the best, so I will ask you your full name and where and when you were born.

 

RB:

My full name is John Roderick Boyse and I was born in 1962, in Lytham St Annes. I was born there because….well my father comes from Leeds, my mother comes from Sunderland and they met in Harrogate working for the Post Office, and then in 1958 the Post Office set up the Premium Savings Bonds and there were jobs going at the office for the Premium Savings Bonds in Lytham St Annes, so they went there in 1958 with my brother and sister, who’d been born some years previously, and I was born in ’62 as I said, yeah.

 

TW:

Right. And how long did you live there for?

 

RB:

We lived there till I was eight in 1970 and then my father went to work at the….National Savings Bank computer centre in Glasgow in 1970, until they retired in 1980……and then….my parents moved to York when my father retired and it just so happened that I was eighteen, so I went to Bradford University having finished school, and stayed in Bradford for quite a long time after.

 

TW:

What did you study there?

 

RB:

Computing.

 

TW:

What kind of computing? The science of it or making software…..or what?

 

RB:

It covered all bases, as things did in those days. When I went to university to study computing it was before the….before IBM brought out the IBM computer which came out in 1982, and that’s your first computer as we now regard a computer. In 1980 they filled a whole room, so you learnt about……..the electronics, some of the electronics to do with them and also programming…..but it was before the days of graphics or video games or anything like that.

 

TW:

Right. So you learnt the old fashioned computing then?

 

RB:

Yeah.

 

TW:

And sort of systems analyst and all that type of thing?

 

RB:

Yes systems analysis…..statistics; we even had a course on economics, actually, in our first year……what you might call software engineering as well, so yes, we learnt about…..about the hardware guts of the machine and some software as well, and……data processing type course as well.

 

TW:

Right. So when the new computers came in…..how did that affect you; I mean did you……presumably you got work in that field and with the new IBM stuff and everything; did that change the way you had to work?

 

RB:

……well I think that once I’d finished my degree and after a break from computers completely for a year or two I actually started using them again professionally; I was actually using BBC computers that had come into schools, which were about this big; the first home personal computers.

 

TW:

Quite small.

 

RB:

Yeah………Commodore had a……had a thing called a C64 or something like that which was popular in the home as well…..they came without their monitors, that you bought monitors separately for; you might remember them

 

TW:

Yes

 

RB:

Yeah, so I never actually professionally worked with the mainframe computers, other than in my sandwich course; my university course actually was a sandwich course. The first two years we were working with this mainframe machine. The third year we had our sandwich course where I was working in London, so away from the university, working and living in London for a year, and when I came back I looked in the……looked in the room in the university, the university computer centre where there used to be a little mini computer that used punch tape, and there were these kids sitting around with these little BBCs which I’d never seen before, so in the space of a year that I was on my sandwich course, things really changed actually, I saw that change quite suddenly……very interesting.

 

TW:

Right. Did you get work in that field, in the education field, or computers and education mix?

 

RB:

I started doing a…..I never really liked computers very much……..the reason I did computing was that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I was eighteen and there was obviously a future in computing, and it could take you into other fields so I went ahead and did that; never enjoyed the course, not really interested in computers for their own sake…..took time out and did a cabinet making course of all things, and I was doing some voluntary work where I was ……working with children with disabilities making toys with them, for them, but actually doing some voluntary work with them to understand their needs, and I bumped into a chap who was a …..a teacher of special needs children and he’d got a……one of these…....BBC computers landed in his school with no software for it, and he was interested in the computer and interested in finding somebody who could write software for it…..and so we kind of bumped together; somebody told him about me and that I had a degree in Computing, somebody let slip, so he came to see me and that turned into……..me having a Manpower Services Commission job where I was writing special needs software on a BBC computer, and……that was just a year long contract and when that ran out he and I set up in business together and had a business for nine years making special needs software, which was really pioneering stuff actually……we were meant to have a meeting recently with an archivist of special needs software, obscure as that sounds, because he’s really interested in the work that we did in the…..in the second half of the eighties and the early nineties.

 

TW:

That sounds fascinating that.

 

RB:

It was a really interesting application of computers which……which meant that I could use…..it meant that I was happy to work with computers, and I continued doing that until…….almost unbroken doing that kind of work until last year actually, when I got made redundant from Inclusive Technology, a company over in Oldham…….

 

TW:

Right. Well with all this background in computers and all that sort of thing, I do know that you’re very interested in music as well and play and sing, and I just wondered whether…….all your computing knowledge helps you with like……you know, editing or engineering of music or anything like that. Have you ever got interested in that side of it as well?

 

RB:

Not to a great extent I would say, not really. I know professional, real professional musicians – it surprises people – they’re not just experts in playing their instruments, they’ve also got great expertise in using sound desks and things……….I guess music is…..for me, is a break away, a release from technology actually and I’ve always been a musician that’s worked more in acoustic…..folk areas really, you know, aside from when I had a punk rock band when I was a kid [laughing]…..most folk musicians of my age had a punk rock band when they were a kid!

 

TW:

So were you into folk first or into the punk first?

 

RB:

I was into the punk first, yeah.

 

TW:

So when was that? When did you have that band then?

 

RB:

That would be……in the early eighties really; messed around with a guitar when I was a school kid, but………..it was when I came down to England actually that I met local lads…..not kids from university where I was but actually local lads from the council estate around Lidget Green in Bradford and we set up a band together.

 

TW:

What was the band called?

 

RB:

Oh……I knew you would ask that [laughing]….we were called The Screaming Jellyfish…..

 

TW:

Fair enough!

 

RB:

Crazy…..

 

TW:

And how long did it last?

 

RB:

Oh just a few years….we never….we never published anything; I think we got a write up in the NME one time, but that’s as…..that’s as big as we got, yeah.

 

TW:

Right. And…….so after the punk, what did you move on to musically?

 

RB:

Musically actually I took a break for about five years actually……and then a friend of mine in about…..eighty-seven….a friend of mine called Alistair McCourry he took up the banjo because his uncle encouraged….his uncle introduced him to a country music genre called Bluegrass, which is all banjo music, and his uncle played this sort of music and introduced him to the banjo; he was quite musical anyway, so he earnestly learned how to play this banjo and this Bluegrass style and he needed somebody to accompany him on the guitar, to produce that sound, so he that I’d played guitar in the past so asked me if I would, so we went down to a music shop and we bought me a guitar…..and we played Bluegrass and we got a band together…..and we played with that band till around about…… ninety-three I would imagine, and then in ninety-three……I was invited to be a founder member of a new Cajun band called The Cajun Aces, which was formed in Bradford through the ashes of a previous Cajun band called Old Joe Zydeco which you might have heard about, and that was…..that was run by Malcolm Manning, Ian Tophill, Bernie Sheehan and…..they were three members of the six person band Old Joe Zydeco and those three invited me to join them to start The Cajun Aces.

 

TW:

How do you spell Ideco?

 

RB:

Zydeco.

 

TW:

Zydeco.

 

RB:

Zydeco….Z-y-d-e-c-o.

 

TW:

And what does that mean?

 

RB:

It’s something to do with beans.

 

TW:

I don’t know you see, that’s why I’m asking.

 

RB:

It’s something to do with beans.

 

TW:

Old Joe’s beans!

 

RB:

Yeah, something to do with that, yeah. I think they played more Cajun than Zydeco because the two are quite different……historically speaking, Cajun is……white man’s music that’s come down a lot from French…..French folk music with a lot of other influences including Blues and other European folk, and possibly a little bit of Indian music, not sure, whereas Zydeco is…..the black population’s music of old, and it has much more of African influences to it; far more rhythmic….but again there’s a crossover between the two, especially say in the last……thirty or forty years…..yeah, a lot of fusion of those two types nowadays.

 

TW:

So that band……that you were asked…..The Aces……you played guitar in that?

 

RB:

I played guitar in that and sang, yes…..sang the patois French loosely of that…..that music. I finished with The Cajun Aces about ten years ago actually, so don’t ask me to sing the songs because I can’t remember the French very well! [laughing]….I can remember like one line out of each song practically now.

 

TW:

Well I’ve been bobbing into you for……I don’t know…..I don’t know…..seven or eight years now perhaps, and you’ve been playing Bluegrassy type things in the local pub, so are you part of a band or a group or do you just do it for your own pleasure now or on your own?

 

RB:

Well now……let me think……after The Cajun Aces, after I left The Cajun Aces in 2002 or 2003, mainly for me because the band had run its course, Cajun music had been very popular in the nineties but the popularity waned and……in the first few years of this century, and the band wasn’t going anywhere…….

 

TW:

They were just playing the same old songs you mean?

 

RB:

Same old songs….I mean we did play traditional Cajun music you know, Cajun music which was great fun…….but I felt that we needed to develop…..Ian Tophill, our fiddle player, had already left the band and we weren’t getting many gigs so that doesn’t encourage you to……develop as a band really, or I suppose actually it should do, but it didn’t for me, so I left the band in the early 2000s and about five years ago, so about 2007, after just messing about doing sessions and Bluegrass and……bits of this and that…..I formed with some other friends including Ian Tophill the fiddle player, a band called the 309s and we played a mixture, quite a wide mixture of American dance music from the 1920’s up until the late 1950’s, so we were playing western swing from Texas, we were playing some jump jive music from New Orleans, we were playing Hank Williams numbers, we were playing Johnny Cash numbers, we were playing some early Elvis numbers……so quite a wide range with a few other……songs by famous people from that kind of era and that….that kind of area of the States as well, and we were playing….we hadn’t got a……although we were playing jump jive and a lot of other music that might have a horn session in it; we don’t have horn session, we take these songs and we apply…..we apply our own style to it; we take the bare bones of a song and do something new with it, with the instruments that we’ve got which is……the fiddle……the guitar……the stand up bass and the little drum kit, so…..so we’re making quite….our own sound with old songs.

 

TW:

Right, okay. I am curious, I mean I know you said that a friend of yours asked you to accompany him, but the kind of jump from punk for example into…..Bluegrass and Cajun is quite a massive leap really. What was it that…..interested you in that kind of music then?

 

RB:

I think…..well yes I gave up……the punk band came to an end, just a natural end I think, I can’t really remember the details…..but I think I got fed up and bored with pop music actually and….I guess it took about five years of listening to all sorts of different things and…..the friend coming along with his banjo to introduce me to a different sort of music….. ‘oh, that’s interesting actually, I like the sound of that’…I hadn’t heard of Bluegrass music before then, so….yeah, I was bored with pop music generally really, yeah….

 

TW:

Right. So what’s your favourite……your favourite songs or artists shall we say, just to kind of get a flavour of the kind of…..I know there’ll be a mixture…..

 

RB:

There’ll be a big mixture, I mean…..I love Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys…….I love the pre-pop music that was being played just on the cusp of rock ‘n’ roll being invented…..people like Jackie Brenston who had a record called Rocket 88 which is claimed to be the first rock ‘n’ roll record…….I like Hank Williams, I like Johnny Cash; when I say Johnny Cash I like his early stuff and his late stuff that he’s done since, you know, the American recordings that were done - not sure when they started – late nineties or maybe about 2000, probably late nineties……..in terms of pop music I do actually like……some pop groups you know, that have got more of an earthy style, you know, I love The Jam, I love The Kinks, I love…..I like what Paul Weller’s been doing in the last ten years, and I like some newer stuff as well; I like Mumford and Sons; looking forward to them bringing out a new album…….I like…I like some of the new stuff that people like Franz Ferdinand and bands of that ilk have brought out more recently…….and I like Americana as well, of the modern…..of the modern folk coming from America I like Gillian Welch, I like The Old Crow Medicine Show, I like that sort of thing…..and I like some of the modern swing bands that are about that people probably haven’t heard of, the under current stuff. In Hebden Bridge of course we’ve got Trevor Cowland and his Swing Cats and it’s great to go and see them……..and Paul Robert’s band that he’s joined recently, The Del Rio Ramblers, they’re great to go and see, yeah, so there’s some good local bands playing old swing music as well, so I like them.

 

TW:

Right. Just before rock ‘n’ roll, the pre rock ‘n’ roll as you call it, like Louis Jourdan’s band, he had a guitarist whose riffs…….were the ones that Chuck Berry basically stole to turn into rock ‘n’ roll, I just wondered whether that kind of jazzy

r & b sort of aspect of things………rather than the country side, because you seem to be you know, focused on the country side rather than the r & b side; I wonder if you like any of that kind of stuff as well?

 

RB:

I love that, Louis Jourdan, yes he’s some great stuff……..and….who did you mention then? Oh Chuck Berry, yes, well he’s got some great riffs, yes……..and the Blues stuff as well, I really like Jimmy Reed, I play the harmonica as well and Jimmy Reed was a great influence for me; I love his singing and he recorded most of his work completely drunk didn’t he I think?

 

TW:

Quite possibly, although I couldn’t comment [laughing]

 

RB:

Yes, it’s rough and ready and I like that rough and ready you know, I don’t like things too neat, and maybe Louis Jourdan can be a little bit too neat and a bit too………..well he’s a jazz man really isn’t he, so…….yeah, western swing is said to be jazz music with a cowboy hat on….

 

TW:

Well okay…….I want to kind of move on from music then, I mean we can probably go back to it perhaps but…..I know…..this music thing’s been going on more or less through most of your life from being a teenager really, and then you did all the computing and that and you’ve been made redundant, and now you’re up to a new venture which is the leather work, and you did mention, I didn’t know, you said that you did cabinet making at some point as well, so I’m curious about why you’ve moved into the leather then. How did that decision come about?

 

RB:

Well I play harmonica and a few years ago my wife Louise made me a tool roll for my harmonicas out of leather; we discussed it….had this idea and we discussed it and she went away, found a bit of scrap leather from an enormous mass of materials that she has up in the attic……and she’s…..she’s a very keen amateur seamstress; makes her own dresses and such like, she’s very creative, and she came back with…..with this tool roll and I should have it here but I don’t…..I can get it.

 

TW:

If you like

 

Rb:

Can I leave the camera…………………….

This is what she made for me. It’s rough and rustic, utilitarian you might call it…..and nowadays I don’t keep harmonicas in it; I keep leather punches in it……and this…..this has been quite widely admired at sessions and things to the extent that a friend of mine, Alastair who plays the banjo, he actually had his partner make one for him as well because he liked it that much…….so as I said I got made redundant about a year ago; I’ve done some other things since then…..but somehow it popped into my head that maybe this is something that could be made for sale, so using an old Singer sewing machine I went out, got some leather with help from Geoff at Tan My Hide, got some leather for him and…..and other places, and ended up making four other versions of this thing; this is another one……………..this has actually got some harmonicas in it…….this is designed….as you can see the pockets are vertical; it’s designed to be hung up on a microphone stand, because I play the guitar and the harmonica and I’ll have a neck brace on and I hang this off the microphone, to make my harmonicas easier to access because you have to have multiple ones

 

TW:

You have to play in the right key

 

RB:

In the different keys, yeah, when you’re playing Blues harmonica…..so I made about four different things of this sort of nature and actually commercially speaking I expect it’s probably the worst….one of the worst ideas that we’ve had [laughing], but what that has led to is……is designing and…..making some other items that possible are more successful, like a little case for……for Kindles perhaps

 

TW:

Aha, the old skill and the new technology join!

 

RB:

[laughing]….well there is one for iPads!......You can see I’m also skilled at making wooden iPads or Kindles! We’ve been……we’ve been demonstrating these at a festival, so……obviously I don’t want to put the real iPad out, so…..and for other musical instruments as well…….for other hobbies…..this is a case for…..for somebody who likes to go out in the field doing sketching so you put your pad in there, put all your pencils there…..eraser, sharpener…..you could just keep that in your car, you know, and pull it out……

 

TW:

Well if someone’s going out in the field, or going up the hills, going for a walk to draw, I just wondered whether they would want like a….a big strap to put over their shoulder

 

RB:

A strap, yeah….this is something that came back from a festival actually, but we could actually……we could put some rings on here so that you could then attach a strap to it and carry on its own rather than having it in your rucksack.

 

TW:

So you were at the……Festival at the Edge, the story-telling festival showing this as a kind of market research thing weren’t you?

 

RB:

Yeah

 

TW:

And what kind of feedback did you get there?

 

RB:

Oh really positive actually; it gave us the confidence to……actually go ahead and get a few of these manufactured which is what we’re going to do. I’ve just been working on the project plan this morning, and ringing up other suppliers of the leather that we need because this leather I bought from……from a wholesale warehouse, where they’ve got a load of it…..if you’re a manufacturer you’ve got to ensure your continuity of supply of your raw materials, so I’m trying to find other places where I can source this leather in case…….my main supplier lets me down…….a lot of things to take into consideration when you’re starting to get into this sort of thing.

 

 

TW:

 

Have you spoken to Geoff then….about suppliers and different types of leather because this one which you said is much admired is very soft isn’t it?

 

RB:

Yes it is very soft

 

TW:

And that one is, and these ones are much…..they’re stiffer aren’t they? They must be harder wearing those, so …

 

RB:

Yeah they will be, yeah…….you need something tougher, you need something as tough as you can get to protect your instruments because that’s the principle of the utility purpose of having it. Actually in these cases…….you might have seen…..you know, it didn’t take me a second just to undo the straps because I like…..you know, sometimes it can inconvenience……making things slower to undo is the price you have to pay for having something that looks nice, you know………so yes, penny whistles, well they’ve got to be protected…….whereas something like harmonicas you need…..you know, a tool roll like this…..and we might make something like this for a wood carver’s chisels as well…..you need to have thinner leather that will roll up…….several times because this thick stuff…..if you rolled it up like that you’d have quite a bulky article….yeah it wouldn’t…..you could roll it up but it would……sometimes the…..the practicalities…

 

TW:

Yeah so that’s more practical for that sort of object?

 

RB:

Yeah, than leather like this…….and this is quite valuable as well…….

 

TW:

So have you worked out the price of all this sort of thing, because if you buy a Kindle or you know, a Galaxy or whatever, you can buy them……covers, and there are a variety of them, different kinds of covers, so there’s soft ones and then harden ones and all that sort of thing; obviously that’s going to be your kind of……in some ways your competition for that sort of thing, so have you worked out prices in comparison to that sort of thing?

 

RB:

Well you take something like an iPad case, you know, you can – and I have bought an iPad case for about seven pounds, and utility wise it’s perfectly good for the job actually, but if you want something that’s different, if you want something that’s…….a pleasure just to pull out and use and feel, then you have to pay a bit more….and you can go to………more crafty websites like Etsy and NotOnTheHighStreet and get something that’s a little more exclusive and interesting, and quality, and yes, you can……you can buy an iPad case on the internet that’s made out of leather for about a hundred pounds in fact, so that’s competition as well; all those things are competition broadly speaking actually……they all will be. I think in terms of things like iPads though, the number being sold……iPads…..is absolutely astonishing, you know, tens of millions of iPads have been sold……coupled with that when it comes back to the cheap ones, I was told…..I’ve just been talking to people about cases for Kindles and there’s loads of cases for Kindles on the market, but in actual fact people are saying that there’s not much choice because there’s…..there’s a lot of…..there’s a lot that just look the same as each other more or less really, you know, and they’re saying, people are saying that despite the fact that there are hundreds available from China for a cheap price there isn’t actually much choice which is, you know……..I’ve heard that separately from two people separately and it was certainly a surprising comment to hear, yeah, so simply because the market’s so big makes me feel that it’s worth having a go at…….some other things such as the penny whistle case is gonna have a much smaller appeal, but that’s a far more unusual item, you know; I think you can buy a knitted penny whistle on Etsy if you want to [laughing] you know, but actually it’s just a little square bag that you stick them in, so……..you know, people who play a penny whistle seriously love their instruments and…..I should imagine that they want to…..be able to store them and carry them around.

 

TW:

Can you individualise them in some way then, for example, that could be an additional extra if you know what I mean?

 

RB:

Certainly yeah I think so……there’s a couple of ways. One easy way is that….you know, somebody orders this - we’re going to market on the internet – but somebody could order one of these and have their initials stamped on it before we send it to them, or whatever they want…….the other way is that we can give someone options on the fastenings; we have something here like the iPad but we’ve put on a really……this is a really bizarre fastening. Some people would say you know, you can do it in a knot but how inconvenient is this…..you undo it, use your iPad or whatever and you’ve got all this string here……[laughing] it’s crazy isn’t it? People like it, but we could offer this…..we could offer this same thing with alternative fastenings, such as the little driftwood toggle……or even we could put a magnetic catch on the……so people could have the option. This of course has a lot of cowhide on it with this patterning and…..every one’s going to be unique, so we’ve got to…..we can’t…..well we’ve discussed this with friends you know, do you like put every single item, every single one on the internet and say you know ‘choose one’…….some people think that would be a bit clumsy to do that

 

TW:

I think it has to be luck of the draw in a way doesn’t it?

 

RB:

To some extent there’s luck of the draw but what we can offer is an option of mostly brown, mostly white or half and half……and hopefully that will satisfy…….what people want, but it’s certainly slightly dangerous territory doing stuff like this! People will send – some people will send them back and say ‘can I have one with a different pattern on’ or they’ll ask for a photograph before we send it, so …

 

TW:

So will this business be you and your wife then?

 

RB:

Yeah we’re partners together in it, although my wife has fortunately still got her job, so yeah…..these things are actually going to be manufactured by real professionals, so I’m designing them and I’ll be working on the IT side of marketing them, but they will actually be manufactured by real professionals.

 

TW:

Oh I see, so these are your prototypes so to speak?

 

RB:

That’s right.

 

TW:

And then once you’ve kind of worked those out, you being the IT person can market all of that?

 

RB:

Yeah, and then we’ll have the real professional craftsmen working – local craftsmen.

 

TW:

Sort of making them up for you?

 

RB:

Yeah; they’re gonna be made…..they’re all gonna be made in England, yeah…..finding people to make them has being difficult. I’ve only found about five people between Liverpool and Hull who can make these, so….it’s bizarre really; they’re all really busy so you wonder why there’s not more of them…….

 

TW:

Well……do they make a living out of just making things out of leather?

 

RB:

Yeah.

 

TW:

Wow….

 

RB:

It’s bizarre isn’t it?

 

TW:

And they’re really busy……well maybe if the market was flooded with makers they wouldn’t be able to make a living.

 

RB:

Well true, yes. That seems to have gone one way without finding its balance, so it could be that…..if this does take off then we’ll have our own little workshop, you know, in Hebden Bridge or somewhere near where we’ve actually got people employed making these.

 

TW:

You could……get practices to learn the old skills as it were?

 

RB:

That’s right.

 

TW:

Do you think the…..the vegetarian/vegan people would be upset about the fact that you’re using leather rather than some kind of fake leather or what have you?

 

RB:

We were surprised when we were at the festival, the story-telling festival, which is the kind of thing rightly or wrongly where I might imagine there’d be quite a few vegetarians and vegans and political ones at that, but we didn’t have any…..we didn’t have any strong words in that respect, but you can get……artificial leathers and some of these we could actually make out of woven fabrics like a thick denim or something like that actually, we just haven’t looked into that yet.

 

TW:

Right, well this being the town that is well known for tough wearing textiles.

 

RB:

We could have these made out of fustian!

 

[laughing]

 

TW:

Out of fustian, out of moleskin!

 

RB:

Yeah we could do, yeah.

 

TW:

Yeah that’s very interesting……yeah that’s good……I see yes……so you don’t want to spend the summers going from festival to festival selling and marketing your wares then, as a kind of lifestyle?

 

RB:

It would be fun…..it would be fun actually to do that, but……I’m not sure if I’d make much of a living doing that really. People…..I don’t know, people …..these are expensive things, you know, people go to festivals and they’ve got their money in their pockets for…..for the food stalls, for the beer tent, you know, I’m not sure if people think about taking an extra fifty quid with them for buying something like this……however we are gonna go to festivals again and I’m sure we’ll go to Festival at the Edge again next year as well.

 

TW:

As like more marketing do you mean?

 

 

 

RB:

We’ll have things for sale as well; we’ll have some cheap little things like……my wife Louise……she did actually make………we were carrying paper cups around and I’ve got this paper cup here………with our teas in, and of course they were burning our fingers because they didn’t have any sleeves, so at the stand Louise actually did make a leather…….

 

TW:

Oh really?

 

RB:

What do you call them…..heat protectors……the little sleeve that you get to put on there, yeah, so…..we might made those to give away for a fiver or something like that……we’ve got a few little ideas for making small things that we can sell for, you know, for a fiver sort of thing at a festival which is nice, you know, and maybe some little kits actually for children to…….sew together a little pouch just for one harmonica; you get the pieces all cut out with the sewing holes in and you get the thread and a safe needle you can use, and you can sew it all together and we’ll give them a little harmonica, a cheap harmonica to put in it, something like that.

 

TW:

Yeah, or maybe they could use it for other things as well, not just the harmonica……for anything of that size that will keep….almost like a purse or a wallet sort of thing?

 

RB:

Yeah that’s right, yeah we could do a little purse as well sort of thing, yeah……we could have all the children sitting round in a row sewing away [laughing] – keep them occupied!

 

TW:

Well, if you had them made in China you could probably get that anyway.

 

[laughing]

 

RB:

Yes well we try to avoid….we have actually been looking into Fairtrade sources from…..from places like Vietnam and Cambodia because I have met somebody…..I did meet somebody who was selling….who had a stall in the market in Hebden Bridge, and they were selling silk purses and scarves that had been made in a Fairtrade…..Co-op out in Vietnam, so….I did ask them if….if the people in Vietnam would be able to make things out of leather as well, but nothing has come of that, but I’ve got links to Cambodia as well so that’s a possibility down the road…..where…..where we can actually pay people……in Cambodia, you know, the proper price for their wares, yeah.

 

TW:

I’m just curious that obviously it….you being into music, the ideas for these things started that way, and of course you’re also a computer person so the idea of doing them for the new technologies, that sort of thing, kind of, and the artistic side of things, so you’ve got like three angles on that, and I know you’ve talked about some smaller sorts of things, but do you think you’d need a larger range of…..of goods shall we say to make a business viable rather than just…..you know, focusing on these few?

 

RB:

Well yes we do have about…..we’ve got more than thirty product ideas, yeah.

 

TW:

Oh right.

 

RB:

We’ve made up about a dozen of them that we made up for the show, yeah……but we do have…….quite a few ideas for homewares as well…..different…..maybe for sewing…..we did think about a knitting needle case but the jury’s out whether you’d want a leather knitting needle case, got to do a bit more research on that one.

 

 

TW:

Yes…..I would think not to be perfectly honest because the people I know who knit a lot, they end up going into the ball of wool that you’re gonna use the next time you …

 

RB:

Do they?

 

TW:

Yeah, and so it’s …

 

RB:

It’s not the sort of thing you carry around with you; somebody who does sewing might like a little tool roll like that with all their sewing bits in, but actually when you’re doing knitting you only use…..you’re only carrying around one pair of knitting needles with the project you’re working on, yeah. What else have we…..I had an idea for a coffee pot cosy.

 

TW:

Out of leather?

 

[laughing]

 

RB:

But it would be a coffee pot cosy that would have a price tag of about forty pounds and I thought ‘well would you spend forty pounds on a coffee pot cosy for a cafetière that cost twenty?’

 

TW:

Probably not.

 

RB:

Probably not!

 

[laughing]

 

RB:

So we’ve had stupid ideas as well [laughing]…..I don’t know at the moment.

 

TW:

I was just wondering…..have you spoken to…..do you know Hannah, Hannah Thurman.......She used to work behind the bar in The Fox; she was a textile artist?

 

RB:

I do know her.

 

TW:

And she’s a sewer and makes all sorts of things; she’s had a baby in the past year.

 

RB:

Oh right, okay.

 

TW:

But I just wondered whether you’d talked to her because she’s a very inventive person and I just wondered whether you’d pick her brain for ideas?

 

RB:

No I haven’t seen Hannah for…….two or three years I don’t think actually, so……could try that, yeah.

 

TW:

Well I’m sure.

 

RB:

Where is she now?

 

TW:

She lives down in Eastwood………you know where the…..the tip is?.......Well there’s a row of….big long terrace just before that.

 

RB:

Yeah, just after the cricket ground.

 

TW:

Yeah just after the cricket ground, well…..around the back of those there’s….because they’re back-to-backs and they’re up and down so she’s got a floor on the……her and Dave…..they have the ground floor plus two floors above which….and those two floors above back onto the two floors on the main street, then there’s a third storey above…..no it doesn’t back…..yes, she lives in one of those; it’s the one with the…….the one with the……what do you call it?………the Land Rover outside.

 

RB:

Right, okay…..and is she crafting at the moment?

 

TW:

I don’t know, I haven’t been to see her; I’ve been to see her when the baby was born but it’s been…….at least six months now; I have a little doll that I bought in Turkey that I’m gonna give her for her little girl, but I just haven’t got round to it, being a lazy kind of person that I sometimes am! But she’s got all the machines and she knows how to sew really when; I just wondered, maybe she could be one of your……you know, people who makes things for you, if you’ve found so few…..

 

RB:

It is an opportunity yes, and Geoff actually has…..has given a girl called Kate a……apprenticeship at the moment; have you met her?

 

TW:

Yes I have, yes I knew the previous one, Rowan, as well, who’s gone to London to study at fashion/textile college.

 

RB:

Oh right. Is that a leather working course?

 

TW:

Well leather working is one of the things she’s learning but……I interviewed her last year; you can look her up on the website and you can see that she……she has lots of ideas about how things…….how things she wants to make, because they encompass not just the leather world , it’s a bit farther than that for her I think.

 

RB:

Well just starting out, this is where I am and I think as time goes on I’ll probably start mixing the media, yeah……

 

TW:

Right.

 

RB:

But yes, Kate’s somebody else who might be able to…….produce things for me; I need to go and see her and Geoff again actually, so, yeah…….but yes, I was gonna go along to…..Geoff and see if he can make something like this for me, yeah…….and he might just pass it onto Kate to do.

 

TW:

You see…..it’s pretty flat isn’t it and the edges are pretty straight?

 

RB:

Yeah it’s quite a simple……simple one; I’ve got another one…..another one like it somewhere………that’s even simpler…….ah this little number.

 

TW:

Oh right.

 

RB:

This is the one that a lot……a lot of people including ourselves like……but…… there’s not much to it, because there’s not much sewing in….

 

TW:

It’s……it’s like…..almost like an envelope in a way isn’t it?

 

RB:

Yeah…….there’s a strong envelope influence.

 

[laughing]

 

TW:

It’s very nice….it’s nice that…….

 

RB:

It goes down well that one…..that’s a simple one.

 

TW:

I would have thought the soft ones for mobile phones would have been quite a good one of these days…

 

RB:

Yes……that’s my current mobile phone case, yeah…….I haven’t quite got that right yet - road testing it - the leather isn’t working very well; it’s folding up at the bottom, not very nice, I think we need to make it……using slightly thicker leather, or a different catch; might just put a magnetic catch on that……it’s got to be…..I mean for a mobile phone it’s got to be something that’s quick release.

 

TW:

It’s got to be something really simple and quick because people just stick them in their pockets don’t they more or less?

 

RB:

Yeah, well that’s alright if you…..if you put your phone in a bag because it doesn’t matter about this…..but putting that in a pocket with this big toggle on it…..it’s not great is it?

 

TW:

No, it’ll get caught; other things will get caught with it, if you’ve got keys or anything.

 

RB:

Yeah, somebody did say actually that it doesn’t need anything if you stick it in your pocket, but a magnetic catch…..although I’m trying to keep away from…..modern style fastenings. I don’t like Velcro; I don’t even like zips; I’ve put poppers on a couple of things and I don’t even like that; that’s why it’s all this string and elastic [laughing] and old-fashioned buckles….yeah…..that is one of the defining…..design rules on it; can we come up with different ideas for closures is the toughest.

 

TW:

Do they make really really thin leather, really soft thin leather, almost like velvet kind of idea? Because you would think…..it would be tough on the outside, protective, but thin and soft so easy to stick in a pocket…..I mean I don’t know; I’m just trying to think differently, because I don’t…..own a mobile phone you see; I might use a lot of technology but I just…..I don’t wanna be able to be contacted all the time, any time.

 

RB:

Sure. Shall we put this on silent?

 

[laughing]

 

RB:

I’m very popular as you can see!

 

TW:

But it does seem to me that people…….most people today have a mobile phone and they’re on it all the time, and the ease of access thing that you were talking about is imperative – you just slide it in and out of a pocket or a coat pocket or…..even if it’s a purse, women will have a place for it I suppose.

 

RB:

Yeah they do, yeah.

 

TW:

And so it’s all about being quick and easy and…….light in fact really, you know.

 

RB:

Well yeah, I mean with this sewing method……you’re gonna get…..it’s quite a bulky job really for a little phone like that, you know……….

 

TW:

I mean I quite like that, you see for me it would suit really well but…..because I don’t use it all the time; I look at it and think ‘that’s really nice, I really like that’. [laughing]

 

RB:

Well that’s what it’s about isn’t it? It is about…. ‘that’s really nice; I enjoy having it in my hand, and I don’t care if it’s more clumpy than the slick thing I can get’ or, you know, an iPhone actually comes with a case, or the one like Louise has just recently got…….so really like, you know, I mean a lot of people have two phones. Louise has two phones; she’s got one for work plus her own personal one, so yeah there’s a lot of the things about, but surprisingly…..or maybe not……at the story-telling festival there as very little interest in the mobile phone cases.

 

TW:

Is that right? Really? Oh right…….that’s interesting, well that’s good research isn’t it really?

 

RB:

Yeah, the kids that were interested in them most….the people that were interested most were the children actually, and I think that might be because children like little pouches, you know, to keep their……few belongings in......

 

TW:

Okay; I’m just thinking…….is there anything I haven’t asked that you might want to talk about….from a creative point of view, whether it’s your music or your leather work or anything else?

 

RB:

Oh now you’re asking…….I’m quite a modest chap so that’s a difficult question to ask me really [laughing]…..I’m trying to think what that might be……..no, I think that covers quite a bit doesn’t it?

 

TW:

There is one question about being creative that I haven’t asked really, and it goes back to your writing the educational software which you…..you said you thought was quite innovative……what…..I mean you must have thought creatively to be able to create things like that; would you not see that as being a creative activity as well?

 

RB:

Oh it was definitely creative yeah…..although I suppose I put it over like I’ve been a sort of…..a computer programmer whilst producing that software, but in actual fact, and certainly in the last……ten years of that work I didn’t do any programming at all, and before that…..likewise I was doing a lot of research; going out to schools, seeing what their needs were in terms of the children’s curriculum because they have a different curriculum to mainstream children…….special needs, and they have, you know, a wide variety of needs; you know, the needs of children in mainstream school…..you might say ‘is this right?’ whereas special needs children are of such an immense variety that their needs are……for all of them…….to try and cover all of them, they’re vast, absolutely vast……because you know, it’s not just about the child…..

 

TW:

Carry on.

 

RB:

Not just about a child having a visual impairment or a learning difficulty; they might actually have a combination of those things mixed with…….autism…… a physical disability; children in special schools often have multiple disabilities which…..which means the educational challenges are different every time, so trying to make software for that wide group is actually a design and creative challenge, and……I’ve designed over a hundred pieces of software in my time, so yes, I am……you know, I’ve always been creative and a designer.

 

TW:

Do you know Simon Hayles?

 

RB:

Yes I do, yes.

 

TW:

Oh right, because that’s how he began I think.

 

RB:

I have actually commissioned Simon to do some software for me, way back in the past…..yes, in the nineties…… we worked together…

 

TW:

Right.

 

RB:

I might need his help again actually [laughing]…..coming up soon on the websites and things like that, yeah…….

 

TW:

Right, okay………I think we’ll call it a day there if that’s okay?

 

RB:

That’s quite a lot isn’t it? We’ve been going for about an hour.

 

TW:

Yeah well that’s what I tend to record, about an hour or thereabouts. We can carry on if you want, but I think we’ve covered most things.

 

RB:

No, no, that’s fine.

 

TW:

Okay well I’ll just say thank you very much and then we’ll turn that off.

 

RB:

Okay, thank you; been a pleasure.

 

[END OF TRACK 1]

About Us

Wild Rose Heritage and Arts is a community group which takes it's name from the area in which we are located - the valley ("den") of the wild rose ("Heb") -  Hebden Bridge which is in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

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Pennine Heritage Ltd.
The Birchcliffe Centre
Hebden Bridge
HX7 8DG

Phone: 01422 844450
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