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  • Interviews and Storytelling: A J Creedy

     

    [TRACK 1]

     

    TONY WRIGHT:

    This is Tony Wright, it’s the 24th of August 2012 and I’m talking to Creedy, and can you tell me your full name and where and when you were born?

     

    ANDREW JOHN CREEDY:

    Yes. My full name….here’s one…Andrew John Creedy and I was born in Lincoln in….third of the first 1964.

     

    TW:

    Right, okay.

     

    AJC:

    So it’s Andrew John Creedy but not many people know that.

     

    TW:

    Well we can delete it if you want us to

     

    [laughing]

     

    AJC:

    Often known as… more commonly known as Creedy.

     

    TW:

    Right, okay.

     

    AJC:

    I’ll let you off!

     

    TW:

    Alright….so, Lincoln; what was Lincoln like when you were growing up then?

     

    AJC:

    Well Lincoln’s very flat, that’s fair to say apart from the fact that it has got quite big hill in the middle of it. It was….where I lived it was a very…..very friendly street really; a lot of my aunties and uncles lived on the same street as me, in fact we had one next door - in fact we had two – one next door and one next door to that, and a couple more across then road so even though…..even then sorry, there was still….everybody down the street was very friendly; it was very much….a local butcher’s; your knew them, it was all very, everyone knew exactly what you wanted….a barber across the road and…..just all your little shops were down that one street; I think the only supermarket that we had was the Co-op at one time when I was very young and that was…..it was always a treat; it was only down the road but it was always a treat…..we was on a big crossroads which was potentially dangerous; there was always car crashes there because there weren’t as many cars as there are nowadays; there were cars, but…..but not as many, so I don’t think we really expected sometimes to see something coming the other way and there was a lot of collisions, often on a Saturday afternoon; we’d say ‘oh there’s been another one,’ everyone would say ….. ‘oh God not again’ you know, but even so there was enough lack of traffic for all the kids to play together down the street which was really really good, so we were street kids; we was always out on the streets, sort of….pick up lolly sticks and make boomerangs out of them and….playing all the classic sort of games…..we used to play statues and things like that, so and of course then my cousin next door…..and next door to that so we used to play together as well, so that was when I was really young.

     

    TW:

    Right….so how long did you live there?

     

    AJC:

    Oh….I’ve got a terrible memory for how long things….it was quite a long time, so I mean I suppose I was….let’s think now…..I think I moved from that house when I was……about….twelve, thirteen maybe or something like that; it was a place called Ripon Street bang in the middle, well….yeah, quite central to Lincoln; we only moved then because the landlord….he was a lovely old bloke….he died and we knew that as soon as he died hid daughter would want to sell the house or put the rent up ridiculously and she did both; she put the rent up ridiculously and then sold the house, so we had to move on and from there we moved….we moved to a council house out in the….what you call the sticks in Lincoln - it’s not really - there was a lot of estates on the outskirts of the city where we moved there; I was quite looking forward to it though because I fancied having a garden, because I really fancied it with my Action Man with his tanks and stuff like that I remember at the time, but I think I was only twelve and so I was still playing with them but of course as soon as we got there and….I didn’t really want the garden any more because I wasn’t playing with my Action Man tanks; the transition was a bit….was a bit crucial really as far as that was concerned on the developmental level! So yeah, it was when I was about twelve that we moved on from there really - I was quite sad to leave it - it was a big house and it used to have…..I used to have two bedrooms because my brother left when I was about sixteen, so I had my little bedroom and I had his big bedroom as well, and on occasion I’d just swap, just for the fun of it, but I had l had loads and loads of rooms and an attic upstairs which was quite good and there was a big brick wash house at the bottom of the garden, well it wasn’t in the garden…it was in the yard as such, and I used to….I used to play in there quite a lot and come up with stuff and friends used to come round and we used to….we used to have some great fun in there; we used to make fireworks in there actually

     

    TW:

    Oh really?

     

    AJC:

    Yeah, I was quite into the sciences at school and….strangely, I can’t believe that this actually happened, but in those days you could actually go into the chemist’s and buy a box of saltpetre, a box of sulphur and a carbon block; now anybody with any basic chemical knowledge knows if you stick those three together you’ve got gunpowder, so…..yeah, so this little….little kid would go in there, ten year old, and go and buy all these ingredients [laughing] and grind ‘em up and make fireworks! I can’t believe that they never expected us to do that, and because it was a brick shed as well it was a bit safer, but we used to have….we used to have…we used to have experiments; we was always trying to get things to explode properly and we occasionally got it once, where we actually put it in some cling film…foil…not cling film…tin foil, and compressed it with a vice and then put it over a burner, and it shot off and took a little bit of my eyebrow off as it disappeared past my head [laughing] and that’s the closest we got - I did manage to make flares - my uncle used to help me quite a lot. He used to come along with these big tubes that he’d got from the engineering works that he worked at and I thought ‘oh they’re really thick walled things’ and we used to stuff them in there and stuff and we used to make hand flares like you know, sea flares and stuff; we got those made as well, but yeah we did quite a lot of that really [laughing]….bit odd, but there you go

     

    TW:

    So you really liked science at school?

     

    AJC:

    I did yeah, but maths was the thing that sort of….destroyed it a little bit for me really because a lot of the…a lot of the problems that I had with science; I mean I passed all my sciences…because you had Physics, Chemistry and Biology…I was quite good at them, I understood the principles behind all of them but you had to prove it in a mathematical way and that was the difficult bit; I wasn’t very good at Maths. I’m still numerically a little bit dyslexic as far as I can tell; not terribly but I can see what happened, plus the ….the guys…and gals…..like Jimmy Saville….they….they were pretty severe Maths teachers; for some reason Maths teachers were almost as severe as sports teachers, so…yeah, it…force for me was never the way forward; I just became belligerent.

     

    TW:

    Okay….so, when did you leave Lincoln then? Did you actually leave Lincoln to do anything or did you just carry on living

     

    AJC:

    Yeah, after I’d finished at school I went to…I went to art college in Lincoln for a year doing a Foundation course which should have been….it should have been a two year course but I did it in a year, so it was really really intense, but I’d always been good at drawing and always been good at art, in fact when I was at school doing my A Levels I…I used to end up….they didn’t teach me; they left me to teach the rest of the class which was great, but…not really because I never got any tuition at all and I don’t know whether it was because…I never did work it out really. I did see some of the teachers’ drawings and I thought ‘well I think I’m better than them’ [laughing] and I’m not really that egotistical, so I must have been vaguely on the ball there really I think, but anyway yeah, so I went to do the….the Foundation course in Lincoln and the only place at the end of that that I could see to get into, because there was a couple of teachers that didn’t like me again, and I’m an innocent little soul really; I don’t do anything to…..and even then I wasn’t really pushy or anything like that, but again, the guy who really didn’t like me, I looked at some of his work as well and I just didn’t understand it; it was just….it was crap [laughing] and I can remember it to this day, looking at it, it was….I think it was a brown background with multi-coloured Lancaster Bombers on it, because the Lancaster Bomber in Lincoln…..the Lancaster Bomber, and it was just like so obvious and not very good, and he was trying to push me in that direction whereas I was very detailed in what I did so he’d make…..make me do bigger and bigger things in less and less time but I’d still come back with every detail….I beat him at pool once; that was a good day….and anyway yes, so I went to Croydon, the only place I could get in was Croydon College; Croydon College of Art, which I believe was also where Bowie and….Marc Bolan went for some reason; I think they were the only famous people there, but….it was an odd place was Croydon really; I mean I wasn’t a big fan of London but it was the first time I’d really properly been away from home, and I ended up staying in….there weren’t any halls of residence for the artists so I stayed in a bed and breakfast; I went down there on a day trip and managed to get this bed and breakfast place, and what I was actually looking for, I mean Eastenders was at a peak at the time; I did watch television and so I did pick up a little bit on that and I thought ‘I wonder if the East End’s like that?’ and Croydon was a little bit like that, but I wanted a typical Cockney landlady and landlord and they were perfect; it was…..he was called Del and she was called Dor…Del and Dor,,,,it was great [laughing] and he called me ‘Endrew’ [Cockney accent][laughing]….it was fantastic! Loved his boxing; he used to say ‘bit of boxing on tonight Endrew….fancy a fag’ [laughing]……and we’d….and I loved that, I thought ‘this is great’ and not far from where the college was there was….there was a market that was just like the market on Eastenders and again, I loved it down there as well. Typical East End sort of pubs and things like that, but…..but the college itself was an annex separate from the rest of the college and the university so it was….I think it was deliberate to keep the artists away from normality…whether it just distracts them or not I don’ t know, but it was a bit isolated so I was with…..with….with all the artists and I got really fed up with art students to be quite honest; I mean a lot of people would say ‘oh bloody art students’ but I also said the same thing and I was one of them, and I always felt embarrassed for the fact I was an artist because some of them were bizarre for no real reason and….and again because…and the college itself tried to push you once again in a more of an abstract direction and I really wasn’t ready for it and I really did not understand abstract art; never got into it

     

    TW:

    So in what….this is early eighties?

     

    AJC:

    Yeah this is the early eighties, yeah

     

    TW:

    And they were trying to….they were pushing abstract art really.

     

    AJC:

    Yeah, this is….Croydon College was more known for that than anything else, and again all my tutors were trying to push towards that, even….there was an old guy called Gerald – lovely bloke - very posh, but he used to come round and again, he’d see me do my stuff and he used to give me quite a lot of grief about it sort of being….maybe I should have….I mean on the day I went to…..college in Lincoln I had to do either Fine Art or Graphics and I didn’t really know what Graphics was; I didn’t really know what Fine Art was either, I just knew that I could draw, so I threw a coin and I ended up doing Fine Art…..and I often look back and think ‘oh I think I should have done Graphics’ because I think I’m more of an illustrator sometimes - well that’s not really true - I’ve expanded my artistic sort of….pallet in many different ways but I think I probably would have benefited more from Graphics in many ways, but who knows? I could have ended up on some terrible magazine or something like that and had my soul sucked out by capitalism, through advertising and marketing and if you’re in advertising and marketing I agree with Bill Hicks – kill yourself – so I really wouldn’t want to go in that direction, so…..so yeah, in Croydon Art College there’s this Gerald there; he’s giving me grief like the guy who did in….in Lincoln, and again I went and saw his art; it was just quite nice but the big surprising thing was, they always encouraged you to do things in A1and big sort of canvasses, and this fellla’s stuff was like this big, it was the size of a bloody postage stamp; it was a very nice life drawing, but crikey I could have done that in that size, it was like tiny, so again I was always disappointed by my tutors, and after a year I’d had enough, I’d had enough; I’d…….I’d spent all my money; I got a grant but I’d spent far…..quite a bit beyond that….tiniest bit overdrawn and my parents got worried and I got worried, and I left Croydon; I think it was right at the end of the first year and I didn’t want to go back; I left everything there and never did go back there and pick anything up, I just didn’t wanna go back. There was a few people there that I did like but a lot of them were so pretentious.

     

    TW:

    So what did you do?

     

    AJC:

    Well I went back to Lincoln again, so back to Lincoln from Croydon having not enjoyed it. Stayed with my parents again; I had a lot of friends there that I still to this day know very well, and though we don’t keep in touch very often, every time we see each other it’s like we’ve never been apart, so I started at a place called The Community Enterprise Agency; I worked there which was basically a big place designed for…..unemployed people at the time but to give them some like training potential so I thought….and I worked in the……effectively in the graphics department there and we did lots of weird stuff; we’d do sign writing so I was taught how to sign write……we’d often get…..and so the signs for buildings were done by us and they sort of put these signs out to other people so we’d be commissioned to do certain signs, and other things; I think downstairs in the woodwork department they made Wendy houses which was very nice and we painted them, so me being quite creative, we used to like put little pigeons and sort of like backgrounds and stuff on the side of these and they loved that, and I’d end up sort of like……just one of those things that the guy who was running us, who was our boss effectively for our department, would….would often sort of like ask me to represent…..well he instantly assumed that I would represent everybody else because I think I did, so if something went wrong they all got a bit shy about it and I wouldn’t; I’d say ‘right, into your office’ so I’d take him into his own office and give him a telling off [laughing]…..they said ‘how dare you treat him like that – do you know what problems he’s got in his life at the moment? You don’t understand do you?’…. ‘look we’ll try and sort it out mate, you know, I know you’re having a hard’…..and I’d end up having a chat with him and he’d…..he’d pour his heart out to me, and I knew he was going through a divorce and that and I knew his life intimately, so if anything went wrong and somebody was in trouble, I’d take him into his office and we’d talk about it and I’d sort it out for him, so it was….it was a bit strange really, as I say, maybe not that sort of controllable type of person really, but….he did enjoy that fact that he could be completely open with me and I was completely open with him. Everybody thought he was severe but he never was with me, so I ended up doing that and we made a lot of model buildings for this big village that they were wanting to…it was some sort of project that they were doing that required us to make these things and we all did that as well, but it was great fun and a great melting pot of different people, I mean I think I started to listen to a lot of different music then. There was things like Throbbing Gristle and……oh God lots of David Silvian and….stuff like that and lots of weirder stuff that I’d never heard before that I really got into; people bringing their own sort of cassettes I think in those days and stick ‘em on the machine, and I got to listen to a lot of still and while I was working we always had music on, which was very interesting, and….I think I left…..I can’t remember how long I was there but at first you started and you only did a couple of days I think, then that went to three days and eventually you’d go full time, so while I was doing part-time I had to make up the money so I went out on the streets of Lincoln; there’s a big precinct in Lincoln that’s all paved and there was a lot of pavement artists down there, and I thought ‘well this is ideal for me’ so I’d go up there and say about nine in the morning or nine-thirty, I never have been a morning person, I’d go and buy all my chalks and pastels from the art shop and I’d go down with my little box, down to the…..find a little spot, sort of patch, checking all the people on the way, and I’d start drawing, and within about an hour I could usually sort of like fill an area…..six by six, maybe sometimes a little bit bigger

     

    TW:

    What kind of pictures did you do?

     

    AJC:

    Well I used to do….there was a thing that I used to like a lot; I used to love 2000 AD comic, and it wasn’t necessarily for the stories but I used to love the drawings in there which was why I think I would have been better at doing illustrations, and there’s one….it was a big sort of dragon like sea monster pounding out of the sea and when I did….I think it was A Levels or O Levels I copied this thing in inks and….. it was quite heavy, but I always liked the picture, so I actually copied that onto the pavement – huge things – and that was one of the popular ones I did; it was often sort of…..and the other one I did, of course being in Lincoln it’s got an amazing cathedral which you can see from where I am on the precinct, so I used to….I used to draw the cathedral quite a lot and what I’d do, because a lot of these people were…..I mean, I think it was my mum and dad say, ‘you can see them copying, I said I know, this is wrong, so I’m gonna sort of half copy, so what I used to do, I’d have a picture and I’d…in that first hour I would frantically swipe, because I was trained in fine art and drawing really big pictures and so I could do things really quickly, especially with chalk because there’s no resistance, so I’d knock these things out really quickly, so there’s the cathedral there and once I’d got the basic structure of it which didn’t take very long at all, maybe twenty minutes, I’d start to…..I’d start to colour it in because it didn’t matter, I’d decide which way the light’s coming in and so in an hour or so I’d done, and could see the other pavement drawers, and they might be doing something like the Mona Lisa and they’d got as far as the eye, I mean there were some very nice eyes, but it’s like ‘come on!’ they wouldn’t be finished by the end of the day, and of course I’m done and people are wandering by and all I’m doing then because there’s a bit of a breeze blowing across - it blows all the chalk off – I’m heightening the colours as the day goes on, and sometimes I’m moving the sun and changing the actual sky and the shadow as it goes across the cathedral, so that it actually lives as they’re actually passing by, so they can see the changes as they’re going by. I made quite a lot of money out of this and after that I actually teamed up with somebody and we both, together, did enormous pieces and we based it for some reason on…..was it…..Art Nouveau mermaids; it was quite specific [laughing]

     

    TW:

    Right. Why did you pick that?

     

    AJC:

    No idea, so there was all these sea things……I’m saying mermaids, they were all sea scenes but there was a few with mermaids; I’ve no idea….I think we just had a book and we really liked the illustrations

     

    TW:

    Did you think it was a good….like money spinner then?

     

    AJC:

    Well we thought so yeah, in fact what we decided to do was….we decided that the local St Bernard’s Hospice, we had a chat with them and said ‘look, can we give you a donation if we can use your name to go out on the streets and say all profits to St Bernard’s Hospice and we’ll give you….we’ll give you a percentage’ and they said ‘absolutely brilliant; we’ll obviously accept whatever’ and we said ‘well obviously we’ll advertise you as well and we’ll give you some money’ so we did do all profits to St Bernard’s Hospice; of course ‘all profits’ is how much you decide really; we thought……at the time I think it was about twelve per cent so we ended up giving them about twenty per cent, because we thought ‘no, we’ll be far more generous than most people are’ so we thought twenty per cent off whatever we earned, and we could earn like about……getting on for a hundred quid back in that time, just for doing these pavement drawings between the two of us…..I can’t remember the guy’s name….for some reason we used to call him Penny, and to this day I can’t remember why we called him Penny, but we used to have all nicknames and he was Penny and I was Creedy, as I’ve never been called by my first or second name very often; the response is usually, if somebody calls me Andrew, it’s like ‘yes Mum’ so I tell people this and they don’t want to call it me anymore, especially blokes, so…..yeah we did these things. One day we’d done a massive one, and I said these were all water things, and the clouds opened, and it was like the rains we’ve been having in Hebden Bridge this year in 2012, and they literally opened up and poured down, and we could watch and actually saw the chalk illustration lift up off the pavement, float down the street and go down the drain. It was absolutely out of this world; never seen anything like it, because it’s chalk of course, and we’d just about finished this enormous piece; it was probably about…..twelve foot by twelve foot probably, maybe even a bit bigger; it filled the entire area, you couldn’t walk past it without noticing it, so it was gonna be a real extravaganza. We’d pulled out all the plugs for this one, it was just like ‘come on’ and then it rained, lifted off the pavement, went down the drain and it was like ‘what can we do?’ so we drew a big long line and people started following this line, and when they got of the line and this arrow’s pointing in the direction, it pointed to a bench, and me and Penny were just sort of there looking miserable deliberately [laughing] and eventually the press turned up and interviewed us, and we sort of like told them about this, and we got back on board once the rain had gone because it was this huge shower and we started drawing again; we did the whole thing again and we got loads of money and we got the press that came in, the police even came in and started to give us money because they were that impressed that we hadn’t given up [laughing]….we used to take in terms so we’d carry on drawing while the other one went to the pub and had a few pints and came back…..so yeah, pavement drawing was a way that we filled in for…..for cash, and that was it; I was back in Lincoln, but I moved on from there you see.

     

    TW:

    To where?

     

    AJC:

    Well I had a girlfriend in Lincoln that I….it was my first girlfriend ever; I didn’t actually have a girlfriend till I was nineteen, well no…..I suppose it would be a little bit before I suppose, but I’d never…..I’d never had sexual liaisons at all until I was nineteen because it was all very different in them days, even though I do youth work with a lot of people nowadays I wouldn’t have known any of the things that I’m very upward about now, but yeah, nineteen and…..she eventually went over to…..she came over to Halifax…..I’m trying to think when it was…..it was when I was in Croydon. She….no I went over to Croydon so when I was away for the year she was in Lincoln but I came back every other week, believe it or not with my laundry, when I eventually moved out of the bed and breakfast into a flat, I’d no idea; totally wet behind the ears; there was buckets behind my ears, and so I’d bring my laundry back for my mum to do, and to see my girlfriend; I don’t think she ever did come over to London but I sort of didn’t want her to; it was a right tip! I do remember one night in the place where I was, the building where I was with these other two art students; there was…..there was actually…we’d had a party and there was water…..water falling down the stairs; I think we’d been to Tesco for some booze and we came back with the shopping trolley full, and the shopping trolley [laughing] – we had some mad parties – when we used to go in the local pub which was done out like a big Mississippi boat, they used to put The Young Ones on the screen so we did look like The Young Ones!

     

    TW:

    [laughing]….which one were you?

     

    AJC:

    I was the hippy; I was Neil! [laughing]…we had punk Tony and this weird jazz guy downstairs - I loved all the music – I didn’t mind everything, I loved the punk, I loved the jazz and what I was listening to and it was great. But anyway yeah, so when I came back I thought ‘brilliant’ you know, I think we’d……she’d been seeing somebody while I was away and I couldn’t believe this, so I’d resisted heavily, because I’m like that and still am, and yeah she’d gone off with somebody and I knew the guy that she’d gone off with and I knew the guy that she’d gone off with and….I met him and I thought ‘I’m gonna reverse tactics here, I’m not gonna do what normal people do’ I’d never had it happen to me before and I thought ‘what’s the point getting angry with him; he’s not gonna tell me anything is he’ so I actually became very friendly with him, knowing full well what he’d done. I don’t think he was actually with her at the time but he was the reason why we split up…..so I was just really really nice to him and…..I went back to his place and stuff like that; he was really generous; he used to buy me pints and get me stoned and everything, it was great [laughing]….I thought ‘this is wonderful, I haven’t got a girlfriend but I’ve got somebody who I know is gonna tell me something one day!’ and I’m in a pub and he does, he says ‘I’ve got to tell you something Creedy’ and I went ‘alright then mate, what is it?’ he says ‘I’m the reason that you and Debs split up’ and I went ‘I know’….. ‘no no…’ I said ‘no, I’ve known for ages; I’ve known since the day; it doesn’t bother me’ and he says ‘but surely…’ I said ‘it takes two to tango – get me a pint if you want’ he says ‘no I want you to hit me’ I says ‘I’m not gonna hit you’ [laughing]…. ‘why would I do that? What kind of satisfaction is that gonna give you? No, forget it, go and get me a pint, it’s alright, forget it’ and eventually me and Debs did get back together after this, curiously…..and she moved over to Halifax because she wanted to do nursing training, so she came over to Halifax doing nursing training; this job I was doing at…….at….Community Enterprise Agency doing…making the models and the painting, and doing bits of pavement drawing. That came to an end completely; the whole place was shut down; there was no longer any funding for it…..I’d qualified as a sign writer, and just as I was going out to do sign writing, it was nearly on the same week they invented this machine that did plastic cut out letters…..nobody wanted signs, it was ‘ahh, thanks very much’ [laughing] That was a waste of bloody time! [laughing] So I thought ‘right, well everything’s come to and end here; my girlfriend’s over in Halifax’ and I kept coming over and visiting, stayed at the Halls of Res; nobody’s supposed to stay especially blokes, but we did; got to hear a lot of bands that I thought were absolutely out of this world. Lincoln, the problem with Lincoln was, there was no outlet for music. I did do a few gigs while I was over there; I played with a band called…the first band was called The Graveyard Stompers…..which is very interesting

     

    TW:

    So you’d been playing music while you’d been doing all this art then; you’d also been playing at the same time?

     

    AJC:

    Absolutely, yeah, in fact it was music that…..coaxed me away from art really, I mean I used to, when I was a kid I used to draw all the time; I never used to go anywhere, I remember this without a little sketch book, but once I got into music it took over a little bit, and started to get into that, so yeah, as I was away…when I left….when I was at Croydon I probably spent more time playing music than I did doing art, and I started writing a lot of songs there….there was little else to do [laughing]….well there was actually, between parties I’d probably do a lot of playing; it was just one year of parties really……and….and so I sort of brought that back with me, I’m trying to think of when I actually…..no it was while I was away that I got my first acoustic guitar, proper acoustic guitar, it was actually…..in fact the first guitar that was of any use whatsoever I think…..when I was about sixteen my dad bought me my first guitar and, I remember it well, it was a Star…..a Sunburst Eros Les Paul copy and he bought me a little practice amp which I used to have on full with a fuzz pedal…..all the time [laughing]….and the neighbours loved it…..it wasn’t……you could hear it all the way down the street by all accounts, but the next door neighbours….they also…..I think one of them played the drums and one played the bass, and we used to jam with each other; not in the same room; through the walls……the neighbours usually got a bit annoyed by this but my mother was very very good at sticking up for me [laughing]…..because she wanted me to have a good time. My parents were absolutely fantastic, I mean…….I’d had…..because they were a little bit older as far as other parents were concerned, so…..because they had me very late, I mean I was….she was nearer to the age, she was on the age where she couldn’t have any more kids, and my brother’s ten years older than me; my dad…..ten or eleven years older than me…..my dad just assumed that….she didn’t want to have any more kids because she had…..she nearly died and so did he…..my brother, in his birth……so my dad assumed that she didn’t want any more and you know, as you know, assume makes an ass out of you and me, and……and so she did and so that’s fine and I came along; I did have to ask her at one time ‘are you sure I wasn’t an accident? Eleven years mum, what’s going on?’ you know, because my brother left me, well he left everybody but I always thought he left me when I was six; he was sixteen….very very upset about that…..it really did…..in many ways didn’t do any good; he went off to Germany to the RAF and did a lot of that. When I was younger, when I was about eight, I thought ‘ah I’ll join him in the RAF’ until I realised that the RAF was involved with…..with war, and nasty things, and I was……I thought ‘well this is not right; I’ve always been into peace’……in fact until I was five, one of my earliest memories was of the time when they put me in a school and I was sat there with a duffle coat on with my feet against a tree, watching everybody in the playground and argue over a game of football, and I just couldn’t believe this; I thought ‘why has my mother dropped me in such a place as this? This is awful. What are they blood arguing about? It’s only an inflatable ball.’ To this day I still have the same opinion…..and I don’t like any sport because to me it’s just……..over competitiveness that really is not doing anything to instil peace onto the planet, so I’ve always been a little bit like that….so yeah, first guitar, Eros Les Paul, when I was younger I used to play through the walls…..and….oh, let’s see now from there….

     

    TW:

    You were saying you were in Halifax and you were hearing all these bands that you had not heard before, that sort of side of things

     

    AJC:

    That’s right, yeah, because in Lincoln there just wasn’t anywhere to play so The Graveyard Stompers was the first band and it was basically a ridiculous band in many ways; there was a very tall bassist called Bealsy, one of my friends, and this guy on drums that was called Al or Mad Al was……and you think you’ve seen the mad drummer; you think you’ve seen……Keith Moon on a bad day, oh Jesus, you’ve seen nothing! This guy didn’t seem to be able to play more than about, I think I counted three straight beats before he put a fill in and that’s how he played; didn’t matter what he played, that’s how he’d do it, and when we actually…..and it was The Graveyard Stompers…we used to dress for that; I had a long coat and a top hat on with long hair, looking a bit Bolanish, Marc Bolanish, and Bealsy always wore a bowler hat which didn’t fit his head very well, so it wobbled around a little bit, and he had a face a bit like this, quite miserable looking, but he was quite chirpy really, you just didn’t think so, and he was about seven foot tall, [laughing] so he looked really funny; went down really well….we did some odd music, but yeah, so…..when we took Mad Al’s drum kit out of the place we were practising, which was I think Bealsy’s shed, there was just…..you could see where the drums had been by all the cigarette butts that were piled up around it…..cos he chain smoked completely; I think he ended up burning a load of bibles and he was sectioned; I think that’s what happened to him; we never saw him again….not that surprised really, so when I came over to Halifax there was a lot more places to play; there was loads of venues; Halifax was buzzing; there was The George….the top half was sort of like the…..the wallies as we used to call it…the towelling white sock brigade as I tended to call them, and down below was the….the rockers and the alternative crowd; the Goths and things like that, which I was far more comfortable in, but I could reside in the top half, put a jacket on and go to the top half, and mix there as well, but my hair was quite short then, well it was a bit peculiar really, it was like a…….ball-like and standing up, but it was still very curly, so I could sort of get away with either really if I wanted to, but yeah there was loads of bands around and one of the main reasons that I eventually went to Halifax, and I’ve told the band this many times, was the band called Fez; I really, really liked Fez…it was just something completely different; I didn’t have a genre…..it’s sort of prog psychedelic I suppose, even to this day, and they’re still going which is testament to how bloody good they are…..there was a lot of other bands but they really stuck in my mind for some reason, and I thought ‘well if you’ve got a band like that, then this is the kind of place I wanna be’ and I’d come to the end of this thing at the Community Enterprise Agency, and I was in Lincoln; there was nothing really going on, so I thought ‘well, sod it’ and I’d got to that age where I think……I think I’d become a vegetarian; I realised that……well I knew that I didn’t like meat at all; I never really did; I picked out bits, so everything had just changed really; I’d got to that stage in my teens when it was a bit difficult really…..I’d had very little arguments with my dad; not much because my dad was always very placid, and I thought ‘right, sod it; I’m going – I’m off’ and off I went. I remember my mum and dad at the train station, my dad sort of took me to one side and said ‘you know son, you should never trust a woman’

     

    [laughing]

     

    TW:

    Really?

     

    AJC:

    Yeah, and of course I never did take that advice; I trust everybody [laughing] but he was right as it’s turned out! [laughing] He could have said ‘don’t trust a man either’ but I sort of understood what he was saying; I think what he was saying was ‘I know you’re going up there to be with your girlfriend’ sort of thing ‘but it might not all work out’ – I think that’s what he meant, I think that’s what he meant, cos for me….I tend not to differentiate….to my own sort of disdain sometimes, but, so I thought ‘okay’ so off I went…….to start a new life but actually arrived in Halifax at my girlfriend’s house, Debs at the time…..she was in a really funny mood and I couldn’t quite get this; I thought ‘brilliant, this is it; we can live our dreams darling’ you know ‘together at last…..tripping over the hills, through the corn, listening to Fez’[chuckling]……but she was in a really funny mood and I couldn’t quite work out what was going on, and eventually sort of like she was talking to friends and I was thinking ‘what’s going on?’ and a friend sort of told me ‘well she’s a bit tentative; she thought she wanted this, but now it’s a reality…..she’s a bit doubtful’…..I thought ‘well okay’…..anyway, it eased off a little bit, but I think it was probably about a year or so later, maybe two years that we actually did eventually split up; I think we’d been together for five years on and off, because there was that time when I was at college and…..so this was the last try really, basically, but we eventually got a little house together; we shared and got a little house together and yeah, eventually we just…..we just mutually split up, leaving me with this house and a rent that I couldn’t afford, so I…..I can’t remember; there was another band around at the time called Broadcast that I’d really got into……and that’s the first time I met a guy called Paul Holmes…..there was a guy called Phil Wilson; Ian Watson was a drummer and that was the link; Ian Watson was one of the guys who used to go round to the nursing home…..with a best friend of Debs who I used to go out with, so we used to sort of like you know, get up to antics in the corridors and things like that, and it was nearly……you know, we used to support each other so I got to know him and I got to know his band. The band was called XLab at the time, the original one, then he moved to this band called Broadcast, so I got to know all these and then my mate Shack who I know to this day, was the keyboardist so Paul Holmes was looking for somewhere to…..to live, so he moved in - I think he’d had a similar experience - he moved in with me and instantly it became a party house; absolutely mad house……lots of surreptitious smoking and drinking went on in that house…..lots and lots of music; we combined our musical collections and we had some fabulous stuff so the house was just…..people just used to pop round at all hours of the day; it was generally about thirteen people in the living room, absolutely insane; brilliantly artistic, creative house…..lots of things went on; we did…..I think we hardly ever watched television; we didn’t have to; there was far too much of everything else going on really……wonderful times in many, many ways; hazy days……. [laughing] …..very heady…..I ended up joining Broadcast; they asked me to play - their guitarist had pulled out - and so……obviously I sort of jumped at the chance, went into it and I’d been doing little solo things; I actually did another dream thing when I came over; I actually ended up supporting Fez, doing little solo performances, which to this day I’ve started doing again so it’s….it’s great, in fact the last time they played after me which felt really peculiar, at a recent thing at The Trades, it was just because of the order of things, but I ended up having to play after Fez; it was peculiar, but loved it, you know, it was great; it went down really well, but……so yeah, Broadcast, I went into that, and they were doing really well and I ended up supporting Dave and Allen, they always wanted to support Gong, that’s the closest they got…..doing really well, and…..I met Shack, but the thing is with the band, Ian Watson the drummer……and the bassist Phil Wilson, used to argue like hell and Paul would sort of like join in and sort of….he’d end up being part of this, and the only person that wasn’t really arguing with Shack on keyboards…..I don’t really argue that much, or I didn’t; I have had my moments, but I thought it was a bit like back at that tree when I was five, watching them play football and thinking ‘why are you arguing?’ [laughing] ‘where’s the creativity in that?’ so I’d just like go and lean on the keyboards and have a chat with Shack, thinking ‘just let them get on with it, eh?......What are you doing this weekend?’ blah blah….we got to know each other really well. Eventually I left; they got rid of me out of the band and got another guitarist in; I was always disappointed because he copied all my riffs, that’s great, I thought ‘well, actually on another scale, the riffs were damned good; the music doesn’t sound right but there aren’t many more’ so I thought ‘good, I’m glad you can’t copy my riffs’…..got to know them all a little bit, and kept on seeing Shack, I mean Paul was still staying with them which was a bit difficult, being sacked from the band and sharing a house with the guy, but it was alright; we were really good friends. Incidentally, after a year of Paul being with me, just under a year, he said ‘it’s my birthday next week’ because we got on really well; I couldn’t believe how well I was getting on with this guy, and I says ‘well it’s my birthday’s next week as well’…..he says ‘well, what day’s yours?’ I said ‘well mine’s on Monday’ he said ‘well mine’s on Monday as well’…..I says ‘we’re both born on the third of January! That’s why we get on!’ and we were, and we are very similar; to this day, on our birthdays, we both wish each other ‘Happy Birthday’, and every time we see each other it’s always the same; he’s very creative now, he does a lot of…..video, well not video, visual stuff and he’s….I think he’s Head of Department at Bradford University and….he went quite academic at one stage, and still, right down to earth; still wears his cap, still got his long ponytail, still very much Paul Holmes…….and that’s also the first time I saw Shack, so….and Shack’s somebody that I work with to this day, but mainly in a radio capacity; we never did really get together with much more music….so yeah where’s that brought us to; where are we now?

     

    TW:

    Well you’re through Fez, Broadcast…….you’re still in Halifax

     

    AJC:

    Still in Halifax, yeah, I’m still in Halifax; I stayed in Pear Street for quite some time, but the partying died eventually, after two and a half years and several people….because a mate of mine, Sean, also came there; there were other bands which I’d almost forgotten about actually. There was……a friend of mine, Sean, Sean Williams who now lives in Malvern I think it is, and they….he…..that’s it, when I went out with Debs, before Paul even moved in, I had to take a job; she said ‘you’re gonna have to get a job’ because I was on the dole, and so I thought ‘oh I’ll just apply for any job’ so I applied…..for the first job I saw which was at the DSS, or DHSS at the time, in Huddersfield as a Clerical Assistant; I thought it was a Clerical Officer actually. I thought ‘why not, okay; sounds easy enough; got to do something’ so I was quite chuffed by this and celebrated the night before, a little too heavily, massive hangover the next day and I had a zoot suit which came up to here; it was hardly appropriate but in Lincoln a lot of people wore zoot suits and really old 1950’s jazz clothes, and so I thought ‘well it’s the only one I’ve got’ so I looked a bit strange, and I had to run up the hill because I was late for this interview, and then eventually got there and I was absolutely parched, and in the interview I was looking at this carafe of water and I was licking my lips a little bit because I was dry as hell and they said ‘you can have a drink of water if you want’ and I fills my glass three times and downs it [laughing] and drank the lot - this was the beginning of the interview – and they carry on sort of like asking me sort of silly questions; one was ‘how would you say that sort of like geographically Lincoln differs from Halifax?’ I did A Level Geography and one of the things I did really do was Economic Geography, so I went into this thing called Chris Starmer’s Theory of Urban Revolution and…..and described it all; it’s something to do with….I can’t remember now…..something to do with splitting everything up into hexagons; you split conurbations up into hexagons, so I went into this and they’re like…….it was not what they expected at all [laughing]….I answered them completely literally, and then they eventually said ‘why do you wanna become a……do the job’ I said ‘well I feel I’m really good at working with people’ and things like that, and they said ‘well you’ve got to be good at working with people if you’re a Clerical Assistant’ I said ‘I thought it was a Clerical Officer’ so I even got the job title completely wrong, but ‘there’s no way I’m gonna get this job’ and I thought ‘well maybe good’ but they must have been desperate because they did actually phone me back and I was on a list of sorts and started working there; never my cup of tea, but I met Sean Williams there and….and…….and so he was a bit down on his luck; he’d split with his wife and he was saying ‘can I stay at yours for a couple of weeks’ and I says ‘course you can mate’ so me and him were sort of like thick as thieves; we both joined the union and then, because there was a big party going on permanently, that I didn’t want to miss out on; we were both often off sick on a regular basis, often together, and of course if they ever came and…..and some of them got a bit annoyed and said, you know……’can’t have this’ because once we was in Blackpool; we all sort of like went…..we was together with two other lasses; we weren’t going out, we were just having a great time, and we all decided to phone in sick so we could go to Blackpool, so we went to Blackpool and me and Sean went back to work a couple of days later because we had a day to get over Blackpool, as you do…….and [laughing] this woman was not very happy with us and she was saying ‘what were you doing at Blackpool then?’….. ‘what do you mean?’….. ‘what were you doing in Blackpool? You were in Blackpool weren’t you because I saw you’….. ‘yeah we was in Blackpool; what’s the problem?’ she said ‘well you were off sick!’ and we said ‘that’s right; doctor’s orders……he said ‘go and get a bit of the old sea air’ she says ‘what both of you?’ we said ‘well we both felt a bit crook, we both share the same place….you know, these things just pass around’ [laughing]….and they said ‘right’ and they got very angry about this…. ‘we’re gonna see our union representative about this’ and they said ‘I think you should’ we says ‘well we will’ and they said ‘well I really think you should’….. ‘we will!’ I says ‘do you know who our union representative is?’ they went ‘no’ I says ‘there’s two of ‘em – me….and him’ [laughing]….we were the union representatives…..we says ‘we’ll have a meeting and we’ll have a talk with ourselves about it and we’ll make sure that it comes up at the next meeting; see you later’ so it was like….and I think we took the next day off sick, through stress…..eventually it got to the stage where….I think we were allowed…oh it must have been…..I think it was a year or even two years before they actually…..you had to go…..to see their doctor to prove there was nothing wrong with you; I’d seen something on….Only Fools and Horses about irritable bowel syndrome, and the fact that it’s almost traceless, and you can have any symptom and it seems to go with it, and I thought ‘brilliant….great, I’ll use that’ so I used to put irritable bowel syndrome on the forms when I was sick, and irritable bowel syndrome and eventually it would be…yeah, you guessed it, irritable bowel syndrome…..yeah, definitely, irritable bowel syndrome once more! It was just getting stupid and I thought ‘well they’ll have to suss it out eventually’ you know…..and the [incomp], my officer above, absolutely loved me, because he knew what I was doing – he absolutely knew what I was doing, and he’d have me in his office, and I remember once I’d come in at two o’clock in the afternoon and I was supposed to have been there at nine or something like that; he said ‘go on then, what’s your excuse?’ I says ‘it’s not an excuse, it’s the truth’ he says ‘go on, give me the truth’ I says ‘right, and this is the truth’ I says ‘I had a dream….and the dream was that I was at work, and I went through an entire day at work doing all this mundane stuff that you want us to do’ and I says ‘then I woke up and can you imagine my distress, to find I’d done a full day’s work and I have to come here again!’ and he says ‘oh my God’ he says ‘off you go’ [laughing]…..and it was the truth. Eventually though, I had to leave and it was like on the day that sort of like the…..well on the week that they wanted me to go to see their doctor and I thought, you know ‘game’s up isn’t it; game’s up, I’ll have to come clean’ so I wrote them a resignation letter which was comical…..cos they all had sort of like little acronyms there, sort of like it would be, you know, AA would be Adminastrive Assistant, CEO….it was all that kind of stuff, so at the end of my……I think my, something like, my resignation letter saying ‘I’d like to say what a pleasure it has been working with you all. However, we all know this is not true’ and eventually it said ‘as you probably know, the task of humble Administrative Assistant is hardly my cup of tea’ and then I said something about my potential of going into music and saying ‘one day this might come to fruition and I will be in the position to offer you free tickets to an up and coming gig’ and this was going at the end of it…..I signed it ‘Yours Faithfully or whatever…..A J Creedy AA GONE’ [laughing]…..and the boss, the boss, the guy at the very top of the building who you hardly ever saw, for the first time ever, came down and shook my hand, and says ‘oh we’ve all had a great laught with your resignation letter’ he says ‘we’ve photocopied it and put it up all around the building’ [laughing]….and they had….he says ‘I really do wish you luck mate’ he says ‘obviously this is not the choice for you; I can see you’ve got far more potential than that’

     

    TW:

    Have you ever written a song about that?

     

    AJC:

    No I never have; I never have written a song about that actually; not that I’m aware of anyway [laughing]…..I should do really because it was hilarious, and eventually left there; went to get signed on again and started to do a bit more music, and went back to the party, which finished two and a half years later; we took…..Sean [sp]would bring in another person from the street that he’d met that was homeless or something like that and I’d go ‘go on then he can stay’…eventually the bloody floor was full of people and I’d have my room upstairs…Paul would have his room, then downstairs was basically where anybody wanted to sleep; never did ask any money off them, I don’t know why; I think I’ve always been a bit over generous really, but…..you know, we just carried on; I never asked any money off anybody and I just let them stay and…..they created a mess and occasionally we’d have to sort of put our feet down and say ‘come on guys, can you help us tidy up?’ you know, and occasionally they would, but yeah, eventually that closed down and I was left in…..I think at that time….what was I doing at the time….Sean and myself….and his girlfriend Laurel who also slept downstairs, so they couldn’t go to bed at night until we went to bed, and then they’d put all the cushions together; they had this big elastic thing, a cover, that would keep all the cushions together, and that was their bed for the night. We played in the band; we used to practise upstairs in the bedroom, called The Creed and The Colour…..and we used to introduce it and say ‘we’re called The Creed and the Colour because the name don’t matter…..and we’ll be there…..after the hymn’ [laughing]…….which funnily when we used to sing in assembly at school, it used to be…the song is [singing] ‘and the creed and the colour and the name don’t matter, I was there’ and when it got to the bit about creed, everybody that knew me, which was quite a few people, used to shout ‘creed’ so it would be ‘and the creed and the colour and the name don’t matter’ and the headmaster would look up and he’d never understand what was going on, but that was what was going on, so The Creed and The Colour.....which was peculiar because we hadn’t got…he was the drummer, Sean was a frustrated drummer really because he hadn’t got a drum kit; we hadn’t got any money, we were all skint; couldn’t afford to buy a drum kit; couldn’t borrow one, hadn’t even thought of it; I’d updated my practice amp from years ago, it had a PA now, an H&H PA, which I carried around with me, it was a nice four channel, all lit up in green with a speaker that somebody had made me, which I actually carried across Wandsworth Common when I left Croydon…..along with big canvasses…..I was a donkey; I’ve always been a bit of a donkey as far as carrying stuff….all across Wandsworth Common to get a lift from my…..cousin’s husband or whatever when I moved back to Lincoln…anyway, I’d still got this thing so we had a PA…..and he…..he didn’t have any drum kit but he eventually bought…the first thing he could find was he went in the Argos catalogue……and…. though other catalogues were available… and he found this thing called a Yamaha DD10 which has got loads of drum pads on it, and you can assign different sounds to these drum pads; it was a cheap drum….well drum machine but it had loads of pads, and he played on this and what he worked out was you could actually pre-programme it and do it live, near enough, so he’d play on this drum machine, plug that into the thing and that’s what he’d play on, and he got quite adept at this; his girlfriend, Laurel, could sing a little bit, and she did more of the ooh-aahs behind what I was doing so I’d do the main vocals and the guitar; I’d use a sampler pedal which was quite swish for those days really, a Yamaha thing, a Yamaha DD10; I tried to buy one recently….you can get ‘em, but it would do….was it…..I think it was about….I don’t know if it was in two seconds, maybe it might have been two or three seconds of sample, which was fine because it means that with the volume pedal you can just fade in like a keyboard sound and then lock it and you’d have somebody to play at the top of, so I’d use this quite skilfully over the top and the whole piece of music was basically me and the drum machine; we needed a bassist so we….we advertised and instantly this guy came in, and he was called Paul Walsh, and we called him Turtle……he did look like a turtle; he looked like Touche Turtle a little bit; he had……he had these little round glasses, and I don’t know…..he did look like a turtle; you could almost imagine him with a little beak; he had a beaky sort of mouth, it wasn’t very big, and he still can’t remember why he said this, but he did actually say ‘I want you to call me Turtle’ and he doesn’t remember this, but it could have been worse; it could have been ‘I want you to call me Shirley….I want to have babies’ you know, it wasn’t that; it was…..and he doesn’t remember him saying this; he’s often said ‘why do you call me Turtle?’ and we says ‘you told us to call you Turtle’…. ‘and it’s stuck… you call me bloody Turtle now’ so he’s still called Turtle to this day, but he was…..he was a great lad, good bassist, so this was the band; this was The Creed and The Colour’, and we used to practise upstairs, in my bedroom…..which was blue walls, sky blue walls; it was when we pretty much moved out….yeah, it was pretty much when we moved in……but there’d…..there’d been……posters on there and we’d taken blutac off, so rather than repainting the room which was expensive; I couldn’t afford that much paint, but I did have some white paint thought, that somebody had given me for free, so I painted clouds to cover up….to obliterate….so I had this lovely cloud that was like sitting in the heavens, to cover up where all the blutac had been [laughing]…..so this was where we played. Next door neighbours weren’t that keen on it, but they’d sort of got used to us by now, and…..we was partying all the time, so…..so yeah we practised in there; we did a few gigs and they sort of…..they loved it, it was very alternative; well ahead of its time; nobody was using drum machines, not as cheap as that anyway…..and it was a live drum machine as well so it was, even though it was quite cheap, it was…..it was really peculiar cos I was writing some very expansive pieces that……that totally changed; the time signatures would shift slightly here and there to say the least, they were long pieces; to this day I still write very long pieces of music, and…..yeah we did….we did play a few gigs including a friend of mine’s….a guy unfortunately called…..well his family name’s Sleigh, and his parents decided to call him Bob…….and he’s recently got married…..in 2012; this was his first marriage and he invited us along as the band, to play, and he loved us….to play at…..he was a resident of Pear Street so he used to come round all the time, and get rather squiffy with us, and…..and so, yeah, Bob got us to do this…..this wedding, upstairs at the Brearley Bends, just…..not far from where we are now really, a pub now closed unfortunately, just near Ludd Foot, and

     

    TW:

    The Grove?

     

    AJC:

    The Grove it’s called, yeah…..yeah, so upstairs in there was a function room, that’s where we did the gig, that’s where we did the wedding; it was rather peculiar, and we couldn’t quite work out why he wanted us to play a wedding cos although some of the tunes were okay, we never did any cover versions; to this day I still don’t do cover versions; I can see the point of doing somebody else’s music; you don’t know what their intent was when they wrote it, so I tend to avoid it. I’ve been forced to do it in the past, but never really enjoyed it…..but one of the songs we thought was particularly inappropriate and the one he wanted the most was called Chapatti Kittens …..and it was a little story that I created; there was basically…..in fact I think we just did it one night when we was pretty stoned, me and Sean, and it was…..it was about the….this story of some people that were……poor and on the dole, students I think, and they were really hungry, and a car had run down a kitten and because it was dead - they didn’t believe in death - they ate it, and so it was called Chapatti Kittens; it was quite cruel [laughing] and Sean wrote the lyrics to it which went something like ‘you’re furry you’re black’….what was it…. ‘you’re furry you’re black, and you’re flat’…. ‘you’re furry you’re black and you’re flat on your back in the road now. You’ve had all your dinner, but you’re looking thinner, you’d look well in my frying pan now. Chapatti kitten’s covered in oil, covered in something, chapatti kitten’s covered in blood, covered in goo’ [laughing] so it was a comedy thing, but it was quite…it was quite an eastern sort of…..sound; very very peculiar, again, quite ahead of its time; almost Moroccan, which was odd….so, they loved this, even with the odd lyrics and they all sung along to Chapatti Kittens and I thought ‘this is really odd – a wedding, singing Chapatti Kittens [laughing]….fair enough, fair enough, but that was effectively the first band over here, one of the first bands on my own over here, apart from doing my own solo stuff with Fez and supporting other people……so, that went on for a little while and eventually Sean moved….Sean got a drum kit; he actually got some money, not much, and bought this cheap, shoddy drum kit; it was appalling, it was really really nasty, and I think he…he ended up…..somebody gave him some drumsticks, which came from….I think his parents lived down in Malvern, where he lives now, and has done for years, and the drumsticks actually came from the drummer of one of my favourite bands which is XTC, so we had XTC’s drumsticks which I thought was fantastic; didn’t make the drums sound any better, they were crap, but we got a little mill - I think they do this nowadays - a practice room in Sowerby Bridge, which is opposite the…..the waste site, the waste disposal site, and we used to play in there, and Fez also played in there all; it was all quite incestuous really along the way, so we played in this place and…..horrible, horrible place with just bare bricks….breezeblock walls, a little bit damp but it was alright you know, it wasn’t too bad. We were luckier than most cos a lot of people got their stuff nicked from there; it was regularly broken into, but there wasn’t anywhere else to play really, so we was in there, and by this time we were….we’d changed our name…..and yeah, the bassist had stuck with us; I think Laurel had moved on, who was the backing singer doing the ooh-aahs, and so we had this crap drum kit, my not very good PA [chuckling], some borrowed microphones; there’s a long trail of poverty here…..the bassist and myself, and we….we formed a band called Neat Eric, and for some reason this was just a little phrase that Sean used to have; if something was really good he’d go ‘ah, neat Eric’…..never did understand it, but I thought it was quite a nice name for a band so we were called Neat Eric; I think previous to that we was called Think……not that it really worked….but Neat Eric, so Neat Eric ……Sean really loved…..he got me into……lots of jazz and Gong and stuff like that….Steve Hillage and Herbie Hancock, and stuff that I’d never heard before, and got me into alternative time signatures and….so this band was based around just doing alternative time signatures and….a lot of songs that we did were based around this, and I’d written stuff that was….that was so complicated that I could rarely get to the end of it, nor could Sean, but we loved it, so we kept playing….kept playing with this stuff, and to this day nobody ever did get to hear it and I don’t think I’ve got a copy of any of it

     

    TW:

    Oh really? Not at all?

     

    AJC:

    Not at all. I think

     

    TW:

    Not even the….was it just music or were there lyrics to it as well?

     

    AJC:

    I might have some of the lyrics somewhere, and yeah, I can vaguely remember how to play some of the songs, a couple of the songs…..so one was in like five-four timing; I can vaguely remember that, how to play that stuff……and…yeah, but there was a lot….I mean I think we did play a couple of the tunes that I played with previous…..the previous band I was with called The Creed and The Colour, and there was a few of the stuff that I originally did solo that I brought through into The Creed and The Colour, and still being used in Neat Eric, but we….we never did go out and play live; we….we were just never confident enough to do it; we just never thought we was good enough, but all the bands used to come in and listen to us and go ‘bloody hell’….they were just like mesmerised and……not surprised that we could rarely get to the end of it! I don’t think they ever noticed any mistakes, but we did, and it was just like murderously difficult bits we created for ourselves, but it had to be so…..so we never did go anywhere further from that, and…..but I stuck with it and then Sean eventually, I think….. ultimately cut if off; he went to Malvern and then he went down south; he….he’d met a girl and that was it; he went down south. I think he’s married with kids…..now, and we just lost touch, as I have with a lot of people over the years, because for me, even though I’ve had loads of friends, sometimes when everyone…..usually when they’ve had kids strangely, I just lose touch with them; not deliberately, it just happens that way, and even though nowadays everybody’s completely mad on sort of having so many friends on Facebook and things, personally I’d rather keep a comfortable amount in the focus and the circle that I’m in at the time, and……when I see the other ones that’s brilliant, but otherwise I’d spend my entire life trying to keep in touch with friends and not do anything, so……that was one thing, so Sean was off, and Turtle was still around, and….I think Laurel was still around, and……oh…..what happened then……we did another band and I can’t actually remember what it was called………this is a difficult one…..so we’re still in there…..yeah…..was it Eclipse…….oh what was that band? [laughing]…....we did play…..I was doing my solo thing, and I remember my prize possession that I got when I was in Pear Street, was this red 335….cherry red 335 electric guitar, and that’s what I was using…..that’s what I was using with Neat Eric before Sean left, and left me with this house in Pear Street, the party house; the party was dying …and….one night, just right at the end of being at Pear Street, I mean the house literally was pre-trashed for anybody that moved into it, to the extent that….. we’d seen the carpet, and when I moved the sofa, I was thinking ‘what’s all this basmati rice doing underneath the sofa?’ Never even had a curry or rice or anything like that, then I noticed it was moving, and it was moth larvae, so the carpet had been taken up and it was dumped outside; bare boards, there was nothing in there, the last residents of the party had gone, I was in there on my own, feeling a bit lonely and a bit lost, and my only prize possession was in the corner, this cherry red 335 guitar, and I was in town and there was this friend of mine….of a sort, that I knew, and this guy that was…..I didn’t really trust, well I didn’t really know him that much, but this guy, Mick, he sort of said ‘can he stay at your house tonight? He’s just a bit….he hasn’t got anywhere’…… I went ‘well for you Mick, I will do’ he says ‘he’s alright and stuff’ so he stayed on the sofa, I went to bed; the next day I got up; he’d gone and so had my guitar…….so I’d had my only thing in the entire house that was worth taking, he’d buggared off with it. Police came round and said ‘yeah, we know who he is’ and they says ‘he’s probably half way to Blackpool now, but we know who he is’ I says ‘well is there anything you can do about it’ they went ‘got to say you’ll probably never get your guitar back’ I went ‘ah, brilliant’ so I’d lost the only thing of value in my life at that time, and I was thinking ‘right, well what do I do here?’ and I think I’d got…I’d been waiting to see if I could get an acoustic guitar, and Les, out of Fez, had a shop, Piece Hall Music

     

    ---------------

     

    TW:

    Creedy take Two

     

    AJC:

    So, the 335 guitar was stolen and never got back; had to find a solution; it was that time in my life, as I say, that the room……there was nothing there, and it was quite sad; everybody that had…..the final few people that had gone into Pear Street were all gone and there was just me, and it was expensive to keep the place going. I think previously we had a drum kit in there on a wooden floor, and I think the neighbours got so annoyed, we didn’t hear them one night, and they claimed they were bashing on the glass door, double glazed door, so hard that their hand went through the window, but to be quite honest it looked like a brick to me…..there were the sort of skiing types; they used to have skis on top of their car, and they weren’t very happy with us, and to be honest I can’t blame them…..beg forgiveness guys, sorry about that one

     

    TW:

    So did you ever get your guitar back?

     

    AJC:

    No. Never got it back, so

     

    TW:

    Oh right. Carry on.

     

    AJC:

    Never got that guitar back……so, again, I didn’t have any cash but I think I moved to a……did I move to….I went to Piece Hall Music and asked Les to see if he could find me an acoustic guitar, because I’d seen him so many times in Piece Hall Music; we used to jam up there, which was how I got into Broadcast all that time back; the bassist said ‘can you come and play in our band?’…..so, Les phoned me up and said ‘I’ve got this guitar, this acoustic guitar for you’ and I went ‘is this a Takamine?’ and I hadn’t heard of it at the time; it was quite a good guitar; it’s here now……and so I thought ‘right’ so I got this acoustic guitar and I thought ‘that’ll do…..I’ll form an acoustic band’….no, I’d got this before the 335 actually, now I remember, so all I had left in my room I think I had the acoustic guitar, and I thought ‘right I’ve got the acoustic guitar’ I couldn’t do any of the electric stuff that I was doing, so I……. thought ‘I’ll form an acoustic band’ and I moved house……not so far after that, to a place called Mile End which was just up the road from where I was…..and my cat; there was me and this ginger tom called Red; he was……he was…. a party cat; he used to……there was a little bit of smoking going on in the room occasionally and the cat was hooked on this, and he would actually sit and breathe in……and follow it round the room, and occasionally, as he got to the top of the sofa, he’d go woah! [falling off] and he’d look as if ‘oh I meant to do that, I meant to do that’….tough cat; I saw him outside many a time, with…. I was quite proud of him… underneath a car, he’d got one cat pinned to the inside of the wheel and he was backing off with another paw, with the other paw, another one, and I’d go ‘alright Red’ and he’s still turn round and say ‘hello’…I thought ‘what a cool cat’……so I took him up to this other house, and not long after that he left me as well; it was quite sad, because he’d been my mate, but I watched him go and I always knew he was off, and I sort of followed him for a bit and I thought ‘right, he’ll either come back or’ and he didn’t, and I remember being really sad and sort of calling his name out when I was drunk and being in tears… ‘red’ [wailing] you know, in the night, and he never did come back…..I did find him once…..he was……he’d shacked up a bit further on with this old lady and I thought ‘well, I can’t take him away from her; he’s probably doing her a big service’ and he obviously didn’t want to come back with me; he said ‘hello’ to me then he buggered off; very clever cat; he used to sit on the end of my bed when I was ill; didn’t leave me alone; very clever cat; but anyway, that’s the cat. So there was me, completely on my own in here, with an acoustic guitar, and I thought ‘right, sod it, I’m forming another band’ and it seemed like it was almost in the same week. Turtle was up for playing bass, and a guy called Jez Hellands and his girlfriend Nicky……McCard I think her name was, now married, so both Hellands…..they turned up, and he plays percussion - he was heavily into folk – he had a band called Hills Like White Elephants which was a folk set up really; I wasn’t that heavily into folk music; I always found it a bit over the ear and [singing] ‘when my lassie comes home’……but I started looking to folk a little bit more as a result of Jez, and he played great percussion; he could sing, he was great with harmonies; she used to sing really well, she was great with harmonies; Laurel was still around out of the previous band, who did the ooh and aahs; now there was two of them doing the ooh and aahs, so we had two backing vocalists and me, the bassist and this percussionist guy, and we started off a band, and we practised in….in the room where we were there, and…..we were called Eclipse….which at the time was quite an original name. Shortly after that though, and again it’s a bit like……… the sign writing thing; as soon as I learnt sign writing they came up with the plastic cut-out letters; as soon as I came up with the name Eclipse, everything was called Eclipse…..there was the Ford Eclipse car, there was the washing machine The Eclipse, it was just everything was called Eclipse, it was like…..really stupid…..but we went out and played; we did a…..we used to play at the….The Puzzle quite a lot, and we used to play at The Woodcock quite a lot actually; maybe The Woodcock now I think of it….The Woodman Inn that’s now no more……just beyond Eastwood; we used to play there quite a lot as Eclipse, and they used to book us quite regularly really, even though again, we used to do mainly our own music, self-penned by me, and the band would sort of come up with their version of it; I think we had a cover version that we did which was Make Me Smile by Cockney Rebel which we did a version of, and we did Norwegian Wood which we did, because it’s a very short song, Norwegian Wood, great tune; always loved it, but to make it a little bit different we did it in three different……tempos, so it would start of normal, then when we got to the end of that it would speed up and we do another version of it, then the end of it was ridiculously fast, and audiences really liked that, so you know, at least they could……you know, grasp on something, so we only did two cover versions, but we got booked for quite a few things, and…..the posters, I designed the posters, and what I’d thought of Eclipse, you know…..orbs….so I had these orb shapes, so the letter ‘e’ would be shadowed out so it looked like a……and the ‘l’ would be like a curve, and the ‘i’ would be like a curve with a dot sort of like on it, so all these were joined together to make the word Eclipse, so this was on the wall in the pub, in The Woodcock in Halifax, down Gibbet Street, and one guy said once, he said ‘what you called? Ecogoose?’…cos it wasn’t that readable really from a distance [laughing]; it was clever, but it wasn’t very readable, which is probably why I should have done graphics; it just didn’t, so…..that’s quite a nice name that….so this place where I was staying, I had to get a lodger, and a guy called Adam, and we used to call him Taff, cos he was Welsh [laughing], and…..clever….and he was quite happy being called Taff, and he stayed with me, and he says ‘ah, it’s like a cartoon character’ and he did a sort of drawing of what he thought Ecogoose looked like and I sort of says ‘wouldn’t mind that’ so I sort of did a version of it myself, this….so it was this big sort of….fat-bellied goose…..with sort of like a…..an aphro, and….something hanging out the corner of its beak, and underneath its wing was the world, and this was….ended up being the album cover; under its arm was the world, and under its other wing was a pink feather duster……and it was dusting it off in space, so Ecogoose [laughin]….so this was the….we eventually did a recording…..so what did we do…..I think we did it for….it was very cheap…..I think we were just experimenting….that was it, yeah…there was a friend of ours, or of theirs, of Jez and Nicky’s, who worked at a place that did a lot of stuff, making electronics for the BBC in Burnley, can’t remember what it was called now, and they’d got this….cutting edge thing that was….a hard disc digital recorder, of course nowadays very common, but at the time never heard of, so this machine was there and we’d never seen anything quite like it, and he wanted to test it out so he chose us to test it out on, because he’s seen the gigs and liked them, so he came on to the practice room in Sowerby Bridge; by this time we’d moved to a slightly bigger one with big metal doors - very safe – Fez was in there, and…..and he recorded us over…..I think it was over….it might have been just one…..one day…..might have been a couple of days; over the weekend anyway, so we did everything live and he just recorded it, and then we went over to……to wherever it was….Burnley I think it was, and we were there for the sort of mixing side of it, and we came out with the first album which was called Out of Time…..if we’d have looked a bit further we’d have realised that REM also came out with an album called Out of Time [laughing], but it didn’t matter; it was Ecogoose and it was quite obvious with this huge goose with a blue rinse perm that, you know, it was us, the cassettes went really really well, lots of people really liked it; in fact James Bragg, the local musician, he always loved; in fact we’ve always got on; some people haven’t, but I’ve always got on because we’ve got this musical thing; he loved it; he said ‘the first four tracks on that album inspired me so much’ he said ‘and still to this day one of my favourite four tracks’….so, the album went fairly well, and….so from not having an electric guitar, suddenly we had this band…..which had become Eclipse, then Kev went on to become Ecogoose…..we did a Battle of the Bands competition in….in The Coliseum in Halifax……and there was Fez on the bill who we loved…..I think there was Little Big Man…..and I can’t remember all of the bands but, they were all brilliant, and we got onto stage and…..being an acoustic band we had a certain set up, but Jez used to have this set up where he’d have two congas here and an extendable foot pedal for his bass drum which would be at the other end of the stage, so he could actually run across and play a snare drum on that pedal, but he could also play the congas and keep the bass drum going, so we hadn’t got that; we’d got a drum kit and we’d had to use the same drum kit and all the same amps, which was a bit testing for us because these were all electric bands and we were acoustic, so….we had to go for it; I think I ended up plugging my acoustic guitar into a….a Marshall stack…….not the most acoustic sounding amps in the world; they do now, but not at the time – Marshall stack – so everything sounded really strange; suddenly it was a drum kit behind it; suddenly there was a little bit of distortion to the guitar…there was a guy called Steve Marsden….again, local musician, he was a multi-instrumentalist; he came and joined us as Ecogoose, and he used to play laptop steel, mandola….every week he’d turn up to record the…..the practice with a completely different piece of retro kit, you know, little min reel to reels and stuff like that; he’d have really old pedals; to this day he still likes his old weird stuff….which was fine, so we was all there; we did the…..the gig and came off and went ‘bloody hell that sounded strange don’t you think?’ the audience loved it and we thought ‘that’s not really how we’re supposed to sound’….so it came to the results and we’re all sat there; I think I was going out with a girl called Francis at the time, we were all there looking… and then he says ‘and the winners….Ecogoose’…..and we all looked at each other and went ‘they’ve got it wrong…..they’ve got it wrong…..Fez were playing…..they’ve got it wrong’….and of course we went up and….. ‘well thank you very much’….we’d won it; it was like we couldn’t believe it, but everybody said it was such a great performance….. ‘it’s not really us’…..I have actually got a recording of that; we did actually get a recording of it, and I must admit it does sound quite good [chuckling]……which I was quite impressed by; I never realised; but of course, all these years distant from it, I’ve forgotten about the….. ‘surely you don’t like this’ you know, but we won it, and I think we got a free recording but we never did take it….take it up for some reason; I’ve no idea why, but we got The Courier coming along and they wanted to take a picture of us and they did the usual standard thing….. ‘hold your instruments lads and stand on the bridge, we’re gonna’…. ‘that’s a bit clichéd…’….. ‘no that’s how we want you’ so there we are, so there’s a picture of us just stood there with the guitar and things like that - I used to hate those kind of photographs - typical Courier, but [laughing]….at least we got some good stuff as well; I think at the time I said the best thing I’ve seen in The Courier is fish and chips, but…….apart from us, and….so yeah, we was on our way and people were getting quite interested in what we did, but at the time, Turtle the bassist wasn’t very well and…..he was suffering from depression and it was getting worse and…eventually…and the band was sort of getting annoyed with him, but I would support him and…..and I wouldn’t….so if he wasn’t available for practice, I wouldn’t practise….I wouldn’t do anything cos I was supporting Turtle, and eventually he sectioned himself……

     

    TW:

    Really yeah?

     

    AJC:

    Yeah. He went completely doolally and sectioned himself, so…again, the rest of the band was saying ‘we’ll get the bassist’ and I’m saying ‘no…..no; give him something to aim towards….when he comes out he’s got something’ and they all says ‘no way’ so, the band split up as a result of it, and I sort of stuck to my guns and would not allow it to happen, so band split up; Turtle eventually does get better and….when he comes out, as I promised, I said ‘do you fancy….are you ready to play?’ and he went ‘yeah’…..so I got together another band, so…..I can’t for the life of me think who the first drummer was in this band, but it was….it was called….I called it The Landing Party…..loved Star Trek…loved Star Trek……and I often thought of….I was quite into sort of like…..I’ve always been into weird stuff, aliens and things especially…..and…..so I mean some of the songs that I was doing with….Ecogoose, one was…..was about…..the fact that sort of…..Truman, the President, had covered up quite an awful lot and there’s a vast amount evidence for this…..about alien involvement and…..so one of the band, one of the songs, one of the ones that James liked particularly was this one; very strange, weird, spooky song…….and…..and so yeah, so I…..I’d got this thing still going and so The Landing Party was perfect, you know…..you know, we’re there to sort of greet you; we’re the Landing Party, and I used to get really annoyed because people used to introduce as Landing Party and we’d go ‘it’s THE Landing Party’ – didn’t make any sense without ‘the’ as far as I was concerned, although Pink Floyd used to be The Pink Floyd and that doesn’t sound right, but anyway….so we got together and…so there was me and Turtle as bass and……yeah, I’m trying to think who else was in there…..ah that was it, yeah…..we had…..eventually we got in Pete Gillon who now plays with Fever Trees, has done stuff with Blues Revelator….great guitarist, really good guitarist, and he played with us….and we went through…I think there’s a story goes that we had eighteen drummers in about two years of The Landing Party, maybe two or three years; I think it’s pretty closer to twelve, but we did have a lot and we practised, and some were just terrible…..good enough drummers but…..as people, we just couldn’t work with them

     

    TW:

    Are you of the opinion then like….a lot of musicians, or drummers, are just a species unto their own?

     

    AJC:

    They do have a little edge; I mean I don’t know; I suppose if your main wish is to…..is to….beat things up on a regular basis……yeah, I don’t know, it does give you an edge [laughing]…….but….perhaps they’re a little bit unworkable and untenable sometimes, but……I don’t know, we’ve had certainly many good drummers…..Ady Boyle who to this…..now does drum machines…..great drummer, always loved him; he was one of my favourites because he was such a good drummer. When The Landing Party split up, he wanted to reform it because he was that into it; never did, but……I remember there was a bunch of us, so there was Pete Gillon……and eventually……we had….we had a guy called…..oh, I can’t remember his name now; it’ll come to me, but he was…he was a complete pisshead……and he’d turn up , and he’d be….he’d always have loads of beer, and he’d…..I used to have a swig occasionally; I’d think ‘well, what the hell…..all for one’……and….I remember one gig with this guy…….we…..we was doing a wedding…..somebody’s wedding, no, a fortieth birthday, in this big place, and we’d taken….we’d borrowed this van, which we’d just managed to pack all of our equipment into, and he was…..he was absolutely rat-arsed when he got there, and I remember…..so we played this gig…..and…he was…..he was there behind the drums, and it’s like…..there was a ripple of applause, and I remember us having to speed up and slow down to accommodate for the drums, and the drums were supposed to be keeping the rhythm; in practices he could do it, but it was like he was off his head, and you know, big red sort of [ra ra ra] and there was like a little ripple of applause and he shouted out ‘fucking clap you twats, come on!’ and I thought ‘oh God, no’….and it was quite a polite party…..and it was like ‘oh God’ and when we’d finished the gig, you know, I think there was free champagne and he just went round anybody with a bottle, and he sat in the middle of the floor ith this big bottle of champagne and I thought ‘oh God’….so eventually we sort of like we packed all the equipment in the van; we were not very happy with his….his behaviour, and he says ‘well how am I gonna get back?’ and we says ‘that’s alright; you’ll get a lift in the van’ and what we’d actually thought was ‘right, we’ll put him in the smallest space we possibly can, and just see how….if he just like gets anything’ so we did, and the last time I ever saw him, I think I bumped into him in town a few years later, but the last time we saw him with the band, we’d put him into this van and his face was pressed against the glass, it was that cramped in there; this red, ruddy, pissed face was…..didn’t notice anything; he thought ‘ah, brilliant, they’ve given us a lift’ and we did just pack him into the back of the van and got rid of him [laughing]…..and got another drummer; saw him years later and he did actually say…. ‘so, sorry I haven’t been in touch’ he says ‘so….are we up for a practice soon?’ and I thought ‘oh I can’t believe you’ you know….but eventually…we got Pete Gillon who was still there, Turtle, and we got……it was……I think it was a Riverside gig in Hebden Bridge, and there was a band playing with this…..rasta guy playing on congas, and he just had a big smile on his face; he just had something that….I says…..I said to the rest of the band….I says ‘I want him to play with us’…… I said ‘I’m going to have a chat with him afterwards’ so I did; I went round and he was called Judah, Judah Allen……great guy, and I says ‘would you….would you go for it?’ so he did, so we got this….we was looking for this world sort of feel to the music, and…..and so he joined us….and it really picked up massively; we got Damon, who played with Fez, their drummer, came and played with us, and…..a fantastic drummer, and not your typical drummer, I hasten to add, by the fact that he’s very efficient, very very musical, and he used to come up with some fantastic musical ideas, and……when we went to record the album Making Faces for The Landing Party, which we’d just got some money together and went and did it, he came up with a lot of the harmonies and he was brilliant; kept everything together and he recorded the album Making Faces with the whole lot of us; big popular band around Hebden Bridge; everybody loved Landing Party, you see I’m doing it now, and The Trades Club, we’ve played there loads of times; they always used to bring us in to big the crowds up; people loved us….. World On Your Doorstep, I think we did that as well, certainly did Riverside several times, and did Making Faces, which I think was only….I think there was only…..I think we’d only four to do, about five tracks, so that’s the only album we ever brought out which is a real shame because we’ve done loads of stuff; not many recordings of any of it, but we did loads and loads of stuff…I’ve got loads of cassettes still, which have loads of……recordings of these and I’ve actually put them in shelves this time, and eventually I’m going to listen to some of these things and maybe digitise them, but….so, The Landing Party was going really, really well; people were totally getting off on it…..and…..yeah, my girlfriend at the time, Jeanine, her mother became the manager of us….big mistake……huge, huge mistake; I’ll never do this ever again and I’ve…..I’ve persuaded other people never to go down these lines….basically, don’t get your partners involved in the band. Pete, the guitarist, he had a girlfriend he was going out with at the time called Kate; she didn’t like Glenda who was the mother of Jeanine and the manager, and of course there was loads of problems, and everybody was getting involved in the arguments….apart from me, who would go and sit at the back and have a cup of tea…..and let them get on with it really, I thought…..and it was….to be quite honest I think you’d expect the band leader to sort of like put their foot down, but I never sort of thought I was a band leader even though I was writing all the stuff; I should have put my foot down a bit but I’m not like that at all, so I thought ‘well…..just let ‘em get on with it; I’m sure they’ll sort it out’…..yeah, it got very very bad…….to the extent that the whole band split up as a result of…..of her being involved and all this, and Pete used to get very very drunk and at gigs he would, even though he played brilliantly in practice, sometimes when he’d had a few too many, he made some really terrible lead guitar mistakes, but…..forgave him for that….but he was…he and Kate obviously were on one side and Jeanine and myself sort of on another; I wasn’t, but that’s the way it came across. He fell out completely with…..with me; we got rid of Pete….we effectively sacked him….this was a band decision, and Pete was absolutely furious about this, and the whole band as a result… we didn’t do a version, eventually Richard Dalby came in for the first time and played the other guitar; we wanted keyboards, so he played a bit of keyboards; wasn’t really a keyboardist so it took a long time for him to learn, and….and he played a little bit of acoustic guitar which was amplified up and that was the new Landing Party….we had various different drummers after that, Steve Marsden being one of them, and so this was the new band; this was the new set up. Turtle was still there, I was still there, and there was Richard Dalby and several different drummers [laughing] up to about eighteen…..this was the new band; it had moved on. Pete wasn’t very happy because we was playing stuff that we’d written together and….and he didn’t like that so eventually we stripped those out of the…..of the set and started putting in new stuff. We could have written a lot more stuff but every time we lost a drummer and got a new one, we’d have to do a new version of the song, and have to go through it all again, so constantly redoing the songs so that we could play them, and we knew that the audience knew them so we had to sort of do them, but getting new stuff out was getting more and more difficult…….and eventually, that completely collapsed and I’m trying to think when The Landing Party eventually collapsed; it just didn’t….we were just getting there as well with it, again, as it all fell to pieces…….for the life of me I can’t remember now why; there was a very good reason, certainly the Pete thing was…..was one thing, but that….that all….it all…..all fell….it went ory [laughing]….didn’t work

     

    TW:

    Ory – what’s that?

     

    AJC:

    Ory….that was it….ory…..ory is like when it went a bit…..it collapsed; there was something a bit wrong….it was because……let me think about this…..swig of coffee….swig of coffee break………..yeah….so we had Steve who was with us, who wasn’t actually…..a drummer, but a great musician, but he was so nice to have around; we were very patient with him, sort of doing the stuff and…..he was lovely to have around….that was it……he…..he left….no, we had another drummer, sorry, there was another drummer; he left and…..Turtle….shortly afterwards sent me an e-mail saying that if he was going, he was going as well, which left me with me and Richard, and Judah, and I just….couldn’t think of anybody that could be a replacement bass; I was really angry at the time because he’d let me, after all these years, I’d to wait for him to come out of….the psychiatric ward, after creating a band, after destroying a band before that, he let me know by e-mail that he didn’t want to be with us any more; I was really not very happy about that, and it was the way he did it; Richard was a bit more diplomatic but I was furious. I said ‘no, sod him’ and I didn’t communicate with Turtle for a long time; didn’t sort of say anything nasty, but didn’t communicate with him for a while, so there was me and Turtle left…..the jewellers is closing downstairs [laughing]….just in case you’re wondering…… and….and so yeah, there was me and Richard left and we started doing little bits and pieces together, and…..and eventually started to do…I started to do a lot more solo stuff and….Richard joined me on a lot of that, and we went out as a……as a double act at the time, again playing a lot of my stuff; we played a lot of the…..some of The Landing Party tunes, and still occasionally…..I’m trying to think what we’re playing nowadays….we’ve still got stuff in our armoury that was Landing Party, so me and Richard used to go out and do gigs together after all this; I used to do various other bits and pieces….I created a thing called Electronic Fest around here, because….it was basically Flanny, a guy called Flanny, we were sat in the pub one night and we was talking about….I’d started doing a bit of music technology; I’d moved in…I’d moved into Hebden Bridge; I was in Hebden Bridge for a while before that, I can’t quite remember how long I’ve been here now; fifteen odd years, and we shared a house together so we got to know each other and we started playing…….and yeah, so…..oh……threads……..let me think now……so we were sharing a house……we did that….oh yeah, Electronic Fest, so I was talking with Flanny and….at the time I was working on Reason, a bit of music making software, and I was fascinated by this; I’d finally got a computer; I’d moved in with Richard; we’d bought…..we were sharing a house together, three of us; we had to move out of that house and Richard decided to buy a house, and I could move into it, and I was his lodger, so we was in there together, and I had a computer because I was doing radio for the first time; I was working for Phoenix; we helped create Phoenix, me and Shack, going back a little while; me and Shack sort of once met each other in The Puzzle and he says ‘what are you up to?’ and I says ‘well I’m thinking of doing hospital radio’ he says ‘I’m thinking of doing radio; that’s really weird’ so we both went to do training at hospital radio, and…..while we were doing that, the guy thought we were so ahead of the game that he says ‘oh we’re doing something called Phoenix’ he says ‘it’s live radio’ he says ‘forget the training’ he says ‘come and do that; you obviously know what you’re doing’ so he just…...he just put us straight in on a late night show, and we used to do stuff that he didn’t know how to - this is why he put us in there – with computers, so we did…..we had sound beds, we had features, we had little characters we used to put in, and drop in….at the time on minidisc, and….he just couldn’t believe it; the late night show was a bit comic, but with really weird music and he loved it, so the next time he put us onto Drive Time and we ended up doing Drive Time, put us straight into highlight, and we used to do the weirdest Drive Time because we didn’t mention any traffic and travel, or weather; well we did, but the traffic and travel was a fictitious person called The Man In The Sky, and so we’d prerecord this, so Shack would say ‘now it’s over to The Man In The Sky with the traffic update’ and you’d get the sound of a helicopter behind, because he was saying ‘in our Phoenix helicopter, we’ve got The Man In The Sky’ so they’d go over to The Man In The Sky and he’d go [silly voice] ‘hello, I’m Shack. What’s going on down the road?’…… ‘what?’…. ‘what’s going on down the road?’…. ‘tell you what, my Aunty Alice’s azaleas need a bit of a trim’ and he’s say ‘no no, what’s that? Look down….oh no!’ [shouting] and he obviously had vertigo, so we never ever got any traffic news at all, none of it…..and the weather was…..was Judah again, Judah, and Judah wanted to do this and he….so we had…..the jingle for…… ‘so now it’s over to Phoenix FM….weather update’ and it had this little bed underneath it, and at the end of it, it would go ‘shoosh…Phoenix FM weather’….we took out the middle bit and instead of it going into this bed, it went [singing] and Judah would give the weather; we did nine different weathers, and slotted ‘em in, because we thought ‘what’s the point? Look out the window’…..so, we’d have things like Judah saying [Jamaican accent] ‘you think it’s cold…..you know why? It’s your own fault, living in a place called Colderdale’…..and it would be a ridiculous thing; one of the ones he wanted to do was….and we said ‘are you sure about this?’ he says ‘I really wanna do it’…..it was like [Jamaican accent] ‘you think it’s dark…..almost as dark as me’ [laughing] and we said ‘are you sure you wanna do it?’ he says ‘it’s fine, it’s okay’….so we had different weathers and we used to put those in the day, anyway, that’s radio, and Phoenix was around at the time and that’s when we started using computers because we started training, and then moved into Dean Clough; eventually there was a big fall out….and we started that, and we started by doing…there was a job going for training there, and Shack was more experienced than I was in this one so he went for it, and I sort of….I went there voluntarily and eventually got the job because I’d been working for them for about a year with not much money but thinking right… so we had nine computers in this place, people from random places; youth, you know, bad lads, people who wanted to go into college, older people, disable people, all walks of life came through here, and they all got trained in doing bits of software. The first day I had to teach computers and I’d had an update; forty minutes was how long I got trained on how to use this piece of software which was Adobe Audition, and then I was teaching it, and managed to do it because sat next to Shack when he was working out this stuff that we did for ages, and…..and so I managed to get it until it came round to turning the computer off and I’d never turned one off before, so….I thought ‘there’s a big button there’ so I pressed that and Andrew who was there, was there in the office, he was a bit of a pain in the arse, says ‘are you sure you’re supposed to turn computers off like that?’ I says ‘oh there’s several ways you can do it’ [laughing]….so Shack eventually says ‘there’s a thing called shut down’…. ‘oh okay.’ He said, ‘you just taught that lot.’ Yeah, yeah…so I got into computers and eventually got enough money to…..to get a computer; I think it was as a result of the death of my father at the time actually, who left me some money and one bought the computer; no he bought the computer before he died……insistent on….I think the first amount of money went to bailing me out from some place that I ended up leaving, and I finally got some money through and this time I bought myself a computer, so I got a computer and that’s when I got into doing Reason; I started to do stuff which I started all these kids as well, and other people; adults and kids and the lot…..and so me and Flanny have got well into making music like this in the pub, and I says ‘how many people are sat in bedrooms doing just this? Creating this music and nobody ever hears it’ and…..I says ‘apart from that there must be a lot of people doing computer visuals as well, and where are they?’….. so I decided to take this as a mission, so I created Electronic Fest and ….managed to get together a team of people; the first one…..somebody knew a visual artist and I thought ‘oh brilliant….brilliant’ I had this image of these big projections to this weird bleepy music, and so I had to meet this guy in the same pub, in The Fox and Goose, and…..never met him before; he’s called John, and so I went to the pub and some guy comes up to me with these big thick rimmed glasses and he can hardly see, and he went ‘are you Creedy?’ and I says ‘yes, who are you?’ and he says ‘I’m John’ and I thought ‘no…..no’…..I thought somebody was winding me up completely, so I had a chat with him and I thought ‘this guy knows his stuff’ and that’s all he can do; it was like incredible, and he would get really close to the screen like that and do stuff, but what he produced was out of this world, and he used bits of film loop and….effects to make this incredible thing, which would go along with what people played musically, so Electronica Fest started and we used to have…..we had Joe, we had a guy called Joe Coates and Mick West who was a multi-instrumentalist, and he came up with some of the strangest performances; he had Furbies that he’d reprogrammed to swear and talk when you hit them across the head; he’d have Speak and Spell machines going through pedals; he’d have cassette players wired in wrong so they created a single that he’d manipulate with pedals…..really peculiar stuff, all with these back sort of images…..and we did quite a few of those; became very popular…..and we did the first one for the Arts Fest and we had to go along to the Arts Festival…..it was a guy…..Dave Boardman, not Dave Boardman, another Dave, forgot his second name, said, he was on the committee, he said ‘come along; what we need is something a bit more modern; it’s getting a bit boring all this classical stuff and what they’re doing’ so I says ‘okay’ so I went along, and sure enough this meeting I was in…..when it came round to me saying what I was proposing; they did laugh at me….and I says ‘well, that’s what I’m proposing’ I says ‘you know, it’s cutting edge stuff’ I says ‘it’s modern art’ and I says ‘it’s up to you’ and they was all questioning me and I would give them the answers so I thought ‘well that’s that’ and….and Dave says ‘I’m sorry about that’ he says ‘I told you they were a bit stale’ I says ‘a bit stale; for goodness sake they’re in the Stone Age!’ and….he said ‘I’ll have a chat with them’ so he had a chat with them and suddenly they came round so we did it, but when we did it, it was a sell out and then they were interested, so the next time they wanted us to do it, we didn’t [laughing]….we did it ourselves, and we did it at Machpelah Mill in Hebden Bridge the first one, and I think we did our second one there; we did various places around after that and the committee got bigger and bigger; we had people doing decorations….we had people sort of, again, there was a lot of girlfriends [laughing], and they used to have a meeting in the pub, every week; there was really no need to do it every week, and that was probably a big mistake as well but everybody loved the social……so they all went every week to discuss Electronic Fest and what we were gonna do to make the next gig bigger and bigger and better, and by this time we took over the entire back room of The Fox, and there was too many people; it was almost…..certainly untenable, and it became impossible; there was…….everybody had got so many different ideas that it just wasn’t gonna work any more, and I just like pulled the plug…..didn’t wanna do it anymore; I thought ‘I’m not working with this; we’ve got too big’….just at the time when we could have…we were cutting edge; still to this day there’s not many people do what we did then….to this day though I’m actually gonna bring it back, but that’s another…that is a future story, but….so Electronic Fest fell to pieces, like everything else; just at its peak……so that had gone, so a lot of the time it left me and Richard and I went back into doing acoustic stuff again, with me and Richard doing the solo stuff, which to this day I do really; I do a lot of solo stuff, but also we got to know…..a guy called Mohammed, who was playing….well we got into a band that was called The Magraidibeat, who were doing Moroccan stuff, and I always…I loved what they did, really enjoyed it, and eventually he asked me to play……and so I went along and….I decided that….that….because it was Moroccan music there was something a little bit drone about it – very droney – I sort of understood what was going on, so I decided to totally change the tuning of my guitar to the closest I could get to Moroccan tuning, which is ude, the dacca tuning, so I’d said ‘right, I’m gonna change all my tuning; I’ve never played anything in this tuning at all; let’s go for it’ but because I play intuitively and not by…..reading or knowing anything about the chords, notes, it doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference to me; I can always find the root note and find where I’m going, and then…play it, so I played with Magraidibeat and Richard ends up coming in to join us; we had Steve Grey out of the Owter Zeds, we had Richard coming in there as another guitarist and eventually there was three guitarists, and Mo, and Paul Deer joined us as well, so that was the….the final line up of us; there’d been lots of line ups, but that was the one and it was going really well; we did Soul Fest and the guys who used to be in Electronica Fest….Techie played every Electronic Fest; they were part of the crew but because they were, the played every one and we played Soul Fest on the same day that they did and it was great; we played….they played later on; audience went absolutely mad about us, but…..this was the biggest one we’d done; this was why we wanted to do festivals; we were a festival band , and so really important and somebody had told me…..a few weeks before, two stories I’d heard, exactly the same, about guitars falling down and I’m getting completely destroyed, and I was dead paranoid because it was a big gig; twenty five minutes before the gig I’d put my guitar on a stand and I’d made sure there were no wires near it so nothing could lift it up; I made sure there were no loose boards on the stage so it couldn’t move; I was paranoid as hell about it, and so there was nobody on the stage; this guitar’s on there twenty five minutes before the gig, and….every member of the band saw this – I didn’t – I just heard it; they said what happened was, the guitar didn’t just fall over, it threw itself on the floor…..and I came back to find this guitar, picked it up, and the headstock was hanging off it like that, on a thread….and I thought ‘well what do you do now?’ I’d got twenty five minutes left; I’d taken my Takamine with me, just in case; got a bit bored of playing that, got a nice big new guitar, and it just….committed suicide on stage, twenty five minutes before we played……I had to calm down a little bit, I had someone roll me a big fat one [laughing] and….I’d come round a bit, and I’ll just….. just enough to kill that memory so I could just focus on the music; I’ll play my spare guitar…..so I came back and…..and we played the gig and it went down a storm, and strangely this guitar that I’d got bored with was playing beautifully, and I was tempted to smash this guitar up on the stage but I thought ‘no I won’t do that’…..found somebody to repair it and to this day it’s my main instrument, but after that Magaidibeat was offered one year…..six festivals, three of which were headlines….one was after I think, it was either The Wailers or The Blockheads, so it was……it was a big….big sort of set up, and we were really looking forward to this, but Mo was getting a bit strange….something was going on that wasn’t quite right; he’d moved out of his wife’s and moved in with somebody else, and it was all going a little bit ory [laughing]…..word of the week, and….eventually he just buggered off; he’d been a naughty boy somehow, and we’ve never seen him to this day but we was very very fed up cos he left us with six gigs that we couldn’t play, and we tried to get together but there was nothing we could do, because we were a Moroccan trance band, but without the Moroccan bit, we were a trance band….that’s not what we were booked to do, so we had no vocals because it was all in what I used to call cling-on….it were a bit….but it sounds like cling-on, and so we were stuck, absolutely devastated by this; really really annoyed; it took…..cos we felt really let down by him as much as anything else; to this day we’ve not ever heard anything from him; we didn’t get an apology; he just moved, and….so that was it; again, just got to the peak, all fell to pieces again……bloody devastated…….eventually….that’s why I carried on doing my solo stuff; eventually…..we met a guy called Ade who used to play with the Groovy Beat; felt the same about Mo as we did; we were all annoyed with him….there was Paul Deer and there was Richard….me, Paul Deer and Richard got together, trying to sort of come up with….we thought ‘right, at least we’ll get the trance element there’ so we tried the trance element, came up with some tunes…..we decided….I decided that it was gonna be called Nomos because Mo wasn’t in there, and I thought it was very funny that we called it Nomos but other people were saying ‘ah that’s daft’ so, Nomos we were, so we had…..I think we had Nomos five; Nomos…..Nomos one, Nomos two, Nomos three, Nomos four, Nomos five…..Nomos one I’d written the lyrics to; I thought ‘what I’ll do with the lyrics’…..we played them…..it all went well but Paul Deer said ‘it’s fine’ he says ‘but it sounds like I’m playing our music rather than ours’ and I went ‘fair enough; we need somebody else in’ so Ade comes along…..and we get together and start doing stuff with that, and again, that was starting to get some heads turning; we’d already got re-bookings; a lot of the places we were gonna play said ‘let us know when you’re ready to go again and we’ll book you; we can’t put you on headline but we’ll certainly have you as high as we can’ so we thought ‘brilliant’ so…we all got together…..and then…..unfortunately Richard had a child – not unfortunately – great kid, but his wife went a bit strange and went awol, leaving Richard with the child, and his commitments then were obviously to the child and we understood that completely, but that left us without Richard and it had just got too much by this time, so Nomos died a death. Paul Deer had got….busy doing other stuff, the Cagimore Family, and we…..were left with very little, so again I immersed myself into solo music which to this day, now [chuckling] – we’re nearly there – I do an awful lot of and that’s starting to pick up an awful lot as well; the people are….I’m terrible at self-promotion; I’d not bad at promoting other people which is why Electronica Fest worked, but promoting myself has been almost impossible; I haven’t got the ego for it, and…..so I get offered a lot of gigs, and I tend to play most of them; don’t get an awful lot of money for them but I do enjoy doing them, and I’ve got my….I met….I went to a….a course with…..cos I did an awful lot of radio stuff after Phoenix; I formed a thing called Now I See; there was three of us; me, Shack and a guy called Doug Lyons; we used to go out and do radio training as a form of personal development, but we did an awful lot of work with the Art University of East London and all over the place; we did an awful lot of radio work, again to this day; just starting to pick up on that one….but during that……met Andy Wells, who is a great…..Doug was doing a music technology course and I thought ‘I can learn a bit more about this’ so they was looking for extra numbers - didn’t even have to finish the course - they were looking for extra numbers, so I went along, did it, and met Andy Wells who was one of the teachers there….and he loved what I did, absolutely loved what I did, and says….and we had a studio there; we’d started just recording; he says ‘this is gonna be an album Creedy; I’m up for doing an album’ and I thought ‘can’t be serious’ and eventually left the course, because it wasn’t doing anything for me; it was always going backwards really, for me, and I think it was nearly a year later he phoned me up and says ‘what about that album then?’ I went ‘are you serious?’ he says ‘yeah, yeah’ so I went in and…..and started doing the album with Andy Wells and started recording….he used me for his students to practise on, positioning mics, but then Andy being belligerent and very very…..he knows what he’s doing to be quite honest, would go… I’ll jusr move them around to the right place now… (laughing) and he’d…..so he started recording me and looked at….and he started putting his own keyboards and….his production was amazing and I couldn’t believe he was doing it; the album was going really well and I think I ended up going round to his studio in Wyke….. Hideaway Studios and finishing bits of the album off, and I remember going to the studio in the college one day and I says ‘I don’t get this’ I says, you know, ‘I’ve got no money and you come in here and you do all this wonderful recording for me’ I says ‘I feel like a privileged vagabond’ and he says ‘that’s the title of the album’ and that’s what he said; he wasn’t bothered about the fact that he was doing it for free…..and so he says ‘in fact we’ll make sure that we don’t have to pay for anything; we’ll see if we can get the graphics for free or trade and everything like that’ and I did….Johnny, the guy with the glasses, ended up doing my graphics; he’s still a fantastic graphic artist, one of the best ones I’ve ever known; how the hell he does it I don’t know; he did the album for me in return for me doing something for him; I can’t remember what it was but…we traded and…..and so Privileged Vagabond didn’t cost a penny to produce, and it’s to this day my main album; again, promoted….it was Holyground Records, but they sort of died a little bit of a death; there was no sort of like marketing or promotion in place and it was left to me, and again, I ended up to be quite honest giving most of my CDs away; I think I’ve got one left that I haven’t given away; there was a load at Sid’s I never went and got the money, and it’s just….terrible, and I about a year on after a bit of a tragedy in my life recently, I’ve got to go back and finish off the second album which is gonna be called Where Are You’….. ‘W R U’….. ‘Where Are You’ but ‘W R U’…..tech speak, so the idea of this one is there’s a big stage, there’s something really exciting going on, maybe I’m playing or something like that and all the audience are coming right back to one big sing at the end, and you see all the lights on the phones coming all the way back to the front, and at the front of the album there’s a big sort of tech screen saying ‘Where Are You’……..yeah……yeah, so it’s a statement……and so we’ve started doing this and Andy’s been constantly trying to contact me, saying ‘when are you gonna come and finish this?’ so that’s where the future lies; Electronic Fest I’ve….I’m bringing back cos The Dog House, which is a big organisation, is…..is…..it’s actually got its own place now and they says ‘that’s what we’d like you to come and do’….that and an open mic session, so that’s where we’re at………..

     

    TW:

    There’s one other thing I would…..like to ask you about. It’s about artwork.

     

    AJC:

    Yes.

     

    TW:

    I know you did some drawings for….for corporate people.

     

    AJC:

    Yes.

     

    TW:

    Can you explain a little bit about that?

     

    AJC:

    Yes. This is a little invention of mine. It’s called a Conceptograph; the word itself is also an invention. It was while I was working with Now I See with Doug and Shack [sp] and we was doing this personal development stuff and a friend of Doug’s …used to go out to these corporate events, and he’d do an abstract painting of their…..meeting, and they’d buy this of him and…..and that was….and I thought, and he says ‘you should do something like that’….I thought ‘well I wouldn’t do it like that really’ because again, abstract, I sort of know now more about abstract but again, when I draw, I always draw something that’s figurative, so I decided to do the same thing myself and was doing a radio…..workshop for Apple Organisation, at the University of East London where we also went and taught…….and, he says ‘here’s your opportunity’ he says ‘we’re doing radio afterwards’ he says ‘offer it for free; take your sketch book; I’ll have a chat with them’ he says ‘and draw the meeting’ I went ‘okay’ so this was the first time I’d ever done it, and they said ‘it’s fine’ so I went to the back of the class…..the room, and so I said ‘I’ll be drawing your meeting and you’ll be to hopefully see where you’ve been’ I said ‘I’m just trying to help’ and….this meeting was huge; obviously Apple Mac, you know, so it’s….they were discussing this new system whereby…..people learn in different ways - people access stuff in different ways - so they wanted a….different learning techniques and….and bits of software developed around it so that people could maybe learn through shapes or colours or whatever, rather than words and….and everything, and they had a big screen there, they were linking in with Macromedia in…..in….I think it was in New York; I think it was about five in the morning over there, so they were part of the meeting as well; big meeting, so I’m away just like, scribbling away and what I’d decided, the only way I could do was to try and remain as subconscious as possible; they were coming out with so much technical detail there was no way I could really know what was going on, and all I did was to like…if something suggested itself to me….three is a magic number…..three times, I’d think ‘that’s not my symbol’ and I’d put it down on paper, and it’d join, and eventually I ended up with the finished piece so at the end of it…then in the afternoon we did a radio workshop which they got an awful lot out of this; we played their….played….the roles were reversed so they experienced what it was like to receive this service when it was developed, and….but after that they said they wanted a big chat and the thing they was more interested in was my Conceptograph, and….they just….they were really perplexed, and for about an hour afterwards until the building had to be shut up, they were…..they were going hell for leather trying to work out….and thinking ‘something’s wrong; it just doesn’t seem to work’ and they weren’t saying my drawing; they were saying ‘something’s just not in place here; it shouldn’t be like that’ and eventually they sort of said ‘is there a pub round here; can we take that?’… ‘oh, go on then’ and I refused….I wouldn’t comment; I let them talk about it so again, they went to the pub and they were saying ‘it’s not gonna work; there’s things like…..the calendar hasn’t quite turned over and it’s next to some other symbol, and it’s suggested that the time’s not right and….and there’s certain pitfalls legally that aren’t gonna work’ and…..they eventually ended up not doing it…..I wish I’d charged [laughing]….if I’d got royalties on that I’d be a rich man now, but it’s not all about money is it you know……that’s only money so really, I am rich, but….so I decided to do a few more of these and so the Conceptograph, I went out and…..again, I’m not goog at marketing, but I did get a few, and went out and drew people’s meetings and stood at the back of the class…. ‘I’m an artist, I’m drawing your meeting in a metaphorical, symbolic way, and hopefully you should be able to follow the story of your meeting, the bigger picture, and you can cut out all the little bits’ and….I went to one thing which was promoting it to businesses…and I went as part of Artworks in Bradford, saying ‘can you show us what an artist do in that’ so I stood at the back, normally I do it A3, takes most of the day; I had an hour and it was like a six foot……roll of paper so I was drawing away at the back while they were having their little meeting, doing workshops, and at the end of it the head of all these business groups sort of said ‘don’t know about you’ he says ‘but when I get to the end of a meeting I’ve got piles of paper and minutes’ he says ‘I don’t read ‘em all’ he says ‘but I can look at that drawing and know exactly where we’ve been, and it gives me an idea of what’s going on’ so, that’s the Conceptograph which I…I haven’t done much of recently but I’d love to get back into.

     

    TW:

    Right, okay, very interesting that…….is there anything…..I mean I know I haven’t asked much, but is there anything I

     

    AJC:

    I’ve never shut up, that’s why!

     

    TW:

    Is there anything I [laughing]….this is what I always say at the end; is there anything I haven’t asked about that you’d like to add on? I mean I know you’ve given me quite a full story

     

    AJC:

    I think you’ve got a fair picture of it there really to be quite honest….I think what I…..there is…..there is one thing actually; there’s another one because there’s obviously…being an artist, I mean the reason why I left….art college apart from the fact that I was overdrawn and….and felt a bit uncomfortable in London and there was a lot of…..for some reason people who were sent to do Fine Art were….had rich fathers and stuff like that, and I wasn’t; I was from a very working class family and I didn’t want to get so overdrawn that my parents would end up doing it, so I was….I was playing a lot more music there than I was doing art, so music was….was a sort of extension of the paint brush, so I painted less and played more……and….recently I’ve…..I’ve teamed up with…a guy called Winston, a poet, and a guy called Jason, Caroline; he’s a visual artist, a drawer, a painter, and she’s a movement, dance type artist, and we’ve come together to form a thing called Ecphrasis; don’t ask me what that means because I can’t remember [laughing]

     

    TW:

    How do you spell it?

     

    AJC:

    Ecphrasis; it’s a Greek word

     

    Tw:

    Right, okay

     

    AJC:

    Can’t quite remember what it is, but there’s a website with it on; so….the idea….he came up with this idea saying that we wanted to be in the same room and just like feed off each other, so I could play some…..some incidental music……you know, he’d do some poetry, and I said ‘well’ I said ‘I’m a bit more interested really if……you were all in separate rooms’ because I’ve got a great interest in…in the connection between science and spirituality; I think they’re the same thing and at one time art and science and spirituality was the same thing….and that is coming together nowadays, I mean quantum physics is….the stuff that’s saying they’re there; sounds weirder than anything a mystic’s ever come up with; it’s getting to that stage now; they’re all starting to join, and this project joins it as a lovely solid object which is the most solid object, the triangle, and it is art, spirituality and science, so I separated everybody out in each room, have a fixed half hour, and…..you won’t be able to hear it; nobody knows what each other’s doing; perform for half an hour; everything’s on video, and then at the end of it, we’ll see how they connect; I says ‘I bet you there’s crossover, a synchronicity, that….is dumbfounding; I said ‘I’m so confident with it, we’ll just do it anyway’ and he went ‘right, fine; I like that…it’s okay’ so we all did it; he persuaded the others that it was a good idea….so we did it; we all separated ourselves out and did it for the first time; recorded it all; we did a bit of a settling exercise the first thing to focus ourselves and then we did a…..my idea was ‘talking sticks’ when anybody only gets to talk only when they’ve got a stick in their hand, recorded that as well, so the first one we do……and there’s….there on video, Winston doing his poetry and then somebody…gets his hand and a marker pen, draws round his hand, and then he cuts it out and folds it up in a weird way, at exactly the same time, because we were watching….we’d got these four laptops watching it all as close in real time as we can, all zeroed up; at exactly the same time the artist has like started doing a different drawing….and he turns around; what he’s been drawing….and it’s exactly the picture of this hand……..yeah….so, the synchronicity was pretty obvious; totally separate rooms….unfortunately there was a bit of a bleed in the music so the dancer had a bit too much of a clue of what I was doing…..I was playing acoustically….so we did another one, and….this one I played an electric…..and borrowed an electric because mine’s broke at the moment….I’ve got very into acoustics…..the 335 I love it…..but….and I used the thstch pedals so a lot of it was echo, so she said she could still hear a bit of a bleed, but what she didn’t hear was….was the fact that a lot of it was so…..so what she might have heard was [singing] ‘ding ding ding’ might have been ‘dickidickidicki’ because there was a delay on it….but we haven’t actually viewed this yet, but we….or heard it yet, so I still don’t know if this worked, because it’s been….a few months where everybody’s been on holiday and stuff like that; we’re due to do that very very soon [incomp] and…..but me and Winston….I thought ‘well maybe that didn’t work’ and I says ‘something’s bugging me’ and I couldn’t quite work out what it was, and the second exercise was Winston; he did something with a….peacock feather, and he’s said ‘I just put a peacock feather in front of this just to settle me and then get some focus on something before you went off to your separate places, and eventually it was like ‘so you got…..just feel the weight of it and put it in the middle of your….do you think that’s gonna balance on your hand? Don’t do it, just think….will it? Will it or not?’ and then eventually he said ‘let it go’ and of course a peacock feather’s perfectly balanced and it will balance on your hand without very little movement; incredible…and so we did that….what had happened was the artist had done loads of drawings and Winston had got obsessed with this vessel that was shaped like….almost like a goldfish bowl with a bit of a top to it there, and he says ‘for some reason there’s a spot on the bottom of it’ and he wrote down ‘why….why this shape? Why the spot in the middle of it?’ the shape again….. ‘why this shape? Why’….and that was his piece, and he said ‘I don’t know why I’ve done that…..no idea’ and then the artist had drawn loads of things, but then eventually it just clicked and I said ‘I’ve got it’ …..so the artist had done this drawing of…peacock feathers in his own interpretation of peacock feathers, and the shape was just like that with an eye for the peacock feather, just like the shape with a dot, and he went ‘that’s it…that’s completely it’ and there’s a few other bits and pieces but we’ve not actually explored this, but the synchronicity was there; the future, for me, I’d like now to…because he said to me, he says ‘you are truly an all-round artist’ because I’m very interested in lyric; again lyric and music was the reason why I took up guitar; not to play guitar effectively, though I can play….because of the way I play, I can totally ad lib for hours, which is what I do there, and……I can play in any tuning in because I don’t think about music in the same way, so I’m intuitive, but the lyric for me, also fits in; I like the poetry and the music coming together - it’s the….the big brush – so that with the electronics and everything else, have expanded out, so…..the future for me is….is a web design - I’d like to get a website – once I can finally get a decent internet connection, and put out the Synchronicity Generator, and the Synchronicity Generator is…..we put this out to the world in half an hour; you find out what your time line is and if you want to be part of it, do something creative; it doesn’t matter what it is, for half an hour, film it, and put it on the website; the two rules are: 1 – you must realise you’re part of the same thing; 2 – put your work out for us to see…..with your permission, and then we should end up with a load, and my idea of how it would look would be a fruit machine; pull the handle…………four little blocks come up….those four go into the corner of the screen, and then you watch it in synchronicity and see what the crossover is in them, and it’s a means of bringing all together and realising they’re part of one.

     

    TW:

    That sounds like a lot of work.

     

    AJC:

    It probably is, but we’ll see what happens [laughing]

     

    TW:

    That’s very interesting…..right then, well I’d like to say thank you very much.

     

    AJC:

    Been a pleasure.

     

    TW:

    And I shall….I shall stop there.

     

    AJC:

    Thank you.

     

    [END OF TRACK 1] 

    Read more

  • Interviews and Storytelling: Anne & Tony Isseyegh

    [TRACK 1]

     

    TONY WRIGHT:

    Right. This is Tony Wright, it’s the 24th of July 2012 and I’m speaking with Anne and Tony Isseyegh in their home in Heptonstall. So, can you, both of you tell me your full names and where and when you were born?

     

    ANNE ISSEYEGH:

    Okay, shall I start? Anne Christina Isseyegh and I was born in Rustington, Sussex.

     

    TW:

    Do you have a maiden name?

     

    AI:

    Hughes.

     

    TW:

    Right, okay.

     

    TONY ISSEYEGH:

    I’m Anthony Isseyegh……and I was born in Egypt in 1951, and we came to live in London when I was eight……in 1959 and from London we moved to Heptonstall in 1984, and this is where I’m presently living.

     

    TW:

    Right. How did you meet Anne?

     

     

    AI:

    At college in London.

     

    TW:

    Ah, which college?

     

    AI:

    The Central.

     

    TW:

    Oh right. And what were you doing at college?

     

    AI:

    Fine Art

     

    TW:

    Right. Both of you?

     

    AI:

    Yes.

     

    TI:

    Yes. Well Anne studied Graphics before……..and that was her second course, but for me it was my first course, so I’m slightly younger than Anne and we met in…..early seventies…..and got married while still being students, so we’ve been together……thirty…..

     

    AI:

    Thirty-something!

     

    [laughing]

     

    TW:

    It’ll be coming up to forty

     

    TI:

    Probably, yes….yes, thirty-seven years thank you Tony

     

    [laughing]

     

    TW:

    So…..I’m trying to think…..so you moved from Sussex up to Yorkshire

     

    AI:

    No, Sussex to London to work when I was nineteen and…..then London for sixteen years and then up here

     

    TW:

    Oh right…..well you came up in the early eighties then?

     

    TI:

    Yes; ’84 we moved up to Yorkshire and……previous to that I lived in London all my life……prior to that, obviously born in Egypt…..that’s it, but you know, I think the sense of being…..slightly an outsider remains and I think coming London to Yorkshire, that was our…..my first impression, that really it’s….we’re southerners moving to a very rooted county like Yorkshire is, but because there were a lot of other creative people here I think we were encouraged to feel that there was a sense of……openness and freedom about the way people thought and I think that is both attractive to us as individuals, but also for the area; I think it encouraged creative people to feel…..we were going to be odd enough in an interesting way to fit in with quite strongly individualistic type people; it wasn’t going to be hard to somehow operate in this area.

     

    [dog barking]

     

    AI:

    Shall I move him?

     

    TW:

    I think…..I think so, I think it’ll get worse really because he just wants to be part of it

     

    [moving dog]

     

    TW:

    Well what you were just saying about……feeling an outsider and also feeling accepted, coming up to Yorkshire, I mean did you have those sort of feelings when you came from Egypt to London, when you were younger?

     

    TI:

    Yes, yes I think as…..you know, I belong to a family that were typical refugees like there are lots of now, so that sense of being a refugee has always been part of…….my history and in a way I don’t mind that because it…..it’s a bit…..the creative life is slightly separate from…..the ordinary functioning of society, and it’s……quite an interesting place to be, because you’re an observer more than somebody who’s fully integrated in the system of how society might work, and I think from that stand point it gives you a different perspective.

     

    TW:

    Right…….

     

    TI:

    As you might have experienced yourself.

     

    TW:

    I……well I get that sometimes, that’s true. I’m just wondering about Anne. How do you relate to this idea of being an outsider?

     

    AI:

    Yeah I do too actually, yeah.

     

    TW:

    In what way?

     

    AI:

    Well I certainly did…..well I’m a southerner [laughing] and I haven’t dropped my accent, so yeah, it’s obvious. Probably when we were first here there were more of the older people who were more, you know, part of the real community that had been here, although everyone’s been very nice; never had any problems, but……..

     

    TI:

    There’s always been a sense of curiosity like ‘why……why are you here?’ and I think….I find that amusing because of course people who have had to leave the countries that they were born in, well they have to go somewhere else, but people who are very rooted , and I think that’s what’s so………what’s the word….evident about a rooted county like Yorkshire is that you take it for granted that this is where you belong, this is where you’ve all come from and even if you move two miles up the valley you think you’ve emigrated, because we used to have lots of friends and builders who worked with us and they’d say ‘oh I don’t come from Heptonstall I come from…..Mytholmroyd’ which is a sense of they didn’t belong to Heptonstall, they belonged to Mytholmroyd, so it didn’t take much for them to feel out of their……locale… so us coming from…..I think, again, it’s part of….because it’s part of my history, I think it’s also part of my creative sensibility. I like….being an outsider looking at…..whatever’s going on, so as an observer I’m not observing by identifying with a culture or a society, I am slightly outside of it.

     

    TW:

    So do you bring that into the art that you create?

     

    TI:

    I think so.

     

    TW:

    And how do you think that works then?

     

    TI:

    Well ultimately it……it’s accepting that we’re probably mainly spiritual people, or a phenomena, and maybe that sense of our spirituality and not quite belonging to the world is something I’m interested in or I’m nurturing very mildly you know, it’s not…..I’m not trying to propagate any religious attitudes, but just that sense of otherness, not just…..this is an observance of what is evidently here; there is a sense of I’m not sure what this is, so there’s a question.

     

    TW:

    So do you think this creativity, this outsider thing, but do you think that you’re reacting to your environment when you create the works of art that you create?

     

    AI:

     

    The environment round here?

     

    TW:

    Well around here, but….but the next question I was gonna say is…..so if……if you are or you aren’t reacting to your environment, then who is the audience that you’re creating these works for, because if you’re creating using the environment as a kind of inspiration is it for the people who live in this environment, or is it for somebody else, somewhere else, who might look at your works and say ‘oh that’s an interesting environmental idea’….the creativity based on that kind of environment is……is something I like….I’m just trying to ask….you know, how part of your creative process, how do you put forward…..it’s a question for both of you really.

     

    AI:

    Yeah……I think for me, I don’t actually think about the audience; it’s for me.

     

    TW:

    Right. So what kind of work do you actually do then?

     

    AI:

    Well recently…..mainly water colour, a fairly strong water colour; there’s one behind you over there which started off with a still life basis but now have figurative elements as well, but that’s really because I’ve been teaching water colour for several years so it’s sort of made me interested in it. Originally I used to work in a very different way and there’s one up on the mantelpiece there, which as you see is much more abstract and I still do some of that

     

    TW:

    Very Mondrian, and that type of thing.

     

    AI:

    Yeah……yeah, I mean that’s what I was doing at college.

     

    TW:

    Right. And do you sell these?

     

    AI:

    I have done, yeah, more of the water colours.

     

    TW:

    Right. But you’re also a teacher you say.

     

    AI:

    Yeah I teach water colour.

     

    TW:

    Right, okay. And have you done that all your creative life?

     

    AI:

    No. Before……I don’t know how long……well I’ve been teaching art to adults since maybe, since she was about six, so nineteen years, yeah. And it sort of turned into water colours eventually because teaching adults, you’re sort of led by them and really that’s what they wanted to do.

     

    TW:

    Right, okay. So you said earlier you did feel like an outsider coming up here and you said partly because there were so many locals here, you know, still. Does that mean that you think there’s less people who were born and raised here?

     

    AI:

    Yeah, I think it’s probably changed quite a bit.

     

    TW:

    Do you think, just people’s died off and younger people have moved away?

     

    AI:

    Yeah.

     

    TW:

    Right. And why do you think that is then?.....If some people come here because it’s so wonderful, why are the people that were born here moving away? How does that work, I wonder? What do you think about that?

     

    AI:

    I don’t know if they’ve moved away, but…….

     

    TW:

    But there’s less of them.

     

    AI:

    Yeah…..

     

    TW:

    What, in comparison to

     

    AI:

    Well maybe not

     

    TI:

    It obviously is house prices. I think that there was a period where people who were coming in obviously were coming in from areas where the houses were more expensive. We moved up here and…..because houses were cheaper than living in London and I think we’re not alone in that, so that’s probably…..that’s probably pushed up prices and there have been many jokes about…….outsiders coming in and pushing prices up, and people who were born in the area not being able to afford those prices and having to move away, and I think that’s happened everywhere nationally, and it’s probably more to do with how the property market is……nurtured or otherwise in England, because I think we all pay quite a price for having a roof over our heads. We now know, because we have children, and we hope and wish that they can have their own homes one day but we know how hard it is to start that.

     

    TW:

    Have they moved away?

     

    TI:

    Yes. One is in the south and the other one lives in Leeds, and I think…..they moved away willingly because they wanted experience, and I think we brought up our children with a sense of ‘you don’t have to remain in the locality that you were brought up in’. We do encourage them to go and experience other environments, and some do……you know, that oldest daughter wanted to do that when she was eighteen really. The younger ones….

     

    AI:

    Well, although she’d like to live…..she’d like to live here now but she’s got a family

     

    TI:

    Now that she’s got a daughter, yes, she’d like to sort of come back

     

    AI:

    It’s getting the work.

     

    TW:

    So well, that’s two different things I was going to ask about. One is….is to do with work, I mean when you moved up here was it because you wanted to raise a family in a nice place or did you have work here to come to, or it wasn’t just the cheap house prices

     

    AI:

    No, we were a bit mad, being artists you know, we just did it. Tony set up his own business and I was still doing some work…..freelance work which was mainly going down to London to get it, but eventually that turned into more locally based stuff.

     

    TW:

    Right. So what kind of freelance work?

     

    AI:

    At that point I was…..well I sort of fell into doing a lot of illustrating for…….children’s…..academic school books and things

     

    TI:

    Educational.

     

    AI:

    Educational that’s the word, yes, but I sort of fell into that by mistake, but that was good [laughing]

     

    TW:

    So did it just sort of happen sort of thing?

     

    AI:

    Well I was interviewed…….potentially to design a cookery cover for a book and the guy who was interviewing me went and got the……..oh what was it…..

     

    TI:

    What were you going to say

     

    AI:

    Chap in charge of the company

     

    TI:

    Editor….no, manager

     

    AI:

    Manager, yeah…..I think I must have had some illustrations in my portfolio, and they needed an illustrator at the time so he came and said ‘ah, could you do these illustrations? Can you do colour?’ Which I never had……..and I said ‘well no I haven’t’……. ‘oh well give it a try and bring some back’ so…..so that was the beginning of quite a lot of work wasn’t it?

    TI:

    And what’s also quite interesting about this area, that probably had that been in London it would have been less easy for work to casually happen like that

     

    AI:

    Maybe…….yeah, casually

     

    TI:

    I was just thinking that I wonder if that’s another…..outsiders coming in to the area with their…..skills have been an attractive new injection of creative energy to the area, because it’s all very well talking about…….what’s the word…..nurturing an environment to remain as authentic as possible, but it’s actually this outside energy that probably added to the mix, brings new energy.

     

    AI:

    Well I think that happens everywhere, I mean my home town is Worthing on the south coast which is……was very well known as a retirement centre and the joke was that anybody on the Council there would have been from Yorkshire, so you know I think [laughing]…..that’s how it goes…..

     

    TW:

    So they were the other way round

     

    AI:

    So maybe other people who are a bit sort of….go-getty move around, I don’t know! [laughing]……they were retired, you know, people retire down there and then they find things to do.

     

    TW:

    Yes. Like join the Council!

     

    [laughing]

     

    TW:

    So Tony, have you…..the work that you do…..well what kind of work is that?

     

    TI:

    Well…..I think as a creative person, for me, the whole……the point of it is to continually be…..I’m interested in continually reinventing what I’m doing and the purposes, there was a stage where it’s quite difficult to work out how to make any money out of your creativity, and a bit like Anne I did have to stumble across making bits of furniture that………I thought might appeal to………a more adventurous clientele who might want to buy things to decorate their home; it seemed like a softer option for getting creative things into people’s homes - it actually wasn’t - it’s no easier putting a creative piece of furniture into a house than it is to put a painting or…..but I did enjoy that period and I did sell enough work to make it……a fruitful and….commercial enough success, though I think that’s……that’s part of the period that now is not relevant to me anymore; I’m not that interested in the commercial market place; I see myself much more like a mature ……..creative person who…..as long as I’ve got enough money to live on, it’s…..I don’t need to make lots of money out of my creativity but I do need to reinvent where it’s going, so the last three years I’ve actually been doing a digital media degree and that’s………re-jigged my creativity to suggest different pathways to carrying on, not…..and this is where we differ because Anne doesn’t understand why I would bother to get into all this techno stuff, and yet for me it’s been quite a delightful……….experience because it’s a new toy; I don’t know much about it and I’m not adopting it seriously; I’m adopting it like a playful child-like………adventure, but because it’s technology and it’s not how we were brought up as creative people, then we differ; I think Anne might agree, seeing it as a distraction from just developing one’s……it’s unnatural maybe to her, or……..whereas to me it’s actually exciting

     

    AI:

    It’s also…..it’s sort of….it’s more blocked in a way because it’s not easy to actually see what you’re doing…….so

     

    TI:

    From an audience point of view?

     

    AI:

    Yeah

     

    TI:

    But even from an artist’s point of view there isn’t much to do because a lot of what I’ve been doing over the last three years have been little playful experiments and, although I’m not embarrassed – I’m not worried about the fact that I’m learning and that somebody might say ‘oh that’s a bit of a pathetic little film, you call that animation?’ that’s not because I’m a sixty-year old artist; I don’t care about the evaluation of my creativity by society or culture and I think this……the fact that we have exhibitions and we try to sell art, and we’re all competing for levels of………acclaim seems like that’s a real distraction. We have got so…..up ourselves thinking we have to be great, or we have to be famous, or we have to be rich for it to be worth it and actually for me, it’s just worth it and I’m quite adamant about the strength of that, but it’s a lonely thing; I can share it with probably a few people, but there’s no point my saying ‘oh I’m going to put a film show out of these little experiments’ because they’re not for public consumption; they’re only for…..for private creative…..if there were other creative people who were on my wavelength I’d happily sit for an hour and say ‘well I’ll show you mine if you show me yours’ – that kind of thing – and I think that’s….that’s good

     

    TW:

    There is a tour of very short films running from the Shetlands down to Southampton and back again.

     

    TI:

    Really?

     

    TW:

    Have you seen any of them?

     

    TI:

    No

     

    TW:

    Mark Kermode was talking about it on ‘The Culture Show’ – they’re all very….very short, you know, two or three minutes, that sort of thing, but there seems to be quite a lot of them about all sorts of things really, and I just wondered whether you’d known about that and sort of…..

     

    TI:

    No, I……I’ve not tuned into that world yet because I’m only freshly into this digital thing and for me it’s still about playing and still about playing from the root of being a fine artist who was……what’s the word…..educated with painting and drawing , in inverted commas educated, because in the seventies there wasn’t a rigid education in these skills - it was really up to you – whatever you called painting and drawing could be painting and drawing in the early seventies, so really……it’s an open environment for what we……whatever develops our creativity and that’s remained the case still I think, and most young people are encouraged to keep on keeping it open, except they want skills, they want more skills and I think Anne’s experienced that probably more than me, that she’s given……people enjoy being given skills by somebody who has……that knowledge to pass on, whereas for me it’s still about experimenting and playing

     

    TW:

    Do you have works that you can show me a little

     

    TI:

    I have; I’m on video, so I think what you were saying about…I think I’ve had one visitor which is my daughter [laughing]…….and I sort of think ‘oh well it’s…..it’s a joke’ but it’s still there, and I don’t mind it being…..it’s a public place that people could go to, but…..I’m not embarrassed about it, it’s just…..there isn’t much tangibility to saying ‘oh blimey that’s a great film Tony’ – it’s not about that – it’s not trying to be a great film, it’s trying to be a creative enterprise, and carry on being the creative enterprise, I’m gone, so for me, that’s…

     

    AI:

    I think we….we’re the same in that way, that it’s about our creative journey and we’re not actually really bothered about other people entering into it

     

    TI:

    We don’t mind sharing

     

    AI:

    No no, not at all

     

    TI:

    I mean you’ve had exhibitions, you’ve put your work in exhibitions

     

    AI:

    Well I’ve put my work in exhibitions, but I’ve never really gone out of my way to exhibit - we’ve never applied for any grants for anything – we sort of were a little bit too late for all of that, weren’t we?

     

    TI:

    Maybe

     

    AI:

    We found other ways of being able to do it for ourselves, so……

     

    TW:

    I mean I know when the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival initially began twenty-odd years ago I think it was, you were part of that I remember

     

    TI:

    Yes

     

    TW:

    Are you still part of it in any way?

     

    AI:

    Now and then……..yeah we did it…….three or four years ago, probably longer!

     

    TI:

    Yes I think that sense of taking part with other people in something, but I think when your creativity is……is about changing yourself so much it’s a…..it’s a bit of a private thing, you know…….I probably would like to have conversations with creative people but I don’t want to stand in my studio and explain anything to anybody; it’s sort of…..now and again I think that the people who do open up their studios are very generous and say ‘here I am, come in, walk around’…….there’s always a sense of judgment and….people sort of walking round spaces that you’ve spent three years building work in, in five minutes then walking out again with a sense of……they’ve……what’s the word…..categorised you; I do it myself, you know, I go into a studio and say ‘oh yes, I know, I understand this’ and it’s…..it’s not….there is a sense of trivialising…..we see too much, where there is too much available, we take it all for granted……on the other hand, this is people’s creative lives and they’ve invested so much, they spend money on their studios, they buy materials and they invest a lot of their heart and soul into this practice, so when they open the door it is….it’s a privilege that they’re doing that for an audience, so great, it’s not something I particularly want to do very often myself. I like that invitation, yes, one creative…..come in, or just a person, come in, have a chat, engage in sharing what we do spontaneously, but the whole rigmarole of, to be honest, the whole rigmarole of exhibitions and framing work

     

    AI:

    We used to run a gallery ; that’s one of things that we did in our naivety when we were in London….we had a gallery for unknown artists, which we lived above, and we did that for a couple of years and I think that was quite a learning curve really wasn’t it?

     

    TI:

    It gives a practical basis…..it is about, you know, persuading people that it’s worth spending money on scribbles on bits of paper because they’re meaningful and they can enrich your environment when you place them in your home, but they cost money, and to get a public to understand that paying money isn’t a desperately serious thing, it’s quite…..it should be light-hearted and I think we should pay money because it’s enjoyable to spend that money, if you have it; if you don’t have it you don’t buy art and you shouldn’t waste your money on art if you can’t afford it; it is really for people who can afford it. I can’t afford it, but I would never ask….you know, not expect an artist to sell their work, and I think that’s the thing you’re saying….it’s very hard to get people to understand they have to pay.

     

    TW:

    You talk about art being maybe a…..partially it’s a spiritual journey and it’s about exploration and reinventing, but then you have a kind of disillusionment about trying to become famous shall we say, but if as an artist you want to sell your work because it should be worth it…..it’s……it’s a funny world you’re talking about here isn’t it really, this whole kind of……mixture of like, people who can afford – are they buying it because…..is it an investment for them?

     

    TI:

    No.

     

    AI:

    That’s what they hope!

     

    TW:

    Well you see, you say no, you say yes

     

    TI:

    I say no very definitely; they should stop that

     

    AI:

    Well that’s what you would tell them!

     

    AI:

    I would tell them ‘just stop that - that’s a ridiculous approach to buying art. Because art costs money; it costs a creative person….a large amount of their time has been invested in bringing about this piece of work. If you are spending that money because you think somehow it’s……about securing this amount of money into something, we’ll call it art, and one day I shall be able to get that amount of money back and I shall have more money’….that is a total spoiler to what creativity is about, and what creativity is about

     

    AI:

    But all of that happened, you know, starting with sort of Tracey Emin and so on, it’s suddenly become something or it did become something that actually you could invest in…..living artists, young living artists, and that sort of happened after our time didn’t it?

     

    TI:

    Yes, and it’s happened for very definite reasons, for market place reasons, just like……money

     

    AI:

    When we were at college there was no talk of we’d actually do after we did our degree

     

    TI:

    Nobody knew, nobody knew they could sell their work

     

    AI:

    No, we weren’t told anything by our tutors; we weren’t trained in how to sell ourselves, market or anything like that. You did the course because you wanted to explore art, that’s what it was about……and then obviously that….it was at that time when people…..actually could go to college and it didn’t cost them any money and there was a knock-on effect for British industry, because of the creativity of the people that were involved in the art colleges, so I think it worked as an idea but we were just part of that weren’t we?

     

    TI:

    Well maybe we come from that period of time where we were not worried about making money; it was…..money wasn’t a big incentive for what we did - even the jobs that we did - we basically did jobs that just about gave you a living; you didn’t think ambitiously about money. The ambitions were always internal things, they were spiritual things or…..you know, just wanting your work to get better in some form and not better because it would make you famous, or rich, it just got more interesting, got deeper, or……and that’s probably remained, the main core values, certainly for me, you know, even though I’ve had…..I am commercially astute, I do expect people to pay money for what I do, but I also don’t expect everybody to be able to pay for it, and I…….you know, it’s…….it’s the product

     

    TW:

    Do you follow the art world still?

     

    TI:

    No.

     

    AI:

    You maybe do a little bit more than me

     

    TI:

    Well do I?

     

    AI:

    Maybe not! [laughing]

     

    TI:

    Well I think I’ve become much more internalised over the last three years because of the nature of digital work in a way and computers and

     

    AI:

    You’re looking at different things now aren’t you? We’re looking at different things to each other now.

     

    TI:

    Yes.

     

    TW:

    Have you looked at the Hockney things then?

     

    AI:

    Oh yes

     

    TI:

    Yes

     

    AI:

    Yeah we did go to the……Hockney down in London

     

    TW:

    And what did you think of that?

     

    AI:

    And surprisingly enjoyed it; I think both of us did didn’t we?

     

    TI:

    Yes.

     

    AI:

    We went separately

     

    TI:

    Well I work in a hospice two days a week, and what’s exciting with working with people who don’t have an art background or…..is that when they get enthusiasms it’s…..it’s majorly stimulating for us all, and this group of people who are living with life threatening illness wanted to go all the way to London to see this major exhibition of…..of course David Hockney isn’t a ‘local artist’, in inverted commas obviously, but we had a fantastic time because not only was the work of this…..abstracted nature which forces people without an art training to question ‘well what’s he doing and why is this slapping of paint alright? Why is it good?’….or ‘what is actually going on, on these huge canvases?’ and I think that does get communicated by…..to ordinary people by David Hockney’s work because I think his market place is fairly broad and…….expresses that enthusiasm for looking and interpreting what he sees

     

    AI:

    He’s very good at putting over those…..what to use are very simple ideas but actually they’re probably not very simple ideas, so actually we could be quite thankful to him really.

     

    TW:

    Well I mean, he’s always chased technology in a way hasn’t he, all of the photograph pieces that he did almost, and that cubist kind of way of looking at things

     

    AI:

    Yeah

     

    TW:

    I mean they were like twenty foot high, massive big things

     

    TI:

    Yes

     

    TW:

    With hundreds and hundreds of photographs creating an image, and that was just…..the beginning of that kind of technology, so now it’s moved on and he’s doing this sort of thing

     

    TI:

    Yes, well the iPad, I mean it is interesting that really, because David Hockney is so rich he can actually blow up an iPad image to a massive scale and…….exploit that excitement which is there when you play on the iPad, but what….what it generated in….as I say one of the patients, he said ‘oh my God’ because he had an iPhone and he began to draw on his iPhone and recognised just the…..excitement of that electronic mark, and in way that…..that makes it accessible for people, making a mark on your iPad – ‘wow, that was easy’ – it doesn’t make any mess, it doesn’t require huge materials, it’s an app on your phone and in a way you link with somebody who is a very creative artist……and that’s good for all of us because it’s……it’s encouraging everyone’s perceptions to…….you know, expand to that horizon because art is not about this one little channel and I think what’s interesting with digital technology, with film and animation and games and…….it’s spreading the idea that it’s going to be very difficult to make these separate little channels for creative experience. People are going to be producing works of art that have many many many multi…….influences in the future which can only be good as far as I’m concerned

     

    TW:

    Though does that make……the old skills redundant in a kind of way do you think? You know, drawing and painting and knowing about watercolours or oils or acrylics, or whatever that might be. Is there still a place for that sort of thing?

     

    AI:

    Well I’d like to think so, but whether there really are…..is, I don’t know. I mean it’s sort of sad going around colleges these days and realising that all these sort of skills have gone or are going, and that students are all working on computers

     

    TI:

    And why are they going? I think that’s the…..that’s the subversive……I can’t think what the right word is, but there is……they’re going for the wrong reasons; they’re going because money for space is more valuable if you assess it in terms of students per square foot, and I think if you dedicate a messy space to an art student that’s going to splash paint around for three years it’s far too expensive, when you could get three students in there on two computers or let’s give them three computers, and much cheaper, and

     

    TW:

    You really think it’s as crass as that?

     

    TI:

    I do

     

    AI:

    It might be, because probably it’s different people who are working out money these days, you know, how to spend the money

     

    TI:

    I’m sure it is, but the optimistic thing is that students aren’t stupid and in the end there’s going to be a

     

    AI:

    There’s quite a lot of revival of things like…..you know, our daughter’s just been doing a proper photography…..well they both have, they’ve both done proper photography using cameras

     

    TW:

    Using chemicals

     

    AI:

    Using chemicals, yes, developing their own photographs, and they’re very keen on this sort of thing actually, so……until perhaps they’ve got a load of rubbish at the end of it and it’s much easier to use a digital camera [laughing]

     

    TI:

    Well it’s….I don’t think it’s about nostalgia, I think what will tend to happen is probably the memory of those old….the sensation of material, the material world that we were all brought up in will come back

     

    AI:

    Do you know it’s theatrical isn’t it, I mean to go into art studios where people have their own little spaces which they’re sploshing the paint around in and, there’s the smell of oil paints and what have you, it’s a really theatrical experience. Walking into a room full of computers, there might be amazing stuff actually happening and theatrical stuff happening on the computer, but you don’t experience it in the same way

     

    TI:

    No, and it’s hidden from you. I did this course as I say and what was really bizarre was that it’s only on the final year show that you realise what people might have been working in; there isn’t a shared experience within a space; it’s….the space is very internalised because it’s computer based, and I like that because I’m new to it but as a young person I’d probably feel….because I’ve had the other world, I’ve had the big material world and I can throw things on the floor if I…..I have my own personal studio space so it’s not, I’m not deprived of that, but I think this younger generation have been deprived of those material experiences. I’m sure they’ll find them because they’ll find them in the streets of……if they need them, but they’re not being encouraged to explore those sensations and is being somehow…..

     

    TW:

    Do you think they’re being….I don’t know what the word is…..mainstreamed shall we say, so that if you really wanted to do something different you’d become a graffiti artist say, or in like you say in the seventies there was an attitude that you were exploring and learning, whereas now it isn’t about, you know, exploring so much it’s more about being taught skills that would get you a job

     

    TI:

    Well, I’m going to just say, I think that’s a pessimistic aspect and I think most…….enlightened tutors would say ‘no, we want to engender that creativity in the students’ but the students find it very difficult to find that place because they haven’t come from schools where….so it already hasn’t happened at school; they’ve had tick-boxing at school, they think that that’s the only way it can be assessed, so they want to know how they’re going to assessed before exploring

     

    AI:

    Yeah, which is really weird for us isn’t it but it actually…is meaningful to them, how they’re being assessed

     

    TI:

    That’s their conditioning, you know, nobody cared about us, that’s why we were free, it was great

     

    AI:

    I mean we were ultimately assessed but

     

    TI:

    Yes, but we didn’t care about the assessment either, you know, I didn’t get my degree; I refused to write my essays; I was a stupid twenty-one year old, so I rejected getting a qualification which I now……didn’t work that hard to get, but I did sort of have to get that piece of paper, so it’s quite amusing how different these…..periods of time have been with the conditioning

     

    TW:

    On Radio 4 this morning there was a programme on, about a young man called Cosmo Jarvis I think his name was, who is a kind of…a bit of a songwriter but he also makes little films; they’re not just…..you know, just MTV things of him stood there singing his songs, they’re actually creative things, and he’s made quite a lot of these and what he said, when he was at school, was he said ‘we were only taught to do the exam so we didn’t actually….we weren’t educated about anything, we were just….you know, given answers’ so to speak, he said ‘which stopped me being creative so I had to do it my own way’ and it sounds like you seem to think that sort of thing as well – there’s like a whole…..more than one generation, you know, of children through school who have been kind of programmed in a way, rather than allowed to learn really, you know. Do you think that’s true?

     

    TI:

    That is true, and I think the sadness is that they’re a bit frightened of what their own way is, because it hasn’t been qualified. Nobody has said ‘your way is good’ – nobody said ‘our way was good but we didn’t care and we weren’t forced to care by saying look, well, you know, I was in a sense’……if you performed within these categories you get the rewards and the rewards are this bit of paper or this mark, but if you perform outside of that you learnt a personal richness that stays with you, and I think that’s what I’ve got out of my liberal education at an art school and it didn’t cost me anything so I didn’t pay £18,000 like my daughter has done to have her education, but I certainly don’t regret a single moment of that whereas she probably is a bit….a bit regretful. She’s got this debt that she has to pay back, and she’s wondering if ‘that was the right thing for me’.

     

    TW:

    Well Anne said that you thought it was very good for business and industry, the liberal education through the seventies because people who came out of that system actually did things in industry, and you’re saying

     

    TI:

    And they did them differently

     

    TW:

    And now it’s not really like that, it’s almost like…..your daughter is…..she’s learnt photography which is a great skill to have, and probably a lot of different ways of making money or having, you know, out of that, but she

     

    AI:

    I don’t know though…..go on, yes

     

    TW:

    You know, she’s obviously looked into it and said ‘oh maybe there isn’t’ you know….did she not choose it because she loved it?

     

    AI:

    There are hoardings on the M62 now that say ‘learn the skill of photography and get a job’ or words to that effect – it’s utterly hilarious you know, I mean, what….well I know what that’s about, but those people are not gonna get jobs [laughing]……

     

    TI:

    Well, the pessimism is to do with young people having a tough time at the minute, you know, there are a million young people out of work; our daughter’s not been out of work, but they’ve got very……low skilled employment for their degrees; they’re not following…..careers….well one’s a mother so she’s stopped her career and she has

     

    AI:

    Yeah but she did have very well paid jobs

     

    TI:

    She had a well paid job, but again nothing to do with her archaeology

     

    AI:

    No, not to do with her degree

     

    TI:

    Not to do with her degree, so………I can say that I’ve always….my degree has been relevant throughout my life. It’s not given me a job, ever, but it’s

     

    AI:

    It has now! [laughing]

     

    TI:

    Well, in the sense that it’s my creativity that’s given me the job; it’s not going to art school and getting a BA

     

    AI:

    Oh no, no

     

    TI:

    So…..whereas they’ve gone to university and they’ve got a degree, and they’ve got their 2:1s and, you know, that surely is worth something; well it’s only the beginning of worth something because lots of people have got that, so I’ve got to fight even harder to get more qualifications; the pressure for them is about qualifying, fitting in, somebody giving me a job. I think we were luckier in the seventies because we scrapped about and somehow a living was put together from these various scraps, and that’s how we’ve carried on our lives; neither of us have ever had a full-time job I don’t think; Anne might have had one before she went to college but I don’t think you’ve had one since. You finished your degree in Fine Art…..

     

    AI:

    No

     

    TI:

    No, but we managed to survive and bring up a family

     

    AI:

    Oh, for a little bit…

     

    TI:

    Well, you know, fundamentally we’re not….we’ve been allowed not to live nine-to-five lives, bring up two children and several cats, have a roof over your head and carry on having a fairly comfortable, simple, middle-class lifestyle, well, that’s probably difficult nowadays; I think people would feel much more pressured to have to earn much more money than we had to earn for our lifestyles

     

    TW:

    Do you think then, the gap between scraping by and…..being a nine-to-fiver is kind of…..gotten farther apart shall we say?

     

    TI:

    Definitely. To me it seems like that because I know our youngest daughter works extremely hard in a caring profession. She’s never going to be paid very much, even if she reaches a managerial stage which she’s quite capable of doing, she’s only twenty-five, but she can see it as…..is she going to be able to afford to buy a property, and her boyfriend Mini, he’s still a student – he works part time – rents, in Leeds anyway, seem to be not…..very affordable for both of them sharing that lifestyle…..how long will they have to live in that lifestyle before they can say ‘well you know what, we can have a three week holiday in the sun on our income’…..they’ll be thinking ‘we don’t have enough money’…..they don’t drive cars, they don’t…..you know, it’s a basic existence and yet they……they work

     

    TW:

    Do you think, you know, I’m the same era as you; I’m sixty and I went to art school in the early seventies and all that, but do you think we were almost privileged because….the people, some of the older people, who are in their nineties now who I have interviewed, back in the twenties and thirties they lived at home until they were quite old and be able to save enough money to put a down payment on a cottage somewhere in this area, but all that sort of changed in the fifties and sixties and seventies

     

    TI:

    It did

     

    TW:

    Is it just….life goes like that sometimes, it’s up and down

     

    AI:

    I think so yeah

     

    TI:

    Yes, and…….I think I regret that it was easier for our generation than it is for our children because I’m sensitive to their….it would be nice if their life was a bit easier I think, or they had a bit more spare money, and I think, for us, it’s been alright, you know, and we haven’t had to work supersonically hard to have this life; I know my father would have worked supersonically hard to have his lifestyle, but then he had a pension at the end and he was secure in his job but he had to give himself to this company or that job for the thirty-five, forty years that he did do. Your

     

    TW:

    My father was similar, yes

     

    TI:

    Yeah, and our fathers did that; that was their sense of responsibility, but that’s what they had to do to bring up their family; we were lucky that we didn’t need to do that and I think a major reason why we didn’t need to do that and I will admit this, is to do with the housing market. We all did up our houses, so we might have been creative people but we all had a little bit of nouse, that we bought our properties instead of renting, and we put in that extra bit of……..effort into making our houses pretty interesting places to sell on and the market place was up for that at that time, but we put that in; I mean my parents never did that in the house. My dad just used to redecorate the house once a year or once every two years, but he’d never knock a wall down and put a bathroom in or….it wasn’t seen as necessary; you just made do with what you could afford, whereas our generation was brought up to think…..it didn’t cost us loads of money to do that either, so….I think that must be to do with how we’ve been allowed to have such a….a liberal lifestyle and yet still have………a comfortable life.

     

    TW:

    So I mean your children then, they’ve learnt these skills that they’ve got…..do you think they have the same kind of view of life shall we say, that you two have?

     

    AI:

    I think it’s coming round because I think that….well certainly our oldest daughter looked at us and thought ‘oh they’re artists and they don’t really have that much money. I want more than that’ so that’s what she chased, but actually I think there’s the other side of her as well, so it’s always going to be a bit of a battle really

     

    TI:

    Yes, because you chase more money but it costs you more to chase more money, so you……you have to work harder probably, you have to dedicate yourself to particularly career standards, you love those careers or those jobs, then you are sacrificing a little bit of your spirituality in that, and that balance between ‘what will make me happier’ – living in a modest house or……or living in an area where housing is cheap....is housing…….I keep coming back to housing because I think it’s been a major security for our family life. If we were living on incomes that we’ve been living on and didn’t own our own house, we’d probably be quite poor I’d say, but the fortunate thing is that we started in our own properties at a time where property appreciated, and that’s made us comfortable and able to carry on being creative….the pressure would always be Anne would like me to be an assurance agent, I know, we’ve had this conversation [laughing]…..and how good would that have been for my soul, my God, imagine

     

    TW:

    Do you think your children will come back to this area?

     

    AI:

    Maybe…..yeah maybe

     

    TI:

    I don’t think we’re going to move out of this area, because one was in the south and now we’ve got a grandchild and we sort of think ‘oh should we buy a little modest flat and live next to our granddaughter and’……

     

    AI:

    But then we’ve got another one up here so…..so really, you know…..

     

    TW:

    You’re stuck

     

    AI:

    Yeah, exactly, yeah

     

    TI:

    I think the main thing is that creatively, it doesn’t matter where we live; this is the area that we’ve lived in the longest out of all the areas we’ve lived in, so… ..but…..this home…do we…..does our generation need anywhere to be home, because our children have moved away and….do we see it as that’s the cycle of life, you know, that they’ll bring up children to live in Leeds or live in a city somewhere; does that matter to us? I don’t think so because I don’t come from a very rooted…..family, so place is slightly immaterial

     

    TW:

    I was just thinking about that, I mean you were born in…..your early life was in Egypt, and now with the Arab Spring as they call it

     

    TI:

    The unusual thing about my upbringing is not…..I’m not an Egyptian brought up in Egypt; we were Greek Cypriots and Italians brought up in Egypt and after Suez, that’s why we were exiles from Egypt - all Europeans were kicked out - so…..I don’t identify with Egypt as being my roots, so I am not an identified in-root type person other than…..obviously I have qualities that, you know, my grandmother was Italian; my grandfather was Greek Cypriot but I didn’t know any of the grandfathers so my main inheritances are European and Southern European but I was born in Egypt, and so I have memories of the smells of streets in Cairo that are obviously quite different to the streets of Hebden Bridge, so…….but they……I think…..I’ve travelled quite a bit and I identify with a lot of other cultures, but slightly outside, slightly removed; I’m not……I can’t identify with any one particular nationality or type of person and say ‘oh that’s where I belong’….I don’t think I properly need to belong anywhere other than in some creative space, you know, for me.

     

    TW:

    Right.

     

    TI:

    You?

     

    AI:

    Oh I think it’s a bit different for me because my family was very rooted in that one area, so yeah, I probably still think that I’m actually from Sussex, you know, that is my home even though I only spent nineteen years there, and I didn’t think it was fantastic! I’d probably like it better now than I did as a young person.

     

    TW:

    So you wouldn’t want to go back there then because your family have been there for generations?

     

    AI:

    It’s a very nice part of the world, I mean we’ve built up our friendships and things around her now, so the great thing about the south coast is that it’s warm and sunny which is very nice [laughing] I do miss that and no midges – fantastic!

     

    TW:

    I’m just wondering, is there anything that I haven’t actually asked about that you might want to talk about…..about Heptonstall or Hebden Bridge or…..creativity, or about being removed, you know, being somewhere on the outside, either as an artist or as a person? Is there anything I haven’t asked about?

     

    AI:

    Obviously we could go on for a long long time….

     

    TI:

    It’s a good position to be in, you know, feeling on the outside…..even on my BA course, I was talking to somebody yesterday and saying ‘well you know what, as an older person I felt on the outside of all these young people doing their degrees’ but actually it’s….it’s although it’s slightly lonely and that’s not a word I’m using in a sentimental way, it’s a separateness from culturally belonging and being part of, and that’s alright, it’s not……it’s a useful place to be because it means you can observe and you can contribute from a different place as well. It doesn’t cost you as much by not being fully integrated in the culture

     

    TW:

    Did it cost you £9000 a year then to do this course?

     

    TI:

    No, less because it’s just gone up to £8000 now so it was £3000 and a bit

     

    TW:

    You got in there early!

     

    TI:

    Yes

     

    AI:

    Just in time

     

    TI:

    Well just in time; they only changed it last year wasn’t it?

     

    TW:

    I think it was yes, I think you’re right there

     

    TI:

    But it will get, you know, if I was to do a post-graduate it would cost me £8000.

     

    TW:

    Right…..okay, well I think we’ll leave it there then if that’s okay, and…

     

    TI:

    Well it’s been nice to remember all these things

     

    TW:

    Maybe it’s one of the things that will……you will keep up thinking about, that sort of thing, and you know, it might find its way into your creativity.

     

    AI:

    Right, yeah………

    [END OF TRACK 1]

    Read more

  • Interviews and Storytelling: Steve and Joanna Anderson

    [TRACK 1]

    TW:

    Okay it’s Tony Wright, it’s the 28th of April 2011 and I’m talking to Steve and Joanna at their home in Mytholmroyd.  In turn, can each of you tell me your full name and where and when you were born?

     

    STEPHEN ANDERSON:

    I’m Steven Anderson and I was born in 1961 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

     

    JOANNA CHRISTINA:

    And my name’s Joanna Christina and I was born in 1955 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

     

    TW:

    So you’re both from Newcastle.  Is that where you met?

     

    SA:

    No we met in Leeds.

     

    TW:

    So how did you get to Leeds?

     

    SA:

    I came to Leeds having met somebody who was working in Leeds in 1981.

     

    TW:

    What work was that?

     

    SA:

    It was theatre and I was working at Newcastle Theatre Royal and met somebody who was working for Opera North in Leeds, and moved down at that time.

     

    TW:

    Did you work at Opera North then?

     

    SA:

    Opera North I worked for and Leeds Grand Theatre, and some other theatre, for the City Varieties and the Civic occasionally at that time.  I think the Civic’s still going in Leeds, and I still maintain contact with Leeds Grand; up until a few weeks ago I was working for them

     

    TW:

    What kind of work do you do there?

     

    SA:

    These days it’s stage work; in the earlier days it was electrics – lighting and sound, but having then trained as a joiner in Leeds in 1987, I tend to be on the stage side of things these days, doing sets.

     

    TW:

    And how did you come to be in Leeds then?

     

    JC:

    Well, although I was born in Newcastle a couple of hundred yards from where Stephen was later to live, funnily enough,  my parents moved to London. My father was a Civil Servant, a very clever man, so I was brought up in the south-east and Dad worked at Whitehall, and funnily enough, had just been promoted to come back to Newcastle when he died, so we stayed in the south-east for ages. And then in the eighties I got a bit cheesed off with the political situation in the south-east and decided to move to a Labour area, and I applied for a job as a teacher in Halifax. So I came to Halifax in ’87 and……decided, because I was used to London, decided that I needed to live in a big city and bought a house in Leeds, and that’s eventually how we met, by a long route, although we both happened to start in Newcastle.

     

    TW:

    So were you a teacher in the south before you moved to Leeds?

     

    JC:

    I’d just trained

     

    TW:

    And what had you done previous to being a teacher?

     

    JC:

    Oh gosh, well a lot of things….I was working abroad for a couple of years for Oxfam in Sudan in the famine, and while I was there decided that I would teach so I came back from there and trained…..before that, umpteen things, usually to do with children in various contexts.

     

    TW:

    Well, I’d like to get onto the business that you do together which is ‘I Spice’….how did that come about?

     

    SA:

    …….it had been in the background ever since Jo and I lived together, which is twenty….twenty one years or so, because so often when people have come to eat, they’ve told us to open a restaurant….and it was a sort of standing family joke really “when we opened the restaurant,” but…I was teaching, training to teach at Leeds College of Building and…. was travelling from here to Leeds every day which was a very long day, you know, working with….pre-sixteen children who were…

     

    JC:

    Reluctant

     

    SA:

    Yes, reluctant students [laughing], so twelve hour days, five days a week and also having to train to teach within the work day as well….I became exhausted really…to the point where I took some time off, and in that time off from teaching which was, you know, I really benefited from in many ways……there came up this idea to do something different.  While I was deciding what we should do, ‘I Spice’ was born out of that, and the name ‘I Spice’ was another family joke; it was “I Spice with my pan fry,” which was coined at the dinner table one night and we decided to give it a go and it rapidly took over really; it moved from a casual sort of idea about having seen how it went, to becoming a bona-fide business in a matter of weeks, you know, with the insurance and…..the people that come into the kitchen….Environmental Health…..and all these implications presented themselves, and it became a real business.  It still seems extraordinary that we are managing to create an income from four rings in the kitchen.

     

    JC:

    I mean initially we were just going to see how it went weren’t we?  Put our toe in the water, and so the idea of basket food. But it was so popular, in fact somebody said to us, a customer said to us ‘why don’t you do a curry night?’ I think in about the second week or something, it was very early, and so it snowballed very very quickly, and because we were open to see what would happen, we tried it and it’s been good.

     

    SA:

    And also I think, I don’t know if it’s simply a Hebden Bridge thing that there was an awful lot of support from publicans and customers, which is very encouraging and it still remains very encouraging

     

    JC:

    People are very welcoming, yes that’s true

     

    SA:

    Which is…..confirms this thing that people have been saying for so long when they come to dinner, “Steve you should open a restaurant.” It seems to have a similar context that may be true.

     

    TW:

    How did you come to choose the sort of, the Asian food that you cook other than anything else?

     

    SA:

    Well…..I’ve always had a fondness for it, for the area I’m from in Newcastle which has a strong Asian community; lots of Asians in the street and an Asian supermarket at the end of the street which I became familiar with, an Asian take away, which is now very well known in the area:  Brighton Halal Tandoori, because of its quality and ]it’s got a really long standing nature, people all know of it, and that was my introduction to cooking. When I started cooking for myself I gave up meat in a very standard English cuisine household, and it was the Asian stuff that I started cooking,  which maintained my interest because it was very tasty.

     

    JC:

    But it’s fair to say that introduced you to spices.  We’re doing the Asian stuff at the moment for two reasons.  One, I think the spicy stuff goes well in the basket but really the curry night, because a ‘curry night’ is a concept that works in a pub, and the pub has been our venue. You know, we’ve been looking for premises, in which case our offer would change completely and we would have World food because Stephen’s very good with Middle Eastern, Chinese and Thai. So spices is the theme rather than Indian.

     

    TW:

    Oh right, I see, yeah.

     

    JC:

    But that’s what you see at the moment [laughing]

     

    TW:

    So a kind of, a place of your own to actually start a restaurant; that’s your vision of where it would go?

     

    SA:

    I think we remain open to what comes along really.  It’s……we present as very well formed in what we’re doing because of the way Jo has presented it, people see it as this is what this is, it’s very convincing.  The….in the back of my mind what we’re doing remains quite open and we’ll just see how it goes, rather than ‘this is what we’re doing’

     

    JC:

    Having said that, we have pursued a premise so that was an idea at one point.  It hasn’t materialised.

     

    SA:

    There’s no fixed idea about what we’re going to do in a premise. If a premise came along. we would do what felt pertinent to that location, that’s…..as a craftsperson, coz I’m a joiner and I’ve also worked with special needs which was fantastic…..it really opens your view of yourself and people; for me it’s a way of being receptive to what is actually happening rather than having a fixed idea of anything, so creativity is what I would like to feel is the starting point of anything that we do, and see how we can best respond to a premise, or a particular location, or working with a particular group of people to get the….what was correct for that situation.

     

    TW:

    What had been the drawbacks to finding a premise then?  A premises should I say, because you’re just looking in Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge.  Have you looked further a field or is it the cost, the business rates, what stopped you from doing that?

     

    SA:

    Well there’s those factors you’ve mentioned, there’s….the nature of the food we present….which is without meat or dairy stuff

     

    JC:

    Which ties us to Hebden Bridge, really.

     

    SA:

    It dictates a client group, it seems, although we still remain open to other ideas, but…..along the lines of what I was saying about going into somewhere and feeling you would do what was important for that location, there was also going into a place and feeling ‘well we could do something with this’ which…..when we were looking for a house in the area, we looked at dozens of houses and we never thought we’d be in a brick bungalow, but coming into it, we thought,  ‘we could do something with it’

     

    TW:

    So you picked this house because you thought you could develop it and add to it and change it, and turn it into a home, the kind of place you’d like to live?

     

    SA:

    Yeah.  There was potential, to do something and scope for the creativity that we have, for my skills as a craftsperson.  Jo’s very complementary skills and vision of things. We work very well together at the things we approach together. I have the practical skills and Jo has a much more…..integrated vision of how things could be.

     

    TW:

    So this vision that you possess, when you look at this house….how did you look at it?  What did you envisage then of it becoming

     

    JC:

    Well, it’s a bungalow but it had an attic space that was tall enough to stand in, and it has a cellar, so two huge empty spaces.  We’ve converted the attic space and we may yet do the cellar, although practical things always take longer than you think, and we’ll see, we’ll see….but I think to answer the question about what stopped us getting premises, we have seriously pursued a place for some months, and it turned out that….let’s say…the state of the property wasn’t adequate for us to invest our energy and our monies in that, and as something else came up, the planning wouldn’t have it you know, so at the moment it’s not obvious how that will transpire.

     

    TW:

    It seems how you do curry nights in pubs, and pubs are closing down, would it not perhaps be an idea to look at buying a pub where you cold actually live as well as have your business, or would that be too constraining do you think, or too expensive?

     

    SA:

    It’s something that we considered, but the…..we discuss these things

     

    JC:

    On a regular basis [laughing]

     

    SA:

    It feels as though when something’s correct, like coming here, “Oh yes, this is worthwhile putting some effort into,” and there are other times when we’ve thought ‘we could have a go at that.’ And we got this other property that Jo was talking about, and we went along the way, being open-minded about it, and then it came to the point where we thought ‘no this isn’t going to work’ and…

     

    JC:

    And that’s how we do it, and that’s fun, it’s fun to do things that way, and because you know, you re-design your offer and you think ‘well what can I do in this space as opposed to the other space’ and that’s kind of fun, because you’re renewing your thoughts all the time, which alters how you then continue with the thing that you’re doing, so it informs that very small thing that we’re doing now which is lovely. But this space is great and we have a family, and we have Steve’s dad living with us so it’s not obvious that we’d move from here, it’s more of a question of how we can extend what we’re doing in a different way, and a premises may not materialise; it may be that we support other pubs, or, you know…we’ll see.

     

    SA:

    Well, like you’re saying about pubs closing down, it’s quite a painful process to witness that, and at the moment what we’re doing, it feels as though has been supportive to pubs in us going in; no commitment for the pub, we’ve done what we’ve done, taken it in, and pulled some extra people in who wouldn’t have gone in otherwise, so it feels like a supportive thing to be doing for the local pubs.

     

    JC:

    And working together is great, I mean getting to know people and working together with businesses that are here already is perhaps what we should be doing, but we’ll just wait and see.

     

    SA:

    And there’s lots and lots of thing that, you know, in our discussions we get lots of ideas that could enhance that.

     

    JC:

    Local suppliers, that’s another thing you see, using local business and that’s something that we’re beginning to go down now, is to use local suppliers so we really want to make it a local thing, and the premises is just one option.

     

    TW:

    So you’ve been in contact with farmers around and about?

     

    JC:

    Yes, and we have a supplier which will be able to provide some of what we use, and that’s really positive.

     

    SA:

    It’s very good stuff and not a conglomerate. 

     

    TW:

    I’ve got a sort of mixed question really.  Some pubs are closing down, but other pubs are actually turning more into restaurants rather than pubs, and partly it’s sort of…how does that affect the kind of thing that you do – going into pubs, bringing food into pubs; pubs that already have a  kind of menu as it were.  Presumably they’re not the sort of places that you would go to, and therefore which pubs have you been to – I mean would your rather say that or not say that

     

    SA:

    Well, we can refer to the nature of the pub without naming the pubs.  We’ve been in three pubs which have food offers themselves,

     

    JC:

    We’re in our fourth.

     

    SA:

    and they’ve been happy for us to go in because what we do is rather different, very different to what they’re offering, and I think the quality of what we do has been recognised, it’s quite distinct, so it’s not an issue.

     

    JC:

    I think the other thing is….that it seems that taking our food into a pub brings into the pub people who otherwise would not go to a pub, or that pub, and that kind of slightly changes the nature of the place you know, which I think is probably a good thing, as pubs are struggling to find their identity and their purpose.

     

    TW:

    I mean so, apart from you have the curry nights in pubs, but you also take a basket round and so for the finger food I suppose, in larger variety of pubs I should imagine.  How do those two things balance up within your sort of distance plan or kind of you know, venues that you go to, what sort of balance is there between the two?

     

    JC:

    I think it’s rather….there’s an overlap of clientele, but they are a bit different as well.  I mean obviously I’m selling finger food to many many more people, and it’s the late night crowd, it’s the people who are choosing to go to those venues anyway. Some of those people then come to the curry, but the curry being early evening, the people are coming for that usually, rather than just in the pub ‘oh and there’s a curry’ whereas they’re in the pub already for the basket food, it’s very much more revellers and party atmosphere with the basket food, and gorgeous food though it is and surprised though people are by the quality of it you know, as they are with the curries, they’re not necessarily making that choice in the way that they are to come and eat a meal. So it’s slightly different although there’s the link because you know, people get turned on by the finger food.

     

    TW:

    Well there is a tradition – there was a chap called Sammy Pie – I don’t know if you’ve heard of him

     

    JC:

    Not a particular individual, no.

     

    TW:

    He had a pie shop up Heptonstall Road and obviously he sold from the shop, but one of the main things that he did was take his pies all around the different pubs

     

    JC:

    In a basket?

     

    TW:

    Yes, at the end of the day

     

    JC:

    Oh interesting.  I haven’t heard that at all.  I’ve heard of the fish man

     

    TW:

    Yeah the fish man was cockles etc, but that was slightly later, so you’re carrying on a grand tradition really

     

    JC:

    How interesting

     

    TW:

    Which I think is a fascinating way of looking at it, so you have a pie man, a fish man and now

     

    JC:

    Spicy

     

    TW:

    And now a spicy one

     

    SA:

    …….there was a chap in Leeds that gave us…..something of the idea of going round the pubs, because he would go round a few pubs in Leeds late at night…..I don’t know if he had a basket or what he had, but onion bahjis and samosas…..so he was doing it in the mid eighties

     

    JC:

    It’s interesting you say that though because one of the pubs that we approached to start doing the basket food in Halifax…..initially the landlady said of her husband,  ‘oh no he doesn’t like food in the pub’ but when we spoke to him and explained how we did it with a basket and so forth, he bought it because it was a traditional image and his is a traditional pub absolutely. So we are the only food that goes into that pub, which is quite an honour really because it looks traditional, although obviously what we’re doing is not. So that’s quite interesting that you’re saying that.

     

    TW:

    Yeah.   I wanna get a bit more on to how you worked on the house and the different kinds of skills that you both have in bringing it together, so, joinery work and stone work or the sort of alternative energy that you’ve tried to incorporate.  Has that been a kind of slow progress of things, or how have you managed to do it really?

     

    SA:

    Well the skills that I have, have been accumulated over the last…..thirty years I suppose, you know, working in the theatre to start with and then training as a joiner….then I worked with a restoration builder in Herefordshire on green oak buildings, with the green oak construction and then…..I worked for another joiner within the Camphill scene– do you know Camphill?

     

    TW:

    I don’t, no

     

    SA:

    It’s for special needs which is a world-wide facility, Rudolf Steiner is the underlying philosophy and there was a joiner that I worked for on a project at Bottom Village, which is the largest Camphill in Britain and that was a very interesting renovation of a barn…..thirteen bedrooms, but that Camphill which is fantastic

     

    JC:

    Although our children always went to Rudolf Steiner schools when they were young, but this was the Camp Hill bit, it is a kind of the way we were thinking already.

     

    SA:

    And then we moved from North Yorkshire to Aberdeen and I worked with another builder there who was also…(I only just realised the connection here actually) that he was working for a Camphill as well, but then…..an association came about with this particular Camphill and they were looking for somebody to occupy a workshop and that…..again it was one of those opportunities, I thought ‘that’s worth having a go at, I could do something with that’ but I’d no idea what it was.  I went in and set the workshop up and was producing a lot of bespoke stuff, I had license to produce anything I wanted to with special needs people, so long as it was the special needs people that were actually doing the work, so I was guiding them, which was a great enhancement of my quite traditional training, that I was able to…..put but also  a way that I could... use my own ingenuity and creativity to produce ways for special needs people, some with very few motor skills, to produce some work, by making jigs and changing the process so people could actually make something. So all of that has, I would say, has manifested here in the skills I’ve employed to…..and also the green side of things and sustainability has been quite prevalent in Camphill, so again there’s been some knowledge I’ve gained there.

     

    TW:

    Can you elaborate a bit more on that green side of things?  When you talk about….you know, using wood…..what green issues are there about the types of wood that you use, or this sort of thing, what is part of your philosophy on that, on materials?

     

    SA:

    Well I’ve re-used much of the wood that was taken out of the roof because……rafters and purlins and joists and so on that were taken out of the roof, I’ve re-used all of that wherever I could, the roof latts off the tiles when I re-roofed it, as well as introducing quite high specification insulation…..just reducing waste. On a building site there’s no doubt policies in place to try and do this but it’s very difficult to do that when you’ve got the foreman saying ‘have you done that yet?’  Here I’ve taken it very slowly, but done it in a way that feels more comfortable with how I think it should be done, which is again built on this…..five years that I had in special needs workshop where there was no time constraint and I produced the best quality work I’ve ever produced, because I thought ‘well if it’s not going to be done in this situation, that just negates the thing having been set up to be able to be sensitive to the person and to the materials. I felt a profound obligation to produce the highest quality work I knew how to produce, which was a joyful experience, and that translates now to everything I do.

     

    TW:

    And what’s your take on that then, you know, recycling and not creating waste.  Does that philosophy go through not just the house but in your vision of what it should become, or what it could become for the family?

     

    JC:

    Well I’m much more wasteful than Stephen.  I straddle the two worlds of consumerism and ecology much more than Stephen does.  I think Stephen, you’d be quite happy to live in a shoe box in the middle of a field wouldn’t you really? I like things to be comfortable…..but at the same time having worked abroad and understanding…..through my connections with various countries and so forth and foreign students when I was at university, the obligation that we have in the Western developed world, how we live at the expense of others…..you know, one cannot ignore the need to consider the implications of everything one does, and everything that one chooses, and everything that one consumes.  So I’m not without that understanding, and so it’s been….between both of us we’ve created a very comfortable house, it’s a very beautiful house.  It’s very woody because of Stephen, being wood conscious, so the floors are wooden and so on, and it’s highly insulated; insulation was the number one thing, to conserve our use of energy and it’s great to have the solar panels and we’re hoping to have put up some on the garage flat roof, and being south facing, a photovoltaic facility will help put energy into the grid. So these are all things that’s it’s great to be able to do

     

    TW:

    That last word that you said there, I don’t quite know what it means

     

    JC:

    [to Stephen] Do you know what it means dear? [in a funny voice]

     

    SA:

    Which is that?

     

    JC:

    Photovoltaic

     

    SA:

    It turns sunlight into electricity.

     

    TW:

    Oh, so it’s a solar panel, but it’s a different sort of solar panel is it?

     

    SA:

    Yeah, it collects the sunlight and turns it into electricity rather than just heat. 

     

    TW:

    Do you use that electricity for your own home or does it just get put into the grid

     

    SA:

    You do, if you’re not using it, and if there’s still electricity being produced it goes into the grid. I’m not sure how that works, it seems extraordinary! 

     

    JC:

    What a fantastic idea, isn’t it great!  You know, we’ve got the sunlight, we’re in a position to be able to set that up, so I think it’s just wonderful to be able to do that.  So yes, I mean as people, as we grow and understand as people, in time, in your life, it’s wonderful to be able to do small things like use the local producers, you know, into our business; it’s making real what are ideas and that is great.

     

    TW:

    So it’s sort of like a philosophy that you’re actually living and trying

     

    JC:

    One tries…..one tries, yeah, you know, one tries, but it’s hard, it’s very hard, and with children coming in and wanting everything that everybody else has got, you know, it is… it’s tough.

     

    TW:

    Well how does that tie in then – your children, what do they think about this philosophy?  I mean if they went to Steiner schools they must have had that sort of creative attitude.  How does that actually tie in with this sort of ecological

     

    SA:

    We’re delighted that we got them through the early years in Steiner schools.  None of them went to the…….got them through the second seven years,  although they all started the second seven years.

     

    TW:

    I know a bit about it, yeah

     

    SA:

    There are three seven year cycles basically and we’re delighted we got them through the first seven, because that’s the…..

     

    JC:

    The formative stuff

     

    SA:

    Learning without the formal education

     

    JC:

    Wonderful

     

    SA:

    So they do have that in their background and in their thinking, somewhere, but as Jo says, it’s difficult to maintain that way of thinking when the culture is as it is, so all pervading in a consumerist way.

     

    JC:

    It was very much easier in Camphill.  We were both involved in Camphill and the children were around that a lot, and when they went to the Waldorf School, the Steiner School, it was much easier because their whole social world was orientated you know, towards more or less the same thing and although the children at certain ages everywhere go through rebellions, you know, they were still contained within that general world.  The difficulty then arises when they started going to mainstream schools and it’s a very different culture, so then there’s that clash, but you know, each of the children is going through their own life process, and so they’ve been through total rejection of everything Rudolf Steiner, and I think our son who’s now twenty one this year understands, you know, that who he is, is built on these things that we have tried to share with him. And the other two girls who are younger are…..although I would say our older daughter who is nineteen next month, begins, now that she is thinking of having children herself, of having her own children at some point, begins to realise, you know, what we did, and the choices that we made and why. Now whether they will replicate that I don’t know, but they understand it more, whereas our thirteen year old is still full on – no this is rubbish, I want to consume, you know! [laughing]

     

    SA:

    I don’t know if I considered it like this before, but I think they do, but the background that they’ve been given in those early years does, later on, present as a choice – they can choose themselves then in a way that…it’s difficult to judge other people’s……

     

    JC:

    And we shouldn’t

     

    SA:

    And we shouldn’t but it’s very difficult not to when you see people moving about it seems the idea of choice – the market would be very happy to removed that idea of choice

     

    JC:

    And you are saying that we can

     

    SA:

    Well choice is the word – the buzz word – it’s…..all you can do is choose to consume, and it’s not the case

     

    TW:

    Do you think living in this area, this Upper Calder Valley area….I mean, why did you come here?  Was it because of….it was a bit more open-minded to your ideas or was it by accident?

     

    SA:

    It was to do with a couple of things….we wanted to come back to Yorkshire; Aberdeen was too cold for Jo [laughing], and I had enjoyed my youth, my twenties in Yorkshire very much.  Jo had fond memories of the children’s young years when we were in Yorkshire, and at the time in Aberdeen it came to a particular point in the children’s education where there was a moment of ‘this is the time to go’ for the exams, type of thing, and the other two were also in vocational dance at the time, and we met somebody in this area who said there was a good department at Calder High which…

     

    JC:

    And a good vocational teacher

     

    SA:

    And a good vocational teacher, yes, at Hipperholme 

     

    JC:

    It wasn’t just that though, because when I first moved here, when I was a teacher in Halifax in the eighties, I very nearly bought a house in Cragg Vale. I loved this area – this was before I’d met Steve – and I loved this area, but decided, because I was used to London, to move to Leeds and so we used to come out from Leeds for day trips here, and you know, it is ravishingly beautiful….so I had always felt very drawn to this, you know, the hills and fields and the stone walls and the smallness of it all, and I knew Halifax and I loved working with the Asian kids which was what I was teaching at the time, so Leeds seemed too big.  When we were in Aberdeen, Leeds just seemed too big and too hectic and we thought ‘oh we’ll come here’ so we did, so there’s a connection.

     

    TW

    How long have you actually been here now?

     

    SA:

    ….2006 I think it was, nearly five years

     

    TW:

    And how have you found those years then?  The last say five years.

     

    SA:

    Well we’ve done a huge amount, I’ve trained to teach which was never something I thought I was gonna do, but it came about because of my teaching experience in the special needs place, and a friend who knew we were moving to the area sent me an advert for a job at Leeds College of Building, and I responded to that and ended up working there.  Which entailed learning to teach and then moving here, did all this work on the house and then starting this small business.  It’s been quite busy.  Now my father, who’s ninety three years old, has moved in with us, so one of the things that we’re conscious of is the size of the house and wanting to use it and see it used in a functional way rather than simple being a family home, so in some regard, that’s been achieved as well.

     

    TW:

    I know it’s pure speculation, but do you think your children will want to stay in this area, or do you think they’ll want to see the wider world and then move on or perhaps, then later on come back.  Have they spoken to you about any of their thoughts on that?

     

    JC:

    Our older daughter is I think very conscious of wanting to go back to Scotland, yeah.  She has some very good friends there and was very happy there.  I think it’s fair to say that educationally it’s not been a good move for them; it’s been hard….and I think she’d like to go back there, and our younger one is only thirteen so it’s very hard to say.  I would love to think that we could still be in touch with our children because having raised the children without parental support – my parents died, you know, very young, I would like to be around for my children’s children, but…..que sera….but I must say this area has brought….despite the education thing I just said, it has brought a lot of other gifts to my children, wouldn’t we say?  I mean it’s a very relaxed area which I think in some ways is very good for them

     

    TW:

    What other good aspects are there then?

     

    JC:

    Well I think education in Scotland is quite high pressure; it’s high achieving, it’s very ‘good’ in quotes, you know, kids achieve, but it’s high stress and it’s very relaxed round here, and there’s pros and cons to that, but…….the fact that it is relaxed, and generally people are very welcoming, it’s very informal, and our son particularly has found his niche here I would say; that’s been very good, you can’t have everything and I love this area.  The whole place is steeped in history; you go for walks and you see, the mill chimneys and the little ginnels and the donkey tracks on the hills, and how people have dealt with what in the previous years would have been a challenging environment – damp, the water, the hills, the stones in the soil, and the way that they’ve handled it, I think it’s fascinating to see and you can see that all the time; you’re very aware in this area of your place within history.

     

    TW:

    Do you think that’s important then?

     

    JC:

    Crucial.  It keeps you……like when you’re walking in a forest of old trees, it keeps things in perspective

     

    TW:

    Do you think the environment that you live in then, helps to form the personality and character of the person?

     

    JC:

    Absolutely….absolutely, I mean as incomers we bring things with us, but we carry with us the environment in which we have lived and grown, certainly, and the people we’ve met and the memories that we have and the dreams that we have, we all bring to this, and it’s a very eclectic area.  You have the people who’ve always been here and who always will be here I guess, who are sort of the bedrock in a way and you’ve got a different strata of people who come and go, and people who come and stay, so it’s enormously rich and when there is a general ‘mores of inclusion, it’s tremendous.  People can come and they’re welcomed……you know, it’s a very rich area.

     

    TW:

    I mean, building the house and doing the business the way you do; do you actually have time then to explore the landscape and look at the past

     

    JC:

    Not as much as I would like! [laughing] But that time will come…..it will

     

    SA:

    But there’s a consciousness of it, and the last five years have been…..there’s obviously been times when we’ve been able to do that, but I think more and more there’s a consciousness of the need to do that

     

    JC:

    Yes.  We’ve come almost to the end of the cycle of building…..and planning and so forth, you know, planting and so forth, so that’s….we’re going to jealously guard that space and perhaps do another cycle of building, we’ll wait and see, but yes, I think we need to really, really want to spend more time being here and enjoying what we’ve done, and not just create and create and create and build and build and build which we have been doing…..very successfully, but you know, hard work.

     

    SA:

    But there’s also…an aspect of the work that we’ve done, particularly with the small business, which has integrated us into the wider community in a way that we would have had no chance had we not done the small business, and the people that we’ve met and the support that we’ve had has been terrific, really lovely.

     

    TW:

    That’s very good.  I know it’s again speculation, but resourcing local suppliers…..that’s an aspect I’d just like to know a little bit more about

     

    JC:

    It’s great isn’t it?

     

    TW:

    Well I think it’s something that a lot of people want to try and do.  How have you actually gone about that.  Have you just

     

    JC:

    Well it started with the Transition Day in Hebden Bridge last year.  We went along to that and Stephen was doing green woodworking, and people were very interested in that, and I went off to the food meeting – the first food meeting – and said ‘we have a small business, we’re looking for local suppliers’ and mostly local people are producing meat, so that really didn’t work terribly well, but having made that statement, that group carried on meeting which I wasn’t able to do because you know, with the business and other things, but having expressed my interest, and then that group has set up a programme called Heb Veg, which is contacting I think mostly it’s mostly a supplier at Hipperholme who is growing vegetables, and we started getting a box for the family, and we’ve found the supply to be consistent enough and the quality to be good enough for us now to introduce that into our menu. So from mid May when that project starts again, one of our five dishes on curry night is going to be exclusively Heb Veg, so we’re gonna call it Organic Heb Veg and then whatever the dish is as a way of promoting to our customers, this box system.

     

    TW:

    Right.  Are there any other suppliers that you would like to be in touch with do you think, or…..cos there’s the Organic Growers Society, Heb Veg, the apple people and they seem to have connections with all sorts of ecologically sound growing method’s and other suppliers.  It might be just slightly out of the area; I mean would you consider, you know, going down that route and looking slightly further a field?

     

    JC:

    Contacts are what we need and this is what’s presented itself, so we can use…..we can use, yeah, we can use contacts.  We’ve got on our web site ‘we’re looking to contact local suppliers’…the cost of our meals is not high, so we have to consider the cost of products obviously, but we’re gonna see how this Heb Veg goes and yeah we want to contact more people, definitely.

     

    TW:

    This green woodwork that you were doing for Transition Towns, I mean what were you actually doing – what did you actually do on that day?

     

    SA:

    I had this lathe, which is over here, which two people can work on.  I got some green wood from….the coppice people.

     

    JC:

    Treesponsibility

     

    SA:

    Treesponsibility…Knottwood Coppicers, they gave me some green wood and I demonstrated the process of how to turn the green wood several times throughout the two days; a small sort of demonstration splitting a log and describing the process to people and trying to produce bits throughout the process so people could see how things progressed, and then inviting people to have a go, so we had over twenty, perhaps as many as thirty people had a go over the two days and there was one or two people who took things……..you know, who were really keen, stayed for the best part of an hour and took some things from the log to the finished item, took it home with them which is lovely, it is, just fantastic.

     

    TW:

    Was that the first time you’d done that?

     

    SA:

    Well no, I came across green wood work while I was working with the special needs people in Aberdeen.  I saw a similar thing to what I did on that Transition Town day; I saw a demonstration in Aberdeen shopping centre, an outside place, and realised it would be a really good thing for special needs people to do.  It’s not a power tool, you have to peddle it yourself. so if you come across a difficult knot or something everything stops; there’s no tools thrown out of your hand; it is actually ideal for people with difficulty in picking skills up, but also of course, the thing that was revealed by the green wood work was how much skill could be developed over a period of time; I said earlier the lack of time limit in producing anything allows me to take the time to do the job and there was one chap I can think of in particular who produced some chess pieces…..and a chess set took maybe three years to make and he produced both the kings and one of the queens from start to finish, so

     

    JC:

    Great big things they were

     

    SA:

    He was a chap that had virtually no verbal communication at all…..but he had the

    co-ordination and the patience, and patience is…..a virtue that a lot of special needs people have that would be welcome to everyone.

     

    TW:

    Do you think there’s a broader educational use shall we say of showing people old skills and it would help people to understand the past more than the instant society we have today?

     

    SA:

    Absolutely.  It’s

     

    JC:

    And not just the past.  It connects people with their environment so much more doesn’t it?

     

    SA:

    Well something like this does – well, yes well, the green wood work is not the only skill learned in that way through a connection with what they call the Hiram Trust, Hiram being the name of a craftsman in the Bible, the Hiram Trust was set up by a Steiner School teacher and they look at pottery by digging clay up and processing it and making your own kiln, firing it which I’ve done.

     

    TW:

    I’ve done that

     

    SA:

    It’s fantastic isn’t it, but also using a pit forge and roasting….seeing ore crushed and roasted and turned into a bloom in a kiln that’s been made on site in the woods powered by leather bellows, but also skinning a deer and learning how to tan it, making things out of leather, and doing basket work.  These…..I would say are, as Jo’s suggested are crucial in making people realise that we live in an environment

     

    JC:

    I think the other thing as well isn’t it, because while those sorts of activities that are a bit ‘trendy’ and…I mean my children I would say are a bit arty-farty because they are children of a consumer age, what I think’s really important about those kinds of activities is not just they’re random ones, is they’re incredibly empowering, (there’s another trendy word) but if you understand that you can actually dig a hole in the ground and get a material, you can do that, you know, here, now, in this garden, get a material that you can then turn into something that is useful that you can live with for twenty years before it breaks, you know. Or you can take a piece of that tree and turn it into something you use, it’s an extraordinary realisation that you can survive, you know, you can survive as a human; you don’t have to go to a shopping mall to get what you need, you can actually do it yourself, and it is a liberation. And what we’ve got away from terribly you know, and a lot of the therapeutic…a lot of the re-educating aspects of those kind of activities for children – youth boys maybe mostly – who have lost it, whose behaviour has just fallen apart for whatever reasons, those kinds of activities are incredibly centring and bring the children back to a sense of meaning which most children don’t do because they don’t go that far away from their sort of central core; other things hold them in place, but those basic tactile environmental activities bring people back to themselves – it’s not the only way, you know, meditation and dance and so forth, but that is a way of healing, and so if we get rid of all those things…do we get ill?

     

    TW:

    Couldn’t those kind of activities be used in the mainstream for people who aren’t on the edges, shall we say, to make them rethink the consumerism that you were on about.

     

    SA:

    Absolutely.  Referring back to this special needs workshop I did, I had helpers –volunteer helpers – mainly young German lads that were from, well educated guys who were choosing to do Civil Service rather than Military Service because they still have.…not conscription?

     

    JC:

    National Service.

     

    SA:

    National Service, so they would come and volunteer for twelve months and have their own student that they looked after from seven in the morning till eleven till bedtime, six days a week

     

    JC:

    And during the night

     

    SA:

    And during the night. But what you’re saying about the benefits for traditional craft for mainstream people – the….realisations that were witnessable in some of these very well educated young lads was tangible – what they got from it; realising that you could do….you could make something out of what was just around you, and it’s a revelation, and a great liberation, and to realise this, how it should be.  When I was doing teaching at Leeds College of Building  I took, pole laithe in twice, once to show the lecturers, and they thought it was fantastic, and once as a Christmas activity to a set of students – sixteen, seventeen year old lads and they just thought it was marvellous, and it is.   You pedal and you….turn a piece of wood.

     

    JC:

    And yes, it’s a crucial antidote really in education where so much is dependant on the computer programme or the targets that have, you know, been handed out from on high.  The idea that children can, or people can, create something out of nothing themselves in a very simple way…yeah, powerful stuff

     

    TW:

    I totally agree with that; I think it’s the sort of thing that should be introduced into schools as part of the curriculum, and you mentioned the whole variety of activities from you know, leather and pottery to woodworking and the rest, and that wouldn’t mean that you’d have to set up a craft school but you could introduce them….

     

    SA:

    Well you can because the materials that you need are almost negligible; the tools you need are very few for felting or basketwork, and it opens up

     

    TW:

     It opens up the mind, I think

     

    SA:

    But it also…when we were cooking on Tuesday, the water went off for an hour and we just..,.I consider myself fairly conscious of the comfort in which we live, but it is hard when the water goes off. I was fairly relaxed and fairly confident it was gonna come back on, why I mention it is the….like you were saying a minute ago about the…is it helpful to do the traditional stuff, because  unless you understand how it was, you can’t appreciate how it is – it’s not possible.

     

    TW:

    That’s an interesting way of looking at it. …..I think we’re on our last ten seconds, so I’d like to thank you both for this, and I think we’ll probably call it an end there if that’s alright, unless there is anything else that you really wanted to say that I haven’t asked you about

     

    JC:

    We’re led by you Tony [laughing]

     

    SA:

    Don’t vote Tory.

     

     [END OF TRACK 1]

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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.

Get in touch

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

Phone: 01422 844450
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