Tonight I welcomed Stephen Colegrave to the Fiery Bird Show. Stephen, is the co-founder of Byline Festival an alternative festival with a purpose, to have an event that brings the impact that Woodstock and Sundance had for this ‘post truth’ frenzy of an age. The fresh faced warriors of truth unfurling their capes and making them into tents in a forest where people can experience and produce examples of good, responsible journalism and claim back hope, enjoy music, comedy, workshops and meet others with a view of activism that is optimistic and kind and then take with them something that will start to change and grow in a society where buzzwords, spin and bamboozle has become King. To give strength to the voice of the child pointing out that, in fact, the Emperor is not wearing any clothes and indeed it is a very cold day.
Over many years there are many things conceived in pubs but usually the best things to be conceived in pubs are ideas and plans that are put into action – anything else would best be covered in a health related show. As with all those best ideas Byline Festival was also conceived in the pub, the aptly named Pillars of Hercules in Greek St Soho when Stephen and co-founder Peter Jukes were discussing what they felt was missing on the new landscape of festivals that had seemed to become so expensive, corporate and had lost their aim of being places that were agents for change, where new ideas and concepts became possibilities, alliances formed and humanity shed some of its obsession with the consumer in a common tribal setting of music and art
Whilst these ideas of something missing were bubbling under, with recent events like Brexit and Trump its impetus has crystallised and galvanised people into action. Stephen said that he spent most of last year going around looking for wardrobes where Narnia would be trying to find where all the likeminded people were, the people that told the truth. So here it is, Byline is Narnia and it is welcoming people to gather in the forest – in this case Pippingford in East Sussex. I bloody hope there is still Turkish Delight there.

Guests include John Cleese, Lenny Henry, Tom Watson MP, Hardeep Singh Kholi, there is a great emphasis on comedy – the new armour of the disenchanted – and all guests and performers feel so involved that all are donating their time, should any profits be made, they are put to the crowdsourced platform to encourage excellent standards and truth in journalism. The idea is that not only do people enjoy the elements of the festival but also feel galvanised to bottle the positive outrage and put it to positive work. Bands include John Ellis, The Priscillas, Phoenix Chroi, How’s Harry, Andy Twyman, Will Purdue, Hannah White, Lisa VonHArgonaut and many more inc headliners to be announced. 
John Cleese in particular asked to present the Bad Press Awards, an honour they don’t really expect many winners to want to pick up to collect but, nevertheless they will receive; they will be delivered, come what may. I asked if this would be somewhat of a pattern of award like the predictability of Ant & Dec picking something up at the NTA’s, but, despite expectation, there are more than one or two examples of bad press that will be highlighted and given due attention during the ceremony. 
This is about good news too though, the festival has captured the imagination of many people also feeling under represented and sick of being labelled with stupid derisory terms just because they care about something, the ‘PC Brigade, the ‘snowflakes’ the ‘Do-Gooders’ (yeah really great insult – to spit bile against people that ‘do good’ – ironically so often spouted by those who wish to cite their issue as the fact that a dogma they don’t even follow perhaps one whose tenet is doing good to other people, is being stamped out by another dogma they don’t follow or have even met anyone that does) There’s a weariness at constantly being told off on social media because of highlighting and experiencing inequality. The day after those same group cited the Women’s March as a failure and unwarranted with keyboards on fire ‘I didn’t see any of you marching against FGM/Saudi Arabian Women’s Rights/Insert other issue they didn’t give a shit about last week (these suddenly human rights activists on behalf of vulnerable women) you privileged spoilt group of lefty extreme women’ – do they not realise what equality means? What choice means? Do they not see the contradiction in their assertion that all of these women who look like their own sisters, mothers, daughters appear to be the majority because they are the majority and those they accuse of over running us are in truth a minority but as deserving of respect as any and that is what it is about. Do they not see that they need to understand that issues like choice, like abuse, like support affect all of us. All it seems is the extremes we now live in is the bars of the cage being shaken and the hunter with the gun knowing the locks won’t hold another generation who will live in a more equal, respectful world by operating a revolution, an activism, of kindness and respect. The hunter knows this so gets a bigger gun – silly hunter doesn’t realise that the cages are full of flocks of birds they treat like one scary bear. If Maya Angelou were here she would know. She knew why the caged bird sings. The boxing ring has fallen away and we have all stepped out of it, are packing it up and turning the space into a community centre where more gets done than some fancy footwork and jabs amongst two posturing powers while the rest of us have to stand by and watch with no say in the outcome.
For those people who suddenly rose up to use someone else’s pain as a vehicle for their fear that the party was over for them, rail about issues they never mentioned before, why didn’t you march against them before, why criticise others who are doing something and usually, it is generally those people dealing with those other issues too. That march was more about women and men expressing their shock that society had got to the level where someone can openly admit to feeling the power that allows them to denigrate and assault other humans and still gain high office with dangerous responsibility, than to do with carping and whining at what other political systems that have nothing to with us (and yet everything too) vote in. That is why projects like this are happening because the ordinary has become extraordinary and people are stepping up to speak out.

We spoke about other projects that Stephen has worked on and those currently so: The book Punk that he collaborated on with Chris Sullivan, his background in the punk scene and the freedom it gave to make things happen DIY, an inspiration to do things in a way of truth and authenticity. The inspirational photographers who contributed photos and putting exhibitions together with them since, we spoke of following a passion that makes stuff happen 
It was a lovely little chat to get the lowdown as my Mum used to say and as always to hear the stories of meeting and working with people like Rik Mayall, David Bowie, Georgie Fame,Danny Aiello John Ellis & many more was delightful.
Stephen is involved with other ways of supporting action with integrity with projects like

Uprising where he is a trustee. This takes young people from diverse backgrounds and puts them through a social action training course so help them see how can they affect their communities – people without the background and money deserve a chance and have the talent but don’t get the chance to get through and this is designed to give them that chance and that voice.
He is also a Trustee with the Young Actors Theatre Islington to give the opportunity to train and even if not pursuing theatre the chance of expressing yourself in any form will give confidence, to find your own voice and find genuine authentic connections and confidence in your own skin is how we will change the world. Happy confident people filling up our own skin and giving a hand up to others.
Tickets for the Festival are on sale now, and those in the Woking area can get a 30% discount until 31 January 
Festival Maker Tickets £25


£95 early bird before 31st January

£65 student
PLUS!! Discount for GU21/GU22 of 30% by 31 January use code GU22BYFEST or GU21BYFEST


Listen Again Here


1 Liar Liar – The Castaways

2 Swords of a Thousand Men – Ten Pole Tudor

3 All The Way To Holloway – The Priscillas

4. Indercate Your Mind – How’s Harry

5 Teenage Kicks – The Undertones

6 London Calling – The Clash

7. Never Buy The Sun – Billy Bragg

8. Bank Failures – Bob Miller

9 Not Rich – Argonaut

10 A Change Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

11. No More Heroes – The Stranglers

12. Preach & Teach – Georgie Fame

13. Sound of The Suburbs – The Members

14. The Best Is Yet To Come – Frank Sinatra



I went to look at the stars and saw how their tiny pin pricks in the sky, real diamonds, not cubic zirconia, real diamonds, not blood diamonds – nobody tears them from the earth or stamps on a person’s soul to put them in a ring and claim ownership of another. They reflect purity back – putting us in our place. 

At college we were told the Elizabethans thought they were crystal lights trying to break through the velvet night, pieces of heaven seen through those holes, too terrible and brilliant for us to behold so just kept beyond. Kept so we kept looking, we kept wanting to be worthy to be let in. The crystal spheres; and they danced, all the planets did to the music of the spheres, a heavenly parade.  We saw how that made us feel and makes us feel every new moon and full moon and star shower and dark cloudy night when they are denied to us. What do we think of these stars that are metal and stone and ash but to us such great icons of hope and dreams and every desire. These elusive crystals that we gaze at even when the moon abandons us as she disappears from her realm to be ready to dress, slowly by night again and do her monthly show. Do we need to know our dreams are stones and ashes already dead by the time we even realise we have them? Or, do we need ourselves to believe that is what is possible is as real as what is, that the part of ourselves that aspires and hopes is as corporeal as that which shits and cries? 

How we look at these things is how we look at each other, the silence behind the eyes that we see in another to determine, by gut feeling and instinct, the empathy we believe there, the depth, the compassion. None of these things are to be touched either – you may say that; but they are, they are touched when we hug, when we stroke and when we hold each other and that is where the stars come and shine their best and put their love in to hearts and minds. And us, and even those poor people, those poor unfortunate, burdened and cursed with being called stars on earth and the fools in all their glory who yearn for it.

The Fiery Bird Freezes

This Blog is in parts like Lord of The Rings but more maybe The Fiery Bird Freezes – there’s hardly any trees, it’s not interesting or clever and has has no literary merit; nor has it any potential for syndicated merchandise, so not like Lord of The Rings at all apart from being long. 
On Thursday 12 Jan the show (click on it to hear it again) brought the words Fiery Bird home in an unexpected way though it was ice and locks that brought the Fire Brigade to heft me over a fence at the end, not fire. 
I left the building to find all the gates locked, Joe parked outside was picking me up and told me to wave a crate in front of the sensor – usually as your car approaches it opens by itself. I’m waving a crate as much as possible and nothing is happening – ‘Wave harder! Wave the crate!’ He exhorts from under his flat cap on the other side of the fence like a cockney version of the Railway Children. ‘I am bloody waving!!!’ I’m trilling back melodiously (not). Then, deciding my lady waving was too delicate for the doughty gate sensor used to having a car bonnet poked at it, I grab one of the big wheelie bins and run it around to get a following wind and push it fast towards the gate to emulate said ton of metal that is a car. Nothing; a bit of a shudder but nothing raised or opened. Sighs of signs and portents of unopened doors and age analogies didn’t get me anywhere.. No one could be raised by phone and my girth is matronly, too much so to slide under. The fence too pointy in case of ne’er do wells, to climb over. In younger days the thought of being locked in school would have been a nightmare on the level of walking around town with no knickers on…oh wait that… never mind.
I wandered around the perimeter fence caught under the Wolf Moon, should’ve bloody howled at it it would have been as much use as anything to get out. It was like looking up at the cot bars when young and the only way out was when you saw your Mum come in the room and reach down. It was cold but as much as it was for the time it was, there are always options for people like us, with homes and hearth no matter how humble and stuck we appear. The person sleeping with no choice in that moonlight doesn’t bear thinking about -shouldn’t bear the brunt of what leads us to be a place where people still sleep with ice as a duvet. Things you think when something makes you stop. 
So the only option remained to ring 101 and let them know so they can call a key holder to come and unlock a 50year old woman trapped inside school grounds. So we waited, I was expecting someone to come shuffling over, grunting in tiredness, a possible slippers and high vis tabard combination unlock the gate and shuffle off again annoyed at their night being interrupted by a woman who has just spent the last two hours forcing her music and inane monologue onto the internet. Was all this science and satellite really intended for someone to just get to the edge of words and opinions and no further, exhort ‘You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party!” and share her parenting revision woes? Doubtful but I suppose these little hobbies save us from ourselves and the science and satellite does a better job than thinking about stuff will, and all the things we deal with when confronted without softening the starkness of our own truths.
Seeing a fire engine driving up the road gave no clue assuming it was going straight on. Until it stopped. A whole crew got out (they must have heard about my weight gain – note to self – more veg less beer). We must have got a very dramatic 101 operator. They were nice friendly people, Kevin Dan & Michael who explained that they would put the ladders up and over and one would come and get me. Mortally embarrassed (bad leggings) I said I am sure I would be fine. I was also conscious that if I fell back on the fella it was some woman’s son I would be killing. Nevertheless they insisted so up I went and over. As I am half over the fence I can hear Joe talking to one of the other firemen about the electrics in the new venue- charming! As I got put down on solid ground he came over, his face a mask of concern ahh. ‘Apparently the electrics are a nightmare..’
They were very nice, I thanked them, I didn’t know how to thank properly ‘thank you for putting me over the fence’ I said I would mention them on the radio show – they don’t know I don’t think I have any listeners I put a confident face on it – like a blagger; they packed up and we all went off. I texted my friend Hannah and told her I had been stuck and had to get rescued by firemen her reply ‘you lucky bitch, I meant sorry, how awful are you ok?’ When I got home I put my head in the gin cupboard and made selections.
But that was the end of the night. 

In the beginning was the word. The ones we join up and I talk incessantly in between song. This show I was on my own, like being in isolation, the panic, no guest or co-presenter, noone to flick stuff at and blame for things going wrong – being used to working at home on my own I am often sitting talking to myself so this is just doing it using someone else’s electricity – oh and IP address as well!! What mischief I could get up to 
Working at home alone a lot I can share all sorts of tips on enrichment activities to lift the boredom. They do these things in zoos hiding food in places that the animals have to sniff out and discover so imagine my delight when I found the Christmas chocolates that had been strategically placed on the top shelf of the cereal cupboard behind all the Tupperware things without lids. I came across them quite by accident, the chair I had dragged over to stand on to look at the Tupperware and shuffle it about with my hands just gave me that extra super power. 
Have a think about your super power what would it be? I have several- I can wear more than one cardigan on a beach for example – exciting times!

This is the sort of encouragement I got to revise.

My daughter thinks her superpower is express revision- people doing Mocks, what a name for exams! It’s like mocks ‘ call yerself an exam’!! Exams in mocking people that is what I used to think or mocking the subject ‘Pah! English you think you’re as important as Maths?!!’ ‘Biology?? Biology?? All you are is a collection of rude words and noises that make people titter”. Language is a funny thing – I thought smear tests were an exercise in levels of journalistic depravity for years until I found out what they really were. So anyone with people of a certain age doing these things in their house are having this same problem as me between your expectation of what doing revision is like and what it apparently does look like according to the laws of the universe or, a seventeen year old. Since for legal reasons I cannot share our conversations in this regard (she will go ape and I can’t afford to get new door hinges) I expressed them in the form of song throughout the show.
I also had some songs dedicated to my sister Maureen (ooo she gives you more!) who reaches her diamond anniversary not just because I love her though that is true but as a ‘holding gift’ until her present was bought….she would recognise the type of nun above – we went to the same school though the nuns found me problematic.
There were also tangents that mean absolutely nothing at all but in looking at the ol tunes as I chose I thought I would stick one or two in. Mentions in dispatches for Mickey Rickshaw, Hannah White, Menace, The Sound Lounge and The Byline Festival, The Phoenix Centre

1 Walking In The Rain – The Ronettes because this woman’s voice………
2 What a Wonderful World – Sam Cooke …. Don’t Know Much about History…..

3 Rat Race -The Specials. I got one Art O’level it did nothing for me – on balance this song maybe didn’t give the message I intended

4 Uptight Everything’s Alright – Little StevieWonder. ‘Ah Mum it’s all fine…..’

5 Attitude – Suede hmmmmm

6 You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party – Beastie Boys ……yes I know at weekends and holidays

7 Better Use Your Head – Little Anthony & The Imperials

8 I Don’t Like Mondays – Boomtown Rats – No one does love

9 The Bitterest Pill – The Jam 

10 We Can Work it Out – The Beatles – we always can

11 To Have & To Have Not – Billy Bragg Back To Basics played by Mickey Rickshaw in Woking this week when they played the Phoenix Centre as part of their European tour from Boston USA if you missed it you missed a corker!!

12 The Way We’re Made – Missing Andy Essex

13 Unbelievable – EMF

14. Singin the Blues – Guy Mitchell This was number one on 13 jan 1957 

15 Queen Majesty – Techniques because big sisters are always the Queens

16 All the Young Dudes – Mott The Hoople – a favourite of my sister- holy hell was unleashed when she couldn’t find it and the other loon wearing member of our household was fingered as it being an inside job. Small gobby children, a baby, a Donny Osmond fan and anyone wearing Aran Jumpers or headscarves were eliminated from the investigations (Mum:’ Wha’ Mott the Hoople? What sort of a name is that, look behind your father’s Chieftains record ‘Round the Dresser and Up The Hole’ B side Waxies Dargle -it might’ve been put in the wrong sleeve’)

17 Celebrate Summer – TRex

18 Top Of The Pops – The Rezillos memories of all the great audience dancing on the show – one foot/ the other foot/ look bored /one foot/ other foot look bored; and in our front room by big sisters

19 Hay Wrap – The Saw Drs – an Enid O’Blyton book about our adventures – Willie Joe and our pathetic attempts to get a free drink backstage

20 Exmouth Beach – WillB where she lives, he wrote a song about it.

21 Turn Turn Turn – The Byrds

22 Don’t Eat Yellow Snow – Frank Zappa

23.Bad Woman – Pat Farrell & The Believers (garage psych but the name sounds like a Christian country & western band from County Offaly 1957)

24 Bad – Kirsty MacColl

25 To The End – Blur