Monday, 6 July 2009


It's not just me that's inspired by my surroundings. Gonamena is the tale of ordinary Cornish farming folk who experience tremendous upheaval when mineral prospectors come to their farm and turn it into a copper Klondyke. During the boomtime it's live hard and play hard but when the copper price crashes not only is there no work but no farm, either for the land has become poisoned. Emigration is the only solution to avoid solution.

This could be a mawkish and self-righteous account of environmental disaster and the Cornish diaspora but it's bloody funny and gets its point across without preaching -- although there is a preacher among the central characters.

For several weeks throughout June, what are known as the Gonamena guerillas have been targeting local supermarkets and shopping centres to publicise the show at Sterts Open Air Theatre. A gang from our row went to see it because one of our neighbours is in the chorus and I really enjoyed it.

For a cast largely made up of amateurs the standard is very high. As I pointed out once before on this blog, amateurs do things out of sheer love and the depth of feeling that the subject matter shines through in this production of Gonamena.

And because they are local, and therefore Cornish, they use the script and language to devastating effect and ably demonstrate the best of Cornish humour. The bottle boys and old biddies have brilliant timing and a number of people have told me that last Wednesday's performance was the best yet.

The performers are now going to have a little break but will be back from Monday 20th July to Wednesday 22nd.

I strongly recommend Gonamena to anyone who is in south-east Cornwall during this time. If you want an idea of what performance looks like, go toRob Frost Photography to see pictures of the rehearsals.

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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Back from Le Mans

Hallo - I'm back from Le Mans and will be posting my thoughts about this fantastic event on this blog dreckly (good Cornish word). There were loads of Vintage Things that Ill share with you soon. This was just one. I didn't travel down to the Sarthe circuit in it but a whole bunch of other people did. This Bedford TK was parked in the campsite hard by the Porsche curves and I really its livery. There's an obvious London Transport influence and those who know anything about graphic design will know what a towering contribution Harry Beck and Edward Johnston made to simply catching the eye. Applied to a classic British lorry, the effect is highly pleasing and not only recalls the home city of many endurance spectators at Le mans but also reminds me of the wonderful support vehicles and racing car transporters of yesteryear. There were some models of theses

I haven't just got back, I've been making the most of what has so far been a brilliant summer here in Cornwall. But thanks to one or two of you who appear to have missed my enthusiastic ramblings. I am very well and the lack of activity on this blog is for various reasons but principally because I'm having such a great time away from my computer - probably the best excuse for not blogging anyone can have.

But I've kind of missed sharing my stuff with anyone who's bored enough to read this blog.

I had a great time but it's good to be back.

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Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Dobwalls' by-pass

It's taken years but Dobwalls is now by-passed. Visitors to south-east Cornwall during high summer probably don't have very good memories of Dobwalls. It's a village that straddles the A38 just west of Liskeard and due to its position at the western end of the Liskeard bypass it became a bottle neck to avoid. And the residents of Dobwalls certainly didn't appreciate being prisoners in their own homes.

From Easter to late September, Saturday is known as change over day. One lot of visitors leaves and another lot arrives and gridlock often ensues. Landlords of B&Bs and self-catering barn conversions are reluctant to let their properties for part weeks during the season so the ritual of change over day and manic chambermaids cleaning rooms and changing bed linen seems to be here to stay. Only by camping can this lemming like ritual be avoided.

Cornwall relies on an effective road system otherwise those that support its main industry will stay away. Effectively that road system is needed for just one day a week – change over day – but on that day it is needed really badly. Building new roads always attracts opposition and sometimes I agree that they unnecessary and removing one bottle neck just creates another further on.

But Dobwalls was always different. The A390 branches off south here and siphons off a proportion of the holiday traffic. The Eden Project has been credited with regenerating a vast part of the old China Clay country and many people now holiday in and around Snozzle, spelt St Austell. By the time the A38 enters the beautiful but twisting Glyn Valley as it heads for Bodmin, it’s lost half its traffic.

In years gone by, just for change over day, a new road layout around Dobwalls would mysteriously spring up over night. A triangular one way system between Dobwalls, East Taphouse and Doubleboys (spelt Double Boys) would frighten the traffic lights into submission and allow the use both lanes of the single carriageway road. I have happy memories of pulling out into the right hand lane on blind corners, which provoked surprising agitation in girlfriends from out of the county. (It was big and it was clever but I’ve grown out of that sort of thing nowadays.) Any temptation to use the circuit for speed testing or racing was always tempered by a 40 mph limit and the presence of traffic cops.

And to get to this one way system from the east you had to climb the hill up into Dobwalls (avoiding the overheating cars with caravans) and wind your way through the village to the traffic lights where the two A roads met.

This worked for a while but what the Dobwalloons really wanted was a bypass. The campaign went on for years until one glorious day it was announced that Dobwalls would at last get one. Then nothing happened and continued to do so for years. But inexplicably, work began and now the bypass is opened.

It's a work of considerable engineering. The old road was steep and twisting but the new one gracefully arches up the hill on a massive embankment created out of all the rock and earth they had to carve away from the summit of the hill. A roundabout joins the two main roads so there may still be some hold ups at peak times but it's far better than the old traffic lights for keeping the traffic moving.

As a tribute to the workers of contractors Interserve, the Dobwalloons burst into poetry. Click on the pic for a larger image but for the lazy among you here is a transcript of an appreciation of Dobwalls' beloved and long awaited bypass, coutesy of DIG - Dobwalls Into Gardening.

Now the road is almost done
And the men will soon be gone
Diggers and lorries of Interserve
Have shovelled and shifted tone of earth
They moved it here, they moved it there.
They moved it blooming well everywhere.
They worked for all they are worth
Thank you all at Interserve.

The new bypass hasn’t been fully tested yet but, as the finishing touches are put in place, it looks and works pretty well. Construction traffic made things worse for the Dobwalloons for a while and some complained but this wayside tribute to the construction workers caught my eye and at least explained to the waiting traffic queued up in the village what the hold up was about and that things would be better next year. Long may it continue to make a difference to road users and residents alike.

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Wednesday, 27 August 2008

A band to watch - The Eyelids

I was very impressed by Stiff Little Finger's support act in Falmouth. Dave said he'd seen them before last year when they supported The Damned in Falmouth. Dave's like that. He's so committed he arranges his holidays to coincide with his fave bands touring. Anyway, The Eyelids are a female four-piece outfit who play paired down spooky psychobilly punk. I think this stuff sounds easy to do but have a strong suspicion it isn't. I'd heard of The Eyelids before because I'd stumbled across their MySpace page and they're already World famous in Cornwall but wasn't sure if they played my sort of stuff.

I am now. They definitely do. I reckon the double bass gives them a USP - a unique sound proposition. It's certainly very distinctive and I reckon the four of them have really got something. Kelly's got a great voice, Michelle has to be one of the smiliest drummer's you'll ever see while she blats out complicated rhythms, Josie's guitar is suitably spooky and Louise's bass is sublime - altogether malicious.The drums and bass sweep you along like you're Piglet and The Eyelids are Tigger. They've been favourably compared to The Cramps and sound like Catholic High School girls going bad in the graveyard. But in a good way, y'know?.

The Eyelids are gigging extensively throughout the peninsula and the sub-continent this autumn and doing some recording.

Don't give them too clean a sound, though, Mr Sound Engineer. You need that live feeling to get The Eyelid's scary psychojilly sound right. just let me know when you've got some MP3s to buy.

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