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Diary Breaking barriers in Brighton and Belgium

TWO very contrasting but fantastic gigs last Saturday night, after a very well deserved three points for the Seagulls against Norwich.

Firstly to St Richard’s Hall on the Hollingdean estate in Brighton where I did a half-hour set at a fundraiser for CASE (Community Advice, Support and Education) which helps vulnerable people in an area which needs it a lot in the face of the relentless Tory cutbacks.

Grime, rhyme, rap & reggae with Gary Clail Sound System headlining — great atmosphere and well done to Stig Muller and to the rappers and grimers who gave this old punk poet a great reception.

Kudos also to Burning Sky Brewery who donated a barrel of their lovely Plateau to the cause.

Then off to The Rose Hill pub not far away for something which would have been completely natural 400 years ago but isn’t in our times where there is mostly a stupidly precious attitude to anything connected with “classical music.”

Regular readers of this page will know about my passion for early music: I like my early music in a PUB, rather than a draughty church or stuffy concert hall or somewhere else with no constant supply of beer.

Well done to Brighton Early Music Festival for putting on Ensemble Theodora, Melismata, Scaramella and Apollo’s Cabinet in a lovely, convivial venue with lots of great beer, it was the place where my early music punk band Barnstormer 1649 did our second-ever gig just under two years ago. All four were magnificent.

And I was back at the Rose Hill on Thursday with my crumhorn, cornamuse and sausage bassoon for some early music improvisation. Hopefully next year my band will be invited to play as part of the official programme.

This weekend I’m in Leuven, Belgium, as part of the bilingual Breaking Barriers Festival — a great idea in a country where the Flemish-French linguistic divide has always been a major issue.

I’m starting my gig with an announcement in English, Flemish, French and German.

“Greetings from England. Although I’m not English, I’m European. And Brexit is a steaming pile of rotting horse testicles.”

Today is the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I toured the GDR six times and wrote the song below a few months after it happened. The fact that two East German bands have covered the German version means a lot to me.  

There is a whole chapter about my experiences in my 2015 autobiography Arguments Yard and I am currently serialising it on my Facebook page at

Market Sektor One

Another new year and too much beer and goodbye to the Wall
But now there’s only disappointment, nothing left at all
The dreams we marched and fought for have faded and turned sour
The cabbage is a king now, it’s Helmut’s finest hour
And on the streets the people want it ‘as seen on TV’
And a big bunch of bananas is a sign that you are ‘free’
It’s just begun — Market Sektor One
As in the East we talked about a future bold and new
A thousand Western businessmen were celebrating too
The vultures were all circling, there was money to be made
A multinational carve-up, a bank to be obeyed
And now the old, rich foreigners make claims on every hand —
‘You’re living in my house, mein Herr, you’re farming on my land’
It’s time to run — Market Sektor One
Is that all that we were fighting for?
Bananas and sex shops, nothing more?
Welcome to the Western dream
Welcome to the cheap labour scheme
The whole of Europe’s changing — Big Brother’s on the run
It could just be a whole new age of freedom has begun
But freedom doesn’t bow its head to some financier’s will
And Europe is our common home, not some gigantic till
So send the money grabbers riding off into the sun
And send with them the culture of the dollar and the gun
Then we’ll have fun
And justice will be done.


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