Monthly Archives: July 2013

Earl’s Ness & the Sinking of the Wirral Set

Michael D Livingston
Michael D Livingston

After being taken off Arthurnet a couple of months ago for finding the Holy Grail (understandable), I returned to my studies on Brunanburh. That brought me to a certain Michael Livingston, who edited a book on Brunanburh containing all the source material & a few essays. He also plunged headlong onto the side of the ‘Wirral Set,’ who have declared that Bromborough on the Wirral was where the battle was fought. I thought I’d point something out to Michael which basically sends a torpedo right below the water-line of the Wirral Set’s rather flimsy ship. Unfortunately they’ve now got a heritage trail for the battlefield in Wirral, which now turns out to be a bit of a 21st century palmerston’s folly!

The key evidence is found in a text called the Orkenyinga Saga, which describes a Viking warrior called Sveinn as sailing from the Isle of Man to a port called Earl’s Ness, from where he attacked Bretland (Wales). This brings us neatly to Ness & Neston, two old Viking ports on the Wirral, whose seafront has silted up over the past millennium. Now, take a look at this following passage from Egil’s Saga, which describes the battle of Brunanburh;

Then he rode to the south country, and of his travel ’tis to be told that he rode night and day till he and his came westwards to Earls-ness. Then the earl got a ship to take him southwards over the sea; and he came to France, where half of his kin were. He never after returned to England.

If the battlefield was at Bromborough, it would hardly take Aedgils a night & a day of hard fleeing to get to Ness only six miles away. So I pointed this out to Michael, & suggested that Burnley was a better candidate being a day & nights ride to the NE of Ness. In reply, his ONLY argument against Burnley is;

The word brunanburh appears to require an origin in bruna or brune — not burn or brun. The Casebook makes this clear, and I’ve said it before here on the site. Bruna, not brun. It’s only a little thing — wafer-thin, we might say — but it is hardly insignificant

So I sent him some other info on why Burnley was the probable site— his reponses are hilarious;

Me - The battle took place on a plateuax betwen Burnley & Colne. Above Heasanford there is an area called Saxifields. Dr. Whittaker, in his History of Whalley, explains how human bones were constantly turned up all along the slopes, especially when digging the foundations for Lower Saxifield House, when they were met with in large quantities. Above Saxifields is an area called Harle Syke, which indicated a defensive ditch dug by the Danes, probably while waiting for Athelstan to turn up.

Response – Alas that none of this can be documented or authenticated: there are rumors of reports of rumors that so-and-so dug up bones back when… which is tantalizing but ultimately of little use to a modernsearch. Harle Syke is an interesting item, though. But even if it is a fortification, there’s no reason to connect it to THIS battle.

Me - That a battle took place here lingers in the name of Beadle hill – where Beado is Anglo-saxon for battle. About the area are to be found a considerable number of tumuli, which Maquis in the ‘Transactions of the Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society, 1910’ connects with the battle

Response – There are places named for battles and tumuli all across England. So it can’t help us. As an example, I could not convict someone of murder on the basis that the murderer breathed Oxygen and I know the suspect breathes Oxygen. Because it is essentially universal it is essentially useless. Sorry.

Me – There is a Hell Clough named after Hela, the Norse goddess of death

Response – Rather debatable on many of the etymologies in here. But even if so, there’s no connection to THIS battle.

Me – There is a Red Lees meadow which means ‘field of blood.’ Dr. Whitaker tells us that in the 19th century; In the fields about Red Lees are many strange inequalities in the ground, something like obscure appearances of foundations, or perhaps entrenchments, which the leveling operations of agriculture have not been able to efface.

Response – Even if so, there’s no connection to THIS battle.

Me – On the plateaux there is still a farm called Burwains, which is Anglo-Saxon for burial mound/site

Response – Even if so, there’s no connection to THIS battle.

Me – There is a stream by the plateaux called Catlow burn, deriving from Cath – the Gaelic/welsh word for battle

Repsonse – Even if so, there’s no connection to THIS battle.

Me – The name given by Egil’s Saga to the battle – Vinheath – remains in Winewall, a village found next to the battlefield. Indeed, the -wall element seems to derive from vollr – Old Norse for field/heath, which means it is a direct translation of Vinheath.

Response – This is irrelevant

Me – Walton spire on the battlefield was built on top of a dark age monolith which must have celebrated the battle

Response – Local traditions count for little, I’m afraid, because everyone has them.

Walton Spire
Walton Spire

Me - Across the Tursden Brook we have another hill full of dark age tumuli & a certain Bonfire hill which invoked an image of a mass cremation

Response – Even if so, there’s no connection to THIS battle. And the emotional “reminds us” and “invoked” aren’t very critical legs to stand on, I’m afraid.

Me – The Angl-saxon chronicle tells us that the retreat from the field to the ships lasted all day – fitting in neatly with Burnley’s 20 mile distance to the Ribble estuary

Response(Michael did not respond to this one, which when allied to the ear’s Ness reference more or less pinpoints the field at burnley)

Me – The death of Bishop Werstan is remembered in the name of a village near to the battlefield – Worsthorne.Very close by, at Mereclough is a ‘Battle Field,’ where for many years there was a stone there called the Battle Stone. There was also a ‘battle place’ attached to its pasture in the Cliviger valuation of 1822. With Athelstan being at Brunanburh, this connects with the Croyland Chronicle.

Response - See my note on local traditions above.

In reply to this I asked why he never mentioned Earl’s Ness, & in reply I got the following – note how he STILL doesn’t mention Earl’s Ness, the torpedo that has sunk the ‘Wirral Set’ once & for all.

This is why I cannot carry on rational discourse with you – you rant about academic blindness while categorically refusing to give any consideration to an opposition view. This is precisely what led you so astray on Arthurnet (and probably any other attempt to deal with academics who work to approach questions with ALL data in mind rather than a self-serving selection).

You’re not listening to this, of course. In your mindset you surely are chalking this up to some refusal to acknowledge your brilliance and/or my stubbornness. Or you think your ideas aren’t respected because you’re not a professor.

Well that’s all untrue. I’ll take the truth wherever I can get it. And I will be thrilled to be wrong.

But you’ll listen to none of this. Do not be surprised if in the meantime I do not reply to your missives. It is not out of disrespect but out of a lack of time to keep repeating myself to no avail.

Another case of academia hiding its head in the sand when the apple-cart has been upturned. All the lad had to do was find another Earls Ness somewhere in the region of Aberystwyth (a night & days ride SW from the Wirral) & then he’d be back in the game. Michael then closed with;

I hate to be a broken record, but you are continuing to ignore the
absolutely central etymological problem of associating anything “brun”
to “brunanburh.” Until you can comprehend and solve that problem all
of this is just idle speculation without a shred of the linguistic
grounding that it needs to merit serious consideration and a reopening
of the case.

The answer comes in Anglo-Saxon Oxfordshire, where one can find today the Otmoor. The first record of Otmoor was preserved in the Red Book of Thornley. The bounds of the lands are described as: ” … up of there ealden ea in to ottanmere. Of ottanmere thuyrsover bugenroda. of bugeroda into maer mer. of mearmere on merthorn .. ”

This is clear evidence of a later dropping of the Anglo-Saxon ‘an’ element; Ottanmere — Otmoor

In the same fashion, Brunanburh becomes Brunburh, which becomes the Brunfort of William of Malmesbury c.1130. This, then, gives us the Brun, & not Bruna, present in the name Burnley. So I send this to Michael, which essentially solves the ‘etymological problem of associating anything “brun” to “brunanburh,‘ like he asked for, at which point he abruptly stopped replying to my e-mails!

To finish, I’d also like to refute another of his attacks on my Burnley theory after I approached him about a Viking coin which had the name Bernvald on it, & I thought it was probably from Burnley (see…);

Let’s step through it. This curveball hypothesis would necessitate that there was a man, Bernvald, who was held in such regard that a town was named for him. No problem so far. His name would be shortened, however, then metathesized (the pronunciation switching from bern- to bren-), then changed in its pronunciation in order to yield brun … and all within the term of around thirty years after he was active. That’s a linguistic problem to say the least. And even if somehow that problem was solvable, we’d only be able to argue for a connection to brunburh instead of brunanburh, which isn’t much to hang one’s hat upon.

It gets worse. Because even if somehow, someway one managed to argue that there is an unrecorded and unprecedented line of linguistic development that gets you from bernvald to brun to brunanburh by 937, you’d then have to explain how the name reverted back to the still-unrecorded brun before changing again to arrive, at last, with a recorded place-name: brunlaia by 1124.

The probability, shall we say, is not high.

This, then, is how it all fits together

900 – Bernvald is the name of a moneyer who mints Viking coins at Ohsnaford (Heasanford in Burnley) Bernvald is a Danish spelling by the way – it apears as Brunvald in Old English
932 – Saint Byrnstanus (st brinstan) mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

King Athelstan is reigning at this point, & Layamon tells us he renamed ‘
the names of the towns in saxish speech…
& in saxish he gan speak the names of the men..’

935 – St Byrnstan becomes St Brinstan, we must assume that Bernvald became Brunvald – indeed there there are several coins by him which read Brun

1080 – Bourne in Lincolnshire is known as Brune
1120 – Gaimar calls Brunanburh both Bruneswerce & Burneweste
1122 – Burnley is known as Brunleaia
1310 – Robert de Brunn

This is now the time of Middle English. Here, we have the middle english word burnishen deriving from the Old French Brunir. In the same process of metathesis we have;

1350 – Brun-ley becomes Burnley
1400 – The Lincolnshire Brunn becomes Bourne

That should answer the question. Also, when Michael says; ‘bern- to bren, then changed in its pronunciation in order to yield brun,‘ we have a perfect match for the cantebury variations of the Bervald coins, which read;

BRNA
BREN
BRUN
BURNU

STEPHEN HARDING

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I also exchanged a couple of emails with another member of the Wirral Set – Prof. Stephen Harding;

STE - I’m afraid to say based on the evidence the Wirral is still by far the most likely location for the Battle of Brunanburh

ME - Egil’s Saga tells us the battle took place a day & a night’s ride to the NW of Ness on the Wirral – the only way to counter that fact is pretend the text doesn’t exit, or somehow destroy its credibility

STENot at all. It’s a question of weighting of the evidence. Egil’s Saga was written 2-300 years after the battle. The contemporary account in the Anglo Saxon Poem says the following: The West Saxons / Throughout the whole long passing of the day / Pressed on in troops behind the hostile people.

ME
- It is clear you have not read Egil’s Saga! The day/night ride was taken by a Aelfgir who fled the battle for safety at the viking sea-port of Ness. You quoted instead the ASC which refers to the pursuit of the broken armies of the Vikings & Scots after the battle, which lasted the rest of the day – this would be about 6 hours of travel, so their boats were waiting at a coastal location 20-30 miles away from the battlefield – the same distance that Burnley lies from the ‘fealan flot’ of the Ribble Estuaray. What is a fact is that the Burnley district is described in the Saga, as in;

1 – The battle took place a day & nights ride to the NW of Earl’s Ness

2 – Vinheath is placed between two towns – in Burnley terms that would be Brunanburh to the south & Colne (roman colnio) to the north – it is also described as being raised up, which fits in perfectly with Shelfield, whose dark age monument must have memorialized something

3 – The name Vinheath is retained in Winewall, next to Shelfield – Winewall (english) Vinvollr (Old Norse) Vinheath (Icelandic)

The geographical blueprint given by Egil’s Saga fits so excuisitely the Burnley district, & it is either a fabulous coincidence or else the sources of Egil’s Saga were accurate. The only defence that Bromborough has against Egil’s Saga is to pretend it doesnt exist

STEWirral’s Ness is not in the south of England so it can’t be Earlsness if Egil’s Saga is correct. You may say well whoever wrote that got it wrong or Wirral is “sort of south of England” – which it isn’t of course – but then you are selecting the bits of Egil that you like & rejecting the bits you don’t. There are a number of surviving –nes or –ness places in the south of England (even a Neston in Somerset) (note from me – none are within a days ride of the Wirral).

ME - The Southumbrians or ‘Suðanhymbre’ were the Anglo-Saxon people occupying northern Mercia. The north mercian border was roughly Southport-Humber. Thus the Wirral was in Suðanhymbre.’

STE (ignoring the Earl’s Ness comment)I also doubt very much if a defeated, exhausted army on foot could make that distance (20-30 miles) in that time, particularly if they had to avoid non-major routes to avoid being cut down from behind. They could just about make the Dee or Meols in that time though from Bebington Heath – ymbe Brunanburh, as we proved in our re-enactment of the escape.

ME - 1066… An army marches 300 miles at 60 miles a day to stamford bridge in yorkshire – fights a major battle – that night they set off back to Hastings at 60 miles a day & then put up an amazing fight against the normans – they didnt break sweat – i think you underestimate the capacity for gruelling marches & constant warfare in the warrior cultures of a 1000 years ago –

STE - That 1066 army was neither defeated nor trying to avoid being caught by a pursuer and therefore could move along standard direct routes. If someone is shooting arrows at you from behind would you run along a clear straight track? Or head through the woods?

At this point I broke off contact; his approach to handling one of the main weaknesses of the Bromborough-was-Brunanburh notions – that of the day-long retreat of the Vikings to their boats from the battlefield – is hilarious(see link above). He & his pals travel from Bromborough to Thingwall – a journey of 6 miles – in 5 and a half hours, proving that a “day long pursuit” was possible.

1-0 Damo!!!

Brussels-Brunendell-Burnley-Barry-Brighton

My mad wee Summer jaunt has just deposited me by the very British seaside in Brighton. My journey here began in the early hours of thursday morning, when I found myself jumping on a megabus in Brussels. A few hours later we were at Calais, & a sail across the channel later, into the ever-widening dawn, found me back in Britain. Not long after this I was pulling into London along the Kent Road, the morning full of teh warming sun I’d brought over from Europa. At Victoria I quickly changed busses, then a few hours more I was in dirty Leeds. Later that day I was ready to play a gig with the Victor Pope band, whose recently finished album can be seen here.

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I had a few hours to kill in Leeds b4 Victor Pope, Jonnie & mi bird turned up, so spent it at an old pals house in the highly cosmopolitan town of Chapeltown. A few hours of lazing in the sun later mi best mate Nicky turns up from Burnley with his wife, Clare. Christine had made us all a lovely chicken dinner after which we drove over to the Brunendell Social Club in Leeds. A little later the guys turn up – they’d driven to Carlisle from edinburgh, then caught the train to leeds through the beautiful Pennine scenery around Settle & Skipton. Unfortunately Roy couldnt make it – so we were a three-piece, but we went down pretty well & its great too have a good work out before the forthcoming Wicker Man festival.

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After the gig, Nicky drove me & Ellie to Burnley where we slept at his house. Next morning saw lunch with my dad, sister & new nephew, Jacob, before we caught a bus to Manchester. Our journey saw us climbing up onto the moors above my home town, descending into Rawtenstall, then chugging along the motorway to Manchester. Over in Cottonopolis we bought some snacks then jumped on a train which swept us all the way to Cardiff in Wales – my seventh country of the tour! Another train later we found ourselves in Barry, recently made famous by the sitcom Gavin & Stacey. theres one bit in it which is hilarious – alright its set in the Essex half of the show, & its all about english football songs – but its wicked –

We were in Barry for a wedding, Ellie’e cousin’s cousin, a tenuous link but enough to furnish our stay with two nights in an idyllic B&B converted from a farm-house, & also copious amounts of free prosecco at the wedding reception. The groom is a Defence barrister while the bride is a GP, very middle middle & the scene of the reception reflected this. It was held at Fonmon castle; built in the 12th century it was sold off by the royalist owners as part of their civil war reparations, & has been in the family of the new owners ever since. It was great fun getting sloshed in the 32 degree heat, playing boules on the lawn & tucking into a grand three-courser, finished off with a wild Scottish caleigh. there was a funny moment, though. I was taking photos of the wonderful art draped on the castle walls (Van Dyck, Joshua Reynalds) which startled the caterer manager – I think he thought i was sizing them up for a later steal or something, & he even muttered under his breath at one point ‘behave youself!’ Nobhead.

fonmon2

So that brings us to Brighton. Yesterday me & the lass caught a 5 hour train from Cardiff to Brighton, with me glued to the last sessions of this years ashes test (well done there lad -the burnley express, jimmy anderson). Then, with the sun gently fading I found myself on the lawns by the sea near Hove, having a picnic with five of ellie’s female pals – an interesting & pleasurable ordeal. I took a bit of a back seat during the girlie catch-up – which was basically talk about new jumpers & each girls nick-name for their lady-bits! I think I passed the test by the way! Last night we slept in Ellie’s mate’s spare room & today we’ve just been pottering in the sun around Britain’s premier seaside resort. I lived here 13 years ago, & wrote the very first stanzas of Axis & Allies here.

Home tomorrow, but first off, Ellies prepared a picnic lunch by the Pavilions

Sussex, Brighton, Royal Pavilion

Railridin’

Last Sunday me and Brotherman were let off the leash by his bird to have a farewell rave at the Summerjam; then after a chill out day in Cologne I hit the road. I was escorted as far as a tramstop by Bman, then leaving him to his fate I found myself trainjumping through Germany towards Brussels. 15 years ago I was jumping between Brussels and Cologne. I was sharp back then and hit Nuremburg Vienna and Budapest before I finally got caught on the Orient Express heading back To Vienna. This time I caught a few steady slow trains and indeed found myself in lovely verdant and hilly city of Aachen for free.

aachen
Aachen

There were no trains to Holland unfortunately so I paid 5 euros for a bus ride across the very southern tip of Holland that juts into Belgium, like the nobbly bit of a jigsaw puzzle. I suddenly found myself in Maastricht, another gorgeous city with the sun in the low 30s. I almost paused and took a youth hostel. But on discovering that to get to Belgium, I had to buy a train ticket that then put me on a bus to Belgium, and to even buy this ticket I had to spend 7.50; then I though fuck it and kept walking.

Maastricht
Maastricht

Maastricht is right on the Belgian border, which I soon crossed; passing memorials to brave Belgian soldiers who defied the epic forces ranged against the, at the start of two world wars. Breaking off into the Belgian countryside; I was delighted to find it rolling and full of bright agricultural colours + even stumbling across a great battlefield I had never heard of before = The Battle of Lafelt.

300px-Bataille_de_Lawfeld,_2_juillet_1747

After 20k of hiking in glorious sunshine I hit a charming town called Bilzen… and a few moments later I was heading north on a train to Hasselt only two stops and a few minutes away. Now; when I was younger I would have hid in the toilets or something, but Im rusty as hell and was intercepted just before we arrived at Hasselt. However, on enquiring about Brussels tickets in order to stall him he replied that there was a summer special on which meant I got could get all the way to Brussels for only 7.50: A great result seeing as if Id have stayed in Maastricht I would have had to pay 7.50 just to buy a ticket.

So there I was; whizzing through Belgium chasing the sunset, and hit the city just before nine. By this point I was determined to spend a night under the stars on the fields of Waterloo. I had last been here thirteen years ago, writing the first stanzas of what would eventually be my epic poem Axis and Allies. Having recently placed it alongside my other poetic epics in a piece called the Parnassiad and given the whole thing a poetic introduction, it cane to me that it would be appropriate to write an epitaph/epilogue at the place where it all began. So jumping trains to Braine L’Allaeud and picking up wine, snacks and plastic sheeting from, a building site, I slipped through a hole in the perimiter fence and found myself climbing the steep slopes of the Butt de Lion. This is a great brass lion perched upon a grassy pyramid, defiantly facing in the direction of Paris. As the sun set I guzzled down the wine and began to write, the first lines being;

This poem I present, Parnassus sung,
Reflects those pleasant days when I was young
And focused my hearts world view on an art
Whose special moments set my world apart
For as I gaze upon these midnight lights
Good men are sleeping as a poet writes

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The plastic sheeting kept out the worst of the night chills, and waking at dawn I pottered around the battlefield, eventually falling asleep again in the sun at the village of Plancenoit. This was the scene of the principal Prussian contribution to the battle (they arrived late), & thus the site of the Prussian monument. Very cheekily, however, have the French Napoleonic Foundation also placed a memorial stone in the village heaping glory on the Young Guard who defended Plancenoit. After this I meandered across the blood-soaked soil & headed north, soon entering the large town of Waterloo. In its St Josephs church can still read the marble memorials set up to honour the British who died at the battle. Interestingly, one had a Latin inscription Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria Mori – it is sweet & fitting to die for ones country. A century later, however, Wilfred Owen, after seeing the horrors of warfare, declared it to be ‘the old lie.’

From tWaterloo I headed into Brussels and I’m currently wandering about for a few hours now before I catch the megabus to leeds where the Victor Pope Band are playing … I hope they remember my bass

Invasion of the Island Monkey

Cologne 1942
Cologne 1942

On the night of the 30th May, 1945, the Allied powers launched their first 1000 bomber raid on a german city, essentially pommelling the city of Cologne to a pulp. Still, standing, however, was the citys very tall & very ancient cathedral . This stood like a beacon of hope to the citizens, who returned to their rubble wilderness & began to rebuild their lives & homes. Roll on 70 years & the place is a pleasant palace of straight roads, avenues & parks, teeming with cyclists & dissected by modern trams. Traffuc seems to be higher up on the police radar, for cannabis is freely smoken in the streest (we are 150 k from amsterdam) but you get a 25 euro fine if you cross the road when the little man is red!

My journey here has been funny as fuck, like reading the first few paragraphs of a bohemian autobiography. After watching cliff pack his life into boxes (one an hour interspersed with lines of ketamine) his mate drove us down to dover where his heavily pregant german girlfriend Nichola was waiting with her father. It was emotional to hear him say, in broken & obviosuly rehearsed english – WELCOME TO OUR LIFE. Not long after this i was sharing a poetic moment with cliff, the sun settling & england receding into the gloom, cliff was finally free of his eleven year alcatraz! A three hour drive later, through france, belgium & holland, we arrived in germany at a village near Kriffeld, where nicolas mum was waiting with champagne & pizza. They took to Cliff really well, especially Nicholas dad who, after four daughters & three grand-daughters (& another on the way) announced rather loudly I HAVE A SON. He also called me an island monkey for being British, which amused me no end.

nicolas dads bycycle workshop
nicolas dads bycycle workshop

The next morning Nicola drove us on to Cologne & the flat, where her housemate had kindly donated me his room while he was away. This led to our first potters around Cologne, including a trip to the cathedral & a feast of schnitzel ´basically battered meat like what we British do with our cod. Time was also spent relaxing in a park where I watched with interest some young uns chuck pieces of wood at their opponents pieces of wood, with a king perched in the middle awairting the victorious KLUNK.

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PICT2592

Yesterday, after a spag bol at one of nicolas friends houses, we found ourselves at the summer jam, europes biggest reggae festival upon an island in lake, ony a few miles from colognes city centre. Its mad as fuck, with campers pitching their tents all around the lakeside, & the air one of of cool carribesanstyle easiness. At this point I realized that the gods had chosen well giving cliff niocola, for she is definitelzy as wide as me & him, for she made two tickest stretch between seven people. After easing off the passes with soap & water, & restructguring the metal clasp with pluers, a system began where two folk would go on, trhen one would return with a pass & then take the next person on. The whole process took a few hours, helped somewhat by the 5 pound bottle of gin i was drinking – all the booze in europe is at least half price remember – & the chat I was chewing, a speedy herbal stick that one keeps in oines cheek. Now i dont normally do Reggae, but once inside I really the occasion, with epic performances on massive stages & 30,000 all in thesun-kissed zone —- its so very different an experience from a rock orientated festival in a rain-soaked scottish field.

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With nichola being pregnant, we came back at 1am – but it was cool, riding the city streets with the tunes blaring & the warm summer breeze revitalizing spirits. It was great to see Cliff buzzing in his new life, with a beautiful woman by his side, & an angel in her belly

HERES SOME REGGAE FROM THE FESTIVY:::

Back to the Gallery

Leytonstone
Leytonstone

After spending 9 hours on a bus, I found myself inching frustratingly slowly through a madcap traffic jam between Marylebone & Apsley House. Then, with a burst of speed I was at Victoria, where mi old mate Charlie was waiting. Our tour of India two years previously did the trick, & he is now what you could almost call a model citizen – drug free & healthy-cheeked. After buying a six zone travelcard off a crack-head for two quid at the bus station, we were soon winging our way east on the tube, arriving at the bohemian paradise of the 491 Gallery in Leytonstone at the setting of the sun.

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It was Cliff’s farewell bash, my old buddy who I’d been in a band with decade ago. Since then, he’d completely overstayed his visa, lost his passsport & supported himself through cash-in-hand gardening work. For every day, however, he’d lived in fear of the authorities & a summarary deportation. Several schemes were hatched to help him escape the prison that the British Isles had become, including hiring a fisherboat to sail him to Morocco, then travel overland through various warzones back to South Africa. Yet eight months ago a minor miracle took place & his German girlfriend – Nichola – suddenly announced she was pregnant. Roll on to today & Nichola’s family have helped him to get a new passport & a German residency visa! Result!

So tomorrow I am heading off to Germany with him, the beginning of a mad trip that is gonna take me to a reggae festival in Cologne, a gig with the Victor Pope Band in Leeds & a wedding in Cardiff. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with an interview of Cliff … aka brotherman… taken at his leaving bash, which had spilled into a sunny London Sunday…

It was made by Alexander McLean, an enigmatic London-based journalist & film-maker whose Modus Operandi is interviewing artists & politicians such as Henry Rollins, Lydia Lunch, Public Enemy, Cypress Hill & Korn. You can check out his website here…

Alex is on the left - skip mcdonald is on the right
Alex is on the left – skip mcdonald is on the right

Here’s another of his pieces, an interview with Bill Curtis from the Fatback Band, whose song BUS STOP has inspired Tinky Disco…

& here’s the man in full-flow

& to finish, heres a link to Chris Yacksley’s album – a gallery resident & wicked musician – & one of Cliff’s best – pals
a2702000999_2. The photo is taken on the central line after its modern day incarnation peters out somewhere in he Epping Forest a few miles after Leytonstone…