Terminus and Sykko Dollz at the Chill Bar, Ilfracombe, Saturday 9th September 2017

IMG_6301.JPGHave you ever lived life on the dirty side of midnight with some salsa dancing pirates? It’s a lot of fun but keep an eye on your bucket and spade. Ilfracombe is not near Oxford so the Terminus camp decided to make a weekend of it. It was a mostly* good journey to the seaside. It’s rare you get a whole car of people who all like fig rolls.

My first sighting of the Chill Bar was when load in happened at 11am. I loved it on first sight and we got a hugely warm welcome from Isabel. After load in Ilfracombe was our oyster. There were arcades, the harbour, a bike rally, pubs and a chocolate emporium. We promenaded and found fun. Helen held a snake, I bought a souvenir teaspoon rest (it’s not all rock ‘n’ roll). In the early evening the Sykko Dollz answered the question “What shall we do with the drunken vocalist?” with “Send him for a snooze until he’s sober”.

The Chill Bar was host to a 30th birthday party for Sophie who dances splendid salsa and it made for a mixed musical evening. It’s not often I hear The Vengaboys, Ken Dodd and Gypsy Pistoleros numbers all in one evening. It’s also not often that I have a pink bucket and spade with me on a Saturday night (thanks Steve and Michelle). I sipped a sex on the beach and looked around me at all the seamen and wenches. Aarrrr! This be a fine hostelry, I thought.

Open up and say “Aarrrr!”

Terminus went on at nine, the pirating hour. Dean had on a double dose of guyliner, one lot for rock singing and a second lot for pirating. His parrot had developed a puncture but luckily Lawrence was on hand to fix it with some gaffa tape. The bar bounced to Terminus’s cover of “All The Small Things”. The salsa dancers did some very fine grind, wiggle, wiggling to Rose Tattoo’s “Sweetmeat”. Heavy Metal Panda got introduced to the crowd and was very excited. As well as dancing there was cutlass waving (only plastic and inflatable ones, no need for alarm) and I waved my pink spade. The set ended with Rage Against The Machine’s sweartastic “Killing In the Name”.

Sykko Dollz gave us a treasure chest of catchy choruses and singalong numbers. I can’t wait until they’ve finished their EP. The crowd sang along, belting out “I win, you lose, should have known better”, “She’s my girl” and “Life ain’t easy when you’re riding all night”. The Abba cover “Does Your Mother Know?” was delivered with a camp tongue in cheekness that had an element of Jack Sparrow to it. A trio of Sykko Clowns came out with shots and kicked the party up a notch. The Dollz ended with a Gypsy Pistoleros song with a chorus that goes “Hey, hey, hey, where did I go wrong? I’m living my life on the dirty side of midnight”.

I like it on the dirty side of midnight…


The gig in brief:

Number of Motörhead T-shirts in venue – 2

Number of salsa dancers in venue – loads of accomplished ones.

Number of pink bucket and spade sets lost by absent minded party goers – 1

Best anagram of Ilfracombe – frolic beam

Cutest pirate/Sykko Clown – Evie Franklin


*We stopped at Gordano services. I ordered a tuna and sweetcorn six inch sub. The man filled two inches of it and then realised he’d run out of tuna. He offered me other things to complete it but I don’t like tuna with other things. I assume that Gordano services was started by three men called Gordon, Daniel and Noel who were on a mission to serve overpriced food to a wide section of the population in slightly too bright surroundings. There must be a parallel universe somewhere in which three men called Noel, Daniel and Gordon decided service stations should be pleasing and so they opened Onadrog services which is a wonderful place where the food served is tasty, reasonably priced and from the local area and people are fully aware of how much tuna they’ve got.

Anyway, the moral of this story is don’t start a fish based task you can’t finish and if you promise six inches and can only deliver two there will be disappointment.



Inspiration and Belonging – A Love Letter to The Cellar

Photo Courtesy of Sam Tomlin

The Cellar (and its previous incarnation as The Dolly) is too important a venue to be lost. It has a rich musical history and for me and many others it’s part of our personal history.

You can sign a petition here to Save Oxford’s nightlife. Stop the closure of The Cellar.

The live music is obviously a key part of The Cellar’s charm and individuality. Here’s a list of bands I’ve seen in The Cellar; Dedlok, KARN8, Elmbridge Court, Western Sand, Fireroad, A Higher Demise, Remnant, Black Light Machine, Get Loose, Savage Messiah, Desert Storm, Last Great Dreamers, Steamroller, Contraverse, 12 Gauge, Theia UK, Terminus, Black Iron Priest, Ded Orse, Control The Storm, Hell’s Gazelles, Bad Behaviour, Hell’s Gazelles again, Texas Flood, Toadstool, Triaxis, Bigfoot, Terminus again.

I also saw a load of bands in The Cellar’s previous incarnation as The Dolly; The Bad Men, JOR, Bad To The Bone, Charlie Mouse, to name but a few. It was my regular Sunday night haunt back in the late 80s and early 90s.

But it’s not even just the music, it’s having somewhere to belong, somewhere to find people who get excited about the same music you do. The Cellar is used by diverse music groups, (some of which sound dreadful to me but that’s not the point). We don’t need any more shops but we do need meeting places and we do need to give music somewhere to happen. The Cellar is perfect for intimate gigs and becoming intimate with people.

Drinking in The Dolly and The Cellar in part inspired me to write my Eviscerated Panda Saga, about a fictional metal band. I wonder how many audience members have stood in The Cellar and decided that they want to play an instrument or sing?

Here’s a list of ten highly personal weird/notable things that I remember happening in the Dolly/Cellar;

  1. The time a chap put a six inch nail up his nose to impress me.
  2. The stripper that looked like Geoffrey from Rainbow.
  3. The man with handcuffs in his waistcoat pocket who told me he was journalist and asked if I wanted to go home with him but I didn’t because I find waistcoats deeply unattractive.
  4. The time I was sad and it looked like Mick Jagger shed a tear (there used to be a Rolling Stones poster in the Dolly and it is a damp sort of place so maybe Mick just happened to drip at that point, but it felt like a communion between the two of us).
  5. The night the Bad Men played (chaos, pure chaos).
  6. The night I was drunk and threw a rose onstage to the singer, thinking I was Rene from the Rene and Renata video.
  7. Me realising you can be mates with someone even if you’ve both shagged the same chap. Basically this makes you sperm sisters and everyone deserves to be happy, although your happy ending may not be where you expect to find it.
  8. Charlie Mouse’s intro music.
  9. Listening Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” being karaoke’d every week for ages.
  10. The awesome DJs (special mention should go to Paul Axtell, Terry Webb and John Chadwick).

Let’s do our best to preserve this little niche of Oxford where wonderful sounds can be heard, connections can be made and life can be lived loudly.

FyreSky, Silent Jack and Terminus at The Wheatsheaf, Oxford, 25th August 2017

IMG_6061.JPGThere was a small horde of three people waiting to get in upstairs at the Wheatsheaf tonight. This kind of  bank holiday weekend keenness set the mood for the rest of the evening. It was a friendly bunch who came through the doors and got the usual “The Wheatsheaf ate my Baby” hand stamp from the lovely Lou.

FyreSky kicked us off nice and heavily. I recommend checking out their track Thunder Child on You Tube. A massive congratu-well done to the bass player for finding time to put on some serious make-up before coming out tonight. Earlier this week Terminus had suggested if people are in a rush after work that they just wash the three F’s then hasten to the pub.

Next up we had Silent Jack who are hard rockers from Birmingham. These guys gave great medley within their song “Love Factory”. There was a bit of Alice Cooper, a bit of Warrant, and much more besides, getting us in the mood for Terminus’s covers to come. I started to get interested in the idea of a Love Factory and wondered how many employees are in this factory? Is there a cafeteria? What’s the pension plan like? Is there time off at Christmas? I like music that makes me think. I also enjoyed the song “Too Many Women”. I counted how many women were present during this song. There were seven. You can check out Silent Jack on Reverbnation. It’s feel good bouncey stuff.

Terminus Set List.jpgPre-gig Terminus had the usual conversation about not speeding up towards the end of the songs, with everyone thinking everyone else does it but they don’t. Perhaps it’s an inevitable part of life that when engaged in doing something pleasurable chaps will speed up towards the end.

Terminus’s set tonight had a bit of a school disco feel. A lot of the audience had seen Terminus before and knew what to expect. I like watching the ebb and flow of the crowd, watching people’s faces change when one of their favourite songs gets played. My faves tonight were Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction’s “Prime Mover” (a great song from an under-rated artist) and Black Pistol Fire’s “Suffocation Blues” (Dean has started using his mike lead to suggest a strangle-wank during this song). I loved watching the dancing to Rose Tattoo’s “Sweetmeat”. The grind, wiggle wiggle seems to be catching on.

Terminus next play the Wheatsheaf on the 30th December and it should be a very fun  New Year’s Eve Eve Party so pop over to Facebook and add yourself to the event.



Free Christmas Short Stories ebook 19th to 21st August

TtTYtC Cover 6Sept2015I’ve written a book of 24 short stories about Christmas and made it free to download this weekend on Amazon. Just use the links below if you’d like a copy (links open in a new window):

Tales to Take You to Christmas UK link

Tales to Take You to Christmas US link

It is also free on all the other Amazon sites.

I got the idea for the book when I was looking for an unusual advent calendar for my mum. I decided that if I wrote 24 short stories, it would be an advent calendar in book form.

I took inspiration for the cover from a page of one of my favourite Ladybird books. Ladybird books are some of the first books I read. My dad used to bring me one home on a Friday night when he got paid. He inspired my love of reading. I enjoyed designing the cover and took inspiration from the Ladybird book “The Stories Of Our Christmas Customs”. All of the decorations used for my book cover have hung on either my parents’ or grandparents’ Christmas trees when I was a child.




Below are the first pages of four of my Christmas stories. Follow That Star TonightThe BellLateNightThursdayIfIHadAMagicWand


Terminus and Pandamönium at Fat Lils, Witney, Saturday 12th August 2017

Terminus are back in Witney less than a month after their date with Stone Trigger and the Sykko Dollz. They play two new songs tonight so the set feels both fresh and familiar to the Terminus faithful.

The first new song is Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak. For ages the lyric “Tonight there’s gonna be a jailbreak, somewhere in this town” has made me think “Somewhere? It’ll happen at the jail surely, what are the other venue options?” but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a song about a metaphorical jailbreak, a break from the working week and the constraints of normal life.

WitneyCallingAnimalThere was a minor rock and roll moment when part way through second new song, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, Dean kicked his music stand and A4 lyrics folder with Animal from The Muppets on into the crowd like he’s a stationery based version of Paul Simonon from The Clash. Edgy!

Terminus played the stuff that they’ve learnt over the past three years of gigging gets their crowd going. They opened with The Cult’s Lil’ Devil. They gave us what is fast becoming their signature tune, Rose Tattoo’s Sweetmeat, with the grind, wiggle, wiggle dance and the lyric “I like to bite it, I like to roll it in my teeth”. I think this refers to Angry Anderson’s modus operandi when eating a Drumstick lolly.  Drumstick.jpg

There was some great “Oi!” shouting from the crowd during AC/DC’s TNT and then during Whole Lotta Rosie I noticed that Dean, who had previously been very up close and personal with the crowd, singing lines at individual members, dishing out high fives, politely stared dead ahead for “she ain’t exactly pretty, she ain’t exactly small”. This could have been totes awks if his singing to specific people had continued. Rumour has it that Dean has been asked to contribute a chapter to Debrett’s upcoming book “Social Etiquette for Lead Singers”.

The Kiss cover Detroit Rock City for a moment created Witney Rock City* and Terminus closed with Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name. I love this song and having my old mate Gareth next to me and us dancing like it’s still the 1990s was a treat and a tonic.

Headline act Pandamönium came onstage to the Steptoe and Son theme tune (and this made me think of the days when Charlie Mouse would come onstage to the song A Windmill In Old Amsterdam).

You can trust Pandamönium to do metal because they’ve got an umlaut. They opened with Michael Schenker’s Armed And Ready. They followed this with a meaty version of Judas Priest’s Grinder. I’d also like to hear a vegetarian option of this song, lyrically along the lines of “Grinder! Looking for chickpeas to make houmous, Grinder! You can get all the protein you need from plants actually”.

Are Pandamönium’s legs this hairy?

Accept’s Balls to the Wall sounded hairy. Sabbath’s Children Of The Grave galloped along, with James Knapp’s bass expertly herding us through this classic. AC/DC’s Live Wire was a good choice, as was Priest’s Metal Gods. I find I’m humming cowbell heavy Hair Of The Dog by Nazareth today, Gareth Kerry having percussed it superbly and Mark Cunningham’s vocal embroidery proving as florid as his Western shirt**. Guitarists Liam and John wearing Terminus vests provided a handy hint for the audience to remind them which of the personnel were in both Pandamönium and Terminus.


It’s my first time in a while hearing Sabbath’s Country Girl and Priest’s The Rage. Pandamönium have chosen some less well covered stuff because they love it and who can argue with that decision? They played a set with some surprises rather than the obvious. A few people wanted to be able to buy a Pandamönium T-shirt so I hope this happens in future, they have a very cute and spiky logo.


The gig in brief:

Number of Motörhead T-shirts in venue: 3

Number of Terminus T-shirts/vests in venue: 5 (not counting the ones sat patiently on the merch stall waiting for a new owner).

Number of Belly Dancers in venue: 2


*Yeah, Witney is a town, this is a confusion that happened before with the Sleaze in The City tour, but what you don’t know is that when I go to Witney I take a very, very small cathedral in my pocket, thus rendering it a city for a short while.

**Embroidery is so on trend this season.

OXROX ALIVE Festival Saturday 5th August 2017

OXROX Alive.jpgYesterday I saw Blaze Bayley sing Wolfsbane’s epic song Manhunt at OXROX ALIVE Festival and I briefly felt like it was 1989 again. The lyric “Ooh! They’ve got their dresses tight! Gonna set this town alight!” made me smile. They don’t write ’em like that any more. The heavy metal pantomime that is Blaze Bayley must have grabbed a whole grove of invisible oranges during his performance. He whipped the crowd up like he was making butterscotch Angel Delight. He was ably assisted by his backing band, who are splendid in their own right as Absolva when BB isn’t on board. He left me wanting more, so I shall have to go and see him again.

I didn’t see all the bands because I was gossiping in the sunshine (I did hear them all from my spot on the grass and it was all marvellous metal as far as my ears could hear). I ventured inside to the attractively curtained* club house for noisy duo My Diablo who are basically two men with the energy and volume of four. I also watched Desert Storm. I’ve seen them perhaps ten times now and they are always musically tight and doomily satisfying.

Heavy Metal Panda welcomes pink Fl’obble to her new home

I also became aware of the great work done by the Rock Against Child Pornography and Abuse UK (RAPCA UK) charity and purchased a Fl’obble from them that matches my hair. I had a great time at this intimate festival and I got chips. This is the life!



*My Nan used to work in Co-op’s soft furnishings department so I notice these details.


The gig in brief:

Number of women having their dresses tight: Lots, including me.

Number of women setting the town alight: 0 (All us women with our dresses tight got into a little huddle and decided we didn’t want to get the festival organisers in trouble by going on a fiery rampage).

Number of crisps flavours available behind bar: 6, plus Smarties were available so I had some of those.

Phrase I giggled most after saying: “Can I offer you a small handful?”