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Brentford v Derby 2017: a moan-in from Møn.


It was to be our last evening in Denmark after a week in Copenhagen and the island of Møn. We were here at the invitation of Keld and his partner and we were having a great time despite the changeable weather.

Keld is a big Derby fan (@keld100) and it was following the Rams that had brought us all together. So it is not surprising that on that last Friday of our holidays we decided to get onto Ramsplayer, with @derbycounty on twitter to follow the game. I’d envisaged- sitting in the sun, sharing our thoughts with the other #worldwiderams following across the globe, wondering if we could hold onto our lead……

None of that happened of course. (No, I am not blaming the club for the weather……)

It must have been a desolate, desperate experience for the Rams fans who traveled to the game but spare a thought to for those of us following from afar…..

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a contributor to @derbycounty, a dcfc fans account which provides commentary on Rams games. This was started before the Derby Telegraph, radio Derby and dcfc official used twitter in any meaningful way. We have 11,974 followers and a regular group of followers who actively take part in tweeting and reacting to the game. It’s like a small group of friends, in locations across the world, who can nevertheless have a banter with fellow fans.

On Friday, as well as Keld and I in Denmark, there were fans following the game in Ireland, Brisbane, Perth, USA….just think of some of those time zones!

Then the game started. Capitulation. Keld and I are of the same opinion; you should not do down the team during the match, even on twitter. But that left us with nothing to say. There was very little commentary because there was nothing much to comment on. The relative silence on twitter (apart from the sack Rowett,  “x” not fit to wear the shirt comments) spoke volumes.

I will soon be getting ready to go to the pub and then, with a heavy heart, onto Pride Park. Fan groups are already there, bedecking the ground with flags and displays. And my thoughts go to those fans like Keld, dotted around the globe, who will be getting ready to follow the game in lots of different ways, locations and situations.

I hope the players spare them a thought too.




Sunday stroll in Derby; a few photos, a few words.

I felt the need to get out this afternoon- away from twitter and Trump, brexit, school planning, household chores and rugby. I had no plan- just to get out. I turned left and headed into town.

[How come you can say “headed into town” but have to say “headed into the city?]

Went into Waterstones. They have a section for “social media personalities”. “Philosophy has gone.

And so it goes.

Went into Tesco Express. Bought chocolate. What a soulless place this is. Desperate shopping, heads bowed, self service to avoid human contact.

Onwards. Towards the river


A collage of buildings


Not so much Live as in suspended animation- knock it down? The future of Derby Assembly Rooms is uncertain following a fire nearly 3 years ago. Dithering and delaying with no clear vision.

To the river:


I have said it many times: the River Derwent should be the centre of our city. A symbol of our industrial past. A flowing place attracting people to stop and pause.


Instead it lies largely neglected as it passes through.


I just liked this shot. Chimney pots? Well yes. But a meeting place to swop information- best places for scraps, see you later.


Another abandoned building no one has known what to do with for several years. St Werbergh’s church hasn’t been a church since 1990 but no other use has succeeded since then.



The central library. In sunlight. Likely to become closed. We can’t afford books. Nor their custodians. Another derelict building in the making.


The street is empty. Shops, restaurants closed. Deliveroo delivers so we don’t need to go out.



Dusk. Driving home to the suburbs. Backdrop. Warehouse abandoned, unused. Dithering and delaying.

Earlier this week, my friend @jbboardman made the astute comment that Derby is too small to maintain the city- when one part becomes regenerated, another part slowly dies. Too small and too small minded. Next time, I’ll just go to the Intu Centre.

Derby County- from year of the Ram to year of the Monkey

It’s not often that I feel compelled to write a post about Derby County. There are so many decent blogs and blog posts out there that I usually leave it to them. Tonight though, I feel compelled to add my view to the torrent of opinions that will be spewing forth tonight. I am not a football expert, I am a Derby County fan. I sit close to the pitch and don’t have an over view of the game. But I have my view….

Steve McClaren let us down. More interested in watching whether Newcastle would go down than getting Derby promoted, he was rightly sacked as we even failed to get the point that would get us into the play offs.

I feared we would get a recycled usual suspect as our new manager, but we made a bold, and in my view, good decision to bring in Paul Clement.

After a dodgy start, the results started to come.Not always the performances, but the results. So we were relatively happy.

As soon as the results dipped though our previous concerns about performance started to become more urgent. My twitter name @overhere3 comes from me shouting over here at the games but that precedes current regimes. We seem to buy wingers and never use the width. The main problem seemed to be however- apart from that ball in the final 3rd- was the negative or sideways passing. Lots of possession but no end product. The fans were on it. Warnock in particular got the abuse of the fans who wanted to see us play forward all the time.

I didn’t boo- I don’t- but I was one of the thousands who became frustrated despite our earlier results.

The home game against Preston was probably the nadir. We saw improvements against Man U and, although we still drew, against Fulham. I heard Christie actually push forward..

But Paul Clement responded to our objections to the backward/sideways passing. He pointed out that if there wasn’t a way forward we should at least keep possession. My point to Clement would have been that the players didn’t look up for the forward pass, didn’t anticipate it… and I think he would have taken that point, and worked on it. But he wasn’t given the chance.

So with 16 games to go we were 5th. Dawn of a new era. When commenting on the game this afternoon it was 2-0 to 10-00 the Rams. It was not to be. Surprised?

The commentary on Radio Derby was interesting. Having criticised the lack of forward passing in previous games, the criticism today was that we were playing the long ball. Hey ho.

Dismissing Paul Clement for football reasons was a disgrace. If it was not for footballingg reasons, we need to know.

There is no point in having a go at Darren Wassall for today- we now have a meddling Morris who thinks that, as a fan, he knows best. Unfortunately, unlike the rest of us, he has the money and the power.

I hope this ends well.


Demolition of DRI- changing urban landscapes

I hope there is a a serious photographer out there recording on a regular basis, the demolition of the old Derby Royal Infirmary. If not, well at least I have taken a few snapshots.

There have been many changes to the cityscape of Derby since I moved here 30 years ago. You see the changes happening, aware of what is being lost or gained,then, when the transformation has happened, you quickly forget what was and how the place has changed, not just physically, but psychologically. The way we view our town turned city, the way we move around it, occupy/ are excluded from parts of it. What will become of this-now- building site which holds so many memories for so many people- the hopes, joy, despair and deaths of a city centre hospital. Will those memories survive as a housing/shops/offices development replaces the hospital.



Hopefully, Florence Nightingale will preserve the memory of what was….


The inside of a building hangs, outside, holding on.SAM_5920

As the Victorian facade remains. Stoic.


Snow adds to the desolation of the site…


The old being preserved, the newer demolished, the new, an architects plan.

Click on Urban Walks for other posts on Derby and other urban views…

landslides and earthquakes and local elections.

Much- indeed too much- has been said about the “success” of UKIP in the local and European elections. The publicity this party received, both before and after the vote on Thursday has been totally out of proportion to their importance and their successes. Very few of the many interviews with Farage have actually challenged the narrative that he peddles, with the honourable exception of the James O’Brien interview on LBC.

And as the “people’s party” (now the People’s army according to UKIP) marches on, the main parties will be falling over backwards and themselves to appease this army and entice their supporters back into the fold with increasingly xenophobic policies.

What the broadcast media and politicians have not challenged, and seem unwilling to discuss, is the low turnout in  the local elections, the system that produces this low turnout and the key seats tactics that all parties use.

Andrew Rawnsley, in the Observer on 18th may 2014 got it right:

The headlines on the night will be grabbed by Ukip, a party that most of its own supporters never expect to form a government. Much the biggest proportion of voters will belong to the None of the Above party, those many millions of people who don’t think it’s even worth expressing an opinion.

It is not the UKIP voters the parties should be seeking to attract back into the fold but the supporters of the None of the Above party.

But they won’t. Low turnout suits the main parties. They can concentrate on getting their core supporters out in safe seats, ignore the seats where they have little chance of winning and concentrate on marginals. I complained on twitter that no party had door stepped our street. To be fair, someone from Labour did offer to come round but I had already voted by then. The truth is that I was doorstepped about 20 years ago, tried to debate some issues and refused to commit to voting for them and was subsequently labelled as “not worth calling on.” That’s what happens when you live in a safe Labour ward. But all parties do it which is why the low turnout issue is not being addressed.

The reasons for the low turn out in local elections are various but, in my view, apathy is the least of them. Knowing that my vote wouldn’t count in the voting system we have meant I had to make a real effort to go out. Knowing how little power the local authority has makes it difficult to be bothered. Even in policy areas which are under local authority control, central govt dictates the budget and privatises the service. Central policies such as the bedroom tax further undermine the ability of a local authority to manage its housing stock.

But none of the parties are addressing either the voting system or the democratic deficit at local level.

Turn out is lower in more deprived areas, certainly in Derby. Perhaps the working poor are sick of being labelled scroungers and just say ” a plague on all your houses.”

Perhaps, perhaps…. we don’t know. Because none of our politicians care to find out. Because the system suits them. Occasionally the system will fail, a party like ukip will garner votes, there will be much hand wringing…. and the parties will go back to getting their core vote and working the marginals. Trying to take votes off each other rather than trying to increase the vote.

Below is a table showing the % of the eligible voters it took to become an elected councillor in Derby.( The figures come from Derby City Council and the Derby Telegraph. (thanks.) The maths is from me and I take full responsibility.)

Note 1  I have not included the results for Littleover ward as they elected 2 councillors and I couldn’t work out the maths                       from the stats.

Note 2 The votes cast do not include spoilt ballots.

Ward Eligible Electorate Total Votes cast % turnout Votes cast for elected councillor % of eligible electorate voting for elected councillor Party
Abbey 10,586 2971 28.07% 1283 12.12% Lab
Allestree 11,058 4,833 43.71% 2621 23.70% Con
Alvaston 11,908 3,701 31.08% 1825 15.33% UKIP
Arboretum 11,495 4,085 35.54% 2298 19.99% Lab
Blagreaves 9,928 3,881 39.09% 1530 15.41% Lib
Boulton 10,173 3,145 30.92% 1446 14.21% Lab
Chaddesden 10,173 3,363 33.06% 1349 13.26% Lab
Chellaston 11,373 3,916 34.43% 1617 14.22% Con
Darley 11,574 3,796 32.80% 1554 13.43% Lab
Derwent 9,798 2,727 27.83% 884 9.02% UKIP
Mackworth 10,133 2,677 26.42% 1089 10.75% Lab
Mickleover 11,709 4,851 41.43% 1924 16.43% Con
Normanton 10,795 3,507 32.49% 2619 24.26% Lab
Oakwood 10,203 3,155 30.92% 1568 15.37% Con
Sinfin 10,201 2,655 26.03% 1488 14.59% Lab
Spondon 9,951 3590 36.08% 1774 17.83% Con
average turnout 33.12% average % 15.62%

Politicians: arr you not ashamed by the turnout? Don’t you cringe when you say that unions should have a 50% turn out for a strike? No, I suspect you don’t…..

The highest turnouts- Allestree and Mickleover are 2 of the most affluent areas of the city. Perhaps those trapped in low pay, zero hour contracts are fed up of being labelled as  benefit scroungers by all parties.

2 ukip councillors were elected- on 15% and  9% of eligible voters. That is not a landslide by any means and I suspect it is true of other ukip  councillors elected in Rotherham and elsewhere.  Why do they get so much publicity? We should not allow the other parties to adapt their policy to attract these voters.

Only 2 councillors even got close close to 24% of the electorate to get elected and the average was 15.6%.

These figures are not surprising given our political system and the lack of power local authorities have. But they are stark. And while all the attention goes to the ukip voters and not the Stay at Home party nothing will change. If politicians don’t tackle the issue of low turn out then we are in for more landslides and earthquakes








#derbyuk -post industrial post.

Took a few photos on my way to view #format13 exhibition at Artsmith gallery on Monk St. Derby This area- Abbey St, Woods lane, Monk St used to be host to small and medium sized industries. These have gone and the buildings are empty or reused. This reflects the theme of the Format13 theme: the Factory.

industrial site wok

This used to be a warehouse and offices and then became a Chinese restaurant. Now empty. What next?

industrial site old style printers

Abbey St used to host a number of old technology printers. Now gone.

industrial site printers meat wholesalers

The building next to the defunct printer’s shop now hosts a halal wholesale butcher’s.

industrial site rising damp

This disused workshop is suffering from rising damp.

industrial site to let

To let. Suggested uses?

industrial site

This building has seen a number of uses since its heyday including a body building gym. Sounded like a sound studio today. Poorly insulated..

industrial site and art

And there, tucked in next to the tattoo parlour, the art gallery.

Today’s industry?

Mr Gove, Ofsted and Derby City Council schools. The “swoop” .

When Ofsted said that it would swoop on Derby City Council schools it made national headlines. The swoop would determine why and how schools in Derby were “failing” and the role the local authority played in this failure.

It all started with Michael Gove declaring in October that Derby was “ an area of “concentrated educational under-performance” . (Derby Telegraph.)

This was soon followed in November by Michael Gove trying to impose Academy status on an admittedly troubled, Sinfin School. (Derby Telegraph) The Local Authority had been trying to set up an agreed board with teachers, parents and local bodies to set up a Cooperative trust (see previous link) but this was swept aside by central government. Choice?

None of which, of course, has anything to do with the decision by the independent inspectorate, Ofsted, to “swoop” ( or blitz) schools in the Derby City area. Of course not.

Mr Wilshaw, head of Ofsted announced that they would be inspecting 11 schools in Derby from that day onwards to find out why children in Derby were “being denied the standard of education they deserve”. (Derby Telegraph) He went on to say:

“”It cannot be right that in local authorities with the same demographics, the same sort of population and the same levels of    deprivation, parents have such widely varying opportunities of finding a good school.

“We will be seeking to determine whether councils are really fulfilling their statutory duties to promote high standards. Where we find evidence that the local authority is not demonstrating effective leadership, then we shall inspect it.” (ibid)

And so, from 17-23 January, they swooped and inspected and looked under carpets and in cupboards in 10 schools in Derby.

(Yes, there is a mathematical discrepancy. It is not mine.)

So after this swoop hit the national headlines – eg, The Guardian- you’d have thought that Ofsted would be in a hurry to publish their results…. taps fingers on table… stifles a yawn… gets on with teaching real children…

Oh. Here it is. On 19th Feb, Ofsted finally write to Derby City Council with their findings.

You can read it all here.

So what exactly happened and what are the conclusions?

Of the schools inspected:

  • A special needs school maintained its “outstanding” status
  • One primary school and one nursery school maintained their “good” status
  • Four primary schools moved from “satisfactory” to “good”
  • One secondary and two primary schools were deemed to still “require improvement” (previously known as “satisfactory)

(Source: Derby Telegraph)

Not a bad set of results, especially under the new Ofsted inspection rules. Despite this, Derby City Council will have to wait until April before it finds out if it will be subject to an in-depth investigation into school standards in the authority. (Source: Derby Telegraph, as above.)  Because let us remember- this “swoop” was less about individual schools and more about the relationship between the schools and the Local Authority. During the inspections, schools were specifically asked about the relationship with the local authority- primarily the School Improvement officers. So let’s take a more detailed look at what was said and written.

  • The special needs school was deemed outstanding in all areas and inspectors highlighted several improvements since the previous outstanding rating. Specifically, the inspectors noted:

Although the Local Authority has an appropriately light-touch approach to this outstanding school, support that is     provided through the school improvement service is highly valued by the school’s leaders. There are clear, open lines of communication so that advice can be sought on how to improve further.” (Inspection report)

  • At the nursery school the inspectors found that:

The local authority has an appropriately light touch approach to this good school. A School Improvement Partner has provided an external view on the quality of teaching and the local authority has assisted the governing body on matters such as safeguarding and staff attendance. The nursery values all of these activities.”

  • At the primary school that maintained its “good” status, the inspectors determined that:

The school adviser is new to the school, but has good knowledge about the school’s performance and intends to come into the school at future visits to help monitor its progress. Because the school is not one that causes the authority concern, support has been at a low level, with local authority resources directed to less well performing schools.”

  • Four primary schools moved up from satisfactory to good. In one school it was noted that:

  “Until recently, the local authority has provided very limited challenge or support for the school. The appointment of a new link officer to the school has improved communication and provided more rigorous challenge but the officer has not been in post long enough to have impacted on on-going school improvement.”

In another:

  “The local authority has an appropriately light touch approach to this good school. School leaders have agreed with the local authority that senior leaders will access support as and when they need it. For example, the school has strengthened the impact of the senior leadership team as a result of accessing local authority support.”

And this:

“The impact of the local authority’s support and challenge over time in helping the school to improve has been variable. This is largely due to the fact that there have been frequent changes to the local authority representatives working with the school; six officers have worked with the school in the last six years. This has led to a disjointed approach and a lack of continuity, causing school leaders and the governing body to believe that they have not been challenged as effectively as they could have been. Some elements of local authority support have been stronger than others, including work to promote improved attendance at the school and also work to improve the quality of ICT. School leaders report that there are recent signs of improvement in the quality of support provided by the local authority and the school continues to choose to buy in to the local authority’s school support package.”

A few personal observations here. All of the above extracts from the inspection reports show that the relationship with the Local Authority is either good or showing improvement. As in all areas of local authority endeavour, the education service has suffered cuts and reorganisation which clearly affect the service provided. It would appear from the reports that Derby City Council is doing what it can and focussing support on the schools most in need, whilst still maintaining appropriate support to our better schools.

So what about the schools still requiring improvement? (Previously satisfactory.)

“The local authority has not been aware that many aspects of the school require improvement. Consequently, visits to the school have been infrequent and support has been minimal. Nearly all of the improvements to the school since the last inspection have been due to initiatives instigated by the school’s leaders. The governing body reports that the local authority training provided for governors is of good quality and has helped them improve their skills.” (primary school)

This remark is clearly more critical but not devastating. The next comment on the other “requires improvement” primary school highlights both the impact of a good School Improvement officer and the difficulties the education service has faced due to cuts and restructuring:

  “The impact of the local authority’s support to the school has been limited because of the frequent changes in officers. Four different local authority officers have worked with the school in the last three years. This has resulted in a lack of continuity and limited support and challenge. The new local authority adviser, who started working with the school in September 2012, is providing helpful support to the headteacher. For instance, she has carried out her own analysis of the 2012 Year 6 test results. This has enabled her to gain a better understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses and to ask the headteacher suitably challenging questions about pupils’ achievement. The governing body has benefited from local authority training. Governors told inspectors that because of this training they have a better understanding of their roles and responsibilities and that they are able to challenge the headteacher about pupils’ progress.”

Finally, the secondary school in need to improve:

  “The local authority knows the school well. It understands students’ performance through the frequent contact of the school improvement officer, regular analysis of performance data and working closely with senior leaders and governors to strategically address identified issues. The local authority is providing a range of effective training, support and professional challenge particularly around addressing the progress of vulnerable students and promoting more effective teaching, which is much appreciated by the school.”

Overall then, the local authority appears to be supporting its schools in ways that are appreciated by the schools. Surely this means that Mr Gove can leave the local authority to get on and manage its own schools?

Perhaps I am cynical- or a political realist- but I think that until more schools become academies in Derby then central government will continue to intervene.


Note: The above quotes are taken directly from the Inspection Reports for individual schools concerned. They can be found here:

All comments are my own views and do not represent anyone elses! Unless you agree of course…

Comments welcomed.

Added note.  Apparently Ofsted also contacted- but did not inspect- a further 12 schools to sound out their opinion of local authority support. In the letter to Derby City Council, Ofsted state that among the 12 contacted by phone, two were Academies; ie schools that had opted out of local authority provision! As far as I know, there is no public information as to which schools were contacted nor what their specific responses were. Oh well. You can see the letter here:

Tourist in my own town- a day trip in Derby.

This is a post which I originally published on Tumblr in august 2010. I am reposting it now as I intend retracing my steps this August.

I have resisted all temptations to correct,improve or otherwise amend the original text and images. Much has changed and that of course is the whole point. I have not checked the links, some of which will probably no longer work.





I have lived in Derby for about 25 years and there is no doubt that the place has changed over that time. But changes can sneak up on you and, to be honest, I don’t go into town that often during the day.-a quick dash to the shops or to meet up with someone.

So on Friday (20/08/10) I thought I might visit Derby as perhaps a tourist might visit the place. No particular agenda, just a wander round. I failed of course as I realized how angry I was at some of the transformations, the neglect of certain features.

But I did find some highlights; some places, sites and events I would not normally come across.

There are other journeys I could have taken, other places I could have visited. Indeed, I might do this again.. visiting other places and events.

As I walk into town I come across the new inner ring road early on.

Connecting Derby? This ring road has blighted Derby for some years with many buildings under threat of compulsory purchase. Now that it is here: will it connect or disconnect parts of Derby?  It is certainly changing the physical landscape of Derby: will it change the psychological landscape?

Dominating the horizon here is the Westfield Centre; known disaffectionately as the Wastefield Centre. Sucking up the retail trade and sucking up the sky line.

Jury’s in has also changed our sky line and diminished the impact of Derby Cathedral.

As you can see, it was a typical summer’s day in Derby so I I bought a Derby Telegraph and found myself a café to have a cappuccino. There is no shortage of possible places these days (unlike 25 years ago), but I stuck to one of the originals, Caruso Café Boutique. Not the cheapest but a great welcome and great coffee.

Derby has introduced an art in empty shops scheme (. Disguising the number of retail units sucked dry by the wastefield centre? Yes, but better than boarded up shops.

Here’s an example from St. Peter’s st.

Walked on and through the Market Hall. ( )

Still a good place to buy fresh veg in town and the only place in Derby that I know of where you can buy foreign newspapers and magazines, but many empty stalls.

On to the Quad.

Despite it’s angular appearance, this visual arts centre houses an intimate cinema as well as events, gallery space and a coffee bar. One of its least advertised features is the BFI MEDIATHEQUE  Here you can view-for free- films and documentaries from the BFI archives about the East Midlands region. I haven’t used this yet but it seems to me like a great resource for visitors and residents alike.

Across the way, the Information Centre is advertising the Derby Feste:

This is taking place at the end of September and should be worth a visit. The full programme of, mainly free, open space events is available here:

Making my way down to the river now and the Silk Mill Museum. Derby does not make much of the river Derwent which runs through the town though efforts have recently been made. Not surpringly in this day and age, this largely consists of building or converting old mills into luxury flats (sorry, apartments)  and chain restaurants and shops. There is still a long way to go:

though some open space has been created in front of the museum

along with a stylish swing bridge across the river.

The Silk Mill Industrial Museum

has not changed much since I last went about 10 years ago. Tracing early settlements in the area, through to its more recent industrial history, the museum also heavily features the development of Rolls Royce aero engines. I find the museum unnecessarily dull and in need of a revamp. Others with a more mechanical bent might find it fascinating.

Close by, The Silk Mill pub has an impressive mural commemorating the 1833 strike and lockout of early trade unionists:

Didn’t stop there (on this occasion) but across an unfinished part of the ring road

(the building in the background is the Friar Gate studios, a “creative space for creative industries” which unfortunately lacks soundproofing! Style over content).

and on to Friargate/Ashbourne Rd.

This bridge and abandoned railway line has been much neglected. I think a Parisian style garden in the air…..

I popped into the Pickford’s House Museum, a great little museum that was nearly closed but was kept open by public demand. Used to go regularly when the children were younger. Didn’t feel I could avail myself of the dressing up box without youngsters in tow……

Across the road and up a bit, there is a very interesting, subtle piece of street sculpture which regrettably has been recently vandalised:

Read more here:

Those of you who know me and the geography of Derby, will know where I am now heading

The recently reopened Greyhound is an example of successful regeneration in Derby. Once an infamous pub on the Derby Mile (an English pub crawl Friday night sort of thing), the pub became run down and then shut down. Now revamped, owned by Derby Brewery Company ( ),

it combines real ale and a continental feel. “Business as Usual for me…..


Refreshed, I headed back into town and onto Derby Museum and Art Gallery to view an exhibition: Extraordinary Portraits of Ordinary People. The exhibition juxtaposes portraits by contemporary Derbyshire based artist Emma Tooth and those by the less contemporary Joseph Wright. The impact is stunning:


Concilium Plebis 10 by Emma Tooth

Emma, you should get these images copyrighted!)

My visit was curtailed by a fire alarm but I shall return. Exhibition open until 12th Sept.

Time now for lunch. I walk back down to the river and across by the council house, past the Brewery Tap (the first revamped pub owned and run by Derby Brewery Company) and on the Exeter.

One of my first locals in Derby, the pub has barely changed over the last 25 years or so. The Pedigree was as good as ever but the sausage egg and chips disappointed. The chips were great, the egg ok but “chip shop sausages” were disappointing. Plenty of local, meaty sausages around Derby to be had.


Went for a walk along the much neglected river Derwent.


Across the river you can see the back of the new bus station development- more luxury flats, shops and restaurants. (More on the bus station later..)

Those of you who know Derby will realise that I am heading towards The Smithfield, another fine Derby pub, serving fine Bass and many other ales.

Those who know me might be surprised to hear that this was the first time I have been here! I sat myself in the garden overlooking the river:


So, time to head back, across the river,

And past the new bus station.


Like the Wastefield Centre, the new bus station development is disproportionately large. It looks as though it has been dropped in from above. Worse still, it apparently does not function efficiently.

Well I enjoyed my tour of Derby and, whilst there is much ugliness, there is plenty still to do and see. I suspect this is true of many towns and cities with the same tendency to homogenise but the desire to stay unique.

This was just one of many possible tours and I have missed many things out. Additional photos can be seen on flickr, paddyspages, tourist in my own town. Other itineraries to follow?


#onenotesunday: 3rd June 2012 A.J. Nash Trio.

Yesterday, One Note Sunday introduced the Derby public (well, about 15 brave souls) to the AJ Nash Trio from Leeds.


You could tell at once they were young but it still came as a shock at the interval to find out at the interval that they were 19, 20 and 21. (Sorry, I cannot now ascribe a specific age to a specific person.) The trio of Leeds College of Music students consists of:


A.J. Nash on saxophone,


well, saxophones,


Joe Cox on drums and


Seb Booth on bass.

The first set provided a number of pieces with a similar structure; the saxophone leading, then soaring above a softly spoken rhythm. The image of kite-flying comes to mind- the sax swirling and spinning in the sky, but with the bass and the drums solidly on earth, holding the strings and bringing it all together. No coincidence that one of the pieces was called “Airborne.”

The second set provided more contrast with the drums and bass taking a more central role; there was greater contrast and use of dynamics. At one stage it became positively dramatic:Image

This photo just precedes the collapse of Seb’s bridge…Image

The professional way in which the band dealt with this crisis is a measure of the maturity of the musicians. Equally it show how “sympa” (sorry, there really isn’t the right word in English) these small gatherings are with Corey and others helping out.

I was particularly interested in “Synesthete” parts 1 and two which was a bold attempt to explore the synaesthesia aspects of music and one which I think they could take further… (Frank Zappa described music as ” air sculpture”…)

This trio is definitely a work in progress but one which is worth progressing. The musicianship, the ideas are all there; with greater confidence I think they will explore greater heights and depths. Keep an eye on these three…

A note on the photos. I am still exploring this camera and experimenting with settings. I don’t like to use a flash at concerts, hence the grainy, blurred pictures. Here are some more from last night:


This is a photo I would normally dismiss but, although a poor photo in a technical sense, it does convey some of the dynamics of the music.



OneNoteSunday: a musical night out in #Derbyuk

I have supported #onenotesunday right from the start (see previous post here) and here but, to my shame, this is the first night I have been able to go along. So perhaps I should not complain about the attendance- about 30. Indeed Steve Noble suggested that this was typical across the country. It’s a shame though that the good folk of Derby seem unwilling to support this great venture, especially as it attracting many skilled and talented musicians. We are all guilty- to a greater or lesser extent- of living in our musical ghettos; unwilling to explore beyond our comfort zones. If you are prepared to listen to something new though OnenoteSunday provides a great opportunity to listen to and see some great musicians and at no great expense- £5.00 will get you in- and at a great venue, The Flowerpot . What is disappointing is the apparent lack of support from the arts/culture glitterati in Derby. Like the Victoria Inn (I haven’t been recently though I have played there in the distant past!) , attracting bands from across the country, OneNote Sunday appear to be below the radar when it comes to bigging up Derby and what it has to offer.

Whatever, a great night was had by those who attended.

The group performing consisted of Olie Brice on bass,

Steve Noble on drums

and Alex Ward on clarinet.

Later on. Corey Mywamba joined the band.

Now I am not very good at writing about music; I tend to wobble between ” I know what I like and I liked this” and pretentious sounding twaddle. But I did speak to someone during the interval who said that she didn’t quite understand the music, that she found it too clinical and lacking in emotion. I disagree with this view though it is one I have heard on many occasions and she did agree that the musicianship was excellent.  Personally I found the north african beats, the sometimes aggressive clarinet playing and the at times percussive, other times lyrical bass had plenty of soul. It took me back to the days of listening to jazz in Lyon in the 70s- listening to Louis Sclavis Christian Rollet and others at the Jazz club de Lyon. I would recommend a listen to The Workshop de Lyon by the way.

Personally, I believe the soul in this type of music comes from the understanding of each player of what they want to do, where the want to go and doing it together. Here’s where I get bit pretentious twaddleish- there is a common theme, then individual musical explorations which then resolve themselves back to the common theme.  A metaphor for life/politics?

Great music, great musicianship, great beer, great company. What else could you ask for on a Sunday night? Feet you say? ok, here is some pedal power from Corey on the vibes:

Next date for onenotesunday: The AJNash trio on 3rd June. Before then some interesting stuff going on at the Voicebox Derby, another venue that gets overlooked…

Loved the evening. let’s show everyone that Derby is an international and European city, embracing all types of live, vibrant music and culture.