Frome, Wed 28th February 2007 (04/03/07)

Mike Cresswell:

As a dedicated pursuivant of the PBR, I managed to set myself up perfectly for a night out in Somerset with a client meeting beforehand in Stroud. By co-incidence, I secured a Caramac (amongst other items of confectionary) to sustain myself and stave off the inevitable post-midnight esurience on the drive home by stopping at Frome's one and only (it appears) 'Superstore'; welcome to Wal-Mart.

It set the scene well and oddly, despite my expectations, the 'Cheese & Grain' turned out not to be a tavern, but a purpose built indoor market hall, dating back to the 19th Century. It is now home for the local Farmers market, flea markets, WI and the odd gig. The Frome Rabbit Show should be in all of your diaries.

It is best to start with the set-list. As the now proud owner of a slightly effete leather bound notebook, I will replicate my scribbles, which displays the musical programme for the evening encoded in my own particular mnemonic: -

B. Vista
Shit Arm
Bob W.
R. Legs
S. Gig
Look Dad
Gouranga (refrain)
24 hr.


Cover - (which was 10CC's Rubber Bullets)

It would be good to start with a shout for Carl, who stood-in admirably for the missing Ken. A fine job at short notice and appreciated by a decent crowd. The moshers got more animated as the evening wore on, but it was generally quite civilised. The crowd were banging out the usual requests, but on at least two occasions, NB57 was moved to retort with; 'Done that one as well, keep up!' I don't often refer to the support, but 'The Mangled Wurzels' deserve a mention, of sorts. Tribute band; you understand.

I am proud/ashamed to confess that I knew the four Wurzels tracks when they chimed in, but the novelty came with the three bastardized uber-tribute songs. With apologies to the Sting, we had a version of 'Walking on the Moon' that became 'Walkin' 'cross the yard'. The Stones would need to be stoned to fully appreciate; 'Hey, hey, you, you, get orf'a my land'. Finally, the Postman Pat harmony was used for a pop at Scrumpy Jack, which is a load of cack. Draw your own conclusions.

Back on topic, we were treated to the customary Blackwell local history lesson at various points throughout the evening. I now feel that with the exception of the pseudo-stadium gigs, such as Manchester, I now have to 'google' in advance and carefully seek out the brown signs, in order to ensure that I am up to speed with the local sights.

Anyway, he was very much enjoying their Rook Lane Chapel. A nod was given to a couple of locals; Jenson Button and Harold Gimblett. The latter did not get much response, so I think that the crowd may have been light on cricketers. This is a shame, for the famous story of him pitching up at the Agricultural Showgrounds in Frome is one of legend. It appears from my research that he is, indeed, the Alf Tupper of cricket. 'Look him up, history in the town', the man said. So, I did.

The Marston House Fire Engine at the Frome Museum is apparently splendid. There is also an exhibition celebrating 100 years of the Frome Operatic Society. It starts tomorrow. Never accuse me of not being vicariously educational. Not to forget to mention the skate park next door. Mr. B. was disappointed that he had forgotten his skateboard.

I always end up, as I drive away from a place, thinking that Mr. Blackwell has left me with a feeling that I should have stayed for a few days and looked around the place. He has missed his vocation as the local minister for tourism. Perhaps the appropriate local council of the Wirral Peninsula needs to create a post? As an aside; a topical reference. A toast to Lord (Charles) Forte.

I was one who was amused by the cartoons from the Manchester gig. Respect to the local Hanna, or Barbera; a series of quite cuspidate observations, I thought. It made me look and made me stare. I was pleased to see the obligatory bloke telling his g/f that she would; 'enjoy this one, it is really funny'.

There was the usual selection of witticisms from our Anarcho-Scouse Frontman (a description picked up from a review of the Manchester - not my invention). In 'Mountain Bikes', it was once again noted that before the gods that made the gods were born, he considered that a remake of 'The Wicker Man' won't work. And, it didn't. 'He's fat, he's round; he thinks he's Ezra Pound' in the style of the Sammy Lee footy chant. Neil was accused of being in a Goth boy-band - McMoth. The monitor was playing up a bit, despite Nigel only lightly touching it with his new shoes. I didn't catch the make, but they sounded cutting edge and stylish, for the pro-wear and the boulevard. Anyway, the monitor was a 'Stanley Unwin' monitor. I didn't know much about Unwin, but have since looked. I would urge you to indulge in some minor research.

Finally, a little tease was flung from the audience about there being material on 'You Tube', displaying Nige in a state of greater hirsuteness. 'The Fresh Prince of no hair, there's a chant there'.

'Paintball' was developed further from Manchester and other recent fixtures, mentioning once again that they met Fliss and Olly on Henman Hill. They've got the audio book of the Da Vinci Code and they buy soup in cartons, not in tins. Finally, they got the Rat Pack CD in the check-out queue, and of course they've got the nectar card! Priceless.

The institution that is 'Twenty Four Garage People' is a fascinating evolving wonderment. Leadbelly has to visit that part of the shop that is the Forbidden Zone in 'Planet of the Apes' and he looks like (General) Urko; as he comes back, he is wearing his gilet, that makes him look like Urko.

The protagonist is standing behind the toughened safety glass, waiting for his scotch eggs and marmite, plus the Da Vinci Code on audio book. Which, is narrated by Pam Ayres; 'I am a cunning linen shroud......' The Pringles are 93p, but they should have been 81p; 'Please, special offer, do come again, can I get you anything else?' Our champion is searching for a £20 note to annoy Leadbelly for a second time.

To conclude, the boogie box was back for the mp3/ipod and for the completist, the tracks on shuffle were; Paradise by the Dashboard Lights, Mr Blue Sky (story of his life), Brown-Eyed Girl, Dancing in the Moonlight, Lovely Day (That is a good song), We Built This City and More Than a Feeling.

All rounds, a fine evening. Not a bad run home, skirting the south-eastern corner of Salisbury Plain. If I were of a mind to be persnickety, I would note that the local brews in the C&G were quite tasty, but all less than 5% abv. But that would be unnecessary. The Caramac only lasted between junction 6 and 5 of the M3, which is poor will-power from yours truly.

I will come again, Sir.