Is This Some Kind of Record?

Hey, two weeks on the trot! Is this some kind of record? Well, yeah, it’s a blog . . . You really are a mentallist when you start interviewing yourself, aren’t you? Politicans do it regularly.

Guess who came marching into my living room on Tuesday, after an absence of 15 years?

Lynda and I invited Emily and Rob (Emily always calls him Mr. Cochrane) round for lunch and a chat. Lynda cooked a beautiful veg curry with cauliflower cooked Japanese style – as shown to her by Hisami a world ago. We ate in the garden, it being a glorious sunny day. I say ‘ate’, ‘scoffed’ is probably the more-accurate verb here. We came back indoors, after scoffing a few of Lynda’s homemade scones with strawberry jam, to play some music. I say ‘scoffing’, but ‘eating’ is probably the more-accurate word here, as we were all slowing down a bit after the curry.

Emily plays the cello. Lynda practically swoons when ever she hears the cello played well and was looking forward to some Elgar but, as soon as Emily got her cello out, I got my accoustic guitar out. I had been waiting for this opportunity. I played Emily an English reel which she learned in the blink of an eye. We started to run through it together. By the time we had gone a couple of times round the tune Em was playing seconds as well as the melody, being the terrific muso she is. It was sounding soooooo good. Emily’s musical background is ideal for the onbeat cool of English dance music. I decide to switch on the ol’ recorder to let her have a listen to how good she is. We were just hitting in to the second A part, when in he walks:

Rob the Bones. I say, Rob the bloody Bones.

In 1985, Geoff Walton, Rob Coppard, Adam Fenn and me, were recruited to play at, and promote in the lead up to, the 1986 Etruria Garden Festival. We were separated from the other musos and thrown together by Baz (RIP) because we all played folk stuff. As it was, Rob had become a minor celebrity (which reminds me that, a couple of years before that, Arthur Scargill had figured in the musical life of my family. But, of course, he was a miner celebrity, not the same thing at all).

Rob the Bones’ celebrity was due to his appearances on the Ester Rantzen show, ‘That’s Life’, as a bones player. There was a competition, as far as I can recall, to find out who was the best bones player in England. I don’t remember now why it was deemed so important to know that. Anyhow, I don’t think Rob actually won it, but he did capture the interest of a lot of people in along the way. He is terrifically good at bones playing – two-handed and everything. The role of Geoff, Adam and me was to play music to showcase Rob. That is why after we had to briefly consider Geoff’s ‘Bodran Bodran’ and ‘The Friendly Pebbles’ I hastily came up with the name: BONESHAKER.

We turned out to be the only musicians hired by the Festival who were more interested in making music than getting pissed, smoking dope, and aimlessly jaming over rock riffs for hours. I am not saying we were not guilty of any of that. I am just saying organised music was our priority. Consequently, when it came to crunch time, Boneshaker was the only band that had got an act together. It followed that, initially, at least, we got all the gigs – all the live promotions, all the radio gigs and all the TV. We were literally on one or the other at least once a day for weeks. We did the lot. Local radio local to us and in far-off towns. We did Woman’s Hour on Radio 4; Folk On 2; that worldwide programme; early morning TV programmes; daytime TV. Our favourite was Saturday Superstore with Keith Chegwin. I loved doing that cuz not only did i like the programme, I got some goody bags to take home to Amy who was 6 at the time. We gigged with a whole motley crew at the Etruria Fest: Bob Holness; Grot Bags; The Yetties; etc., etc. And laugh? I laughed my bloody head off. We played at the front gate; in the African Village, in the Japanese Garden, on the train – everywhere – And, oh, yeah, we featured in a channel 4 documentary called, ‘Stoke in Bloom’. The whole thing was a blast.

So in walks Rob the Bones. The music stopped. It was helloes all round and me and Rob began doing that, ‘Do you remember when . . .?’ thing that ain’t very nice for other people who weren’t there cuz as the memories come flooding back, you start talking in short hand to each other. So sorry to Emily and Rob and Lynda but, come on, 15 years . . .

We talked about the time when we had both started working at the same factory: Simon-Hartley in Etruria. Rob was a young apprentice, I was a bit older and was brought in from Manpower to sort out the design and implementation of some financial incentive schemes (don’t get me started on the belief of most management that the working class are only motivated by money and need to be supervised at every momentor else they will swing the lead. Whereas the middle classes are both naturally motivated and thoroughly trust worthy . . . )

Me and Rob got talking at Simon-Hartley and found we had some musical interests in common. Rob told me his ambition was to learn the ol’ Irish drum – the bodhran. He had mentioned it to the right geezer, of course. I showed him how to pit his patters on the skin of a murdered goat that had been stretched across an old wooden riddle. For free, mind you.


does he mention this on his web pages? Does he mention Boneshaker and his initiation into the world of gigging and getting paid for it?


He mentions Greg and the Boatband, as well he should, but of his old Boneshaker buddies?


I’ll give you his link and you can check it out for yourselves. I have emailed him about it. It’ll be mildly interesting to see how long he takes to put that right.

Here’s the link:

He’s into loads of entertainment stuff these days and has developed and expanded his skills as you will see. It was great to see Rob again. Thanks for taking the trouble to track me down, dude (Through this blog, as it happens). And Emily, we must pick up where we left off asap and can you owe Lynda some Elgar, please?

I had my meeting with the Dean of MMU Cheshire re their HR teams heinous ageist policies. I will tell you about it as soon as it is diplomatic to do so. Suffice to say, the situation, allegedly, is to be moved moved forward. Time will tell and so shall I.

This is great news: James Harker, a bright, hip, thoroughly nice, talented, MMU Writing student, having completed an extemely successful first year as an undergraduate, has been awarded the editorship of the student magazine, PULP. The post could not have gone to a more-worthy or more-capable person than James. Where have the students mags with real edge gone? It looks like, with James’ appointment, at least one of them will be coming back. All the best, James. You will be missed at uni.

All the best, too, to you, who read this, and all the best, too, to you who do not read this. So long as you are compassionate, respectful-where-appropriate, human beings with good intentions, I wish for a long, pain-free life to you all. May each one of us be sustained by enlightenment.


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