I’ve been doing the radio all morning. I usually do that until about one or two, then I was helping out my daughter. She was in New Zealand for seven years, but has returned, along with a prospective son-in-law. My children are gradually moving out. My son and daughter were both in New Zealand actually, but they are back now. They moved back to the family home for a while to get themselves organised but have nearly all moved on and out now. They’ve been back for the best part of 18 months. It’s hard to start out again when you have no credit rating - they can’t get anything. They have no chance of getting mortgages, so they are off to rent, then with 6 months’ proof that they can pay bills etc. Only then can they approach the mortgage question.
I’m very private, but also, I like to be a little left field, a little bit surreal. Obscure too. I find blowing my own trumpet difficult. It’s not something I do. I always wear dark glasses. I’m not telling you what I think. I’m a bit of a snob, and certainly a sceptic. Positive scepticism is an art! I find myself being older and more creative. I’m an arrogant bastard in some respects mind.
I lived in Keynsham from when I was seven, and then left as a student. Various things happened, by sod’s law and without particular logic or reason I ended up back here, and basically stayed. I did my first degree in theology. The second is English Literature. I had a scholarship to Oxford. I enjoyed it enormously. Hence, I have a half-finished PhD, but life’s too short – and I couldn’t see any gain or money in finishing it. I live by the words of the seminal country and western classic: “I forgot more than you’ll ever ……”!
I think people need have some spirituality. Spirituality has nothing to do with religion mind. So many people have not had their spiritual door opened, which is appalling. Art and culture does it as much as religion, and certainly more so these days.
I had a career in education and was an English teacher. I worked in management, and teacher training, working with all the local universities. I even taught woodwork for the last few years which, well, it was an absolute pleasure. I taught Marvin Rees the current Mayor of Bristol from year ten to the sixth form. I was Nellee Hooper’s English Teacher too – he formed the Wild Bunch that became Massive Attack – by far Bristol’s best ever band, and he won the BAFTA for the music for the film Romeo and Juliet .. and if he ever learnt any Shakespeare at school …well guess who! He has since worked regularly on U2’s album production amongst many other things.
I worked right in the city centre at City Academy, so I finished my career in a modern purpose-built building. Much better than the awful conditions when I started. I ended up on the Curriculum Board and government working parties for Citizenship. Political and economic literacy in the UK is appalling - it’s, well… a disaster just look around. The state of the country, and political ignorance reflects the state of education over the last thirty years.
I don’t watch much TV, but, well, I do lock-down quizzes. But I detest reality (cheap) television and the cancer of celebrity culture - so quiz success? Not too cool! I couldn’t do without watching sport, however, and am near ill from a lack of football. I am not a sporty person in terms of doing it (anymore) or keeping fit … no I don’t go to the gym, that’s totally anathema. I am fit and strong and active. I prefer work in a field, erecting rigs and marquees. But not so much this year!
I generally don’t start something that I can’t finish. When Seb and I started the radio, we thought: if we are going to do this, we have to make it work. I don’t think anyone else actually reckoned on a real radio station for Keynsham – but look what happened! I became involved in more things in Keynsham, by the time I was getting to the end of my teaching career; people realised that the place was beginning to ‘happen’ I suppose you might say.
There would be no KTCRfm if there hadn’t been a Music Festival – as a musician I jumped at The Festival for Keynsham, quite a while ago. The Space as a venue wouldn’t exist either. The festival is now a three-day festival, but it started as an afternoon event in the early days. That was in 1997 and it was very small. It’s had 20 years to get where it is. Which is due, of course, to the determination of previous and current people on Keynsham Town Council and the current set up and other interested local people. We just kept adding: come back next year, there will be more next year, something else the next year… We have been blessed with the kind of people that have allowed that to happen. All of them prepared to first believe something is possible and then put in the effort to resolve the challenges – never say no to an idea!
Keynsham Music Festival engenders about £400,000 in local economic activity. An economic impact study concluded that the local economy was boosted by nearly £50,000 over the Festival weekend. That’s amazing – and very persuasive! Running the music festival used to be a council job, but then it had to become a limited company in its own right for legal and insurance reasons. I’m self-employed, so I work wherever I want. It’s up to me, my hours and my time. It was nice having a base in the council offices though, but no I’ll never be a councillor – far too restrictive.
I do Chair the High Street and Heritage Group of the Neighbourhood Development Plan, because I think it’s vital for small towns to reengage with what they are. They are no longer what they used to be, and won’t ever be again, so it is a question of whether a community can wise up to what it is, and make the best of it and become somewhere superb. Totnes and Frome have become national examples. Keynsham is a good few steps up that ladder, and we are doing well. Geographically we have a lot to offer, and of course there is much more to us than that. Many market towns of comparable size don’t do nearly as well. You can see them all over the West Country. Just remember: a town with plenty of car parking spaces is a dead town.
I like people to take me seriously. If I say something, I want people to believe that I will do it. I can’t wait 5 years. I want things to happen. 5 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed I would have been doing radio. I didn’t know anything about radio. It was unplanned and never anticipated. It was something Seb and I did. It is FM Radio, so there is no way of knowing the listening figures but the feedback is fantastic. We have really good people doing really good stuff – especially in this lock-down time. It has only been broadcasting since January after all. There was a lot of preparation before that of course. We have hit the ground running. I don't do mediocrity. It’s got to be good… in a beautiful way and in a way which is beautiful for people. Within two years we will have a local radio station that will be award winning, and as well known as the Music Festival.
We call Keynsham K Town – it’s indicative of change, growth and relevance.