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On the road with Brian Cushing

Posted on 1st August, 2017

TRAVELS IN MARINE SURVEYING

 

In the first of an occasional series, Brian Cushing recalls some of the high (and low) spots in thirty years of international marine casualty investigation. In this first article, Brian takes us far away and long ago.  To be precise, Ethiopia in 1984.  Here it is:

 

WHISKY IN ETHIOPIA

 

When McDonnell Douglas designed the DC-3, known to most of us as the Dakota, they got it just right. Purposeful and businesslike, with chunky radial piston engines, a big tail fin and balloon tyres, its all-metal riveted construction radiated an aggressive utility.

 

The Ethiopian Airlines’ machine parked on Bole airfield at Addis Ababa was a good example, with a rampant lion painted on the fuselage and national colour flashes on the tail. You could have confidence in this aircraft, which was a comfort since I was due to fly in it from Addis to Assab, nearly 400 miles away across mountainous territory, on the Red Sea coast.

 

 

This was February 1984, and I’d been appointed by London marine insurance interests to get to Assab [Aseb] and investigate damaged cargo there which had been carried on a ship from the UK to Ethiopia. Interestingly, the cargo consisted of a large shipment of whisky, which had sustained breakages when the ship encountered heavy weather en route. It was now stored in a warehouse in Assab and a large claim had been lodged with the insurance underwriters. The consignees were the State Trading Company of the Ethiopian Marxist government (the Derg).

 

 

 Ethiopia in 1984

 

The Derg had been in power since 1974, when led by the current President Mengistu they had overthrown Emperor Haile Selassie. As well as this coup, by 1984 a state of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea had existed for more than twenty years, with Eritrea claiming independence.

 

Because of the internal security situation, I had to obtain a government pass to get from Addis to Assab. Inevitably it took time, and I had been awaiting this precious document for about a week, during which I had little to do except explore the town insofar as it was permitted. I fell in with a bunch of expatriates, mostly single male Brits working with Shell, who used to socialise in the bar of the hotel I was staying in, and when I got the pass they gave me a very good send-off the evening before I flew.

 

Hence, standing on the tarmac contemplating the plane, it has to be admitted I felt a bit queasy. On boarding the aircraft, I saw that the after section of the cabin had been caged off and contained a substantial number of animals; sheep, goats and the like. I got myself strapped in and after a short delay the engines fired up with reassuring readiness. The plane bustled down the runway and bounced into the air, at which point all the animals simultaneously defecated, which made me feel a trifle worse.

 

Addis sits on a plain about 2500 metres up, and the pilot seemed determined to fly at no more than 3000 metres, which meant that there was a good deal of turbulence so the animals and yours truly, and evidently some of my fellow passengers, were not one hundred per cent happy. Nevertheless, at last I was on my way to my immediate destination after the lengthy delay.

 

I had assumed that this would be a direct flight – but as it turned out, there was an intermediate stop at a small airfield adjacent to a village on one of the many highland hilltops on the route. Many of these hills are steep sided, with limited peak areas, and this grass runway was set in one of those. After a bumpy landing, everyone disembarked and trading of animals, vegetables, eggs and so on started between the villagers on the one hand and the crew and passengers on the other.

 

I got chatting to the pilot, who assured me that despite the difficulties of operating in this terrain, there had never been an accident. Interestingly though, when I wandered off to the airfield perimeter, the fence on closer inspection seemed to be formed of curved metal sections which could once have been an aircraft’s frame assemblies. How they got there was anyone’s guess but it seemed clear the aircraft would not still have been in one piece.

After we took off again, and I resumed breathing, the motion improved as we crossed the foothills of the highlands and commenced descending into the coastal plain. The landing at Assab was uneventful and I looked forward to getting to the warehouse and starting work on the cargo survey. Inevitably, though, a pass was required to access this government building, so once again I had time on my hands and at least one night’s stopover while the necessary documentation was prepared.

 

I got a cab down to one of the beaches which lies outside the port, and wandering round fell in with a bunch of Germans there on some sort of project work, together with their Ethiopian colleagues, who were setting up a picnic dinner and invited me to join them. (Ethiopians are incredibly hospitable.) The food was typically Ethiopian, it was explained to me. You sit on the ground around a mat on which is placed a large disc of injera, a spongy fermented flour-based dough, with dollops of spicy meat- and veggie based stews, in this case washed down with tella, locally brewed beer.

Njera

 

As the evening progressed, and more tella was drunk, we all got quite friendly. There is a tradition called gursha, an act of friendship in which an eater wraps a piece of injera around some stew and pops it into his or her neighbour’s mouth. This happened more frequently as the evening wore on.

 

The next morning I was able to access the warehouse and start my work. In 1984, containerisation was not as ubiquitous as it is now, and there were then many general cargo ships still floating around. This cargo, comprising several thousand cartons of whisky, imported by the government it was rumoured for consumption to celebrate their decade in power, had been stowed on the ship “break-bulk”, which meant in blocks of individual cases rather than in shipping containers. The ship had hit heavy weather on the way from Newcastle in the UK to Assab, and some of the stows had collapsed, resulting in substantial breakages.

 

Most of the cardboard cases had got soaked in leaking alcohol and disintegrated, and there was broken glass everywhere in the warehouse. The smell of alcoholic fumes was overpowering; and with little ventilation, and an ambient temperature of over 30°C, you found yourself getting quite squiffy in a short time. Pleasant though that might have been in other circumstances, I and the warehouse guys helping me had to bail out to the fresh air frequently.

 

These sorts of survey, of damage to cargo of differing types, don’t vary much generically. The surveyor has to establish where possible the cause and extent of loss or damage and the cost of restitution, and report on same to the insurance underwriters who will, with the report as an input, settle the assured’s claim (or not as the case may be). This particular survey was pretty straightforward, apart from the large quantities involved – a bottle was either smashed or it wasn’t – so it was wrapped up in three or four days and I was on my way back to Addis Ababa, once more in the faithful old Dakota, and then home to the UK.

The report to my insurance principals included a strong recommendation that any future shipments of this high-value nature should be undertaken only in shipping containers rather than break-bulk. As far as I was concerned that was the end of the matter.

 

Later that year, on 23 October 1984, a BBC team consisting of Michael Buerk and his cameraman famously reported on a devastating famine in the north of Ethiopia, which at its worst had lasted for two years. The country had suffered from famine both before and has done since, but this was the first time that the world at large learned about it in graphic detail, although international governments must have known the facts if their diplomatic staffs were reporting back. The coverage was picked up and directly resulted in December 1984 in the hit “Do they know it’s Christmas”, and in 1985 Bob Geldorf’s Band Aid concert, earnings from each of which went to alleviate distress in the country.

 

It has been said that the effects of the famine were exacerbated by the Derg government’s requirement to fund its expensive internal war effort, and its mishandling of famine relief which included forced relocation of populations. The attributable death toll is debatable but the hundreds of thousands who perished would have included many who suffered from the disruptive effects of the ongoing war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

 

In retrospect, the small insurance matter that I was involved in during February 1984 seems a petty affair in the context of those troubled times. However, there was an interesting corollary. On or about 27 October 1984, just after the BBC television broadcast of 23 October, questions were asked in the House of Commons about a shipment of whisky comprising 40,000 cases (480,000 bottles) which had left for Ethiopia in September. The British public, which was by now well aware of the famine, was outraged that the Ethiopian government was appealing for international funds to feed its starving populations and at the same time shipping half a million bottles of whisky to its shores.

 

A spokesman for the Ethiopian embassy in London claimed that this shipment (and one presumes there may have been others, including the one I surveyed in February of that year) had been ordered so as to alleviate skyrocketing black market prices for such goods in the country. The principle, said the spokesman, was that the Marxist government, which had hitherto banned the import of luxury items such as this, would now allow it so that the goods could be sold at controlled prices. (As he put it: “....to fight the black market and spare the people....”)

 

Whether that is true, or whether in fact the stuff was imported for consumption in celebrating 10 years of Marxist rule, I cannot tell. I’m pretty sure “the people” would not have been invited to share in such a celebration, though.

 

 

Brian Cushing

West Farleigh, July 2017

 

Fish passes: a r-eel-y good idea

Posted on 23rd March, 2017

In 2013, we published a special report called "What's happening at the lock?" about the renewal of Teston Lock.  It explained the importance (especially to eels) of the fish passes  that had been installed at Teston as part of the works, but also mentioned that until East Farleigh lock had a fish pass as well, the fish would still be unable to migrate freely up or downstream. Now that work is complete!  We asked our local fisheries expert Dr Bernice Brewster why these passes are so important in the battle to save the European eel. 

Here is her fascinating and informative reply: 

Fish passes – a r’eel’y good idea

Freshwater fish migrate up and downstream constantly, for avoiding predators, feeding and spawning but locks and weirs are a barrier to these movements.  The recent construction of a fish pass at Teston Lock and the current construction of another at East Farleigh will allow many different species of fish to move freely up and down the Medway, most importantly it will allow the free passage of the European eel to complete its’ life cycle.

 

Between 1904 and 1922, the Danish Oceanographer, Johann Schmidt tracked migrating European eels across the Atlantic to the Sargasso Sea, just west of the Caribbean, which he presumed to be the spawning site.  To this date scientists are not entirely certain the Saragasso is the spawning destination for sexually mature eels, none the less, these fish undertake a migration exceeding 7000km (4,300 miles).  Spawning of eels in the wild remains undocumented but the larvae, known as ‘leptocephali’ (small head) and originally described as a separate species of fish, undertake the return migration to Europe.  What is so remarkable is the tiny leptocephali are still no more than a few centimetres (less than an inch) when they arrive at the English river estuaries between February and March to begin their upstream migration as ‘glass eels’ (see pic below).

Glass eels

 

The glass eels feed and grow to become small eels known as ‘bootlaces’, then as they get bigger the underneath becomes a yellow or bronze colour and they are termed ‘yellow eels’.  The yellow eels spend between 15 – 30 years feeding and growing in the rivers before the final transformation into ‘silver eels’. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silver eels begin the downstream migration towards the sea but once they have become silvered, they no longer feed.  The riverine silver eels are pre-sexually mature, sexual maturity taking place once the fish have begun their oceanic migration.

 

Silver eel

For hundreds of years the eel formed the staple diet for many people in England and the trade in eels with our European neighbours was extremely lucrative, with Ely Cathedral being built from the proceeds. 

 

Since the turn of the 20th Century, the popularity of eels as a food source has declined, although glass eels are still caught on the Rivers Severn and Parrot but most are destined to be sold to China, where they are regarded as a delicacy.

 

[Editor’s note: The value of these tiny eels is enormous.  Athough their collection is regulated by licence,  their value encourages criminality.  A man was recently arrested for attempting to smuggle 200kgs of glass eels through Heathrow, which were valued at £1.2m!].  

 

Over the last 40 years, the numbers of glass eels returning to our shores has spiralled into serious decline.  The European eel is now listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Data list as ‘critically endangered’, which means the eel is in danger of extinction. 

 

But what has led us to this parlous state, where such an enigmatic animal has declined in numbers to the point of extinction?  Our oceans are now heavily polluted with polyaromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, pesticides, fertilizers, untreated sewage and microplastics to name just a few and through which the tiny leptocephali must make their way to our rivers, absorbing these noxious chemicals en route. 

 

In the 1980’s someone had the good idea of importing into Europe Japanese eels, a completely different species of eel, native to the Far east.  The phrase ‘as slippery as an eel’ is no understatement and of course, some of the Japanese eels escaped but they were infected with a round worm parasite (see below) which feeds on the swimbladder (a buoyancy organ which helps fish to float at any water depth without expending any energy).  The Japanese eel and the worm have evolved together and it causes little pathology to the native host.  

Round worms in the eel swimbladder

But the European eel has no resistance to this non-native parasite and it has spread like wild-fire through our eel populations.  In the European eel the parasite destroys the swimbladder and the fish is unable to swim efficiently meaning the infected eels cannot undertake their spawning migration. Infected eels have become susceptible to other diseases, including viruses which may result in mass mortalities.

 

So how will the fish passes help in our bid to save the eel from extinction?  Since the industrial revolution we have been barricading and impounding rivers which become a barrier to migration for the eels.  The tiny glass eels may have been able to negotiate some of the barriers but then the growing eels become landlocked and once silvered have been unable to migrate and therefore die.  The introduction of fish passes will enable the eels free passage along the rivers and hopefully help to save the eel before we reach the point of no return.  So, three cheers for the work currently being undertaken to create a fish pass at East Farleigh, following the one at Teston.

 

Bernice Brewster BSc, PhD

 

PS There is currently a project underway to spawn eels using aquaculture techniques, it hasn’t been especially successfully, larvae only living to 20 days but www.pro-eel.eu has a super video of an eel larva swimming.

 

 

Doomed...new pest appears

Posted on 5th February, 2017

DOOMED!

 

The Moth of Death...

The so-called conker moth continues to wreak widespread damage in the UK, causing great concern about the survivability of horse chestnut trees.

 

Click here for the story.

MONKEY HOLE TO THE HOLLOW

Posted on 17th January, 2017

From Monkey’s Hole to The Hollow!

 

A hundred years ago the area of West Farleigh, off Charlton Lane was known as the Monkey’s Hole, or more likely Monkey’s  ’ole! It was then part of Hall Farm. The Hall being Smiths Hall.

 

          

 

When Hall Farm was auctioned in 1911, it had 11 acres of hops, 12 acres of fruit, 11 acres of pasture, 12 acres of arable and 5 acres of wood. No space for football in those days.

At Monkey’s Hole there were 2 timber and tiled cottages, a brick and tiled oast, with three kilns. A timber tiled Barn with yard and bullock lodges, a range of 10 brick built hoppers huts with cookhouse etc. There was a leanto cottage at the rear of the oast. And a good Well of water.

The area has changed dramatically, or has it?

 

 

 

        

                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The well is probably still there, however, hopefully covered over now.

There is not a barn there any more, but the two timber cottages are still there as is the oast. Yes really!

 

However you would not recognise it today as it has been turned into a terrace of three houses. The leanto cottage is long gone.

Park Cottage, further down Charlton Lane, was the farm dairy and some older villagers can remember going round the back with their cans to collect the days milk for the family.

 

As the area is now posh, the name has been changed to The Hollow!

From Monkey’s Hole to The Hollow!

 

 

The great potato quiz! by Chris Stockwell

Posted on 9th September, 2016

I was browsing Amazon, as you do, when I spotted a book on the humble spud for 1p. It seemed rude not to take advantage of that so I bought it. I turned out to be an ex Neath Port Talbot Library book.

Unfortunately the first five pages covering the potato’s history were missing, so I can’t enlighten you on their development. You would be interested in the wonderful and expressive names of some varieties - which I have used in the list below, with some following the convention of naming them after the breeder; hence Mr Bresee, Lord Rosebery and Sharpe’s Express among others.

As usual, one name is missing from the puzzle. Email your answer to hollyvillas@hotmail.co.uk. First correct answer gets a pint or a G&T at the Good Intent.

A M B O H T U S Z H C D G B F J Y X I H
K M Q C E V Z S E O C I W N Q T E N Z M
N I S Z G L K E A Y I G P A D P T C M F
O B M A F Y E R P S O G Q V Q E H T Y X
B H J A Y G U P W L L C H A R L O T T E
Q O V B X K Q X D B H I E N H E L D Y N
B Q Y P Q I O E D O E L A R P U M B N O
P U X V Q U N S M G P T C I S Y G B I Y
N I M R R W K E Z P I S V W F A Y N O S
X X B L O Y G P A O B I L E M J P Z F K
G O U N Y U P R N T U R S I T G S J A W
W T D V A X I A E E E H N Q M L Y V P U
H E J R L F L H F T J C J U D M T Q X M
R H D V K K F S F T A Y U K O N G O L D
B Q K N I P S R R E K D J L B W M S X V
F S I D D E X Q U I S A O M N R K B W U
M P N W N M V A R L B L J T K U Q A Y H
T E D Z E L L B L U E S T L P J D B F E
Y N S H Y A A F E J T N I B I U W O Y F
E D Z U D Z K B D F N N P H U W I O O C

AILSA

AMINCA

BINTJE

CHARLOTTE

DUNLUCE

EDZELL BLUE

EXQUISA

FAMBO

GOLDEN WONDER

HOMEGUARD

INTERNATIONAL KIDNEY

JULIETTE

KERRS PINK

LADY CHRISTL

MAXINE

NAVAN

OSPREY

PINK FIR APPLE

QUIXOTE

ROYALKIDNEY

SHARPES EXPRESS

UP TO DATE

WILJA

YETHOLM GYPSY

YUKON GOLD

LITTER IN THE FARLEIGHS

Posted on 24th August, 2016

LITTER IN THE FARLEIGHS - A PROBLEM OF OUR TIMES?

 

Brian Cushing writes about the scourge of litter in our village. To read the article, connect here: LITTER IN THE FARLEIGHS.pdf. Readers' comments most welcome!

5 minute guide to Broadband

Posted on 28th July, 2016

 Bits and bytes

 All the information that you download from the internet arrives as a stream of bits i.e. zeroes and ones.  That's all.  So how does it mean anything?  How does it become photos or emails or computer programs?

 When we humans read and write, we make words out of letters.  In the English alphabet, there are 26 letters.  Everything we read and write is a sequence of those 26 letters plus punctuation.  And when we work with numbers, we work with ten digits, 0 to 9.  Using sequences of those digits, we can write down and work with bigger numbers like 65,131,944 (the estimated population of the UK right now!)

 Computers use just two numbers: 0 and 1, and no letters.  Two = binary.  To a computer, all data whether it be a number or a document or a picture or even a computer program is just a sequence of zeroes and ones.  An individual 0 or a 1 is called a bit.  So 0101 for example is a string of four bits.

 A string of 8 bits is called a byte.  How come 8 bits are so important that they got their own name (and a confusing one at that!)?  Because each byte corresponds to an alphabetical letter...

 How many different flavours of byte are there?  In other words, how many different sequences of eight bits?  The answer is 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 256.  Which is enough to give each letter of the alphabet (including all the foreign (!) ones, the numerals and the punctuation marks) its own sequence of 8 bits to represent it.

 There's a standard for mapping bytes into alphabetical letters which goes back to the dawn of modern IT.  It's called ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange).   So for example the sentence “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” is represented in a computer as a sequence of 44 bytes or 8 x 44 = 352 bits (yes, the ‘space’ is just another character).

Note.  A capital B represents a byte and a lower case b represents a bit.  A thousand bytes (don’t write in, pedants, I know, I know) is 1KB and a thousand bits is 1 Kb, and a million bytes are 1 Mb and a million bytes are 1MB.

Measuring transmission speed

Transmission speed is measured in bits per second, whereas file size is measured in bytes.  Good to remember it, because otherwise you will be disappointed by your new broadband.  You may be anyway, if you believe the comparison websites:

 

Suppose you want to download a picture which is 10MB and your download speed is 10Mb.  Will it take one second?  No!  10MB (megabytes) is 80Mb (megabits)…so it will take 8 seconds.  Unless your supplier exaggerated the speed you can expect.

 It is a surprising fact that the new and tougher (!) guidelines introduced by the  Advertising Standards Authority and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) in 2012 require advertised ‘up to’ speeds to be consistently available to at least 10% of the users of that service!!!

Imagine if supermarkets were only required to put an actual kilo of sugar in 10% of the bags labelled “1 Kg”!

 

 

This is a real picture taken last week !

 

 

PS.  My broadband supplier says I'm fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 To be fair to the industry, Version 3 of Ofcom’s Voluntary Code of Practice (June 2015) does require internet providers to tell you what most subscribers to their service actually receive, prior to your actually signing the contract.

 The confusion between bits per second and bytes per second, and the low standard of veracity set by the regulators ensures that most of us are going to be disappointed with our broadband.

 

How the internet gets to you

 So, how do the bits and bytes actually arrive or depart from your home?

 For us out in the wilds of Kent, the answer is DOWN YOUR PHONE LINE.  Strings of zeroes and ones are sent down your phone line using a coding protocol called ADSL or Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (it’s ‘asymmetric’ because it sacrifices upload speed to send data faster down to your home than it retrieves data out of your home, which is smart because that’s what you want most of the time.)

 It’s not the only answer.  For the past decade, BT Openreach has been rolling out FTTC or Fibre to the Cabinet technology.  The cabinets in this case are new, green cabinets which are connected to the exchange by high speed fibre cables.  The ‘last mile’ to your home is still by that old, copper wire but using a new encoding protocol called VDSL or Very High Speed Digital Subscriber Line.  Using this protocol, speeds of up to 76Mb/second are theoretically possible, but get rapidly slower as you get away from the cabinet, dropping to 20Mb/sec when you are a mile away.

 

FTTC comes to Teston Bridge

 Good news is on the horizon!  Kent Country Council has a program to upgrade cabinets in the area to fibre, thus accelerating the FTTC delivery in the area.  Essentially, KCC are funding Openreach to accelerate fibre delivery to selected cabinets in Kent.

 According to the very helpful broadband team at KCC, detailed planning is underway to upgrade Cabinet 8 outside the Teston Country Park before the end of the year.  Which means that we will be able to buy fibre solutions from anyone who uses BT OpenReach’s infrastructure (BT Infinity, TalkTalk fibre, EE, pretty much everyone except Virgin Media).  But the last mile from Cabinet 8 is still over that phone line!  Delivery speeds will drop off rapidly the further away from Cabinet 8 you are.  At the top of the village, perhaps 12Mb/sec.  Better, but not a revolution.

 

This is Cabinet 8 at Teston Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may be surprised by this – this would not be “superfast” broadband (defined as greater than 24Mb/sec).

 Two of the technical challenges of rolling out BT’s FTTC strategy have gradually become apparent over the past 4 years:  (1) speeds over VDSL drop very rapidly over distance from the cabinet (much more rapidly than ADSL), and (2) there are issues with “crosstalk” or interference between users which can rapidly degrade the new service as more and more people sign up for it.

Your other options

True FTTP (fibre all the way into your home, avoiding the phone line) is not going to be available any time soon this side of the river.  Virgin Media’s high speed offering is available in Maidstone but not here.

For people who want small amounts of data but at high speed – i.e. office users, not game players or households who watch a lot of TV over the internet – you could look at 4G mobile broadband services.  Vodafone, for example, are offering wireless dongles at the moment which provide 20GB of data monthly for a monthly cost of £20.

 Alternatively, you can try Vfast (www.vfast.co.uk/) or Callflow Solutions Ltd (www.callflow.co.uk/).  Both of these company avoid the copper wire entirely – they connect your home via radio to one of their antennae.  The issue here is that your home has to be in line of sight from their masts.  There is a mast at the top of Charlton Lane, and another at the top of Yalding Hill.  Neither vendor was able to connect to any of their masts from the roof of Smiths Hall (June 2016) so this is not a silver bullet.

 And of course, you can go with satellite broadband through companies like europasat (www.europasat.com).  We don’t know anyone in West Farleigh who has tried this but it is certainly available.  The traditional issue with satellite is latency i.e. the time it takes for a packet to get from the public internet to you or back.  This latency means that while upload and download speeds may be comparable with FTTC, real time games and voice phone calls will suffer from delays in the other party responding.

 Let’s hope that Cabinet 8 brings us some relief.

Steve Millsom's History of the Good Intent

Posted on 21st July, 2016

Steve Millsom, landlord of the Good Intent has researched the history of the pub which dates back to 1740 AD. Please follow this link to read this interesting article.

Teston Bridge closure

Posted on 25th June, 2016

Teston Bridge has been temporarily repaired by Kent Highways and is now open.  There is no news at present as to when they will effect a permanent repair.  Their website states: 

 

Historic Bridges

There is a rich heritage of old bridges in Kent.

These bridges are assessed, maintained and repaired generally to the same standards as all of our other bridges and structures.

Any work to historic bridges must meet the strict requirements of English Heritage or the district council.  Their special status means that any work carried out must be done without significantly changing their appearance.

 

 We will try to keep you updated on progress.

New Orleans comes to Kent...

Posted on 21st June, 2016

DR JAZZ – ALL SAINTS’ CHURCH

FRIDAY, 17 JUNE 2016

Once again, the bluesy syncopators of the Dr Jazz ensemble kept us enthralled for an evening. The band was on form, as always, and their lead singer Lyn Falvey kept the audience spellbound; her strong vocals led the way in the songs.

Dr Jazz in full swing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These folks are so confident in each other that they move through their numbers with the precision of well-oiled machinery, helped along by their backchat in between. The stomping rhythm section (Robin Beames on drums – Ian Rogers on double bass) sets the pace for the immaculate intertwining of the trombone played by Keith Blundell, cornet (Dave Kedge), clarinet and sometimes tenor sax (Graham Buttenshaw), keyboard (Colin Martin) and banjo (Nobby Willett) . Hearing each of these musicians’ solos is to sink into a relaxed and blissful state in the full knowledge that you’ll never be let down. It is gutsy music, with no gimmicks. Lyn hits her pitch with perfect precision every time; and her rendering of ‘Mood Indigo’, heard before many times, makes this reviewer’s eyes smart still. The tunes and songs were beautifully simple.

Another highlight of the evening was "I wish I knew how it felt to be free," (popularised by Nina Simone) here with wonderful interludes featuring the trombone, clarinet and Lynn's stirring vocals.  

The band got a standing ovation from the hep audience whose memories go back to the fifties and sixties - when trad jazz suddenly got ‘with it’ in the UK.

The band’s final number was ‘It don’t mean a thing’ which has given at least this writer an earworm which he’s not too worried about.

We all look forward to seeing Dr Jazz again here – and meantime: don’t forget they perform regularly in other places close to us.