Wednesday 19 May 2010


You may only be in a majority of one but the truth is always the truth (Gandi)

Sunday 16 May 2010

Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival, June 24-27 2010 - dates confirmed

At last, the official dates are now up on the festival web-site and I am pleased to confirm that the 13th Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival will be held Thursday to Sunday, June 24-27, 2010.

The official festival website at currently says "Under Construction", but I'm sure that they will update it before too long, since the line-up and the updated website are usually posted late-May/early-June. Here's the image that is currently posted there:

If you can't wait until June and need to hear some gnaoua music right now, you'll find plenty on the playlists on the DaftNotStupid blog and DaftNotStupidYouTube channel.

Saturday 1 May 2010


My beautiful...darling...funny...fiesty... sister-in-law, Mitzi, died at seven in the evening on Wednesday 7th April. She had been ill for a long time but that doesn't make the grief any easier.

My husband, John, and his other sister, Marietta, had no idea that they had a half-sister who had been adopted after birth, until they were adults. Tragic but that's often how things are in this world.

However, when John's mother died eight years ago, we decided to look for Mitzi. All we had was an old address in Glastonbury. We set off on Boxing Day, the day after the awful tsunami, and arrived in a cold, forlorn, wet and miserable Glastonbury. It was virtually deserted - all the wierd and wonderful crystal, magicical, hippy shops were closed and a whipping wind chilled us to the bone.

We found the address easily but, no, Mitzi was long gone. Later we discovered that the young woman who lived there had once been a girlfriend of Mitzi's oldest son, Dan. Co-incidences happen a lot in Glastonbury. However, she did tell us that Mitzi had a friend who worked in the nearby Woodcutters Pub. So off we went on our quest.

Of course, the friend wasn't working that day but John explained who he was and left his telephone number, not expecting much but at least feeling he had at least tried.

But just before the New Year he got a phone call: "I'm Mitzi. I'm your sister."

So back we went to Glastonbury in the new year and met up with Mitzi and Dan at The George and Pilgrims Hotel and that was it ...the start of a wonderful new life for us all. We hit it off straight away...all of us kindred spirits.

John and I had never been part of a large extended family and suddenly we had neices, nephews, great neices and a host of friends. It was like we had come home.


With the generosty of spirit that was so characteristic of her, Mitzi arranged a special party at The King Alfred Pub in Glastonbury to celebrate both the 21st birthday of her second son, Luke, and John's birthday - they share the same birthday.

We also met Hana, Mitzi's daughter, an absolute sweetheart, and Mitzi's multitude if friends. You all know who you are and I can cheerfully say that we're all as mad as hatters. Naturally, we had a marvellous time. There's nothing like getting drunk together to seal a relationship.

Maggie, Lou, Mitzi, and Dorothy

But my over-riding memory of that evening was of seeing Luke for the first time as he toppled over the garden wall and into the party as 'pissed as a newt'.

We knew right from the start that Mitzi had the lung disease emphesema and would need a lung/s transplant. For a long time she was still active and mobile but gradually her condition worsened and she needed to spend long periods of time using an oxygen mask, but that didn't phase her. She would have that transplant and all would be well and she was so determined and positive that we all believed her.

Indeed, she was rushed to the transplant centre in London - Harefields - on numerous occasions, even being totally prepped for surgury, but always someone else got the lungs or the lungs were found to be not of sufficient quality.

And all the time Mitzi was as upbeat as you could possibly get. Far more upbeat than me with my lesser ailments. She was an inspiration. And boy did she know the transplant system and the workings of the social services inside out. And she always had at least a plan B or a plan C in case plan A didn't work.

But in October of last year, the fumes from a new gas fire (possibly furniture polish because it was a showroom fire) affected her very badly and she was taken into hospital, where she stayed apart from a brief return home and to a cottage hospital nearer her home.

Twice we thought she was going to die and twice she revived, issuing orders and commands from her bed like a mafia mother. She was one tough lady but also very caring and compasionate and a lot of fun. I started to call her 'the come-back kid' because the hospital staff said they were amazed that she was still alive. Her desire to live was awesome to watch.

And still she was expecting that transplant. The last time I visited her, just days before she died, I asked if she was still up for a transplant and she said most definitely yes.

But there are some things in life you can't control - like volcanos erupting and floods sweeping away people and homes and the human body, which can only take so much. It's a somber realisation for us all.

Boy did we send her off in style. John and I stayed at Chindit House B+B, which was a perfect place to stay, with its restful gardens and peace and quiet, and friends and family travelled from all over. Sadly, the flight ban stopped a lot of people from getting to Glastonbury for her funeral, again, showing how little we human beings have only limited control over our lives. But we had fantastically warm and sunny weather for her funeral, celebration and wake.

We started off at Bath Crematorium, which is a very restful place, with large glass windows over-looking calming countryside. One of her best friends, Dorothy, read a most appropriate and moving poem, which she might like to leave on the comments section (cos I know you're following this Dorothy) and I recited Psalm 23 : The Lord is my shepherd etc. It's a psalm that I love very much.

Lou had come down from Bristol, where she now lives, so after the service, we took her to Bath, so she could catch the train home.We also took along the beautiful Anna, one of Dan's friends. It was lovely being in Bath - such a beautiful city - and we found a cafe in the sun for coffee.

It was only eleven o'clock but I was absolutely starving, although I'd had breakfast, and only a large piece of coffee cake would do. In fact, I can't remember a day when I ate and drank so many of the wrong things at the wrong time. (I started on the brandy cokes at some riduculous time of five in the afternoon.)

Shayne, Mitzi's long term carer, had provided nibbles at The Bear Inn in Street. I must mention here that Shane has been an absolute rock during these last years and as good a friend to Mitzi that you could get.John went there whilst I rested (it's my age - I can only do so much in one go!) back at Chindit House with bright sunshine pouring through the bedroom windows, comforting myself with the complementary chocolates left in the room.

Then, at 3.30 we all crowded into The Magdelene Chapel in Glastonbury for a service of celebration. There were so many people that most of us had to sit/stand in the small garden. I have never, ever got a suntan at a funeral before.

More people wanted to recall funny stories about Mitzi than we had time for. But the most moving speech came from John, devestated at losing the sister he had only just found. There were lots of tears shed that day and much laughter.

The family had created an enormous montage of photographs of Mitzi and this was displayed firstly at The Chapel and then at The King Alfred Pub for the wake. It was like coming in a full circle.

Most of us sat outside, still in brilliant sunshine. Friends and relatives laid on a fabulous spread and we ate, drank, chatted, laughed until the late evening.

The story doesn't end there, though. Having found and been accepted by all these lovely people, we shall go back often. In fact, a number of us are going to see Madness at The Glastonbury Extraveganza in August in The Glastonbury Abbey grounds. And we intend to have a very good time i.e. behave outrageously, dance a lot and make merry. In honour of Mitzi.