Little Downham Byegones and Organs fair, 29th March 2014

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I remember going to this event a few times as a young child (when the car-trailer-sized mechanical organs seemed like gigantic towering machinery), then didn’t for years and years. As my interest in classic cars, steam engines and patriotism increased, the more annoyed I got with myself for always forgetting this (only remembering as I drove past it, on the way to some other place).

More recently, I got involved in an international group of friends called The Regular Sweets, and we make collaborative and individual videos about our lives, and where we come from (and, less recently, I started this blog XD). This event was perfect material for that, so off I wandered!

Agricultural engine “Success”

I actually thought there would be more steam engines than there was, and there was only one “full size” one (unless you count the steam car that was also there). I also thought there would be steam engines powering the mechanical organs, but actually they were just run on electrically-generated compressed air instead.

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And an information board about the engine. Interesting to see it was built in 1914. 1914 is quite “in the culture” at the moment, as it’s now 100 years on from World War 1. Much is made of the “modern warfare” aspects of that conflict – the aircraft, tanks, machine guns etc. But in everyday life there was still plenty that was driven by “Victorian” technology! These traction engines in particular would drive from farm to farm (very slowly), and would then stay still, using their engines to push and pull machinery such as ploughs up and down fields with pulleys.

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Other steam engines

There was also a couple of mini traction engines, though one of them had two seats and was being driven around. Steam has incredible torque, you know. At one point they put it into reverse and just instantly went backwards, no need to stop first XD.

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And then there was this “Lykamobile”. It looks like a Victorian car, but has modern “59” (that’s late 2009, not 1959) numberplates. I thought it might be electric, as I think the safety regulations are a lot more lax for electric cars (mainly so the G-Wiz could be sold here, though a reproduced original Mini couldn’t). But actually it’s steam powered! It can also be bought and built in kit-car form, meaning you could have a steam car of your very own! (With a lot of money and assembly time, anyway).

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http://www.steamtractionworld.com/lykamobile.htm

More classic commercials

A Ford Escort van, Morris Minor van and Commer van. Last time I went to this show properly, probably 2005-or-so, there was a Morris Minor van for sale, which needed quite a bit of restoration. I wonder if this is the same one, newly finished?

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Also, an old military ambulance, based on a Land Rover. It won’t be from during the war, but is probably from not long after it.

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Classic cars

There was quite a few, and quite a variety, of classic cars there. Though there was also several Morris Minors, two very similar Rover P4’s, and even a couple of 50’s Vauxhalls of the same family!

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Morris Oxford estate, and 2CV-based kit.

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Big green Austin, of some kind, with military markings.

Here’s some immaculate Rover P4’s, and a Morris Minor. Just the sort of scene you might have seen on a hastily-converted “bomb site” city-centre car park, circa 1959.

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MKII Lotus Cortina, but not in the famous Lotus colours.

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Vauxhall Cresta from 1955. I think this was before the “P series” Crestas, which started from the PA Cresta, which looked like a 57 Chevy, or something.

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A Swift… *squiiint*… F Type?

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Morris Minor Travellers.

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Something from the Rootes group; Singer / Sunbeam / Hillman etc.

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The cooler Lotus Cortina. I once saw a fake one for sale, based on a normal 2-door Cortina that had had a ‘modern’ (well, 80’s) 2-litre Capri engine chucked in. Wish I’d bought it!

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Morris Six

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Can’t remember what this was

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Vauxhall Velox, a lower “trim level” than the Cresta.

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Austin Cambridge, basically the same as the Morris Oxford from above.

Bikes

There wasn’t that many bikes, of the motor or pedal kind XD. And they were all kind of crammed away behind the mechanical organs.

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Honda

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The best one, late 20’s / early 30’s mean machine.

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A pedal bike based on a post office motorbike, from the 40’s

Tractors and Stationary engines

There was plenty of non-steam farm equipment too, mainly old tractors and a bunch of small stationary engines (internal combustion). Most of the latter were running, and backfiring like mad. They were all pretty crudely built, some just had a big hole for an exhaust pipe. I loved the smell!

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Rat tractors!

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RrRrRr-PHUT! RrRrRr-PHUT!

Mechanical Organs

These are one of the main attractions of the show. They have a lot of wind-pipes like a church organ (though with a different, less sombre tone), mechanical drums, bells and other tinkling bits. Some even have animated figures that move! In Victorian times, they were controlled by long strips of paper, card or punched wooden sheets with holes in, or else revolving drums with spines on. All these systems activated ‘switches’, or valves for air pressure, as they moved – making them an early ancestor of computer programming. I don’t know if the organs there that day were Victorian survivors, newly-built, or maybe restored old ones which have been installed in modern trailers.

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Fenlander II

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Galadriel

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Los Tubos… this one had quite a different tone to the others.

Byegones

Inside the village hall, there was a number of displays of interesting old things. There was also a number of barrel organs and smaller mechanical organs, though I forgot to take pictures of most of them.

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Small piano thing, on a table of assorted bits and bobs

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Matchboxes… surprising to see how old some brands (like Spar) actually are!

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Old car ornaments

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Cans for petrol and oil

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Toy cars

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Farm tools

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Ice skates.

Somebody at my work does something called “fen skating”, where they wait for areas of fenland to get slightly flooded in winter, and then freeze. If you get enough rain, followed by low enough temperatures, you could skate for miles, in and out of trees, over fences and so on.

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Childcare / midwifery table

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Magic lanterns

Magic Lanterns were the “TV” or “Cinema” of the day, with several projected pictures over one another giving the illustion of movement, for instance a scene of a fire with ‘moving flames’, or a ship with the sails dropping. This one would probably have been extremely expensive.

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More modern video equipment, including a 60’s cine-camera and 80’s video camera, which you actually put VHS tapes directly into!

Heh, I mentioned seeing somebody with an even bigger VHS video camera at a school sports day in about 1991, my mum had his name instantly. She never forgets the “insult” of somebody conspicuously-consuming, evidently.

Barrel / Smaller Mechanical Organs

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One “played” by an animatronic clown. There was actually another one being played by a teddy bear, but I forgot to take a photo.

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Other ones

The event was pretty cool in all, though not very big (I’m sure there used to be another event in the village that was in both the village hall car park, park car park, and school playground, with all sorts of events and displays). But it did put me in the way of knowing that there’s a much bigger steam engine / classic car show in Haddenham in September, which ought to be worth seeing (well, if I’m here in September, anyway). There’s also a place called Prickwillow Engine Museum, with displays of steam and diesel engines which used to be used to drain the fens. That might even be worth a “dashcam” cycle trip to!

The most amazing band who inspired many…

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She made a bit of a mistake, so I fix’d it

I also saw them the Tuesday before last, as on fire as always. The opening acts were Ed Tudor Pole (“The second guy to host Crystal Maze”, as I described him to a bunch of otaku friends, at least one of whom didn’t even know who Judge Dredd was) and The Men they Couldn’t Hang, who are kind of folk-punk. I miss Blood or Whiskey, who supported SLF’s tour in early 2006!

Anyway, as I’d driven to the gig after work (and had a bad toenail) I couldn’t drink or pit, so stood off to one side, behind several very tall and hard-looking punks. There was some piss-taking about my hair too, I’m actually very thin skinned and when chavs do it I get upset and dwell upon it for months/years. But when punks do it I don’t care, for some reason. Probably because I’ve seen the extremes punk hairstyles go to XD.

Anyway, on this occasion they played all the old favourites, as well as a few lesser-heard ones such as Piccadilly Circus. Also it was the first time I’d heard a couple of new ones, Trail of Tears and Dark Places, which will be on the new album that “Ought to be out this year” “YAAAY” “That was the ironic cheer, right there!”.

Then it was absolutely freezing and I went home, listening to, well, B’z actually. I never was a proper punk XD

Had a sudden desire to listen to skinhead music

I say “had”, because this was actually weeks ago and I never update this thing. Anyway, I did, so I got out what is still my favourite Oi album:

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“We Will Never Die” is actually one of the first MP3’s I ever downloaded*, back in 1999 or 2000. In the days when random sites on Tripod and Geocities would have selections of mp3’s to download. I remember getting that one off a site with a grey background, a navigation frame on the left side, and a piece of skinhead clipart with two guys holding guns. I also didn’t make a note of which band it was by, and didn’t actually know for ages. Until I realised that, instead of searching for “punk mp3” and trying to find the site again, I could just search for the lyrics and find out that way.

Anyway, I also strolled into HMV and got a CD by a band who I also liked back in the day, but never owned anything by:

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But they were around in the very early days of Oi, so a lot of the songs on there sound like also-ran 1977 punk. Oh well.

The desire to listen to skinhead music soon passed again, anyway. If you want chauvinistic patriotism, why not go to the organ grinder instead of the monkey? In this case, propaganda music of military dictatorships.

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*-the first MP3 I ever downloaded was King of the Kill by Anniahlator.  I also got Ich Bin Ein Punk by Terrorgruppe, took me YEARS to find out which band that was by. I also remember having low-quality, incomplete versions of Anarchy in the UK and God Save The Queen by the Sex Pistols. And also I have a memory of finding a site with hundreds of mp3’s (“just” downloadable from html pages of links) which had a dark red ‘fiery’ background and yellow links. Being on charged 56k, I could only download one. A lot of them were just track numbers, with no titles. No doubt that site is long gone, but I wish I could revisit it with my current connection speed and just click random things, watching them load faster than they play!

Three Saturdays

Not updated this again for ages. Dum de dum. Things have been ticking over, issue 2 of my comic (supposed to be cover dated March – April) is still not finished, but ought to be tomorrow. Only the editor’s page and a map to do!

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EXTERMINATE!

Also Doctor Who is back on, but I missed the start of the episode just gone >.<, I notice it appeared to show a prosperous India of the future, with it’s own space programme. I notice that this prosperous India of the future was still full of ethnically Indian people, though. I remember some “leaked episode synopsis” that was doing the rounds before the last series, which suggested there would be an episode set in Japan in the 2170’s. I bet if the BBC had actually made that, the Japan of the 2170’s would still be populated entirely by ethnically Japanese people.

Of course, in my own comics, scenes set on the future Earth will have, say, a mostly black guy (‘pure’ races will be rare hundreds of years in the future) named Vladimir Rodriguez, who comes from Tokyo and mainly speaks Japanese. Just to ridicule this “mah effnic origin” disease that the yanks are into, which is infecting Britain at an alarming rate.

But enough of that. Two saturdays ago (or 1 week BDW) we had a huge storm. There wasn’t much visible lightning, but the thunder was just a constant rumble, it sounded like when you are videoing something and the wind blows against the microphone. I did capture a bit of footage, some of the thunder and some of the rain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wj_DpbIINUQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXJEKD_oetc

There had also been hail before that, I got a few photo of that after it had finished.

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There was also cool-looking clouds and sewage coming out of the drains, which somebody drove through really fast with their window down slightly, lawl.

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Anyway, on the second of these saturdays, I trolled into Cambridge to see my friend Asha. Except (as usual) she took forever to get ready (it was literally like all day). So Instead I wandered around Charity shops killing time. So, lets just turn this into a haul post!

The best thing I got was this:

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Grummock yer parts…

It’s a tape of Round the Horne , the greatest radio comedy ever! It’s where Julian and Sandy, who I’ve just noticed I never posted about (to my shame, got a CD of them ages ago), come from. Anyway, it evolved out of another show called Beyond our Ken (the host of both was Kenneth Horne), but was a lot funnier.

Anyway, this box contains 2 tapes, which are supposed to be the third set of four episodes. But one of them is actually from the tenth set, but as the show had got into it’s stride then I won’t complain! Anyway, aside from Julian and Sandy (polari-speaking queens who did a different, innuendo-laced, job each week)

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‘Evvy Metal

I also got this, for the amazing price of 10p. It’s an old demo tape by a band called Jackal, probably from some time in the 80’s, or maybe early 90’s. The paper insert appears to have been produced on a photocopier, and the red has been hand-coloured. An (admittedly vague) search of the internet has failed to turn up any reference to a metal band called Jackal, so I assume they are long since defunct. Shame, the music is actually pretty damn good (in fact, better than some early thrash which was signed by big labels – like old Testament – which all sounds like it’s recorded in an echoing empty room).

Also, I have been looking at Danny Choo, and his other site called Figure FM, recently. A lot of people were posting pictures of their “otaku rooms”, awash with manga, anime DVD’s and figures. I wanted to tart up my own otaku room a bit, though of course I am an otaku by the Japanese definition and not the foreign one XD. I needed some models to display – no, not anime figures! I’m an otaku for old British culture, and that means…

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Airfix!

I’d seen this set advertised in Commando a few times. You get two planes and a display stand for yer money. I got that one because “jet planes are easier, they’re just pipes with wings on” and also having an Argentine plane would be a bit “weird”. I presume the standard Douglas Skyhawk kit Airfix make comes with 1960’s US Air Force decals. I’ve not started to make this yet, though. As it will be displayed I want to get it right, so got a ‘simpler’ kit to ‘practice’ with. Of course I made tons of these as a kid (I also did a bunch of cheap foreign kits which never got painted, bright green ME109 ahoy!), but I usually just slapped on single coats of paint, glued on the decals (paper and all) and then they got broken and chucked out XD.

Oh yeah, the display cabinet itself, well I got that (along with some other bits) a few weeks ago when I went to Ikea. It’s a Detolf cabinet, which nearly all the otaku rooms on Danny Choo have XD. I have stuffed it with various odds and ends at the moment, but they’ll be gradually replaced by Airfix planes and ships (got my eye on a huge Golden Hind, but that will be tough to build), Gundams and a few (and I mean a few, possibly two XD) anime figures XD.

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The full thing. All that crap next to it is a stack of Roy of the Rovers which desperately needs gaps filling, putting in order and binding into 6-monthly books. Anybody got a spare grand?

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Some Lego stuff, including the Lego Felney characters, from when I had a regular webcomic (ha!) and the scanner broke. Also some limited edition Corgi Minis, a limited edition Lotus F1 model (now very battered and with sun-faded stickers) and some other bits.

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A Download Festival programme, a Star Wars toy, more lego (“FW Devil 1” is a ship of my own creation called a Slasher), some Judge Dredd cards that the Megazine gave away, my Camcon wristband and some bijou statuettes.

And so on to today. Today was the second day of “Open Cambridge”, an event I also went to in 2010. Basically various colleges open up certain seldom-seen parts to the public for free. Lots of guided tripettes also take place around the city, but those were all fully booked months ago. Anyway I made a list of small libraries in colleges that I wanted to see and trolled around, only to find that this year’s Open Cambridge had a slight difference, namely, it was shut! Still I did go to the Whipple Museum (which is open to the public all the time anyway) and to the Sporting Christ’s exhibition, in one of the libraries there (which, it turned out, is a separate exhibition running for the duration of the Olympics and a good month and a half either side to boot XD).

Buut before that, I went into Ely and got a simpler Airfix kit, from the “City Cycle Centre”, an independent toy and hobby shop (with a side of DIY and, of course, cycling). I used to go in there a lot as a kid, but then we called it Zaskies, for some reason. It used to sell these wicked cap guns that looked almost like real rifles and shotguns, you wouldn’t see that these days! Anyway, up the stairs and round the corner used to be the Airfix (well and Revell, Tamiya and so on), Warhammer and Hornby department. These were all still in roughly the places I remember, but are now bigger(!) than they were when I was a kid. The back wall has also been knocked through and a load of other rooms (perhaps store rooms or other shops before) have now been incorporated into the main shop. Anyway, which simpler kit did I buy just to get my eye in? Which do you think?

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Can’t beat the classics!

… Mind you, if they’d had a Red Arrow I probably would have got that XD. It was £8, though the same sorts of kits in Model Zone (where I got that Falklands set) are only £5.99, you have to support these independent shops or they’ll disappear!

After that I trolled off to Cambridge, to be disappointed XD. Still I couldn’t resist the Haunted Bookshop, and bought a hardback, cloth-bound prospectus for a girl’s boarding school. Like you do. There’s an inscription dated 1943 in it, but I should think the book itself is older, from before rationing, because the paper is lovely, thick and glossy. It has a great many photos, which will be useful reference material for illustrations in my own boarding school story, Xin Zhou’s Schooldays – the first chapters of which will appear in the Red, White & Blue issue 2, erm, eventually!

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Who remembers these?

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They were a band and a half weren’t they?

 

Oh yeah I also got a cable to connect my new phone to the computer. So now I can present the new and correctly spelled (well actually I might have got the second character of Lord Haw Haw’s name wrong) sign that I’d put up if I ever end up running a pub in Japan:

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One who has a door behind him and is shown out of it.

Though of course I’m actually going to be a McEnglish McTeacher and then end up as a bland Salaryman. I’m under no illusions as to the spartan and difficult existence I’ll lead in a completely different country many thousands of miles away. But we can’t help who we fall in love with. And I’ll never ever have any truck with commie shitstabbers like Mr Potato Head and the day I do is the day I lose a game of chicken with the Yamanote Line.

Oh and of course I’ll still have a subscription to DC Thomson’s Commando comic, draw jingoistic British Adventure comics, drive elderly, noisy and unsafe cars and bring any children we may have up on a diet of Sexton Blake, Billy Bunter and Sapper. AND listen to Saxon because they’re wicked.

 

The cable also means I can spam a whole 3 pictures of my cat.

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Not amused.

 

I’ve got a busy weekend ahead. On Saturday it’s either Classic VW’s or Retro Drag Racing at Santa Pod. Either way there will be wicked pictures. On Sunday I’m going to be VIP guest of the Honda team at the British Superbikes. Like ya do.

 

Oh and I’m thinking of writing a 2011 version of “Glad to be gay” that laments the current state of Broken Britain , a land full of quotas and history months, that will contain the line “I can’t help but think that it’s… kind of our fault”.

The Blackbeard thing

So yeah, it turns out that there was actually two separate Blackbeard 2-part mini series made in the mid 2000’s! The one I saw the first part of and the one I watched the last night. The one I saw the first part of was supposedly based on Blackbeard’s real life (what is known about it anyway), whereas the one I watched last night was more of a boys’ own adventure story with Blackbeard as a character. Not that his real life wasn’t a boys’ own adventure story! Wicked theme tune mind you.

This DC Comics re-launching thing got me looking at their blog, where they posted up a few character pictures of newly-redesigned heroes…

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 Er… isn’t that just Gene The Hackman crossed with Shakara?

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Isn’t that Durham Red??

Oh yeah, kind of glad I didn’t go to Donington now. It’s pissed down all day… still looks like Friday had the best weather and the best bands. I could have done a day ticket but I still need to save like mad.

Wickedawesome albums

Half of which I couldn’t actually find to photograph.

Saxon – A Collection of Metal

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Unfairly regarded as “also rans” of classic British metal, Saxon are actually amazing – and received just reward with a 50 minute set on Download’s main stage in 2010. They had also been at the first Donington rock festival, Monsters of Rock 1980. This album is a greatest hits with a few live songs thrown in.

Highpoint: 747, And The Bands Played On, Rock The Nations, Broken Heroes, Denim & Leather etc etc.

Lowpoint: Rock City, a bit cheesy if you ask me.

V8 Wankers – Foxtail Testimonial

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V8 Wankers appear to be relatively obscure even in their native Germany, but have a growing fanbase. Their songs mainly revolve around hot rods, drag races and beer. How could I not like them? This is the newest album and the only one I own so far… I got it just before Download 2010 and added it to a mix CD for playing in the campsite without listening to it, because I knew it’d be amazing. I seem to remember a few people asking me who they were… but I got uber-pissed on the first night and later we kicked the CD player to bits because the batteries ran out (even though I had spares). Oops.

Highpoint: Gun Bunny’s Bug, Match Race Madness, We’re Only Here For The Beer, Never Trust A Man Who Doesn’t Drink…

Lowpoint: Go Where The Action Is, a proper belter of a ch00n but the lyrics sound very cheesy to English speakers.

Testament – The Formation Of Damnation

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Testament are the fifth member of the “big four” of thrash. I’ve seen them twice, once in 2008 playing after Saxon – a glorious combination of rock legends that was marred by being pickpocketed. I once bought an old greatest hits CD because “it looks very 80’s”, I’d never heard of them at the time. That CD was all early stuff which has that “empty room” sound of old thrash. This one is more modern and all the better for it’s production.

Highpoint: F.E.A.R, More Than Meets The Eye

Lowpoint: The Formation Of Damnation… yes I don’t like the title track XD

The Birthday Massacre – Walking With Strangers

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This band are a kind of like Sisters of Mercy crossed with The Prodigy only with a bird singing. Oh and they’re amazing. I was introduced to them by a guy I was romancing, the only good thing that came from that relationship XD. They also have some slowly-growing popularity and I beleive have played some decent sized festivals elsewhere. They remain virtually unknown in Britain though, never seen ’em in a shop.

Highpoint: Kill The Lights, Walking With Strangers – I defy anybody not to turn them up!

Lowpoint: Goodnight.