catweazle history

Submitted by edpope on

Incomplete notes. See also my website MappingThePast

i think the first Catweazle was on Tuesday 25th October 1994, in the snug at the Victoria in Walton St, i wasn't there, but my diary for Thursday 27th says "woken by Terry Walpole telling me of Catweazle club", and Matt Sage remembers he sang Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" to begin the night. One other person who claimed to have been there was Jonathan Kent. On Thursday 3rd November I met Dave Wood who encouraged me to the Catweazle club. On Tuesday 15th November I went with Paul McFadyen "to Catweazle-very good - Mike (Hamblett) popped in - I got leaflets off him and passed them round audience". (We were planning an action the next day to liberate some stolen mahogany from a hardware store). On Tuesday 22nd I went with Paul again but late and just caught the end of it. On Tuesday 29th November "went to Catweazle club, Warren (Scott-Morrow) there, Jolf compering, stuck tape on tabards, did Hecate poem". (The tabards were for an Oxford to London walk protesting against Campsfield immigration detention centre, we were met in Whitehall on Sunday by the now famous Jeremy Corbyn).


the moon winds down to dark
and every spark is frozen to her skin
beneath the ice the inky fishes hide
and everyone i telephone's not in

it's saturday, a night i ought to be
out chattering to charming company
but then i'd miss her solemn subtlety
and never stroke the bristles on her chin

On Tuesday 6th December, I went with Anni Loveridge. "Anni left at break, Cynthia (Henriques) came in, Anni came back, Cynthia left just as I was about to read poems. Read Moonwink and Dragon's Dream. Richard, Anni's friend, turned up to take her home. Sarah (Pethybridge) came in towards end."

MOONWINK (about a protest vigil at the bomber's moon of the first Gulf War in 1991)

tarnished lemon moonwink tumbles
down twilight's navy smoke
day's exit gives a hint of days in store

this moon begins in blood
and shining faces of crowds with candles
sighs at us sadly,
but promises rich change


strange is the dragon's dream
of cash tills iced in tinsel
expelling through its nostrils
white monoxide fog
and through that frosty vapour
pedestrians of paper
rush to buy the presents
that will wrap up their future
dash to buy the presents
that parcelled up their past

On 13th December "Snug very full, Anni and Richard left as I arrived, Sarah there, prayer song from Sue, guy with rap songs good, and others, girls going to Croatia, I put fiver in their hat. Talked to Judy at end. Turned down slot". I remember this line from Sue's song "The power of prayer means nothing to the men in grey". (Judy performed belly dancing at Catweazle). On 20th December I got "to Catweazle about 9.15. Did Storyteller at Fault, went down well, spoke to Giles (Goodland?) and girl with celtic brooch in hat, said I only had one other story, then after break Sophy (Phipps) told that very one, Wind Ghosts. Tibetan guy played. Shar (Molteno) and Anya came in, and stayed to end. Sarah there, and Miche (Lewin)". Storyteller at Fault was a story taken from a book called Celtic Fairy Tales. Wind Ghosts I've forgotten and I couldn't find it on Google. Also there Pip Payne. That night with some friends I did a polythene sweat lodge on Portmeadow.


On Wednesday 4th January "I got to Catweazle to find Squeak outside Vicky and Terry (Walpole) putting up poster. He told me it was off, but I sat in to wait for Cassandra (Wall) and collected three groups of Catweazlers and suggested we use the snug. Popped out to phone Cassandra and met her in street. Bought her drink, disabled the speaker in the snug, suggested a song. Indian girl sang Hedgehog Song (Incredible String Band) with friend playing guitar. Paddy turned up and played great stuff. Agreed with Paddy to swap Katell Keinig tapes next week. I played Blue Drag (Django Reinhardt) on guitar as others insisted. Paddy began round of who's your rock 'n roll hall of fame, I said Incredible String Band." Squeak was Terry's cat. Blue Drag was one of two pieces I could play on guitar. Also there Pip Payne, Jim Davies and Adam Warne, but no Matt Sage (who was the compere at all Catweazles unless otherwise mentioned). On Wednesday 11th January "in snug again. No Paddy. I did poems (Moonwink and Wig's Prisoner). At end Alex did his Keeva poem again, and I asked him her mother's name. It was indeed Dervla!". Dervla was someone I had met somewhere and thought I recognised from Alex's poem. For Moonwink see above 6th December 1994.

WIG'S PRISONER (about the back entrance in Carey Street to the Royal Courts of Justic

behind these monumental slabs
like toothache, power throbs.
by hours & centuries the stiff-jawed judge
paints his eyebrows with our innocence.
the Westminster dentist has poured into
his cavities,
gold and silver but cannot ease the pain.
only when we all agree we didn't really need him
will the wig's prisoner be free to breathe again

On Wednesday 18th January "Did the story of poetry group and changes in my life. Invited Matt and Cristina to dinner on Friday." This may have been the first Catweazle in the room upstairs where i'd spent many Wednesday nights in 1991 and 1992 at the Oxford Poetry Group, which is why I told that story.  Also that night Matt Sage lent me the book (by Richard Carpenter) based on the 1970 TV series Catweazle was named for.  Also there were Pip Payne, Jim Davies & Andy Porteous. On 25th January it was Burns Night "Gave Paddy tape. Sang Address to the Woodlark (by Robert Burns). Belinda and fellow causing nuisance. Warren there with Judy, Terry very upset about it. Belinda insisted on lending me Idries Shah".


o stay sweet warbling woodlark stay
nor quit for me the trembling spray
a hapless lover courts thy lay
thy soothing fond complaining

again again the tender part
that i may catch thy melting art
and haply it may touch her heart
who scorns me with disdaining

o was thy little mate unkind
and heard thee as the careless wind?
for naught but love and sorrow joined
such notes of woe could waken

thou tells of never-ending care
of endless grief and dark despair
for pity's sake sweet bird no more
or my poor heart is broken

Wednesday 1st Feb "Returned books to Matt and Belinda. Didn't perform. Sophie talked to me during break, and Eric. At end Christina's sister Jo talked to me". Andy Porteous played guitar, and was there with Pip Payne and Jim Davies. This was also Benji Ming's first Catweazle, and he clearly remembers it was in the snug, so if we had already been upstairs, we must have come back down. Benji came with Phil (Muill) and Emma, and Julian, and he met Danny there, whom he'd known in London a few years before. Danny didn't speak but gave Benji a note saying "Anglican speech fast". Benji surmised that he'd become religious, but really it was because he was learning Scottish Gaelic. On the 8th February I was away, but Benji came again and Danny was talking English again. Benji's diary noted "nice music inspired me - but what to?". On 15th February I "went upstairs as Judy danced. Matt asked me to perform so I did 'puppet' and 'teenage tart' - first one went down better. Terry finished off night with Trebarweth Strand (a poem about New Years Eve 1990 when a romance of his began and I was there too) and Moonchant. Talked to guy from Newport, he's at Ruskin, knows Raga (Woods). Phil (an Aussie who practised acrossage, acrobatic massage) complimented me on songs. Professor Boot. Sat by as Barney said someone's a chilled out geezer and laughed". Benji's diary confirms he indeed did Professor Boot that night, his first Catweazle performance. Pip Payne also read a poem. Barney was famous for his song 'Soul Economy' which he sang every week

TEENAGE TART, a song which began "my man hungry little sister is a teenage tart", a headline from the Oxford Mail of Thursday 2 December 1993 page 9 (Georgette Floyd Answering Your Problems). the other lines of the song i can't remember. Like Puppet it was Country and Western style.

PUPPET (a song i wrote in the seventies - there's a reference to Teenage Kicks by the Undertones)

i'm a puppet in the pockets
of pornography and profits
everywhere i look
the only thing i see
is the sexual titillation
that brings me humiliation
when i think how badly
things are going for me

well you might not get annoyed
if you've recently enjoyed
the real thing they keep
telling us we all need
but i think they're trying to make me feel
that without it my life just ain't real
and boy i'm afraid that they succeed

'cos when you've got it on the brain
and there's no-one you can touch
well i don't like to complain
but sometimes it gets too much

every ad that's on the telly's
full of tits and bums and bellies
every song in the top thirty
has an undertone that's dirty
it's just sexual propagandia
that's designed to make me randier
but actually it's driving me yin-sane!

Both Benji and I missed the 22nd February. I was attending a 'Ritual of the Senses' in Marston. Pip Payne was at Catweazle, Jim Davies did his New York poem, and Adam Moore did a poem. On Wednesday 1st March "Doug & Lawrence, Terry & Phil, Phil & James, Judy, Matt & Christina there among others. Doug did poem and story. Phil's dark moon poem. I told story of visit to Ireland. Chatted to Alex after". Pip Payne and Jim Davies were there. Barney sang "Drifting in England". Benji's diary said he didn't go, though he had said he would. In 1995 I had only been to Ireland once, back in 1971. I've never written that story down as it's stayed so fresh in my memory. On 8th March I didn't perform but my diary says "Nick ("George Michael") and Professor Fraser, last two acts, very good. Matt invited me to dinner Thursday week." Benji also noted he performed Professor Fraser, and that Judy was there. Terry, Barney and Andy Porteous performed, and Pip Payne (who noted "the black poet" meaning one who always wore black) and Jim Davies were there. On 15th March "Strange evening, Richard (House) read his story about the knight, I made announcement about the line of the canal (this was a link hands action against canalside developments that happened on April 2nd). Phil there with Lesley. Met Sally of Anja's house". Benji's diary notes he tried out a new act 'Woody Hill' but now he can't remember what that was. Also there were Jim Davies and Pip Payne, who noted "The girl out of Shuffle drunkenly sang and was lovely and someone read a poem about Jack Kerouac and Carolyn Cassidy". On 22nd March "strange evening, Terry walked out when I told tree story, so I later walked out when he sang song - when I first asked how he was he said to me 'I don't want to talk to you'. Lack of performers unusually for Catweazle. Talked to Judy a bit, talked about Matt and Claire's Fool party". Benji wasn't there. Matt Sage sang "India Rose". Barney sang "Drifting in England" twice as there were so few performers. Pip Payne and Jim Davies were there.


there was once a little tree who was very beautiful, and the earth and the air and the sun and the rain all fell in love with her. "i love you tree" said the earth "you can grow in me". "i love you tree" said the air "you can grow in me". "i love you tree" said the sunshine "you can grow in me". "i love you tree" said the raindrops "you can grow in me". and so she did.  but the tree fell in love with the moon. when the sun and the rain had gone on their travels and the earth and the air went still and quiet and the tree knew they were sleeping she saw him shining in the west.  "i love you moon" said the tree "you can grow in me". but the moon said nothing. he smiled and kissed her branches and vanished, leaving her lonely all night long. but the next night he came again, and stayed a little longer. "i love you moon" said the tree "you can grow in me". again the moon said nothing, and smiled and kissed her a little longer, then went away. Each night he came back and stayed a little longer, and the tree was quite sure that each night he looked a little bigger. "you're growing in me, moon" said the tree, and felt very happy. And one night he looked all big and round and laid his head to rest in her branches and stayed with her all night long. But still he said nothing. The next night he was a little late and the tree began to worry about him. He soon appeared and laid his head to rest in her branches and stayed with her all night long, but still he said nothing. And then each night he came a little later and the tree could see he was getting smaller. "What's the matter. moon?" asked the tree, but the moon just smiled and kissed her branches and when the sun came up he vanished. One night he was so late and so little he only had time to kiss her once before the sun came up. All day long the tree felt strange and there was nothing the sun or the rain or the air or the earth could do to cheer her up. That night the moon never came to see her at all, and the tree felt so lonely she burst into tears, and when the sun came up, on every twig where she had cried a teardrop was a little sticky bud.  The tree thought she would never see the moon again, but two nights later there he was, just after the sun went down, and he smiled and kissed her branches and vanished.  And night after night he stayed longer and longer, and grew bigger and rounder. And all the time her little sticky buds were slowly opening and leaves uncurling. But once again he started coming later, and once again he started getting smaller, and the tree began to worry if he'd ever grow again. And then there came another night when he never came at all, and the tree wept again. And when the sun came up in the morning she was covered with beautiful silver blossoms shaped like the crescent moon.

On Wedneday 29th March "entered Vick same time as Terry, asked if he was speaking to me, answer no. Doug, Sally and Lawrence turned up, Benji compering. I did smoke-shovelling song, went okay. Lawrence and Doug both did stories. Richard (House) turned up latish and Jocasta right at end". Benji's diary confirms he was running the show that night.


last winter blew so cold no lies
my fire smoke would not rise
soon as the smoke tried to depart
it froze up harder than a landlord's heart
so i called up the po-lice, yes and they came round
three days later and very brought down
sergeant he spoke with a hysterical croak
what d'you think you got going here, some kind of joke?
you're causing us officers so much grief
why can't you give us some relief?
why don't you call up the fire brigade?
or why don't you try shovelling the smoke up the chimney with a spade?
well i borrowed a spade from the woman next door
and i broke up the smoke that remained on the floor
i was shovelling away till the closing of day
and singing a smoke shovelling song.
after working so hard i went out in my yard
and looked up at my chimney so long
(there was nothing to see there)
just a thousand foot high, way up to the sky
stood a pillar of smoke full of song
(there was an aeroplane stuck in it but i didn't notice at first it was so cunningly disguised as a dragon)
come the summer at last though it was rainy and fast
the pillar it melted away
the aeroplane fell with a big smoke smell
and echoing around all over the town
were the words of the smoke-shovelling song

and anyone telling a bigger story would have to be telling a lie
anyone making a bigger one up, have to be very high

On 5th April "Up to Catweazle, had hoped to hear Matt's jacuzzi song, amazed to pick up its chords as I walked into bar, headed straight upstairs to catch the last verse. Ali (later Sanri) there, also Eve and Lawrence. I did unprepared act, did puppet song on request, then puss poem in face of heckling from Phil. Tried to persuade Ali to read her poem. In interval young student Daniel spoke to me about poetry magazine. In second half Matt kept asking people to be quiet, they didn't and I had a little outburst against them. Tried to get Mike Hamblett to do something - he later told me he was about to, till I said "A poem?'. Great Joplin style singer Dionne saved the night. After end spoke to Ali, then Alex came by and I introduced them, we chatted a bit". Benji was there according to his diary. Jim Davies read a "depressing" poem according to Pip Payne who was there with her sister Kate. For my Puppet song see 15th February.

poem about my bad-tempered cat PUSS, who went missing presumed drowned

the splashing of a sliding flood
cold night's calm silence
and my unanswered call of "Puss"

death can't wipe out
the stripe across her nose
her slashing sideways swipe,

the hours she waited
where i drove away,
the miles she followed me at night,

the private agony
of her infant tragedy.
all magpie-coated

she was one for sorrow,
like happiness
another name for love

On 12th April "it seems I just missed Richard (House), Roland and Joanna (Pavelin), did Ginger You're Barmy as last act in first half. Second half was excellent, James and Anna there, afterwards spoke to Helen (?) fiddle player". Benji wasn't there. I wonder if the fiddle player was in fact Emma Chapman or it could have been Helen Garrett.

music hall song recorded in 1904 by Harry Champion, noted for his "breathless delivery", GINGER YOU'RE BARMY

i'm always in the fashion
i'm a noted gent for that
so lately i've been walking around the streets without an 'at
to do without a cady well it
saves me half a quid
i'm like a bloomin' saucepan
on the boil without a lid
i goes you know walking round the town
wags me little cane about
girls all say ginger's on the mash
pokes me in the ribs and shout
don't walk around without yer cady on
ginger you're barmy
get yer haircut they all begin to cry
with nothing on yer napper
o you are a pye
pies must 'ave a little bit of crust
why don't you wear a cady?
if you want to be a don
you want a bit of something on
to take off to a lady

one day i went up to the zoo
with such a smiling face
but o there was an 'ullaballoo
when i got in the place
the keepers started chasing me
they got me in a rage
they slung a rope around me neck
and locked me in a cage
i cried i'm not a monkey on me word
i 'ad to buy them all some beer
when they let me out they told me this
if you want to stay away from 'ere

don't walk around &c

my missus took me to a pub
the governor mister 'ogg
'e gave me cakes and patted me
'e thought i was a dog
a p'liceman saw me coming
shouted out with all 'is might
look out 'ere comes the north pole
with the top part all alight
my wife says me napper's like a sieve
full of little 'oles i'll bet
when it rains, you'll let the water in
and yer feet will both get wet, so

don't walk around without yer cady on
ginger you're barmy
get yer 'aircut they all begin to cry
with nothing on yer napper
o you are a pye
pies must 'ave a lttle bit of crust
why don't you join the army?
if you want to be a don
you want a bit of something on
ginger, you're barmy

On 19th April I went with Ali "about 9, I got pulled up without notice and sang two old bachelors with imaginary mandolin. Ran back to boat for my money in interval. Some very good music, Matt's friends from Troubadour. It turns out Ali's Roddy (Harris) is the host at Troubadour! It was Matt's birthday so party continued, I got lift with James & Anna & Palm to Debbie's place (Jane Carey's house in Kidlington), all sat round singing songs, felt a bit out of water. Matt was good to me, perhaps he felt the same somewhat. Dionne on form, playing 'Superstars on Bicycles' even as I left with James & Anna. Two pints at Vicky and several bottles free from Matt at party." Benji was at Catweazle and noted "a lot of acts".

Edward Lear's TWO OLD BACHELORS set to music by my friends Agoshaman and Umiak

two old bachelors were living in a house,
one caught a muffin and the other caught a mouse,
said he who caught the muffin to him who caught the mouse,
this happens just in time for there's nuffin' in the house,
save a tiny slice of lemon and a teaspoonful of honey
and what to do for dinner since we haven't any money
what can we expect if we haven't any dinner
but to lose our teeth and eyebrows and keep on growing thinner?
said he who caught the mouse to him who caught the muffin
we might cook this little mouse if we only had some stuffin'
if we had but sage and onion we could do extremely well
but how to get that stuffin' it is difficult to tell
these two old bachelors ran quickly to the town
they asked for sage and onion as they wandered up and down
they borrowed two large onions but no sage was to be found
in the shops or in the markets or in all the gardens round
but someone said a hill there is a little to the north
and to its purpledicular top a narrow way leads forth
and there among the rugged rocks abides an ancient sage
an earnest man who reads all day a most perplexing page
climb up and seize him by the toes all studious as he sits
and pull him down and chop him into endless little bits
then mix him with your onions cut up likewise into scraps
when your stuffin' will be ready and very good perhaps
those two old bachelors without a loss of time
the nearly purpledicular crags at once began to climb
and at the top among the rocks all seated in a nook
they saw that sage a-reading of a most enormous book
you earnest sage! aloud they cried, your book you've read enough in
we wish to chop you into bits and mix you into stuffin'
but that old sage looked calmly up and with his awful book
at those two bachelors' bald heads a certain aim he took
and over crags and precipice they rolled promiscuous down
at once they rolled and never stopped in lane or field or town
and when they reached their house they found, besides their want of stuffin',
the mouse had fled, and previously had eaten up the muffin.
they left their home in silence by that once convivial door
and from that time those bachelors were never heard of more

On 26th April "Richard (House) there, also Ali and Jeff. Matt now charging £1 for non-performers, kept out the noisy ones who ticked him off for spoiling the atmosphere, and called it Mattweazle! James and Anna there, also Judy back from Swansea - or did I see her somewhere else?". Benji not there. Jim Davies, Pip Payne, Andrew Porteous and Miranda Peake got there late. I had first met Matt before the first Catweazle and he'd asked my advice about whether to charge. I said no, and he took my advice, which I think was good at the start, but i don't think it would have lasted twenty years free on the door. On May 3rd "in Vicky garden and as I came by Terry was ranting, and continued to do so after I got to garden with beer. Richard, Ali and Geoff there, Tom played some songs and I invited him and Richard back to my boat. Ali chickened out of her poem and I finished evening off with 'by the wood's border' and mervyn peake's 'miracle' poem".  Benji was there and noted "not very good" he found the garden dispersed attention too much. Jim Davies read his poem "Prussian blue and silver" from his poetry book "Collapsed Yellow" and Pip Payne noted that the "black poet" read.

my poem PASTORAL

by the wood's border, where a cold brook
clatters down a black ravine
dappled with heaven's honey and green ferns, a naked shepherd sleeps at noon

his flute lies limp across his lips and whimpers in the breeze, while buttocks perched on rocks and roots, around him in their wafer skins, sit sylphs and nymphs agog with adoration
they scarcely dare to breathe, lest they should turn the wheel of his dream, and wake him to a world where they're invisible

far from the reach of any church's chime, an endless drone of insects marks the time

at last he wakes, his dream has been, his sheep strayed in the corn; but here they are, all safe and sound, perched on the roots and rocks around


to live at all is miracle enough
the doom of nations is another thing
here in my hammering blood-pulse is my proof
let every painter paint and poet sing
and all the sons of music ply their trade
machines are weaker than a beetle's wing

swung out of sunlight into cosmic shade
come what come may the imagination's heart
is constellation high and can't be weighed

nor grief nor fear can tear our faith apart
when every heartbeat hammers out the proof
that life itself is miracle enough

On May 10th I went with Ali "to Catweazle, back upstairs again and no door charge. Had two pints, sang 'stretched on your grave' and did 'ginger you're barmy' on request. Christina and Alex both complimented me on song, Matt left early - and never came to Catweazle again" (at least not before May 29th when I wrote up my diary). "I ticked off Barney's table for talking through excellent song by guy who hadn't sung before. On way out I complimented blonde Sarah who sang 'small blue thing' (Suzanne Vega) and she returned it for my song". That was Sarah Halmarack, later of the Lobelia Band and the Mella Faye Big Band. For Ginger You're Barmy see 12th April. Benji wasn't there nor again that year as far as he could tell from his diary.

STRETCHED ON YOUR GRAVE an English translation of an old Gaelic poem set to an old tune by Philip King of Scullion

i am stretched on your grave and will stay here for ever
if your hand was in mine i am sure we'd not sever
my apple tree my brightness it's time we were together
for i smell of the earth and am worn by the weather

when my family think i am safe in my bed
from night until morn i am stretched at your head
calling out to the air with tears hot and wild
my grief for the girl i loved as a child
do you remember the night we were lost
in the shade of the hawthorn and the chill of the frost
thanks be to Jesus we did what was right
and your maidenhead still is your pillar of light

the priests and the friars approach me with dread
because i still love you my love and you're dead
i still would be your shelter through rain and through storm
for with you in your cold grave i cannot sleep warm

On 17th May "music in snug, Helen and rest of Twist walked out as we began, Danny did poems and didgeridoo, I did half of moon and tree story (see 22nd March) till Danny lost breath on didg accompaniment. Richard read a poem. "Johnny Cash" played music, then Tom who turned up and wouldn't stop, met Flora and Kez, Richard kindly interrupted Tom, and Anna, James's friend and her friend did some numbers, though Anna 'can't sing'. Left with Ali when Danny did to speak to him briefly, and to Kez again". Johnny Cash was perhaps Jim Driscoll. On 24th May I went to snug with Ali, "completely different people from last week, somebody strumming but no performance while we were there, had a drink and left". On May 31st "looked in at snug at 10pm, no-one there". On 7th June "passed Vicky and Sally and Lawrence were there and hailed me, asked if Catweazle on. I listened at window of snug and opined yes. We went into snug, Tom and two other players, Mike Dacre, Warren with Anni there. Sally made excuses and went to main bar. I spoke to Warren and Anni, some nice music, but I left when Tom started singing the story of Johnny Rotten, his dirge". After that I don't think I tried again, especially as there was storytelling at Oliver Tickell's on Wednesday evenings. There was one more time i remember Catweazle happening in the snug, i thought Claire (Senior) had organised it as part of the boater's co-op (but she doesn't remember that), i remember Alex Kramer was there, and Claire told the true story of how her boat sank, and i told a history of the place we were in, starting with Broomans Well in the middle ages, Charles the first and his army escaping from Oxford over Portmeadow, the landlords of the Vicky from the Victorian censuses, Dylan Thomas a regular at the University Poetry Society there in the forties, and Donovan played at the Gipsy Davy Folk Club there in the sixties, and i ended it saying "of course Donovan's rich and famous now, well i hope none of you ever have the misfortune to become rich or famous, unless it's rich in friends and famous in love".


Ed Pope

Sue "the power of prayer means nothing to the men in grey"

A rapper

Young women going to Croatia (then a war zone)

Judy belly dancer

Sophie Phipps poems. story "Wind Ghosts"

Tibetan guy

Indian girl sang Hedgehog Song (ISB)


Alex Kramer. Keeva poem. Dugong poem "thoughts to feelings are like the sea to a boat"

Terry Walpole. Trebarweth Strand

Benji Ming. Professor Boot, Professor Fraser, Woody Hill

Barney Dree. Soul Economy, Drifting in England

Doug chinese guy went out with Anja. did poem, story

Phil (acrossage) did dark moon poem

Nick ("George Michael") friend of Jim Driscoll?

Richard House. story about knight

Lawrence (mathematician with stutter) did story

Matt Sage./ Outlaws ("in your penthouse jacuzzi") / Watching You Fade / India Rose / Matt.sang Van Morrison's Into The Mystic at first Catweazle

Dionne. Jenis Joplin style "Superstars on Bicycles"

Kate Garrett

Helen Garrett. fiddle player (sister of Kate Garrett) (band called Twist?)

Roddy Harris. Miro, Circus of Electrifying Possibilities (1994)

Tom. Ballad of Johnny Rotten ("his dirge")

Sarah Halmarack. "Small Blue Thing" Suzanne Vega cover

Danny. Poems in Gaelic, didgeridoo

"Johnny Cash" mentioned in my diary may have been Jim Driscoll who says he did Cash covers upstairs at the Vick, doesn't remember ever being in the snug

Jim Driscoll also remembered Sam Battle of Beaker performing at Vick

Jim Driscoll also remembered guy whose act was just to put an orange on a chair and walk away

Anna & friend (Anna went out with James?)

Clare Senior. Matt and i both remembered her story of her boat sinking. She remembered telling story of getting lost in the jungle

Christina Davies (later Sage). Poem about cleaning out space

Giles (Goodland?). poems, wore John Lennon specs, became dad

Chris & Nick Thiessen. twins, both fiddle players

Belinda's son Ed. "Hello my name is Ed, I spend most of my time out my head, I go down the pub , It's the Catweazle Club, and now I'm a poet instead". Belinda's other son was a skateboarding champion

Emma Chapman fiddle player

Adam Moore in audience once (upstairs)

Ma Ddy

Jonathan Kent. Kuala Lumpur

Jim Davies. Collapsed Yellow

Pip Payne

Andy Porteous. guitar

Adam Warne

Miranda Peake

"the black poet"

Mike Dacre

Warren Scott-Morrow

according to Matt Sage the following celebrities visited:

Andy Yorke (brother of Tom of Radiohead), he had band The Unbelievable Truth

Paul Herman. Fisherman's Song

Damian Katkhuda (later of Mostar Diving Club)



This document is about history and memory, beginning with my own, but extending sideways into other people's, if they want to be part of it. Matt Sage is inclined to think Catweazle began again in the autumn of 1995, but so far I've found nothing in my diaries or Benji's to confirm that it happened again until January 1996. It's true both Benji and I were fully engaged in other things of our own that autumn. I don't want to give a full account of all I was doing but I want to list the highlights just to sketch part of the context of the times.

Firstly in August I went to the European Rainbow Gathering in Czech Republic. I had heard about the Rainbow Family and its gatherings from my friends Chris Thiessen and Shar Molteno, and we'd been holding weekly Rainbow Healing Circle meetings in Oxford for some time, just passing round a talking stick and letting it work its magic with no leader and no rules except to respect the stick (meaning whoever is holding it). This is not unlike the principle of Catweazle, when it's your turn, you get to say what matters to you. But I'd never been to a Rainbow gathering (they didn't really happen in England then, for various historical reasons). Towards the end of a gathering there is a vision circle where future gatherings are agreed on by consensus. Then towards the time of the next gathering there is a scouting circle consisting of whoever turns up. Eventually a site is found and the seed camp begins. Invitations are sent out, the family eat together in a circle, holding hands first to sing and bless the food. When all have eaten, the magic hat is passed around and people put money in it if they wish. The gathering grows and all work is completely voluntary, all decisions made by consensus of circles. No-one is in charge and no-one is charged for anything. There are no rules, just traditions and good intentions, and it works, and has worked for forty years or more. It's a sort of cultural amalgam of Hindu and native American, New Age, anarchist and many other strands, with alcohol discouraged and cannabis widespread but not essential. The only way to know it is to experience it. When I arrived at the site in Czechay and saw the sign Welcome Home I began to cry. Then I heard an extraordinary noise that I thought must be hundreds of Tibetan monks chanting. As I came over a rise I saw two thousand people holding hands in a circle and chanting AUM. I had arrived just in time for supper. It would be a long story to tell all that happened each day there, but towards the end of my time there (and I had to get back to England for work) I went on a long walk in the forest, got lost for hours but finally heard the drums from the gathering and made my way home. I came out of the woods on a hill that overlooked the washing place of the gathering, where I had never been. With my short sight I supposed that the naked people I saw far below me were not washing themselves but tending gardens. This vision of blending the nomadic with growing food has stayed with me ever since.

Secondly in October with various friends, most notably Will Saunders, I took part in a weekend occupation of Bat Willow, a part of Magdalen College Gardens in Oxford which had formerly been used as a path through from Angel & Greyhound meadow to St Catherines College, the town centre and the University Parks, but which Magdalen had blocked some years back. This occupation became an annual event in the first weekend of Oxford University year for the next seven years. Will got us to make a concrete bridge across one of the smaller branches of the Cherwell. I made a flag out of felt with a white stag (like the small white stag in the Magdalen deer park) on a green background. This was part of the blending of art, magic, ritual and protest that I was interested in then.

Thirdly, in November it was announced on the evening news that the Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa had been executed. A "phone tree" had recently been arranged in Oxford in preparation for the campaign against the Newbury by-pass. It turned out to be not that useful for Newbury, but its first use was to call a picket of the Shell garage in Headington to protest Saro-Wiwa's death, and it worked brilliantly, as by the time I arrived, two hours after the news broadcast, there were eighty people there. Most cars were turning away, but one woman driver was flustered and insisting on her right to drive in. I decided to sit down in front of her car - I had been in sit-down protests before, but never on my own and in front of a purring engine. I was very scared. The two police there said they would have to arrest me if I didn't move, and I said I'm sorry but this issue is too important. About then someone had managed to explain to the driver what our picket was about, and she decided to go to another garage. I felt relieved but emotionally shattered and felt I deserved some support, but no-one said 'well done', 'are you ok?' or spoke to me at all. I went to sit under a tree, which I knew would understand. When I finally felt well enough to join the picket again, one person spoke to me, only to tell me that he felt I had gone too far by trying to block that car.

Fourthly, later in November I got a letter from Anton, a fellow-member of Dragon, the eco-magic group, because I was almost the only member who had put my details on a membership contact list. Anton was squatting in a house  in Blackheath that was awaiting demolition for a road project. He had been cursed by a black magician and was asking for help. I contacted Adrian Harris, the founder of Dragon, who also lived in south-east London, and arranged to meet him the next day and go together to see Anton. When we found him, things had got worse, and the night before the door of his house had been broken in by a violent person, perhaps at the instigation of the black magician. We sat on the floor, holding hands in a triangle, and visualised protection mostly on Adrian's suggestions. Anton felt that the curse had been lifted, and later told us that the black magician had left Blackheath the next day

Fifthly, in December Chris and Shar and I decided to make a tipi for the Oxford Rainbow family, which was really us three and whoever wanted to join us. Chris and Shar found the Laubins' classic book on the tipi and followed the instructions. Chris bought the waterproofed white canvas in Reading and brought it back in his rucksack. We borrowed an industrial sewing machine and sewed it in Chris's college (Lincoln), Chris on the machine, and Shar and I, one of us feeding the material in and the other feeding it out. It was a six metre diameter tipi and Jerome drove us to Wales to buy a set of 22 second-hand tipi poles, which stuck out some way fore and aft of his estate car. I provided most of the finance as I had a job. It was baptised on the night of the winter solstice when we held a mini Rainbow gathering on Portmeadow, a few people came from far afield including two sisters from Yorkshire I had met in Rainbow in Czechay.


When the first Catweazle was in Jude the Obscure i'm not sure, but this was something Matt arranged with Noel, the landlord, an amazing Irishman with a passion for culture. He took over the decrepit Prince of Wales, Oxford's last real spit and sawdust pub, did it up and named it after Thomas Hardy's novel, and he later started Far From the Madding Crowd in Friars Entry too. Had he lived longer we might have had a pint in Tess of the D'Urbervilles or the Mayor of Casterbridge. Anyway Noel paid Matt to run it so there was no door charge, and Noel enforced a total hush during acts. The first note i have of performing there was on January 10th, when i wore my green wellies and did a sketch of a posh country type complaining about the protesters on the Newbury by-pass. Jim Davies did a poem, Terry and Benji, Doug & Anja, Lucy, Alex, Andrew and Pip Payne all there. I didn't keep up a proper diary, just a calendar, in 1996 (too much was happening) and the first half of Benji's 1996 diary has become unreadable from damp, so this list is very sketchy, and I haven't added my song lyrics yet.

Jan 17 i went (to Catweazle) 9pm. Jim Davies & Pip Payne, Chris, Zak & Lou there
Jan 24 i went, and sang two songs. Barney sang Drifting in England. Sarah, Lucy, Sue Pennington, Pip Payne and her sister Kate there.
Jan 31 i went (after being arrested the day before at Steventon). Jim Davies and Pip Payne there
Feb 7  i went (after having just spent 36 hours in jail in Wantage, where i wrote the song "why do you want to be released?" but i'm not sure if i sang it that night or not till later). Chris & Sha, Jim & Pip there
Feb 14 i went. Matt had arranged a Valentine's raffle for two free tickets to the Phoenix cinema, the winner got to take the Valentine of their choice. I remember talking to Barney afterwards and it turned out both of us had Lucy Friedlander in mind if we'd won. Benji remembers Terry Walpole's poem "The time to come is not yet"
Feb 21 i went, sang Dear Lizer (forgot words), Wandering Aengus (Donovan tune). Paul O'Carroll then sang it with Christy Moore tune. Jim & Pip there
Feb 28 i went, Terry Walpole and Jim and Pip there. Paul O'Carroll sang Sunny Skies (James Taylor)
Mar 6  i sang Robin Williamson's "The Circle Is Unbroken". Lucy, Terry, Sha, Jim & Pip there
Mar 13 i sang "A Little of What You Fancy Does You Good" (Marie Lloyd). Lucy, Sarah Halmarack, Terry, Jim & Pip there
Mar 20 i sang "Fool's Song" had learnt from Robin Williamson's 'Songs for Children of All Ages'. i think i also sang my "why do you want to be released?" song, Benji told story of visit to Summertown Library. Terry, Pip, Paul Deluce there
Mar 27 i went. Giles' birthday. Anja, Paul, Benji, Terry, Pip, Sarah, Patrick, Sha there
Apr 3  i think i missed Catweazle as it was the night of an eclipse and i went to Portmeadow to light a fire, which some Catweazlers may have come to later. i remember Sarah Halmarack was at the fire. Paul O'Carroll remembers Ceri Fielding announcing at Catweazle the Art weekend at Newbury 6/7 April
Apr 10 i think i missed Catweazle to go see Robin Williamson at the Zodiac (now O2). Paul O'Carroll remembers a Catweazle soon after the Art weekend at Newbury where Sarah Halmarack, Lucy Friedlander and Paul's two daughters sang a song they had learnt at Newbury "the spirit of the trees has come to me in the form of a beautiful dancing green woman"
Apr 17 i sang my song "Love Is Like Coming". Pip Payne, Lucy Smith, Terry Walpole there
Apr 24 i told the story of The Three Plagues of Britain from Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of Britain, as an announcement of the event that was being planned for that May morning. East Oxford, including Paul Vernon (Stig) made the red dragon of summer, and Jericho, including Andy Letcher, made the white dragon of winter (i made the tail), and we danced our dragons to meet at Magdalen Tower early on May morning. Also at Catweazle Pip Payne, Lucy Smith, and a poem Joggers go straight to hell (or maybe the week before)
May 1 i went. Sam's song
May 8 i went
May 15 i went. Ceri, Darren Crane, Lynne there. Andy Letcher did poems
May 22 i went. Kate, Claire, Sue, Carey there
May 29 i read my poem about the tien an men square occupation. Sam Willetts, German Angela there
Jun 5  i went
Jun 12 i went
Jun 19 i sang my song "Worm's Funeral"
Jun 26 i sang "Bright Morning Stars". Sam - football. german Angela there
Jul 3  not sure if it happened
Jul 10 to Jul 31 i was in Portugal
Aug 7 to Aug 31 i was back in Oxford, but no note of Catweazle, probably on its summer break
Aug 28 to Sep 11 i was in France
Sep 18 i was back in Oxford, but no note of Catweazle

Sep 25 no note in my calendar but i have reason to think i went
Oct 2  i went. Angela there
Oct 9  i went and noted Andy Letcher was there (he had left Oxford in June). Also Toad was there and i stayed the night on his boat (i was sofa surfing then). Toad remembers his first Catweazle this autumn and how Matt introduced it by saying we're going to have a warm, cosy winter, which struck Toad as quite different to the winter he'd been expecting. Andreas Beltzer must have first come to Catweazle about this time (though he says late summer). He had a room which overlooked the Jude garden and heard all the clapping and came down to see what was happening. He asked Matt how to get to perform and Matt said just turn up next week and we'll see what we can do. Andreas had recently written his first story "The German and the Gentleman" and he performed it the next week. The week after that he'd written another story "Travelling with Colin". Colin was his bike.
Oct 16 no note in my calendar but i've rason to think i went
Oct 23 i went and Benji also went
Oct 30 not in my calendar but i've reason to think i went. Benji performed "Morris Mimer" and noted German Angela and Paddy O'Hanlon there
Nov 6  i went, and i stayed the night at Andreas'. Benji performed "Spontaneous Combustion". German Angela there
Nov 13 not in my calendar but Benji went, Angela there
Nov 20 i went but Benji didn't (some time this winter i began playing the ukelele and i think my first song on it was Tom Moore's "Believe me if all those endearing young charms")
Nov 27 not in my calendar but Benji went and noted it finished at half time
Dec 4  Benji performed "Simply My Vest" ( a la Tina Turner) and noted that Isabel Lima, Edward (not in my calendar but i've reason to think i went), and Rachel Power went to Bakers Arms (ex-pub) afterwards. Eoin Quiery first came about this time
Dec 11 i sang Ewan McColl's "Sweet Thames Flow Softly" i think i must already have been accompanying myself on the ukelele by then. Benji was there and mentioned Angela, Donna and Sheila Salway
Dec 18 i sang "Ugly Duckling" (Danny Kaye). I remember my intro was to ask what was the greatest winter solstice anthem of all time. Andy Letcher was in the audience and suggested a Hawkwind song. Benji wasn't there. Andreas remembers the French barmaid Celine at the Jude who started that winter.
Xmas & New Years Day were both Wednesdays so obviously no Catweazle


Jan 8  Benji went to Jude but noted "lots of Catweazle people there" so presumably no Catweazle
Jan 15 no Benji and not in my calendar
Jan 22 Benji noted seeing weazlers outside Jude. not in my calendar
Jan 29 no Benji and not in my calendar
Feb 5  i was in Scotland. Benji went and noted "not very good. new compere, less warmth" by now Matt Sage had gone to India and left Roddy Harris in charge
Feb 12 Benji performed "Richard Branson" act. Andreas remembers he wrote a story "Joy and the Roses" for the Valentine's night, which must have been that night. i was on my way back from Scotland, unlikely to have made it till very late
Feb 19 Benji not there and not in my calendar
Feb 26 Benji not there and not in my calendar
Mar 5  Benji not there. i got there 9pm
Mar 12 i went and so did Benji who noted Andreas, new compere. Some time between Feb 5 and now Noel had decided to sack Roddy and asked Andreas to run it. Apparently Roddy's act with a megaphone was the last straw, and Noel asked Andreas to stay behind for a lock-in, then said to him "I've asked Rodney to go back to London, I want you to be Mr Catweazle" Andreas thinks it was sometime in February that he told his story of a holiday when he was four and he was convinced his mother was having an affair with the skiing instructor. He told this story when his father was in the audience visiting from Sweden. I remember being there that week. In the time when Andreas was compering he remembers the audience was thin at first but rammed by the time Matt got back. George (with Dylan covers) was reliable stalwart performer. Also Dave Leece first performed at Catweazle while Andreas was compering.
Mar 19 Benji not there. i sang my song "I could have been bathing in hot springs with Britta"
Mar 26 i went. Benji got there late (10.30) and noted "poor" and that Rick (the bouncer Noel had appointed) performed Benji-style but it "didn't work"
Apr 2  i went. Benji performed "Spice Fleas" and noted Pierre was there
Apr 9  Benji performed "Professor Boot". not in my calendar
Apr 16 Benji not there, not in my calendar
Apr 23 i read some poems (possibly the Microphone poem?) no Benji
Apr 30 i went. no Benji
May 7  i went. no Benji. This may have been the week Matt Sage got back from India (he remembers still being in India when Tony Blair won the election). Andreas wanted to bring him back that week but Matt said no, I'll wait till next week. One of the few occasions Matt was just audience.
May 14 not in my calendar. no Benji
May 21 i was in Ireland. no Benji
May 28 not in my calendar. Benji got there late, and saw Giles, Claire, Bruce, Sophia. Sophia Cresswell had written a book on Russia and she and her friend (cousin?) Katy Higginbotttom were regulars in the Catweazle audience
Jun 4  i was in Scotland. no Benji
Jun 11 i was in Scotland. no Benji
Jun 18 i was in Scotland. no Benji
Jun 25 i went. no Benji
Jul 2  i went. Benji performed "Elgin Marbles"
Jul 9  i went. Benji noted it was in the pub garden and "not much on"
Jul 16 i went. Ann Katrin sang. no Benji
Jul 23 i went. Benji went and noted Angela, Sheila, Dave & Donna. Was this perhaps the famous night when it was in the garden and Andreas did Romeo, and Toad appeared at Andreas' window as Juliet?. If so it was Andreas' last night at Catweazle (till 2003) and the evening finished with the Gees
Jul 30 i went (and noted "mandolin" probably first time i graduated from ukelele). Benji went and noted it was inside again, Pierre was there, Rachel Power did nice song
Aug 6  i went and noted "didn't enjoy much". no Benji
Aug 13 to Sep 3 not in my calendar (i went to Ireland for at least a month) nor Benji's diary, perhaps summer break?
Sep 10 Benji there. i've no note of going till Nov 26 but probably went to most, though i also went off on some adventures around then
Sep 17 no Benji
Sep 24 no Benji
Oct 1  no Benji
Oct 8  Benji performed "Referendum" and noted Roland, Sheila and Gareth there and that Noel was telling everyone to shut up even when not very noisy
Oct 15 no Benji
Oct 22 no Benji
Oct 29 Benji went and noted "act not ready" and that Katy, Sophia's cousin was there
Nov 5  Benji there and noted "no act"
Nov 12 no Benji
Nov 19 Benji performed "Supermarkets". from there on Benji was often away and apparently didn't come again while Catweazle was at Jude
Nov 26 i sang the ballad "Thomas the Rhymer"
Dec 3  i went
Dec 10 i sang the ballad "Tam Lin"
Dec 17 i sang "Ugly Duckling' as on 18.12.1996
Xmas Eve & New Year's Eve presumably no Catweazle


Jan 7 to Feb 18 no note in my calendar. i probably went most weeks
Feb 25 i went
Mar 4  i sang "Walk Right In" and my song "Single Pleasure"
Mar 11 i sang my songs "here hold on spring" and "why do you want to be released?" (as on 20.3.1996)
Mar 18 i sang "Happy Talk" (Rodgers & Hammerstein)
Mar 25 i sang "Happy Talk" again
Apr 1  i went
Apr 8  i sang two Robin Williamson songs "If wishes were horses" and "Good as Gone"
Apr 15 i sang "Ginger You're Barmy" as on 12.4.1995
Apr 22 i sang my song "Greenwood Town" and the hymn "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind"
Apr 29 i sang "Raindrops are Falling on my Head" and the pagan chant "She changes everything she touches"
May 6  i sang "Curragh of Kildare"
May 13 i went
May 20 i went
May 27 i went
Jun 3  i went
Jun 10 i was in France
Jun 17 i sang "Hot springs with Britta" as on 19.3.1997
Jun 24 i sang my (new) song "sex is such a sweet thing"
Jul 1  i was in Wales
Jul 8  i was in Wales
Jul 15 i went
Jul 22 not in my calendar
Jul 29 i was on the road
Aug 5  i was on the road
Aug 12 i sang Seize The Day's "High Hills Lament" and Robin Williamson's "Circle is Unbroken" as on 6.3.1996
Aug 19 to Sep 16 i was away in Kent and then Belgium and when i next went on Sep 23 Catweazle had moved to the Northgate


Terry Walpole the poet. Andreas remembers "There's a rumour going round that the room is going round"
Bob Cockburn made up songs from five words the audience called out. Also his own written songs including "Wednesday's the speed bump of the week" about Catweazle, and perhaps some covers
Paul O'Carroll covered Christy Moore, James Taylor & Leonard Cohen songs (mostly in 1996?)
Benji Ming's sketches included Time Machine, The Man in Pants, Grow Your Own Princess Di, and others in DATES section above
Sarah Halmarack (Peach Fairy) had the Lobelia Band (with Lucy Friedlander, Jackie Singer, Ken Turner, Giles, Eleanor, Dris &c) mostly in 1996
A dark-haired Latin lady (Marcia?)who got audience to sing along (mostly in 1998?)
Busker Dave had song "You can't bring your dogs in 'ere mate"
Andreas Beltzer, mostly short stories, also compered in early 1997, famous Romeo and Juliet sketch in pub garden with Toad at window, on Andreas' last night July 23rd 1997?. (Andreas there late summer 1996 till summer 1997?)
Sam Willetts poet, first two he read were "Anchor" and "Persian Ali". He was around by May 1996
Barney Dree often sang the same song "Soul Economy" or (another one?) about winter solstice night (mostly in 1996? Andreas remembers him)
Dave Leece. Liverpool accent, went out with Donna, maybe part of band called "Idiots Savants" with Rob (Indian guy still in Gees). Andreas says Dave first performed while Andreas was compere
Gees (Gordon played pipes, Giles played drums, Gareth, and others mostly with names beginning with G. made lots of noise, still do).
George (transgender?) sang mostly Dylan covers
Eoin Query song "Summertown/Jericho/Cowley Road looks beautiful tonight" probably arrived late in 1996
Seppe played didgeridoo
Baka Beyond, or Sue Hart from that band
Sheila Salway poems at first then sang jazz
Snot Chicks one-off Spice Girls spoof with Kate, Tilly, Jocasta (& Groovy Su?)
Matt Sage songs King of Everything, Sweet Provider. compere obviously
Roddy Harris compere early 1997 (Miro was his band, back in 1994 at least)
Girl - black woman who had been in music business - probably 1998
Pierre with beard played "avant-garde" fiddle
Andy Letcher was in Spacegoats band, then Jabberwocky, performed songs with mandolin, or played bagpipes
Jackie Singer songs with guitar or mandola, played fiddle in Lobelia Band, Tiger Moon with Janet Stansfeld & Josie Webber, Jabberwocky with Andy Letcher
Chris from the Spacegoats played hammer dulcimer
Lisa Fitzgibbon probably at Jude, (maybe not till Northgate, likewise Jane Griffiths fiddler and Colin, Johnny and Kate Fletcher siblings)
Shannon Harris.  Matt tells me visited at Jude from London sometimes
Rachel Power sang songs. worked in sausage shop in Covered market
Alex Kramer short guy, curly haired, did poems mostly
Johnny Hinckes fine Jericho guitarist and accompanist

Zoe Bicat sang with guitar and with her sister Hannah

Meredith American in late 1997. I don't remember if she performed but she was memorable

Adam Moore did some poems, also performed with Andreas as two guys talking in cafe, Bob Cockburn was the waiter and Katy Higginbottom was in it

German Angela. (poems?)

Lizzie McHale remembers going with Jenny Lewis and causing Matt trouble. Announced theatre gigs

Edward Pope began in 1996 doing songs a capella, took up ukelele maybe in late 1996, i think first song i did with ukelele was Tom Moore's "Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms". Other covers i may have done on uke were You'll Never Walk Alone, Stand By Me, Bright Eyes, and Hoagy Carmichael's Hong Kong Blues. i think i did Sunny Side of the Street on mandolin, and Sally Gardens, Brian O'Linn, It's a Gift to be Simple, You'll Never Enjoy this World Aright all a capella. My own songs that i perhaps sang at the Jude were It's a Cold Grey Season, There is No Evil Just the Fire of Pain, I like my bedroom and I like my bed, To Live Completely, The Clear Water, Winter in Oxford's Dull & Grey, The Merry Month of May, Farewell to Eileen Welcome to Ireland, and When I saw You Standing Naked (on the same night with If they do these things in a Green Wood). Another cover i did at the Jude, (probably in 1998?) was The Reel In The Flickering Light when i got Matt Sage to be Daddy Long Legs and the Spanish lady (Marcia?) to be the Red Carnation. I also did a poem called Microphone Poem once