Crikey! (as my dear friend Mark would say)

There’s so much going on around here that I am staying put, flanked by cats (not mine unfortunately), sitting quietly, flicking my tail and watching with eyes wide. . .








and then, suddenly sneak off to an event or 3. . . like the Paul Armfield concert last Saturday. Paul was performing from his new CD and also 5 songs that were inspired by stories that the public gave him online in the week leading upto the concert. I thought I could be busy at times. . . .! Great songs, too and some of the contributors were in the audience . . . I love those kind of ideas.

Thank you to everyone who send in emails in response to my ramblings. Here’s one from Steve Pollitt in the US:

From: Steve Pollitt <<>>

Subject: air play on WFHB

Dear Tranotra

I am one of Karen Tweed’s many many musical collaborators and saw her glowing description of your work in her newsletter.  A wonderful CD, congratulations!  One of my projects is to put together the music for The Old Changing Way, which airs every other Tuesday on Bloomington,’s community radio station.  This Tuesday’s (4/29) show is all set but I will certainly have three of your tracks in the next after this, May 13th.  Our time slot is 9-11 pm EST which is painfully inconvenient for our friends in W Europe.  If you are awake then we live stream on<>.

Bloomington is also home to the Lotus World Music and Art Festival so maybe we will get to meet you here some day.  If there is anything you would like us to say or play on our show please let me know and best wishes.


Steve Pollitt

– Do contact Steve if you have any interesting things to include on his show. He is a lovely musician and super lyricist; he and the great Les Barker have been (independently) putting lyrics to some of my tunes. . .you’ll be hearing about those in due course.

Yesterday I wandered into the Isle of Arts Festival Arts trail (which starts in earnest later this week) and I’ll need to return as there’s some wonderful pieces on show,  including (at first glance) work by The Undecided Collective, Shaun Cuff (the Constant Doodler), masks by Tanith Hicks (which are truly fantastic!), super textiles and pastels by Annik Cullinane and of course stunning sculptures by Paul Sivell ( . More about him later too. . . Check out the Isle of Arts – staged in Ventnor this weekend (

To round off the day and to ensure a good kip that night (as if the sea air in Ventnor and glorious sunshine isn’t enough) I went to the Quay Arts Centre in Newport (again) to hear The Plastic Mermaids with Clive, Vic and Tony.


I felt, during the whole performance as if something historical was occuring (possibly too much sun, I am aware) . . . the stage set, the music, the arrangements, the visuals and the musicality was something I thought just never happened these days with young uns (she says, feeling rather jurassic of late). I couldn’t stop smiling.

It was worth the trip just for the jellyfish piece.

Talking of which, no, no, I must stop waxing lyrical about jellies. . . ‘those ghostly Victorian Brides in ectoplasmic crinolines’ as Philip Hoare (‘The Sea Inside’ book) calls them. I don’t need to write music for them (and the Lions Mane ones) anymore after last night. . . keep your eyes open for that band.

Earlier this week, I went to see the ‘Roman Sexuality’ exhibition at the Brading Roman Villa (collaboration with the British Museum) and tonight Gordon Giltrap is in concert in Newport (IOW) while on Monday it’s Tim Kliphuis. The exhibition at the Brading Roman Villa (worth seeing for the museum building itself) is part of a scheme to get the nation’s treasures out and about and has proved so popular that it’s being extended for another 2 months. Sexual art in Roman times was popular and often associated with fertility, superstition and humour. Copper Alloy Spintriae (tokens), made of copper alloy feature on one side an erotic scene and on the other a Roman numeral. They are sometimes called ‘Brothel Tokens’ suggesting that the decoration mirrors their function.
in 1865, following the acquisition of George Witts’ collection of sexual art, the British Museum set up it’s own Museum Secretum, for anything remotely sexual from any culture / period. This mirrored Victorian sexual attitudes and also the perceived need to keep such objects out of the reach of women and the working classes. It was finally closed in the middle of the 20th century!  
The Isle of Wight is quite packed with fascinating ‘stuff’, well worth a visit but I know it’s miles and miles from the mainland and there’s that huge stretch of sea. . . . I know I tend to look for inspiration everywhere I live (and harp on about it) and like Roald Dahl points out, if you don’t believe / look for magic, you’ll never find it, but this island is, well, odd. That’s what Footsie Steve says and I quite agree.

I mean that in the most positive way. Having moved 28 times in my life so far (all in this fair country except once to Sweden), I’ve watched a bit here and there. The IOW is just astounding for creativity, the curious, fascinating people, events and mostly an attitude of ‘let’s give it a whirl’ rather than, ‘Oooh, you don’t want to be doing that, you know. . .’

And talking of harps (I did, you know – you just missed it!) Peter Ellis sent me this beautiful performance by Maeve Gilchrist. . .

Vaguely Sunny Promotions are hosting a not-to-be-missed concert at the Quay Arts, Newport, IOW on Sat May 31st with Catriona McKay (harp) and Olov Johansson (Swedish Nykelharpa). Tel 01983 822490 for details. Catriona is well known for her work with Fiddlers Bid and Chris Stout while Olov is one of the Vasen tallboys. . . .and if you haven’t heard Vasen, I suggest you do. But that’s just me. (note to self. . . must get them to Ventnor. . . ).

Where was I? Oh yes. I’ve been reading more about Julia Margaret Cameron (whose house and works are at Dimbola Lodge in Freshwater) and the people she photographed.
Professor Benjamin Jowett of Oxford University was one (and a close frined of Tennyson’s who was also knocking around at the time, up the road from Julia) and he said,’She has a tendency to make the house shake the moment she enters, but in this dull world, that is a very excusable fault.’
Another was Anne Thackeray  who, in the early 1860s described Freshwater as ‘the funniest place in the world. . . Everybody is either a genius, a poet, or a painter or peculiar in some way.’
I’m starting to know what she means. . .
I’m still working on a couple of tunes books – one specifically about Irish Folk Tunes on the Piano Accordion, in the same series as Pete Rosser’s one on Tango, Ian Lowthian’s one on Scottish Folk Tunes and David Oliver’s one on English Music published by Schott (; my own tunes book and one transcribing the tracks from the Bunch of Keys CD. I also received a splendid book last year by Magdalena Reid called ‘Fiddles in Harmony’ packed with arrangements for fiddlers wanting to play folk tunes together with lovely arrangements. Well worth a peek and some lovely tunes which could lead to quite a party!











And! On Friday, it’s the anniversary (1933) of the first time that a story that appeared in the press of a sighting of the Loch Ness Monster!

True or false?

Real or unreal?

Re ‘Real’. . . . I must say I’m getting very tired of unrealness. I’m not talking about Nessie, here; that’s magic to me and like the wonderful maps of Olaus Magnus, I treasure anything that ignites imagination. I’m talking about things like trying to book at ticket online, which I really tried to do earlier this week. We’re coerced into thinking all websites work and are quick. All of them.
After calling the box office 3 tines, leaving my number on an answer machine (to which I never got a reply) and then going online to spend not 10 but almost 30 minutes not being able to secure a ticket, let alone 3 because not only did I have to register but it needed everything but my inside leg measurement and a ‘secret’ question and a ‘secret’ answer which I had to supply before the site would even consider letting me think about buying a ticket.
I was trying to purchase 3 tickets to see a dance event, and I felt I was being monitored for work in the FBI or something.
I gave up. No doubt I’ll be hearing about how that venue can’t get audiences through the door soon (and yes, I will suggest possibly having a more amenable way of purchasing a ticket could help). 
I don’t like kindles or ‘fast’ queue self service tills at supermarkets (which always need someone around to sort out when they beep at you because you’re not acting in a robotic way or don’t accept your fiver because it’s frayed at the edges); I have no idea how people get time to spend hours on Facebook, Twitter or similar when there are so many things to see, do and interact with a real person, animal, insect instead.

I do think all technology, like everything else, used in moderation and for it’s purpose, is good otherwise I would be sending you all snail mail (which I used to do and actually prefer) but there is something very scary about the speed with which life occurs and is pressured to work at these days that I’m backing away from. Too much time with machines and electricity I’m convinced, makes us pale and tired and (in my case) grumpy.

OK, rant over. Does anyone remember that programme for kids ‘Why Don’t you turn off your tv set and do something more interesting instead?’ (or whatever it was called). Well maybe it’s time for the ‘Why don’t you turn off your pc. . .’ version?

I do these blogs over several days, sometimes weeks and this week, when I did just that (turn off), I popped into Ventnor and walked into the hand made shoe shop, where Mr Garlick was working on some shoes for a BBC costume drama. ‘I’ve made over 200 pairs of shoes for Mark Rylance, you know, so the BBC don’t bother to send me his measurements anymore. . .’ to which I glanced down at the array of pots and leather on his workbench to see several bits of paper with hand drawn sketches of feet and arrows and measurements. ‘Shoes need leather uppers and wooden heels. . .’ he continued, while working on a boot. And I thought about when I went to see Mr Rylance at the Globe (before he left) in Twelfth Night. He was soooooooooooooo good. I love that attention to detail and the craftspeople involved. .

So here, in my corner of the Wight, moving ahead to the impending Mayness, I have a Trees and Squeeze weekend! It incorporates an Accordion Spectacular evening with Karen Street, Alan Young and myself on Sat 17th May at the Holy Trinity Church, Trinity Road, Ventnor at 7.30pm (see below for details). Karen and I have wanted to play together for a while now and have a few interesting things to bring to the floor, including music inspired by poems written by Sue Roberts. Sue has been interviewing people with dementia, residents in nursing homes and transforming their stories into poems. They are beautiful poems and really inspired both Karen and I.
Karen’s also joining me to perform music I have composed which was inspired by Paul Sivell’s tree sculpture at East Dene a year ago, which in turn was inspired by Algernon Swinburne’s poem ‘Olive’.

Alan and I had a very fun ‘jam’ together at my old No 1 Ladies’ Accordion Orchestra rehearsals here on the IOW last summer and discovered our love of French mussettes – he, like Karen, is a super player and the concert promises to be eclectic and enormous musical fun. It could be the start of many a fine squeeze here. . .it’s also to raise a few quid and awareness of the UK Association of Accordion Teachers (UKAAT) and the Holy Trinity Church Organ Fund. There’s a host of events nationwide now beginning to happen as part of the UKAAT organisation so email me if you’re accordion-interested / crazy and I’ll pop you on their mailing list.

Talking of fundraising, the Concert for Caroline that was held in Newry last Friday raised over six thousand pounds and the music raised the rafters. A brilliant effort and piles of work by all involved, especially Cormac, Caroline’s husband. It’s really a heartwarming story in the light of such a sad event.

On the Sunday 18th May, Karen and I are hosting a Creative Accordion Day No 2 (see below for the schedule) from 10-5pm at East Dene, Bonchurch PO38 1TN and at 7pm, we will be joined by Paul Sivell who will give a talk about his tree sculpture work and life with trees. We’re off to the Ventnor Botanic Gardens next week to listen to the sap rising in various trees – apparently it sounds like blood rushing though veins (very Alfred Hitchcock) and the whole idea was started by a conversation with Eddy Mrugracz who was telling us about walnut Tree sap and the benefits of Bayleaf tea. Just add hot water to bayleaves and drink. It’s yum!

Before that I’m playing again at Michelangelo’s Restaurant in Ryde for the L’Ora Della Musica (Sun 4th May) at 11am and next week, those lovely Ventnor Fringe people are hosting their first ‘Sunday School’ on Sunday May 11th. Now that’s more in the ‘why don’t you. . .’ philosophy (see below for details).
That day, I’m hosting ‘The Lost Art of Letter Writing’ at Ventnor Library (oh, what to bring, chisels or envelopes and scented ink???), followed swiftly by a Big Sing (which I’m running with Virgil Philpott of the Dollymopps) and later (after various debates, workshops, a lovely Mrs Miggins Roast lunch and a walk), Mark Hickman and I will be playing for a ceilidh in the Youth Centre Hall with caller Ian Watterson.
And these Sunday Schools are going to be monthly! See below for details and tickets.

Meanwhile, Jack, the director of Ventnor Fringe, has sent this message :

Dear Friends and Colleges,

Apologies for the group e-mail but I wanted to let you all know that our planning application to adapt the old Post Office in Ventnor into an arts centre, providing a year round home for the Ventnor Fringe and our work, is currently up for consultation.

You can view details of our proposals and submit comments online here:

We’d be very grateful for any messages of support to help in our case to the Council to allow us make the Ventnor Exchange a reality.

If you’d like any additional details on our plans please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Many thanks for your continued support,


Jack Whitewood

Festival Director
Ventnor Fringe Festival,
PO Box 75, VENTNOR, PO38 9BH.




Ian Storror of JazzATA in Bristol sent me a fantastic Youtube clip this week of one of my heros, Bill Evans :
Here is Evans in typical trio format playing “My Foolish Heart” filmed when in London, March 19, 1965

Bill Evans (Piano)

Chuck Israel (Bass)

Larry Bunker (Drums)<> (4.39 mins)

and The Land of Liberty Theatre Group (based in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire) are looking for people to join their ranks – they have some great things in the pipeline including a self penned play which promises to be stunning. I love the storyline.
Visit or pop along to Woodoaks Farm, Maple Cross, Rickmansworth WD3 9XQ on 8th May at 7.30pm to meet them, see some of their work and have fun. Go on, I dare you. . .

Finally,  a poem I may have put up here before. It’s one that stays with me and is written by Jehanne Mehta (who is based in Stroud). I’m contributing to her anthology CD which she has started to put together. She has written so many great songs and poems – I’ll keep you posted how it’s coming along.

Your Own Heart Lights Up

Don’t try

don’t try to reach beyond

the empty grey

this portal into the unknown.

How can you traverse

before you set foot

and without inner sunlight

illumine a new world

just out of eyeshot?


The fact is, only the light

of your own sun heart

can reveal the features

of these landscapes you are

reaching into.


Only the strength of your own

spine, slowly straightening out of

the pain of living with

one eye on the past and the other


only the uncertainty of emergence

into the lightness and ease

only this uncertainty can be your staff,

your key.


Be where you are.

The sun could rise here,


Jehanne Mehta 25.11.2012


OK. . . still more to relate but time for a cup of Resolution Tea! Hooray.

See you all later. . .