An Aladdin’s Cave

Rich and I spent the morning hanging the HullSongs Exhibition yesterday. You can see it in the Music Section on the ground floor of Hull Central Library, where you will find the music library space bedecked with over two dozen striking colourful images and narrative about HullSongs. The music library is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of music. You can browse the thousands of CDs, books, sheet music, and even use the recording equipment or play the piano while you are there. We are having an official opening of the exhibition on Thursday January 21st, so look out for more details coming soon.

Library Exhibition Rich

Visit Hull Library Service Website for location and opening times.

Thanks to all HullSongs contributors and those who continue to support Loudhailer Acoustic nights.

Rich & Lou Duffy-Howard.  December 2015 –

21st Century Robinson Crusoe

An Ordinary Man has followed and supported Loudhailer Acoustic from afar. He prefers to remain anonymous. In Daniel Defoe’s story, Robinson Crusoe set sail from Queen’s Dock in Hull, the hometown of An Ordinary Man. He spent 30 years castaway on a tropical island.

Why do feel like Robinson Crusoe? I have never been ship wrecked never sailed the seas.
Why do I feel like Robinson Crusoe?
Never been on a desert island even though sometimes in my mind I have been alone.
Why do I feel like Robinson Crusoe?
You walk alone and it can be your choice family ties are broken by choice or not but you walk your path sometimes alone.
Why do I feel like Robinson Crusoe?
You go through life with a companion or not but the choice is not one you can make it is sometimes made for you.
Why do I feel like Robinson Crusoe?
Can you tell me so or do I go down the path and live the life constantly feeling like Robinson Crusoe?
Why do I feel like Robinson Crusoe when you walk in crowds and go in rooms full of people?
To be honest I don’t mind feeling like Robinson Crusoe.
The reason may never be explained why I feel like Robinson Crusoe; but I lose no sleep over this situation and wake up tomorrow feeling like Robinson Crusoe.
Can anyone tell me why I feel like Robinson Crusoe or maybe its best left unexplained?”

© 2015 An Ordinary Man, Hull

Hull 6

Unintended Destination

In 2002 my partner and i came to York to give her sister a couple of weeks’ break caring for their father. There were a few days overlap on her return which we spent exploring the area neither of us knew. One trip took us to Hull, driving through Beverley and taking the Hull Road, to follow signs to the Docks. We saw lines of cranes, but no ships – not at all what i had expected, as a few years earlier i had read that there were plans for Hull to become Britain’s largest Port!!

Then, a wrong turning took us along Holderness Rd, which seemed an even more depressed area than the Stratford Rd in Birmingham, which we knew so well. I was beginning to wonder what we had come to Hull for and thought of getting out – quick! However we drove into the city, where we found little to improve our opinion until we crossed the A63 (see * below) to find ourselves face to face with ‘The Deep’.

New Art Gallery (2)
The New Art Gallery,  Walsall. Photo: Craig Holmes Photography

That was impressive! I recall it being cited with the New Walsall Art Gallery, as being among the best new buildings in Britain at the time. It had a similar impact on me as the Walsall building, but presented an entirely different image. Both buildings have water fronts, but whereas The Deep’s ship like prow strains out across the water threatening to break free from its footing while you are watching, in Walsall the massive cuboid block of the New Art Gallery has precisely the opposite affect. This monolithic block seems to have been slammed onto the ground in order to block the flow of water where it does, not the other way round. Both buildings seriously impose their presence on their respective environments.

This was mid Sunday morning, and the area around Nelson Street deserted apart from the shoal of skateboarders very happily perfecting their skills on the ramps. (It’s a pity councils don’t scrap some of their inner city scraggly bushed banks, hung with polybags and litter like psychedelic rotten fruit – and replace them with ramps for young people to exercise and demonstrate their amazing agilities.)

The Deep. Image: Philip Pankhurst

Away from this swarming activity we walk up the ramp to cross the river to The Deep. I peer over the wall – a ferocious brown gushing – a glutinous slurry of mud, swirling thunderously passed me at what seems foot level, spewing in a furious turmoil towards the Humber – There’s energy refill for you!!! even if it’s only a passing moment. That’s it!! My decision is made!! This is where i want to move to now my retirement has started!!. It’s nearer to York than Birmingham and neither i nor my partner liked that over-touristed city, so it was an easy choice to make, especially with house prices the way they were. We loved the expanse of the Humber, the fury of the battling waters, the Hull’s outgoing in its death throes against the mighty upstream push of the Humber’s incoming tide.

* It was crossable 2002. Now its a major barrier for people’s access to the marina and estuary frontage. I now really hope, with little foundation, that with the recent developments in the old commercial Fruit and Vegetable Market area, that Hull receives the funding to allow the A63 to continue at a raised level from Smith and Nephew, passed the Marina to join Myton Bridge. This would allow an unrestricted pedestrian link between the city, the estuary frontage and the developments now taking place in the Humber Street area, as well as creating a valuable open recreational space. It would create a significant tourist attraction for the area and be of real commercial benefit to the city. The single point of access created by the new castle Street Bridge will only be a chink in the barrier which would remain a division between the city and its waterside frontage.

Alternatively, and possibly cheaper, would be to divert the A63 round the North of the city     via the A164 on a route north of Cottingham to join the A1079 south of Dunswell.

One way or the other, i’d love to see the Estuary Frontage open with the City. “

© limping tiger

Hull Songs Launch Concert

Thanks to everyone who made the HullSongs launch at Kardomah94 such a brilliant night. We thoroughly enjoyed it, and everybody was ace! The night featured a host of music, spoken word and film, from a dazzling selection of HullSongs storytellers to a packed house.


We opened the show with a song inspired by the River Hull and Humber Estuary and then enjoyed a fabulous range of eclectic performances from Opher Goodwin, Graham Brady, Vivian Querido, Jim Orwin, Andrew Tomlinson, Alyx Tamminen, Jeff Parsons, Catherine Scott, Katie Spencer, Graham Graham Beck and Redeye Feenix and crew – PlayaOne, Tony Reid and Dave. The evening featured songs and stories written especially for HullSongs, and all of them featured fascinating tales of experience and life in Hull. Some were moving and poignant, some nostalgic, some celebratory, even eccentric, and all of them were brilliant.

We were delighted with the response to the HullSongs exhibition displayed around the venue, and look forward to being a part of Hull Central Library in December. Have a look at Rich’s photo gallery of the evening, click on an image and scroll along…

A big thanks to Mal Scott at Kardomah94, a fabulous venue, to Matt Lund for making the sound, lights and video excellent all  night, to Jessica Leathley of Hull Library Service for overseeing the Untold Stories project, and to Jan Tomlinson for the panoramic photo.

You can find all the HullSongs stories, songs and more on the story page. Have a click around the pages and blog posts to find out more. If you would like to know more about HullSongs just get in touch via the contact page.

Visit our Loudhailer website to find out more about Loudhailer Acoustic. It’s always a top night, all welcome, so come and listen to the music.

Rich & Lou Duffy-Howard

Stop Press Thanks!

Stop Press: Thanks to everyone who made the launch such a brilliant night. We thoroughly enjoyed it, and everybody was ace! Click on the story page for songs and stories. Get in touch with us to find out more about HullSongs. Rich & Lou

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HullSongs Launch Night Celebration – Press Feature

HullSongs launch night at Kardomah 94, 94 Alfred Gelder St, Hull, HU1 2AN on Friday November 27th.

K94 KS poster projection

Our inspiration for the HullSongs came from people who have performed at our Loudhailer Acoustic nights at various venues in the area. We have a fabulous range of quality song writing from a real eclectic mix of performers. Some of the pieces are nostalgic, some personal and poignant, and some are very funny. There are tales from all over Hull – Gypsyville, Longhill, Hessle Road, the River Hull itself. The Orchard Park high rise angels, old record shops of Hull, and even Bun in the Oven by the old bus station get a mention.

hullsongs hdmHullSongs is part of the James Reckitt Library Trust/Art for Hull Untold Stories project which is building an archive of stories about the city, whether oral, written, pub sagas, tall tales, misunderstandings, mythologies and even downright mistruths.

Jessica Leathley, Untold Stories project manager said, “We are delighted to have Rich and Lou on board. HullSongs brings a wonderful new dimension to oral history, telling stories through music and poetry. The launch night on 27th November will be a marvellous opportunity to experience these stories first-hand.”

Music and spoken word from a selection of HullSongs storytellers including Catherine Scott, Graham Brady, Redeye Feenix and Crew, Alyx Tamminen, Katie Spencer, Jim Orwin, Vivian Querido, Karl Oakes, Graham Graham Beck, Andrew Tomlinson, Opher Goodwin, Jeff Parsons – Hull songs and special guests. The evening will be a special version of Loudhailer Acoustic celebrating HullSongs and stories.

Visit our Loudhailer website to find out more about Loudhailer Acoustic. It’s always a top night, all welcome to come and listen to the music. Rich & Lou Duffy-Howard

River of Shadows

River of Shadows, written for HullSongs by Andrew Tomlinson – songwriter/producer from Kingston upon Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

I could never imagine living somewhere else and moving away from Hull or the East Riding. I have always loved the history and architecture of the area especially the unusual and the hidden. I remember growing up on Newland Avenue and being fascinated at how behind the Edwardian façade were old, disused farmhouses and barns harking back to Newlands rural history. I clearly remember being 10 or 11 years old and eating sandwiches from Fletchers Bakery, sat on a millstone in an old derelict courtyard on my lunch breaks from Sidmouth Street Junior School. There are so many aspects of the architecture, history, countryside and coast that have shaped me and become part of my psyche.

I like the fact that areas of Hull such as Sculcoates and Marfleet were once medieval ports exporting vast amounts of wool from the massive Meaux Abbey (about 2 miles from North Bransholme) to the Hanseatic League cities of Bruges and Antwerp. I like it that there was a Roman amphitheatre at Brough, an Anglo Saxon Shrine to Woden at Goodmanham (this was the kingdom of Northumbria’s most important place of worship) and Knights Templars temples at Blacktoft and Faxfleet. However it’s not just the ancient history of the area that fascinates me.

ATI used to work at the Needlers’ sweet factory which was housed in an old, imposing Victorian building. The factory was situated in the Sculcoates area of Hull and I’ve always found Sculcoates to have a very dark, old vibe to it (I heard it was the last place in England to have public bear baiting) and the factory definitely had that sort of really dark, oppressive atmosphere. I remember walking through the corridors late at night (10.00pm-6.00am shift) and going up the floors in an old lift that had loads of late Victorian brass fittings and wood work complete with a big brass lever that you operated the lift with and stopped it manually as you approached each floor. At the time I worked there large parts of the factory and upper floors were left desolate and unused and I became fascinated with the building, which was haunted. It became company policy, and this is true, that no one on the night shift had to go to the upper floors on their own but they could if they were ok with it. I knew a sparky, 6 foot 4 inches, mid 50’s, totally solid guy, down to earth, in a nut shell a rough, tough contractor. This guy had been on a job on the 4th floor at 2 in the morning and had come down mid job and refused to go back up and finish. Apparently he was working up there when he suddenly heard children laughing and talking behind him. Of course when he turned around there was no one to be seen. Slightly unnerved but resuming work he then heard loads of children’s footsteps running about and skidding and sliding on the floor again with accompanying breathless laughter. He did not resume work a third time. This was just one of many, many stories that occurred on the 4th floor and I gradually became obsessed with all the characters and ghosts who lived their lives and supposedly afterlives up there and this is why I took the pseudonym 4ourth4loor”.

© 2015 Andrew Tomlinson.

Hip Upon Hull

We’re really excited about the public launch of HullSongs tomorrow night at Kardomah94. There will be performances from 12 of the amazing artists – songwriters, storytellers and performance poets. A really eclectic mix – some of the pieces are nostalgic, some personal and poignant, and some are very funny. There are tales from all over Hull – Gypsyville, Longhill, Hessle Road, the River Hull itself. The Orchard Park high rise angels, old record shops of Hull, and even Bun in the Oven by the old bus station get a mention. And of course Hull City. Here’s Redeye Feenix and crew’s  brilliant brand new Hip Hop track – Hip upon Hull – with ::Si2::/Hull Graffiti, Piotr Infini Korczynski of City Elemenz and PlayaOne from endoflevelbaddie. The track is produced and mastered by Kremlin Blakk. I can’t stop singing along…. Tigers Tigers Ra Ra Ra!

Kardomah 94, 94 Alfred Gelder St, Hull, HU1 2AN on Friday November 27th. The celebratory public event includes the opening of the HullSongs exhibition which can be previewed before moving to Hull Central Library during December. The launch event is free of charge, doors 7pm, music from 7.30 pm. Come and join us!

From Bransholme to Germany All For The Price Of A Bus Ticket

From Bransholme To Germany All For The Price Of A Bus Ticket

An Ordinary Man has followed and supported Loudhailer Acoustic from the start. He prefers to remain anonymous and it’s a total pleasure to receive and read this evocative picture of a rite of passage from Bransholme to Germany all for the price of a bus ticket.

Bransholme Estate, Hull in 1974 was still young and so was I, still playing out on a Saturday night, football with me mates.  And all of a sudden no-one was out. I knocked on all the doors and everyone was somewhere else. Me mates were all about 17, they were out with their dads, all having their first pints in the Nightjar or the Drake. But not me, my dad had left when I was eight but that was no excuse.

I’d always tried to get in pubs when I was a young kid, even when I was at school. You used to go in in your school uniform, rip off your school badge and put it in your top pocket and go in Paragon upstairs (now Hull Cheese). Sometimes you got served if they was blind as a bat and a bit deaf ‘cause they had old barmaids in them days and you could chance it should’ve been in school but you was having a pint.

I was now working in a carpet shop at the time MV Couplands on Ferensway. I’d left my first job in a lemonade factory because the shop floor bully had dropped a lemonade bottle onto my head from the stacked crates above which he thought was really funny but it really fucking hurt. Anyway the carpet job was ok and I was 17 but I looked 15 and one Saturday night in too many with Starsky and Hutch with me Mother swanning out down Westfield Country Club where people thought they were something was sending me round the twist. So one night it was time to make a change and beer was on the menu.

So I tagged along with a couple of older mates, jumped on the no. 36 bus from the estate that took us down George St. and straight to the stop outside Hofbräuhaus and two large rounded brown wooden doors. Green flares, platform shoes and a stars and stripes jumper, I don’t know how I got in but me mates went in first, who were older, and I kept me head down and handed over some change, can’t remember how much dirt cheap, something stupid and I was in. I was stood by the wall with me mate and grinning ear to ear thinking Christ what’s going on here and two women walked up and one put her hand on the wall above my head she was a big tall woman and old – must’ve been about 27. I just remember staring at the bead of sweat that was just hanging on to one of the hairs in her armpit, she was that tall, and then she stared right at me, smiled and said have you got the time so I pulled up the sleeve on me stars and stripes jumper, looked at my wrist and said no I didn’t put my watch on tonight and me mate started pissing himself, lit up and flashed the fags. The beer was in huge glasses, steins hanging out your hands took two hands to hold it and schnapps was being served by women in very low cut tops on long wooden tables and the music playing was like this Oom Pah Pah band and somewhere near the stage some big hairy blokes, grown men in leather shorts and braces started dancing and slapping their thighs and back sides then each other’s back sides. I’d had half a dozen schnapps and got on the table and started to dance but me platform shoes and flares and the table had other ideas. Got a message all me mates were out of here and next door by 11 o’clock and straight into Scamps up some stairs and the latest music loud, flashing lights and glitter balls. This was the place no turning back and they served scampi and chips and I woke up on Sunday with a bad head and me brain all mixed up.

I was now on the circuit: Dram Shop, Trog Bar, Scamps, plenty of birds and cheap beer, there was now something to look forward to every week. Everything was different then, but everything had changed.”

© 2015 An Ordinary Man