www.SeeRed.co.uk

SeeRed has over 600 pages. Most are free to view.
Folk Dancing in the UK.

NEW: Links to the main folk dance sections on this website.,

including:

NEW:
Experiences of helping to run a folk dance club

NEW: What is right and wrong with English Country Dance clubs?

NEW: Folk dance diary - highlights from my 2016 folk dance diary - fun and exercise for a few pounds a month! Why don't more people take up the hobby?

NEW: Reviews of folk dance festivals in the UK - Eastbourne, Lichfield, Chippenham, Sidmouth and Towersey. Includes cost per dance - anywhere between 30p and 10 for a few minutes enjoyment.

ONGOING: My contributions to Set and Turn Single magazine over the period 2011 to 2016, now being loaded onto the internet.

The most popular pages on SeeRed during 2016 are listed below - most popular first.

Each of these pages gets on average over 100 views per month, the most popular ones exceed 500 views.
All about Sunvic motorised valves - technical - yet incredibly popular over many years!
Folk dance - the basics explained - always near the top of the monthly listings.
Sidmouth FolkWeek - the newcomers guide. Factual and perpetually popular!
Campsites for Sidmouth FolkWeek
Alko tow hitch repair - suddenly this seems very popular - I've no idea why! Maybe it has been cited in an article somewhere..
Folk dance clothes - what to wear.
Trailer rebuild - how I mended an old garden trailer - there must be more than one person like me in the world?
Index page for caravanning one of the ever popular technical advice sections of this website.
Saab 900 head gasket repair - strange to be so popular now these cars are becoming so rare.
Councils have spent millions of pounds installing road humps that arguably do not work. Some are now being removed!
Fiat clutch and gearbox problems - From obscurity to very popular - maybe this page has been cited somewhere?!
Police overtime - it was never a popular page before - so why in 2016?
Saab 900 oil pump, crankshaft seal and sensor replacement. One man in France even wrote to say how useful this was!
Gittisham - the original website for Gittisham Folk Dance club
Busmaps - I have no idea why this is so popular - including outside of the FolkWeek season!
Camping - campsites around Sidmouth in FolkWeek.
Set and Turn Single - some of my articles from this magazine - very popular despite being published late in the year.
People's Network Computers - a very old page - why now so popular? Maybe it is all the interest in library closures.
Folk festival showers - all about propane cylinders and showers at folk festivals.
Dating analysis - nice to know some people have found this report! But did they read it all?
SeeRed covers a wide range of topics.
It is written by a retired scientist who finally decided 'enough was enough' when faced with the incompetence and malevolence of local councils in England. Based in the seaside town of Sidmouth, the website was first published in February 2003. 'Hits' exceeded 120,000 in the first year with over 50,000 page views. The current 'hit' level is around 50,000 per month from around 5000 unique visitors.

The major sections are nowadays not those of the original website over a decade ago. If I ever get the time I may delete more of the obsolete material. In the meantime expect some broken links as pages are reordered or renamed, especially within the folk dance sections. The whole website is currently set to expire in November 2026 - or maybe sooner if I don't live that long.

One of the earliest topics addressed was the abuse of authority by local councils when implementing s.215 of the planning acts. This dated from 1998 through to around 2006. One case involving Chester City Council is well documented.

Subsequently the website was extended to include similarly chilling behaviour by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). My interest here arose out of experiences in folk dance clubs. Subsequent study of the legal aspects, undertaken early in 2016, showed how readily false allegations of sexual abuse or sexual assault had been accepted as fact. Again, one case amongst many is well documented on the internet. Another similar case reported in the UK press has now been turned into a book.

As of December 2016, the latest twist to whole sexual abuse saga in the UK was that hundreds or maybe thousands of police officers were suspected of abusing 'vulnerable' members of the public. It was suggested the problem is much under-reported. Details are on these and many other links: Guardian, BBC, Telegraph.

As with the much earlier abuses of power by local council officials (many of which are not recorded on the internet), many innocent people have been imprisoned after false claims were accepted. There appears to be no governmental concern about major miscarriages of justice. Indeed, getting more people locked up seems to have become merely one strand of meeting public sector performance targets.

The paranoia and hysteria surrounding sexual abuse in the UK has led to a situation in which imprisoning 100 innocent men for ten or more years each is now seen as more acceptable than allowing one guilty person to escape justice. This represents a reversal of the historical norms of the UK criminal justice system.

Review of Folk Dance Festivals 2015 and 2016 - what was good and what has become appalling!

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This is from 2015 at Towersey. I didn't see the same bird in 2016.

The folk festival at Towersey began over 50 years ago as a small village event, and centred upon a normally sleepy village.

More recently the festival became a major highlight of the folk scene, including for ceilidh and other forms of folk dance and entertainment. I have attended every year since 2007 - in many ways it was my favourite festival.

In 2015, and because of changes to local farming practices, Towersey had to relocate to the Thame Showground. At about the same time, management control passed more and more from Steve Heap to his son Joe. Steve Heap is perhaps best known as one of the directors of the Sidmouth International Festival, in the period to 2004. (He is mentioned 176 times in 77 pages of my website.)

The new site layout and management at Towersey have changed the 'ambience' of the festival. It no longer feels as though it has any connection with the village. In both 2015 and 2016 a separate 'fringe' festival was held in Towersey to raise money for local amenities. This only takes place on one day and there is no dance element - it would be difficult to compete with the main festival. Yet the villagers have achieved a great deal - including an impressive website.

Sidmouth also has its 'fringe' events, both in town as a central (but unofficial) part of the event, and also as a separate smaller and wholly unconnected festival outside the town. Again these have no social or ceilidh dance element.

Recent changes to Towersey festival have mirrored those elsewhere, but are maybe more extreme. The critique given here is centred upon its recent history, and especially on dance events during 2015 and 2016.

In 2016 the unwelcome or unsatisfactory aspects included lax site security, poor site design, overly simple ceilidh dances (with several repeated by other callers), inept dance instruction and grossly excessive sound levels at both ceilidhs and concerts - even louder than in 2015.

On the positive side, a few of the dance events and especially that with the relatively new Anglo-French band Topette were very good indeed. With a few easily implemented changes, other events at Towersey could attain a similarly high standard.

Ceilidhs at Towersey in 2012/2013 were enjoyable and featured many interesting dances, a couple of which I still use myself. This page outlines the changes that were imposed in 2012. However, by 2016 the music for ceilidh dances had become absurdly loud. This is the reason why I and other dancers may no longer choose to attend or recommend what used to be a highlight of the folk dance year.

Comments are welcome - these webpages will be in 'draft' form for some time. One local dance band leader who attended Towersey with a troupe of dancers a few years ago told me that one particular band 'sounded better from a field away'.

Other festivals are reviewed including Chippenham, Lichfield and Eastbourne.

Comments can be sent to:  stevewozniak42 (AT) hotmail.com

Folk Dancing goes back several centuries as a pastime for all social groups. Yet folk dance clubs are in decline in the UK, despite that they could help combat both loneliness and obesity - two of society's most pressing health issues.

Like so many 'minority interests' folk dance is beset by internecine rivalries, feuds and vendettas - but don't let a few miserable and dull people stop you trying to have some fun!
Within the many folk-dance centred pages on this website you will find my dance diary for 2016. This is a record of just how much enjoyment, exercise and social contact can be had from an expenditure of a few hundred pounds a year - far less than the cost of medical care were anyone to become chronically depressed. Maybe dancing should be available on the NHS?

Here are some highlights from my 2016 diary.

I wrote 'my year of dance' both as a record for myself and to help encourage further uptake of a hobby that may soon be consigned to history - unlike in Ireland where local dances are still very much part of the 'living tradition'. I suggest that the present high attendance figures for folk dance festivals and weekends-away may merely be a passing phase - characterised by a generation of older experienced dancers enjoying their wealthy retirement. The demise of local clubs and their ageing clientele points to a dearth of experienced English country dancers a decade or more hence.

It is in the more lively local clubs that by far the best value dancing can be found - assessed as cost per unit enjoyment. Sample calculations are presented to illustrate these points. My opinion is that most small folk clubs are dull, uninspired and lifeless - little wonder they fail to attract and keep new and/or younger members. 'Social glue' is identified as maybe one missing ingredient in many small clubs.

I am also writing up experiences of running a small dance club and weekends away at festivals - including some arguments with the less agreeable, bossy and malevolent people that one can meet, even in the folk dance world. In due time I may publish appropriate remedies.

In a free country we are allowed to have theatre critics, film critics and restaurant critics. My review of folk dance festivals is an attempt at something similar. Yet according to some festival 'Terms and Conditions', publishing anything 'negative' about an event is enough to get you banned for life. We shall see..... It is maybe time also we had a 'tripadvisor' guide to local folk dance clubs as a spur to enhancing standards and raising the profile of the hobby - I've given a few specimen comments.

Various disputes in the folk dance world remind me of Britain in Bloom in Sidmouth almost two decades ago. For expressing different views and for (not) tending my wild garden I was vilified in the local press over several years, told to leave town and threatened with court action by East Devon District Council. The arguments culminated in a BBC TV documentary 'Countryside at War' and with an extensive interview on Radio 4. Somewhere I still have the tapes. Maybe it is time for another TV programme?

But for now, if you are lonely, unfit or simply sitting in front a computer feeling bored, why not try English country dancing? Dance offers probably one of the most cost effective ways to meet people of the opposite sex - it can be far more effective than computer dating (see next panel below) and with a cost per dance as low as 30p.

Online computer dating is now a multi-million pound industry in the UK and spread over scores of different websites. World-wide it is claimed to be a billion dollar industry. Many claims are made for the effectiveness of online dating, yet there seem to have been few objective studies.

A basic statistical analysis is presented here - it is based on the author's intermittent study of two mid-market computer dating sites in the UK over the period 2008 to 2012. Unfortunately it has not achieved a wide readership because the internet is so swamped with 'dating' websites and related articles it simply doesn't get noticed. Most of the readers are people who have chanced up my website for other reasons.

honesty on the internet.jpg (57299 bytes) It is argued that the industry is inefficient in delivering a service to some types of subscribers owing in part to profiles being spread across a wide range of often unconnected websites. It is shown that whilst dating websites may claim to have 80,000 to 90,000 members, the number that are both active and able to contact other members may be less than 10% of the headline figures. 

Some of the problems experienced by users are outlined. New charging structures such as ‘pay-as-you-go’ are proposed which, together with use of simplified but equally effective matching models, should enable a more cost efficient service to be delivered to a much increased number of users. It is argued that present day sites are characterised by dishonest presentation of data, restrictive fee structures and models for matching people to one another that are both overly complex and largely useless. As of 2016, little has changed, except that many 'app' based services are available for smartphones.
Despots in local government: public servants would become our masters.
Decades ago, local government was an inefficient and overstaffed mess - but at least 'public servants' knew their place and many tried to do a decent job of work. Nowadays, local government is characterised by spin, glossy brochures, excessive 'management' salaries and pay-offs and an increasingly high-handed approach to dealing with the public.

Of particular concern are social services departments who utilise the slightest and often imagined excuse to take children away from their parents and place them into 'care'. Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary (as of March 2012) said that 'there are 'far too many experts' involved in producing expensive reports for low grade and often neurotic and self-serving council officials - who then use them within the ultra secretive family courts system to remove children from their families. The parents are forbidden even to talk to any advisor. It seems to be a largely unrecognised problem, addressed over many years by the campaigning journalist Christopher Booker in The Sunday Telegraph newspaper and by John Hemmings MP.

From waste collection, through child protection, car parking and planning, local officials now see themselves as masters rather than servants. Misuse of delegated authority is a widespread problem, with lazy elected councillors often being unaware what officials are doing.

Either local councils need stripping of many of their powers, or new arrangements are needed to ensure that abuse of authority is curtailed.  One option might be to make local officials responsible for legal costs - just as they can now be held personally responsible for Health and Safety breaches.

In recent years the Crown Prosecution Service has been heavily criticised for decisions to prosecute in cases where the evidence was completely (and obviously) without foundation.

Sidmouth remains famous for its 'folk festival' - once one of the largest, most colourful and peaceful music and dance festivals in Europe. What does the future hold? New in 2010/11 and updated for 2016 - a Newcomers' Guide to FolkWeek.
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For 50 years Sidmouth hosted its International Festival of Folk Arts amidst the scenery of East Devon. Families travelled from across the UK for their annual 'spiritual renewal'. 2004 was the last year for this amazing spectacle.

Read the full story here of how FolkWeek arose from the ruins of the International Festival. 2005 was a very small affair yet 2006 was a great success. And so was 2007! For 2008 the organisers cut costs to try to shore up the finances. 2009 was rather wet at times. 2010 was a perfect year for weather - but not for social dancers. 2011 was a challenging year - the recession was supposed to be hitting disposable income, yet many folk festivals were a sell-out. And Sidmouth's 'fringe' event became more popular. 2015 saw a real revival of social dance with some hugely popular contra workshops by American caller Tom Hines. 2016 was also an excellent year for social dance.

Many years ago, after personal experience with modern Sunvic central heating motorised valves, I took a few to pieces to establish exactly why they had failed prematurely.

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Little did I foresee that the ensuing webpages would become one of the most widely read sections of SeeRed. Of course, most householders are fearful of taking their central heating system to pieces - they rely on often inexperienced 'heating engineers'.

It is particularly disappointing that many years after these webpages were first published, Sunvic were apparently still telling customers that they knew of no failures of these products - yet because of the inherently questionable design, many or maybe most may fail within a few years. Some householder experiences are here and including where these actuators are sold as part of expensive Worcester Bosch space and water heating systems. More recently (2011), Sunvic appeared to withdrawing these products from the market. Later, new part numbers appeared - but the internal components seem much the same - and they still fail, sometimes after only 18 months.
Town Planning and Conservation Areas.
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When is a tree not a tree? When it is both in a supposedly protected Conservation Area and in the way of proposed development?

If you know of similar documented cases, please let me know. Here is an example from Cumbria. The local MP is reported as having said it is a case of "wanton vandalism" by a property developer. In July 2011 the same developer (now apparently running a different company) applied for permission to build houses on the site - who says crime doesn't pay?

Town Planning and Flood Plains.
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When are Flood Plain planning policies not applied? When well connected people want to build on the flood plain?

When the wealthy owner of Sidmouth's Nissan dealership creates a new commercial car park by dumping hundreds of tons of rubble in a sensitive area and local councils and the Environment Agency effectively look the other way?

Or indeed when Erewash Borough Council apparently behaved in an appalling and unprofessional manner? Householders and insurance companies have been left to deal with the consequences of what appears to be blatant indifference to local flood risks.

This is all old material but as of 2015 - and after the floods of recent years - how much has really changed?

Are you still buying lottery tickets? Why is there so little analysis of how all the money is spent?
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An old section of SeeRed analysed how 120 million of lottery money was spent on computers in libraries. Arguably, the project should have cost far less. The then Minister, Tessa Jowell MP, refused to answer my questions perhaps because she couldn't think of any plausible answers. After all, this was the Blair babe who didn't even know about her own mortgage! She was later tasked with persuading us that the London Olympics were to be competently managed.

Since publication of SeeRed the number of gushing press releases about the P.N. scheme fell markedly. No connection, of course! In Dec 2004 I was invited to send views to the DCMS Select Committee

In subsequent years, UK public libraries began a steady decline. Many became more like noisy 'internet cafes' than places where proper study could be undertaken. In effect, libraries were dumbed down to incorporate a 'social inclusiveness' agenda. Cutbacks have now led to reductions in staff - most competent librarians have been replaced by casual part-time staff - who are much less expensive to employ.

Towards a surveillance society - the early years.
1984jpg.jpg (3552 bytes) Most people have little idea of the extent to which their privacy has already been compromised. Governments will soon be able to build a contact profile for every citizen - as well as being able to plot their every move - an appalling prospect in many countries. The technology is already being developed and tested. The now obsolete privacy section of this website outlined a few topics that were of interest in 2003/4. These were smart cards, CCTV, encrypted emails and rfid tagging of anything from cars to clothes. This section is now years out of date - it predates the Snowdon era for example. Yet it offers a glimpse of the early years of the privacy debate. This was a time during which many new threats, especially the widespread use of rfid tagging, first began to be appreciated.
In the new age of e-government, people who ask awkward questions may simply be deleted!

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Details of a dispute with Devon County Council, as a part of which DCC blocked my e-mail address for several years. They also prevented staff at DCC HQ and in libraries reading this website by making links "unavailable". Later, normal service was resumed. It was all a manifestation of the culture of fear that continues to dominate DCC and many other public sector bodies, especially the NHS.The dispute itself is in abeyance - I have more to do at present.
The Britain in Bloom campaign has been criticised for wasting public money on boring displays of garish flowers. In 2005, it spilled over into abusive comments about the SeeRed author by Sidmouth Town Council!
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For decades the Britain in Bloom campaign has been synonymous with garish arrangements of environmentally useless plants. Councillors waste hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money to create ever more outlandish displays.

Few Sidmouth residents take part. Maybe soon we can put an end to the cult of chequebook gardening? In 2008, Sidmouth in Bloom even had a competition for the most environmentally friendly garden - and what a mess they made of the judging criteria!

Serious gardeners (and even one or two government ministers) recognise we need to divert effort to growing more fruit and vegetables at home - it may be ten years before the 'bloomers' awake to such a sensible idea! 

Internet cafes in Europe and India.
libcompute.jpg (4395 bytes) In the UK, libraries have borne the brunt of public internet access. Bureaucracy abounds, and official policy is to provide little or no privacy despite draft Council of Europe guidelines. Things are different elsewhere. For example, in India, access is rarely a problem because private enterprise cafes thrive - as indeed they do in Germany.
Camping on a small site on the outskirts of Sidmouth
camperssmall.jpg (8501 bytes) Made popular during various FolkWeek events, a small camp site is available for motor-homes or small caravans. Further details on this page. Details are also available via the campinmygarden website.

This is a large site with discrete sections. If you get lost, please return here and start again.

Contact email address: stevewozniak42 (AT) hotmail.com - and remember to replace (AT) by @

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