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Bard Of Ely The Man The Musician The Hubber
This hub is the first time I have interviewed anyone here on hubpages. Doing so was a wonderful experience. Bard of Ely is an interesting and unique person. There is no better way to get to know a person than to do an interview. I loved it, and Bard has so much to offer, that one hub could not even scratch the surface of getting to know Bard, The Musician, The Man, and The Hubber. I would highly recommend to other hubbers to interview a fellow who you enjoy following, and do an interview. I also welcome the opportunity to do more interview of hubbers who have a wealth of experiences to share with the HubPages community. So let's get started!
You have a number of accomplishments, of all your accomplishments which one has a special place in your heart, and why?
That's a difficult question to answer but probably getting my book Herbs of the Northern Shaman accepted for publication again. The "why" being that so much work went into it in so many ways. It is going out in full colour on O-Books and John Hunt the owner of the publishing company at first told me he wasn't going to take it because it would cost too much to print in colour and all their other books are in black and white but he emailed me some weeks later to say he was going to publish it anyway!
The Rubber Ducky
How long have you been a singer-song writer?
Well, I started playing locally in folk clubs in Cardiff back in around 1972, and did some busking and even managed to play a set at one of the Windsor Free Festivals and had an encore. I was doing a crazy song entitled Extracting The Latex From A Rubber Ducky which has now been shortened to just Rubber Ducky. I hated the song but audiences loved it but instead of using that fact to get somewhere in music I found it all very depressing. I saw myself as a sensitive writer of emotional songs in the vein of singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Cat Stevens but got known for performing nonsensical songs. I remember I was in London to see Van Morrison in concert at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park and I went in a pub at the end of a terraced street just to get a pint before the gig. As soon as I got in there some guy came up and was raving on saying: “Oh, man, wow, you’re that guy from Wales that does the song about a rubber ducky. I have told all my friends about you. You must come over and meet them.”
I should have been delighted but wasn’t. I wasn’t pleased my fame had spread to London because of a song about a rubber ducky. I ended up rewriting the song and announcing it as “The Death of the Rubber Ducky” and performed this crazy set at the local arts centre folk club in which I stamped on the rubber ducky and put him in a coffin made out of a shoebox and a friend came in dressed as an undertaker whilst someone else played the funeral march. Some girl fans were actually crying. I thought that would be the end of it but I was wrong because people kept asking when I was going to do the “Resurrection of the Rubber Ducky”?
Back in those days I naively thought that somehow some A&R man would find me and I would get signed on the quality of the songs I was proud of but it never happened and I lost a lot of interest in it all. In 1979 I became a single parent father and that put all my singer-songwriter career well and truly on hold until in 1986 when I got into Scientology which had a wonderful effect on me by increasing my confidence in myself and making me think seriously about being a success as a writer and musician and poet. I learned that you had to go out there and promote you work if you wanted to get anywhere. By 1989 I had got a song of mine entitled Jungle Love on a vinyl compilation LP by Various Artists. The album was called Meltdown The Album and my song got picked out as a “highlight” by Paul Davies in Q magazine. I was excited by this recognition for my work and just carried on from there. How many years would all that be? It’s been a long time!
With writing for so many different sites, how do you stay organized?
Well, I just get on with as much as I can as stuff arrives for me to do and as and when I can fit things in. My organization is very much day to day.
Tell us your routine, what does a normal work day look like in the day of Bard of Ely?
My cat Tiggy gets me up by hassling me. She always wants food. Once up I get her something then put my PC on and have a look at all the emails that have arrived overnight and what messages or comments are on sites like hubpages and Facebook etc. I attend to all the important stuff, then make myself some breakfast – usually porridge or boiled eggs – then I get on with some writing work which could be hubs, for a book I am writing or articles I am doing for pay. Eg I am doing a long article now for Feed Your Brain magazine. I am researching and writing about ancient Egyptians in America, evidence for Negros being in America before the American Indians and contemporary with them, secret caves in the Grand Canyon, mummies in America and elongated skulls and trepanation in Peru and elsewhere. Then I have another long article to do for Kindred Spirit all about the Guanches and the pyramids of Tenerife. Lately I’ve been putting more time in at doing hubs because I am determined to make some decent money here and I know you have to work hard. When I finish a new hub I promote it at many other sites before I go on to anything else.
I usually spend most of my weekdays in front of my PC with breaks for meals and maybe to do some shopping. Some afternoons I sit on the balcony in the sun and have a few beers and listen to some music. In the evening I am back on the PC again and may practice some songs on my guitar too. It’s a pretty boring sort of day really although I never know what’s waiting for me in my mailbox and on websites like Facebook.
You were written about in Lionel Fanthorpe's book The World's Most Mysterious People, what makes you a mysterious person?
I suppose it’s because I don’t fit in very well with anything much and never have. I also have had a lot of experiences that are not the sort of stuff that happens in an average life. I have been fascinated by animals and plants and nature since I was a toddler and haven’t changed but most people don’t know that much about wildlife and aren’t very interested anyway so that is sort of isolating if you are someone whose life revolves around plants and insects or other animals. I know a lot about butterflies and have reared hundreds of Monarchs on my balcony here but that is a lot of work in itself and not something most people get involved in. It is good and bad having a love for nature. By that I mean it has taught me to get on with stuff on my own and not worry about what other people think, and I don’t mind being on my own, but the downside is I often haven’t a clue about stuff most people are interested in like sport or TV. Conversationwise I know I probably appear as a very quiet person with nothing much to say at times or the other extreme of going on and on about things people don’t really understand anyway. I am very much an introverted extrovert or an extroverted introvert.
"I think my interests would be thought of as quite mysterious too eg the pyramids on this island some of which I have been one of the only people anywhere to have been writing about and taking any interest in. I suppose in some ways I am like Tenerife’s answer to Indiana Jones. I am researching the ancient history of this island. The pyramids are a mystery in themselves so I want to find out about them. I have always been very inquisitive. I am always searching for answers and trying to do something. It’s why I was happy to accept the title of Quest Knight in the Loyal Arthurian Warband Druid Order – because I see life as a series of quests.
My good friend the author and hubber CJ Stone described me as “an alien being” in his book The Last of The Hippies. He has known me since around 1971 so knows what I am like and that is how he chose to portray me.
I suppose a lot of people have wondered why a middle aged man wears a green beard too or dyed it and his hair turquoise at one point?"
What advice would you give new hubbers as they begin their writing quest on hubpages?
First of all, I’d say that if you have come to hubpages just to make money be prepared to be disappointed because you have to be very patient and you have to learn a lot and work very hard before any proper money is going to come in. Listen to the top hubbers advice. Many of them share their knowledge for free on their hubs. Study and learn. I am still doing so and I’ve been there over two years now.
But having said all that, I recommend hubpages for many other reasons, many other reasons to stick around. You can build a great profile and showcase of your writings and while you are doing so you can learn a lot and improve your skills. You can also make some great friends. Hubpages is not just about making money. If that is all you are interested in then it is probably the wrong site for you.
But if you are looking for ideas to write about I would suggest writing about stuff you know about and are really interested in. It doesn’t matter what it is. There will be people out there, who will be interested just like you are, and will welcome reading information from someone who clearly knows there subject. Write about experiences in your life, memorable moments, that sort of thing. Have a look at Mistyhorizon2003’s profile and hubs - http://hubpages.com/profile/mistyhorizon2003. She has gained herself a lot of fans by writing about her life with the good and bad experiences all described. People can identify and relate to this sort of stuff.
Writing about travel is always a good line to explore. Write about places you have been or do some research and write about ones you would like to visit. Write about where you live or come from. I have done lots of hubs about Cardiff and Wales and Tenerife too where I now live.
And another important thing is to spend some time making friends with other hubbers. Post comments on their hubs and take part in the forums. It all helps get you known.
Can you tell HP more about your experience as a co-presenter of In Full View?
It was a time I thought at last I have found my big break and I am going to be rich and famous so I was very excited. It never really happened that way because not enough people had digital TV in Wales so they didn’t carry on with the series afterwards and the production company I was working with went on to other projects. But it was a great experience all the same and I had some decent amounts of money coming in for a change.
The director and cameraman, whose name was Steve Davies, used to drive me out to a location in the countryside and then I’d have a look around and see what plants and animals of interest I could find. We’d make it up as we went along which was part of the charm of the footage we’d record. Usually if I found some edible plants or flowers I would eat some to show this was possible. I’d be eating things like wild garlic and dandelions, blackberries, lime and beech leaves. In one episode I found a patch of wild thyme and burst into a snatch of the old folk song: “And we´ll all go together to pick wild mountain thyme, all around the blooming heather will ye go, lassie go…”
A version of the song is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3B2mntKAZo
The other presenter who would introduce my slot often used to crack a joke about this in her intro. She’d say something like “My mother always advised me to be wary of strange men down in the woods.” Or “Steve Andrews, the Bard of Ely is continuing munching his way through the Welsh plantlife.”
We also filmed a couple of interviews such as a couple who were selling colloidal silver and other alternative remedies, and another one was about some local UFO reports up the Valleys. On another occasion we were at an alternative health event talking to stall-holders and I had an Indian head massage and an aura reading. Another time we went to a haunted part of Tredegar House in Newport. I got to do a song in that one too. I was singing my song Real Love and Communication trying to make contact with the spirits there.
The Man And His Music
What advice can you give to budding artists who are trying to make a mark in the music industry?(as I am constantly bombarded by artists claiming they have the
Most importantly- don’t give up! Persevere! Many people who become big stars try for years before they get the break they need. An example from where I come from in South Wales being The Stereophonics. They had been playing a long time before they got lucky. Also don’t sound like other bands and singers. Yes, I know we all learn by copying the stars that inspire us but remember for anyone working in the business they get bombarded by lots of soundalike acts. I remember when there were loads of bands sounding like Nirvana and then there’s all the girl singers that sound like Alanis Morrissette. Why should anyone want to sign or book an act that sounds like so many others? If you are happy just getting gigs that is fine but not if you really want to make it into the big time.
Anything controversial that will create some sort of buzz and attract publicity is a good idea. I got my song You’re Liar, Nicky Wire signed and released on an EP on Crai Records where Catatonia started their careers, because the demo got banned from a local record shop because the owner didn’t want to offend the Manic Street Preachers of their fans. I used that to sell the song. I emailed Ben Knowles, who was the editor of NME then, and told him a copy of a new song that had just got banned from a leading record shop in Cardiff was on its way and the week after it was rave reviewed in the singles page.
Finally, I advise that you need to learn to do as much as you can yourself or yourselves, if it’s a band. By that, I mean if you are a singer-songwriter learn to play your songs well enough so you could appear on stage as a solo act if something goes wrong with your band or it breaks up. These things happen. Yes, learn to do as much as you can. It’s no good counting on other people, and that applies to marketing your music as much as performing it. It’s easy for people to say they´ll help promote your songs or gigs and then to do little or nothing. The music business is very very tough and you need all the drive you can muster to succeed in it and need to grab at any opportunities that come your way. All publicity is worth getting – the more the better. Promote, promote and promote some more! And good luck!
Hubs by Bard of Ely
- Travel to Wales and you must see Cardiff
If you are travelling to Wales on holiday it is very likely you will spend some time in Cardiff, which is the capital of the country. You may well be arriving by plane to Cardiff Airport, or perhaps by coach...
- Bard of Ely's Scientology Years
My good friend the author and writer CJ Stone has suggested I write about my experiences in Scientology many years back so here goes. The years in question would be from 1986 to 1990, so you can see I had...
- Paintings of the Bard of Ely
It is very flattering having portrait paintings and drawings of me done by different artists and it is also very useful for getting more publicity and attracting attention. It is also very interesting seeing...
- 10 favourite love songs chosen by Bard of Ely
As a singer-songwriter I have many influences and I love love songs. I have selected 10 of my favourites, all being very different in style, and often in subject matter, apart from being on the theme of love....