A celebration of 40 years of Desperation

In 2020, Desperate Men turned 40. We invited friends and collaborators to send us their best and worst memories of Desperate Men.
Click on the candles, stars, and balloons to hear some desperate stories and see some selected work.
And for even more desperate dessert, make your way to our Vimeo channel to see some weird and wonderful archives.

Thank you all!
Jon & Richard

PS: leave a comment for us in the comment section below the cake!
 

The cake
Paschale Herring - Red Herring's Ode to Desperation A letter from Haggis Macleod A letter from Jo Burgess Bill Palmer - Avanti Display - Monty talks Desperation Bim Mason - Circomedia Agnieska Blonska Angus Barr Alan May - Desperate Ice Heart Dave Reeves Chez Dunford Agnes Matthews - 2 generations Agnes Matthews in Amsterdam A letter from Roger Drury Gerry Flanagan Harriett & Rob Fraser - Somewhere Nowhere Jamie Waite - Fair Play Jenny Sanderson Jeremy Shine Jo Smith John Fox & Sue Gill - Dead Good Guides Julian Bracey - Cirque Bijou Karen Poley - Bicycle Ballet Katherine Forestier in Hong Kong A letter from Larry Smith Loz Samuels Mitch Mitchelson - Original Mixture Neil Butler - Cultural Strategist Neil Butler - Rock God Richard Crowe Richie Smith - Co-founder of Desperate Men Sue Auty & Edward Taylor - Whalley Range All Stars William Wilding - Councillor Music from Liz Purnell Angie Dight - Mischief La Bas Dave Id in Splott Shirley Pegna - Desperate Men Music Director Sophia Knox-Miller - Desperate Men Associate Producer Jon & Richard - The Desperate Men Richie Smith - Desperate Men Co-founder Slapstick & Slaughter - filmed at Circomedia in 2017 The Smoking Lada Drawings by Lenny at the Festival of Desperation in 2010 The Lemmings - Mandy & Dave Washed Up - the full film Going through archives Photo by Mark Dawson photography Cuckoo Time The SO Festival Walk

Paschale Herring - Red Herring's Ode to Desperation

Hello there!

I was going to make a short statement talking about how I have met not one person but two in my local pub in Bideford in North Devon who saw Sturgeon Moon. One of them (Adam) has a crazy memory and after the first 10 minutes of meeting him he said, 'We've met before' and it turns out he met me when I was carrying the fish! The other (Ian) is the director of the art gallery here. He used to work for the Arts Council in the West Midlands and was asked to investigate. He went to 3 events including Bridgenorth and was flabbergasted to see more people each time and the scale up. He couldn't understand how it worked and loved that it did and it's one of his favourite experiences of all time. Brilliant!

But instead I made a short video with the help of Eminem ...

Lots of love to Desperation and all who sail in her
Paschale x

A letter from Haggis Macleod

Hi Desperates, Happy Anniversary.

I thought you might like this pic that was taken at Footsbarn's 25 in France.
Seem to remember that we had to wear headphones and improvise stuff.

Lots of love,
Haggis

The photo is taken outdoors, with a large leafy tree as a background. Haggis poses in a half lunge position, one arm raised to his head. He wears a pink tshirt and beige shorts.

A letter from Jo Burgess

Hello, I just got your latest newsletter.

Congratulations on 40 years. I wish I could make a clever video for you but it is completely beyond me.

My friend Dudley, who is sadly not with us any more, popped in a while ago. He had just turned 80. He told me how much he loves being old because he has so many years to look back on and so much to remember. It is a nice way of looking at things. Better than feeling nostalgic and worrying about how old you are all the time. Of course none of us are really old yet but it is a good tip.

So I am quickly thinking back over 41 years and it is lovely.

1979 following Jon and Ritchie around in Norfolk and deciding that what they were doing was a lot more fun than studying whatever I was doing at University. It is probably their fault that I failed to get a degree in International Development.

1980's in Devon where they kept popping up surfing in pubs and clubs and festivals all over the place. The Blue Kipper… The best holiday ever in Portugal thanks to Jon helping us to find a house somehow that I forget how that happened but it was a great Christmas and the turkey was so fine.

Hood Fair where we all went absolutely mental and nobody would get up in the morning despite being parents of at least 15 small children. 7am watching Jon B serenading the whole lot of them from my tent with ‘I'm a dirty hippy'. He did not look happy.

1990's and a housewarming party here with the best music ever from Shirley in the pub the next morning. We all sat by the river and sang ‘I don't want to dance' in a great big glorious round for about an hour. Well that is how I remember it. Also a show in my garden. I think it was The Lighthouse? Everybody in the village came. They had never seen anything like that before.

Then we all got busy and everybody was working and getting grants and doing shows, being agents, networking, being professional and coping with the fact that those 15 children were all growing up and needing food and mental health and stuff. But always those early days were there as a foundation for being so pleased to see each other when our paths crossed.

And here we are now in this weird bit of limbo time. Looking forward to when our paths start crossing again.

A few random photos attached. Sorry they are only of Jon but he will probably like that.
Xx

Jo Burgess - Fool's Paradise


Jon B. learning chords from Dodge ... RIP


Black and white photo of Jon mid-shout or yawn, taken outside.


Jon in a kipper boat

Bill Palmer - Avanti Display - Monty talks Desperation

Bim Mason - Circomedia

Agnieska Blonska

Angus Barr

Alan May - Desperate Ice Heart

Dave Reeves

Chez Dunford

Agnes Matthews - 2 generations

Agnes Matthews in Amsterdam

A letter from Roger Drury

"Where are you now?
by Roger Drury

1 - Hereford
Mid day chasing a small van in vain hope
take a guessing turn end up in someone’s drive way
Reverse-time speeding ahead, somehow the van is still in front
turn, turn , lights roads smaller, parked cars herald something
half on kerb now left, right, right into a school yard
After all it was Sarah driving that van…

2 - Giants rest on back of small lorry - I tested their weight last eve
and declined the chance to animate the figures…
minutes later we are in a procession making a pathway through centre of Hereford
Carnival day thrusting River festival programmes into curious hands…

3 - I look up expecting to hear a voice
instead there is a stone carved pulpit above my head
the church of St Oudoceus (audacious)
walk down through the graveyard
step over the wall, below wild (audacious) bushes
impersonate the ghost of a railway

4 - in a sheep gone field
A small group shares a moment in the station masters cap
in the bushes a whistle and the chuff of steam
remembers the Wye valley line
turn your back on the river
grasp the climbing view with your eyes
listen for the wide sweep of the current

Chepstow
5 - in the shadow Carl’s glorious choir strikes up
A human rat makes a speech
and the biggest spanned bridge we’ll ever know
bursts into light and fireworks and more music
picnics seem a bit startled as a parade
crosses the river, below a boat waits the tide

6 - Monmouth
Nelson hid his garden well
stout tall brickwork
sneaked inside the town walls
secret from the busy paths
suitable place for declaiming
a poets voice

7 - Redbrook
Bells are chiming along the walkway of
the aching bridge- the Boat parted from Redbrook
by a turning current headed downstream toward the sea
in the car park a festive caravan – it is a quiet day

8 - The view is a great distance, at its height
the Severn shines- to my back the races are over
Lydbrook band booms across the landscape
Engage somersaults fade into the gloom-
then fire dances until the story is told

9 - I’m in a park
some caravans all painted up
there’s these amazing young women doing trapeze
in blue sparkly costumes flying among trees and then they’re gone
and a procession is arriving crossing Victoria bridge, with lights and lanterns
And its suddenly colder and a fairground is getting louder with its disco pop

10 - I blink and its the next day and warmer, inside one of the caravans
books edge them selves off the shelves dare devil stories, words,extracts
drag people’s attention to become a giggly conversation
outside a bed is made up for resting
people draw themselves as dreamers enchanted by the books

11 - Fire fire fire echoed in the river
Llandogo hosts a feast
voices and flamed torches dribble down the valley
the band rattles the grasses
fire fire fire fills the sky
as a single figure slips into the waters

They’re building houses that seem to totter on the banks
but the river slips through rising and falling

fresh water within salt, salt within fresh
dancing, grabbing at things
trees and rocks, boats and livestock

life pours by, poisons spill into the flow
Desperate Men are seen trying to raise a roar

and people raise their heads and raise their arms
move onto the streets, gather on bridges

singing and drawing in all kinds of colours
make new journeys but don’t lose the past"

Gerry Flanagan

Harriett & Rob Fraser - Somewhere Nowhere

Jamie Waite - Fair Play

Jenny Sanderson

Jeremy Shine

Jo Smith

John Fox & Sue Gill - Dead Good Guides

Julian Bracey - Cirque Bijou

Karen Poley - Bicycle Ballet

Katherine Forestier in Hong Kong

A letter from Larry Smith

Weekending in Devon (with Jon)

I loved wearing ‘blue’ – anything blue, would do. Jon was so terribly kind that weekend in Devon, as you can see, even the caravan he hired was blue.

Dear, sweet Jon – how I missed him I’ll never know. Kindness with an edge of authority was his trademurk. He loved taking care of things – shouting at people in the street – people that he felt might imprune on our relationship.

He knew every ... I’m sorry, I’ll have to rush and catch the post ...

GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF YOU –
PLEASE DON’T TRY CONFLACTING ME
I REMAIN,

Loz Samuels

Mitch Mitchelson - Original Mixture

Neil Butler - Cultural Strategist

Neil Butler - Rock God

Richard Crowe

Richie Smith - Co-founder of Desperate Men

Sue Auty & Edward Taylor - Whalley Range All Stars

William Wilding - Councillor

Music from Liz Purnell

Angie Dight - Mischief La Bas

Dave Id in Splott

Shirley Pegna - Desperate Men Music Director

Sophia Knox-Miller - Desperate Men Associate Producer

Jon & Richard - The Desperate Men

Richie Smith - Desperate Men Co-founder

Slapstick & Slaughter - filmed at Circomedia in 2017

The Smoking Lada

Drawings by Lenny at the Festival of Desperation in 2010

The Lemmings - Mandy & Dave

Washed Up - the full film

Going through archives

Photo by Mark Dawson photography

Cuckoo Time

The SO Festival Walk

Cake artwork by Jo Beedell

       

1 Comment to “A celebration of 40 years of Desperation”

  • Happy Birthday Desperate Men!

    So many great memories of you coming to the Traquair Fair – makes me want to have another one just to have you back!

    Catherine

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