1986 had seen Sheep Worrying lose it’s grant from Sedgemoor District Council , some bad publicity in the mainstream local press, punk gigs banned at the art centre and sheep worrying magazine taking a backseat. But on the other hand a stronger more socialistically inclined membership had agreed to a series of socialist history plays, the Red Smed band was doing gigs to raise money for socialistic causes and Rock was still going strong at the art centre and still subsidising the less popular aspects of their programme. Also 1987 would be an election year and maybe the tide would turn…
On 9 Jan-The rock club gig features Gareth’s new band Samantha Hesitates. Brian , Kevin and Alison form an impromptu support band with just drums and bass called ‘Jet and the Harrises’. There is the first Party at Brians afterwards at West Quay (and every Friday night thereafter)
24 Jan – Red Smed play a benefit gig for the ‘Justice for Mineworkers Campaign’ at the Albemarle centre Taunton raising £500.
26 Jan- anti fascist protestor Barry Witko was in court for his role in opposing the Ulster Friends demo and is found not guilty.
27 Jan- The Bridgwater Arts Centre hosts a 10 years of Sheep Worrying exhibition in it’s foyer.
With no Sheep Worrying magazine on the scene Adrian and Gareth decide to go back to basics and bring out their own fanzine. It’s called Young Scene and is rather punky in appearance.
Meanwhile the socialist perspective continues in the Somerset Clarion, which has now reached issue 9
Feb 1 –Sheep Worrying members see Billy Bragg at Shepton Mallet
Feb 3 Sheep Worrying members are invited to Exeter by anti fascists to talk about their experience in Bridgwater with the Ulster march
4 Feb – a massive rock club meeting is held and a new team elected . Brian is sec, paul web manager, sam terry publicty shaun field treas .
Feb 14 Vibe tribe headline the 1st new structured rock club with jive turkey and confined spaces
Also, it’s Labour History day – held at Unity House and other venues around town. Brian speaks about Radical Bridgwater alongside Christopher Hill at the Rose and Crown.
Feb 25-Another political scandal breaks out as Labour councillor Bob Brookes tells the press about faulty welding at Hinkley Point. It is a divisive issue within the Labour party and splits the local party into pro and anti nuclear.
Feb 27 Sheep Worrying members help to picket the Priory offices of Sedgemoor District Council.
Feb 28 Rock club gig the Morons, the Witchdoctors, and Hairy public.
March 3 – Young Scene issue 2 comes out. Meanwhile Brian, Adrian, Gareth and Mike Bragg decide to form a rock n roll band called ‘The 4 Eds’.
March 5 Scottish socialist folk singer Dick Gaughan plays the art centre and calls on Sheep Worrying members in advance .
March 10 Major ructions in the Labour party as the press headlines scream “Gang of 6” . 6 sitting right wing Labour councillors will refuse to stand for labour if Bob Brookes is selected. The party divides left and right. scandal breaks
Mar 11– Brian is selected for the unlikely seat of Quantocks as official Labour candidate
March 14 The 4 Eds play a gig at the Art Centre but assistant manager Sara Trethewey pulls the plug on them claiming they are too loud. Brian organises a mass walkout.
Brian says “I was a bit angry and kicked a bus shelter but just ended up seriously damaging my foot!”
Adrian “What happened was Sara said ‘no amplified music’ .We agreed but then Andrew Napthine turned up with a mike stand which could only mean one thing….”
March 18 –BAC board meeting raises the issue and the 4 Eds are vindicated getting £10 compensation and the agreement that electric music can continue.
March 25– The press darlings the ‘Sedgemoor 6’ are now standing against Labour forcing the official party to re-select. Brian is chosen for Central Ward Glen for Eastover Ward. However, the ‘unbiased local media’ immediatly set the tone for the election by introducing Smedley as “a left winger once described as a Little Town Lenin” in their opening feature on the election campaign.
Mar 26– In a freak kettle accident Brian pours boiling water on his non damaged foot and now hobbles like Walter Brennan for the next few weeks
Mar 28-The Mekons play the art centre
CLARION issue10 features the Hinkley welding issue and takes Bob Brookes side. Battle lines are drawn for a disastrous labour election.
4 ap– The 4 Eds play the Valiant Soldier + The Parishioners. It’s their 2nd and last gig and they split up.
10 ap- Rock club features Samantha Hesitates, the Flatmates and Rodney Allen
17 ap– A major anti Hinkley demo is supported by a Red Smed gig at Unity
Ap 26-Not content with having no feet Brian breaks his arm playing football. Brian “It was probably an unwise decision to go in goal after 10 years of no football and then try to dive….”
A new manager has taken over at the Art Centre. Alec Mortimer. –
April 29-30/1 May Sheep Worrying Theatre does “The Siege of Bridgwater” by Brian Smedley Matt Bartlett takes the lead role as a Leveller, and investigates 17th century radical politics, Steve Coram plays Lord Wyndham and Brian (with a broken arm) plays Mr Harvey
Steve “Yes, I played Col Wyndham who liked killing and torturing. I remember the line “Cut off his head and then torture him to death!”
May 2nd–The art centre gig features Leeds anarchists Chumbawamba plus slaughter of the innocents and Samantha Hesitates .
Sheep Worrying co-ordinates with the May day rally at Cranleigh garden which includes Jeremy Corbyn.
May-7th It’s the election and Labour are crushed by the in-fighting losing control of the town for the only time in their history .Brookes loses his seat but 5 of the 6 trad Lab gang fail to get in. Labour are down to 4 councillors. But one of them is Sheep Worryings Glen Burrows.
May 8-After 300 years of being an antiroyalist town the Council invites the Queen to Bridgwater. Adrian who was working for Age Concern at the time says “The manager of age concern wanted staff to stand to attention holding spades as guard of honour and we refused. I saw her drive past the Hope inn.”
May 23 –Young Scene has a launch party at the Valiant Soldier. Adrian does a disco…
Adrian and Gareth also plan to write the next sheep worrying play ‘Albert Chidgey Saves the World’ but they fail to get a cast together.
June 11– It’s the General Election and Thatcher wins a 3rd term. People are despondent
July 3-Pop will Eat Itself play the art centre . The gig is organised by Bridgwater College. Outside there is a heatwave. The story of Brian’s sacking hits the headlines in the Irish Democrat “Sacked for the Wearing of the Green”. A new Sheep Worrying regular makes her appearance on the scene as Alexia Vernon takes over the Mercury reporter job from Anne Dixey
Alexia “They gave me the task of reviewing stuff at the art centre..First one was complimentary tickets to see Red Jasper.”
July 18 Art Centre gig is Omega Tribe, Samantha Hesitates and Emily Erode.
Sep 2 With the Theatre group needing some quality material, Brian approaches the Peace and Love corporation. Along with Kim Newman , Eugene Byrne and Neil Gaiman they write “Rock Rock Rock Rock Rock Rock Rock” based around the songs of Brian and Kim
Eugene says “We met at my place in Claremont road, Bristol . At this point we were writing funny articles for Knave, Fiesta, Penthouse because the ‘Funny Mag’ idea of Dave Cohens never happened. Neil was a sub on Knave, which was a mens mag but which had serious articles between all the naked women , It was great fun because we could interview famous people and get together of a week to map out jokes for a dozen articles and then write them up. “
Brian “In fact they wanted me to write as well but I wouldn’t, so as a hilarious joke they used my name as a character in most of their stories.”
Sep 3-the Red Smed cassette album “Songs for Swinging Communists” is reviewed in the Mercury, Venue Magazine and Irish Republican paper An Phoblacht”
Sep 5 Rock Club gig is Red Jasper,Samantha Hesitates and Skavile Train
Adrian “Samantha Hesitates were a replacement band for the Flatmates and there was a mammoth stage invasion”
Alexia “My first gig. Matt was on the door and tried to charge me but she I had complimentary tickets and he went ’eeurggh’’. I did a review , Samantha Hesitates were really good cos they had all mates there but when Red Jasper came on the auditorium emptied . So I raved about SH in the paper. I also snogged Barry. Then later he went to the Merc with a tape of SH and a note ‘dear miss Vernon’ .Well, they were indie pop and Martin Shobrook was a good frontman and they had a big social scene.”
Matt recalls “There was always a Stage invasion and I always did it and danced Nowadays as a promoter I get fed up when this happens!”
Brian adds “There’s no doubt that Samantha Hesitates were the band of the year in Bridgwater. They also included one time Sedgemorons drummer and Rock Club secretary Jon Eydmann who in later years went on to manage the group Suede and died in a freak accident in lake Como in 2009 aged 41.”
Sept 18– Red Smed played a gig in Exeter at Barts Tavern for the Aidsline charity and features Ian Hanna on tin whistle
Sept 18 The art centre gig is the Neurotics, No 4 Joy st, the Mudslingers
Oct 3 – Gareth Beasley leaves Bridgwater for Fareham
Oct 9-Red Smed travel to Cheltenham for a gig organised by Martin Peters but it’s not what it seems
Brian “Well, Martin said he was the social secretary but he wasn’t and so no gig could happen. Then we noticed a bunch of Christians in a bar having a party and asked if we could play for them instead. They were so Godly they said yes. So we sang our embittered songs of socialist revolution for them instead. Martin was still arguing with the real social secretary when we finished. “
14 Oct—The Tories now secure in their 3rd election win say they will bring in a Poll Tax. Glen Burrows, now a Labour councillor takes the lead in opposing this .
Glen “SDC Labour group put a motion asking the Council to hold a public meeting on the poll tax effects, but this led to a lively discussion at branch about the poll tax. The Cons had rejected it outright so I wanted Labour to organise ward meetings on the Poll tax using local councillors as speakers”
Oct 24 Art Centre gig features Atilla the Stockbroker, Automatic Dlamini and Red Smed
6 Nov-Red Smed plays the Western star Domino club in st Pauls Bristol plus +Rumiyatta from Bolivia + a Namibian choir
7 Nov– Red Smed play a gig at Redland poly in Bristol plus Atilla.
7 Nov Art centre gig is Deface the Nation, and Teenage Uglies on fire . Adrian “It should have been the Steve Ignorant band, but they cancelled”
19 Nov Brian plays a Beaujolais Noveau event in West Huntspill with his accordion and is grabbed by Dave Hanna to suddenly drive to Leeds to rescue kidnapped sheep worrying member Angie Denton. This operation is concluded successfully.
19 Dec Art Centre gig is the Art Snobs, the Scream
Dec-21- Sheep Worrying Theatre do “RockRockRockRockRockRockRock” by Kim Newman, Brian Smedley, Eugene Byrne and Neil Gaiman,
Alexia says “I did the review . I remember Matt in the character of Johnny Annoyed. It was vibrant, energetic, chaotic, there were lots of people and lots of energy.”
Kim “We were back to doing song parodies. Actually it benefited from being written by committee. Eugene’s character, Alan Greed, was fun to write and a bit like my character Derek Leach. The rest of it wrote itself. Johnny Annoyed, Kathy Kardiff, The Fat Bopper, Little Bimbo.Teenage Tragedy,Don’t step on the drugs, Stand on me,Memphis Ohio, Ronny b Loude, I Hope you Die, Neil Kinnock, the Slasher sluts, I’m against killing people. It was a happy ending for the Sheep Worrying story. Finally got back to doing what we did when we started out. Ie Brian and me had an idea , we got enthusiastic, we got our mates involved. I believe it was the best thing we did and a high note to go out on.”
But Sheep Worrying wasn’t to end there. There were battles to fight, bands to put on, magazines to write and socialist plays to be produced. 1988 was just around the bend….as indeed were most of Sheep Worrying.