Susie Mallett

Parent blog

Sunday 3 August 2014

My own conductive lifestyle – motivated today by Billy Bragg!

Billy Bragg, Nürnberg 2014 by Susie Mallett

I had a date this evening that I had been looking forward to all day. Whatever the weather, unless there was a cracking storm like last evening, I was determined to be at the main market place by 8.30 pm to hear Billy Bragg for the first time ever, and right on my doorstep and for free! I remember being just as excited a few years back after I first moved into the city when it was Joan Armatrading playing for free on my doorstep!

What more could one wish for apart from hoping that the regular summer-storm  by-passed tonight?

The weather was perfect as I strolled in to the city at just after 8. As I went through the tunnel in the city wall I listened to the oldies being played at the Café with the pottery atelier before wandering past the stage at St Sebald’s church to reach the main stage outside Our Lady’s church in the market place.

It was not too crowded and as I enter the square from behind the stage I was able to squeeze my way in near the front hoping the base from the enormous speakers would not boom through my body too much.

Billy Bragg was brilliant, not only his songs but the bits in between too. In fact some of them were the best bits, just like during some of my conductive days.

He talked slowly and clearly, deliberately choosing his words so that his German fans would understand too.

I have just had many friends helping me create a new kitchen so I loved it when he told the audience tonight that if you are creative, an artist of any kind, do not feel like you have to be good at do-it-yourself too. Stick to being creative was his message as he sang his handy-man blues number, and let other people mend the roof.

That is just what I did today. I made some miniature flowers and did not attempt to put the beading around the sink unit – I would have bashed my thumb with the hammer and bent the nails. Instead I played around with colour and then went to hear Billy Bragg.

It was great to hear him talk in such simple language about history and politics, explaining his songs in a simple but interesting may. I left the concert lifted by his energy and by his final word –

It is not the politicians and globalization that are our greatest enemies but cynicism, our own cynicism. We must not let this beat us; we must not despair that we cannot change anything. We must not think that alone we cannot make a difference. We can. Billy Bragg told us that it is his audiences that matter to him because they are the ones who can change things in the world. He said that is not the words to his songs that are important, but they do motivate and finding the right way to motivate is so important, as we know.

He left the stage already thinking about his next gig, going on to another city to motivate another group of people who while listening to his concert will also feel that they are not alone. Hopefully more people will be motivated by Billy Bragg to not let our own cynicism get the better of us. He urged us to believe that we can do it, to never, never, never, never give up, and he urged us to be creative!

I will try my very best.


Billy Bragg

Nürnberg – 39th Bardentreffen


  1. Hi Susie. I would like to think Billy Bragg would support what we do at Paces but I doubt it. I doubt that what we as parents of children with cerebral palsy set out to do all those years ago, he would approve: a specialist provision - some would say "segregated". I doubt he is in favour of the UK "Free Schools" outside local authority control - which are little different from Paces School. Maybe I misjudge him?

    1. I don't know, Norman. I have no direct knowledge of Mr Bragg or what his songs are about but I have just had a quick trawl and what I spotted rather suggests that he is rather more representative of an 'old left' and its values than with the frightful leftist shower that came later and has given such pain to Conductive Education in the UK.

      I think therefore that I see why Susie found him heartening, and suspect that he would give your work at Paces a fair hearing and a humane judgement.

      I can guess that the word 'leftist' might have attracted a variety of meanings. I use it here in the only way that I know, as a term used once in the Soviet Union to denote policies that were 'left in form but right in content'. I first came across this word in the early seventies when an emerging 'new left' was embracing all sorts of weird movements in the belief that they were progressive. The young leftists of those days grew up to fulfil some pretty wild fantasies in government, bureaucracy and the semi-professions, to the detriment of most of society other than their own class.

      I just do not see Mr Bragg as one of them.