Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Buxton Blog - 20/8, loitering with the intent to gunzel

I awoke with a pain in my neck. I don't know why I decided to open with that but there you are.

What shall we do today? Apart from help the pros bump Utopia out and Pirates in, of course. And watch the awards ceremony (to collect our well deserved first prize). Well, the first thing I see when I wake up is my student accommodation standard pinboard - which has on it nothing but an A0 rail map of Great Britain. Ah, I promised my faithful readers that my youtube channel would somehow have some clips of trains passing at 200km/h, to hopefully capture the savage howl they make at speed. The Gwiwer recommends Willesden Junction as the Place to Be - but that's all the way out to London, surely there's somewhere closer?

A few hours with (for those reading at home that's the Mother Country's equivalent of Metlink) shows that there's really no point trying for anywhere else - even some of the minor stations between Stockport and Stoke-on-Trent are no easier to get to than Willesden Junction! So I'm going to do a Chrysaea tomorrow. Should be lots of fun.

A whistle sounds and I glance up, expecting the usual 66 and limestone train. DRAT! It's the Royal Scot! There must be a railfan tour on! Ctrl-T "royal scot buxton 20 august 2011". No hits. Add "rail tour". BINGO! Look up timetable - when's it coming back this way? It's unclear but it looks like it's going out via a different line. I had no idea there were multiple ways out of a quarry branch. Ah well, it's that kind of country. Nothing to see here, move on.

One very important bit of planning - what's Cinderella Hour from so far away? 19:06 to get the last train to Buxton on a Sunday night. Or 19:17 to go in to London and out again. I should probably try to get home earlier than that and preach another sermon to my congregation of two, but at least I know how to avoid a rough night on a station bench.

Whistle sounds. DOUBLE DRAT! There's the Royal Scot again, it did come back this way! Well it's too late to do anything now. It stops on the bridge outside my window. Get lost, I know that trick. Hey Chris, look out the window and tell me what you see. Snap off a few shots. They come out terrible. It's still there...

"Chris, I'm going to chase that train away by going out to take a photo of it. If I'm not back by 4pm come and find me." Sure enough, just as I get to the front door of the halls it moves off. Murphy's Law of Special Train Movements isn't restricted to Australia.

4pm and it's time to get over to the Opera House. The costumes people are delighted to see us again, and we make very short work of the transfers to and from the Octagon. In between costume work we also help put the various bits of set onto a truck - if you could grace such a vehicle by the name. It's a fairly new DAF rigid chassis but the curtainsider body and electro-hydraulic tailgate are positively primitive. How on earth could anyone countenance a canvas side with no steel gates? And (wonder of wonders) there is absolutely no provision for load restraint except for a pillar in the middle of the floor! The two guys from the transport company seem to see no problem and just lean flats against the canvas curtains. This can only end in tears (pronounced whichever way you prefer). Large pieces of set follow, and lots are stacked on top of a very unstable pile of flats. Is that going to shift in transit? There's a chance of it. There's quite a lot to put in, so the guys climb up over the load with pieces of rostrum held above their heads. I lost count of the number of OH&S violations I would have been dinged with if I'd done it at home. I also declined to try a prediction of how many pieces would be broken before reaching their destination. Oliver Smith, who was coordinating the loading, didn't seem to think it mattered much - most of this stuff would need to be repaired or modified before next festival anyway, so transport damage would hardly make a difference.

We finished loading up the truck and reported back to Harriet to help with costumes but there was nothing to do so she suggested we watch the awards ceremony. Hey, why not. Our idea was for Chris to be there (transcribing and posting to Savoynet live) and David to watch too because he's never seen one before, but if there's nothing better to do, why not.

Well Steph Gibson got the award for Best Female Voice - as you do. The cheering from the Australian section (including honorary Aussies and other enthusiasts) was something to hear. Neither our show nor Savoynet's won first prize, which was unexpected - but it went to South Anglia which we don't mind at all because we know some of their people and they're lovely.

After the big ones were announced we got the shock of our lives - Ian started talking about how wonderful the Australian shows were, mentioning Arcadians as well as Yeomen, and then mentioned me and Chris by name! I mean, I know we did a lot of hard work carrying sets and costumes, but to be mentioned by name at the awards ceremony is high praise indeed! And there's me in grubby tracksuit pants suitable for carrying set, and we have to get up on the Octagon stage to accept a framed certificate in front of the world's cameras! I try to hide behind Chris and David as much as I can...

Literally before we've sat down there's a message on Facebook congratulating us for our award - the wonders of live radio broadcasting.

As soon as he can Chris rushes off to help bump out Utopia, but David and I are caught in the tractor beam of a radio announcer, who wants to interview us about G&S in Australia, and what it's like to come half way around the world to put on a show.

What a day. Now back to packing set. There's not much left, so by about 7:45 we head home for food before it's time to help carry Pirates costumes at 9:15ish. Pizza and spaghetti. Very satisfying.

Carrying costumes. Free entry to the festival club. Lovely people to chat to. Awwwww this is the last festival club! The festival's nearly over!

Well we have to go out with a bang, and that bang is a pot-luck Trial by Jury. The position of Defendant isn't filled, and Oliver Smith just bought me a rum and cola. Yes please! And Chris goes for the role of the usher. David, here's the camera. You know what to do!

Jackie Mitchell is the Plaintiff, so I know there's going to be some acting involved. This is going to be fun!

Apart from his two big songs the Defendant doesn't have all that much to do. As tenor leads go it must be one of the easiest - at least, once the vocal cords are loosened up. I crack the top note the first time I sing it, but hit it the rest of the time. This is great!

At the end... farewells. We exchange compliments with the costumes people we've been working with. They're volunteers and have been working harder than many paid people I know. As you do. Lots of people ask us when we'll be back... and when we say "not next year, after that we'll see" the farewells are quite touching (literally). Thank goodness for Savoynet and Facebook.

Home and bed - I'm getting the first train tomorrow morning.

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