On Monday I meet Wanda Vicky Sophie and we load in from the Primrose. Then over to Chapeltown.
Officially the parade is starting at 1pm, and we need to be ready to start also at that time. although we are taking bets on anything starting on time. There are fifty troupes and thirty trucks and, in a compact area such as a local main road this is a jigsaw not easily pieced together.
We just manage to find parking spaces near to Chapeltown Stores, but by now all the Mexboroughs Saviles Reginalds and Sholebrokes are chokka.
We are ready to play at one but the last two trucks waiting to get into Harehills Avenue are parked exactly next to us, and playing their sound systems onto the shop fronts. We take bets on whether they can see we are ready to play, and would turn it down if asked. Lol. We wait.
Further up the road Pan Nation from London and New World are already on their floats. They are going to be tired! We are itching to play and handling the wait with various degrees of patience and impatience.
At last one and half hours later we can start. Mostly we play road tunes, but also I slipped in Redemption Song, but not without some opposition! Lol!
And, after four days at Northern Ballet playing the melody to Swan Lake with Keisha, Phillipa, Xolani and Akeim, I have leant all the tricky bars off heart and even the ending. So it is officially back in the set for good.
We were filmed for Made in Leeds, stangely enough playing both our Abba numbers. Ceri who runs the café/barbecue today loved Dancing Queen, said how appropriate for the parade. It is nice to have it back in the set.
|handy beer/tea holder|
|met Emma watching Pan nation|
In the end, nothing really went wrong apart from v slow driving out of the Mexboroughs at fivish, while cars still tried to pour in. Gridlock gone mad and not a traffic officer in sight. Rick dropped me off later; I came back for some tinnies, I found Marcelle parked up on the pavement, where she had been for an hour!
But this has just been the best carnival since that fateful day in 2011. Felt really welcome; and Debs was able to play, first time since going to work in Abu Dabi. Sunny without being too hot.
[Thanks Hilary, thanks Ceri, Candice, Katisha for sorting this spot for us]
There were so many best moments, met so many friends and old friends, so many people danced, saw so many great costumes, and troupes, having a good philosophical with Farmer [from Paradise Steelband], seeing Margaret from pan classes, Claire from the NUT, and this:
was when two older black men with St Kitts emblazoned across their chests, who had been dancing along with our tunes, said thus: "It is so good to see you, a white band playing pans". I pointed out Natnat and Varshika in what I hoped was a humorous way. But they were earnest, and brushing my flippant observation aside, they went on, "People always think that is a black person's instruments. So good to go see anyone, to see you play them", and more in this vein.
This should be a given, but of late we have come across people from all sides of all cultural divides who think that pans is culturally inappropriate across the board.
I originally leant to play and teach pans [in the 80s] because they had been bought for our school [Foxwood] with Section 11 money, this originally from a government act of 1965,
|aerial shot Festival of Britain 2011|
But more than that, I loved them: the sound, the looks and the total inclusiveness. When Sparrows won the Music For Youth World Music Award and we played the Albert Hall, out of the twenty-three players, we included children for whom English was their fourth language, children who were also parents themselves, one child who was excluded from school, one recently bereaved, one just out of hospital, very few who could read music, but we had a massive support network of accompanying staff and parents, so that all could be included.
We had played for so many rallies that in the early 2000s the TUC sewed us onto their banner. Wow.
|Band No 3 1987/8|
|Festival of Britain|
I knew that just by playing pans we were approving of them, admiring them, showing what a high value we placed on them. It was only when we started playing outside our home areas of Seacroft and Gipton that we started meeting curiosity and disapproval. It was a tremendous shock.
|Foxwood Steel Rudding Park 2004|
|Foxwood Steel on TUC banner|
And there is nothing better than playing at your own local Carnival. Thanks to everyone who has made this happen over the years. Cheers!
|Looking up Harehills Lane to Roundhay Road from the float. Nothing better!|