Monday, 5 September 2011

Festival of Britain 2011

Dear Debs, It seems that you are now heading for Carriacou by way of Abu Dhabi which is somewhere in the Near Middle East, as Science Advisor. I'm not sure what to say, so I think I'll say Massive Congratulations. The work you did at Merlyn Rees and South Leeds High Schools, staying there through all the troubles, inducting one new Science teacher after another; devastating one Ofsted after another with your wonderful successes, only to see an incompetent and corrupt private education company close South Leeds - oh Heavens, I've wondered into my wrong blog!

Anyway, I'd like to think that playing pans with Foxwood and South Leeds is what has given you the strength to keep going, especially when it must have seemed that brilliance was no match for money and power.

Well, I was trying to go through all my gigs chronologically, and I was just heading towards the 60th anniversary of TASPO [Trinidad All Percussion Steel Orchestra] playing the first Festival of Britain in 1951, which was about to feature the Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows and the Leeds Silver Doves when I discovered that the Leeds Carnival Committee had run out of money and couldn't afford the massed Foxwood Carnival Steelband.

Debs I wish I couldn't believe it, but I could. Sadly I could. I looked on the Leeds Carnival website to see who was on the committee. Who thought it was okay to dismiss the bands who were good enough for the Festival of Britain at the Southbank Centre [only 4 weeks earlier], who were good enough for the Royal Albert Hall [2 years previously], who were good for Huddersfield, Manchester, Otley, Featherstone, Brotherton Carnivals, invited to London and Birmingham.

When we were asked to play at the Festival of Britain, I felt the same glow that I had done in 1993 when I was asked for the first time to play on a float at Leeds Carnival. And, once you get over the nerves, there is nothing like playing your hometown. And, when we were asked to play in London, the particular slant was on how pans had got into schools and reached Britain's youth. So the Festival organisers asked the National Festival of Music For Youth to reccommend some bands, and they reccommended us from Leeds. And there was nothing like playing for your capital city, and representing your town, and representing it with students from the inner city of your town, including Hyde Park [that's in Leeds], Chapeltown, Harehills, Osmondthorpe, Beeston, Kirkstall, Holbeck, Middleton, Little London, Burley.

Debs, it doesn't get better than that.

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