Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Foxwood Steel and Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows at Manchester Carnival. And then there were Seven!

Ah, Tony, the driver is actually on the back of the float. How's that gonna work, then?
And then there were SEVEN
Here's Hylton, long time no see
For very good reasons this blog is subtitled, "And then there were Seven".
Gary - solo
 Did I mention before that, unaccountably, holiday season and steelband request season coincides. Well indeed, and crisis point would be early August [followed by second crisis point in late August].
And, after her first experience of Otley Carnival, Claudia is hesitating about being on a float. We clear up that mini-crisis by putting her dad, Louie, on the float as well. And then surround her with the vinyl sides and give her two full heavy Trinidadian pan cases to sit on. Safe as floats!
Behind us
Rick drives the van across to Manchester, where he jumps out and takes the train back to Leeds. I drive to Alexandra Park, get in at the second attempt, park up by our not-so-fully-scaffolded lorry and go looking for organisers and rope.
I get a message from Vicky - no Ashley at the station! I text him [I should have rung!]
By the time Yi Bai, Vicky, Claudia, Chloe, Tim, Gary and Louie arrive I have nearly finished "scaffolding".
the nervous noticeboard
I find some nice pallets in a bin to use as seats. Vicky hopelessly tries to stop me. Chloe realises that the miniskirt is probably least best clothing for a gig where audience eye-level is below your ankles. She ties a hoody around her waist.
And now Hylton, from Pan O Sonic is at the side of our float playing some tunes. Yo! He isn't persuaded, however, to climb on board.
So here we are, seven of us plus a parent [albeit a musical one]. When Ash finally realises he has slept through the alarm, it's too late. Even he can't make to Manchester in five minutes. Then enter a group of people in matching purple tops, looking for the float that they were expecting to put their banner on. I already know that one driver hasn't materialised and we are about to leave.
What is the banner I ask. UNISON. Well, as NUT and as general education campaigner I offer them the sides of our float, discover they plan to march next to the banner i.e. our float, invite them aboard and hand out tambourines, claves and cowbells. Suddenly we are twelve, and a whole load louder. Plus they have on these lovely matching shirts, and balloons. Later they thank us for the ride. Thank us! I book Elizabeth and her crew for next year!
And there you go. What an honour but what a year to be lead float! And the only steelband at Manchester Carnival. Damien working his socks off to preserve tradition.
And I wondered why there were no white members of UNISON, until I found the leaflet, called "Black Members in UNISON". That would explain it then. And, it did in fact, more than double the number of black players on the float. Never a bad thing for a steelband. [We always used to stand next to Jamillah and Henry etc to get into the papers!].
Actually, when I started Foxwood Steel Band up in all-white Seacroft, Leeds I never dreamt that one day it would be a issue. And really, by now: 2015 it shouldn't be!
If flying by the seat of your pants is for you, contact Foxwood Another Fine Mess Panyard.

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