Monday, 31 August 2015

Steel Pan Workshop at Cellofest Ipswich

Well, Debs, does this happen in Science, I wonder. I have just done four gigs in four days with the least number of players ever. Would you ever do the most number of experiments with the least number of test tubes? Exactly! I thought not.
hands up in the hall
Russian songs.Mmmm
Well, no time for reflection or despair. I am off to the Royal Hospital School at Holbrook near Ipswich. Here I am to spend five days teaching steel pans to the loveliest teenage cellists in the world, plus some of their parents and a lot of their teachers.
Now that panic attacks don't include ordinary roads, Rick is horrified to find that, having driven me down all the way to Ipswich, I have purchased a rail ticket for him, and at Ipswich Station he has to bale out, and then I drive on to the Royal Hospital School in Holbrook on the banks of the Orwell. Slumming it, man!
Slumming it at the Royal



Here I am meeting up with Tess, Liz, Reuben, Katya, Penny, Jenny, Carey, Ana, Richard, Helen, Jane, Clare, Margaret, Alex [though actually I work with Alex in Leeds!], Fiona and Fiona again, and others new: Margaret, Sam, Ollie, well too many. Rachel, Dave and new-born later.
I have been given the Howe Common Room to set up the pans in. As Louie, Libby, Ellie, Finlay, Rachel, Alec and all the other wonderful stewards help me unload and set up, I find that I have brought 22 separate steelpans [ie 29 separate ex-oildrums]. I just lost count loading. [My  friend, Max was helping me. It was just too easy to keep loading!] There was a huge pot plant at the side of the room. I thought it would look nice in the middle.
Bex only left me for 2 weeks & I buy more buckets
This is the routine. Get up at ridiculous o'clock [7am], breakfast at 7.30, start teaching at 8.30 then teach, watch the concerts, teach, lunch, break, teach, teach/playtogether, dinner, concerts, maybe teach a bit more, or first time go to Ollie's wonderful samba workshop. By which time, as my parents used to say, the sun would be over the yardarm and time for a glass of sherry. [Well, maybe not sherry.]
wet back
Reuben overdoes the makeup!
The big joint number this year is the Lion King, and Reuben has the music ready for me. I should probably have listened  to it at least once in situ, but it was parents' pans during the Playtogether [that's my excuse]. Luckily Louie and Libby have a handle on the pans bit, so Rhiannon, Barney and I mime our way through the piece, maybe playing the odd right note. We all get our faces painted. Reuben goes over the top and enters the final performance made-up and dressed as you can see, wielding a dangerous broom and teeshirt.
wet front
This year they are selling t shirts. I buy one, hunt down needle and thread and set about losing the sleeves and changing the neckline. This takes nearly two evenings, and I proudly wear it to the Thursday evening concert. As the concert finishes the heavens open, and the shirt is consigned to the drier, i.e. hanging it up overnight in my room in the south-east of England [i.e. a whole load warmer than Leeds] 
 For the Talent Show the stewards play Somewhere Only we Know, and the parents play Go Tell Aunt Rhodie and  Gimme that Old Time Religion. Ace. The we all play This Train is Bound for Glory, at which point the entire audience congas out of the room. So if the pictures look like there's no audience, they are actually somewhere else dancing! Love it!
The stewards do impressions of the staff at Talent Competition, and I was very honoured to find Louie with blue dyed hair,  rolling up his sleeves over the shoulders, and holding up different coloured chairs going "orange orange orange, blue blue blue".
huge mayonnaise. Mmmm
The five days were over all too quickly. The food this year was exceptionally good. The stewards lay the pans out in front of the main building in a sea of cases. Then down to the bottom of the steps where I so busy photographing them as I reversed that . . .well I didn't hit anyone.
Rick arrives and we head back to Leeds. He isn't sure that lions will get served at the motorway services.
Lion surveying a sea of pans
in van mirror
in 4 days trashed the desk

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