The night before we were due to hit Birmingham, I took the tickets out for one last check, as you do, and, as only I do, discovered that I had bought eight, and not ten. Did I panic?
No, I went online and bought another ticket, and I phoned Diane and asked if she would go down in the van with Rick, after all. Then I drove down to the station [luckily five driving minutes away from my house] and collected the extra ticket - just to be sure.
We met at the station next morning, panicked briefly at one player's late arrival, all took the 10.15 train, changed at Donnie, arrived Birmingham, set off for the Official High Street Busking Spot. Alas this was being dug up, so not as picturesque as it might have been.
We were staff: me [Victoria], Bex, Natalie, Yi Bai, Diane and Sparrows: Chloe, Claudia, Georgia, George, Naomi, Bella. We were down on numbers thanks to work and general A level celebrations, so the pan-playing staff had to stand in and play themselves - not really a sacrifice.
Played the High Street; a lady from Trinidad told us to keep on trying. I didn't tell her that we have been told that we sounded as good as bands as people have heard over there - at the birthplace of pan, nor that we won the overall UK World Music Award in 2009, nor that I personally have been playing for over 3 decades, and Bex and Natalie nearly 2!
But today we were doing 20 minutes of classical, pop and swing, with only a little nod to soca. I couldn't tell whether she really didn't think much of us, or whether she didn't really want us to be any good. It happens from time to time. But, at a weak moment, it can be disheartening.
After that we packed the van, so the driver could head back to Leeds in plenty of time to unload and get it back to ArtForms for next day's steelpan workshop.
Meanwhile, the rest of all hit the Adrian Boult Hall where we saw an inspiring array of high quality bands from all over the UK. Our favourite by a mile was the youngest band from Holy Trinity CE School, London [I see arranged /taught by Chris with whom we shared a Festival Hall stage a few years back].
After that it was the 7.03 from New Street [where we found Bex taking a selfie with pigeon], back to Leeds briefly to the land of nod, and for some of us another 3 gigs all in one Friday! Madness!