Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Foxwood Steel plays Hyde Park Book Club

As a warm up to Carnival Foxwood Steel play George and Hilary's Vintage Emporium Market at Hyde Park Book Club. It was pouring with rain. We didn't have a drummer, but there would have been no space under the marquee and we would have been too loud inside.

We played songs about rain, and a few others. We were me [Victoria], Vicky, Millie S, Sophie, Amy and Georgia forabit.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Foxwood Steel plays Manchester Carnival Sunday

It's probably a hazard of working at A and E that you will be sick a lot, especially at first, so it is with regret but understanding that we have lost Sheeks today.

We reconfigured our loading and our passenger lists, and in the end Chloe and Wanda drove themselves and me [Victoria], Millie S and George over, and we included two trolleys this time. Fehmina was already in Manchester. Again we are the only steelband at carnival.

Trolleys which we needed.

It turns out that the car is not too far from the Trini Latino Tent and its nice little platform, but between trolleying smaller pans from outside the park and trolleying basses, stands, and kit from my car, we are not able to start when wanted to.

We are following a dancing samba band, sadly missed their act as too busy criss-crossing the park with pans. They off to play somewhere else, but they looked great and they were music live! In an arena full of sound systems a refreshing change. And here again is Hilton, a solo pannist who agreed to brave the stage with us for a few tunes.

We all agreed to ditch ditching yesterday's setlist as the surrounding noise was mind-blowing. There was no place for subtlety. As we played another sound system set up next to us. Think he was the organiser of the Latin Trini tent. After an hour he asked us to stop so he could sound check and then he rolled into his set; we put some garlands in our hair, and rolled our pans back across the park.

The others set off to Leeds again and I hung around the park, getting chips again and  tea again from Ifty's friends chippie, sampling the delights of the portaloos again.

George texts to say he has lost his bag, probably in Wanda's car; Wanda unloads at mine; she texts, not got George's bag; I search my car and the Latin Tent; here the DJ insists on sticking me on the stage to receive applause for the band. I say these people didn't see us,  don't do it. They push me out onto the stagette. I contemplate the floor, uncharacteristically embarrassed, and escape.

Met someone else with rainbow hair. She insisted on a selfie. Ace.

Eventually, at 8.20 I put on the hazards and crawl up to the park gates and head for Leeds, shaving twenty minutes of Saturday's time. Only one minor panic attack as I head over a massive flyover as the satnav made me take the M57!

End of the day Saturday

Get on at ten to find Wanda has actually unloaded George's small rucksack and it is on pool table. All I can say is white van, black bag.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Foxwood Steel Plays Leeds Pride

Last year we were three steel pans, two snare drums and assorted shakers. This year we have more than doubled our pannage and kept the percussion much the same. 

Pannistes were me, Vicky, Katie ("Percussion or pan, Katie?" "If I'm playing Pride  I'm playing pan!" Lol), Sophie' and FoxRisers: Wanda and Chloe, and Foxcub, Lola. On wood block was Daisy ("a pan would spoil my outfit". Lol) and on various shakers, Vic and Katie's friends.

Probably ought to give a man of the match to Geoge who played snare drum properly and throughout. I had spent some hrs  shrinking our 2 and 3 chord Songsheets to a manageable A6 in the middle of our pans, but wrongly decided to link them with a single top hole. Tangled within seconds of moving off.

Wanda came round at 11.30, and helped with sorting songsheets; Sophie at 1.  We all adjusted the harnesses and bumbags for maximum marching comfort, and Sophie recalled the boot camp that was Notting Hill as we marched for hours dressed in sheets like Greeks with two painful guitar straps across our backs.

Time was running, I decided we should take the bus. We came out of the house and I  said let's look and see when the next bus is (from the electronic bus stop info display).  Sophie opined, in a matter of fact way that there was a bus.

A bus!
A bus!
As in waiting to cross Hyde Park Road! Run!

Weighted down by our harnesses and pans we sped across the road, dodging the roadworks.

When we finally connected up with Gareth, we assembled on Thingy Street, then on Cookridge Street  where we finally met Diz and Mole, then back to Thingy Street, where static we played every song we had brought. Marching was another matter as the parade set off at a fair lick and we were almost running, tripping over the two year-old in front of us.

Suffice it say that, apart from aforementioned George (and that really is the end of the shout outs!) musically, well let's say, visually was a lot better than musically. All played in good spirit. Got a few thoughts for next year, one is either to be in time always with the samba band that was following us, or possibly not to be so close to the samba band!
We stopped in the crush that was Boar Lane meets Briggate. Just needed to get out. But in Blayds Yard a lull, and a little space which obviously had our name on it, sadly Chloe had to go, the rest of us stayed for "a drink".

Lola loved the crac, and the "ladies" dancing. One drink became two then we really did go our separate ways. Rick collected me Sophie and Wanda from outside the Art Gallery, and I spent a few hours on the sofa in a state of disrepair.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Foxwood Steel plays Manchester Carnival Saturday

In our new van free world we are pleased that this is a small steelband again. We are me (Victoria), Bex, Vicky, Fehmina, George, Wanda, Chloe W.

But we have a secret weapon, namely Manchester Unison, Black Members Section, who are are our percussion, dance and decorating section. (Also Unison have just gone public supporting a new old style left wing Labour party, which makes me even more proud to be associated with them.) Unison are Liz, Sonya, plus.

We take our eight pieces of pan and kit in three cars; George arrives from Birmingham on a train; Fehmina already in Manchester; the rest of us drive over from Leeds. Getting in and out of the park is its usual fraughtness. 

The float is the lead float again. Excellent. With scaffolding again. Excellent. We play our tunes a few times over in the next three and a bit hours. I ask Liz Unison, after two hours how close are we to the end. Not close enough she says. We are exhausted, but that is Carnival!

The usual stuck in the park happens now. We load up my car up to the brim, then it's over the fence for the rest into Vicky and Wanda's cars.  Well it would be, then Mr Jobsworth calls over and says It's against the rules. As the police had not stopped us passing our own equipment over the to the street, we opine that we don't really have an option.

It all gets a bit heated, then we agree to stop.

And wait till he is out of sight and get the last three over, then Wanda and Vicky can drive the others off back to Leeds, and I brace for the four hour wait till I can move my car.

Fehmina and I chill for a bit with Matt and his mate, then I settle down with tea and chips from Ifty who is helping his mates with his mates Fish and Chips van.

Read my book, take a walk, brave the toilets, talk a walk around the area, which by now is just competing sounds and pointless expensive bubble guns.

Read more pages of This Changes Everything.

At 8.15 I drive v slowly and quietly to near the arena [I can feel myself not breathing aloud]where all the other cars will spend the night. A steward stops me as I park and tells me I can't move now. Fortunately I have already moved as far as I need. Ifty says he will keep an eye out on my car for me.

I walk to Manchester Oxford Road, in my usual can't wait at a bus stop, oh there's an 85 going past, says Piccadilly on the front! Oh well, nice evening for a walk.

At Oxford Road someone finds a ticket for Leeds, hears that I am going to Leeds, gives me gratis a ticket for Leeds. This is such a nice thing to happen that I feel good all the way home.

Back home at 10.30, that was a long day but more restful by train. And tomorrow is another day at Manchester Carnival, so rested is a good thing.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows play Stars Awards Evening at Elland Road

Well, even before academisation claimed it freed up schools to innovate and/or be different, local authority schools have had the freedom to end for the summer holiday when they chose. This is done by giving/offering their staff  twilight training sessions. This leaves parents with children at different schools [mostly primary and secondary] facing different holiday times, thus an odd day [or even five!] off schooling  fact not drawn attention to when a teaching union goes on strike, and suddenly parents have to find childcare.

So, when Shaina from Stars asked the Sparrows to play for their Awards Evening on the Wednesday, the last official day of school term in Leeds, I did not expect how complicated that would be. Bex was already a week into her holiday while I was on my last day of teaching; support Vicky and Wanda's schools also closed today.

The older Sparrows, of course were in some cases already on their European tour, at work, or on holiday. So Sparrows were Kristen, Lucy and Deangelo. I called in a couple of favours; Wanda and Vicky had signed up. I would say fresh from their last day of term, but fresh is probably not the right word. I put out a call to Foxwood [who have, in general, benefited from Sparrows support in the past] and Sophie and Varshika came to our rescue. And a few others others tried to help.

We could not have more grateful nor more proud.

Varshika [Sheeks] didn't argue when I asked her if she would play drum-kit [and she hasn't played since before she went to uni!]. She just said, "I'll change my shoes".

Thanks to the parents who juggled their lives and braved the rush hour to bring the players the Hospitality Suite. We played as the Stars arrived, and they listened from the balcony above us. Shaina's face at the end told us we were just the ticket!