The original plan was to put together a series of sketches, readings and songs on a theme that broadly related to the venue, but that would have meant script writing, forming a cast and rehearsing together. The easier option was to find people who already had a party trick or two and ask them to do it. The result was a sort of "Paxton's Got Talent" show, but with no auditions, screen trials, sound checks or joint rehearsals. A recipe for disaster, obviously, unless you are really lucky, an eternal optimist, or both.
|Thank-you for the Music: Faith and Clare|
|The crowd went wild!|
Christina Christmas has the best name of anyone I know. (Obscure note: I used to know Keith Christmas too, before he met David Bowie and became a regular Glastonbury feature.) Christina is a stalwart voluntary warden and she sidled up to me near the toilets one day and told me that she would do some limericks if I liked, and she quickly reeled off a few Milliganisms while drawing on a fag (if you are American, it means cigarette but, these days, who cares what or who we draw on?) Then we lost contact and I got a whisper that she had been pulling my leg. Blow me down with a kipper, she turned up in the "green room" (the Rangers' Office) on the night ready to perform, so what could we say?
|Trevor Gunton and Marjorie Chapell |
Down at the Old Bull and Bush.
If Hanna had stayed home, I would have relied on a limited repertoire of sea-shanties and folk songs from which our audience was thankfully spared. If Hanna had not come, I knew that our son Nicholas could fill in for us, so I hauled him up from London for the occasion. I'm so glad that I did. Normally he plays in his own four-piece band with a full drum kit, electric bass and the works, probably a bit much for our little venue. At London gigs they have to push the volume up to cover the chatter of the crowd and the clattering behind the bar. In our intimate setting, Nick could use his voice to full effect and his Fender Telecaster guitar, squeezed through a little Vox portable amplifier sounded like a 1000 watt Marshall stack. Stadium rock in miniature! He writes his own songs and you can download them from iTunes. Some of his music has been used on TV programmes like "Come Dine With Me" and on adverts. When he left Hinchingbrooke School we wondered if he was going to make a living at music or through illustration. It turns out that he does both, but it is the illustration work that pays the bills. See www.nicholasstevenson.com
|Dom from Faith's band.|
But, "No Worries," as they say in Australia. Ranger Matt Hall not only offered, but almost insisted that he would perform Monty Python's Lumberjack Song as long as we provided the backing. Of course, this had to be the finale. How could you top it? After safety head-gear was issued, we all launched into the song with gusto. It was literally a "timeless" masterpiece with Nick and Paul Biggins hammering out the chords and Matt ignoring them. We even got an encore, which was "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" performed in a similar manner. It brought the house down.
As organiser, my original plan was to compere the show myself, but what if I didn't make it?
John Rockett was recommended to me because he had previously hosted one of The Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve's social evenings. He was a big hit, so I gave him a bell! (Ding-ding).
Amazingly he accepted the job, and what a good job he made of it! The whole evening could have been a disaster and John would still have walked through the rubble telling jokes to keep us all amused. He also kept us to time so that we finished dead (well I was)-on 10 pm.
|Jim and Hanna from Ambridge?|
There will be more photos later.