What It’s All About
Sunday 22nd May
Good pub that High Cross in!
The vista glorious, lush and massive. A fine backdrop to our performance.
Our show went very well indeed. Probably the best so far as it should be in it’s refined later stages. The weather was dry but cloudy and rather cold yet we held our audience in place and both showmen and punters were well rewarded with mutual enjoyment from this unique event.
Having packed down we slipped back into the pub to spend from our bulging hat only to find the kitchen over run and as such probably unable to feed us. The bar manager explained that due to the sudden and unexpected amount of diners for a Thursday the staff were up against it and we would have to wait until later to be fed.
After a while when the rush was over we were presented with a fine meal and once more were able to spend most of our earnings within yards of the position that we had earned it.
We settled around the fireside with an array of local folk to chew the fat and put the world to rights. Present was a bloke called Gaff who had seen our premier on Piel Island and had driven his massive bus over to Broughton to catch up and see the show again. Interesting bloke. He used to run The Swan in Ulverston until recently and is at the moment having a well deserved few months off catching up with himself, looking forward to touring the festivals and searching the county for interesting evenings or events such as ours.
The High Cross was always likely to be a perfect venue for our show. We had been lucky with the weather and it proved to be so.
I slept well, my tent door facing towards what would be the most splendid view in the morning.
Cloud and rain tainted it somewhat. However whilst packing down the tents in the morning our mate Dave Hill (P5) boiled up some coffee and we stood looking over the dark, distant looming weather reflecting that even when inclement our county and home of Cumbria remains beautiful. To my mind there is no such thing as bad weather, simply weather nothing more than wondrous variety. After all if we don’t have rain we will all surely die.
We pushed off down hill towards Foxfield. My leg feels much better now on the flat and downhill so I grabbed hold of Dolly’s handles with pleasure and shoved her down the road towards The Prince of Wales pub, famous locally for it’s ale, whisky and pies. We were to catch a train at Foxfield and avoid the fast twisting road to Kirby however a local bloke told us of a walkway just on the other side of the railway line. We took it in the hope that we would not encounter any locked gates at the far end.
We didn’t and it was a wonderful diversion. Dave Hill shoved along as we tramped the lush countryside. I stopped for a breath and looked. To the north the mountains of the lakes to the south flat wet marshland, behind us to the west the coastline and sandbars of the estuary and eastward and our direction and green rolling hills with distant grazing sheep and cattle leading us to Kirkby.
Beautiful! We are very lucky to live in Cumbria.
Hilly though. As we pushed out of the walkway into the village of Kirby we found ourselves at the foot of a long sloping hill. My leg feeing much better we were lucky to now have three of us to shunt. Pausing once more at the top of the hill we looked down and could plot the path of our seven mile push from last nights venue The High Cross down the valley, along the marsh land and up the same hill we now proudly looked from.
Rested we pushed into our venue a cricket pitch in the shadow of a small ancient church. Promptly at 6.30 our audience gathered. Dave Hill counted 60 in our audience and at one point I asked who was local to the village and 90% raised hands. Perfect. Another good mix of parents and children, grandparents and baby’s. I reflected. This is how things should be. This very evening is perfect, local people gathering in their communal space to welcome strangers with a story to tell and for me what is all about.
In the morning one stop on the train into Askam and a performance in the local playground. Again I was stunned by the swelling audience. This works people want to see us. Whether it’s coverage in the local paper, the blogs, the TV coverage, posters or word of mouth we have 75 people sat on the grass on Saturday afternoon. Families together watching the community coming together. We are local again now. The cars are tooting and passengers waving. As we shunt along to Dalton people stop us and ask after my leg. on arrival in town we are invited into the castle and meet local historians I ask them “are you joining us for tonight’s show”
“I’ve seen it already in Ulverston and I can’t get a sitter tonight”
“I’m bringing my grandchildren what happens if it rains?”
“Who knows” i say. “Something always turns up” come along anyway we will sort something out.
Us Vagabonds are on a roll. Tonights show is going to be a wash out. I have always looked forward to performing in the beautiful grounds of Dalton Church. A perfect and tranquil place to show. I work there a lot with Theresa and BoomDang, I know the space well and as such it was going to feel like a home game. Tonight we were to be joined on stage by the massed ranks of the BoomDang drummers, but the rain and wind are going to spoil it.
The local vicar Ray invites us all into his beautiful church to perform.
“May we set up under the massive glass window?”
“Anywhere you like!”
“Can the children come right up and sit on the carpet?”
“Anything you like!”
“May the Mums and Dads sit in the choral pews to the side? If anybody turns out on a night like this!”
“Of course they can everybody’s welcome. The car parks filling up though!”
BoomDang apprentice drummers start up outside. We set our show on the altar. The audience start to gather as BoomDang themselves stand close by to open the indoor show. The pews start filling. Old faces, new faces, Ten people, thirty. We gather an audience of 130 people.
“Ray may we borrow your pulpit?”
“Anything you like!”
“Ladies and Gentlemen. Please welcome BOOMDANG!”
They strike up. Filling the massive space with deep throbbing beats. The audience turn to watch as they parade down the isle whacking out their unique intricate routine. I sit proudly watching. I directed this one. The air is filled with music and anticipation. Applause! Then our audience gather. The children settle on the carpet. The audience move from pews to the choral seats at our side. I worry. We have to many. Some people won’t see. But this is a church. Designed for performance. Those that don’t fit around the alter can still see from the pews.
We perform our show in massive and ancient surroundings. More applause. More drummers at the end. More applause, more money, counting, sharing, thank you, “yes again sometime” packing, checking the weather outside, pushing, swapping.
We trundle slowly towards home for the night. Janice and Blez are to house and feed us. Blez is a fine cook and chicken curry is on offer. My pockets bulge, Lord Gregg pushing our Dolly I carry the bags with the wine. As it gets dark we push along. People toot, we wave back. Along the way we bump into Theresa and i give her a small bag with half tonights take for the bands share. Up the hill to the house. Tomorrow it will all be over.
After our show at the bandstand I go home. To my wife. My bricks and mortar and another season of shows begins.
The Vagabond life is Possible. People welcome us. Give Us things. Listen to our show or enjoy us simply passing through.
It’s been fun!
It’s not quite over yet.