ENTROPY AT THE ELK
As Billy Bremner once said, there are ElkFests, damned
fine ElkFests and everything else is er yes, black, two sugars please, but in
the damp afterglow of this years ElkFest, the quote which springs to mind is
Bring me the head of Michael Fish (A nun).
Yes, we had weather. But with
ElkFestivity being the bugger to convention that it is, out came the old
blithe spearmint of 99 and out of chaos was born an ElkFest Jacques Cousteau
would have been proud of.
A LONG TIME TO
GROW IN A NURSERY FAR FAR AWAY
Arriving at the new-look festival site, via the
impressive, nettle-lined avenues, I was mobbed by a small gathering of Elks,
who were holding a rally outside the new-look maximum security gates. They were protesting against the Lodges
extensive restructuring and demanding a repeat performance of the
Scandinavian behind the hedge cabaret act.
inside the Fest complex (aka Porters Syndrome), I was greeted by the Lodge,
who explained that I had arrived a day early.
At this point I realised I had arrived a day early, but unperturbed as
ever, the Lodge shrugged his garlic shrug and directed me to the new-look
Elkives Wing. Samantha had promised to
show me the latest entries in the visitors book, but she didnt turn up. Pity really, as Id been looking forward to
getting it out and perhaps making an entry myself.
MOVE THOSE BOUQUETS FORWARD THE FRAGRANCE IS GOOD
In the blink of an elk, it was Friday evening and the official opening ceremony beckoned. Doctor Philip Bailey was once again the wielder of the mallet and tapped the barrel with the greatest of ease, although his dope test later tested negative which was a surprise. In a brief but revealing interview, he told me how he prepares for this vital duty. I am a great believer in adopting the horizontal position, he said. Fine words from a great man and perhaps a philosophy we could all adopt.
And so the
festivities began. Unfortunately I
missed the al fresco film premier of Star
Wars Episode III GLADIOLI, starring
Alan Titchmarsh and a pint of Guinness, as someone locked me in the
shed. Making my escape, by following
Elsa the lioness through an abandoned mine shaft, I arrived just in time for
the Saturday nights entertainment.
ON MY SIGNAL UNLEASH THE HERBACEOUS BORDERS
emerged directly in front of Stage B, but there was no-one there apart from a
small gathering of smouldering elks, huddled under a large umbrella. A particularly taciturn elk was standing a
few yards away, strumming a guitar and complaining that it was always him who
ended up getting wet, despite the unusually large size of the umbrella. At this point I realised it was raining.
It was a
dark and stormy night, which the Met Office had failed to point out, and the
action had relocated inside the lodge.
I hurried to the new-look Press Gallery and settled down to watch the
start of the cabaret. It kicked off in
traditional style with the Lodge Porters address to the nation (broadcast
simultaneously on BBC Moose 24 and Virgin Elk Radio, but due to precipitation
problems, those listeners at the wrong end of the piece of string heard a
repeat of the Scandinavian behind the hedge sketch).
rousing speech, which included a letter from Mrs Trellis, who apologised for
the dodgy weeds and bubble-wrap on her keyboard, the Lodge wrapped up warm
and prepared to brave the elephants outside.
However, before he could pass the baton back to our MC, Mr Paul
Muchelk, proceedings were interrupted by demonstrators from the Scandinavian
Shouting Society, who held a masked rally to demand reinstatement of the
hedge. Fortunately security guards
were on hand to escort the antelopers from the stage.
THESE ARENT THE DIMMOCKS YOURE LOOKING FOR
averted, the cabaret was all set to continue, when up popped another
gatecrasher. It was none other than
that self-confessed wielder of the red book, Mr Eammon Aspelk, and with his
immortal words This is your loaf still ringing in our ears, we watched as the
Lodges baguette flashed before his eyes.
with one of the finest displays of penguin handling Ive ever seen and was
followed by a tearful red onion with his younger brother and sister, Juanita
and Dave. Quite who was who, Ive no
idea, as their Scandinavian accents were identical. Then there was Isabelle, or to state her
full name, Isabelle really necessary on a rocking chair made of unsustainable
South American hard-wood or is it better to let nature take its course and
see what happens when Val Doonican sits down.
I believe shes a soiled specialist; who once paddled McGintys goat up
the Amazon. No such doubts about the
next guest however. All the way from
Bratwurst-Uber-Sausage, Phil turned up to claim his deposit back.
It was good
to see the Lodge game enough to accompany Elsa the chicken in an impromptu
display of synchronised swimming, even if it did lack the obligatory
nose-clips. The artist formerly known
as Geoff Hurst put in an appearance to present the Lodge with a sculpture,
entitled this is your log, and I thought one of the famous balaclava five had
turned up, but it proved to be the Lodges accountant querying a VAT receipt
for the removal of the hedge.
point, four badly-bearded elks broke through the security gates and took
control of the stage. Its the Four
Goatees, cried Eammon, but no-one was fooled by those maracas. Luckily they were frightened off by a blind
hybrid elk, who stumbled onto the scene proclaiming All elks are equal, but
some have more legs.
things down, Mr Muchelk banged his gavel, missed, tried again, then in a fit
of peak introduced the Elk Lecture.
Doctor Philip Bailey was too busy demonstrating the horizontal
position, so onto the beach swam Suzanne, a representative from the Literary
Library Overload. I particularly enjoyed
the poetry reading There goes a wapiti, wharra pity, which I took to be a
parody of Angie Elks Graze Elkily but I was a bit confused about the antler
envy; evidently female elks who carry booze dont suffer from it. Finally it was back to Mr Aspelk and the
final guest, who gave a splendid demonstration of how not to tune a
guitar. I heard a rumour that hes the
Lodges twin brother, but he looks nothing like him.
THATS A CUCUMBER FRAME IVE NOT SEEN IN A LONG TIME
brief interlude, which was filled with a lot of confused elks milling around
wondering when the cabaret was going to start, the ElkFest moved into
pastures new. Not content with a
new-look ElkFest complex, this year the Lodge introduced a complex ElkFest
rule-book, entitled How to vote in the Elk-a-vision Song Contest. This was further complicated by there being
no rules and no book, apart from the red one.
rather like the Eurovision Song Contest, but without all that tedious
listening to songs bit at the beginning and without the obligatory repetition
of a song youve already heard at the end.
Vero and Wogan the Terrible, battled bravely with the technical hitches (most
notably the land-mines from East Cheam booming away in the background and the
laser scoreboard struggling with fractions).
Eire found a spare vote, then squandered it by trying to vote Jade out
of the Big Brother Lodge, and Sue got lost in Belgium. Norways panel was hampered by the failure
of the live video link, but this didnt stop them complimenting Vero on her
stunning off the antler evening dress.
It was a
tense finale, with the final outcome resting on Belgium. Unfortunately the Belgian interpreter was
delayed by a herd of Walloon Elks, who were holding a rally in support of the
old hedge, so we had to wait for the Moose at Ten for the final results.
LOSE THE GROUNDFORCE LUKE (CHAPTER 3)
next break, I was pleased to spot two of the ex-Cambridge lodge indulging in
some impromptu snail-mating and, heartily warmed by this reaffirmation that
elks can still be distracted by small, slimy objects, I returned to the
festivities. Expecting to see Crimson
Shadow take the stage, I was surprised to find the ElkPlay had started.
This year saw the return of the radio play. In Sherlock Holmes and the Great Chin
Robbery, I was pleased to see the title role safely restored to its rightful
owner, Phil. After his abduction by a
rival Fest, last year, some elks wondered if he would ever be seen treading
the ElkFest boards again, but thanks to a freak bank transfer accident, the
Lodge paid the ransom and all was well.
His arch rival, Mistress Cleopatra, was played by Caroline. It was a truly cracking performance, which
whipped the audience into a frenzy of near apathy, then left them high and
damp, as she cackled into the wings with her asp at her side. At least I assume it was an asp, there was
certainly a lot of hissing going on.
The best supporting role was a three-way tie (kipper, old
school and sheep shank). Taking time
out from his leading role in that long-running West End farce, Yes Mistress,
we saw an unusually versatile performance from Doctor Philip Bailey as
Sludge. Famous for his
Stanna-Stairlift Method approach to acting, he was later to comment: I
thought the macaroon was a nice touch.
Matching his ever-changing Aaarghs line for line, was an Amazing
Holmes of a performance from Hayden, appearing as Doctor Watson. With hardly a dent to choose between them,
we then witnessed a panel-beating performance from Sue. Eat, drink and bring on Mary, for tomorrow
we may be dry. But there wasnt a dry
eye in the house, as the soprano strains of A Spoonful of Shergar floated
down, without the aid of a safety umbrella.
Best accident in a supporting role was another three-way
tie (skipper, old school-friend and paisley).
Reinstalled behind Hannibal the lectern was the Lodge, with his usual
bread and butter performance as the anchor-man. Samantha pushed all the right buttons, but
not necessarily at the right time or in the right order, but her Paisley
back-projection had such a shabby realism, you wondered if she was wearing
brogues. Then we had the anatomically
challenged Sven, who didnt seem to know his chin from his kneecap, but he
managed to maintain an exhaustive running commentary for the Reindeer-phonics
Workshop; it was like listening to Kenneth Wolsten-Holmes on Play for
Today. He was last seen staring into
the new-look orchard and shaking his head.
Some elks have been bewitched they think its October, he said.
IF YOU STRIKE ME DOWN ..
In the confusion of this years rutting order, some elks
were milling around waiting for the cabaret to start, while others were
migrating to the camp site. At this
point I noticed a small gathering of elks, who were holding a rally in favour
of the new-look Elk site and demanding to see the all new Scandinavian
crouching behind a low wall sketch.
Lodge was spotted clearing firewood from Stage D. Is that the Log Porter? asked Phil, but
no-one was listening. They were all
looking to the skies. Praise be! they
cried. Play stops rain! read my text
message to the news desk. Wheres my
balaclava? said Dr Bailey. The rain
had stopped, the stage was wet, and the elks gathered for Crimson Shadow
I SHALL HAVE MORE BEGONIAS THAN YOU CAN
Without waiting for the starters hors doeuvres, they dived
headlong into Moose-Hand Allez.
Pausing briefly to welcome the arrival of the Belgian interpreter and
dip into the Bob Bon Creams, they floated gently through Un Temp. Carols vocals sparkled like the early
morning dew, despite the bass and guitars attempts to put her off by playing
in time. Then in He Rows it was all
hands to the pump, as Phil rescued a drowning rabbit from a soggy cat, but he
wisely elected not to swim with the dolphins.
Realising it was too late for In The Midnight Hour, they defied the
heckler and produced an ironic performance of Just Bad Luck.
I think that was when the rain started again. The scene was like a Mary Poppins
convention at a Uriah Heep concert.
The auditorium was awash with umbrellas glistening in the
torchlight. Undeterred, they fished
out a fine version of All Around My Gills and closed the net with Splash The
Night Away. Then before you could
shake the rain from your anorak, they were back again for Damp Between The
Sheets and a thunderous version of Mud Splat, with Mr Bassman gallantly
rutting his ruff.
their exhausting world tour came to a soggy end. As they packed away the famous Crimson
Shadow Wash of Sound for another year, I was tempted to buy one of their CDs,
but I dont really need any more coasters at the moment.
STAR WARS EPISODE IV A NEW HOE
music over, I joined the queue for the traditional ElkFest FilmFest. Having missed Friday nights premier of Star Wars Episode III : GLADIOLI, I didnt want to miss the chance to see the sequel or,
even better, a re-run of the Dalelk Mustard Plant. (If you only see one film, which reveals
what really lurks inside a dalelk, make sure its this one). Alas and an Elk, someone had stolen all the
videos to make crop circles in an adjacent field, and despite valiant
attempts by the search parties to retrieve it, we were left stranded up Geoff
Hursts sculpture creek without a saddle.
WE WHO ARE NOW DRY SALUTE YOU
rain finally stopped, the weary elks emerged from their tents in their Sunday
best and elegantly grazed through the new-look surreal breakfast. Fortified by the excellent Columbian
coughing and some Scots Porridge Goats, I said my final farewells.
point I spotted a solitary elk, who was holding a racing bike. In his other free hoof, he held a placard
demanding that the Scandinavian should be bricked up inside the perimeter
wall and hidden inside a hedge. I made
a mental note to check my text messages for spilling mistakes and drove away
with the Lodges final words wringing out my ears. My name is Maximus Deciduous Titchmarshius,
gardener to a nurtured sunflower, husband farmer to a herd of elks, and I
will have my vegetables!
This report of Elkfest 2002 was reproduced in full from the Widdington Evening Moose (very late edition) by cutting and pasting using blunt scissors, sticky tape and the Blue Peter Annual 1964