Description: E:\Data\Web\Elkfest\Elkweb2011\lrelk.gifElkfest 2002Description: E:\Data\Web\Elkfest\Elkweb2011\rlelk.gif

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Bob kayak boB
in Widdington

Description: It's all my faultAs 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.


Description: Security at the LodgeArriving 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.

Safely 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.


Description: Tap tap tap tap - wooshIn 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.


The tunnel 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).

After a 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.


Disaster 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.

It began 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.

At this 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.

To calm 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.


After a 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.

It was 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.

Our hosts, 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.


During the 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.

Description: Hold the tashThis 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.

Description: It's all in the scriptThe 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.

Description: Press button A then B ...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.


Description: Backs to the wall ...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.

Then the 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 Unlogged.


Description: BassmanDescription: LeadmanWithout 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.

Description: I can hear the dolphinsI 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.

Description: I hope I'm not supposed to be singing nowAnd so 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.


With the 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.


When the 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.

At this 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


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