ELKFEST IS TEN
a good whine (and I certainly do) the ElkFest improves with age, and few Elkfesters
would disagree that lying down for a long time is a good idea – especially by
the end of the ElkFest.
Yes, the Lodge declared ElkFest a Free Fest and with that, the perimeter fences were
removed, the car parking widened, and the camping was unrestricted (not that
the latter has ever proved a problem in the past).
IN FRANCE, ONE
EGG IS ENOUGH
When the Small Gathering Dynamics coefficient was exceeded and Doctor Philip Bailey was seen wielding his large mallet, we knew the unofficial opening ceremony was upon us. Small Gathering (SG) done, we fixed our gaze on A Man Does Tapping (wasn’t she in that sci-fi series? – Ed; er, yes, that was the joke – BoB; aren’t jokes meant to be funny? – Ed; you’ve got me there – BoB). And so, with one giant swing for Elk-kind, and a small tap for the Nethergate Crossborder barrel, the beer flowed and the Elk commenced.
night is film night, but I was far too busy to see the support film. I
was conducting interviews with the vocalists from Crimson Shadow and Three of
a Perfect Pair in the kitchen area. Maybe I’m just getting old, but all
vocalists seem to look the same to me these days. Interviews over, I
sat back to enjoy the main cinematic event: Mr and Mrs Smith. It was
badly cast in my view. Mr Pitt (the younger) was far too short, his
counterpart was decidedly unjolly, and neither
resembled Mike or Cori in the slightest. And, typical of US funded
films, the action was relocated from Brighton to somewhere without a beach, a
pier, or a choice of universities.
IN TIME, AN EGG
BECOMES A CHICKEN
As the sun set, like a strawberry jelly behind the distant
electric pylons, and the sky darkened, spreading its vast canopy of intrigue
over the assembled elks, there was a sudden, shared urge to migrate to Stage
B. As fortune would have it, this was exactly where the Lodge Porter
had decided to declare the ElkFest officially
open. It was a rousing speech, which stirred the ElkFesters
into a frenzy of vowel movement and consonant chatter. It even had
Chris reaching into his pocket for £2.59p.
Mr. Mitchell was soon seen to take over, once again fulfilling his MC duties for the cabaret.
First up were the Four Pinters, who presented a magnificent mime, which was also very educational dealing with that tricky subject of how to control a stick of celery in a high wind.
This was swiftly followed by Colin and the 24 Annes, who entertained us with a complex conjuring
trick. Quite how he managed to produce a monologue from so many
different hats will remain a complete mystery to me, but I’m looking forward
to next year, when I believe they are intending to revise the act once again
and make it three in a row. Should be a great hat-trick.
Then we were stunned by a modern day reworking of
Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Thing”. Set in a children’s hour
programme in the sixties, Suzanne, ably assisted by the Lodge himself and his
head gardener, proceeded to perform the dance of the several veiled threats,
culminating in the presentation of Crackerjack quill pens to all
involved. There was some mention of a puck, but not being a great
follower of ice-hockey, I must have missed that reference, but then I never
saw the puck in the slow motion replays either. I was too slow to spot
the cauliflower too, although it may have been a courgette, as the Lodge’s
gardener informs me that he doesn’t grow cauliflowers.
Next to tread the immaculately mowed lawn of Stage B were
Share and Share. I never did quite manage to work out which was which,
but what a revelation they proved to be. It was just as well that
children’s hour had finished and the watershed had passed. But it was
all done in the best possible taste – I particularly appreciated that they hair
brushed out their microphones.
And finally we witnessed the Variously Tanned Mistral
Show. A classic reworking of Woody Allen’s “All you ever wanted to know
about harassing an MC and weren’t afraid to do so”. Unfortunately this
act was slightly drowned out by the Crimson Shadow sound engineer testing the
PA on the main stage, playing some mindless disco track in the
background. The good news is that MC, Mr Mitchell, did survive,
although I believe he has been banished to the spare room for the rest of the
THERE IS ONLY ONE EGG
With barely enough time to boil an
egg, it was time for the support band: “Three of a Perfect Pair”. I
particularly liked the way they began with a pair and later became three, but
I was mystified by the perfect element. They opened with the cucumber
classic: “Frame by Frame”, then swiftly moved on to “Matt, he cooed aside” –
no doubt a tribute to Bernard Matthews and his gentle way of keeping his
turkeys in touch with the state of play. It was an atmospheric set, all
neatly wrapped up with bubble wrap – which was indeed to be the last number
of an outstanding performance.
NEARLY TWO DOZEN
this year’s play, “23½”, very confusing. With a sub-plot involving a
cast of thousands (which I believe were intended to represent the armies of
the North, armed to the teeth with knives, catapults, and a range of
hair-care products, and led by a radiator man called Maximus Inebrius Elkfestius, who had
more stunt doubles you could shake a gladius at) it
was difficult to keep track of the – er, where was
yes. As I understand it, it was a classic tale of mistaken
identity. There was a director, played by Sue, who was thought to be
the Mistress by Sludge, played by Doctor Philip Bailey, who may actually have
been Michael Caine (although his occasional French accent made me wonder if
he was reprising his role as Poirot, despite the
Belgian Connection, which starred Gene Hackman as a can of Pepsi) but, as it
turned out, she (the director) was actually Kirk Douglas and the real
Mistress was in fact Caroline, who reminded me of a pair of vocalists I’d
recently interviewed, but – in fact – she wasn’t, she was Jude the Obscure.
Then there was Grudge, played
grudgingly by Clive, who may have been Jack, but the lack of a beanstalk and
magic beans made me think this was a red herring, played by an halibut, which had escaped from the cabaret.
Quite where the banker, Chris, fitted in I’m not sure, but the Lodge’s
narration (meanwhile) kept things moving along nicely, while Jack, played by
Andy, designed fjords, played by a coastline, and warned people to step away
from the radiator man until the president arrived, sporting a Paisley tie,
played by Michael Palin, and speaking in his familiar dulcet shout, before
turning into Samantha, from Bewitched, played by Anne’s broomstick, played by
an old Four Goatees prop, and then … I woke up in the shower … and before a
Festal Virgin could stab me with her knife, Hitchcock shouted “Cut!” and the
play had ended.
THE EGGS FILES
The Crimson Shadow line-up was a closely guarded secret
this year. A rare interview with the drummer (affectionately known by
band members as “the Hitman”) revealed previously
unknown revelations. After hearing of the band upheaval, I remarked
that to lose a keyboard player could be regarded as a misfortune, but to lose
a keyboard player, a bass player, two vocalists, and a rhythm guitarist
sounds like musical differences. The Hitman, however, had an
alternative explanation. He was convinced they had all been abducted by
aliens. And so it was that their manager invited Agent Smoulder and his
new assistant Agent Noble to investigate.
Hampered by a lack of crop circles,
their investigation drew a blank, but as strange plot twists would have it,
it turned out that the agents were not only skilled in the mysterious
goings-on department, but also not bad at all in the music department.
And with the recent addition of new bass player/pavilion owner – Rich E, the
line-up was restored to all its former glory and the gig went ahead.
Fortunately the aliens had failed to abduct any of the old
favourites, so the likes of Mustang Scully, Midnight Oo-er
and Green-eyed Invader were still in the set, plus some new favourites such
as “Summer of the year In the Court of was released”, “Caroline” (now that
would be a good name for a vocalist), and “Why, why, why deny ya – an encore when you haven’t finished dancing yet”.
Once again, the legendary Crimson
Shadow Wall of Noise rang out across the fields of Widdington.
It never fails to impress the ear drums or depress the neighbours … or should that be the other way round?
SCRAMBLED EGGS –
And so to Sunday morning and the
surreal breakfast. No-one seemed to have the energy for it this year
and my programme notes mentioned scrambled eggs, which, alas, failed to
appear, so it was disappointment twice over. But there was a cake … a
glorious cake … let them eat cake, said the Lodge. We did, he did, and
the caterers just shrugged their shoulders as if to say “why do we
bother? Let them drink beer and enjoy the music. They always pay
ElkFest is ten. May it not rain on the next ten.
This report of Elkfest 2005 was reproduced from the Widdington Evening Moose using a combine harvester, lawnmower and bits of an unidentified flying object.