PAT N TAP
The absence of Doctor Philip Bailey, to perform the official opening ceremony of the tapping of the barrel, was neatly side-stepped by a last minute replacement. Uncannily looking nothing like the aforementioned Doctor, Professor Pat Pending was ideally placed to do the honours; by way of being very close to the barrel and possessing a mallet. Much tapping followed and with the ale aflowing, the festivities began.
GONE WITH THE WIND
The bitter north-east-south-westerly wind didnt know where it was coming from, but it knew where it was going to ElkFest. It had been a packed house when The Simpletons hit the screen, but by the end of the show only the tumbleweed showed a passing interest, as it tumbled weedily between the empty seats. Is there a doctor in the house? went up the cry, as an outbreak of hypothermia was feared. Can you wait a few years? replied a Festal Virgin. Fortunately, casualties were averted by the annual migration of Elks to the warmth of the kitchen.
THE RETURN OF THE TERABAC
The warmth of the Lodges opening speech, which marked the official-official opening of ElkFest 2008, was in stark contrast to the previous nights big chill. His usual reminder of the increasingly complex and convoluted rules and regulations, which ElkFesters flaunt at their peril, was punctuated with a great deal of welcome well-wishing and unaccustomed wit. One can only assume he has employed a ghost writer.
The spectral theme was continued when MCs Phil and Hayden sported sorting hats and bestrode the stage to introduce Harold Pinter and the Meaningless Silence. This involved a lot of spell-checking of their crib sheets and a modicum of speed-dating, as Festers were paired off to perform unspeakable acts of impersonation. With a flourish of a magic twig, we witnessed any number of unlikely combinations, such as a Unicorn and George Bush. (The unlikely juxtaposition of mythical beast meeting a beast better off mythical was a triumph, if a fortuitous one).
This years inaugural Doctor Philip Bailey Memorial Lecture was delivered by Professor Pat Pending and paid great respect to the absent Doctor Baileys theory that more is less. With a theme based around God is obviously a woman, he dug a hole so deep that well as far as we know, hes still trying to climb out of it.
Jemma and Andy followed with Factoids: a presentation of statistical impressions. I particularly enjoyed their mime of standard deviation, especially with ElkFest having adopted deviation as a standard from its first ever outing.
Suzannas literary slot was a veritable Caribbean romp. It reminded me of Banjoing Zephaniah but not entirely, fortunately, as banjos have been banned at ElkFest since its inception and rightly so. She can rap with the best. An ElkFest best. She was hip to my hop; trim and dap, like Phils new hat. M&Ms were like smarties to her partys piece; shes the high priestess of the Fest; shes the best, the best, the rest are less oh yes oh yes .. (its a librarian thing).
Anne and Colins Lest we forget was an Elksheimers awareness sketch. They drank champagne, whist listening to Boyzone or did they? In a parallel universe, it was all real ale and vibrant shorts at the Fleur or was it? Maybe it was a surreal amalgam of all these things or maybe not but we will all remember it or maybe not.
Then the Four Goatees hit the stage, with their new shit single These beards were made for drooping and reached unprecedented heights, best witnessed by those who were standing on their heads.
The assembled elks had barely seconds to recover, but recover they did, and rewardingly so, as Moo provided a fitting and heartfelt finale to the cabaret. With a reference to Noggin the Nog, how could she not fail to melt the permafrost of the most Siberian of ElkFesters? So, with glasses raised to the Lodge Porter, in recognition of his many years of existence, we witnessed an ode to end all odes, a poem to end all poems, a closing act to give closure. The rest was silence apart from the noise.
AIRDO A PLAY ON RADIO
This years ElkFest Radio Play was another runaway/look-the-other-way/hear-another-day success for the ElkFest Players, with a brand new Bond film. What it lacked in visual special effects was more than made up for by the excellent hair styles.
Phil played Bond-OO-Birds-Eye-Sven and was the epitome of suave sophistication (a trim performance, until he donned the eye patch). His adversary - Cat, who played The Mistress, provided yet another Tour de France performance, but without the banned drugs; as ever excellent, most excellent.
Hayden, as Doctor Watson, was oh-I-say-splendid, whereas Hayden, as Q, lacked a Star Trek TNG dimension. On balance, it was hard to choose between the two they could have been twins. Sludge, played by Dave, the master of the understudy, was challenged by the doubling of his word count 4 this year. If he ever masters the English language - hell be intelligible.
Jemma proved a gem as Miss Moneypenny, but was robbed of a soliloquy due to a script writing cock-up (and a lack of a read-through). And Sue, as M, delivered a mistressful display of authority, without even a hint of animosity, which her early departure from the Big Bother House (last year) would have merited.
Suzanna, as Sheila, added a mysterious element to the mysterious hatch on the mysterious island, with Andy, as Guy, making great entrances and exits.
As ever, Samantha (played by Paul M) excelled with the special effects, expertly demonstrating the listen again facility; but Im not sure that listen again is supposed to be listened to again, whilst its actually happening.
However, they were all upstaged by a bear. Clive (played by Clive) only had to say Grrrr and the entire cast would exit stage left pursued by bear the Bard would have been proud (not that hes ever turned up). One gets the feeling that hell be back.
And before you could shake a snake at a mongoose, it was time for Crimson Shadow to enter centre-stage. They opened with Weather With You; of which we were all too well aware. They continued with Long Train Running. I took umbrage on two counts: 1) long; implying plenty of seating room and 2) running; which surely warranted at least some sort of refund. Their rendition of Ticket to Ride didnt help to be honest.
AN INTERRUPTION AT THE INTERVAL
Sneaking in between sets, almost unnoticed save for the majority of ElkFesters, we were treated to the vocal delights of a duo called Harmless in Bubble Wrap. My only pervading confusion is that they failed to elaborate on their request for me to Look Up. Look up what? My Chambers 2003 was at my fingertips, but well Im still waiting.
AND THE BAND PLAYED ON
Interval over, Crimson Shadow reappeared to much dancing. Some of it in slow motion verging on freeze frame surely it is only a matter of time that the band take on those innovative dancers (Jem and her insignificant other) to boost their visual appeal.
Set 2 was accompanied by a great deal of heckling, but when Richie stepped up to the mic and had words, the situation was calmed and the band played on. Aint no sunshine was a little obvious, noting the lateness of the hour. And Shoop Shoop seemed a little tame compared to the 4 Goatees Droop Droop earlier in the evening. And with one of the Goatees mumbling discontent, it was time for Sandra to have words. She did and the band played on.
Dancing in the Street invoked some debate, but Richard played an unusual inversion of E7, and the band played on. When Stand By Me started, I was being encouraged to freeze-frame dance by a young ElkFester, but unfortunately I was too busy with my biro. Jane had words, so did Andy, so I put down my biro, adopted a frozen pose, and the band played on.
It was almost the end of the show before Paul had words. He complained that all the drum sticks had been eaten, which made his job exceedingly difficult. But having had words, he sat down and the band played on. Then stopped. It was the end of the show.
IS THIS A BACON SANDWICH I SEE BEFORE ME?
The traditional surreal breakfast has been sadly lacking in recent years, so it was with much astonishment, but delight, that I discovered Colin and Anne wandering aimlessly in the ElkFest vicinity, claiming that theyd forgotten where it was. Elksheimers can be alarming and amusing or all 5. I only counted 7, but then I could only see 3 Goatees.
The motorway stretched out before me and yawned into the distance. I thought of all the other ElkFesters winding their journeys wistfully away to their respectful homes, buoyed in the knowledge that our paths would converge again another year older, another year wider. Until ElkFest 2008 may the year be kind to you.
This report of Elkfest 2007 was reproduced from the Widdington Evening Moose using the services of a specialist hole examination consultant