THERE’S SOMETHING MISSING
“It’s unprecedented,” said the Lodge Porter, although it took him all morning to find it in his thesaurus. The marquee had been constructed and the lights and PA installed without a single wasp being encountered. “It’s unprecedented,” he reiterated. What is? I asked. “The word I was looking for,” he replied. But his response had taken so long to arrive, I’d forgotten my original question.
STANDING ON CEREMONY
In the long history of ElkFests, the Lodge Porter’s speech has never been interrupted ... until this year. When he finally introduced himself, for the benefit of Festal Virgins, a plethora of ElkFesters rose to their feet and claimed to be the Lodge, but they soon realised that they were in fact Spartacus and sat down and behaved themselves. The Lodge’s speech was, as ever, inspiring and funny in equal measures, but with an unusual twist we discovered Mrs Treliss’s middle name. Who would have thought Dot would be her middle name? We have yet to discover her first name ... unless it’s Mrs.
OH LIMP ELKS
The 2012 Olympic torch relay took 70 days to tour the UK, travelling within 10 miles of 90% of the population, whereas the 2012 OlympElk torch relay took only a few minutes, travelling within 500 miles of 100% of the UK’s population. It would’ve been even faster if Shaun hadn’t started humming Vangelis when it reached Dave, who immediately switched into slow-motion before passing on the torch. And with there being only one torch, it was a simple – yet dramatic – task to raise it to light the OlympElk flame.
Unlike the 2012 Olympics, which hosted 204 competing nations, the 2012 OlympElks hosted two teams: Team Wonder and Team Two. The gold rubber band event was undoubtedly the dressage. This delicate and highly skilled form of broom-riding was contested between husband and wife, Cori and Mike. Cori emerged as a clear winner, with her perfect demonstration of solo synchronised swimming without a snorkel. Her grace and elegance out-broomed Mike, who was more a brace of elephants misunderstanding the meaning of swimming, although he was hindered by his snorkel. The Spelling B decathlon ended in a draw, when, after a steward’s enquiry, “be” and “bee” were deemed equally acceptable. So it was all down to the three-legged hokey cokey, but it ended in a tie, which is how it started strangely enough.
Congratulations to the organisers – Phil and Hayden (the Coe and Becks of the OlympElks) – who delivered this extravaganza on time and with no budget. A resounding success.
THERE’S SOMEONE MISSING
Following on from last year’s uncharacteristic brevity, Doctor Philip Bailey delivered an even shorter cabaret act, by not turning up at all, so it was down to Suzanne to set the roll bowling. It was another “ode to Lodge”, but with a twist. Inviting him to take the first dance of the evening, she risked a heightist theme. It was a slow dance, bordering on the static, and certainly not a Twist.
And then it was “In search of the ultimate weapon”; a confusing tale from the pen of Andy Bass. He was playing Captain Jean Looks Puckered, in the style of Kirk, and was threatened by a recurrence of hives. Cat, as the Bored Queen, was only thwarted by Jill (as Doctor Cleverly Brusher) and Cloud (as an Italiano-Glaswegian Data – type-casting again). Their rendition of 21st Century Schizoid Man certainly put paid to any ideas of world domination by the Bored.
The reduced Goatees followed with a distinct lack of rehearsal. They’ve always had problems with counting, but this year it was also a problem with counting in. When they finally found the right note and the right time, they spoiled it all by attempting to sing and play guitars at the same time.
And then Karen graced the stage. Not another ode to the Lodge, I hoped; but I hoped in vain. Can he absorb any more rhyming verse before he explodes in a peak of adulation, I wondered. It seems he can.
Clive’s act was entitled “Ukulele tuning for beginners”. Having flashed his copious notes to the assembled thong, he played one. I had no idea that ukuleles could be in tune, but then he played another one and my original preconceptions were justified. The Campaign for Ukulele Disarmament staged an impromptu protest and Clive was relocated to the acoustic stage.
Finally, fresh from their OlympElks success, Phil and Hayden closed the cabaret with a song and dance routine. And what a closing ceremony it proved to be. We had wheels going round and round, windscreen wipers swishing to and fro, and something going up and down. Can’t quite recall what the latter was, but it was all very impressive – and not at all routine.
1111Playing in a diamond formation, but with wing-back Andy trying to get forward as often as possible, Progability Theory took to the main stage with their usual disregard for simple time signatures and adherence to acceptable set times.
Opening with Black Night (accurate), they followed with Read Rain (but the weather forecast was inaccurate), continued with Fallen Arches (increasingly true, as many ElkFesters would sadly agree), and closed with Replacement Hip Trooper.
They thought it was all over – some people were already heading for the bar – but it’s never over until one of Lodge’s favourites are played. With a late substitute (Shaun – left back – until the mellotron was needed), the set was concluded with Startled by Bubble Wrap.
PLAY IT AGAIN SAMANTHA
This year’s ElkFest play was “We are not a moose”, which proved to be a royal command performance. This didn’t faze Samantha in the slightest. She confused audience and cast in equal measures, by doing a spontaneous remix of the special effects early on in proceedings.
There was some mention of the Higgs Boson, but being a radio play, it was difficult to see. The Higgs Boson gave way to a Hog’s Bison, which deferred to a Ship’s Bo’sun, who was just nudged out of the way by a Big Hose Ban.
I managed to lose the plot early on in scene one, when I was distracted by the sub-plot, which involved a whole lot of ironing. But I picked it up again in the final scene when the Elk Particles arrived; don’t think I missed much in between.
Amazing Holmes! Whee!
LET THEM EAT CAKE
Then it was time for the cake; a rather special cake. A rather special cake, baked by Loo and delivered by Si. I had the honour of lighting the candles (or was it the fact that I was one of the few ElkFesters to own a lighter). [And that’s your claim to “flame”, is it? – Ed].
CRIMSONS HAD (even more) OW
Finally the headline act Cringing Saddos (© Shaun 2012) stormed on to the main stage. As the Lodge had predicted in his opening speech, they lined up in a 4-1-1 formation, with their recent signing (lone striker Emma) spearheading the sonic attack. Although, the familiar wall of noise, designed to keep people out, has now become an attractive fence to draw people in and keep them there.
There was something old, something new, all things borrowed and very little blues. The new arrangement of “Perfect” fell into all these categories, being one of their old numbers, but with a recent make-over, heavily leaning on the original version, and definitely not Blues. “Come up and see me”, with its usual avant garde intro certainly made Shaun smile – again. And a rousing Nutbush City Limits closed the set, sending the chickens into the safety of their coops, before the encores arrived.
In between all of this mayhem, Ritchie provided a history lesson regarding one of the Beatle’s tracks. Evidently (but I have yet to confirm this on Wikipedia), the Beatles performed at the Kremlin, when Bernard Breslaw was president. Well – carry on Putin.
But the highlight was the introduction of another brand new track. Half way through the set, the band joined a golf club. Being a very traditional (men only) golf club, Emma was excluded, so Andy became the lone striker. Crimson Shadow get progressive – a rare treat.
THE SURREAL BREAKFAST
I learned a very interesting fact during the traditional surreal breakfast. Evidently, chickens have lids. Aliens visit during the night, lift the chickens’ lids, insert the eggs, then replace the lids. Chickens lay the eggs, which don’t have lids. Maybe I was still dreaming ...
Much later, as Lodge and I sat drinking coffee, looking out across the now empty fields towards the pylons marching across the horizon, Lodge reflected on this year’s epic ElkFest.
“So many highlights,” he said. But what was the highlight, I wondered? Was it the lighting of the OlympElk flame? Or the rendition of 21st Century Schizoid Man in the cabaret? “No, it was the iron,” replied Lodge.
You mean the sound effect in the radio play, I ventured. “No,” said Lodge, with a distinct scowl, “the golf club in the Crimson Shadow set.”
And then it started raining. “It’s just a shower,” said Lodge. But the shower became a deluge. It seemed a good time to go home. And so I did.
This report of Elkfest 2012 was stolen by hacking into Bob kayak boB’s mobile phone. He is currently seeking compensation.