This report of Elkfest '97 is reproduced in full from the Wapping Daily Reporter with the begrudging permission from the publishers
ANOTHER HIT FOR VAL DOONICAN
Elkfest 97, Saturday August 9th,
John John reports
This years Elkfest, now an annual event, following the 12 month gaps, was another huge success for all concerned. Far from the madding cow it wasnt, but if mousse is to your liking, this was the place to be and definitely the place to be when it was happening.
Leaves on the line
As usual (age 67), the evening kicked off the night before and much volume in the Fleur Deli was to be had by all (a variety of ages). This was soon to be eclipsed by the ritual sampling of the ale, the construction and placing of the Elk Parking sign, and the blowing up of Rotterdam, performed by the Whitehall Faculty choir, conducted by Prof. Daz Wilo, using a large slice of Emmental (organ accompaniment courtesy of a monkey called Simon (5). It was only later that the show began, with the traditional mixture of pressed trousers and distressed flares.
Weve seen some pretty impressive cabinets over the years, but this years surpassed even a hat stand I once owned. Previous Elkfests have given us a little bit of black magic, spontaneous rutting, and a whole series of prime ministers.
This years cabinet gave us matching sideboards and a brand new compare. Owing to contractual difficulties, Dave Elk (40) was unable to hamper proceedings (the hamper was still in Rotterdam, allegedly), so Paul (Lawford) Elk (over 6¢ ) stepped into the breeks. And what a fine step it proved to be (size 11) - and equally fine breeks (chest size 42, European toggle rating). With a plomb and a well insured inside leg measurement, he quietened the throng and, with the atmosphere thick with the heady aromas of joysticks and infants, the cabinet was assembled.
The first cabinet act proved just how international this event has become. James and Angela Elk (ages withheld, pending court decision) blended linoleum string guitar with a string of words, which were hard to understand, although I was most impressed by the "fuselage" reference.
The following act saw the introduction of advertising. (A first for the Elkfest, but with the financial difficulties of the past year, I think we can overlook the moral implications of promoting a well known brand of cigar). "We did it Hamlets way" was a Master Crass from "With a hey nonny nonny mooses". Jonathan Elk (21, a student at RADE) was excellent, showing much poise and angularity in the face of such blatant absurdity. We were certainly able to appreciate his projection, when his hunch was at the right angle. Overall, perhaps too anally retentive for the average elk, but "Loose buttocks costs lives" is a phrase well worth remembering.
Juicy and Lassie were next to tread the border of the herb garden. Phil and Haydn (obviously stage names) entertained and amused with a witty demonstration of deja vu. Projection (quite a recurring theme in this years festival) was again to the fore, but on this occasion utilising ice cubes. The Scandinavian subtitles proved a great hit with the reindeer.
The follow up to this was a kind of ZZ Top meets Blue Peter. The three goateez displayed a fine set of beards, but then ruined it all by attempting to sing. I enjoyed the maracas, but I do question their decision to use them as a percussive device, or have I missed some hidden irony? Their support band, the three Rowdies rather outshone them, with a song called "one two, one two", which had a very catchy chorus.
Then there was Paisley Goes To Limerick. Great acting and a brilliant telephone, but the act was marred by some unseemly heckling from beyond the hedge. I believe it was probably the reindeer, although it might have been the Oslo-Irish Coach party - they had just returned from their annual conference and were very the worse for wear; not a decent pair of trousers between them. Alternatively, it may have been the author of the sketch; sources close to the writer told me he was not pleased that the editor took out Ulrika Johnsson, as hed been hoping to do that. One can only admire Carol Vordermans professionalism, she pressed on regardless. Quite an achievement for someone whos never been to Preston.
The next act was an experience. Martin Weavers to be precise. The Blues Brothers were in fine form as usual, even if they have changed a bit since the last time I saw them. The only disappointment was that the act seem to be short on the basket weaving we all expected.
You can always rely upon Doctor Philip Bailey to bemuse, confuse, and refuse to let you know what planet he comes from. Its safe to say that the good Doctor (45) has made anomaly his trademark. Yet again, he did not disappoint. The final act, "Fiscal Verses" (Fatwah pending, subject to disapproval by Lawson, Lawson and Lawson, undertakers to the ERM) was a triumph of inaccessibility over the square on the hypoteneuse - this year it was a triangle. Unbeatable value!
Emu in tree
Last years understandable self-indulgence was replaced by a wide-ranging, tree-climbing chicken, but most of the festival go-ers missed this and watched the brand new set from Crimson Shadow (5, but suitable for 3-10 year olds).
With no line-up changes to worry the old faithful, they took to the stage with their usual ambling preamble and a staggering confidence, which belied their lack of live exposure, but confirmed their state of inebriation.
Carol Elk (the youngest) belted out the lead yokels, making way for her to sing the lead vocals without having to climb over the Young Farmers Association. Angela Elk (mostly major thirds) reversed a car, whilst performing the backing vauxhalls. James Elk (45 r.p.m.) tinkled the mock ivories and was kind to elephants. Paul Elk (4 or 5, depending on the badge) made the low noises, but avoided BSE. And Dave Elk (four teas, please) made some strange noises on the sick string (some of them intentional).
Augmented by the late arrival of the percussionists, they turned out another rousing set of cutlery, which one could only liken to knives and forks.
What it lacked without Lucky Man, it more than made up for with a visit from the Police and a horse called Sally. But surely the highlight was the solo from Paul Elk (4+5 = 45), who wowed us with a battery operated Victory V ... Hot!!!
The curtain faller was yet again another of those visual radio plays. And despite the name change (RADE becomes Our Des!) little else had changed, other than a larger cast, a brand new radiophonic workshop, all the words, and the fact that everything was very different this year.
Last year, there was a lot of talk about puddings (although we saw little of them). This year there was talk of ice cream, but again, I saw very little evidence of this. "Sparse Wars - in case you cant hear anything" sported a fine cast (pity about the broken leg).
Samantha, as lovely as ever with her fine twirls and scoring with everyone, put everyones shoulder out of joint and was seen changing at every opportunity. She certainly knows how to ring a bell. Napoleon Solo took time out of trying to conquer Europe and with tape recorder firmly in heel put Liverpool on the map (somewhere near Manchester). Doctor Philip Bailey cropped up again as a paddy field, played by Alec Guiness, and delivered the immortal line "Now thats a grain Ive not seen in a long time". Large Waders lacked rubber, but, with suitable assistance from the RDES radiophonic workshop, gave the idea of suffering from a cold a hitherto unrealised sensual dimension. She wielded a most impressive light-sabre to boot. Fluke Skywalker lacked acne and the Princess Liar lacked insufficient clothing, but redressed the balance with some fine method anger.
The highlights as ever included the finely assembled FX team and the appearance of the Rev. Ivan Poisely, from Oslo. With only a shabby table as a prop, he turned the evening into an understatement of breath taking proportions. Where would we be without this unique talent? Not in the Ear Nose and Throat department thats for sure, to be sure.
And so, with the evening light long faded and the makeshift overnight accommodation beckoning, it only left the traditional bedroom farce. Alas, despite some furtive attempts at name badge swapping, this was not the confusion it was last year. Instead, the insomniacs contented themselves with the wrong trousers and a close shave. But it didnt end there ...
I cannot let this review go without mentioning this years sponsor - the real star of the show. Quite unexpectedly, Val Doonican put in an appearance as a barrel of Dogs Bollucks (5.2%). Not to everyones taste, but it certainly slurred my handwriting. Gone were the acoustic guitar and the dubious cardigan - bring on the new Val. They seek him here, they seek him there, that damned elusive butterfly.
Which only leaves the surreal breakfast. Less surreal than Elkfest 95, but surpassed in terms of garish trousers.
As a masterpiece of timing and visual disorientation, the presentation of the outlandish leg-wear was saved until the last moment. Like Sauls conversion on the road to Domestos, we were blinded by the sheer affrontery of said leggings. The shorts had dazzled, but these trousers left us little choice as to our choice of sunglasses. I doubt well see them at Elkfest 98, but with a good opthalmist there is hope. There is faith, hope and charity, but the greatest of them all is the Elkfest. Like the Moose Trap, may it run forever.
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