This report of Elkfest '99 is reproduced in full from the Widdington Evening MooseTHE SHOWER MUST GO ON
Our rotating reporter Bob Kayak Bob (42) reports
Man diets dog
This years Elkfest (5), still an annual event, filling the obligatory 12 (12) month gaps, was another huge success for all interned. Far from the madding cloud it wasnt, but ten true summers do not a nut-roast bake and if a damp squib with a sting in its tail is your cup-of-tea, then this years Elkfest was the one to hold your coffee morning to ransom. Rain often stops play, but not if youre at an Elkfest. The ear was thick with anticipation on the eve of this years Elkfest - there was talk of caging chickens, although the chickens themselves were suspiciously silent on that matter - they may have been waiting for the egg to cross the road, but there was worse to follow. Rain has never stopped an Elkfest and this year was no exception to prove the rule. The first ever rain on Elkfest day drove the proceedings indoors, but with improvisation being a mother of uncertainty, it proved to be more of a help than a hindrance (stop spoonerising - ed).
And so the show went on and began with a brand new cabinet and a new star. Fresh from a ski-ing trip in the Alps, Hannibal parked his elephants in the cinema and took his place, slightly-off-centre-stage, and dominated the proceedings thereafter, only pausing for breath to sample the Chianti (1983) mid-Elkfest. A model lectern, an example to all those youngsters who foster aspirations of one day propping up the crumbling foundations of highly surreal society. 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, a whole series of prime ministers; not to mention Scandinavians who hide behind the hedge or the Swedish abattoir dance ensemble.
Yet again, for this years cabinet, the Mustard of Sermonies was Pillow (Lawford Lodge, age non-tree-ring-datable, as hes not a tree).
Another first this year were the Elk awards, precided over by our genial host Mr P Well-Muted (74), ably assisted by a sadly neglected envelope, supported by a deer called Bimbo (2 hands). I do believe somebody won the best caption category, but who or when remains a mystery.
Then the cabinet really kicked off. First we were entertained by an Emu (legal age), who enthralled us all with her dance of the seven voles, stripping off layer upon layer of crisp fivers, until there was nothing left but the musical accompaniment (one crotchet short of a crowded bar).
The Emu (1 rod and no perch) was followed closely by a cliff gardener (illegal age) - quite why people choose to horticult in such impracticable areas is beyond me and the prospect of wielding a trowel, suspended by a piece of string, hundreds of feet above a pebble beach beggars belief quite frankly. However this green-fingered dare-devil dispensed with his crampons for the evening and instead treated us to an out of Wedlock poem. I particularly enjoyed the mock West Country accent.
Then we had the four Goatees. (They seem to have learned to count since last year). The vocals havent improved, alas, and the stage-left maraca needed a bit of a tune, but the beards are longer and they gainly continued this years gardening theme with an excellent, rousing chant of Hay! Hay! in their closing song. The goatee with the bucket added a certain rustic charm to the proceedings, I thought.
Any Other Business followed, but there wasnt any, so it was not straight on with the next act (tradition demands a slight pause). When Dr. Philip Bailey finally emerged to regale us with his views on the labelling of chickens, true or false, dead or alive, Id finally lost track of the plot. I never did find out which came first - but I understand the egg came third, maybe it was a bad spoon day. Throughout his carefully honed thesis, he suffered some heavy heckling, but survived to live another Elkfest.
And then there was a change to the programme - my programme had us down for a 3 oclock kick off and Bristol Rovers v Brentford, but neither turned up - Kings and Lorries (both Leighs) interjected with an impromtu performance of the correct way for an Irish miner to blow up a dying swan. This was a welcome humanitarian interlude which nicely segued with the following act.
The last act was, of course - its odd how these new traditions keep cropping up (to continue the gardening theme) Hill and Fade-in. They promised us a trip into the gay nineties and we gayly tripped with them. For some, alas, it was a bad trip, for others - like me - it was a case of feeling ninety, when the trip was over.
For the first time at this Elkfest, there was an edge of dissent to be discerned. Fortunately it was aimed at Fade-in and I wasnt present, so the less said the better, although I understand the blonde lass was bitter. The star of this final act was undoubtedly Curry (Hot!!!), sporting less of a bump than last years Elkfest - shes certainly lost several pounds (in fact shes shed a whole Veranda by the looks of things - or has she Veranded a Shed?). Either way she seems to be thriving on it and you'll have to take my word for it as our ace photographer failed to capture her on celluloid or anything else. As with all things, there was a natural balance. Mib (75), the co-builder of said balcony, performed a dance of the seven veiled threats by all accounts (including this one), but to be honest I was too busy performing a non-Greek Tragedy to notice. (Waters not ice - ed).
Which just left our Mustard of Certainties to close the cabinet with more extracts from the book of Well-I-never-gor-blimey-would-you-believe-it-are-you-really-called-despair and that was that.
The Shadows Reform
After the cabinet reshuffle, we were subjected to that barrage of noise, commonly known as the Crimson that casts no Shadow (4). The showers prevented the Shadows (6) usual dross rehearsal, so lacking a sound check, they blasted us to smithereens with the likes of Must Hang Sally, The Art of Glass Blowing, Bubble Wrap (a lesser known POP! song), Mid-night Blows (a blue song), Litter Time (a cat request) and finally a false tart. The guitarist (42) blamed the drummers lack of feel, the drummer (1) blamed no-one, the bass player (4 strings) blamed all (5,000) except himself (59") and the vocalist (the younger) hid unconvincingly behind a non-existent bush (0). It made no difference to the final outcome, which was that Morris Vans classic: "Drowning idle girls".
This year we were subjected to no less than two fly-overs by Concorde. First the Sin Zeroes "So Shall E" and then another rendition of Moose Down Alley.
The vocals were finely tuned, the bass - spot on, the guitar was black, but strangely had all the rhythm of Steve Martin in the Jerk. As for Dr Rhythm on drums and Nige on keyboards, not only were they pretty much note perfect all night, but they had an uncanny presence about them. It was almost as if they werent there at all.
And so, the Elk Fest - the final Elkfest of this century - drew close to its finale. No radio play this year, but an Elkfest first - a Pan-Toe.
What can I say about "Blakes Seven - the Pantomime"? It was a pantomime and it involved Blakes Seven. Rather unique for an Elkfest event.
Evidently a late cast change threw the whole proceedings into uproar, but from my audience eye view, I thought it went very well - or is that the Curry-and-er beer talking? Talking beer? I dont think so.
The play seemed to revolve around a planet called Alpha Sixpence and some cave belonging to aNadin.
The gardening theme was nicely re-introduced, with a guest appearance by Alan Titchmarsh (81), whose timely hallos and rakish hoe stole the show for me.
But the real stars were Hill and Doctor Bailey. Unbandaged badinage is how I would describe their performances. They were a treat to behold, playing Servalan (70s) and Travis (90s) respectively. The migrating eye patch (1) was that obvious attention to detail, which only months of rehearsal could possibly have produced.
Monsignor Paulo (17) was excellent as usual in the narrators role, but his performance was outshined and overcast by the flawless performance by Hannibal (1 in Carthagian years).
Samantha, elegant as ever, was as timely with the sound effects as a hamster without a wheel. The hamster was astonishing, if somewhat obscured by the lager actors.
Angle (39), as Cally (also 39), shined with silvery top (age unknown) to provide welcome relief from the male dominated sci-fi excesses. And she was perhaps the most informed of actors, spotting the pantomime cow (as old as the hills (7)) from a sizeable distance (sizeable) and streets ahead of the rest of both cast and audience.
And then there was Vila (42) ... hardly South of France material, but then you get what you pay for (0 in this case).
Avon was played by an ex-county player, I believe. And played without a safety trowel, such is the bravery of this Cliff Gardener. This man is obviously insane, and undoubtedly geared for Tsardom. And so that was the pan-toe and an Elkfest to remember.
It only remained to dim the lights for the late film and have another beer before Hannibals elephants were rounded up and Sparse Wars, Episode Seven hit the sub-woofers. Unfortunately I was moose-tired by this time and so the delights of the Electric Palace Cinema were not to be, for me.
Moose eats Mousse
Sleep, perchance to conjure up the image of stationery, followed. Reams followed sleep and were rudely awakened by the sound of rude awakenings. And so to the surreal breakfast.
Rain yet again intervened, so we were divided once more into two unequal parts. There was the outdoor part and the indoor part. I joined both, splitting personality as best I could.
Fortunately I was outdoor enough to witness the (previously unforseen) breakfast cabaret. The sight of Curry (6 a.m.) rocking and a rolling with Cheeky Moo and other distant songs was not to be missed - alas, most did miss this treat.
Miri (or Veranda) hit the spot where evening cabinets could barely polish mahogany. Next year, the tour-de-force of the breakfast slot may rock your cradle and steal your plunder - you have been warned!
Those late enough to form a queue may wonder ... and rightly so ... we should all wonder once in a while - and where better than Elkfest.
Toasting the goats
So that was Elkfest 99. Another date in the diary crossed off and another fruit to be remembered for next year.
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