Thursday, 13 March 2008
Another Opportunity to Demonstrate my Northern Credentials
You couldn't have timed it better: just when I'd gone misty eyed writing about the corner shop and collecting me mam's Hovis, Lisa pointed out the appropriateness of the music from the old Hovis adds. The one where a young flat cap wearing bread boy pushes his sit-up-and-beg bike up the steeply cobbled street to the tune of the Largo from Dvorak's New World Symphony. It couldn't be less Northern though if it tried - Dvorak's symphony was about the New World of the USA, rather than the North of England; and the steeply cobbled street they used in the advert was in Devon.
Anyway, with the warm strains of brass band music drifting across my imagination, we popped across to Blackpool to hear our Tom play in the North Western heats of the National Brass Band Championships. I have written about this event and its idiosyncrasies before so was a bit stuck for what to say, until this happened.
We have a new camera at work and it is necessary for me - no I consider my solemn duty - to borrow, I mean practice with it whenever the opportunity presents itself. So Sunday found me inside the Winter Gardens with our new Canon DS400. I had already spotted that flash photography was prohibited; nor, for similar reasons, was I intent on taking photographs when it would distract the players. I took a few pictures of the bizarre interior of the Spanish Ballroom - replete with its model hillside village to give the impression, I presume, of being in some sort of Spanish valley.
Poised to photograph Greenfield band as they came into the auditorium I shot a couple of tests to check the light but was approached by a timid mousey woman who, judging by her rosette, was an organiser. She pointed out that photography was prohibited; I pointed out that flash photography was prohibited which meant that I was OK. She withdrew.
Moments later I was tapped on the shoulder by a similarly rosetted man with a very stern beard. Now I, as you know, like a beard, but this one bristled with barely restrained indignation. We had a brisk exchange of views about what the programme stated about the restrictions on photography; but he had the rosette of authority and the humour of a traffic cop who, despite your pleas of mitigation reaches unfeelingly for his ticket book: he went immediately for the ultimate sanction.
"If you do not refrain from your photography I will have to ask you to leave the auditorium."
He drew out the word 'leave' with a dramatic flourish, until it was as long as his 'auditorium'. The devil on my shoulder confirmed with me that I really ought to call his bluff and refuse to budge. But just as I was on the verge of saying "well you had better get some help then..." I felt words like rivets drill into the back of my head from a seat half way down the hall:
"DON'T - YOU - DARE" they said, so I skulked muttering back to my seat, but not without my parting shot:
"Your type are the reason that brass bands are a minority interest" I said; and I meant it to sting.
But I had the last laugh in any case just look at the photos of the Winter Gardens I took without him knowing. Ha! (oh, and a few I took at stormy lunchtime too)
It is no wonder that many bands struggle to keep players interested when the people who maintain the brass bureaucracy are as stuffy as that silly sod. Thank goodness that one of the less healthy sides of brass banding persists in many bands to tempt the young to stay for the social life.
Thank goodness for beer - the saviour of banding!