Whit Friday Marches

2004 Photos

A First Timers reflection on the Whit Friday Marches 2004

When I first heard mention of the Whit Friday March I wasn't really sure what it was all about. So I asked a few questions and was told it was like the film Brassed Off. Well in my Brass Band World naivety, I thought that Brassed Off was just fiction, bands didn't really wander about the countryside playing in various villages did they?
Well yes they did actually, as I duly found out!
I booked the day off work trying to answer the questions like - a day off on a Friday, what are you up to on the weekend then? (nudge nudge wink wink) You're doing WHAT? WHY? How could I explain to non-musicians properly when I didn't even know what I was letting myself in for? So, I just told them what I knew with a smile on my face telling them that it was going to be a great experience if nothing else.
By the beginning of the week of Whit Friday I was starting to feel nerves. Fortunately I was ( and still am) at the busiest time of my working calendar, so was able to push thoughts or tripping over and bum notes to the back of my mind.
Thursday came along, the rehearsal before the day. Fortunately Gordon did turn up to conduct even after his threats of Monday (p.s. glad I wasn't there). Well, needless to say we practiced the two marches, and they seemed to go OK. But that wasn't really good news - the old adage, bad rehearsal good concert kept popping into my mind. Even the marching seemed to go well. A few disappointing calls from deps. with the news that they couldn't make it. Well we still had one trombone even if she did wear 6 inch heels to march in.
That night, I could not get to sleep, and when I did drop off, sleep was broken by dreams of disasters that can only happen to a band marching along a village Street. Needless to say when Phil left for work at five I ended up getting up myself.
Having got my route sorted (thank goodness for AA route master) I got in the car and left for Oldham. Six motorways later (if you count the M6 Toll) and once round a town close to the hotel I spied a Shell garage - great I need fuel. While paying I thought I would just ask for directions to the hotel, just to make sure. It's behind you love I was told. Ah. Duly embarrassed I drove out of the garage and the two yards to the hotel.
Parking up I was made aware that Gordon & Lindsey had safely arrived and in reception were James & Adrian. So we at least had some cornets and a conductor then.
The rest of the band turned up in good time. A quick bite to eat (and a drink to steady the nerves). Off to get changed and get loaded onto the coach. Could I bear my new Euphonium to be rattled around in the belly of a bus going round the windy roads we were surrounded by? Well I had no choice really and my case has borne up well, battle scars to be proud of.
As we approached the first play point (Denshaw I think - Maggie will confirm the correct name and time) we all trooped off the bus and stood around . I had started to suffer the worst fate for brass players, a dry mouth and a knotted stomach. Taking advice from old veterans of the game, I tried to relax, which worked until we were called up to play.
Lining up for the off I suddenly panicked, which foot do I start with? Would my lyre stay still enough to read the notes? Did I have the right music in front of me? What was the signal for stopping? Did we stop playing first or did we stop marching and carry on playing? Help.
Why did I worry? It was a perfect start and finish (ahem). Well it certainly made me feel less nervous anyway! We then settled in to play our main piece, the nerves were still too strong to enjoy playing - maybe it would get better.
Of course - it got better - the next stop was a fantastic venue (Delph - again Maggie will assist with timings), with horses too - wow.
Next stop Dobcross, or so WE thought. Unfortunately the coach driver had a different idea of how to get there. After excelling himself in beating about six bands in getting to Delph we were on the way to Oldham - the wrong direction! Driving through Lees the decision was made to stop there, with a bit of trepidation we all loaded off the bus (it wasn't exactly a picturesque village).
Well, I would say it was possibly one of the areas that most appreciated us playing for them.
By now I was starting to get hungry and hoping for a food stop soon and what happened to all the pints we were supposed to drink on the way through?!
We headed off for Dobcross and got there. We were 37th (just check with Maggie) in the queue - ages to go - so time for food and drink at last. Whilst waiting for out turn I spied a young girl with a placard:
Kirkbymoorside Championship Band 1st Place. My heart stopped for a beat - that was where my trumpet teacher moved to 12 years ago! Could he be here today? Slight problem. Out of the choice of grey, turquoise (mm nice), green, black, red jackets, how would I know which band was his? Well I did the best thing in the circumstances, I spied a good looking young man and tapped him on the shoulder. Are you with the Kirkbymoorside band? Yes. Fantastic - is Geoff with you today. Yes. Brilliant - where is he. Er in the bar I think.
Anyway I found Geoff and it was great to be able to meet him again after all these years, he hadn't changed much. Certainly a highlight (one of quite a few) of the trip for me., as most of you in ear shot of my greeting him probably worked out, and all those of you I just had to tell afterwards.
On to Uppermill next - Jamie doing his bit and getting us registered while the rest of us lounged on the bus. I never did get to have a bit of that massive toblerone bar that appeared out of Maggie's carrier bag.
This was an interesting venue to say the least. Light was starting to fade (yes Maggie will tell you the exact time we were there) and reading the music turned out to be a challenge. The audience was a little more rowdy than the previous ones and that was just in the bus waiting to get parked up. Fortunately we had James on board - if anything would have happened he would have been the first to sort it.
As we stood waiting to march off - by the way, our starts and stops were getting a bit more polished - I realised I couldn't see my music- how was I going to read it? Well as we turned the corner of one of the longest marches of the day I realised if I whipped my music out of the lyre and held it at a 30 degree angle towards the street lamps, I could just about read it and still walk in a straight line. The Natwest bank (stopping point) did not come soon enough for me on that march.
A good number in the audience, but bad light made playing difficult but we played on. Leaving the venue took the shine off the visit a little, fights between the teenagers but hey ho, they respected us as we walked away with thousands of pounds worth of brassware held in our hands.
Now there was only time for chips and of course the long awaited for pints at the hotel. Not much to say except some of us have more stamina than others!
Up bright and early the next day I felt ready for anything. A spot of breakfast and I was ready to go. To be honest I felt a bit sad to be going, I had enjoyed the day so much.
So to finalise, I would just like to say that it was one of the best days I spent in a long time, with a very friendly group of people all there to enjoy themselves and do the best they can to play as a brass band should play. I gained a lot more than I expected from the day and I am already looking forward to next year. Just make sure we do Uppermill early!
Once again thanks to all that made it happen, it is appreciated.