It was an epic Wallingford Bunkfest this year. It’s always amongst the best events of the year but this one was special. The weather wasn’t perfect but only one Saturday show and film night curtailed, with Sunday turning warm and kind thus allowing people to forget the tempestuous Saturday night. Huge crowds as ever, generous hats and all my extended family in attendance. We all jigged on Saturday night to the compelling and infectious Demon Barbers on the main stage as the rain pelted down. Their dancers were superb bringing ‘some of the UK’s most exciting young Clog, Sword, Hip Hop & Break dancers onto the concert stage to create the live folk music & dance spectacular of the year.’ Certainly was.
And just as their show finished, as if it wasn’t wet enough, the rains really came down in a torrential storm and a wonderful divine exclamation mark of a lightning flash and roll of thunder finished it all off. In the lorry soon afterwards there were twelve drenched mammals (two of them four legged ones) sharing towels, tea and laughter and a fire to dry everyone and everything off. A splendid night was enjoyed by all.
The hoverboard really came into its own there this year, as it had at Havenstreet. The lawn-like Kinecroft (the central green in this lovely old town once providing free animal grazing for its medieval inhabitants and preserved today as a community resource) and its criss-cross paths made perfect surfaces for it. I used the hoverboard for shopping into town, for water collection and for breakfast sorties. What a relief for old battered knees. All you do is think and lean and it takes you there. I try to imagine myself as a twelve-year-old thinking about this strange and addictive form of transport. It would have seemed like magic. I always had a fascination for carts and bikes of all sorts, inventing and making soap box carts from old prams with string pulled steering systems. I’ve always tinkered with bikes and, later, cars. Travelling has always fascinated me and the hoverboard continues the fascination. Put me down for a driverless car, a personal jet backpack or a Star trek Transporter.
At Wallingford, old friends of all ages venture onto the Kinecroft during the setup and it is wonderful to catch up on their news and see the warmth with which I am held there. It’s a very special place and my shade will always wander there.
My good friends Ralph and Helen were well and as ever. Ralph had finished a wonderful prop for the show, with his imaginative expertise with all things electronic. I have spoken of a new 1914-18 war tribute, using Noel Coward’s evocative ‘I’ll see you again’. Ralph has created a device which can only be described as a petal flutterer. It is a device which automatically flutters red (poppy) petals down in front of the moon and back drop on the stage at the end of the routine. It works completely by remote control too. I have a little button in my pocket and it just happens. Genius.
The rest of the routine has been suggested by my good friend and brother in exile, Greg Chapman of Condensed Histories. Google him. Greg worked on the stage alongside during the Isle of Wight Steam Show and we (just about) managed to pass juggle fire clubs during the third show of the day as a climax to the fire routine. Greg suggested a moving idea which I will work on during the winter for the first part of the 1941-18 tribute routine. Watch this space, but I am hoping it will be rather different from most of the other routines.
So all in all a lovely end to the summer season. With a few back end fairs left before autumn really sets in, there’s still time for the new routines to become bedded in and some good ideas to work on in winter.
All the best from a road near you,