Lumb Farm 2009

Ashes Revisited

All of a sudden it was that time again. An inconceivably enormous tent, all the necessary paraphernalia, and Mr. Porter picking up the hire van for all the world as if his being in the driver’s seat wasn’t an expression of the natural order of things being turned upside down.
Loaded, children parked with grandparents for the day, and it was off to Derbyshire for the second and final Ashes event at this particular venue.
So, Lumb Farm at lunchtime on the Friday. Imagine our delight at finding a queue to get onto the campsite. Only a little one, and this because the gate was locked, but a queue nonetheless. It was a bit like a miniature Glastonbury, only without all the tossers.
The toilets were there, although not parked and plumbed in until later, but no one had told Lumb Farm’s resident hounds, and one of our first jobs of the weekend was to clear away a couple of enormous piles of stinky manure from just inside the gate. Thanks to our hosts for prepping the campsite…
So it was out and up with the tents, and shortly after this the stage and lights arrived. We are indebted to Nigel, Flag Detail, for allowing his driver’s licence to be held hostage by the hire company for the weekend. Having a stage made a big difference, and the site of Mr Henry Lawrence and others swarming over it with spanners was redolent of a tractor factory in the Urals. We put the whole thing up… collectively.
By the time the stage was up, the PA running, and music ready to commence, the campsite was pretty full, and we are pleased to note that attendance was up this year. Whether or not it was the bank holiday, or the realisation that you can have a better time at an event that doesn’t levy financial penalties on you for having children is a moot point. Hopefully everyone will come back next year, and bring their friends and neighbours too. If you didn’t come this year, then here’s what you missed:

Friday night kicked off with a kilted solo performance from Ashes debutant James Bar Bowen, whom was followed by the inimitable Mr. Chris Butler, who is a bit to the Ashes like the Ravens are to the Tower of London. Or to One Tree Hill for our growing band of more youthful readers. Chris was followed by the ReEntrants who we are reminded were possessed of the smallest instruments of the weekend, in the shape of a pair of tiny, but belligerent ukuleles, whilst exhibiting the tallest personal presence. These were followed by Pog, who, conversely had the largest instrument, in the shape of an enormous double bass which apparently houses a labyrinth, a hermit, whom none have seen for years, and a small convenience store, which tragically was closed for the weekend as it was a bank holiday.
By this time the joint was jumping, and the old days of Friday being a gentle acoustic night had long been forgotten. Finale came from Steven Cooper and the Charlies, who wound up the night with a degree of rowdiness only outweighed by the sheer square footage of tattoos on the stage. Last ever Charlies gig? Well perhaps until next year.

Enter Saturday, and after a languid morning in which Mr. Porter’s toilets were much admired, and only one pair of beshitted boxer shorts were found in the vicinity thereof, music recommenced with the most gothic Mourning for Autumn, jolly fine Spanish sounds from Tres Y El Ingles (you work it out), Mr Henry Lawrence and his impromptu bizarreness, and a frankly splendid set from Verbal Warning. Revellers were pleased to enjoy all this while colouring in pictures of Mr. Jessi Adams to add to our Rogues Gallery. Hands up who transgendered Tinkerbelle? That was simply wrong.
Needless to say the cricket was hopelessly lost – by Blyth at least – with Jessi’s team winning the stinking jar of dog ends for the second year running. Boo Hiss. Cricket took place between 2pm and 5pm on what was by now a very reduced pitch, thanks to the excellent turn out and support for the event. One wag was moved to suggest that as we weren’t clashing with the Nazis round the corner this year, perhaps they had all come to see us instead? Hmmm…
So on to the Saturday afternoon shift, with Rachel Pantechnicon delivering one of the finest sets we have seen in a long time. The Bayeux tapestry in particular moving us in the extreme. Rachel was followed by the ever charming Paul Carter and then Eastfield, flushed with victory, with Jessi Adams being almost more fun than he has ever been, especially when relieved of guitar duties by John, and given kazoo overdubs by Vince. Annie is still reeling from the revelation that Vince is the inspiration for The Sweeney masterpiece that is the Kazoo Song...

Anal Beard followed, with a near fatal bounce into the fan blades threatening to decapitate one member – one of the drawbacks of having a stage – after which a blacked-up Cracktown made us all remember how much we hated the Black and White Minstrel Show. Ripping form chaps!
Wob then did the deed, and was followed by Blyth Power, who celebrated their birthday night with a brace of singing Scumhaters, and a guest appearance on this year’s ‘Dancing’ from Mr. Paul Stapleton.
Mr. Porter, visibly moved by the occasion of the band’s twenty-fifth anniversary, rubbed his hands with glee at the thought of all the people he was glad hadn’t made it along, and we were all leased to dedicate the next twenty five years to those who had. Even Signalman White himself moved amongst us.

Sunday dawned with an enormous spanner thrown in the works by the management who hadn’t listened when we told them that AS IT’S A BANK HOLIDAY AND PEOPLE WON’T BE RUSHING OFF WE’LL RUN THE MUSIC LATER THIS YEAR ON THE SUNDAY. They had, consequently, booked a function in for five o’clock, and wanted music to stop at 3pm. Much rushing around and re-arranging stage times ensued. Thanks again to everyone who was juggled and bothered on the Sunday. Twenty five years ago we’d have told them to shove it and squatted the place. They would, of course, have pulled the plug, so we opted for the grown up course of action and did the best we could in the time available. Artists on the Sunday were Alcohol Licks, Sammy Sweetland, Amateur Ninja Club, Lomans, the New York Scumhaters and another set from Blyth Power.

Things rushed to a premature conclusion, and thanks to a show of co-operation and support from willing hands we had broken down the entire stage, gear, CD stalls and Gallery of Jessi in under forty minutes, and left the staff bemused in an empty hall wondering why they hadn’t just let us get on with it without messing us about.
The management had also booked a christening into the room next door at lunchtime, who were heard complaining about us in the ladies toilets. We were pleased to inform them that the management had booked us in a full year ago, knew exactly who we were and what we did, and that if they had any problem about it they should go and complain to the boss.
This, we are equally pleased to report, they did.
So, we packed up and left without saying goodbye. It just remains to say thanks for all the very positive help we received, and for the super presents and the cake. Special thanks to all the artists and bands, who perform free of charge, and to Robin and Paul for helping out with the PA, to Teq for manning the door throughout the entire weekend and saving Jerry from the worst excesses of the sailor, and to Nigel for all his help with those practical things involving tools and hardware that confound us utterly.

Thanks most of all to everyone who came and made it a great weekend out. Next year we have a new venue, and we hope the lack of co-operation many experienced this year will be a thing of the past. We’ll be aiming to make it even better next year, and already have a special celebrity guest compere/umpire arranged, as well as plans to keep the children busy on a wet afternoon. Keep watching this space as news unfolds, and see you in Norfolk next year!