The Tallington Ashes : August 18th - 19th
Having found the venue, it was with some trepidation that we began to plan the Ufford revival. It seemed a good idea in principal. If all the people who had been asking us for years for a return of the annual Blyth festival event actually turned out to support it, it would be a great day all round, and the earth would probably move. There was, of course, no guarantee that anyone would bother on the day. Tallington is a long way from a lot of places, and if there's football on the telly then apparently people will not bestir themselves abroad. Still, faint heart ne'er photographed fair Class 20, as the saying goes, so it was heads down, no nonsense, and into the fray.
People arriving at The Whistle Stop on the early afternoon of August 18th would have been greeted by the astounding site of groundsman Mr. Carlisle preparing the wicket with a rotary mower. Pegged out, marked and mowed - in spite of the road that ran across it - we soon had a first class stretch of turf upon which to duel it out with the wicked ones.
These turned up soon after Blyth arrived. People had been advised to arrive early, in order to get the cricket in before bands kicked off at around 6.30. Ufford used to feature a couple of sets from Blyth, and occasionally a support band, but this year we had rather ambitiously invited all kinds of exciting people to come and play.
Cricket started around three-ish I think. Enough people had finished setting up tents and wandered over to make up two sprawling teams. TDL cunningly avoided being picked last by making himself one of the captains. His masterstroke of strategy was in picking Signalman White, but the folly which inspired him to bat first, after winning the toss, was breathtaking in its stupidity. Despite the best efforts of his cohort, Blyth were all out for 55. Rules were tip and run, one batsman up at a time, no slogging (over the hedge was 6 and out), and tennis balls were used throughout owing to the proximity of people's tents, vehicles, babies etc.
The evil Stortfordians took the crease. We would have wiped the floor with them, but people kept on arriving and wanting to join in. Needless to say we couldn't make them field without having a crack at the bat, so it was only through the constant arrival of fresh troops that Stortford won the day.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Wickey Mr. M. Tyas had even pulled a stump out of the ground and brandished it in triumph when Mr Scott Spithead was caught out, with the foe on 54. But victory was snatched from our grasp by Gaz, who chose that moment to step out of his car and elect to bat. Boo Hiss rotten swizz. Chiz chiz.
Paradise Gently Sprayed with Precipitation
Music kicked off at around 6.30 with Eastfield, whose ginger crooner Jessie Adams had drafted in a spare bassist and drummer for the day. Part way through the third song revellers were treated to the site of 4472 'Flying Scotsman' heading North with an excursion.
Even better - it had 47732 tucked in behind it in case it conked out. Other trainspotting delights of the day had included 66707 in some gharish orange livery, a 91 running blunt end first, and a railfreight 90 with a rake of Mk 1s. My Lords we all cried.
Eastfield finished in time for Elaine to rescue her egg and chips from the unwelcome attentions of a number of hungry souls.
I can't remember the precise order that things came up in next, but I believe it may have been Miss Rachel Pantechnicon who came onstage to deliver some poetry. Miss Pantechnicon was kind enough to punctuate the proceedings with short spasms of verse throughout the evening. If you think poetry is silly, you ought to hear this, as it is not only witty and succinct, it is very, very funny.
Mad Dogs and Englishmen were unable to play a full set, as Glenn couldn't make it, but TDL and Gary played a couple of songs prior to the second band taking the stage. This was Jehovah's Witless, who astounded the assembly with, among other things, a cover of 'Kids in America,' which is one of TDL's favourite songs.
Other performers were Mr Mick Tyas, who played a short solo acoustic set. To our immense disappointment, he had not brought along his rabbit, but his performance was unaffected, and we reckon he sounded pretty good. General Winter played. Tragically Spud missed the cricket, as we were counting on him. Next year eh? Always a pleasure, though, as Blyth and General Winter go back years and years.
A little touch more of Miss Pantechnicon in the night, and then Mr Chris Butler played. Chris has played with us a few times now, and we were happy to have him along as we speak the same language.
Blyth got on a little later than anticipated. The rain witheld its worst, and the event wrapped up by 11.30. Some folks danced 'til dawn, and the campsite, by the time the heavens opened, was like a little tiny Pilton Pop Festival, only without the tossers.
The idea was to get a bit more music going the following lunchtime. Blyth got onstage again around noon, and did another set, cunningly not repeating a single song from the night before. Before this, however, revellers were treated to the spectacle of a band photo-shoot, in which people were invited to dress up as rugby players, and provide spare arms, legs and gussets for the camera. It may have seemed stupid at the time, but there was a plan.
The event was wrapped up with a pompous speech from TDL, which was much in the vein of Macarthur quitting the Phillipines, in as much as he promised that 'he'd be back,' and will probably be making sure that someone else does all the hard work in making this possible.
Paradise Ranting on To Long
Finally, thanks again and again to everyone who came, saw, and even those who conquered. Especially to Stephen, Ben, John, Pete, and to the reeking faggy spirit of the ashes, which we are determined will be ours next year.