Following the sweeping victory in the Tallington Ashes grudge match against the forces of darkness and Bishop's Stortford, I interviewed Mr Joseph Porter at his Northern retreat wherein he was so overcome with inertia that he had been obliged to call someone in to write up the website stories. Knowing how evasive he can be when questioned about the band and its history, I decided to go straight for the jugular and pose the questions that really matter in an effort to throw some new light on the enigmatic figure that has been responsible for so many improvisations on the cutting edge of folk music.
What is your favourite cheese?
or take the odd phone call, Tallington began for us early on the morning
of Friday 12th July 2002, when it became apparent that we had forgotten
to get hold of a cricket bat, and that this all-important item might prove
necessary should Chris from Bishop's Stortford and his evil sisters bottle
it and send excuses down. Equally possible would have been the fit of
pique on being bowled out for 25 which might have prompted the churlish
one to storm off in a sulk with his bat and stumps leaving us with an
easy total to reach, but no gear to reach it with. Such are the problems
faced by an organisation like Blyth Power.
Arrival at Tallington at 19.43pm found a whole load of tents in the process of erection. Steven and Fiona had already set up a very nice detached mansion, and were seated on the veranda sipping G & Ts, on a very nice pair of patriotic folding chairs. We set up our tent and settled down to watch the steady encroach of the Birmingham Urban Sprawl Overspill, which was manifesting itself in a variety of loud colours alarmingly close to our nice suburb.
even the designation of a greenbelt area could stop the colony growing,
and by the time I set off with Mr John Taylor to set up the PA there was
a positive conurbation springing up. 'There goes the neighbourhood,' I
sighed as Mr Jessi Adams emerged from a nearby shanty bearing humous in
The original plan had been to set up the gear and shut it in the backstage room for the night, to allow for a swift start to proceedings on the morrow. As it happened, with the collusion of the landlord, it was decided that acoustic sets would be played on the Friday night. Thus with John and his deviant offspring Simon, we prepared the stage and before you could say Jack Robinson, I was standing onstage with a guitar, breaking my promise to the world not to set foot onstage this weekend without a drumkit.
G.B. I interviewed Jack Robinson once for Time Out. He was doing a world tour, and I was allowed backstage at the Wembley Arena to drink half of his rider. While I was there I met Mick and Keef and a whole lot of other extremely famous persons.
A gentle hour and a half of lilting acoustic folksong followed. Firstly myself played half a dozen songs by way of a soundcheck, then we importuned Mr Chris Butler, Mr Gob Dylan, Mr Jessi Adams and Mr Steven Cooper to play as well. The evening was wound up by myself and Mr Cooper playing The Maccabees' Goodnight, which signalled not only last orders at the bar, but an exodus to the campsite to start lighting the pyres.
myself and messrs Simon and John Taylor attempted the almost impossible
feat of assembling a collapsible barbecue in almost total darkness, the
BUSO had grown to such proportions as to warrant the election of a mayor
and a town planning department. By the time the barbecue was lit, there
was a light railway under construction, a street market, several disorderly
public houses and some unpleasant men in suits were contemplating a high-level
extension of the M6 to link Stamford with the Black Country, via Market
has subsequently reached my notice that some people were not entirely
thrilled at the intensity and variety of traffic passing that Friday night
on the adjacent East Coast Main Line. The final straw for some was the
storming great Grid which roared past around 03.00am with steel empties.
Disgruntled remarks were heard at breakfast, and not even the mass production
of fried egg sandwiches cooked on a Trangia stove could mollify everyone.
This involved Blyth Power playing for forty-five minutes or so, in order to line-check the PA gear, the better to enable things to run smoothly later on. Mr Jessi Adams had kindly volunteered to assist as Stage Manager for the Saturday night, and with a busy afternoon and evening ahead we played a short and painless set to the lunchtime drinkers, which passed off without incident. Then it was time for the cricket
How do you organise a field full of people into two cricket teams, and
get a match started without coming over like a cross between Joyce Grenfell
and the PE teacher from Grange Hill?
Fortunately everyone was very kind, and with a minimum of fuss the game got underway. This year Blyth won the toss, and elected to bat second. This was a cunning piece of strategy, as last year, the Stortfordonions only won thanks to the late arrivals turning up and wanting to have a go.
Thus by the time we came to approach their total, we still had about thirty prospective batsmen in hand. We must try to do something about this next year. Maybe we'll limit teams to twenty or something? Or maybe not...
So, Bishop's Stortford opened the batting, and for a while it looked like we were going to take our traditional pasting. Despite some devilish bowling from the likes of Harvey, and Mr Ian Smith's wicket handling, they very quickly began to notch up the runs. Mr Chris from Bishop's Stortford himself was only dismissed when he hit the ball onto the train tracks, thus earning six and out.
The sun climbed higher. Tension mounted. I was able to stop making a nuisance of myself by frequently popping off to meet arriving hands, and it was largely thanks to my continued absences that we eventually got them all out for 102. Hurrah for us.
So Blyth took the crease. I elected to open the batting and was dismissed after making six runs. Possibly my best yet, but fortunately we had many skilled hands which made light work of the remaining total, and we drew stumps after Mr John Taylor hit the winning runs with enough batsmen still waiting in the wings to ensure victory at any cost.
The ashes were presented with stirring speeches, and we are now the proud holders of a little transparent plastic steam engine full of dog ends and kak. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the great sportspersons who took part in the match, and to assure all those on our side who didn't get to bat that we'll try and rig things next year so that everyone gets a turn. Cheers.
This all sounds impossibly immature to me.
up were Poke, from Sheffield,
who astounded everyone present, not least with their drummer's pink velvet
trousers. I shan't try to describe all the bands that played, as I'm not
a music journalist (You wish - G.B.), but for more information
on any of the acts performing this year we advise you to trace the links
provided. Suffice it to say that there was a wide variety of musical genres
represented, and everyone rocked utterly.
Next up were Daddy Those Men Scare Me, whom Blyth have played with a few times in London. They even managed to sound good at that horrible gig at The Hope & Anchor, so Tallington proved no problem.
Following them were Rome Burns, whose electrical bits and pieces were all coerced into good behaviour, and then the peerless Miss Rachael Pantechnicon took the stage to deliver some sound advice, some poetry, and to promote her heroically unpublished children's book.
Blyth Power rounded off a cracking evening, with a set which included, among other things, Chris From Bishop's Stortford playing drums on Dancing.
Not his first appearance of the night either, as he had been one of Eastfield's many drummers this night.
Too many things happened to recount, but we would like to thank Simon and Sad Sack for bedecking the stage with Britney posters, to all the sound guys for fiddling and twiddling, to Jessi for ruling the stage with an iron hand, to Pete, the landlord, for his kind indulgence (and jolly fine egg and chips), and finally to everyone who turned up and made it work.
So are we likely to see Tallington featuring in the festival calendar
with all the other events I get free passes to?
But things didn't end there. More plants and flesh were seared far into the night, and those amongst us who are not thrilled by the prospect of top-link traction were able to doze off to the sounds of drunken revellry, as there is not nearly so much traffic on the ECML on a Saturday night.
The following morning saw a departure that would have rivalled the evacuation of Saigon, and by some strange oversight the campsite was left spotless.
See you next year.