Tallington 2003

Ashes Defeat Blights Run-Up To Jubilee

Didn't we have a lovely time the day we went to Bangor? Well yes, we did actually, although that was some years ago when there were still 37s working the trains along the coast, and we camped in a field near Penmaenmawr and got some cracking shots of 37667 loading up under the ballast hoppers, not to mention a pair of 31s and a 47 with seacows. Of course you lot weren't there that day, and it is of no relevance to the current report whatsoever, but given the quality of the traction that weekend a chap is entitled to his reminiscences.
Of course there was quality traction at Tallington this year as well, including a Deltic on the Friday evening, which some people fell to their knees and adored, but that is what the event is all about after all. That and the cricket of course.
Tallington 2003 got off to a fine start. There was a warm welcome in the hillsides from the knew licensees, and when your correspondent turned up after tea there was an air of optimism about the campsite as the showers had cleared up, the sun had come out, and already a galaxy of stars were pitching their tents alongside doughty cricketers and beer-crazed trainspotters. Gosh. What a line-up we had this year.

After a great deal of shilly-shallying, TDL got the ball rolling on the outback stage around 8.30 with an acoustic set that still bears the marks of all the buns that had been bounced off it during his Spring tour. He was followed by Mr Chris Butler, who sounded absolutely spiffing through the Blyth PA, and then by Mr Wob Williams who wound up the night's music in his traditional fashion. Mr Jessi Adams decided to husband his guitar strings for the morrow, and thus revellers were denied the opportunity of hearing his fine acoustic guitar doing an impersonation of a kazoo.
Thus to bed early, in anticipation of the triumph's and tragedies of the morning. The campsite was already swollen and filled with the party faithful, and with the weather looking promising, and the toilet block obligingly left open overnight, we all felt that we were onto a winner.

More of a Michael Winner in fact, as far as the cricket went at least, but more of that anon. A bright sunny day dawned early, and with it rose half the population of Norfolk, in the multitudinous persons of Clan Cooper, who had come down and pitched some of the largest tents we have ever seen. Next year we will have a Big Tent Competition, and see if we can encourage more of you to bring even bigger and better ones - preferably in novelty shapes. A Robertson’s Golly tent, or a Bertie Bassett one would add a bit of colour to the site. Gosh what a ripping idea. There was one this year that looked like the rear end of a queen termite. TDL was eagerly watching one end of it in the hope that it would start laying eggs like the Queen in Alien 3. It didn't.

This year the plan was for the bands to play under a pair of gazebos next to the Outback Bar, as the Landlord had real ale in the bar itself. First triumph of the day was the successful erection of these delicate faerie-like structures by an efficient team, who managed to ignore TDL's instructions and get them up properly. Then it was up with the PA, and on with the first band around noon, who were none other than...Blyth Power.

Hurrah! Blyth cracked on with a short opening set, to be followed by Eastfield who weren't there. Fortunately they turned up at the last minute and were able to thrill us all with a half hour of gentle lilting punk rock mayhem. While Eastfield were playing, the fête committee had been setting up the stalls. There was a bottle stall and a raffle, the usual gubbins on sale by most of the bands, a cake and painted glass stall courtesy of the Rome Burns contingent, and TDL's tasteless and unpleasant (though highly profitable) Find Sadam And Win A Stealth Bomber stall, in which eager contestants paid 10p to draw a card from the US Heroes pack, and try to trump the card they then picked from the Iraq's Most Wanted pack.

If you drew Bush and Saddam you won the Stealth Bomber - not a real one, just a model - and also had the satisfaction of apprehending the moustachioed villain. Mr Porter cleaned up, and was later observed counting his takings, rubbing his hands together, and cackling to himself behind the pavilion. “Ho ho,” he chortled, as he returned the Saddam card to its place in the pack. “The rubes!”
Giga-Ø wound up the pre-cricket session with a set that will ensure their welcome next year.

There then followed the cricket match, which in spite of the decreasing space on the campsite - overcrowded as it now was with tents, vehicles and spawning aliens - became the venue for a close-run match in which Blyth were only defeated by about 80 runs, and this only thanks to the subterfuge and wickedness of the opposition.

This and our lacklustre efforts in the fielding department according to one expert analysis. Curses. Thwarted.

The ashes were graciously delivered over to the evil C from BS and his sidekick, and we returned to the auditorium for the evening's music to commence.

First up were General Winter, who some claim provided the best set of the weekend, as they rocked utterly. They were followed by Rome Burns, who proved that cake is not the only field in which they excel.

The lovely Rachael Pantechnicon then came up to regale us with her wit, wisdom, and some magnificent new milestones in children's literature, including the heartrending story of a crippled lion that has to use cheese graters for callipers on his legs.

Rachael's words moved the audience visibly, and we were still in a daze when Daddy Those Men Scare Me came and reminded us all how unfeasibly tall they are by grazing the tops of their hats on the gazebo roof.

Next up was the very lovely Wob, with his band this time, and they performed splendidly - which is just as well really, as it then proceeded to rain so heavily that the gazebos gave up the ghost and it simply became too dangerous for Blyth Power to continue in the downpour. Rain, in the end, stopped play.

But not completely. Mr Porter and Mr Cooper took acoustic guitars into the Whistle Stop itself, and played an acoustic set to a packed house who fortunately couldn't hear how out of tune TDL's guitar was. Buns were thrown. The raffle was drawn. We went to bed to mend our heads with vinegar and brown paper.

Perversely the following morning the sun was shining and the sky was blue. Despite early concerns about the viability of using the soggy equipment, it proved to be possible, so Eastfield played another short set to great acclaim, and then Blyth Power wrapped up the weekend with all the songs they meant to play the night before, plus a few more.

Even the version of Dancing, with C from BS drumming, was well received. Buns were thrown, blood was spilled (accidentally) and then we all went home leaving the campsite spotless, save for a couple of dead hippies under a bush.

Thanks to everyone who came and made it the best one yet. Next year will be bigger and better, with more stalls, better rain-proofing for the bands, and possibly even a beer festival thrown in for good measure, as the new incumbents are determined to support the event in every way possible.