Saturday, September 16, 2006

"The King is dead! Long live The King!"

I roll up at saturday lunchtime to the works open day, where we have been employed to provide a musical backdrop to the raffle, a selection of stalls, some tours of the factory and a surprising number of scouts, some of whom are desultoraly wandering around having accessorised their uniforms with sneakers, skinny fit jeans and long keychains and have doubtless already achieved their 'emo' badges, very probably with distinctions. The Suffolk School of Samba are occupied drumming, dancing and generally enhancing the hangover experience under the bright sunshine and not one, but two trailers have been lined up side by side to provide our stage. Another band have provided PA and are also to play and are soon battling with the other attractions, not least a display by the company fire officers, who are regularly setting alight a pan of chemicals and then demonstrating how best to extinguish it, which on a site which expressly forbids the use of cigarette lighters and mobile phones for fear of igniting an explosion seems cavalier at best. Luckily there are also some members of both the Territorial and The Salvation Armies at hand, so all bases seem pretty well covered in terms of providing extra assistance in case things do go awry. Marvista, for it is they, play a punchy set of rock classics punctuated at every tween-song break by the dulcet tones of the site announcer urging folk to take the tour, buy some raffle tickets or visit the site waste disposal area over the PA before reminding them that they are being entertained by the band who are playing "in a pub style". The New Drummer suggests that we all go and have our faces painted and perform our set as tigers, an idea which is given serious consideration before being politely declined, as is his second suggestion that we engage in some Greco-Roman wrestling prior to the gig to stir things up a bit. At least he's contributing. The band finish and clear the stage of their equipment including, unfortuntely, the mics for the drum kit and guitar amps and also the vocal mics, however we have our own bag o' leads to hand and jury-rig a quick backline sound. This does rather leave The New Drummer having to make himself heard acoustically over the noise of the PA through which everyone else is playing, but he seems unfazed and approaches the task at hand with gusto. It's a nice day, we're on a trailer, we're having fun, and so who really cares if the car park audience are mainly transient? The lure of the waste disposal area has clearly become too much for a few people, and the lure of afternoon tea too much for a few stallholders who, some tired of handing out leaflets for free gym sessions (we weren't sure if we were being deliberately targeted but the exchange "Are you fit, then?" - "No, Tracy's the fit one" - "I beg to differ my dear..." was another of TND's contributions to the afternoon's entertainment) start packing up. The Scouts, to a be-woggled girl, boy and man, bravely hang on to the finish. As we prepare for our final big crescendo the announcer, who has been AWOL throughout our set, reappears, elegantly coiffed and resplendent in pastel green slacks, matching socks and wearing sandals to announce that it is time for the raffle to be drawn. Our stint, apparently, is over. Well, it's been a nice day out, I've earned more in an afternoon from the company than I have from the previous six years' performance-related bonuses (whether that says more about me than about the firm is a moot point) and so we pack up, up and away, content that for once we'll be home in time for tea and Final Score. The TA have loaded up their lorry, the winner of their own personal competition gets to ride the Steve McQueen-esque camouflage green motorcycle home, the last of the balloons in the balloon race are released to the skies and the afternoon has one, final, glorious postscript. The winning raffle tickets are announced over the public address speakers and prize recipients come forward to claim their booty from the stand. "....and on the yellow, winning ticket number 173. Has anyone seen Mike Hunt....?"

No comments: