Friday, 20 July 2018

Freefall: rugby clubs and barn dances

It's not often the band gets asked to play a 70th birthday party, but that's just what we did last Friday. Dad says it's indicative of the band's shifting demographic. I think that's a little unfair on the birthday boy, Mike, who was clearly 70 going on 21.

The venue was the new grounds and club house of what I assume is an old rugby club, Dings Crusaders RFC in Frenchay, Bristol. The venue is so new that when I looked it up on Google Streetview to get an idea of where to find it, the building was only a steel framework of girders and the pitch hadn't yet been laid.

Needless to say, the venue looks very different now, and proved to be a lovely spot for a great party.

Saturday's venue was a little different, and the first time I've ever been able to drive the band's trailer actually up to the stage to unload, and then just leave the car and trailer there until we're done, really to load back in and head home.

It was a barn in Portway Farm in Upton-Saint-Leonards, a very pretty little village on the outskirts of Gloucester. The excuse was a fund-raiser for the local church. Regardless of our own personal convictions, we don't generally involve the band in religion or politics. However, as the curate of the church was Jim, an original member of the band and for many years our keyboard player until we had to sack him because he found God and couldn't gig on Sundays anymore. So we thought what the hell, it might be fun.

I jest our sacking him, of course. Though he really did end up having to skip gigs on Sundays before he finally left the band. Actually, I say "left the band", but he hasn't really left. He just doesn't turn up to gigs very often anymore. Or rehearsals ever. But then that last point he has in common with the rest of us these days.

Jim also happens to be my brother-in-law, so another reason we wanted to help out.

Complete aside, I first met my future wife on the day I met Jim; we were up in his room at his parents' house, admiring his keyboard and trying to persuade him to join our new band (ulterior motive: we couldn't find a drummer, and keyboards have built in drum machines, although that's not how we phrased the invite) when his sister burst into his room to have a go at him about something or other.

Not realising her little brother had guests, she was wearing nothing but a bath towel and a frown and was, for but the briefest of moments, quite taken aback. Then she rallied, as I was one day to discover Nikki always does, vented her complaint at Jim, glared accusingly at the rest of us and stormed back out.

Anyway, I digress.

Back to last Saturday night, barn dance, and a barn that the cows had only vacated two days earlier and who's recent presence still pungently lingered on the air. In the end, they sold over 350 tickets for Saturday, and the packed barn made for an absolutely wild night. Lord knows what the cattle, temporarily domiciled in the barn next door, made of it all, but we had an absolute blast.

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