Sunday 14 June 2015

The Mill Hill Music Festival - Day 2 - Rog T's Festival Diary - BBC Elstree Concert Band at Hartley Hall

The BBC Elstree Concert Band at Hartley Hall (pic courtesy of Richard Logue)
Having enjoyed a highly successful first day of the festival and having shared a bottle of wine at home after with friends, I was rather surprised to wake up at 6.30am, feeling as fresh as a daisy and in the mood to write yesterdays blog in this series. It may interest you (or it may not), to hear someone asked my last night "Why I bother writing a festival blog, because no one is interested". The simple answer is that actually people are. I had over 500 blog hits yesterday and over 100 people clicked on the link from twitter or facebook pages. It was clear to us from ticket sales, that this years festival is of much interest to the people of Mill Hill. Whilst as a blogger it is great to get hits, this series isn't really written so much for my readers. It is my way of ensuring that I have a log. In a years time when we start planning the festival for 2017, I'll read all of these and all of the previous festival diaries again. That way, I remember all of the issues, all of the things to cover and what worked well. It also helps me plan the logisitics. If you are organising a festival, nothing beats experience, but you can only gain maximim value if you write it all down at the time. Having said that, I do try and make it sound as interesting as possible, as I do realise that people are interested.

As my wife was playing with her band (BBC Elstree Concert Band) in the evening, we had to arrange food and drinks for the band. So a trip down to Iceland to buy cakes, water and snacks and arrange delivery with them. I must confess, much as I miss Woolworths in the Broadway, Iceland are cheap and provide a great delivery service. I think that between Marks, Iceland and the various convenience stores, Mill Hill is well served for grocers! Mind you I only ever buy sausages at Cooksleys. Providing refreshments for the band is a vital part of any festival. Some musicians travel for miles and get home late. They should be looked after and the festival try to do this as best we can.

At 10.00, I made my way down to the studios. We had PA systems to unload, from the previous nights gig at the Adam and Eve. As the boss of a PA hire company, I am lucky that I just drove the gear down and my team unloaded it. We had left a stage at the Adam and Eve and they'd insisted we had to pick it up at 11am, so having stacked the PA, we took the BALLS bike club van to the Adam and Eve and picked the stage up at 11am.

My next engagement was to drop the stage off at the Hartley Hall at 4pm for the BBC Elstree Concert band. This gave me some down time. I used this to go to my gym and have a sauna and a relaxing session in the Jacuzzi. This may seem like a strange thing to mention in a festival diary, but as an organiser, with a full on schedule, it is important to plan rest and relaxation properly and this is part of my personal daily plan when possible.

I returned home at 2.30pm for lunch and then at 4pm, drove to the studio, picked up the BALLS van and dropped the stage at Hartley Hall. When I arrived, there was a mini crisis. Although we had risers for the band, there was no plinth for the conductor of the band. So it was a quick trip back to studios for concrete blocks and carpet. By the time this was all resolved, it was 6pm. My next job was to drive to Colindale to pick up the conductor of the band. He had a long journey. Having a car waiting, meant he made band call.

Once the conductor had been dropped off, I then dropped the car home. Then I did a terrible thing! As I had 20 minutes until my next duties, I snuck into the Mill Hill Services club and had a pint! I watched the last 20 mins of the Ireland vs Scotland game and had a chat with a few mates about football. Such little breaks keep you sane. I didn't have specific duties, I the ambled up as the doors were about to open and acted as doorman for the main entrance. I was also being front of house man for Gerry Keane who was managing the lights. As it was, there was nothing  to manage. About 180 people turned up for the concert. It was a spectacular success. The band are awesome and the compare gave a witty and informative introduction to each piece. They are playing The Ark Theatre, Elstree Elstree on Saturday 27th June for Armed Forces Day, I can thoroughly recommend them.

At the end of the concert a very pleasant little old lady came up to me and said "Thank you so much, that was lovely, this is the first time I've been out in the evening this year". Little things like that affirm why I do this. When the band finished, we had to stack away the chairs and sort a few bits and pieces out. Lucy and Dave at the Hartley Hall are the nicest people you could possibly want running a venue. It is a real pleasure to work with them. The Vicar, Fr Stephen, had a chat with me afterwards. He is one of the new generation of CofE vicars and is doing a fine job. Sometimes when people talk about organised religion in the UK, they are dismissive, without realising just how important churches are as venues and social hubs (but I think that can be explored later in a specific blog). I would just say that without the Hartley Hall and St Michaels Church, Mill Hill would be a much less lovely place to live (and I'm not CofE so I guess you can take me as unbiased).

When the hall breakdown was complete, I adjourned with friends to The Bridge Pub for a quick pint, and then off to the Day of The Raj for a very late dinner (11pm). We needed to talk logistics for tonight (Sunday) gig at the Raj with The DHOL Company (Traditional Indian Drummers).

All that sorted we finally got home at 1am, a job well done!

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