We were up bright and early today and on the road to Manchester by 9am. Our ‘corch’ driver packed the ‘troom-pets’ on the ‘boos’ and we were off. What an entertaining driver. The trip was very scenic, with lush, green meadows, and dense, tree-lined ‘mor-aways’. There was a lot of laughter along the way, with people sharing their stories and observations. We phoned our sound and lighting technician, Chris Stammers, along the journey and everyone was thrilled to hear Chris’ voice. Special thanks goes to our strong, muscular, buff, talented, organized, capable bus packers – Leon, Brad and Jeremy (did I get that right, fellas?), and also our group luggage handlers. The transit groups are operating well and luckily we haven’t lost anyone or anything so far. It is a credit to all that we have been ahead of schedule at all group transit times.
We continued our four-hour journey with a music trivia quiz (thanks Bec!), a mathematical quiz (thanks to Craig and the grey elephants in Denmark), some amazing animal and didgeridoo impersonations (excelling yourself again Craig, ROFL!!) and more incredible didgeridoo imitations thanks to Leon – amazing! Such a talented bunch. Today’s ‘Quotes Quiz’ included famous quotes from our band room, including:
- ‘I’ve got a big input’ (said by Wally and followed by hysterical laughter for the remainder of rehearsal).
- ‘We need to plan our route around the town’ (not what we expected from you, Dave).
- ‘When you raise your eyebrows, you’re in tune’ (Wally).
- ‘Just there at bar 4, I’m a bit shag-on-a-rockish’ (Sue was playing alone, probably because the horns were still laughing at Wally’s big input).
- ‘You’ve gotta get it in and out quickly’ (Alex, referring to his trombone slide of course).
- ‘Have we got the sponsor’s logo on that?’ (Hilly), always followed by, ‘About the banners…..’
- ‘We don’t play ‘Simon Says’, we play, ‘Wally Says’. We don’t play, ‘Where’s Wally?’, we play, ‘Where’s Dave?’ And sometimes we play ‘Wally says, ‘Where’s Dave?’’ (haha, Bec!!)
- ‘That was like a slap with a wet fish. C’mon! Hit me with it.’ (Wally to Robbie).
- ‘That’s not a bell tree. We’ll plant one for ya!’ (Brad).
- ‘Put the cold beers in the Heskey!’ (Terry Heskey).
- ‘I’m all froth and bubbles’ (Bev Jago).
- ‘I’ve got a really big one!’ (Deb, again followed by much laughter).
After checking in to our hotel rooms in Manchester it was lovely to hear various players rehearsing in their rooms, with the sound echoing out through the courtyard area. At 4.30pm we met our bus to head to the Black Dyke Mills Band rehearsal in Queensbury. This was an absolute highlight for all brass musicians; something most brass players around the world only ever dream of doing. We were met by Professor Nicholas Childs, the Musical Director of the band for the past 14 years, who made us feel very welcome by inviting us to sit in the musicians’ chairs in the old rehearsal room; a room steeped in tradition, with photographs and competition memorabilia around the walls, and 160-year-old music stands etched with the names of previous players who were successful in winning National Championships with the band.
Professor Childs spoke about the history of the band, in particular the history of women joining the band, and invited us to the players’ lounge area (again filled with memorabilia) and then the larger rehearsal room to hear Black Dyke play Deep Harmony and some individual solos. Our band members and supporters just managed to squeeze in around the edges of the room, standing within centimetres of the players. The sound was rich and incredible. We then exited the building to hear a Swedish band practise their march for the Whit Friday Contest, to watch Black Dyke doing their marching practise for tomorrow, and to have photographs with the band’s impressive trophies from the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, the British Open Championships and the European Championships. We left Queensbury feeling incredibly privileged to have visited this amazing band and band room.
As we traveled back to Manchester, we passed through some of the beautiful villages of the Saddleworth area and saw many of the roads being closed off in readiness for tomorrow’s famous Whit Friday Contest. Despite it being almost summer here, it is expected to be icy and possibly snowing tomorrow afternoon. Brrr! Did anyone bring a flask?