The tourist/market/historic town of Skipton in North Yorkshire has a Gala each year, and in 2003, for the first time ever, Skipton Players entered a float. Due to a bad attack of post-pantomime enthusiasm fuelled by beer, we decided to give it a Discworld theme - and due to my encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject, I was put in charge.
Well, Saturday 14th June 2003 dawned a fairly gloomy day, but the weather forecast said rain, so I figured it would clear up. Arriving early at the theatre I started to relax, thinking it would be a nice easy day. By 10 o'clock, plenty of cast members had arrived and there was no way of getting in, so I was starting to get a little worried. Still, things sorted themselves out, and we had started preparing the float by 10:30.
We had built the framework previously, and attatched it to the truck last night, so now all we needed to do was fix the decorated side panels on. This task was supervised by Terry, as I had to find enough wires to get our sound system working - immediately after I had to buy some more paint, rant at people about the costumes, and complain that I couldn't be in three places at once! It was turning into a really hectic day (for me at least), and the sun had started to shine.
Having got the paint and sorted details of the costumes out, I got the chance to set up the sound system. The generator we rented had only one socket, and we needed two, so I asked if anyone had an adaptor to borrow. While Sue went home to find one, I scoured the theatre for suitable leads to connect up the speakers. I found only one, and after a trip to try and buy some more (an unsuccesful trip, that resulted in a hastily thought-of backup plan being tried then discarded), decided that one speaker would have to do. I connected up the CD player and amp from the theatre to the generator, each other, and the one speaker, fired up the generator and tested it. Success! So I turned everything off and helped with the final bits of float construction and decoration. As I decided it was time for lunch, I asked Shirley what the time was, and she told me "ten to one". It took a few seconds to sink in, then I panicked - we were supposed to be assembled in Westmoreland Street at one, we should have left ten minutes ago! Fortunately, it was only ten to twelve, and I calmed down a bit.
Lunch out of the way, and it was time to get serious. People changed into costume, I handed out a couple of disposable cameras, we boarded the float, and people waved us off as we left for Westmoreland Street on time.
People were already gathering in the streets as the huge truck made its' way through Skipton, and we got plenty of waves and greetings. We parked in our place in Westmoreland Street and waited. Opposite us was a float from Bliss nightclub, which kept us entertained first with Britney Spears, then with disco classics, which resulted in a few photos that are likely to be very rare (Mrs Palm does The Timewarp)! Suddenly the judges appeared, and everyone calmed down, got into character, and waited expectantly. The judges passed on, and things got a little back to normal. Half an hour later, there was some excited shouting at the back of the float, and I discovered we had won second prize in our category (a whole £7 prize money!). Beryl pinned the rosette to her costume.
A little later, the parade started. After a morning of brief clips of music (to save the generator's petrol), now was the time to get it going properly. We had decided on "Hooked on Classics", and this was what was in the CD player. Unfortunately, no track lasted longer than thirty seconds at a decent volume before it faded out. I tried re-wiring it, fiddling with the balance, the volume, everything. We had reached the bottom of the High Street before I admitted defeat - something was wrong with the sound system that I couldn't fix. Alan pointed out that because there was no second speaker, the amp was pushing all the power into the channel that wasn't being used, because there was no resistance. I had a flash of inspiration, and looked around for something metal. Borrowing one of Sue's hatpins, I bridged the gap between the terminals on the spare speaker channel, and fired up the generator again. It worked! We now had music at full volume, and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself - until the top of the High Street, when the music faded again. The hatpin wasn't providing enough resistance, and nothing was going through the speaker again. I admitted defeat for a second time, and stood up to enjoy the parade.
It was a lovely hot and sunny day by now, and those of us in warm costumes were really feeling the heat. Sheena in her Orang-Utan costume was sweating buckets. We were recognised as being Discworld twice, which was a source of much jubilation amongst us, and no-one threw any mouldy fruit or anything (despite Terry trying to seperate spectators from their cool beers or ice creams!).
The parade ended as we passed the gates to Aireville Park, and we all agreed on one hour's wandering round the fair before returning to the float to go back to the theatre to dismantle it. And so, after an hour's wandering round the fair in the company of people with watches, at four o'clock, everyone who hadn't needed to get home ASAP returned to the float, and we went back to the theatre. A short while later after everyone had changed, we set to work dismantling the float, and we got it down in just under an hour. Everyone who was still around was rewarded with cake. After putting everything away, we closed the theatre and went our seperate ways, and I was the only one muttering "never again!"
|Sue Clement||as||Granny Weatherwax|
|Beryl Binns||as||Nanny Ogg|
|Zoe Kelly||as||Magrat Garlick|
|Terry Harrison||as||Mustrum Ridcully|
|Sheena Ford||as||The Librarian|
|Lucinda Thompson||as||Susan Sto Helit|
|Alan Holt||as||Cohen the Barbarian|
|Sophie Minal||as||Sergeant Angua|
|Sally Walker||as||Lady Sybil Ramkin|
|Abigail Ford||as||Mrs Cake|
|Shirley Rowland||as||The Phantom|
|Denise Adlard||as||Mrs Palm|
|Naomi Speechley||as||A Seamstress|
Float construction mainly by Terry Harrison and Brian Wakeling, aided and abetted by Jeremy Bullock, John Binns, and Barney Long.
Design by Rebecca Barnes and Naomi Speechley, painting by the cast members.
Costumes by Sally Walker and Sue Clement, makeup by Becki Anderton.