The Longest Day
21st June Holmfirth Festival
Happy Solstice and Happy Birthday Ah Mam.
Sorry to miss it!
Sat once more around the breakfast table with Lesley and Steve, Maxim and I buried our heads in lap tops and iPads to blog our previous days adventures.
I apologised profusely, explaining that the written accounts of our tramp are every bit as important as the wandering, waving and walking onto stage and how it is important to try and get them done whilst fresh in the memory and before our next performance.
I also had a few important calls to make. One to Ah Mam on the occasion of her birthday and another to Tacko my old street theatre partner who was himself soon to join us at Holmfirth Festival with his fabulous flea circus.
Me Where a you?
Him About to set off from Devon
Me What time you getting here
Him In time for the show!
We would see.
Tacko first introduced me to the books of Walter Wilkinson who is of course the inspiration for these journeys we have plans to one day share our own vagabond adventures
But that shall be another story.
Keep a look our for Uncle Tacko’s Flea Circus at Holmfirth Festival or Hebden Bridge later this weekend.
Anywhere in fact.
Steve has a camper van and he swings it around the tight little roads of Holmfirth with the greatest of ease! He very kindly whisked us back to Wooldale to collect us Dolly for the shunt onwards to Hepworth.
The beginning of the walk was brief and only a few strides in Maxim was delivering a routine to a group of school children at the invitation of their teacher. The sun shone again lighting his performance as audience sat crossed legged on a carpet in the playground.
later we pushed on through the village. Curious stone buildings jutted out at all angles along the narrow twisting roads. I once again reflected on how these buckled little buildings somehow belong to the landscape. My own county of Cumbria is breathtakingly beautiful, it is of course Great Britain’s garden, yet Yorkshire suits us vagabonds better in some ways.
During our Cumbrian walks we enjoyed mile after mile of green and pleasant land often without seeing a single person or car. Here in Yorkshire we are never far from a small community or little cluster of houses. People wave. Stop for a chin wag, ask how we are getting on and offer advice.
Especially Yorkshire Men.
We stopped to check the map outside a pub in Scholes. The Boot And Shoe.
Blokes came out with pints.
Blokes. Reet then? What you got there?
We gave our speech. We are well versed in explaining ourselves now. We tell them we are heading for Hepworth village hall and invited them to the show.
More blokes gathered until we had six maybe seven curious builders taking on fluids after a busy weeks labour.
Blokes. Your gonna push that from hear to Hepworth? Up these hills?
We are offered a lift in the back of a van which we of course politely refuse. We had stopped initially to check the map as the pub was at a fork in the road offering two options. A debate begins between our building blokes. One way is longer but flatter. The other deeper, steeper but shorter. We gently slide off towards the right fork leaving the debate in full flow.
We worked hard to get to our venue. This was a real challenge. From the top of the hill we looked down on the spire of Hepworth Church and very soon worked out that if we were going to push down before a steep lift geography suggested a bowl. We first had to slowly lower Dolly into a the canopy of trees below. Believe it or not lowering Dolly is actually more difficult that shunting her up. When pushing we can dictate our own pace but gravity has her say when lowering.
Thankfully we had fuelled up earlier with a fat plate of steak pie, chips and mushy peas.
We rested at the base of the deep valley before the long slow push to the top. We had met some other building blokes on the way down who had also offered us a lift. They passed and tooted us encouragingly as we began our assent.
Soon enough we arrived at the top and were tooted once more by the same van. The blokes had obviously circled around to see if we had given up and needed a lift after all.
Thanks Yorkshire blokes, we had made it.
The hall at Hepworth is perfect. Andy the hall manager welcomed us with tea and set up the bar. He was unsure as to the amount of audience we might gather. We dared hope for a full house. Maxim and I both agreed that if we could fill this beautiful stone hall the ingredients would be there for the perfect show.
Sure enough they came. Villagers mixed with festival goers and we found ourselves pulling out extra tables and chairs moments before our curtain.
The team from Blaize arrived Ellen and Paula our administrators along with Evan a filmmaker who was to capture the show for reasons of future publicity.
Tacko and his showman friends arrived at 7.59 after the long drive from the south and all settled.
It was indeed the perfect evening. Our show stood in front of three arched windows with a glorious backdrop of the sunlit valley behind. The hall had a bar with real ale and our audience were as hopeful as we for a grand show.
Our routines worked well and everybody seemed to have a ball. We had so many welcome comments at the end of the evening I felt quite humbled.
Later we met for drinks with Tacko and his showmen in the bustling festival fuelled town centre and raised a few glasses to the longest and possibly finest day of vagabonding.
Earlier in the day shortly after arriving at the hall Maxim noticed a little red letter on the bar. It was addressed to me. I turned out to be a card from my wife George sending love for our anniversary. In my bed at the stroke of midnight I opened it and thought of home. It’s hard being away from loved ones a lot, especially on family occasions. Today I missed Ah Mam’s birthday celebrations and now our wedding anniversary. I also of course miss my boy Alfie, but such is life for us showmen and perfect days like today help massage the aches.
Thanks Holmfirth Festival! Living the dream.