Diary of a trip to Eisteddford

Set off from Halifax just after lunch on the road to sunny Wales. Journey was surprisingly incident free. The height of activity was me dropping off a few times on the way. Got to Ruthin and drove around in a circle for a while until we found our hotel. When we finally did find it we were not disappointed. Ruthin is a strange place; at times you feel like you are in France at others in Scotland. At times on the coast when in fact you are inland. Very picturesque with wonderful buildings and probably the most beautiful Wetherspoons in the world. The hotel is stunning with great décor and facilities. Sauna, cinema and library. IMAG0292-webWe went out in the town to find somewhere to eat and have a look around. We booked a table at The Star Bistro for six and went for a coffee at a little cafe. It seemed that no one in this town was actually welsh. I came to think of it as a welsh Hebden Bridge; lots of residents but none local. Welsh they may not be but friendly they were. Had a wander to the local Tesco to try and find Tom some black trousers for tomorrow. This is the uniform apparently.

Seems like I have been spared the performance myself and am here to document proceedings. I am down with this as I was becoming increasingly concerned that I would be on stage in front of cameras not knowing the words or the sign language. A bit like those sad people who are always on Songs of Praise. They are there but they shouldn’t be. As with all Basement outings there is a continuous stream of gallows humour and ribbing.

We went to the bistro after a wander around and an appetite had been fermented. The food was ok and as usual we started getting louder and more boisterous. We always seem like the stag or hen do in terms of noise and merriment but we are all obviously teetotal. Lots of poking fun and banter and Michelle and Richard G singing which seemed to unnerve some other customers close to us.

They must have been thinking we were all pissed and lairy. After that we all came back and took turns in the sauna and steam room. Rick G was a picture in the underwear he had procured. May be too disturbing to reveal any more. Following this there was the customary game of Trivial Pursuits. Although I am magnanimous about the result I did feel that Tom’s team got the easier questions, much easier. In fact fucking easy. Not bitter, they just got loads of easy questions.IMAG0326-web

Up early, very early. In fact didn’t sleep all that much. More to do with Joe than Tom. Tom and I had to share a double bed. Tom snores but it wasn’t Tom that kept waking me up. It was Joe. It was like the world snoring championship. Three heavyweights, but Joe triumphed. Got up had breakfast. Finally nailed that elusive Eggs Benedict, mushrooms instead of ham of course. Fucked about a bit then packed up and set off to Llangollen. Drove through some stunning scenery which took me by surprise if I am honest.

The site was not as large as I had imagined but it was nonetheless impressive. We met up with The Grace Note Choir at the entrance and those who were performing were given their outfits of black t-shirts and red pashminas. The first performance was scheduled for 10.30 and so everyone gathered, were given some brief instructions and prepared themselves. This performance was in a small tent outside of the main arena and was basically hors d’oeuvres to the main menu. IMAG0331-webAs with the main performance Grace Note and three other groups did individual slots then all performed True Colours together incorporating sign language. It was useful doing this as it gave everyone a chance to assess their performance. It went down well with the audience and settled a few nerves, I think. Following that there was a performance for BBC Radio Wales. Stars of stage and radio now. The artistes needed a break now and so people wandered around, took in the sights and got some refreshments. There was a great sense of togetherness and excitement.

Myself, Richard G and Michelle did a quick Charleston whilst a guy was playing guitar but he wasn’t impressed and heckled us, can’t win them all. The most bizarre thing; the previous night a question in Trivial Pursuit had been about Terry Waite and there he was next day signing books. Please forgive me if you have no idea who Terry Waite is.

Anyway, the time for the main performance seemed to arrive quite quickly, probably more so for those who were actually singing, and they were ushered into the Green Room. I wasn’t allowed in as I wasn’t performing and so I made my way into the main arena. I couldn’t believe it when I walked in. It was huge and the stage was incredible. Thousands of flowers, two huge screens at either side and absolutely immense. SC4 cameras everywhere filming it for live television. I knew that no one else had seen this and so I knew they were going to walk out on to this and be amazed and terrified. The performance was the same as in the small tent; each group did an individual turn and then performed True Colours together. I was supposed to video both but due to technical reasons only got True Colours. The performances were awe inspiring, by all the groups, and the audience gave a well-deserved standing ovation. The video doesn’t do justice and as I watched I was genuinely moved, not just by the performances but also the warmth from the audience. It was truly amazing and to see that level of visible recovery was priceless.