Myself, Mark C and Rick G got down to Todmorden for nine o’clock with no real idea of what was in store for us. Surprises can go either way but at least you get the suspense to start your nerves going.
When we arrived it was very misty and cold. We made our way to Pollination Street to find out what fate had in store for us. My first thought was to look at the number of tents and gazebo bags and think we must be attempting some kind of record. There was a huge tent that was the first task. The enormity of the situation was further magnified and complicated by the fact that there appeared to be components of more than one huge tent.
The Krypton Factor sprung to mind. Anyway we got stuck in with some other unfortunate volunteers and followed the instructions of Barney who seemed to know at least a little of what was going on. After a couple of dead ends and identifying the red herring parts we managed to get the thing up and without injury or damage. Others had arrived and between us all we got all the tents and gazebos erected and started filling them with tables and cooking equipment.
Before we knew it the whole place was looking like a party waiting to happen. There were various groups represented; a dentist highlighting the amount of sugar in soft drinks (quite disturbing), CND, Incredible Farm and Aqua Garden, an apple press, many food stalls and others which escape me. By now the sun had asserted itself and it was a beautiful September day. Mary Clear and Estelle Brown were most active and encouraging. They both convey an enthusiasm that is hard to resist.
After making sure we had done what needed doing Rick and I went to the van and had some last minute rehearsal for the choir’s performance. There was no power on site so we had agreed to play guitar as accompaniment. I was cool with this and was getting excited at the prospect.
A local pie maker had baked a huge pie decorated with ‘Incredible Edible Harvest Festival’. It seemed a shame to vandalise his work but it was very tasty. The place had really filled up by the time the choir arrived and I could sense a high degree of nervousness. Before we played we watched a samba band and a group of minstrels. These both went down well and so this increased the nerves in some members of the choir.
Our time came and we went for it. As we played the first song I could see a crowd gathering close around us and could tell they were enjoying it. I think others were too gripped with nerves to notice this. A guy was up close and filming us, moving around us to get everybody in shot at one point or another. The crowd really got into what we were doing and I buzzed off this. We had to wait to do our third song as Mayor Steph Booth wanted a picture with us.
As I spoke to people later I received nothing but positive feedback. Result! After that we just mixed and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon. It was fantastic to be there, such a real feeling of community and good natured enjoyment. It was fantastic to be a part of it and to feel that we had contributed to it. I sampled freshly cooked healthy food from most of the outlets and was impressed with all of it. Alison Jones, whom Colin, Lee and I had helped at the Big Lunch, was there and we had a catch up. Rick, Mark and I lingered until the end and then helped take down the big tent we had erected earlier. All in all it was a fantastic day. It will stay with me for so many reasons. The choir, the sunny day, the sense of community, people just enjoying themselves in a relaxed and non-technological way. It reminded me of a time I thought had passed.
Article featured in RecoveryTimes issue 9