Friday, 5 August 2011

Spooky Men's Blog 2011

Day 10: Spooky Cakes and Spooky Ales

by The Spooky Men's Chorale on Monday, 25 July 2011 at 17:21

Reposted here

Call time was 1pm at the residence of Jon Price, leaving us lots of time to explore Oxford. I was lucky enough to get a driving tour of the various colleges by my billet host, and the buildings around Oxford were extraordinary. It was simple enough to get to our meeting point from the centre of Oxford, especially as Stephen had sent us all a helpful text with the address and which bus route to take. Naturally I had managed to lose my phone charger days before and thus was relying on a fairly sporadic memory bank to get me there. Fortunately I ran into John McNaul (there is no way I spelt that correctly) and he pointed me towards the right bus. After asking the driver for a ticket to “Mere Street or something” I realised I had no idea what number house it was... After two or three not-so-successful attempts I found the right house. Somehow I was early, so I enjoyed a nice cup of tea and a chat with Jon and Barbara. The other Spookies trickled in over time until we were all present at 1pm. Ish. Before we headed off the Price household was granted with a coveted Spooky Canvas Print to show our appreciation for their wonderful hospitality and help in organising everything the day before. Then we set off for Ashton Keynes.

It was a nice, short trip. We arrived at the local school at around 3, and I don’t think I have ever had a warmer welcome – including my own birth. The all-men choir of the area – AK47, run by our Chris Samuels – were there with a large portion of other Spookophiles who were present at the last Spooky UK Tour. A barbeque was thrown together (fortunately by an Australian), RIDICULOUSLY good brownies and scones were available for decimation in the school hall, and a game of rounders/softball was being set up on the school oval. After eating roughly double our body weight each, The Spookies and AK47-and-villagers moved over to the oval for a bloody game of softball. And bloody it was. Clearly the locals’ plan was to disable as many members of the Spooky Men as possible. They succeeded. Before long, at least three Spooky Men had lost the full use of their fingers and our Spookmeister was sitting on the sideline with an icepack on his knee. I have no idea how he managed to do so. He was playing catcher – the position in softball that moves the least out of anyone. But this did not stop him. He bravely stood up to bat, then threw himself on Robin’s back and let him do the running. I managed to repay some of the injury caused to our team by hitting an 8-year-old in the head with a ball. Unintentionally, of course... And Chris managed to almost kill one of the AK47s by belting the ball straight into their stomach. Fighting fire with fire. Before long it became apparent that something called an annihilation was taking place. The Spooks were up 27-3 (huzzuh!), so we decided to drop the rules and just have some fun.

After the barbeque it was time to get ready for the gig. At the same time we seemed to be having some issues with the bus. It was out of battery. Some of the Spooks gave it a good push, but even then it had some trouble starting. Later it turned out that Chris had actually forgotten to turn on the ignition during the push start. It also turned out that my performance blacks were in the bus and the bus wasn’t coming back. A chase ensued.

Upon arriving at the Church – where we were singing – we were in for a pleasant treat. The people of Ashton Keynes had actually brewed two different ales especially for the Spooky Men: Magnificent Ale and Spooky Ale. They were legendary. And just to top it off, there were specially made beer glasses inscribed with “The Spooky Men’s Chorale: Ashton Keynes 2011”. It was a beautiful thing.

After sampling the two ales several times we thought it would be a good idea to sing at some stage. The crowd was being warmed up by Kate Rowe and singing along with vigour. It was a brilliant gig. It was quite a small venue, but really nice and intimate. We sang acoustically, and it made a great sound. In the interval we went out and sampled some more of the ale, and also had a chat to the audience. And sampled some more ale. The second half was just as nice to sing in, but this time we brought up AK47 to sing with us for ‘Concrete’ and ‘Satisfaction’. It went brilliantly, and we decided to confuse Stephen by inviting one of the members of AK47 to take over Neville’s solo halfway through. The Spookies then finished with Dancing Queen as an encore.

Only a couple of days previously one of the local pubs was taken over by three local couples in a hope to create a really good pub in the village. That night it just so happened to be open, so all the Spooky Men, AK47s and many of the villagers invaded the pub for the night. We sang and drank boisterously and completely ruined our voices. Then the Spooky Men created several “Bass Sandwiches”. This is basically created with one person (normally female) surrounded by about ten men singing an impressive chord. It was a lovely thing to behold.

The pub stopped serving at midnight, unfortunately, so we moved on to one of the local’s houses to continue socialising. It was there that we finally plucked up the courage to cut the Spooky cake. It took less courage to eat it. It was a brilliant night with an awesome support group. Fortunately the next day is a day off. IN A SPA. It is going to be a good one.

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