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Monday, 22 June 2009

Up and Down In Harrogate

In the world of technical Theatre, a ''flat' is a large(usually), rectangular(usually), timber(usually), frame clad in canvas or plywood and painted. It forms the majority of scenic backdrops. In general terms, 'fear' can be defined as "be afraid or feel anxious or apprehensive about a possible or probable situation or event". The reason for introducing these terms so early in the missive is that I'm in Harrogate, balanced precariously on top of a very tall flat, attempting to feed a flexible hosepipe down a small hole that runs down the back of same, when I am unwillingly introduced to fear.

"Hey Chief, what do you want us to do?" asks the friendly voice from 'below'. In this case 'below' is a concrete floor, inconveniently placed twenty feet lower than the present location of my feet.

I look downwards and am somewhat surprised to see two of my crew, arms folded and totally relaxed, craning their necks to gaze upwards. I stow my surprise, and belay the gutteral utterances that are competing to escape the larynx area. I probably also surpress the "fight or flight" reflex and give thanks to Richard Dawkins, inventor of evolution, that he was thoughful enough to provide me with a Brocca's Area of the Brain, not to mention a forebrain. This means I can plan, co-ordinate and execute my next actions, and not all Gods would have been thoughful enough to give their Creations such abilities. Breathing calmly, I restore my "centre", drawing on David Carradine for inspiration - the David Carradine in the tv series "Kung Fu" you understand, not the David Carradine of Bangkok hotel rooms.

"Erm, lads....who's holding the flat?" I enquire "This one I mean" I say, pointing to the one I'm perched on.

The lads looked puzzled. "We are!!!!" they reply. There is a slight pause, the penny drops and they each sprint to the corners I had assigned them earlier, and enthusiastically grab hold of the flat with as much energy as they can muster. Fortunately I am holding onto the water pipe and the live electrical feed for our stand, so I dont fall off as the flat rocks violently back and forward. I climb down and we have another impromptu 'Rules of Manual Handling' briefing.

There is an phrase , current in England, that seems to accompany every sentence uttered by men, to wit and ipso facto : "to be fair". "To be fair" is most often applied when the exact opposite is meant. For example, you might visit the local butchers and enquire the price of a nice leg of lamb. If the price is extortionate, the butcher will say "To be fair, it's two million pounds. But it was a very well thought of lamb, most popular on its farm, and the best gamboller to boot". Or you might get a quote for a small extension at Large Mansions, and the builder will say "I've had a look at the job, and to be fair, it will cost the Gross Domestic Product of Belgium, and take five years. And we wont be back for any snagging." In the case of my team at Harrogate, to be fair, they were new, but we survived, and loaded out after four days with no serious injuries. If I were to be unfair, I would add that their company name "The C Team" was entirely appropriate.

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