The Warburton Souling Play - Performances 2008
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Where we went in 2008
The Saracen's Head logo An interpretation, from our perspective, of how each evening was received.

On this page it is normal for us to give a brief description of how we got on in each venue for each evening. 

1st November 2008

The Gang ready to set out the the Saracen's Head

We started as in recent years by meeting at Larchfield House where we prepared ourselves ready for the night ahead and for the season to come.
With everything sorted we headed out to the Saracens head where for a Saturday night were quite expecting a good number of people in the pub, unfortunately, it turned out to be rather quiet for a Saturday night.  Nevertheless it was a good start to the evening from the performance perspective and we were heartened to have two people in the audience who had driven over from Sheffield to come and see us.

From here we headed out over Warburton tollbridge to Hollins Green.  First we went to the Black Swan were the performance had to be finished before the karaoke started.  This we managed with 15 minutes to spare and due to it being karaoke night we had a good audience with the play being well received.   A quick wander down the road to Ye Olde Red Lion where we played to fewer people but still the play well-received.  We were getting the impression that for a Saturday night it was going to be a quiet evening.

Two more pubs to do and with both of these being in Dunham we headed back out over the tollbridge to the Axe and Cleaver.  Here there was a good audience and once again the play was well received in a pub that we enjoy performing in. So with one more to do what we headed over to the Vine where the entry was greeted with comments from the bar of  "...good God it must be that time of the year again!"

So that's it now for a few days.  We'll start again on Wednesday the 5th November for a run of four nights to conclude our season on the 8th November.

5th November 2008

The summary for the evening could be described as a typical quiet Wednesday followed by an excellent busy finish.

Starting at the Swan with 2 Nicks in Little Bollington we had around 15 to 20 people to play to, not many but it was received fine by those there. Beelzebub had his drink but unfortunately ended up having to by the drink back! Not often that happens. From here we went up the road to the Wheatsheaf where we played to a similar number of people who were very enthusiastic in their appreciation of the Play.

The third pub was The Crown in Lymm and is one we’ve not performed at for some 20 years. It has certainly changed somewhat since last time. We performed in the larger open dining area at the rear of the pub with again around 20 people in. Unfortunately one group of three got up to go outside during the Enterer’s speech without really waiting to see what it was all about. Their loss I feel. This was not the most satisfying of performances, however this was due more to the nature of those watching, or not watching in this case, rather than the pub itself. The landlord was very welcoming and pointed out that it was much fuller earlier in the evening – we’ll know for next year.

A long trek into Urmston and the Roebuck. We missed this pub last year as there had been a fire and so it was closed. The result of the repair was that it has now changed beyond all recognition, loosing it town boozer feel and now having a much more ‘up-market’ presentation to it. It was the quietest we’ve ever known it, however, whilst talking to the landlord whilst supping the round he’d just bought the Gang we we’re assured it was a very quit night and not as it normally is. Bonfire night and a certain football team playing at home were the reported reasons. The performance was well enough received however, and we’ll certainly be back next year.

To the Church in Flixton for the last performance tonight and to a very busy pub, and to what can only be described as an excellent end to the evening. Everyone was attentive from the start with the only conversation of the type where people were commenting amongst themselves on what was going on. There was one group who seemed to be there for a birthday party and the Gang took great pleasure in joining in the Happy Birthday song. It’s always a great pleasure to perform here in what is an excellent pub that is always well filled.

Two nights done and three to go, so Thursday will see us in Agden again and then into Lymm.

6th November 2008

 This tour could only be described as bizarre.  The first two pubs, the Barn Owl and the Jolly Thresher, were both extremely quiet and whilst those that were in the Barn Owl were very attentive there were some in the Jolly Thresher who made a point of ignoring us, instead insisting that watching football on the television.  As you can watch football 12 months of the year yet you can only watch Souling for five nights of the year it struck us that their priorities were wrong!

From the Jolly Thresher we moved into Lymm and the Sadler's Arms.  And what a difference was there to meet us, the pub was heaving.  The Enterer did not fully succeed in quieting down the whole of the pub, however we did succeed in bringing to the pub into order with the battle. All in all an excellent performance and an excellent reception.  Round the corner now to the Bull where again it was an extremely satisfying performance to a well filled pub.

Our original planto finish the night was to end up at the Spread Eagle in Lymm, however a Thursday night is also folk club night at the Spread Eagle so it was suggested by our dear Groom that we did both.  Arrangements were duly made via text messaging with the folk club.  Upon arrival at the Spread Eagle there were a grand total of three people in the pub so we decided to go straight upstairs to the folk club. However before we could get there it was pointed out to us that the folk club was not at the Spread Eagle that night and was instead a mile down the road at the rugby club!  A quick panic, back to the car's, and off down the road, soon saw us at the rugby club. It was now getting a bit late and the guest act at the folk club was too close to the end of this set to enable us to interrupt so we had to wait until the end of the encore to perform the play.

Well all I can say is that it was well worth waiting for.  An audience quiet and attentive and there to be entertained.  As it was after closing time we had previously bought a beer and this was strategically placed and in easy reach for Beelzebub.  An absolutely excellent finished to what was a very unusual evening.

7th November 2008

Evenings don’t come much better than this it has to be said. We were well received all evening and this started with the Greyhound in Ashley. Here we’d normally arrange to do this as the penultimate performance, however the licensee assured us to be there early as the pub starts to empty at 8.30. We duly arrived there a couple of minutes after that time and had more people in there as there were with the last few years put together. A tremendous start to the evening playing mainly to the group nearer the door as that area was well filled and worth doing on its own.

Doing the Greyhound first meant we had to do more driving to get around and so found ourselves going past the last pub for the night to get to Altrincham and the Malt Shovels. Here it was typical of what we now expect and so whilst not heaving it was as well received as it could have been. Even the young lads in the darts room were impressed and thought it wonderful.

Up Victoria Street to the Old Market Tavern and whilst not the busiest we've seen it the performance was still as well received as ever. What was becoming apparent by this time was the amount of 'folding money' being put into the hat.

Back to our transport and into Timperley and the Quarry Bank. Was it full or was it full? No, it was probably fuller than that. The Gang had to raise their already strained voices even louder! We eventually got the pub chat down to such a level that made it tolerable but we still had to be 'loud' by any standard. And to cap it all we were bought a drink by the Landlady at the end of the performance. We felt that only one performance was as loud in recent years and that was The Railway in Hale two years, where we were going next.

We eventually got to the Railway somewhat later than we'd planned however, it made no difference The Railway was still, well, The Railway. Busy. Whilst not to the same degree as that mentioned two years ago it was sill by any standard a busy pub. That brought to an end what was a memorable evening, finishing it as we'd started it in a heaving pub.

The result of all this was that we'd collected a record amount. More that any previous evening or day and by in excess of 20%.
So for the last day. This is the Gang's prestige day and the one that has the most mixed of feelings. We look forward to it immensely yet are very conscious that it brings the season to a close and that that's it for another year.

The last day - Saturday 8th November 2008

The Gang Outside The Saracen's Head before setting off for the Church

As is now the norm we met at the Saracen's Head for lunch prior to starting the day's proceedings at the Warburton Autumn Fair in St Werburgh's Church. However before then the Enterer's new staff was introduced to the rest of the Gang, and to much acclaim and satisfaction of its maker. This is an item that we hope will be part of the Play for some time to come.

 So we duly arrived at the Church and began our song at the allotted time of 2.30pm. One cannot not really say much as it’s already been said in previous years, simply, it's always a great pleasure and an honor to perform there.

A short walk up the road to the bus stop and a bus to Sandy Lane and walk up the hill to Cotebrook House to perform for our designated charity. There weren’t as many residents there as last year as some we're on holiday or were with family, however it was still a pleasure to perform there regardless of numbers.
We were then taken back to the Saracen's Head for a short break before heading for a bus to Dunham and the Axe & Cleaver. The Axe & Cleaver has to be one of the friendliest pubs in the area and it is a credit to Mike and Julie who run it and therefore it should be of no surprise that be just love playing there. Regardless of us getting a free drink when we do go, it is the quality of the performance and playing to an appreciative performance in a friendly atmosphere that is why we enjoy going there.

By this time the weather had turned foul and so the Gang headed back to the bus sheltering underneath all manner of umbrellas. Arriving well in advance as we don't like missing this bus back as there is not another one for 2 hours. So we waited, and waited, and waited and finally came to the conclusion there was not going to be a bus. So by now the mobile phones were out and mustering as many people we knew who were heading out to see us in the last few performances to come via Dunham to rescue us. This left us around 40 minutes late so fortunately we persuaded our 'lifts' to stay with us and to transport us between the last remaining pubs. This was no hardship in view of the horizontal rain now flying past us.

Arriving at the Farmers Arms at Heatley we immediately got stuck into the performance, followed by getting stuck into a badly needed beer! The reception was as warm as it usually is with a number of people there especially to see us. Back into our 'lifts' and off down the road to the Green Dragon. Being a spread out eating pub we always struggle, however there were enough people there at one end of the pub to play to and with whom it was suitably received to make an enjoyable penultimate performance.

After another drink we were back out into the weather again and to the cars to get us to our final destination of the day, and the season, the Saracen's Head in Warburton.

A rousing performance all round, although Beelzebub did suffer in trying to find a suitable victim to acquire his last item of ‘props’ from. The trouble was that well over half the people were stuck in the raised section at the far end of the pub and were just as unable to get down to the lower level because the stairs were full of people watching. It equally meant Beelzebub could not get up there to survey the contenders.

The evening was completed with the usual music session with people coming from far and wide to join in - one fellow from Luton holding the record this year.

We must offer our sincere thanks to Phil and Coard at the Saracen's Head for there help in making the day go well. Especially for the extra stock of beer they get in for the  day and for the fine corned beef hash they provided at the end of the performance for the hungy Gang. Many, many thanks again.

Bother - it's all over until next year........

This page updated: 17th November 2008.