|An interpretation, from our perspective, of how each evening was received.|
We’re off and running for 2012 and after quite a quiet start at the Saracen’s Head for the first performance of this season we headed over the Toll Bridge and into Hollins Green and the Black Swan. It was Quiz Night here and so we’d arranged to perform at 9.15 just prior to the start of the Quiz. It was needless to say well received by the large ‘captive’ audience.
Next, back over the Toll Bridge to Dunham and to one of our regular pubs that has been done every year since the play began, namely The Vine Inn. It was very quiet, quieter than normal probably as we were doing it far earlier than normal and the usual ‘last hour’ regulars had not arrived in. Still those that were there were very interested in what was going on.
As this evening’s tour was well spread out we again headed off, this time into Lymm for a performance at the Folk Club in the function room at the Spread Eagle. We’d arranged to perform in the interval at 10.15 and when we arrived there the last prize for the raffle was being announced so it was straight into the song as soon as host Bernard had stopped talking. Another captive audience, but one very much into ‘Folk’ activities. A quick plug was also given for our last night’s music session at the Sarecen’s Head on the 10th November.
And so it was onto the last one for the night, the Jolly Thresher in Adgen. A much quieter evening to last year when we performed the play on their quiz night, quiet, but still a very nice ending to the evening.
The Second Night - Friday 2nd November 2012
After an earlier panic when we found out our first pub for the night, the Legh Arms in Knutsford, had closed we had to quickly rearrange the first half of the tour to bring a replacement into the schedule.
The first pub for the night was therefore now the Builders Arms on the outskirts of Knutsford where it was quiz night so we were able to play to the gathering participants. A good start to the night. We headed off then to Knutsford centre for the remainder of the evening that would be on foot. In walking to the second pub however, the White Bear and the pub that was replacing the closed Legh Arms, we were 'accosted' by the Landlord of the Freemason's Arms wanting us to perform there, and for free beer, well who are we to refuse! We'd not performed at the Freemason's for many, many years, and especially not recently as it had been converted to a Thai restaurant. However now it was back to being a 'drinkers' pub.
We therefore did our performance at the White Bear what was done to a lightly filled pub before heading off the the Lord Eldon slightly ahead of schedule in order to make some time to perform at the Freemason's.
The Lord Eldon was it's usual cosy self with a loverly open fire, that it anything was far to hot for those dressed in all their kit. Plenty of people here who'd come to see us as well. Our being slightly ahead of schedule had unfortunately caught a couple of people out as they'd turned up just after we'd finished. It was needless to say a very enjoyable performance of the play.
Next port of call was the Sessions House. We'd not done here before but it had been recommended and so was duly set up with the manager. As it turned out we encountered two 'heavies' on the door, we explained our purpose and that we were expected, however they insisted an phoning the manager who decided that, no, we weren't welcome that night. It was therefore a good job we had the Freemason's to go to so that's where we headed off to next instead.
Well, what a makeup that was. A small busy pub with an absolute cracking audience. We needed to be loud but it was extremely well received, and was described like a smaller version of the Railway in Hale. A cracking good do.
Two more left with the first being the Rose and Crown. This was the pub of the night last year so expectations were a bit high. as it turned out it was just that bit too noisy and a table was now in the place in the centre of the room that was the ideal position preforming last year. We therefore ended up slightly to one side and therefore unable to command the attention of all the room and so the background noise slowly increased again. Still good by normal standards. As it was so busy we we're even unable to get to the bar at the end so found ourselves leaving slightly early to head off next door but one to the Crossed Keys. It's always a welcoming pub this and the landlord went straight to turning the keg music down before we started. It continued the trend of it being noisy but still a very enjoyable end to a very strange night where the whole idea of being accosted by a pub landlord to preform in his pub and for it to end up being the 'star' pub of the night was just superb.
The Third Night - Saturday 3rd November 2012
Our third night ended a bit of a mixture again. The first in the Barn Owl, where in the past we've ended up at an empty pub, there were a good few people in, most being diners. It was very well received by them and quite a relief to us with the numbers in.
The second, the Old No3, was a different story. It was bonfire night for them and so the place was heaving. We did manage to get the music turned down at one end of the pub and we duly started, however, it was very difficult to make our way around the whole pub so the music eventually started up again half way through!. To those at the end where we did perform it was appreciated and so went down well. We're probably better doing this pub an another night to when they have a bonfire.
Up the road now to The Wheatsheaf, and with the bonfire at The Old No3 it was quite quiet, but still enough in to be worthwhile, and we got a free drinks from the Landlord - to which thanks are given.
Our next stop was two pubs in Lymm, with the first being the Saddlers Arms. It always is a very nice venue this and so once again a very attentive audience and a very satisfying performance. From here to The Bull for our last one of the night and again a pub that's always a pleasure to perform at. We even had a number of people who'd just come from the Saddlers.
Another very good evening and so that's now half way through. We've a few day's off now and so continue on Thursday 8th November with a tour of Ashton upon Mersey, Urmston and Flixton. Hope to see you there.
The Forth Night - Thursday 8th November 2012
After a break of a few days we were out performing the play again on the 8th November, this being the first day of a second set of three days. The tour starting inAshton Village before going to Sale and then Urmston and Flixton.
We started at The Plough in Ashton upon Mersey, a pub that's always good to play in, even if a bit 'meandering' in it's layout. It was moderately full and gave us a good start to the evening. The Volunteer in Sale was second where we were instructed to let the Landlady know when we arrived and she'd stop the quiz for us. Needless to say we had a very good audience and the play went down very well indeed with the quiz resuming once we'd finished..
From here it was off to Urmston with the first here being The Roebuck. This had been disappointing as regards patronage in previous years and we're always told to get there earlier. As always seems to be the norm on this tour due to the distances involved we were running behind schedule, however we were presently surprised to find the pub with fer more people in than a good few of the previous years. Very satisfying.
Next to the Steamhouse, in the old Urmston station building, where it was open mic night so it was just a question of making our arrival known then it was straight off to perform the play to a very busy pub. A good response yet again. The last pub for the evening was The Church Inn in Flixton. We'd arranged to perform at 10.45 just after the quiz had finished , so as we had the best audience. This we did and as the Landlord had not announced the winners we had the full audience still there. Whilst it was not as full as in previous years it was nevertheless a fitting end to what was a very good evening with consistent numbers in all the audiences.
The Fifth Night - Friday 9th November 2012
This penultimate night was due to have started quite early as we were perform six times in the evening. As it turned out South Manchester's motorway and road system was more like a car park than something to use to get somewhere.Beelzebub even managed to get bogged down in a motorway verge and had to be towed out. This resulted in the urgent calling upon the services of another member who was due for a night off. All this ended up with various members of the Gang being everywhere bar outside the Greyhound in Ashley at the alloted meeting time of 7.00pm! We were due to perform at 7.30, however, people were only just starting to arrive at this time.
We did eventually get everyone there, including the the one bogged down on the motorway and his replacement, for a start at 7.50pm, some 20 minutes late. In spite of all the chaos going on 'behind the scenes' the performance was carried off as if there was nothing wrong in front of a large audience.
From here it was into Altrincham for the first venue there, Costello's. This is quite a new pub, so a new venue to us and a new style of audience as the pub is in effect the 'brewery tap' to Dunham Massey Brewing Company. It was obviously a new experience to the drinkers as well as there was continual chatter, more due to the general discussion about 'what on earth was going on' rather than anything malicious. The result, a well received performance and another pub in the venues list for next year.
Across to the other side of Altrincham now and to two regulars, The Market Tavern and The Malt Shovels. Both if anything were slightly quieter than usual but as always, it was well received in both. The Market Tavern was also where our 'emergency' Enterer made his departure and the planned Enterer for the evening took over for the remaining three pubs.
Next to Timperley and to the Quarry Bank. This was full as usual and so as a result it unfortunately has a lot of background chatter from those in the further reaches of the open area. The Landlady us usual provided the beer after the performance to which the Gang as always are very grateful. As so it was onward to the last one.
The Railway in Hale was as it always is, full and very noisy. It therefore called for our usual loud and if anything boisterous performance. At least there was some room for The Turkish Champion to die, although in the past we've had less room than we've had tonight. Beelzebub also had the pleasure of two beers as well, Oh sorry, one lager (!!!) and one beer, much to the surprise of everyone there. A fitting end to a very busy and what turned out to be a very rushed evening due to the panic and late start.
The Sixth Day - Saturday 10th November 2012
And so we come to our last day of Souling for 2012. Meeting at the play's home, the Saracen's Head for some lunch, we then set out for the 3 minute walk to the church where we performed at the Autumn Fair. It's always on honor to perform here as it has a very special atmosphere and results in quite a different performance here that in a pub environment. After the raffle had been drawn, and two of the Gang walking away with prizes it was back to the Saracen's Head for a couple of hours before heading out for the final evening tour.
This starts quite early at the Axe and Cleaver in Dunham at 6.30pm and here we were very pleased to see some representatives from the Trafford branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society to whom we're donating the proceeds of the collection this year. A very nice start, and with a barman who knows the routine very well and had Beelzebub's pint ready and waiting on a table. The Swan with Two Nicks came next on the other side of the canal, only 1/2 mile as the crow flies but a somewhat longer drive being needed, probably not helped by a bit of naff navigation by Beelzebub sending the Gang the long way round!! Never trust someone who nicks your beer!. Once we got there it was a very cosy performance in the front room. The room was full with a very attentive audience that gave us a real lift into the evening.
So two down and four to go. The Star at Statham was next and whilst very quiet in the font room, all those in the side room came round to watch. to make it very worthwhile in the end. Into Lymm next for the Spread Eagle and at first it looked quiet but fortunately a few more came in as we were gathering and in the end it had a fair number of people watching us and continued with the fine nature of the evening.
From here into Heatley for the Green Dragon and a somewhat noisier atmosphere than usual. Due to the nature of the pub's layout it's always difficult to play to everyone so we keep to the area around the bar and unfortunately this means those in the further reaches tend to carry on chatting. It was still a good penultimate performance. This is where we're dropped off by our transport as we now walk the last mile back to the Saracen's Head (although our King George had to drive due to his progressively deteriorating knees).
When we got there there is only one thing that could be said about this - Saracen's Head was full. With an audience of like minded people who'd come to see the play what a cracking atmosphere it was to the end of the season.But for us there was still a plate of butties and some soup to get through followed by a cracking good evening of music and song before wending our weary way home in the early hours of Sunday morning. Fabulous!
This page updated: 11th November 2012.