Christ… we’re now in November! Time not only flies but seems to be whizzing by at the speed of a comet racing through the recesses of outer space… or me fleeing from any shop which blasts out Mariah Carey’s ghastly Christmas record, a form of abuse that’s gonna be much inflicted over the next few weeks… but hey, you come here expecting to read some snooze, not my inner Meldrew rantings so er… let’s get on with it.
The final days of October were full of much positivity. Final week of the Illuminations and insanely busy in Blackpool. I think most of us will be pleased to enjoy 3 to 4 months of near quietness giving us a breather and time to take stock. There were a couple of meetings this week, first one being with two of my chums from the Action Learning Set group which was relaxed and productive. The other on Wednesday afternoon felt more like an impromptu one as I found myself within a bunch of pals like Dawn Mander, Kate Yates, Libby Nightingale and others discussing a new project slated for the end of November. Naturally I’m not gonna go into any further details about that but it promises to be very interesting and I’m looking most forward to it.
There is one dilemma about all this which keeps haunting me in moodier moments – I am as creatively busy and active as I ever have been which is brilliant BUT trying to land A JOB to deal with things like paying the rent and bills is getting extremely frustrating.
Thursday evening was easily the highlight of the week – the Electric Sunshine Project‘s All Souls Ball in the Spanish Hall within the Winter Gardens. I’d never been in there before and truth be told, having seen photos of it thought it looked a bit… well… tacky but walking in there and seeing it for real complete with all the lighting in place and good vibes, it was utterly breathtaking. See what I mean? One week I’m working inside the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, the next this Spanish Hall… Blackpool has some downright extraordinary places and I’m having memorable experiences which add to my ever growing CV and anecdotage!
My role for the evening was as photographer, plus being the archivist nerd I am, was shooting footage of it as well. It was an interesting experience as I’ve never been comfortable with indoor photography. My many experiments with it have been awful as hey, I like to try and do things properly. On this evening, I threw caution to the wind and simply used the auto settings on my Nikon. I’m loathe to resort to that but the combination of good company, me being in a good mood and all the things that were going on rewarded me with a ton of wonderful photos. Sure, they’re a bit grainier than usual but they captured the flavour of the evening and that’s what ultimately matters. The biggest problem using auto settings is it screws with timing. How I usually work, when I press the shutter, the photo is taken at that moment but when I press it on auto, there ends up being a delay of up to a second as it configures itself to an “ideal” setting which does make an enormous difference so very often THE moment I hoped to capture is one a split second later and when yer a photographer, that can be very frustrating. An event like this, you can’t ask for an action replay – the moment is gone the moment it happens!
Another lesson I’ve learnt the last two or three weeks is how I should NEVER use the flash on my camera – I’d switch on the flash for odd shots so would capture some scene with and without it and the difference is immediately obvious – the flash photos look bloody AWFUL. Better to end up with a darker pic which I can tweak and bring out the details afterwards.
There were some stunning moments. The picture above was an extraordinary moment I genuinely wasn’t expecting when the doors to the hall were officially opened – a blast of music, smoke, candles and seven of my lady pals performing a wonderful piece of choreography. It was thrilling and moving to witness it. I was delighted to be reunited with Ant Briscoe who was performing a set of his poetry. Ant and I had chatted a few times before but this was the first time I actually got to see him perform and he’s great – very reminiscent of me in younger days in so many ways. I really enjoyed his set and like everyone else who performed, it went down really well.
House of Wingz did a showstopping piece that had to be seen to be believed. I genuinely think Tyler Hiscock is superhuman as he was doing his mindblowing flips and twists in the air which had everyone cheering! My pal Liz MC-ed the proceedings as well as performing a couple of songs and I was real proud of her. She’d never done anything like that before but she was a complete natural, very engaging and amusing.
Toss in the Electric Soul Singers choir, Cara Lee an Amy Winehouse tribute, a band called Repeater (who performed long after I departed), a host of sideshow games, a raffle, an auction, Claire Griffiths‘ photobooth, Mexican food and my ESP colleagues working overtime as hosts keeping it all running along smoothly this was an evening never to be forgotten, a full on immersive experience which I trust and hoped raised money for the good cause. I felt proud and humbled to be there amongst my ESP colleagues all of whom I get along with great – I had hugs aplenty and much lively good natured banter with them over the course of the night. They have a wonderful spirit and though we don’t see each other as often as I’d like, it was heartwarming to be amongst them again and they all rose to the occasion – Christine, Ant, Luke, Sean, Jamie, Liz, Ruth, Sarah, Anne, Dawn, T, Tom, Shaun, Alison, Liam, Doug, Phill, Claire, Kieran… one was in great company – a lovely bunch of people and talents.
Not forgetting of course Melanie Whitehead who I like to describe as “a real force of nature” who gave us all personally inscribed cards of thanks and appreciation which I will cherish. The big question as always is, what will they conjure up next? All we can do is watch this space but one can be certain it’s guaranteed to be fascinating.
Friday was a busy day at home going through all the photos which turned out much better than I expected. It took many hours editing and tweaking them but I enjoyed it. Then there was all the footage I’d shot… there’s some nice stuff in there but I need to calm down a bit as there’s some stuff where I was wandering around and moving a bit too fast which resulted in blurred and shaky results which was a shame but still we do have a record of some of it for posterity… that’s what I do when I get involved with stuff like this – I document then archive and preserve it, a habit I’ve had for 30 years and trust me, you cannot even begin to imagine how much stuff there is in that archive of mine! My occasional “On This Day” features on this blog give you glimpses and ideas of what’s in there.
Saturday was a rare designated “day off” where I had a day going around Blackpool, Cleveleys and Fleetwood, eating out, generally going with the flow and enjoying Blackpool at the end of the season. Manic and hectic as to be expected and tomorrow… it’ll all be over and a weird silence takes over. Sure, weekends generally remain lively plus Christmas and New Year sees many flocking here for the cheap thrills of Blackpool but being resident here I am looking forward to having the promenade and beach pretty much to myself again.
Still, there is the Windmill project plus the new one mentioned above and I’m sure there’ll be some other things as well to keep me amused over the winter months.
Now, will one of you faceless companies give me a bloody job?