At last, our first substantial update of 2020! A busy week that’s been a bit of a roller coaster as parts of it were downright awful and others, the complete reverse. I’ll steer clear of the “awful” stuff as what’s dominated it generally is the Libertalia event which took place yesterday in the Hive.

Regular readers may know for some time I’ve been having enormous headaches with the Brickbat Enterprises website, struggling to update it and present it without getting mangled. I wracked my brains and wasted too many hours trying to resolve the problem. The solution appeared by accident on Wednesday night and infuriated me. OK, last November just before the problems began I placed my site on Cloudflare as it boasted it could speed up access since this blog and the photography blog were taking a very long time to load. It cured that problem, but updating the main site opened up a huge can of worms inducing endless stress and frustration as whatever I did “broke” the site. What I DIDN’T know is that my signing up to Cloudflare was the problem as when you visit me, it visits the Cloudflare server and you get whatever is cached there. Whatever I uploaded would clash with the cache. What I should had done is twofold – clear the cache and switch it off temporarily so whatever I upload would immediately be seen as nature intended. Insane it was something like this! I spent a few hours on Thursday revelling in the fact I could get back to normal and now the entire site will look perfect and spiffy on your mobile devices. Phew!

Anyway… that nerdy nonsense out the way, back to Libertalia. We all congregated for a rehearsal on Tuesday to present what we were gonna perform and bash the show into shape. Along with a chap called David (don’t know his surname), Laura Colville, Vince Von Ellesmere, Sean Brown and Linda Hampton, we had a curious batch of talents to work with. Laura had the task of being the master of ceremonies, writing carefully written linking material whilst the rest of us got on with what we had conjured up. Alexis Johnson did a nice job directing and guiding us where need be. It went well and we did a quickie run through at the end as we were gonna be performing in different parts of the space as the audience would be “guided” one or two times so needed to sort that out. I amused everyone by going through my pieces as if it was playing at 78rpm! However, me being me, I kept some cards held closely to my chest, namely my second song “April Fool”. I wrote that back in March 1995 and went on to perform it 32 times and the last performance of it was back on February 12th… 2001. It’s a very special song to me and one that holds up due to its er… flexible and unpredictable nature so at the rehearsal I performed the first part of it preferring to keep the rest of it “under wraps” and unleash that in all its glory during the actual performance because I like to surprise people.

Saturday was a long day as there was also the opening of the exhibition at the Grundy and Laura had submitted one of her pieces for that. Libertalia is the first time any of her work has been seen in public so the Grundy exposure was the next step and naturally she was very keen to be there, but before then, we had the Libertalia show to do. Again, we had a quick run through and that was worrying for me as my mobile phone tripod snapped… I was depending on that to hold one of my two phones as I was intent on filming my performance using both my phone cameras. Then for a couple of minutes I freaked out when I couldn’t find my main phone thanks to me being a dum dum and putting it down somewhere and forgetting about it. I dashed out to get a replacement tripod device and had to cross my fingers hoping somebody would be kind enough to film me on my other phone. I’m so nerdy, but hey, this technology we have now makes multiangle shoots possible and easy, so… why not?

The turnout was really good. It was also very strange seeing Blackpool so busy again after a very quiet couple of weeks thanks to the pigeon fancier event at the Winter Gardens. I didn’t count how many people came to see the performance but definitely around 30, maybe a few more than that. I also didn’t realise the mayor of Blackpool herself was amongst them. Nice to be reunited with a few faces I’d not seen in a while and am eternally grateful to Allison Coleman (who I worked with on last July’s North Pier show) for agreeing to film for me.

The show went really well. An attentive and generous audience who got into the spirit and vibe for this one off event. I had two spots and the first began with a blunder as it was supposed to begin with me waffling on for a minute to set up the song and give it some context. Instead, the song began immediately and all I could do was perform it. I did notice some very strange looks within the audience as this song “Let Me Out!” is extremely moody, dark and suicidal as I wrote it as I was about to have a breakdown… it was a scream for help… so minus the context, it wasn’t surprising some appeared bewildered why I was in handcuffs, rooted to one spot screaming my heart out!

So, when it came to the second song, I started with some extra spiel to explain the first song to help set up “April Fool” in the process as I grafted it into the Libertalia concept by explaining that moving to, and living in Blackpool has given me complete freedom to be who and what I am. It was so odd to be performing this old chestnut, newly revamped after 19 long years and I was relieved I could still sing it and project my voice loudly and clearly. Then… madness broke in as planned as everyone including my performing colleagues finally got to discover what surprises I had in store! Allison was busy filming on my older phone whilst my main phone was sat on the tripod… unfortunately I had no idea how it was tilted – I hoped to film myself but what I got instead had me mostly headless and shot from behind BUT this worked even better than I expected because that footage shows the entire audience sat there watching my every move, so I was able to study their reactions afterwards in great detail… and believe me, that’s more interesting than you might imagine!

It was GREAT to see many smiles, a few laughs along with some bewildered expressions but they were all fixated on me as I prowled back and forth. This climaxed with me rousing them up into singing along to a recording I made from the North Pier show last year so… we had a singsong of “I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside!” It all went down really well and I was thrilled to bits with the reaction and reception. I also enjoyed watching and photographing my colleagues as they did their turns. The event was certainly a joyful and successful one and was amusing chatting with my pals afterwards, who were all surprised by my performance as this had been the first time Blackpool had ever been given a taste of the sort of things I’m good at performing which frankly is a bit too weird and arty for commercial consumption, but… hey, that’s WHAT I AM and WHAT I DO! Alexis couldn’t stop grinning and all of us were real happy how it went. If you were there, I’m sure you’ll remember it for a long time to come and if you weren’t there… commiserations at missing out on a unique event.

Laura and I dashed to the Grundy afterwards to take a look and get a couple of snaps for posterity but truth be told, we were too drained and on a high from the Libertalia event so we weren’t really able to focus much on the works on display so am gonna have to pay it another visit in the next week or so to give it a proper viewing.

So, my first performance of 2020 turned out to be a truly special one. I like to think more will follow, but… only time will tell. Of course I went home armed with over 400 photos, over an hour of video footage and a full digital audio recording of the show so all that has been keeping me busy, wading through it and I just edited a multi-angled version of my performances which was fun to do… more gems and artefacts to sit in that ever growing archive…

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