Carlton Brass have enjoyed a fun day (and night) in the delightful region of Tameside for the traditional Brass Band event Whit Friday Marches.

The band loaded themselves into a large, red Premier coach at two in the afternoon and headed across the Derbyshire Dales towards the beer-soaked, band-loving villages of Lancashire. The drive over was made more interesting by the Satnav device favoured by the driver – it seemed intent on taking us around tight, tree-lined corners and roads so narrow that they make cyclists breathe in a bit on the way through.

We arrived a little later than planned at Stalybridge Celtic, our first venue. Our tardiness didn’t seem to matter, though, as we still arrived earlier than the adjudicator, a certain Mr Duncan Beckley. The traffic is appalling around here during the Whit Friday Marches so perhaps he managed to get stuck behind some other TomTom-following coach on a narrow road somewhere.

Once the adjudicator was tucked away in his box the bands got under way. The initial march is performed down the football pitch at this venue (at least, they’ve started doing that this year) which is trickier than you think. A nice, even tarmacked road is much easier to march down while playing than a grass football pitch. The bands then performed their chosen contest march in front of a curtained window (and expectent, beer-toting crowd) where the adjudicator was poised with pen and paper.

Once the first three bands had performed it was our turn. We marched down to Army of the Nile and had chosen the old warhorse Mephistopheles for our contest march. Unfortunately, we’d made the decision (just before we played) to not play the repeats during the DC rather than play it as we’d rehearsed it. By the time that we actually got to the DC half the band had forgotten these instructions and we ended up having a bit of a disastrous start to the day.

We then had a deserved telling off.

Unperturbed by our poor showing at Stalybridge Celtic we headed to our next venue. It’s at this point that the author wishes that he’d paid attention as to which venue was played at in which order. Nevertheless, more venues were played at and the decision was made that perhaps repeats on DCs were a good idea after all.

Somehow we managed to fit in eight venues. The first six didn’t really have large queues and we never had more than five coaches in front of ours until we arrived at Broadoak . It was dark by the time we ended up here and the march was down a side-street towards the stage, which was directly in front of a noisy pub. The march was made all the more pleasant by the start of some persistent drizzle and insufficient lighting. It becomes a little difficult to read your music when it’s covered in water in the dark.

Our last venue was at Denton, who thankfully cancel the marching part when it gets dark. We waited in the coach until it was nearly our turn (still raining) before finishing off our last rendition of Mephi and enjoying a deserved pint or three in the cricket club bar.

The results are out and we did OK, apart from in Stalybridge. Our best result was 11th (at Broadoak, despite the dark and the drizzle!)  and we also got a decent 13th at Denton, suggesting that after our poor start we improved all through the day. We achieved a better score than last year anyway but still have much room for improvement.

Our Whit Friday appearance would not have been possible without some much-needed helpers, so the band would like to extend our warm thanks to the following people:

Nev Buxton from Blidworth.
Andy Allison’s Dad, who’s name I can never remember (sorry Andy’s dad!)
John Yarker who’s officially at Pleasley (but he’s ours really)
Leah from Deiniolen Silver Band
Neil from Jersey Premier Brass
Tony from Long Eaton and Thorntons

Thanks to you all for making it possible. Here’s looking forward to next year!

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