We Scuffled in Skiffle and Survived.

On thursday night my friends and I went to a concert at the local theatre. This was a brave decision on their part considering one of them hates anything to do with theatre and the other is a big fan of ‘EDM’ (Electronic Dance Music). To me on the other hand, a theatre visit is the ultimate definition of a good night out and ‘EDM’ is what you get when someone leaves the ‘A’ out of Edam. This is why I was very surprised when they came with a group of friends and I to a skiffle music concert…

The tickets had been booked before christmas by our enthusiastic key worker at college. A small group of us had shown interest in going to see something at the local theatre, and she spent a happy hour with us in the common room putting stars next to potentially good acts. ‘The London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra’ won the vote on which event we were going to buy tickets for and everyone was looking forward to it. The programme promised vibrant mandolin music and (as a mandolinist in training myself) I was very excited for the opportunity to hear the instrument being played properly for once!

By the time it came to going to the concert the group had completely evolved from our original gathering of programme circlers. People had dropped in and out and to my surprise the group now included my EDM listening friend J, who admitted that he had been heavily persuaded by our key worker to come along. On the day of the gig, when faced with a psychology night class, my friend P quickly joined the group also; casting aside all previous hatred of theatre based activities. Both J and P were fairly nervous about the gig and as they tentatively shuffled into skiffle they gave me looks of “Oh what have you brought us to…”.

As we entered the auditorium I was informed that Lai would probably bark during the performance because of the high pitch of some of the music. I was slightly apprehensive because even though the venue would be expecting this it is still embarrassing to have a barking dog next to you. As soon as we stepped into the theatre we were jumped on by the stewards and the theatre manager who had reserved spaces for our group at the front of the tiered seating stand. I came around the corner and was immediately told that they were going to put a seat below the rest of our group (on the same level as the stage) for me and my dog.

“But I’d really rather not sit by myself.” I calmly protested.

“But the seating is raised. We can move a chair so you can sit with a friend.” the lady replied.

“It’s no problem, she has been on raised seating before.” I added whilst gesturing to my guide dog- who at the time was putting on an exemplary pair of puppy-dog eyes.

“But it’s carpeted… And there’s also fire safety to think of”. My face was now a perfect model of someone who was not impressed. She evidently knew she had made a mistake with the carpet comment, especially when I called for my key worker to come and back me up. Safe to say I managed to get a seat with my friends, although I was consistently reminded that Lai must not be anywhere near the aisle. Being my guide dog, and a very sassy one too at times, Lai took great pleasure in daringly throwing her tail into the aisle from time to time during the performance.

The music started with a lively number in which we learnt the names of each member of the group. Mike, Martyn, Captain Cabbage and Ron were lively mature men wearing brightly coloured clothes and large wigs. Their first piece, a chant, had P turning round and giving me raised eyebrows and a look which clearly said ‘What on earth?!”.

The music quickly moved on to a catchy song which involved the chorus ‘Buy, buy, buy viagra!’. This had all of our group uncontrollably snorting with laughter. There were so many brilliant pieces in the set with vocals that had the audience grinning from ear to ear. Collectively they can play an overwhelming amount of instruments: violin, banjo, harmonica, ukelele, mandolin, guitar, bouzouki, knee trumpets, washboards, suitcases, trumpet, saw, accordion, double bass, sousaphone, bagpipes and spoons! We saw a lot of these instruments during the set and seeing someone play an industrial saw with a violin bow was certainly an experience I won’t forget! I was very proud because Lai stayed silent throughout it all.

The music was fun and bouncy, making us all want to dance and sing. Wrapped in it were such good feelings of happiness, whit and good humour- it was infectious. As we arrived back at college and were signing ourselves in for the night we were still rowdily running through the catchiest of the night’s choruses together. It was a fantastic experience and I have certainly now earned the musical respect of my friends. Lai is now considering learning to play the spoons professionally and I am aiming to be able to play the mandolin to at least half the ability of Martyn Oram.

Overall it was an amazing night.

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