People seem to think I often get regularly involved in ‘shenanigans’ and that it somehow must be a complex and well-engineered existence I live. Quite often my partner in crime is my esteemed brother Rich, who has a similar reputation in his own right. In an attempt to quell such cynical thoughts, I feel compelled to document the lead-up and culmination of possibly one of the strangest mornings I’ve ever spent in my life.
It all started on Thursday… I was on a very interesting (I am a bit of a geek, after all) but quite head-explodingly intensive course on how to improve my SQL writing skills. In between taking in vast quantities of information I was often checking my various social media feeds to give my brain a bit of downtime.. (in truth, that’s something I do frequently anyway when I can!)..
So, on Twitter I happened to notice a plea, which was retweeted by somebody I follow (for none Tweeps, ‘retweeting’ is simply an act of somebody ‘forwarding on’ something from somebody they follow to their own followers – a bit like those inane email surveys or collections of pictures of people who shop in Walmart you might receive). On this occasion it was anything but inane…
Since I am from Nottingham, owner of a didgeridoo which I can play – falteringly (I hasten to add!) – and do have a slightly unhealthy obsession with Rolf Harris, I duly replied…
It turns out I was wrong on my final point, but more on that later – a few exchanges on twitter, an email or two and the arrangement was made. I, and my didgeridoo, were to be at The Davenport Shop of Originality in Nottingham for around 10am on 13th November. I duly texted my brother Rich, also a Rolf fan, to see if he was up for it – he was, and also has a Didge, so he was up for it too.
As all social media obsessives do, I posted on Facebook and Twitter about my excitement at being involved in a Rolf Harris extravaganza, with the slim chance of meeting the man. The next day my friend Alex got in touch to offer me the use of his authentic eucalyptus termite-eaten Didge, as we discussed logistics of me collecting it it occurred to me that I should just invite him along, so I duly did that!
Cat was roped in, as she so often is, to provide chauffeur services and general being patient and hanging around duties whilst Rich and I did something silly. We parked up in town and walked to meet Alex – controversially – at the right Lion! (Well, it is closer to Flying Horse afterall). As we walked up Exchange Walk we spotted him, it’s easy to spot people carrying Didgeridoos around.
Which was something we’d both spotted – because at the Cashpoint just around the corner was a distinctive looking gentleman carrying a Didgeridoo, a rucksack with some drums in it and was donning a top hat. We assumed naturally he was heading to the same place as us and stopped to chat – he wasn’t, he was heading to a gig at another gallery – but had a couple of hours to kill. This of course was a sign of fate, so we duly invited him to join us in our own uncertain quest.
It turned out that Ben could actually play the Didge properly so would make an invaluable addition to our impromptu band. So now a quartet we headed to the venue, eventually finding it in the downstairs section at the end – Sarah’s shop is a real treasure-trove of, well stuff – be it corsets, t-shirts, designer clothes, furniture, jewellery – not exactly my typical shopping destination, but fascinating, and they made us a nice cup of tea and gave us biscuits!
After being refreshed and comparing didgeridoos (I brought mine and my spare, Rich brought one, Alex brought one and Ben brought one) we were ushered into the window upstairs which faces out onto the street. After a few minutes of getting into our stride (including moving a rocking chair worth over £900 which was the comfiest thing I’ve ever sat on despite it being solid plastic!) we started to get a reasonable sound going, and it seemed the passing shoppers were enjoying it.
The timing is difficult to determine, but at one point I looked up and saw none other than Rolf Harris standing grinning at the window, visibly moved at the tribute to honour his appearance at the Whitehall Gallery further up the arcade. After a moment of watching and taking in the performance, he got into the window area with us to offer tips on circular breathing (he noted my inability to do it from outside..), and showed he could indeed do it..
Given his appointment at the gallery there was really only time for a quick chat, handshake and general attempt to take in the bizarreness of how this day was panning out. He continued to his duties at the gallery, and we carried on playing for around an hour and a half or so, and after a while I think we actually sounded pretty good – four didges and two drums on the go. Unfortunately for us, Ben – our only real actual talent – had to leave us for his gig elsewhere, and then Alex followed as he had to be somewhere for lunch. Rich and I called it a day and were treated to more tea in the shop.
So, that’s surely it? Well, we were walking back up the mall so Rich could go to the bank, when we stopped to check out an art installation being run by Nottingham artist Rikki Marr (creator of the amazing ‘Byron Clough‘ painting you might’ve seen in the Cross Keys in Town. If you haven’t you should!). Also there was a fella performing beatbox (which Rolf is surely the godfather of), along with two full-grown men dressed as schoolboys in homage to ‘Two Little Boys’.
They beckoned us behind the velvet rope seperating them from the public so we could accompany the beatboxing with a spot of didge. Indeed, at one point the performer (who, to my eternal shame, I forget the name of..) ‘beatboxed’ down one of the didges into the microphone, which sounded amazing! We obviously all took opportunities to play the didges directly into the mic too, it’s made me want a mic and amp now, because it sounds amazing!
We hoped to lure Rolf after his signing finished back down the Mall, so played a few impromptu sessions but Rolf was being very dutiful to the people who’d been queuing patiently to meet him, and as time was creeping on so the kick off for Nottingham Forest’s game against QPR got ever closer. We stayed as long as we dared, and it was a real pleasure to chat with the guys involved in Sarah’s project and artist Rikki who’d finished his homage.
Indeed, he even took time out to rattle off a quick caricature of me whilst we were waiting. Unfortunately Rolf’s kindness to his patient fans meant we didn’t get to hang around and see him again – Rich and I hotfooted it to the game, and I left my spare Didge in Sarah’s custody as a chap filming the various events had proven quite a proficient player – so they could still try to lure the Antipodean legend. I hope they succeeded.
So that is how within less than two days a single tweet took me on a journey from attending an SQL coding course to performing in a life ‘art installation’ in a shop window in Nottingham, meeting Rolf Harris, experimenting with a Didgeridoo-Beatbox fusion and finally having a portrait drawn of me by one of Nottingham’s most noted and exciting artists. I’m not sure whether it’s ‘me’ or not – I don’t see ‘me’ all that often – and generally don’t like it when I do…
Just another day in the life of me and Rich – but I hope you can see that sometimes things ‘just happen’ and aren’t always a cynical ploy. My desire to help somebody out, admittedly driven by a shared-interest in Rolf, spiralled into something altogether more absurd – and it was brilliant! Big thanks to Sarah and team for the opportunity to have such a laugh.
I feel like I’ve missed out loads of little things that made today awesome, but looking at my word-count rapidly approaching 1,500 I’ve clearly written rather a lot too! If Forest could’ve snuck the goal they threatened to against QPR it would’ve made today all the more awesome!