Monday 7 August – 17 days to go.

Rewind two days.

Saturday 5th August

Two men in a field.

That is who we were and that was where we were standing. Adam and I, at 9:30 am soon to be joined by Alwyn, Tosh, Shaun and Peter. To commence erection of the refurbished Pyramid Lounge and Drystone Stage. At last, after months of planning we are back on site to start building Solfest. I know you can’t say a thing is “traditional” or “customary” after two years, but like last year the first thing up is the Pyramid, so maybe it will be a tradition in years to come.

What a change has come upon it too. Gone are the wooden spars that formed the pyramid, now all is made of shiny (almost all) scaffolding and how the stage has grown. It’s big enough now to really give the acts the space they deserve.

The crew of workers grew too as the day progressed. Mike with Mia and Ellie who not really being big enough to heave scaff around still found enough to do (but keep off the Badger poo Ellie, it’s not good!) Plummer and Jude, Wilson (of course) and the entire Wise family. Who could not seem to keep themselves off the thing and threw scaff together as if it was drinking straws.

Karen came down, and Simon, Sarah and Bob.

…and SOLFEST 2006 began to take root and grow in steel and energy. The site also began to work it’s magic on us. The actual physical act of doing really got into us, and revitalized that jaded part inside. The bit that had done it seemed endless bits and pieces of paper scribbling emails on the phone for prices quotes and tedium.



Back onsite early Sunday to continue with yesterdays construction, also had the best sound technician working down with Elaine for a look. I needed Daves advice.

The realisation of an idea like the Drystone Stage is always a series of compromises. You have to hope that you choose the best ones and you trust the people you work with to reach them. So The Drystone and The Pyramid evolve again. At this stage, (no pun intended) I am a little concerned that some of its charm and intimacy may be lost. Nevertheless, inside I KNOW, it will be right and it will be THE BEST STAGE IN ALL OF ENGLAND.

Dave however was last seen going home with his eyes twinkling like a kid at Christmas who not only got an Action Man but the MEGABLASTER DUNKIRK ACTION PLAYSET with realistic mile section (actual size) with working Howitzers and “Ach Tommy!” sound effects!

He has a real stage to play with…

The weather did get shitty as the day went on, and it was realised that from now on overnight security was necessary.

Enter Wilsons caravan, a few people commented it was “A bit smelly!” After all, it had only cost Wilson twenty quid. It fell on me as it being my stage to take “First Watch” and therefore sleep in previously mentioned smelly van. To be honest I thought it was just a bit “foisty” and after opening all the windows, it was fine.

So that night after stocking up on snacks and making sure I had such things as the camping stove, I ensconced myself in “The Van”

At Midnight, I set off to walk the boundary of the festival site. The night clear, fresh and dry and at my first foot, I saw a star fall from the sky above mainstage corner. I’ll not tell you my wish but you can probably guess. As I walked around the silent field, the only noise to break it being a lone bird or dog and Wilsons Geese talking absolute bollocks. The stretch where the new fence has begun to go up having an earthy goodness where it’s been broken for posts, then rounding the dance tent corner and uphill towards main gate and the view illuminated by the waxing moon…

…Scotland, Crieffel and the mercury silver sheen of The Solway Firth and the lights of Dumfries and Galloway. Opposite Skiddaw stark against the moonlight and below the lights of Aspatria, and that’s where Karen is sleeping…
…Then there’s Prospect and down on along and down to Workington.

Another star falls.

I wish for “A MILLION POUNDS!”

The marsh by the Healing area, I swear there truly were Will ‘O’ The Wisps dancing there as I walked past and down once more to the pyramid. Making my peace with all those other folk who dwell in the wild places and other worlds that sit next door to us. Asking those who should be asked to bless the site and stages. To a sacred communion of celebration and fellowship with our friends. To music and dancing and love.

Well, I am The Wizardmarra and some things are needed to be done…
…And I was on my own in a dark field.

Monday 7th AUGUST

I woke after the most refreshing nights sleep I had had in ages. Big wagons had been thundering up and down the lonning since six and I’d not noticed. Though I was born on a main road after all and find traffic noise quite soothing.

And I spent a lovely day engaged in the kind of task that you just wouldn’t do otherwise, if you didn’t have a “SOLFEST” to do. I’ve had to label all the individual pieces of scaffolding that make up the Pyramid, so that “kit form” we can re-connect it next year. Now it would have been boring writing “Piece A”, “Piece B” or FRONT LOWER LEFT and all subsequent connections likewise. So taking a lead from a system devised by Dave Camlin, though his took the names of musicians as its “key” (it concerns the field kitchen that we’ll use for artist and crew catering) Using this system therefore the four main struts of the Pyramid are GROUCHO, CHICO, HARPO & ZEPPO. The top front bar is ERIC MORECAMBE. ZEPPO connects to SPIKE MILLIGAN, which in turn connects to BARRY CRYER, BARRY TOOK, CLIVE DUNN and HARPO.
And so on. I’ve few left to do (the stage as well as the rest of the Pyramid, but that will be Musicians again) and it is not hardship amid the chaos on a summer’s day.

Since starting to write this and where I am at now, I’ve been back onsite passing over the keys to the caravan. Another one now delivered earlier in the day by Simon from Alwyn. Who hopefully is now enjoying a well earned break at Cropredy before enjoying that festival this weekend with Joanne and Dan who’ll be one when Solfests three.

This caravan doesn’t smell at all, in fact it has sachets of dried strawberry flowers inside (honest) and what’s more on opening the fridge…IT’S FULL OF BEER! All out of code lager that should have been drunk by June 2005. It’s a certainty no one knew they we there, it tasted fine to me though. As I’m sure Adam will find tonight as he takes the vigil, listening to heavy metal and outside the first of the festival, a steel sculpture of a stage sits under an August moon that’s waxing gibbous on Arthur Lowe, Eric Sykes, Peter Cook and Peter Sellers and right down at the front there’s Dan Leno and Marie Lloyd.

Alan Whittaker
01:11 – 8-8-2006


The Wizards Pot

An archive of the life and rantings of The Wizardmarra. The Best Storyteller In The World.

About Alan Whittaker

A storyteller like no other. Weaving traditional storytelling with madcap posing and stand up comedy riffing. Taking the listener from here to there and back again at break neck speed; with panache and a fine sense of the ridiculous.For more information about Alan, read his biography.

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