Diggle Blues Festival Weekend

The Lewis Hamilton Band @DiggleBandClub

The Rolling Stones have been in Manchester this week and according to the local press, tickets were changing hands at £400 a pop. So as much I would have loved to have seen them I will be giving that a wide berth then. 

The other big music event this week is the Diggle Blues festival and very good it is to. What makes it better is that it is free, all the organisers want from the audience is to turn up and throw a quid in a bucket if you liked what you saw. I have been known to throw a tenner in when the group has been fantastic.

What I like is the diversity of the bands and the venues. We have the local pub (The Gate), a coffee shop (The Woolyknit Cafe), A Band Club (Diggle Band Club), an Ice-cream Parlour (Grandpa Greens), A Church Hall (Kilngreen) and a Cookery School (Saddleworth Cookery School).

The Sessions are arranged so that you have 30 minutes to get to the next venue so you don’t miss anything.

What people of my generation want is to be transported back to a time when almost every pub in the town had a live band playing and the atmosphere was fantastic. There is nothing quite like listening to live music for raising your spirits and in this day and age, we could do with quite a lot of live music working its magic.

These bands and performers are fantastic at what they do and mostly they do it because they love performing and they get paid for doing what they love.

So back to my opening paragraph, do you think Messers Jagger and Richards when they started out playing in pubs would have dreamt they would still be filling stadiums some 56 years later? I very much doubt it. 


Peace Events Can be Stressful


I have had a quite stressful week with several projects all coming to completion and others at key stages in the process. By Wednesday I felt that my head was about to explode. But towards the end of the week things started to calm down that was until Friday. 

Friday was International Peace Day and here in Oldham they celebrate by getting all Primary Schools together in The Queen Elizabeth Hall to help celebrate such a noble cause.  Now my old Production Lecturer said (a long time ago now) working with children is always challenging and should you be in such a position always have a big plan B to fall back on. So armed with a pretty good plan B I was quietly confident.

I have been fortunate to have worked on a regular basis with New Image, a local events company who can work miracles on a regular basis and are just what you need when the going gets tough and this was going to be tough. 

So here is the scenario. 600 children and teachers presenting Six 15 minute performances all with music and PowerPoint and although this was stressful enough trying to follow written instructions and getting them all in the correct order ready for performance.

The show started and all was well with the world, now this is where it could have gone wrong on a colossal scale; we had to get 195 flags in the correct order to the stage in time to be announced and placed in holders. To say my heart was thumping in my chest is an understatement.

The whole process worked seamlessly without a single issue. The children were fantastic and carried out the duty of flag bearers with great pride the audience cheering when the Union Jack was carried across the stage. The rest of the ceremony was fantastic, 600 children singing a song written by all of the schools in the audience. 

This was education working at its best. Many of these children come from some of the poorest areas in the country and they behaved impeccably and performed with huge pride. Giving children the opportunity to take part in something of this magnitude you cannot put a price on. I saw dedicated teaching staff prompting them on their knees so the audience would not see. I saw huge smiles when the children heard the applause. This is an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.

So Mr Grove when your Ofsted Inspectors come to visit and criticise these dedicated hard working professionals, working in crumbling schools in hugely deprived areas, remember that not everyone in this world has had the opportunities that you have obviously had. Many of these will find it almost impossible to get into the positions you find yourself in. 

Also remember constructive criticism is far better
than box ticking in an audit trail, remember these children are being given opportunities at school to shine. They are also being shown that by working hard and as a team you can be a part of something special that you will remember for the rest of your life. 

This is a great message to give any young person.


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