• Liv Appleton

Spectacles, Shakes and a Flying Handbag- Spring Festival 2019

As I said in a previous post, this year was my debut at the Spring Festival in Blackpool and I have to say it was an experience. A hole in my hotel bathroom floor, running the length of the Winter Gardens in a mad panic, having to deal with physical nerves on stage and sampling Blackpool’s night life for the first time- yes, my Spring Festival weekend was quite eventful…

Friday

A few of us decided to travel up on the Friday and stay in a hotel over the weekend- because, clearly, we just can’t get enough of Blackpool. I have to admit, I did start to worry as we drove past the hotel and, let’s just say, it didn’t look like a Hilton. I’m a big fan of the programme ‘Four in a Bed’- the TV show about B&B owners (yes I am 22 going on 65- don’t judge), and upon arriving at the hotel, I felt like I was in the TV show. After cautiously opening the door, dreading what sights were awaiting me on the other side, I was happy to see my room did not look like a bed-sit out of Trainspotting. I didn’t feel the need to check for dust and there were no mysterious hairs in the bed sheets (yes, I actually checked- it’s the first thing they check on Four in a Bed…and this is Blackpool- you can’t be too careful). I was beginning to think I had judged this place a little too harshly. However, after consuming a pint can of Carlsberg on the journey up (I’m a class act, I know), it was time to inspect the bathroom…

Concealed beneath a piece of ripped lino, below the towel rail, there was a rather deep hole in the bathroom floor. My first thought was if anybody from the room below could see through into my bathroom…but thankfully the hole didn’t go through into the ceiling downstairs. Following this initial shock, I went to lift the toilet lid and it fell off ,with a clatter, into the shower tray, as it wasn’t actually attached to the toilet. I stood there for a good five minutes looking from the broken toilet lid to the hole in my floor, contemplating what I was doing with my life and where the nearest Premier Inn might be.

As my room was the biggest we decided to use it as our ‘living room’ and have a drink together before bedtime. In order to avoid any of my band-mates falling through my bathroom floor, I covered the hole with a towel and constructed a warning sign using an old receipt and some liquid lipstick- I should have been in the girl guides. The toilet lid was left in the shower tray.

The weekend was off to a great start.

Saturday

Considering I had to be up at 6am on a weekend and this was the first contest performance in four years where I had solos to play, I was in a surprisingly good mood on contest morning. We’d all survived our first night in the hotel and had a team breakfast in Wetherspoons. We had a quick rehearsal and then it was over to the Winter Gardens to get ready to play. At this point I had a little flutter of nerves, but I felt in control. I changed into my contest gear, checked I had everything I needed for the performance and walked across the Winter Garden pavilion to the warm-up room, laughing and joking with the rest of the band without a care in the world. Little did I know, that I actually didn’t have everything I needed for the performance.

It was only at the registration desk, when I had the nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. However, if you live with anxiety, you tend to get used to having this feeling for no reason, so I ignored it. It wasn’t until the band before us was coming up to the last page of the music that I realised my mistake…

For those of you who don’t know, I need glasses to read and those glasses were in the bottom of my handbag…in the changing room…on the other side of the building. I went cold with panic. All I could manage was an outburst of ‘CRAP, MY GLASSES’, to explain myself to the band as I sprinted out of the warm up room (flugel and music still in my hand), down a flight of stairs, across the pavilion, down into the changing rooms. By the time I had run back, the band before us was just finishing… and I was knackered. This was not the best way to start a contest performance.

My heart was still pounding in my chest from that little disaster as we played the opening, but by the time we were half-way though the first page of music, I was chilled. It was all good until we reached three bars before my solo and, for the first time, I experienced physically shaking with nerves. This is literally my worst fear. I looked like I was sat on a washing machine, but bizarrely the sound that came out of my instrument was completely fine. I can’t really remember what I did to combat it apart from push my feet into the floor and taking the biggest breaths known to man. I’ll pay more attention next time, then I can let you know!

So, despite the disaster with my specs and unintentionally shaking what my mama gave me on stage, I was really chuffed with the performance and how the band played as a whole. Now the time had come for the band to do what we do best- drink! I discarded my concert jacket for my incredibly geeky flugel hoodie (yes I am that sad- you know this!) and made my way to the bar.

My weekend ended with experiencing the Blackpool night life. Naturally we ended up in a drag bar called the ‘Flying Handbag’, which is quite frankly the best name for a club that I’ve ever heard. I spent my night doing the ‘Cha Cha Slide‘ and ‘The Timewarp‘ (both performed with one hand holding a pint of Estrella and with surprisingly decent co-ordination, considering the amount of beer I’d consumed), screaming the lyrics to ‘Living on a Prayer’, but with the alternative lyrics of ‘Liv is on a chair…’ and at some point in the night I injured my knee, but I have no idea how. I suppose it will remain a Blackpool mystery.

Now you may have noticed I’ve not mentioned the result. It wasn’t first place and I could go on about how it ‘wasn’t the result we hoped for’ or moan that we should have come higher, but to be honest it’s just a number and it didn’t tarnish my weekend in the slightest. Walking off stage with a massive smile on my face after giving the best performance I could, meeting up with friends from other bands and spending three days with the loveliest, funniest, craziest bunch of people I have the privilege to play alongside- I’ll live without a trophy.

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