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Whit Friday Survival Guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Last year I did a post of things to look out for at Whit Friday (click here to read). This year (as I’m actually playing in the competition this time), I thought I’d put together a guide of tips and tricks to help us get the most out of our trip around Saddleworth/Tameside.

So without further ado, here is the Whit Friday Survival Guide.

1: Bring both your waterproofs and your sunglasses.

Whit Friday weather is completely unpredictable. It could be beautiful, it could absolutely chuck it down or you could experience all four seasons in one day- be prepared.

2: Laminate your part.

As heavy rain, dropping your part in a puddle or spilling your beer on it are all likely to occur.

3: Portable G&T

Partial to a tipple that’s a bit fancier than a can of Carlsberg? You could fork out for those overpriced cans of ready mixed G&T or:

  1. Take one bottle of gin and one bottle of tonic (a Litre bottle of tonic with a screw cap).

  2. Empty out half of the tonic.

  3. Refill with gin.

  4. Swirl it around a little to mix.

  5. Top up, as required, throughout the night.

Et voila! Portable G&T- you’re welcome.

Disclaimer: I accept no responsibility if you get yelled at by your MD for being plastered.

4: Bring ID

If you’re one of the lucky lot not look old enough to drink, make sure you bring some form of ID with you, this year, as some villages are being patrolled by the police. Apparently ID checks will be carried out to those of us who look young enough and pop bottles will be tested for alcohol. I imagine there’s going to be quite a few people deeply offended for not getting ID’d and the realisation that they no longer look ‘young’ hits them harder than the rain that is inevitably going to pelt it down on Friday.

5. Waterproof Mascara

This is one for the gents obviously…

As I mentioned in point one- the weather is a law unto itself on Whit Friday. Trying to play when mascara is dripping into your eyes, could be used as a form of torture- it burns, it BURNS!! This doesn’t just happen when it rains. The last Whit Friday I played at, it was gloriously sunny (obviously not last year) and at one particular venue the sun was directly in my eyes as I was playing, causing them to water. This resulted in mascara running into my eyes, which caused them to water even more, to the point where I genuinely looked like I was crying.

Now I love Whit Friday, potentially more than the next person, but when you look like your performance of Knight Templar moved you to the point of tears, even I’ll admit that looks bizarre. Waterproof mascara people, it’s a necessity.

6: Don’t wear new shoes.

Of course, we all want to look our best (unless you’re Chav Brass) at Whit Friday, but, speaking from experience, always break in the shoes you’re planning on marching in. I made this mistake when I was about 18 and wore a pair of new leather loafers that completely destroyed my feet.

Best way to break shoes in?

  1. Put on at least one pair of really thick socks- a pair of bed socks work especially well or two pairs of wooly socks.

  2. Put on your shoes and walk around in them for a bit.

  3. The socks should stretch them out, so they (hopefully) won’t give you any grief on the day.

Note: only wear the bed socks whilst you’re breaking the shoes in. Turning up to Whit Friday in your wife’s fluffy pink fluffy bed socks will look incredibly stupid.

7: Do not start drinking before your MD gives the go-ahead.

Read as: Do not get caught drinking before your MD gives the go-ahead.

8: Do not pretend to do a strip-tease to Hootenanny or any other piece that is played on the day.

You may think no one would need to be told this. However, ashamedly speaking from experience, some of us do. We decided to do it in the middle of the street, surrounded by other bands and right in front of many members of the Kings Division Band.

I must stress we didn’t actually strip- it was far too cold. Even so, don’t do it. People will stare and wonder what substance you must be on in order to think that it was a completely normal thing to do. In our defence, this happened a fair few years ago, we’d had a bit to drink and thought it was incredibly entertaining. I would like to say we’ve grown up since then, but I fear it will probably happen again at some point on Friday. We apologise in advance.

9: Try not to be rude to (usually intoxicated) specatators who ask to have a go on your trumpet.

This is more a note for myself than anyone else. Calmly tell them no, take a deep breath and forgive them- for they know not what they do. You know it’s not a trumpet, that’s all that matters.

10. Enjoy!

It’s the one of the few times the general public is incredibly enthusiastic about our movement which is fantastic and it is one of the best events in the banding calendar. There is a reason it’s called the greatest free show on earth- that reason is us. Let’s show them what we’re made of!

I hope this list of tips was helpful…or at least entertaining.

Enjoy yourselves, play well and I’ll see you out there on Friday! I’ll be the one in the Eccles Borough Band uniform and stealing hats from policemen or the army band, pretending to do a strip-tease to a brass band march, tripping over potholes/speedbumps or sneaking a pint behind the band bus- give us a wave!

See you there!

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