I went to Cheltenham last year as a punter and was impressed with the whole thing. This year I went as a competitor and was equally impressed. There was bags of room back stage, good organisation and the whole day went very smoothly. I enjoyed the bloke who performed MC duties. It was a nice change to have a spot of levity introduced to the proceedings as opposed to the usual cold dead, funerial feel that pervades major contests. The funniest bit of his performance though was unintentional. He spent a lot of time telling us how short the various speeches were going to be at the end of the contest. He explained and apologised at great length, repeatedly. The following speech givers also felt obliged to explain and apologise about the length of their speeches. Having concluded the speeches, the MC then had to make further comments about the length of the speeches we had just heard. The whole thing could have been twenty minutes shorter without all the blathering about how short is was going to be! I also noticed the high number of "Mime Artist" percussion players. I cant see the point of playing percussion items so quietly that they cant be heard (i was sitting on the front row on the percussion side). This style of playing seems to require exaggerated and ostentatious hand and arm movements, presumably to compensate in some way for the lack of any sound or to attempt assure the MD that despite clear evidence to the contrary that they are contributing to the performance! Also on display as at many contests, was at least one of those bands that, for reasons best known to themselves, were convinced they "had it in the bag". How exactly does a band achieve such a breath taking level of arrogance and lack of respect for fellow competitors?