My Mineworkers/Butlins retrospective!!

Discussion in 'The Adjudicators' Comments' started by geordiecolin, Nov 30, 2003.

  1. geordiecolin

    geordiecolin Active Member

    Skegness. Notoriety personified, the butt of many jokes. Butlins. Tackiness personified and you wouldn’t be far wrong. However, if you look past the reputation and Hi-Di-Hi image, you will discover that in late November, NEMBBA have quite possibly discovered a gem. Take Pontins. Double or even treble the site size. Improve the accommodation by a factor 10, add top-class entertainment and add superb facilites and you’re coming close!
    The “New” Mineworkers contest at Butlins was making the news even before it began. A lot of fuss being made over £12 matched with date clashing with the Scottish Open and things didn’t look rosy to begin with. However, the minute I walked into my 3 bedroom chalet (I think in Butlin’s case they can be called flats, as opposed to the Pontin’s hut) I had a feeling that the weekend was going to be a success.
    The layout of Butlins is complicated (especially when drunk). At Pontins, you can leave the bar follow the road and either end up a) in a ditch b) at your chalet or c) back at the bar. Butlins is not so simple. Replace option C with “in the sea” and you begin to see why! The accommodation is set out in small “estates” of flat blocks of 3 storeys. They have quaint maritime names such as Oyster Bay and Spinnaker Point. The blocks also have quaint maritime names such as Yacht Court. I was in 110 Seal Court, Oyster Bay. Which meant I lived in the flats along way from the bar which were accessed by passing several blocks of identical blocks on the right and several identical blocks on the left and being careful to avoid the other identical blocks!!
    At the centre of site is the “skyline” pavilion. Essentially a massive tent with eating places, a supermarket, a bowling alley (free to residents), a bar (alas, charging ridiculous prices for watered down beer) , the “centre stage” and more arcade games and bandits than you can shake a proverbial stick at!! Occasionally the odd Redcoat might also be loitering in a “so friendly its sinister” fashion.

    The accommodation is arrayed at either end of this pavilion and go out the wrong door and you’re done for, as I found out Friday night as I stumbled round this eerily quaint “town” at 2am for about an hour.

    Enough waffle though, “what of the contest?” you ask. Well, all 5 Sections played a set test piece on Saturday and Championship Section did an additional Entertainment Contest on Sunday, which coupled with test piece result would decide the winners. It was good to here that the top section were earning their £5000 1st Prize money. And having been a 4th Section player until recently it was good to see them beginning their section at 10am Saturday morning!!
    Well-organised rehearsal slots and registration etc complete with band photo opportunities meant all 5 section were completed by about 5.30 ish. The contest being held in 2 rooms, “Reds” theatre and “Centre Stage”.
    All the results were announced at this time, together, although I can tell you that after 3 Sections worth of adjudicators remarks and jubilatory cheering from the top 4 bands and much trophy and cheque collecting the 1st Section were getting a little anxious for their results!

    Successful banding day completed, 5th in the 1st Section kept me happy, seeing as my sister came 10th (hee hee!). The obligatory retiring to the band was well underway. Many bands chose to start the night in Sun and Moon pub seeing as the “Centre Stage” (the biggest bar) was still being rearranged from the contest and also Sun and Moon was closest to the chalets!

    A fantastic site coverage licence meant that beverages were easily transported between venues and when the Centre Stage was ready to go once more it gradually filled up for the nights entertainment. Keith Harris and Orville kicked the entertainment off with a show aimed at the kids (who were fantastically catered for all weekend, something Pontins fails with I think). Many older bandspersons only really went to Centre Stage as 9.30pm ticked around and Versatile Brass appeared. They certainly give Bavarian Stompers a run for their money and were well appreciated by the crowd although there were issues with the bars being in the same room so there was a certain degree of background noise leading to quite a bit of “sssssshhhhingg”. Personally I don’t think it was that bad, if Versatile Brass had been performing elsewhere, I think their audience would have been somewhat limited by the availabilty of refreshments! I think perhaps an improved PA system could rectify this for next year. They were very good and were fantastic entertainment!

    From Centre Stage, on to Jaks “the jumping joint”, Butlins very own nightclub. Where I was delayed having to negotiate entry with the bouncers. When there are 2 chalet keys between 4 people, it stands to reason that 2 of those people are going to be without keys, which they demanded to see before admission was granted. As I had no key and after having to reel off my somewhat surreal address, they still weren’t convinced I wasn’t a local. Only after telling them my band, position, result and testpiece were they finally convinced, I thought that singing Rhapsody in Brass was the going to be the only way to secure entry!! I don’t quite understand the door policy because no-one else I spoke to had the slightest problem gaining entry!
    Anyway, Keith Harris awaited again, this time the “adult” version! Very very funny, very very rude!! He (they?) went down a storm. Quickly followed on stage by some rock n roll cover band who were also very good. I have been informed that alternative entertainment in the form of Blues Brothers in Centre Stage was also top-notch! By this time I was fairly drunk and the night took its meandering course……..

    What of next year? Well Stan Lippeatt spoke at some length about this at the results and he also took the time to tentatively approach the pre-contest controversy, especially mentioning internet sites – that protest petition thread perhaps??. He acknowledged that perhaps certain aspects of the contest weren’t how they should have been and he endeavoured to iron these problems out. He pushed the online side of the banding grapevine quite heavily throughout his speech. A sign of the growing “influence” of Tmp and 4barrest perhaps?? His next year proposals were interesting to say the least. Basically, they want 90 bands at the contest, almost double this years number. How they would work the playing times and venues could be interesting to watch!! To attract this number of bands, next years Mineworkers will be an OPEN contest, with CISWO bands being giving a fortnight priority entry period. The Mineworkers trophies will be retained. There was also suggestion of mid-December date, a bit silly in my opinion as most bands need that time to earn valuable money through carolling etc.

    So to conclude, this has the potential to be massive and extremely successful contest. It almost pains me to say it, but Pontins could be put out of business!!

    Some tips (if anyone at NEMBBA/Butlins is reading this);
    Iron out some teething problems. – some people got away without paying the infamous £12, there was even a story of 1 band producing an invoice at the gate as a booking confirmation and hence avoiding the £12. The invoice was a photocopy of another band’s!! As to the truth of this story, I cannot tell.

    Reduce the price of drink - £2.95 a bottle, £2.60/£2.80 a pint is not on!! Reduce the amount of water in these expensive pints! Stock some Dog.

    Improve the weather!

    Some tips for all who weren’t there this year;


    These are my personal views and do not necessarily represent the views of Barnsley Building Society Band.
  2. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    Thanks for the detailed report Colin - excellent work (a tMP Journalist in the making, me thinks)
    Let's hope that Stan and his dedicated team of helpers can make it even more successful next year.

    I'm a little confused regarding the comments about Keith Harris being very, very funny! - Are you sure, or were you just extremely drunk?

  3. stephen2001

    stephen2001 Member

    I saw the "adult" Orville and Cuddles set last year at Uni, and it is hilarious because you just don't expect them to swear like troopers!

    Anyway, back on topic :p

    I was there on the Saturday and heard all of the 3rd section bands and I think that on the whole the placings were pretty fair.
    One comment from the event is that when it belts it down with rain outside, it sounds like a snare-drum roll in the "Main Stage" audotorium due to the iron roof!

    But all in all a good day!
  4. missflugel

    missflugel Member

    keith the legend

    Colin is completely correct. Keith Harris was hilarious. Really got everyone laughing (particularly the woman in front of me who had had one too many red reefs i think!!) Legends from my youth!
    And when he did 'the song' seeing a packed club of drunken bandsmen swaying along was brilliant. Better than some of the red coats in the 'centre stage' who tried to entertain before versatile brass.
    I think we did quite well getting everyone doing the conga at about half 1 on Saturday night though. Must have been all the north east bands that seemed to pack the bar!

    Jo x
  5. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    I still find it hard to believe that the words 'Keith Harris' and 'hilarious' can appear in the same sentence. :shock:
    Would he have been so funny if you had been sober though? :lol: :lol:

  6. Big Twigge

    Big Twigge Active Member

    Am in shock at your dedication to report Butlins to us.....are you sure that you're not on commission for recruiting bands for next year?
  7. missflugel

    missflugel Member

    Perhaps it was the elation of winning and the amount of vodka we had consumed.

    I do think that the entertainment for the whole weekend was really good although versatile brass could have been presented better than having to play over 500+ bandsmen getting drunk.
    There was something to do for everyone as I noticed there were lots of young children there who could attend most of the entertainment put on in the early evening.

    Finding chalets did prove a problem and I did stumble across a nice welshman who guided me to 'echopoint way' on the first night as I was confused by rows and rows of chalets.

    Jo x
  8. geordiecolin

    geordiecolin Active Member

    Me? Drunk? With my reputation??!!

    Actually I missed drunk out. Went straight from fairly sober to unconcious. Missed out the fun part of drunk!! Quite worrying as a similar thing occured at CiN. :? :?
  9. sharpnote

    sharpnote Member

    Who do you think should have won Champ section?
  10. geordiecolin

    geordiecolin Active Member

    Couldnt honestly say as I didn't hear the entertainments part cos I didnt get out of bed til 11.30am and then stumbled around looking for my sister's chalet which turned out to be actually just around the corner from mine. Her bus was going back up to Newcastle at 1, so i sat around in her chalet whilst she packed and then saw her off. By then I'd missed most of top section!
  11. neiltwist

    neiltwist Active Member

    nicely put colin, but there will always be a market for pontins!

    long live prestatyn, although I will make it to a mineworkers contest one day.
  12. Lauradoll

    Lauradoll Active Member

    Yeah you canny beat the "quality" of Pontins. It just wouldn't be the same if it was warm, dry and the food was nice!
  13. P. Sanderson

    P. Sanderson Member

    Got to agree with Colin Far superior to Pontins.
    As usual the price of the drinks was excessive (nothing strange for any holiday camp).

    The reason for the names of the blocks is that in 1939 the Butlins camp became H.M.S. Royal Arthur. through which some 255.000 raw recruits passed doing their basic training.

    Back to the Contest

    It was announced that any suggestions for improvement to the contest should be sent either to Stan Lippeat or Brian Eggleshaw who will take matters up with butlins for next years contest.
    The problem about the scottish open being on the same day has already been thought about and will be addressed for future years.

    As far as the cost of the weekend is concerned, it actually worked out cheaper for me to stay for the whole weekend at Butlins than ever it did at Blackpool (including the Beer).

  14. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    Was there any indication of whether or not the contest will be restricted to bands linked with CISWO in future?

    I'm all for preserving the heritage of the mineworkers contest but I'd guess that Butlins are unlikely to continue to provide this level of support unless the entry (and therefore the number of people visiting the bar) increases.

  15. Janet Watkins

    Janet Watkins Member

    This could only have been suggested by a male 'committee' :!:

    It is probably the quietest time for Butlins, hence the need for some patronage, but there could be a reason for this........

    A large proportion of the population are trying to prepare for Christmas and fit in the usual round of carolling, concerts etc.

  16. geordiecolin

    geordiecolin Active Member

    If you'd read my lengthy report..... :wink:

  17. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    Yikes Colin, I don't have that much time on my hands! Thanks for helping out an old blind Northener.

  18. missflugel

    missflugel Member

    Does that not defeat the purpose of the contest as Butlins took over from CISWO?!?!?!?

    Jo x
  19. Baldeagle

    Baldeagle Member

    If this is the case Carlton Brass will be there in the 2nd section
  20. geordiecolin

    geordiecolin Active Member

    It was strange as the announcement was met with a stunned silence. i think it should work ok though, given that the Open entry is only to fill up the places. Hopefully the promise of a fully booked up contest will attract more CISWO affiliated bands anyway and seeing as they will get priority...

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