Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Patrick and the Spaghetti Western Orchestra

I have no idea how I've managed to collect such an amazing group of friends. Over the weekend I was lucky enough to have one come and stay from Melbourne Australia.
Patrick's life has gradually polished him like a pebble to make him into the most amazing man. He grew up in a tiny Mallee town called Nyah West in the North West of Victoria. In 2006 it had a population of 552. You can practically hear the tumbleweeds going through the town in this photo of the milkbar that Patrick's family used to run as "Cronins café".
Nowadays Patrick has used his magical ability to whistle & his talents of comedy, trumpet playing and stagecraft to work together a band of worlwide fame. Using his tumbleweed connections to the American wild west, he and 4 other very talented blokes have created the Spaghetti Western Orchestra. Here is a list of the instruments they play in the show.....
Asthma Inhaler, Bass Recorder, Bassoon, Bells, Birdwings Sound Effect, Body Drop
Sound Effect, Bouncy Ball Pump, Castanets, Chickens Sound Effect, Child Sized
Boot, Claves, Coat Hangers (2), Concert Bass Drum, Concert Tom Toms, Cornflakes
(Small Packet and Large Packet), Creaky Door Sound Effect, Deck Of Cards, Double
Bass, Drum Kit, Dutch Clog & Tambourine Jingles, Egg Shakers, Electronic Sampler,
Fake Glasses, Film Canister, Bird Whistle, Finger Cymbals (2), Footsteps Sound Effect,
Frog Clicker, Harmonica (Working), Harmonica (Broken), Horseshoe, Jews Harps (6),
Kat Midi Controller (2 Octaves), Kitchen Knife with Sharpening Steel, Latchbolt Sound
Effect, Mandolin, Maracas (I Pair), Melodeon (2), Nail Clippers, Nail File, Ocarina, One
Note Saxophone, Orchestral Whip, Packaging Tape (1 Roll), Pan Pipes, Piano, Plastic
Bags (2), Policeman’s Whistle, Ratchet, Reel- To-Reel Tape Machine, Sticks And Twigs
(Locally Sourced), String Can, Suspended Cymbals, Synthesizer, Tam Tam, Tasmanian
Lottery Balls, Theremin, Timpani (3), Tin Whistle (5), Trumpet, Tuned Beer Bottles (11),
Two Tone Whistle, Ukulele, Vibraphone Wind Machine, Wooden Cowbells.

I went to see them on Sunday night in Cambridge and was blown away. The last time I saw them play was 10 years ago in a small venue in Melbourne, they were wonderful then, they are awe inspiring now.
(Richard and I went on our first date to see Patrick in another incarnation with his partner in 'Sally Ford & the Pachuco Playboys' and they were also a marvel.)

If you can I urge you to go and see the show, it's like nothing else you've ever seen before. As one of their splendid reviews says... A witty collage of stylised film dialogue, improvised soundtracks and sound effects. A masterpiece of first class arrangements of Ennio Morricone’s music, lovingly interspersed film quotations, and stunning acoustic and visual gags. Fully loaded musical theatre done to perfection. Don’t miss it!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Great Hockham Mothers Union banner

A while ago a friend came to me with a plastic bag filled with something in the way of fabric in a very sorry state. She quietly told me that she'd noticed the Mother's Union banner at Church had been very grubby indeed so she washed it. The entire background of silk had rotted away and the embroidery was sadly in need of some tender care. Could I please have a look at it and see what I could do.
I love these kinds of jobs and have absolutely loved every minute of restoring this old and very beautiful thing. I had to use tweezers to pull out the old threads and it was fascinating to see what was underneath.Appliqueing primroses is a therapeutic exercise on a cold and wintry day.

and though replacing the threads around the lettering was a painstaking job, it was worth while in the end.
Luckily the embroidery and applique of the mother and child was still in good condition. It's extremely hard to make faces look good with fabric, it's where the real Art lies in this sort of piece and this one is beautifully done.
The work that no one sees is just as important as without this stitching , the banner would bag and look like a sack. I was able to use the original interlining but it was very thick linen and I ended up with plasters all over my fingers as I stabbed & stabbed again to get the needle in exactly the right spot.
Finally though it's finished. I'm very pleased with it and hopefully it will last another hundred years or so.