Monday, 8 April 2013

No, no, no, no, no, no, Yes!

Yes, alright, I appreciate that it's late... Had a small cock-up on the parking front this morning and have only just arrived at work.

Welcome to the 100th Chimping Dandy Blog, I was going to tell you more stories about my Dad, seeing as the last one I told turned out to be the most popular post ever, by a huge margin, but something happened to me yesterday that, had there been some kind of cake, it would quite happily have taken it.

A few of you may know that in my spare time, as well as the writing, and the drawing, and the motorcycling, I am a live sound engineer.  I practice this particular type of witchcraft at my local Church, the one where we hold the free bacon-sandwich-a-thons that I'm always banging on about.

Now, even it you're not a Religionite, you'll know that Easter is a pretty important time in the Christian calendar, lots of flowers about the place, talking about hairy fellows coming back from the dead and rolling stones away from sepulchers and what have you.

Not so many rabbits or chocolate eggs to be fair, which I think is a bit of a missed trick on their part, I think they'd get a lot more bums on seats if they gave away creme eggs and planted a bloody great plywood Easter Bunny in the graveyard, He could maybe carry a basket of eggs and one of them could be a hole, where you put your head through and had your picture taken... OK, so there's the chance that it could also look like he was carrying a truckle of severed heads, but I think most people'd get the gist.

Anyway, staying on track for a second, Yesterday was Quasimodo Sunday (No, really, that's what it's called) which, although it isn't as 'sexy' as Easter Sunday, still holds a certain reverence, what with the whole St. Thomas thing and the sticking of fingers into holes in wrists made by nails (I am so waiting for the movie version of the Bible stories directed by Dario Argento - It would rock like a hurricane, as Klaus Meine might say).  The Church wasn't particularly full, probably because it was the middle weekend of the local schools Easter holidays and lots of people with kids were away.

Unfortunately, on Sunday, this also included the Vicar and 95% of the music group.  So really, there wasn't a great deal for me to mix - Easy gig, I thought... But it turned out not to be quite like that.

This is our mixing desk:

It's great, it does all kinds of cool things, and with all my knobs, faders and flangers I can make Gods-awful crap sound a little less Gods-awful.  What it can't do is make the proverbial silk purse magically appear from a female porcine's aural cavity.  I knew I was going to have to get a bit creative, when the young lady who was to deliver the semon came up to me and said,

'We're going to have some songs, but from a CD'

'OK,' I replied, waiting for the other boot to drop.

'But I've been told that our main CD player is a bit... erm... temperamental?'

And she was right, the CD player that had come with the desk was actually a DVD recorder, with no screen attached, so you've got no way of knowing what track is currently playing, this important piece of information is the only thing that the little LED display doesn't show.  And it keeps things very exciting.

'So, how would you like to do it?' I asked, genuinely interested.

'Well, I thought we could play it on a portable CD player, and put one of the music-group's microphones close to the speaker.'

'Do you have someone to select the track and press play and things,'

'Yes, that's all taken care of.'

'Great, should be a piece of cake.'

To assist in making everyone feel like one, big, Anglican family there's a laptop with a projector that puts the words to whatever song is currently being played, so you can sing along, on a 10' square screen at the front of the Church... So far, so believable, right?

Now, let's add a few more levels of oddity shall we?  The young chap who was operating the CD player was wearing a camo-pattern onesie.

Yes, you read that right...

A onesie...

Camo pattern...

Completely unironically...

And the couple who were operating the laptop, with the words, for the songs, that everyone was going to sing, on a Powerpoint presentation, kept displaying random pages of lyrics from other songs that the parishoners would be singing throughout the service, as opposed to the strictly next... next... next... procedure that was required of them.  Don't get me wrong, they're lovely people, she writes poetry, but they were just a touch technically inept on the day.

The person giving the sermon was helping them out, and at one point there seemed to be a bit of a scuffle for control of the remote, which ended in a lot of scowling and finger-pointing.

Then the chap in the onesie faded the song out halfway through (Which is something he continued to do throughout the service).  But with true Dunkirk spirit, we soldiered on.  Someone delivered a reading, cleverly ignoring all the radio mics that had been setup for that very use and relied solely on her own voice projection ability, so she had the air of a codfish on a sandy beach, you could see the panic in her eyes and her mouth opening and closing, but no sound came out.  This went on for a minute or so until the person giving the sermon pointed her lapel mic at her and audio was restored.

This was followed by a slightly longed reading about some cannibals, which I didn't really see the point of, followed by another song, this one had everything, the combat onesie, the muffled audio, the complete lack of cogent lyrics, but we actually added two new levels of frisson... The person delivering the reading didn't turn off her mic whilst she sang along (and her singing is characterised more by it's power, than by the accuracy of the notes), and the CD player started skipping.

Now, if I'd been any kind of real sound engineer, I would have ran to the front, taken the CD out, cleaned it and started it off again before anyone noticed...

Instead I chose to hide behind the mixing desk, alternating between laughing uncontrollably and trying to slash my wrists with a stiff piece of A4 paper.

I kept looking around for the TV cameras and waiting for Dawn French to appear and thank us all for taking part in the Vicar of Dibley Easter special.

But no... It wasn't a dream either...

Please join me tomorrow for another helping of Steampunk - I have had to promise to write more, as people actually have bated breath and everything

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