SEPTEMBER 2010
Blackpool stars….
Once again the Imperial Hotel was humming, humming to the sounds of the ukuleles being strummed and greetings exchanged as the GFS members flocked into Blackpool, the Mecca of the northwest. Think of Blackpool and you think of the Tower, its icon – like a beacon shining out to people attracting them and pulling them in. It's the place where crowds flow as freely as the sea breezes blow. Blackpool is associated with holidays, with a break from the toll of the workplace. Blackpool is synonymous with FUN! It's the fun place to be with something for everyone, theatres, cinemas, ballrooms, beaches, trams and shopping as well as seasonal attractions such as 'the Golden Mile and four times a year, the GFS. Blackpool is the home of the George Formby Society. George Formby was Blackpool. He sung about a stick of 'Blackpool Rock' and he could hold an audience in the palm of his hand, because some of his songs were about Blackpool. George would walk on the stage from the wings, with or without a uke, and start cracking jokes and immediately that atmosphere, that North Country warmth was there. Just as it is when you walk into the meeting today. Members flock to Blackpool From its very beginnings GFS members have flocked into Blackpool, into the Imperial hotel from all over the country, clutching their ukuleles in their hands. This meeting was no different. This time, however, we had a visitor all the way from California! He'd just nipped over! He certainly had a warm welcome, although, just what he thought about the intriguing notice on the front desk when he entered I don't know. It exhorted members 'not to put their membership cards in the washing machine...!' Now, I've heard of laundering clothes and laundering money, but....membership cards? The stars were certainly out for this sunny September Formby weekend. Firstly there was the famous singing star, Robbie Williams, turning on the illuminations on the Friday night, then there was a surprise appearance by a belly dancer doing a 'star turn' at the local Greek restaurant (a good mover although slightly more belly than dance, but entertaining!)The real stars however, were those who appeared on Saturday and shone all weekend- in the Imperial Hotel. They were the members of the GFS, all those who watched and supported the society, those who organized the meeting as well as those who performed. Alan Chenery was given a round of applause for all the unrecognised work he does in organising the meetings. What a star! Other 'stars' gathered at the front on Sunday, for the AGM – the committee who do so much work, often unnoticed, unrecognised, for the society. They were all voted back in. We all enjoy reading the Vellum, love Peter's DVD's and web page, enjoy our membership, like viewing the memorabilia and artefacts, enjoy spending money on the raffle, at the shop and at the auction and gathering and gossiping at meetings. May their enthusiasm never wane! The real ‘stars’ Now onto the real 'stars' who make up the meetings– the Formby fans themselves. They, as usual, arrived and settled themselves down, new members, old members and some returning members, all greeted each other as old friends, supped drinks, and chose their crosswords carefully, before joining Dickie on stage for the first 'thrash' in 'D'. The 'thrash' which begins and ends each concert has been described by one member, as "the most uplifting and cheerful experience because the ukulele has such a happy sound. Everyone watches everyone else, because although most people know a few or many Formby songs, not everyone knows all of them. Over 200 were recorded, so it is handy to watch someone else for the ones you don't know... and it doesn't matter that you don't know it and that is the important thing. Everyone helps everyone else and it makes you feel so good." I'm reliably told that this relaxed, feel-good factor while lasting throughout the meetings also persists for two or three weeks afterwards as well. Indeed, some members felt so relaxed that they were actually caught on camera napping! As usual the meeting contained the usual eclectic mix of performances, songs, memories and plain old gossip...and of course some lies...! Did John Walley really attend the first GFS meeting at the tender age of one, as he claimed? Remember it's not just the performers who are the 'stars' it's the people and their presence who make the society. Some members, at this meeting, were described as "dynamic" by the then compere who admitted having been to Specsavers! Friendly faces The meeting was peppered with friendly faces and old favourites like Matt and Dickie who made appearances both as part of the band and as performers. And isn't the band just great! The meetings go so well thanks to their efforts. Again Francis Terry, complete with a dead bird on her head (I hope it was dead or housetrained!) and some other members, dressed up, getting into the 'spirit of things'. "There's still time to perform your chosen song at the Anniversary meeting," compere Pam Baddeley announced, so there will be no escape and no excuses allowed for not being involved. However, her husband, Jonathan, who sang 'The Emperor of Lancashire', admitted that he's still worried about dressing up as this particular character- maybe he hasn't got the legs for it! However, his remarks about being married for thirty two years – as well as a member of the society for half of that- and then saying "and you get less than that for murder," will probably land him in 'hot water'. But probably not as much as the lady (un-named) who admitted to forgetting her Wedding Anniversary on that very day, at the meeting. It was a significant one that she'd forgotten! Then there was happily married Ron and Margaret Kelly of Manchester, happily married for fifty years and members for ten years. I know that next year Albert and Dorothy also have an important wedding anniversary to celebrate (as long as they don't fall out between now and then) The whole meeting was made up of 'stars'. There was talented Paul Culkin from Yorkshire who composed and performed his own songs; first time on stage, David Firth who performed 'Sergeant Major' and Jordan Harding-Pointon playing a UB3 for the first time. Paul Kenny hoped to become another media 'star' when he was photographed by the Blackpool Gazette during the meeting. However he later admitted to being disappointed when the only question he was asked was his name and invited to play any Formby song he liked! Surprise visitors Other surprise visitors to the meeting were Amy Talbin and her boss Stewart Tullock who were from the Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool and were actually arranging an exhibition about fan clubs and who else to ask but the fans. They were interested to know why they were fans and the appeal of their 'stars'. They intended to talk to people who did different jobs in the society, to the young people, especially those born after the death of the 'star' to understand why they were fans and why in the case of George Formby there are CD's and other materials available almost fifty years after his death. I'm sure everyone to whom they spoke could provide them with enough material! Our younger 'stars' also made a considerable contribution. Michael Pickles has come on in leaps and bounds, is much more confident and did you notice his lovely smile? There was Jonathan Richards, great at card tricks and on the uke. Francesca made a £100 from busking around the streets of Liverpool and whilst Eleanor didn't perform herself this time, she did take part in the 'thrash'. Eleanor is a talented musician on both the violin and piano has only been playing the uke for a year.' Her favourite Formby song is 'Leaning on a Lamppost' and she holds her step-dad entirely responsible for encouraging her. She has promised to play on stage again in November so watch out for that. Sean Rutter again held us spell bound with his performance. Finally, there was six year old James Bassett. What a star in the making! The members listened entranced. He stood there so young and so confident with his blue ukulele in his hand! He'll be seven in October and admitted that he "knows lots of Formby songs" but likes "'When I'm cleaning windows' best." Sunday morning On the Sunday morning a former member, Anthony Mason, was spotted playing a 'Ludwig' banjo in a jazz band outside the Rose and Crown, but unfortunately no Formby numbers. When he was last seen, he was a callow youth, who helped to set up the Warrington Exhibition The former concierge at the Imperial paid us a return visit complete with his memories of the early days of the society and a photo of a George Formby publicity mask. He recalls meeting George and Beryl many times at the hotel and in the 1960's he explained that it was his job to set up the meetings in the Warbreck and Edgerton rooms. He has promised that in November to bring his story of when he met the Formby family. The enthusiasm and warmth which we as members feel for each other and the society was present throughout the weekend and we all left looking forward to November's meeting and indeed to next year when we celebrate our fiftieth anniversary. Yes, we were all 'stars' during that very special weekend, but, as at all our meetings, the true star is George himself .
SEPTEMBER 2010
Blackpool stars….
Once again the Imperial Hotel was humming, humming to the sounds of the ukuleles being strummed and greetings exchanged as the GFS members flocked into Blackpool, the Mecca of the northwest. Think of Blackpool and you think of the Tower, its icon – like a beacon shining out to people attracting them and pulling them in. It's the place where crowds flow as freely as the sea breezes blow. Blackpool is associated with holidays, with a break from the toll of the workplace. Blackpool is synonymous with FUN! It's the fun place to be with something for everyone, theatres, cinemas, ballrooms, beaches, trams and shopping as well as seasonal attractions such as 'the Golden Mile and four times a year, the GFS. Blackpool is the home of the George Formby Society. George Formby was Blackpool. He sung about a stick of 'Blackpool Rock' and he could hold an audience in the palm of his hand, because some of his songs were about Blackpool. George would walk on the stage from the wings, with or without a uke, and start cracking jokes and immediately that atmosphere, that North Country warmth was there. Just as it is when you walk into the meeting today. Members flock to Blackpool From its very beginnings GFS members have flocked into Blackpool, into the Imperial hotel from all over the country, clutching their ukuleles in their hands. This meeting was no different. This time, however, we had a visitor all the way from California! He'd just nipped over! He certainly had a warm welcome, although, just what he thought about the intriguing notice on the front desk when he entered I don't know. It exhorted members 'not to put their membership cards in the washing machine...!' Now, I've heard of laundering clothes and laundering money, but....membership cards? The stars were certainly out for this sunny September Formby weekend. Firstly there was the famous singing star, Robbie Williams, turning on the illuminations on the Friday night, then there was a surprise appearance by a belly dancer doing a 'star turn' at the local Greek restaurant (a good mover although slightly more belly than dance, but entertaining!)The real stars however, were those who appeared on Saturday and shone all weekend- in the Imperial Hotel. They were the members of the GFS, all those who watched and supported the society, those who organized the meeting as well as those who performed. Alan Chenery was given a round of applause for all the unrecognised work he does in organising the meetings. What a star! Other 'stars' gathered at the front on Sunday, for the AGM – the committee who do so much work, often unnoticed, unrecognised, for the society. They were all voted back in. We all enjoy reading the Vellum, love Peter's DVD's and web page, enjoy our membership, like viewing the memorabilia and artefacts, enjoy spending money on the raffle, at the shop and at the auction and gathering and gossiping at meetings. May their enthusiasm never wane! The real ‘stars’ Now onto the real 'stars' who make up the meetings– the Formby fans themselves. They, as usual, arrived and settled themselves down, new members, old members and some returning members, all greeted each other as old friends, supped drinks, and chose their crosswords carefully, before joining Dickie on stage for the first 'thrash' in 'D'. The 'thrash' which begins and ends each concert has been described by one member, as "the most uplifting and cheerful experience because the ukulele has such a happy sound. Everyone watches everyone else, because although most people know a few or many Formby songs, not everyone knows all of them. Over 200 were recorded, so it is handy to watch someone else for the ones you don't know... and it doesn't matter that you don't know it and that is the important thing. Everyone helps everyone else and it makes you feel so good." I'm reliably told that this relaxed, feel-good factor while lasting throughout the meetings also persists for two or three weeks afterwards as well. Indeed, some members felt so relaxed that they were actually caught on camera napping! As usual the meeting contained the usual eclectic mix of performances, songs, memories and plain old gossip...and of course some lies...! Did John Walley really attend the first GFS meeting at the tender age of one, as he claimed? Remember it's not just the performers who are the 'stars' it's the people and their presence who make the society. Some members, at this meeting, were described as "dynamic" by the then compere who admitted having been to Specsavers! Friendly faces The meeting was peppered with friendly faces and old favourites like Matt and Dickie who made appearances both as part of the band and as performers. And isn't the band just great! The meetings go so well thanks to their efforts. Again Francis Terry, complete with a dead bird on her head (I hope it was dead or housetrained!) and some other members, dressed up, getting into the 'spirit of things'. "There's still time to perform your chosen song at the Anniversary meeting," compere Pam Baddeley announced, so there will be no escape and no excuses allowed for not being involved. However, her husband, Jonathan, who sang 'The Emperor of Lancashire', admitted that he's still worried about dressing up as this particular character- maybe he hasn't got the legs for it! However, his remarks about being married for thirty two years – as well as a member of the society for half of that- and then saying "and you get less than that for murder," will probably land him in 'hot water'. But probably not as much as the lady (un-named) who admitted to forgetting her Wedding Anniversary on that very day, at the meeting. It was a significant one that she'd forgotten! Then there was happily married Ron and Margaret Kelly of Manchester, happily married for fifty years and members for ten years. I know that next year Albert and Dorothy also have an important wedding anniversary to celebrate (as long as they don't fall out between now and then) The whole meeting was made up of 'stars'. There was talented Paul Culkin from Yorkshire who composed and performed his own songs; first time on stage, David Firth who performed 'Sergeant Major' and Jordan Harding-Pointon playing a UB3 for the first time. Paul Kenny hoped to become another media 'star' when he was photographed by the Blackpool Gazette during the meeting. However he later admitted to being disappointed when the only question he was asked was his name and invited to play any Formby song he liked! Surprise visitors Other surprise visitors to the meeting were Amy Talbin and her boss Stewart Tullock who were from the Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool and were actually arranging an exhibition about fan clubs and who else to ask but the fans. They were interested to know why they were fans and the appeal of their 'stars'. They intended to talk to people who did different jobs in the society, to the young people, especially those born after the death of the 'star' to understand why they were fans and why in the case of George Formby there are CD's and other materials available almost fifty years after his death. I'm sure everyone to whom they spoke could provide them with enough material! Our younger 'stars' also made a considerable contribution. Michael Pickles has come on in leaps and bounds, is much more confident and did you notice his lovely smile? There was Jonathan Richards, great at card tricks and on the uke. Francesca made a £100 from busking around the streets of Liverpool and whilst Eleanor didn't perform herself this time, she did take part in the 'thrash'. Eleanor is a talented musician on both the violin and piano has only been playing the uke for a year.' Her favourite Formby song is 'Leaning on a Lamppost' and she holds her step-dad entirely responsible for encouraging her. She has promised to play on stage again in November so watch out for that. Sean Rutter again held us spell bound with his performance. Finally, there was six year old James Bassett. What a star in the making! The members listened entranced. He stood there so young and so confident with his blue ukulele in his hand! He'll be seven in October and admitted that he "knows lots of Formby songs" but likes "'When I'm cleaning windows' best." Sunday morning On the Sunday morning a former member, Anthony Mason, was spotted playing a 'Ludwig' banjo in a jazz band outside the Rose and Crown, but unfortunately no Formby numbers. When he was last seen, he was a callow youth, who helped to set up the Warrington Exhibition The former concierge at the Imperial paid us a return visit complete with his memories of the early days of the society and a photo of a George Formby publicity mask. He recalls meeting George and Beryl many times at the hotel and in the 1960's he explained that it was his job to set up the meetings in the Warbreck and Edgerton rooms. He has promised that in November to bring his story of when he met the Formby family. The enthusiasm and warmth which we as members feel for each other and the society was present throughout the weekend and we all left looking forward to November's meeting and indeed to next year when we celebrate our fiftieth anniversary. Yes, we were all 'stars' during that very special weekend, but, as at all our meetings, the true star is George himself .