Bob kayak boB in Widdington.




It was the best of times; it was the bratwurst of times.  The man in the white coat, also known as the lodge porter, donned his immaculate cat flap and welcomed ElkFesters old, new and otherwise, before declaring ElkFest 2017 open for business.  Famed for his brevity, he kept his opening speech short and to the point.  So short in fact, that most people missed it and moved straight on to the cabaret.




Is it a bird, is it a plane?  No it’s the Mitch, replete with mandatory clipboard.  And with no much ado about nothing much to do, he introduced the opening act.

It was Clive.  Unfortunately, having retired and needing to supplement his meagre pension, he was constantly interrupted by telephone calls, diverted from the call centre, where he earns almost the minimum wage.  So, alas, we never witnessed what could have been an excellent cabaret act.  [Did you mean to open this paragraph with “It was Clive, unfortunately”? – Ed]

Kevin followed, introducing his act as a detailed analysis of the poems of Leonard Cohen.  Fortunately this proved to be somewhat misleading.  Unfortunately, I had already fallen into an unforeseen coma, brought on by the combination of the words Leonard and Cohen.  I feel sure that this seasoned ElkFester, yet Cabaret virgin – one of my favourite wines – was a tour de force.  If only I had stayed awake to hear it.









Next up were Colin and Anne.  It was an amusing take on “Are you the waitress I gave my order to?  I expected an older woman.”  I later discovered that this act had the props department in something of a panic; firstly the requirement for a table and chairs was unprecedented; secondly ElkFest doesn’t have a props department.  So who was panicking?  “Not me,” said Lodge.

And then it was Frank, although it wasn’t.  He was in the toilet, to be earnest, quite frankly.  We expected a teddy bears picnic, but this was delayed by bad weather.  An unforgettable contribution to proceedings I’ve been told – I was still recovering from train-lag.

The annual Doctor Philip Bailey lecture is a not to be missed event.  This year it was entitled “An etymological morphology post-pental interprelationism”.  Need I say more?  Delightfulistic, bedazzlement personified, bewildermented, are some of the words he didn’t include in his lecture, but I’m sure he omitted many others, but not very many.

Sean provided some light relief in the aftermath of the Bailey lecture, but having announced his poem as “less classy than last year”, we were delightfulistically and bedazzled bewilderingly by the delivery.  If I had been awake, I would have applauded enthusiastically.








Finally all four of the three Goatees took to the stage.  Raiding their back catalogue, we were forced to endure a reprise of their 5 days of ElkFest.  The original delivery was excellent, but this reprise suggests the singing lessons haven’t kicked in yet.




This year’s radio play was entitled “The Three Doctors” and, still reeling from the disappointment of the final cabaret act; I wondered when the fourth doctor would appear.  He didn’t.

Doctor 1 (played by Phil L) commanded the airwaves commendably and was joined by Doctor 2 (played by Hayden), who contributed his “Tremendous Abodes” lines with great aplomb, although it was difficult to separate his fine performance from Doctor 3 (played by Paul M), who also delivered lines such as “Fantastic Boudoirs” and “Incredible places to live” with equal perspicacity (indeed, quite so).

Sue was Sergeant Benson and improvised supremely when her line “you’d better be quick – here they come again”, was followed by a lack of Sound FX.  [I had nodded off at this point, so when I awoke, the sound effect seemed timely].  Sven (played by Chris), who was providing the sound effects, later explained that alien bees had invaded earth and he had been busy counting them when the sound effect was needed.

Suitably moustachioed, Clive took on the role of Brigadier For-Short, or Brigadier for short, and for once didn’t demand six rounds rapid; I understand he has developed intolerance to wheat and has given up on the sandwiches.








The lodge narrated brilliantly, as usual, and it was good to hear his immortal catch phrase “Meal Whine” punctuating proceedings.

I’m not sure the narrative arc was clearly conceptualised however, as I lost the plot half way through, although I was awoken from my sleeping sickness time and again by constant refrains of “ooh ar ooh ar ooh ar oh ay”, so I may have missed something along the way.




Like a well-oiled machine, Crimson Shadow took to the stage to round off a classic ElkFest.

It was another steaming Hammond solo from Ursula in “Wrong Train Lunning”” and a stirring guitar solo from Mark in John E B Good, which moved Sean and Ashleigh to introduce “dancing” to proceedings.

Richard underpinned with his usual aplomb, and this was underpinned by Ritchie’s anagram of “map lob”.  Perhaps someone should buy them more pins.  And, of course, Paul underpinned the underpinning by hitting things (very loudly).









Of course an ElkFest appearance would not be complete without a line-up change and they didn’t disappoint.  Amy, their latest recruit as front-person, added much needed lead vocals and did so with yet another anagram of “lamb op”, graciously handing over the mic to Phil L for a while, who entertained us with a rousing rendition of Spooner’s “Grown Eyed Burl”.









Special mention should also be made to Chris for his maracas – he usually keeps them under wraps, but pulled them out to add that much needed percussive distraction to “Wonky Tonk Human”.  And to Clive, who graced the mixing desk with ease, simultaneously reprising the cider men from the Elk play.

It’s always good to leave them wanting more, and then do more.  The finale was 500 miles, although Liz thought it might be 5,000 miles.  Too far for Crimson Shadow?  No, I don’t think so.  They have many more miles in their tank methinks.




It’s difficult to Spoonerise bacon butties, but they abounded on the morning after.  Ketchup flowed in varying quantities; too much, too little, too right.  Then, with tents unpitched, stages dismantled and the litter-pickers work complete, the Lodge’s green fields were seen again, as if nothing had happened. 

Elkfest 2017