After another rainy night, the entrance in and out of the campsite was becoming distinctly boglike, and we were doubly thankful for our rubber footwear as we negotiated the large plastic ramps that had been put in place and were floating merrily on a sea of epic proportions.
This was to be the morning when Dave and I were going our separate ways for a couple of hours – me to the Drawing Class and Dave to the Boat Gig. I was having another paper and charcoal session with the fabulous Carl Chapple (I know almost the same name – it’s weird!) and Dave was heading on a bus for a boat yard near Aberdovey. Carl, the artist, has family connections in Gunnislake (just 13 miles from where we live in Cornwall), so we may even be related a few generations back!
With queues at the new shower trailers already, I made for the leisure centre alternative again, and then, feeling a bit more awake, got myself off to the Tabernacle where the art studio was situated, via an “ordered ahead by phone” delicious repeat of yesterday’s vegan breakfast at Chimes.
Two years ago at this “gig” we had Tom Parry doing the full life drawing stint; last year we had some portraiture courtesy of Josie Long, Joe Lycett and Mark Olver; this year we were to have two sitters. First off we had Alexis Dubus in full Marcel Lucont character.
It always takes us a minutes to get into full artist mode, (or as much as we can!) and so Marcel gave us two poses to work with, making best use of the chaise longue. We all tried our best with his dark good looks and chuckling at his disdainful remarks re our work. I’m sorry Marcel, I am not worthy – I really struggled with the angle I was standing at in relation to your head, obviously all my fault.
After Marcel’s session we had a quick break for a cream tea – my veganism meaning it was just a cup of tea – but no complaint from me, I was having a lovely time, and then we had the lovely Bec Hill, in tartan shorts and a multicoloured, patterned sweater (aptly named, as it made us all sweat whilst trying to draw it!) She posed whilst reclining on the chaise and I felt much happier with my end results than I had with my poor effort at Marcel.
Bec and Marcel – our “best work” hanging in the Marquee later, my efforts at depicting Bec are at the top in this photo.
Meanwhile Dave’s lineup on the boat was: Tiernan Douieb MCing, with loads of nautical based puns (even though the boat was based on land – an old wreck converted to a clubhouse!) and then David Edwards playing a Outdoorsy Youth Leader character, very funny Dave said; next Beth Vyse doing her Betsy Lynn character (as from the Invisible Dot Hallowe’en gig last year). Colin Hoult was on last, very good as always, one of Dave’s favourites.
Beth Vyse as Betsy Lynn.
Whilst Dave was coming back from the Boat Gig, I had another show. I got myself over to Y Plas (Vayne Tempest again) for Suzi Ruffell. Suzi is from “travelling stock” and has lots of upfront and funny tales to tell about her family and her love life. She has great stage presence and strode about the VT space commanding it well. Not one piece of material was old (sometimes, I’ve found, comedians will incorporate a weeny bit of their best material in the next show) and the audience had a thoroughly good time, including yours truly.
I came out of Suzi’s show to find Dave waiting for me in the foyer of Y Plas and we made our way over to The Royal House for Nell Frizzell’s Playlist – a teeny space with the show having a Desert Island Discs type format with three comedians providing the musical choices. There were trays of strawberries, crisps, and tangerines going around as we arrived and Josie Long, being one of the comedians involved, was standing near the back and was overheard chatting about Dave’s performance on Every Brilliant Thing, at The Vortex, just as we walked in!
We squeezed ourselves in on a bench near the front, then Stuart Goldsmith sat on the bench just ahead of us; this is what Mach is like, every time we turn around, there is another artist also enjoying the festival and coming in to see their favourites.
Nell introduced our comedians, Nathaniel Metcalfe, Josie, and James Acaster. We worked through the hour, with comedians giving their musical offerings on “the song you’d wish you’d written”, “first song at your wedding” and ” song to be played at your funeral”. Audience members got involved with their ideas and the snacks were continually passed around. Everyone was having a lovely time and James Acaster played some fabulous air drums to his favourite. It’s fair to say that most of the songs weren’t that familiar to us but we did have an interesting hour.
Over, then, to Owain Glyndwr for the always “off the wall” Tom Parry. Coming onstage in full Welsh Fullback costume, he had us all cracked up within 30 seconds with his outrageous Welsh accent and extremely puzzled as to why he was squirting a water bottle over both sides of his neck. This continued for quite a few squirts, as the tension mounted; don’t worry, the punchline was well worth it, and the hour just got funnier and funnier. Tom is relentlessly unpredictable but always worth the ticket money.
Staying at the OGC for the next show; and one which we’d been looking forward to for a long time. Max and Ivan’s “The End”. Even though it was still a work in progress, (in fact, the guys were reading from scripts all the way though), it was my favourite thing at Mach this year. Heckling each other as they went along (Ivan had just arrived back from Australia, was jetlagged to hell and misreading lines) the show involved death and almost certain disaster. These two have a way with a facial expression, an accent, an accentuated movement in their body language, that for me, completely gives each “over the top” character they play an individuality of its own. I completely believe that they are who they are playing, be that a woman, a man or an animal and become totally wrapped up in the plot!
I even accidentally moaned “Nooooo” (not a conscious heckle!!) at one point, so wrapped up in the plot was I, and got a nudge in the ribs from Dave. Sorry guys. You were fab (as always).
A short walk (everywhere in Mach is “a short walk”, be jealous, lovely, but far flung between some venues, Edinburgh!) to the Tannery, and we are in the company of tortured soul, Sean McLoughlin. With a full room, and a load of positives from Dave on this gig, I was ready to stay on the high that Max and Ivan had prompted. To be fair, for the first fifteen minutes, this is how it was, but Sean then brought an air of negativity to the room by mentioning some verbal bashing that he’d had from a child on a bike back at the forest glade area of Machfest and this seemed to bring the whole room down and fuel his anger at his own perceived lack of progress in the comedy world. We then endured an interesting, if aggressive half hour, where Sean almost wouldn’t let us out of the venue until he’d had a big laugh but couldn’t quite find a way to bring that about.
In the end we were let go, and being me, choice scarce vegan (I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and it was now well into the evening) was starving. We headed over to the Glyndwr Centre, to see The Birthday Girls, ( three out of four of our latest bunch of rescue hens have been named after them, Rose, Beattie, Camille, the fourth one is Sarah Millican/Kendall/Pascoe). We were a few minutes short of the show starting and Dave could see that I was wilting from hunger so he suggested I might want to go over the Y Plas instead, where the food tents were, and get myself something to sustain while he went to the gig (we’d both seen the girls very recently, so I was as confident as I was able that there would be nothing completely new that I’d be missing). I didn’t need telling twice, although sad to miss the girls, my stomach was grumbling loudly, and I yomped round to the green and after instructing the pizza stall “I’ll have what I had last night, but make the crust nice and thick, I have cider to absorb” I sat in the main marquee on a comfy sofa and absorbed the “last night of the festival” revelry. Everywhere I glanced, there were comedians, or people I vaguely recognised, dancing to the music or chatting to their mates and having a great time.
I wandered over to the Y Plas building itself and got talking to the Clerk to the Council, who was sat behind the desk. Every time I meet a local; one of the questions I’ve been asking is: “What do you guys think of the festival? Is it a pain in the proverbial – or do you like having the town full of visitors, maybe being a bit noisy, filling up the pubs and hotels?” On the whole, the responses I’ve had have been positive (maybe tactful?) it’s hard to know. But we’ve seen local people being thoroughly involved in gigs and others have told me they enjoy the influx as it’s “dead here most of the time”.
I was still deep in conversation when Dave arrived from The Birthday Girls and off we went for the last show (awwwwwwww!!!) Pappy’s Presents – an end of festival presentation involving typical Pappy’s madness, a pinnata of sweeties being thrown about, a multitude of comedians imitating Josh Widdicombe, a skateboarding challenge to David O’ Doherty and a singalong at the end of course.
The skateboarding challenge.
And so, one last beer and cider in the marquee (did I mention there were 52 local beers and quite a few ciders on the menu?) and we meandered (yes, that IS the description), back to our tent where we slept fairly well through a dry, but windy night.
Machfest, you unpredictable, thoroughly ‘mach’ical, totally knackering, fabulous festival, we will be back.
Dave trying to decide which beer to go for first!
Me on our way home by the spectacular Llyn Clywedog reservoir, just a few miles from Machynlleth.