Saturday, 25 July 2009

What Joe Public doesn't really get to see...

... is the set-up and tear-down of each show. And why should they? Ruins all the front-of-house mystique, doesn't it? For that matter, would you really want to see all that back-of-house stuff?

Well, since you're still here reading this, then the answer must be 'yes', right? Read on, then.

Day before the show and the polytunnel that Humbees had set aside for our use looked like this. The staff were accommodating enough to help us set up (and make endless cups of tea & coffee), laying out pallets and sales benches to be converted into bonsai display:

Below is the other end of the polytunnel ('twas a big bugger, wasn't it? Camera was at about the level of the lady setting up the palettes in the pic above.). The big challenge of the day was rendering the gaps in the lower tier of the staging suitable for display. So a whole load of 2x1 wood was wedged in - using brute force & ignorance - between the gaps. The 2x1 'bridges' were only good enough to use for the lighter, smaller plantings, but at least they did the job and we didn't lose display space that day. The one let-down was that the cloth tended to sag over these bits. Oh well, learning curve. That will be addressed next year, we're told. Yay!

Hanging out the backdrop cloth for a couple of stands had to be curtailed as we had run out of safety pins(!). My job for the rest of the afternoon was to get the biccies and coffee, plus some more safety pins. A trip to the supermarket later and I had bought enough biccies to feed an army and completely forgotten the safety pins. We made do with ordinary pins in the end. And while the pre-opening set-up had only involved a few people, more hands the next day meant quick work of the remainder of the preparations.

For how it all looked after that hard graft, see the following posts.

And here we come to the end of the show, when all is in the process of being broken down and packed away. The shohin display stand has been stripped of bonsai and accents, all the clubs have removed their trees and safely stowed them in their vehicles; now everyone is pitching in to take the display cloth down and help set the polytunnel back to rights. To the right, with her back to the camera, is Collette Harrison of Bonsai Trees Southampton. Both chairmen of Wessex and Eastleigh are in this photo: Eastleigh's being the arm packing away a bonsai table, and Wessex's being the person behind the crates walking to the door. Solent's chairman did drop by in the morning but had to get back to their other show venue, thereby missing out on the wonderful lunch. The sausages passing him by was the biggest blow, apparently. Was it the camaraderie between clubs that led us to put together a decent doggy-bag for him? Nope, it was too many left-overs from the spread that Lynn had brought over. Harrr.

The ethos that governs our club has, for a long time, been that of informality and, dare I hope, friendliness. The standard of our trees has developed (for the better) over the years. I've heard critiques of clubs in general as being cliquey and difficult to penetrate. It may perhaps be true of larger gatherings desiring to attract members of a certain status. I've never been to one of them, so could not say yea or nay either way. Not that I would care.

Somehow, this display of organised chaos in a polytunnel, with people walking around munching on biccies and coffee, some pruning their trees and others just lounging around and chatting - well that does blow the elitist image to bits from the get go. Just as well no-one tries, I guess.

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