Tuesday, 2 July 2013


Now that the dust has settled after the frantic arrangements and activities surrounding the successful Parnassus Performance show 'Pencil Din' for the Stevenage Festival I can finally get around to writing up a previous event!

After various Facebook postings and mentions elsewhere a lot of people have asked me "Just what is flour packing?", quite simply it's what it says on the tin, 'Flour Packing' but why and what is it really all about?

How are traditions made, evolved, generated? Custom and practise? Historical precedent? Just because? Who really knows, anyway, in the deepest darkest reaches of Bedfordshire, nestled in the valley of the River Ivel lies the sleepy, or perhaps not so sleepy, village of Langford and it has become traditional for Langford to host an annual raft race along the Ivel to raise money for local charities / youth groups etc. It is also the custom for spectators to this wonderful event to pelt the rafters with bags of flour as the video link below I'm sure adequately reveals:-

The Langford Raft Race

Thanks to Martin Allen who posted the above on Youtube.

So, every year one of the local flour mills donates  ton , yes a ton, of flour which comes nicely packed in large flour sacks, all of which has to be decanted and packed into small biodegradable paper bags, a.k.a. 'Flour Bombs' that can be sold for a small price for the hurling of!

Flour packing itself has evolved into quite an event in its own right, hosted by the wonderful Blackett family, a gazebo and benches are laid out along with large plastic buckets, small plastic cups, 100's of little brown paper bags and then lots of willing hands turn up to pack the flour,. willing that is to put in a good couple of hours hard slog and get covered head to foot with flour in the process! All the bags get packed into tomato / fruit boxes and stacked up ready for raft day.

Of course once done everything has to be packed up and cleaned up and, as a reward, an amazing BBQ with lashings of nice things to eat and drink is laid on.

Mr. B hard at work.

This years BBQ had a special paella featuring some local produce and very nice it was too, and in fairly typical English summer style the weather decided to play a few tricks on us!

The Fellowship of the Stick were there in force lending a hand and helping to reduce the beer supplies and reeling from the shock of Fender Bear being bear-napped! luckily he was returned safe and well the next day.

It just so happened that the night following flour packing was indeed the very night that Minor Pilot were playing a full headline set at Club-85 in Hitchin (See below for a link to Club-85, North Herts finest independent music venue).

Club-85 in Hitchin

Now, as some of my regular readers will know, Minor Pilot are one of my favourite bands, Chris F's too, and, as it had recently been Chris's birthday it was decided that his Fellowship present this year would be to go the Minor Pilot gig, all expenses paid (Within reason) and it was my job to accompany him and make sure it was all sorted, well, we did, it was awesome, as someone described it, "Like tripping without acid" I would rather describe it as "All those amazing Pink Floyd instrumental bits rolled into one (or several) pieces of music", what made it so good this time was the added lighting and video backdrop which really completed the show.

The awesome Minor Pilot in action

Flour Packing The Pilot

My own adventure started by bus and by train
Avoiding the rain
Peter picked me up at Arlesey on time for a change!
I met Ella, having fun throwing a soggy chewed ball
She chased around the garden, house & all
Until we were ready to set off to Langford
All the gang were there
Flour, flour everywhere
On our clothes and in our hair
But more importantly
A ton of flour packed away
In neat little bags
All boxed in the garage
Ready in place
For the Langford Raft Race
It was time for the BBQ to begin
Getting wet outside and in
As the rain poured down
We stood around
Under the gazebo
A typical English thing to do
On a typically English summer afternoon
There was paella with local produce
Crayfish from the river
Quite fitting given the occasion
Kevin played ‘Finger Bobs’ with the shells
(We have photographic evidence as well)
Fender Bear was there
For a while anyway
The kidnap attempt by Jo was twice foiled
Once by Kevin and once by Melissa Coyles
But on the third attempt
Fender disappeared
Strangely, when Jo went
Nat that I’m counting
But that’s two years running!
All in all a splendid afternoon
And like all good things
Over all too soon
But Chris and I were off to Hitchin
For Chris’s birthday treat from the Fellowship
A few beers, chicken and chips
And Minor Pilot at Club-85
A 90 minute headline set
The best yet
What a day
What a night
Flour Packing the Pilot
Turned out alright!

Grant Meaby

Well, I guess that sort of sums it all up really, a really great day all round, thanks to all involved for making both the Flour packing and the Minor Pilot gig such wonderful events.

Until the next time, cool runnings one and all.

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