I recently posted on here about a hitchhiking trip to Edinburgh that almost ended in disaster. A more frequently visited destination for us back in those days was Batley in West Yorkshire. We had a couple of mates down there who we’d visit occasionally and with whom we’d share more than a little homebrew. A few of us had gone down for a gig at Adam & Eve’s in Leeds one Saturday and, with hitchhikers having no timetable to observe, we decided to stay until the Monday.
On the Sunday we went for a long, head-clearing walk in what is a fairly hilly area. There are long tunnels that cut through some of these hills; pitch dark and with just enough headroom for the average person to walk through (one of our number who sported a proud Mohican haircut was forced to return to base when we reached the first such tunnel). We went along disused railway lines, past an abandoned quarry and onto a huge area of waste land, where we came across a skip that was full of discarded office equipment.
I used to run a music fanzine back then, so I reached inside the skip and hauled out a load of coloured folders to take home with me. These would come in useful for filing the correspondence I received from various bands and distributors I was writing to at the time. When we got back to the flat I discovered that some of these folders had papers inside them and, as I set about chucking the contents into the bin, I noticed that one folder contained several copies of the typed up minutes from a meeting. There were five copies of the same minutes; there had been five people present at the meeting, and there were five of us. Here was an opportunity to brighten up a Sunday evening in the flat.
After tea, and with the homebrew taking effect, we decided to act out the meeting as though it were an episode of The Archers. We each took a copy of the minutes and the parts were cast. We put a blank tape into the machine, hit record and we were off.
The meeting was a gripping corporate drama on the scale of Dallas; an intriguing tale of a company cutting corners on inadequate packaging, with dialogue that was all frayed tempers and buck-passing. The firm involved produced frozen meals, but there had been a problem in that, when customers picked a pack from the freezer section of the supermarket, the solid block of food inside would fly out of the flimsy packaging. This was clearly a major problem and quite possibly the reason for the demise of the company.
It may have been down to the homebrew, but I would never have imagined that such a simple activity could cause so much hilarity. We had to stop the tape and go back to the start many times because some, or all, of us would burst out laughing at a corny accent or a piece of blatant overacting. Finally, though, we got the whole episode on tape. For good measure, we also faded in a theme tune at the start, and again at the end.
We popped the tape into a jiffy bag and sent it to the former managing director of the company, whose address we got from another document in the folders. There was no letter or other enclosure, just the tape. I don’t know if he received the package, and if he did, whether or not he listened to the tape. It was certainly a different way to spend an evening though.