Friday, July 27, 2007

5 weeks to go

Well, The Park is now open. They've had us practicing for that damn parade all week (making us dress up each time - what? they don't know what our uniform looks like?). Every time was done differently, and the last 5 runs through were each going to be the last time, but it went well enough, considering. They had some opening ceremony/ribbon cutting thing that they wanted us to play for. We were to march across the town square, play some music in-between speeches, and then march off to join the other performers in preparation for the parade. What they didn't plan for was the hundreds of people crammed into the aforementioned square, so first we were going to just play where we were standing, then we were told to abandon that gig for the parade. We still don't know what a typical day will entail - we are kept perpetually in the dark as to what we will be required to do until a few hours before we are to do it! The chaps in charge here couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery! I'm currently waiting to find out what time our performance will be this afternoon. That's right, they can tell us that we'll have to play, but they can't tell us when!
34 days and counting.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

6 weeks to go.

And then there were 6. Not only weeks to go, but also players in the band. You see, Robert (our ex-pipe major) had never really got over being shafted from his leadership position, and for the last few weeks had been making life rather difficult for us - not listening to instructions, not learning the tunes etc, and just generally being a Richard Cranium. Eventually, it got so bad that something had to be done. There was a band meeting held with our employer, (which Rob promptly left as soon as he understood what the meeting was to be about, thus robbing himself of the chance to defend himself), and as a result he had his contract terminated. As Casey hasn't yet been replaced after she left, Rob's departure has left us with 6 players, but we all get along much better, and there's much less tension in the air when we rehearse or perform.

We have also had members of the public up here at The Park for the first time since February - the customers and staff of The Construction Bank of China got to come up and see the place before the grand opening on the 28th (There was something that happened on the previous grand opening [the 18th], but that seemed to be confined to the golf course).
We were out there all day, playing our 4 x 25 min sets, with not enough time in between to really do anything. We did christen the new KFC at lunch time though (it's going to be deadly having a fast-food joint with us on the mountain!). The highlight of the day, was when a little kid (about 5 years old) was posing in front of us for a photo, in a karate pose, with one arm stuck out horizontally in the plane of his torso, and the other arm in the same plane, but with his fist over his head. Then the call of "quick march" came, and the sudden (loud) sound of the drumrolls scared the crap out of him, and he ran to mummy. This drew giggles from the crowd, and I had to concentrate on not laughing myself.

They've had us do a dress rehearsal today for the big parade they're putting on on the 28th, and it was clear that the bosses had never organised a parade before, it was such a gagglefuck. (It means just what you think it means!). There was no need for us to get dressed up, but they made us do it anyway - the poor puppeteer had to lug all his stuff around, for no purpose. It should be interesting to see how it all comes together (or falls apart at the seams, we'll see!).

We will be playing quite a lot over the next 6 weeks, but I will try to keep the weblog posts coming.
See you all later

Friday, July 13, 2007

7 weeks to go.

It looks like all is going to be ready for an opening of The Park on Wednesday - it just goes to show how much can be done in a month!! I am beginning to dread this opening, because even though it will give us something to do, I fear that we (the band) will be hopelessly mis-managed. Again. A perfect example of this mis-management was yesterday. We were told the previous evening that the power would be off from early in the morning until the evening. We then find out that almost all the rest of the staff have the day off. At about 2:00, after having been asked "Why are you not down the mountain on your day off?" by someone who would know that we had the day off, Wayne (our pipe-major) goes to see Richard (our interpreter, and chief mis-manager) to find out what's going on. "Oh yes, day off, day off" was his reply - fat lot good that does us now.
Also, being the 12th of the month, it was payday. Now, Wang Fang (who gives us our money, but doesn't live at The Park [even though she has a room here - a story for another time perhaps]), was seen the previous evening with a great wad of bills in her handbag, but of course, she won't give us our money until the 12th. That morning, she's still at The Park, but doesn't come around to pay us. Wayne rings her up to find out what's going on. Apparently, she'd gone back to her house (a 2-hour drive away) 'to change her clothes'. At least, that was the excuse that she gave. She then told us that she'd be back at 4:00 with our money. 4:00 comes, and goes. 5:00 comes and goes. 6:00 comes, and , you'll never guess what, goes, all without our money. Finally, she shows up at 6:30, with some crappy excuse about heavy traffic or being very busy that day or some bulshit like that.
So, instead of having a plesant day in town with money to burn, we have an unplesant day stuck up on the mountain with no air-conditioning (it was rather warm yesterday), while we waited to get paid.
I wanna go home!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

8 weeks to go

The countdown is on. Only 9 days to go now until The Park is supposed to be open. We hear rumours that members of the public won't be allowed up here until the 28th, though, so as to give the workers time to put the finishing touches on the place. We still don't know what our role will be after the opening, but we've been kept busy lately doing photo and video shoots, presumably for advertisements. [by the way, I've seen the ad mentioned in this post, and it's not too bad, except for the fact that I'm caught looking at the camera, something I made sure not to do this time around!]

One ancdote that I neglected to share with you, my readers, regards an event that took place on the eve of the great feast. We (Wayne, Ashley, the Twins and myself) were in the Twins' apartment peeling vegetables, when in walks Richard, our translator, to tell us that there was a 'possible' job the next day. Now, that next day, being a Sunday, was to be our day off for the week, and the Twins had planned on having that time to prepare the food for the night's dinner. We told Richard that we weren't going to play in the morning 1) because it wasn't even confirmed that we were needed and 2) because that's too little notice for us to play on our day off - we could already have gone to Hong Kong if we had wanted to. So Richard had to go tell his boss that there would be no pipe band the next morning, whether they were needed or not. He came back a few minutes later to warn us to stay inside the next morning, because he'd told his boss that we were all in Hong Kong!!
It turned out that the President of the company was considering coming out for a visit, which was why they (may have) required our presence at the train station. As it happened, he did visit, but apparently he was in a good mood that day, so it didn't really matter that there was no band to meet him.
Until next time.