Folkestone 7th May 1994
This was a GOG event. EuroTunnel had arranged for 11 French Giants to visit Folkestone as part of the 'opening celebrations', and Bertilak (The Green Knight) was asked to represent the U.K.
Arriving at the Lees in Folkestone about 10.00 we found Mick the Pole sitting on a park bench, watching the sea, fully Bogied up and ready to go. He'd walked from Hastings as a Bogie, sleeping out, and pathfinding across the Romney Marshes!
We found the building site and greeted various French friends and the GOG construction crew. After helping with some of the building it was back to the Gorbals (a bus of whom it has often been said...) to get into costume and start the drums. The build was complete by the time we got back from marching up and down making a racket and frightening the horses etc, so it was of for some food.
Lunch was a rather nice cold buffet provided by EuroTunnel and provided the opportunity for much reminiscing, planning, telling of tales, playing &34;rat-run&34; under the tables, and all the other silly things one does when waiting to process Giants.
Came the hour and we had a crew of about 35 people, of whom 7 were porters (but one was too tall), about 14 drummers, 3 musicians, and the rest entertainers, whifflers, banner carriers etc.
We stand around drumming and having fun while waiting for the other Giants to process off. (Note to drummers, we must be more careful not to drown other people out.).
Then its our turn and the cortege is moving in fits and starts, so we get the band moving in various patterns to keep the crowd entertained. The musicians (Doug, Sarah and Pauline) make a wise decision and move in front of the Giant, away from the drum corps. Things now work even better, Pauline and Sarah are step dancing whilst playing, and even Doug is moving in a strange way. Miraculous!
We get to the turn-round point and the traditional rum is produced and consumed, cue Frenchman with red faces and burnt throats!, some of the crew wander off to the pub as there is time to kill.
A number of the Hastings people depart declaring that they have a booking that evening, and anyway there's no more rum!
Unfortunately the organisers had failed to make it clear that the Giants would not be doing the eastern part of the parade route, and there were thousands of people sitting waiting for them to go past, to no avail.
Apparently Mr Leech (Bogie of Hastings) managed to swag Mr Howard (Home Secretary)'s champagne, but your correspondent did not witness this event.
Then it was time for the &34;Ronde de Geants&34; or Giants Dance, there were soon twelve Giants and their attendants dancing on English turf (a record of some sort), this went on for some time, until after one of the changes of porters, Bertilak and Jean le Boucheron from Steenvoorde had a small collision at base level, and the Green Knight slowly toppled over despite the efforts of the porters inside (Scouse and myself) and Rusty our guide on the outside.
Being in a Giant as it goes over is not a nice experience, but luckily nobody was badly hurt, and we didn't hit anything other than the ground. Berty suffered some small damage to an elbow and a knuckle, and was soon on his feet again with his head in his hand.
We proceed back to the start point, dismantle and repair to the bar to await the firework display.
It starts to rain, then it rains some more, and by the time the music and fireworks commence it is bucketing down. We decide to leave and spend 40 minutes travelling less than a mile in solid rain and solid queues of traffic.
Back home again and the crew say they've enjoyed it, and we look forward to our next excursion later in the year.
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