20th June 2021 - The EFSPACM Group
"Hey all, I
like to invite you to my project Benchesbenches!"
So posted Tonio Rumoer, along with a cartoon of a bench. Yeah, obviously
that's not all he said in the post, we'd have just kept going otherwise, but
this one got our attention immediately. We have no shortage of benches
around Knott End-On-Sea, the sea wall and Esplanade are littered with them,
most of which I've enjoyed sitting on now and again, partly for the fact
each comes with a view to die for, partly coz I'm getting a bit lazy in me
old age. Either way, the idea of picking a favourite and creating "a
soundscape inspired by a view from that bench", yeah, we liked that.
Skit suggested the one in front of the library, conveniently in earshot of
two car mechanic workshops, thus a great excuse to include power tools. I
suggested we did enough stuff like that anyway and how about processing
field recordings from one that is spoilt for both sounds AND
views? Skit conceded to my wisdom, not that he'll ever publicly admit it.
There are a pair of benches
(which seemed appropriate for a project called BenchesBenches) at the top of
the ferry slip (GPS 53.9262976, -2.9884416 for the technically minded) which
seemed perfect, offering multiple views and the sounds of the the River Wyre
meeting the Irish Sea, topped by the regular crossing, tides permitting, of
the Wyre Rose, our iconic ferry. For those that don't understand GPS, it's
quite easy; just drive through Knott End until the road runs out. That'll be
the ferry slip in front of you, the benches (centre of our graphic, which
can be seen more clearly on the BenchesBenches site) are near the top of it
on the right.
Top left is the view behind
them to the north, looking some 10 miles over Morecambe Bay to the Cumbrian
Fells and England's highest mountain at 978m, Scafell Pike. Top right is the
view south, down the River Wyre, you can just about make out the distant
shape of Blackpool Tower, slightly to the right of the upper edge of the sea
wall, a little over a third of the way across from the left of the picture.
Bottom left is the view to the west, looking along the ferry slipway, across
the River Wyre towards Fleetwood, famous around the world for being the
birthplace and home of the Fisherman's Friend lozenge. Bottom right is our
beloved ferry, the Wyre Rose herself, for which our chosen benches are a
popular spot to await the klaxon that tells you she's on the way across.
With Twizz's school ready to
break up for the long summer holidays in a few hours, we knew the morning of
Tuesday 20th July would pretty much be our last chance to get the necessary
recordings done, and having a very low tide smack in the middle of the day
didn't exactly help, we needed the ferry running. Skit arrived early and the
two of us sat down with a coffee and shortbreads to plan our strategy. The
last ferry of the morning would run at 11:45, we didn't want to leave it
that late, just in case. So, come 10:30, we marched along the Esplanade for
our date with destiny, each armed with a Sony IC Recorder (*other small
portable recording devices are available, but we don't own any others coz we
like this one) and a microphone boom stand. Actually, when I say marched, I
mean drove. It may only be a 5 minute walk, but I have a touch of gout at
the moment, it's not coz people would look at us, honest.
As the 10:15 ferry pulled away
to make the brief journey back across the Wyre to Fleetwood, we
walked/hobbled down the ferry slip to get set up. We wanted to get a good 20
minutes of background recordings before she came back over; rolling waves,
seagulls, the annoying git who's always flying overhead in a microlight,
that kind of thing. It's always quiet just after the ferry leaves, so it's
the perfect time for it. Of course, our luck being what it is, the second it
pulled out, along comes a young lad called Henry with his grandparents,
looking for crabs on the spit. You'll hear him. And them. Thus you'll work
out how we know his name. Actually, it wasn't a problem as it turned out, if
anything, it just kind of adds to the atmosphere and sense of the location.
With our recording devices fixed to the stands with giant paperclips (oh,
we're nowt if not resourceful), an elastic band holding the wind muffs in
place (yeah, we learned from that one), we stood zen-like in silence for
some 20 minutes, waiting for the Wyre Rose to return.
Everything you hear was
recorded there and then with minimal processing, though a fair bit of
mixing. You get very self-conscious as people start coming down after the
ferry klaxon sounds too, feel their eyes burning in your back. But we're all
very polite and friendly up this way, so the only comment I got was from a
guy who ignores Skit and says to me;
"Well now, you're just photo-ing
Which I was, you don't trust
Skit with cameras.
"No, recording as well," I
replied, "you're gonna be famous."
And true to my word, you'll hear him saying it at the end, so he is.