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July 2010

A Cloudy Language #56 to #65

It's been a while since our last Cloudy Language update – apologies.

First, and to prove this isn't all about Rob McElwee, here's a fine contribution from Peter Gibb:
“A tongue of high pressure extending from the Azores puts a lid on the rain this week.
Some more anatomical strangeness from John Hammond:
“This finger of wet weather will pulse up across parts of south-west England.
A nice hall-of-mirrors contribution from Philip Avery:
“I almost feel the urge to warn you that I'm going to warn you that we've got some rain coming.
And some more unhelpful analogies from Daniel Corbett:
“More in the way of wet weather across parts of Scotland – almost like a bit of a two-legged octopus of sorts.

“And then, like a little wiggle of a blue sausage of sorts, the next little wiggle is here, this is the next lump of moisture working in.
But let's face it, this is mainly about Rob McElwee, who continues to dominate the weather picture:
“This first week of the four will produce rain a-plenty, some thunder, Met Office warnings and limited area hotness.
Limited area hotness?
“From Tuesday to Thursday, a flabby low pressure area will allow warm sunshine between slow-moving heavy showers.
Flabby low pressure area?
“The thought of increasing cloud and rain is there with you in Wales.
So remember to pack your thought of an umbrella.
“Then, to end the week, pressure starts to build, the northerly is cut off and the sun can be bolder.
Come on sun, grow a pair.
“Settled, sunny and increasingly warm weather inhabits the south of the UK.
Interesting use of 'inhabits'.

Finally, and as if it hasn't already been on every other blog in the world, here's a clip that shows how meteorological phenomena can bring out the poet in all of us.

Barnaby reborn


It's about time we reported back on the Barnaby Festival, which took place in Macclesfield on 18-20 June (those heady days when England were still in the World Cup and a 70-68 final tennis set was a logical impossibility).

As explained in previous posts, the Barnaby Festival is a revival of a centuries-old tradition of celebrating the feast of St Barnabas, which used to be a very big deal in Macclesfield. We got involved when the idea was a glint in the eye of a small band of local volunteers. Initially, we created a logo and a set of postcards. Later, there was the offical brochure and various banners around Macclesfield.

Our involvement was only one part of a much greater effort by the whole organising committee to create a weekend of entertainment from scratch, drawing on the time, good will and creativity of local people. It was deeply inspiring seeing the whole thing come together. But no one really knew how it would turn out until the weekend itself.

Happily, it was a huge and heartening success.

Hundreds of people lined the streets for the Barnaby parade, creating the kind of scenes that Macclesfield hasn't seen in decades. (Street parades are great – there should be more of them.)

Elsewhere, there were visual arts events, a specially commissioned Barnaby opera, a Barnaby tea party, poetry readings, digital graffiti and the world's biggest knitted cardigan. All sorts of stuff.

For us, it was particularly nice to see how the brand and identity became public property, used and reinterpreted in different ways. Local shops were encouraged to decorate their windows in line with the Barnaby theme, so we had the rare privilege of Marks & Spencer recreating one of our postcards:


Good work, M&S.

Elsewhere, there were some nice wooden signs to mark out the various venues on the Visual Arts trail:


And the town was filled with silk flags and handmade bunting in the Barnaby colours:


But the biggest honour of all was for our Barnaby poem to be set to music by local legend Tim Woodhouse. For those who don't know, Tim Woodhouse is Macclesfield's answer to John Shuttleworth, and possibly the most majestically brooding vocal presence to emerge from Macclesfield since Ian Curtis. His previous work includes There is a little room above the sandwich shop and Verity Stokes' Knitting. This is what he did with the Barnaby verse:

And the best news of all? Businesses reported takings trebling compared to an average weekend, and local punters were impressed. So Barnaby will almost certainly be back. Job done, for now at least.