Friday, 1 November 2013

Sheffield Praise Day

In national Church terms, the big splash for us locally is Sheffield Praise Day.  It's traditionally held about the third Saturday of October, at the International Conference Hall in Ponds Forge.  We have a coach-based evangelism/outreach campaign in the city centre for the few days leading up to the event.  Of course, it's a different experience for everyone: here's my version.

The Centre's main hall needs to be carpeted.  It's got one of those classy wooden sprung floors, with multiple multi-coloured court lines for multi-sports events.  Ponds Forge is one of the fussiest venues we hire - not necessarily a bad thing - so protecting the floor requires fine-tuning attention.  

We employ three grades of adhesive tape: first your standard black gaffer tape for sticking together the edges of the sections of carpets - that's the bit you most see.  Then special-purpose dark blue gaffer tape, used where the edge of the carpet overlaps the wooden floor - this has a different adhesive that won't cause damage.  Third, a very expensive white double-sided tape NEC (National Exhibition Centre) approved, , that goes under the carpet to prevent slipping - this goes down first.

Thursday evening, ten o'clock, finds Mark, our events manager, parking his trailer and van next to the loading doors.  Off come the rolls of carpet - dark blue, pale blue, dark grey, pale, grey, and (this year) billiard table green.  It's all ex-exhibition stuff that Mark looks out for throughout the year, and blags as needed.   Seven of us local guys have turned out to help.  It feels like a 50 meter walk to the far end of the hall, where we drop the first pile.  Then we work our way back towards the entrance.  Viv's in charge, and selects the first pieces to roll out.  They will run under the stage, and provide a straight edge for positioning the remaining sections.
 Viv entrusts me with the white tape and blue tape, and I settle up against the far wall, working across towards the banked bleacher seating.  I've brought a cushion to kneel on, a Stanley knife and a pair of black sticky gloves.  Last year, on the same task, I didn't use a cushion, and regretted it.  The rest of the guys are with Viv selecting and laying out the rolls that will match up best, by colour and then width.  Malcolm suggests to Mark, "You could have made this process simpler by numbering each piece of carpet last time."  Mark doesn't answer.
Before long, Jack and Carmino are onto the black tape finishing off, with the characteristic 'squit, squit' unpeeling noise.  I muse if this may be why it gets called duck tape.   Jack shuffles along backwards with the roll, while Carmino picks his way forward, one foot in front of the other, to stick it down.  An hour has passed, and now the process gets repetitive and more tedious.   For example, some of the carpet was first laid upside down.  Mark decides to move the colours around, so the green is all under the bleachers.
approved, that goes under the carpet to prevent slipping - this goes down first. 

Having finished the far end, I gather up the scattered rubbish and head towards the entrance end.  Viv floats around with an air of uncertainty, then pulls out a section of dark grey and replaces it.   "Jack," I call over, "am I right in thinking it was about this time we has some bottles of pop, last year?"  He grunts. 

We've all slowed down, but Mark now summarises what he'd like us to finish before we pack in, leaving him to tinker around in the morning.  With a fresh objective in view, we're more focussed.  Carmino joins me in the black tape routine.  He peels off and I stamp down.  Jack appears with a 2-litre flagon of Cola and an eight-piece pizza.  We're on the home straight.

 It's half-past-midnight when we climb into the vehicles and head homeward.  Mark will pull his van round to the carpark and crash out in the back, so he's ready to let in the rigging team early.  On Saturday the punters will arrive and enjoy the event, I imagine giving no thought to the carpet.  After all it's just like it was last year, and every Praise Day before.  I guess that's the idea.

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