RRCPC Newsletter
Volume 43 Number 2 Article 1
December 2006

Hidden Earth 2005

After the fiasco of the Brewery with its poor parking, one way system, lashing rain and last minute rush with huge display boards that took two people to lift, it was time for a change.

O.K.! I suppose it was partly my own fault for even thinking that if I got all the bits together to make a new club stand for this years conference that somebody would help or even do it themselves. Not a chance! So for several Saturdays, instead of cycling or caving in the beautiful Dales I was at the farm angle grinding away (thanks to Bernies for the grinder) at the scrounged metal poles from my works. With some planning and eventual physical help from that stalwart, Sam Lieberman, it all came together on the Wednesday before the conference weekend. A plea had been sent out to the committee for helpers to update and check the layout of the stand, Sam and me were alone at the farm looking at blank boards. At this stage it dawned on me that I didn't actually have the display boards for the stand so with profuse apologies, I had to ring Tim at near 12 at night. He was quite good-natured about being woken and confirmed that the display stuff was in his spare bedroom and that Helen Titchmarsh would bring it all down to Mendip.

So with a car bulging at the seems with metal bars, sheets of plywood and computers, I set off from work on Friday night for a long drive south. It was dark by the time I was negotiating the narrow roads around the conference venue and was totally taken by surprise by the first speed bump and the resounding grating noise of my exhaust. At an even slower speed the next bump also ground the bottom and the next and the next. Andy Pringle turned up just in time to help raise the stand in the sports hall and then my car mat was sacrificed to prevent the stand marking the floor. Helen and Malcolm helped make the stand look presentable and by the time the punters were flocking through the doors on Saturday we looked fairly professional.

With the limited staff we had I managed to see half of the Matienzo lecture while looking for Pringle and that's it. Several people spelled me while I went for a quick brew or loo break but generally it was a thoroughly miserable waste of time in some respects. So with 10 hours driving, petrol cost, beer cost, time away from home, wear and tear on the car and me, there were a lot of downs to the trip.

The ups, however, are as usual a lot less obvious and harder to quantify. I fielded a lot of concerned questions about the future of the farm and the Red Rose. There is genuine affection in the caving community for the Farm and the Red Rose, they want us to carry on our good work and of course fun! Many people were craving the next sheet of the survey and I even took a pre-print order. By being at the conference we keep our profile high in the caving world, especially in the north, as only the Bradford make a real effort to show their faces and they do it quite professionally, something I think we ought to think about long and hard.

Observations:

1)  If we want young people to join the club then we should really have some on show at the stand and conference not some old duffer.
2)  Our stand has won prizes but usually for its individuality rather than its professionalism because we don't put in the effort and planning.
3)  It's always left to one or two people to put it together even though there are lots of people who should have an input:
  The winners of the photographic competitions should have their work printed up and on display.
  The literary award should be on show with illustrations, photos etc.
  Every social event generates fun & laughter but also photographic evidence so let's see it on display. (Our stand has a mass of old photos that people actually love looking at and laughing at.)
  Club members go on foreign trips but seldom get their act together to publicise it after the event and get enthusiasm for the next one.
  How many people actually tried to show what they are up to on the digging and exploration front, one and half, Hugh and Simon. (The Bradford has photos, videos and CDs of the smallest new drop into Gaping Gill and what have we shown….zip!)

We now have a permanent stand frame, which needs painting with red Hammerite, so if you can't go to the conference next year around Oct., get painting, it could be your contribution. The backboards aren't the best material so can someone come up with a good, light and foldable alternative about 125cm wide by 150-200cm drop on both sides of the framework, NOW! (Not in Oct 2006). Even something as simple as checking the displays for things that are out of date, I found that one display still had Sandra as President and e-mail and web addresses that were wrong, but it was too late to correct them.

The way forward is simple, if we want a club then some of you less active people are going to have to get off your arses and do something to help because I am not doing this next year, and this time I definitely mean it.

Ray Duffy

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