I think the above best sums up our St. Georges Reloaded
2006 competition. Starting at the beginning: The team started off
as Pyrotechnictigger (Ian) and his wife Helen plus myself for the
planning stages then joined by lighting technician Mike and firers
Karl and Tommy. Stage hands included Andrew and Mickael. Scenery
was painted by Jenna and Hanna. Make up was by Norma Stits.
OK so this sounds like a bit of a mammoth production
and that was exactly our theme, I'd got a text from Tigger at some
daft time in the morning when he was plastered on holiday in the
US saying he'd always wanted to fire a display over the top of a
First planning meeting saw four hours of, ahem,
lively discussion. Tigs: "We should be able to build a castle
up to about 40 foot high". Rick: " 'k off". Mrs Tigs:
"Listen to Rick, he's sensible". Four hours later, compromise
reached... 32 foot high Castle Tigger to be built.
Second planning meeting - music. Tigs: "I want
to use music from Disney films". Rick: " 'k off".
Mrs Tigs: "Listen to Rick he's sensible". Four hours later,
compromise reached... Disney music is being used, tracks selected
and roughly edited but under no circumstances are we using the gay
music from Little Mermaid, no way, absolutely not, its not happening,
don't even think about it...
...Music later submitted to Mike40 contains a 30
second section of gay music from Little Mermaid!
Planning on the pyro to be used was pretty standard,
what fits the timing/desired effect/budget. Pyro list submitted.
The idea being to create a criss-cross wall of comets rising from
behind the castle to open the display with the castle lit in white
light. Finale to be preceded by a three second silence and total
darkness, lighting changes to red and then the heavy stuff kicks
in (see the film Bootcamp Tigger - for when Tigger screams for silence).
Final planning meeting held, Tigger has all the
timber lined up, cladding for the front of the castle comprises
of 8' x 6' panels scrounged off Tommy who for some reason uses them
From left to right: Karl, Michael, Tigger,
Rick and Tommy.
And the finale plan is unveiled: Two Quantum Leaps
set at a 90 degree angle to each other are mounted on a 40 foot
long arm which has a pivot at one end. One firer is to light the
Quantums, the other firers then push the arm up (think like a Roman
siege catapult but with less force!) so that the Quantums appear
at the top of the Castle and fire from there. Four hours of lively
discussion, length of arm cut to 32 foot and a turret added to it.
Tigger brought the team together the day before to lay out the timber,
add some paint markings and generally change the firing order.
Day of the comp. Team Bouncing Bangers are on site
early, 7am-ish, and start to dig, saw, screw, paint, swear. Anyone
noticed we haven't got near the firing site yet? Holes are dug to
plant the uprights in and cemented in place using ready mixed postcrete.
Above: Probably the most important post
in the whole field!
Construction begins on the second tier of the Castle.
Tigger announces he has enough wood for a third tier, what a chuffing
surprise. Team discussion held, children present, language kept
clean (just). Stu wanders past, pisses himself laughing at the discussion
taking place and offers to help lifting the third tier. Compromise
reached: Two turrets added to the Castle but definitely only two
tiers high plus the turrets.
The second tier is ready to be lifted on to the
ground floor structure, the wind starts to blow a touch, Stu duly
comes to help and the building crew begin the lift. The structure
cracks and is lowered to the ground for remedial repairs.
Any sign of pyro being put out yet? Second tier
gets lifted into place, the turrets are on, the Castle has been
painted, the pigs are lined up and ready to fly. Time to test the
arm with the Quantum Leaps on it.
Bugger me it worked! Takes 2-3 seconds for the crew
to get it into place, we rehearse, we rehearse, we rehearse, Goddamn
it's perfect. No problems, it doesn't wobble, it doesn't crack.
Tigger is hailed a genius. But the pro teams are behind us and they
aren't impressed. They raise a safety concern that if the arm breaks
or one of the Quantums become unsecure then it could pose a hazard.
Safety inspection by Meggsy and Stu to see it in action. The crew
move the arm up into position and it makes a cracking noise - safety
comes first and the idea is pulled.
We've now been on site for 12 hours, hands and feet
are blistered, we're tired and we haven't stopped to eat at which
point our competition winning idea gets pulled. The Quantum Leaps
are set up 6 foot high in front of the Castle. We're all disappointed
but there is no argument and no debate over the subject, it was
one of those things.
Pyro gets staked out about 7pm and we run through
the display/lighting changes finally getting something to eat. At
this point we have to thank the WAGs that had accompanied us. Best
scene of the day was when Tigger handed a jigsaw and a piece of
hardboard to a XXXX year old girl and said "Just cut us some
flags out of this and paint them please". Her mum nearly screamed
as the girl started to use the jigsaw, wimp!
Firing time approaches, usual nerves start to show,
Helen conducts a radio test and we take up our positions.
The music to pyro goes. Gay bit from Little Mermaid
set to two Orgasmatrons works perfectly (Tigger hailed as a genius).
Single Surewin rocket set at about 45 degrees is to run across the
sky to the line "When you wish upon a star" - timing is
close enough, rocket explodes in the field behind us as planned
and the crowd think we got it wrong - (note to self, don't try and
be too arty farty next year).
We wanted/planned a three second silence before
the finale when we cut the lights, had no pyro in the sky and the
music changed to the dramatic Notredame piece. Bugger, Autumn Leaves
was still running, where's the willow finale to that piece? Men
Shun had changed the design and timings without telling anyone (note
to self - don't try and time Cat 3 to within the millisecond).
The Quantums are lit for the last 25 seconds, they
run at different durations so one continues to run after the first
one stopped, not funny but thanks to Pyro Pete as he did get a good
stills shot of their finale together so it must have been close.
Rocket explodes near the crowd as Mike40 on the PA adds his closing
comment. Now that rocket was angled at about 10 degrees off the
vertical and slightly away from the crowd, not funny it got that
close to the audience, glad rockets not being generally allowed
We had to drop the castle there and then to allow
the pro displays to be seen and despite earlier fears that it was
a bit shaky we really struggled to get it to fall over. In the end
it took us all charging at the thing to get it down! Not bad for
something built only that day.
Our timings were a bit out and we were disappointed
by that. Folk disappear to the bar after the comp, Bouncing Bangers
go to hotel. Frankly we were beat in more ways than one. We'd spent
about 18 hours on site and we had kids with us that we needed to
get into bed and to be honest we felt we missed out on not joining
everyone else for a beer.
Thanks for the help in clearing up from Jeff. Thanks
for the support on this website after the comp on the crazy idea.
Ignore the comp, ignore the fact we didn't win,
ignore the cost and ignore the blisters and aching muscles. This
one tested our team's resolve and friendship and despite the hardship
and the frustrations both in planning and executing the design we
are now better mates than ever.
PS. Jan 2007: Tigger texts me at New Year to say
he has just seen a display fired off a mountain with a lake as a
reflecting pool. There's a word I can't use here but trust me, when
I see him...
MAIN CAMERA: View from right at the
front of the spectator area. This is the highest quality video
clip. Windows Media format, 960x540 (widescreen format), 89Mb,
click on the image to the left. Please download it all before
playing. A stills from this video is shown above. See the
clips below for views from further back.
MONKEY CAM: A unique
view from the sidelines, from a camera mounted on UKFR member
Crazedmonkey's helmet. This is a lower quality (noisy) clip
due to the analogue source camera. Windows Media format, 83Mb,
click on the image to the left. Please download it all before
FLASH2 CAM: From the
Video Vault, footage by Flash2 from a superb viewpoint near
the back. Quicktime format, 23Mb, click on the image to access
this from the Video Vault section.