Or at least my little corner of it. Leeds, where I work is where in a week’s time Le Grand Depart of the Tour de France will take place. Huddersfield, where I live, has the route the tour will take through the town decked in bunting in the shape of cycling jerseys in yellow, green and red on white polka dots, the colours of the tour’s classification jerseys. A Baptist church is similarly decked out, but they, unlike the council, have remembered the white jersey as well — Well done New North Road Baptist.
There are cultural events too. People have been making wickerwork cycles in an art gallery above a shopping centre in Huddersfield.
Holmfirth is going over the top. Every café and bar seems to be decorated. Being near the bottom of the climb with the highest categorisation in the two Yorkshire stages of the Tour they are expecting thousands to turn up a week on Sunday.
And last Sunday also brought me to Holmfirth, two weeks to go to the tour, to see the band that anyone can join. Leeds band Hope and Social were doing the impossible. 12 gigs in 4 days.
The first 6 gigs were two weeks ago over one weekend, along the route of the first stage of the tour between Leeds and Harrogate. The second set of six were last weekend on the route of the second stage between York and Sheffield. Sunday they played Elland, Holmfirth and Sheffield.
The Band Anyone Can Join was a group who had been rehearsing over the last few weeks to provide backing to Hope and Social. A different Band at each location. Holmfirth saw musicians from the music centre. A string band, brass band and the saxophones of a jazz big band joined forces with a ukulele orchestra, a guitar band, the Marsh Ladies Choir and some African drummers – plus some other local musicians – to produce the orchestra for that one off performance.
With a stage powered by bicycle powered generators (though the large solar panels helped) which had to be put up and taken down each time, a different backing orchestra to rehearse for each location. There were some surprises too. The theme from the film 2001 A Space Odyssey played by the orchestra in the middle of one of the songs was one of them.
Well done Hope and Social. You did it. I suspect that this weekend you’ll be having a rest. you deserve it.