Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Odd Folk postal service

The drummer, recently made redundant, sat twiddling his thumbs wondering what an earth he was going to turn his hand to next. He'd waved goodbye to windmills and bags of flour, and after receiving a 'rusty' handshake, he now faced unemployment. He scratched his stubble and thought of some of the jobs he'd taken; he'd fixed computers on military aircraft, done civil aviation, worked for the MoD on secret projects. He worked in a Turkish kebab shop in Cleethorpes, done fire breathing and juggling with a theatre company and represented Great Britain in the world mountain-boarding championships, where he'd broken his arm and spent three months in plaster. He really was a jack of all trades, versatile and open minded, but what next? Project Manager? Roadie? Librarian? chef? Many professions came to him as he sipped forest tea outside his beloved cabin, and he smiled at each option. 
'I could do that!' he thought, 'I could be a carpenter. I could be a detective.' But never once in that long afternoon did he imagine being a postman.
Little did he know it; that was the job he'd take next.


We'd received the albums a couple of weeks before, 1000 units arrived in 5 large boxes. And then the following week the t-shirts arrived, one enormous box that the courier, upon no answer at the door, stuffed into our wheelie bin. It took us a while to work that one out! We had everything in place, there was no excuse but to tackle the daunting task of packaging and posting 165 rewards out to all of you lot! I couldn't physically or mentally take on this job alone. I needed a 'project manager'. I needed a 'roadie'. So
I called the drummer and ordered him down to Cornwall for a week.

The first job was spent sorting the t-shirts out, piling them into separate sizes. We'd ordered 100 t-shirts, 49 of which being rewards and so therefore predetermined sizes. We'd just doubled that as a massive generalization. Sorting them into piles we got a glimpse of our demographic; large men and medium females! For the record small men was the least popular. We only had two and one of them was the piano player!

The next day we sorted out addresses, listing all the 'local' pledgers, all the 'up country' ones, the Europeans, the Americans, the Canadians, the Australians. That took all day. With square eyes we went down the pub and had a couple of trink ales.

The next day we bought all the envelopes, packages, frames and parcels, addressed them and filled them with relevant rewards. Some were easy and just had a cd, some a signed cd, some a hand drawn portrait, some a framed photo, some a t-shirt, but some had all of the above and were being sent to Australia! We had no idea how much this would all cost, having failed to do our maths properly! To send some foreign rewards could cost almost as much as the donation itself, defeating the point! Now you wonder why we're called The Odd Folk! Well the name chose itself! In a desperate attempt to save money we devised a plan to deliver all the local ones ourselves; roughly calculating a quid per item, and with 33 'locals' on the books, plus the cost of envelopes and brown paper bags (for the t-shirts, cheaper than parcels!) we were looking at upwards of £40. "Let's just stick a tenner in the Renault and drive around the peninsula ourselves!" I said. "Think about it, hand delivered to our fans. It'll be a wonderful day. 33 cups of tea!"

So the next morning we woke early, donned our oddfolk t-shrts (medium man, the third most popular size demographic for male fans!) packed our produce into boxes, printed out a route map of West Penwith, grabbed a satnav with a female Northern Irish accent (authoritative yet calming) and set off on what would become a 7 hour tour of our most western promontory.
It was a lovely day, upstairs a battle between sun and wind and rain raged on as we wound our way along coastal roads, across the open moors, down steep wooded valleys, down dirt tracks and bumpy lanes. A few addresses were hard to find, sometimes our Northern Irish friend said we'd arrived at our destination, whereas really we'd pulled up on a empty road with so sign of a house for miles. In those situations what do you do? Leave a parcel on the verge and drive off! Maybe a badger had pledged all those months ago and would creep out of her den at nightfall and retrieve her t-shirt (badger size). Some houses opened their doors, invited us in for cups of tea, cheese rolls, pork pies, chocolate biscuits, a pint of ale. Others we chatted on the porch.
Some we'd never met, that was nice, I assumed I'd know every fan down these parts but a few were strangers. Not for long. A few weren't in so we posted through the letterbox or if the letterbox was too small we left a package with a neighbor. By nightfall we made our final delivery, to the bass player's older sister, high on the hill above Marazion. We debriefed in the pub over a couple of trink ales.

The next day was post office day. We spent the morning sorting through the remaining 122 packages, double checking them, cross-referencing, giving them the once over. Satisfied we entered the post office at midday (perfect timing), the place was heaving! We queued up, shoe-footing our enormous box closer and closer to the till. When we arrived the lady refused to serve us as the order was too big for the checkout. Instead we were instructed to use the self-service machines. My heart sank. "You gotta be joking!?" I said.
"It's alright, I'll look after you!" said another voice, Postman Pat had arrived and escorted us to the tills. 

"Any idea how much this will cost?"
"No idea mate. A lot!" he winked. 
"Maybe we should do second class?"
"It's alright for the UK" he said.
"How long is second class to Australia?
"About 3 months!"
"Wow, OK we'd better not do that, we're already 6 months late!"

We stamped and airmailed and signed and sorted package after package after package and all the while the bill kept growing. By 3pm we were finally done. All 125 rewards were sent to their new homes. We thanked Pat and left, £196 lighter. "Pub?" I chanced. "Too right!" said the drummer.

The next day (I wish we'd only had two trink ales!) was a little harder.
The main job was over but the list of band things was still as long as my arm; finalize venue for Bristol, print posters, print flyers, print business cards, find a multi-instrumentalist for the launches, teach the bass dep the songs for Saturday's gig, book a rehearsal room, send the album off for reviewers, send the album to agents and managers, send the album to venues and promoters, make an EPK, get some new photos, shoot some new videos, update the website, contact the radios, contact the newspapers, finish editing the film, all this had to be done and soon! There's no point releasing an album and sitting back hoping all your friends will buy them all, sending off 4 year old photos and playing at the same places year after year as though it's groundhog day! No, in order to recoup some money, in order to continue progressing, we needed to step up a level. Really we needed a PR person but with -£57 it wasn't looking likely.


Today, a few weeks on, it's surprising how much of that list has got done or is in the process of being done. The drummer left, drove back up to his cabin, painted his van red, donned a peaked cap and joined the Forest of Dean postal service. It turns out he'd found his calling. Who needs the MoD anyway!? He doesn't have time for that. Being a drummer in "the best folk band you've never heard of" is a full time job!

I will end today's installment with some selfless publicity.
Both launches are 'live' and tickets are on sale.

October 30th - Fiddlers -  BUY TICKETS
October 31st - The Acorn - BUY TICKETS

So please come along and 'launch' her with us.
We have special guests.
We've even got a ghost!