Social report Oct09

Beech Village Hall & Recreation Ground

Social report – Autumn 2009

The ongoing building works at the Village Hall combined with uncertain weather conditions meant that several planned events had to be cancelled this summer. As a result, with the notable exception of the Cricket Challenge in August, the last few months have been unusually quiet socially for Beech! However, normal service was resumed with a vengeance on Saturday 12 September, when self-styled “menopausal flower child” Mervyn Stutter, fresh from the Edinburgh Festival, made our new Hall the first date on his Autumn 2009 tour.

Concerns about whether the hall would be completed in time (it wasn’t – but it didn’t matter), whether we would sell enough tickets to break even (we did much better – but only in the last 48 hours) and even whether Mervyn would actually get here (he was stuck on the M27 for an hour) all melted away as soon as the talented satirical singer/songwriter took to the floor. His witty pastiches of well-known songs (from ‘Oh Bank of Scotland’ to ‘Persistent Inflamation’), insightful but always affectionate barbs about getting older and a good dose of nostalgia – the sing-a-long advertising jingles were particularly memorable – ensured that the new Hall rang with laughter all evening.

Mervyn’s visit was supported by Hampshire County Council’s Hog the Limelight initiative, synonymous with quality entertainment in village halls across the county. Launched in 1982 (as Entertainment in Village Halls) Hog was one of the first schemes in England to bring professional, high quality arts events to the country’s villages; today there are almost 40 such schemes in operation, but Hog is one of just a handful still funded by local authorities. Over the years Hog has enabled Beech Village Hall to host acts ranging from 1960s folk icon Julie Felix to last year’s amusing and moving Wartime Review and a well-attended watercolour painting course.

The availability of a brand new state-of-the-art Hall should mean that Beech is even better placed to take advantage of this worthwhile scheme and give residents easy access to the exciting range of acts and shows on offer through Hog. However, we are aware that for Beech’s 200-odd homes to generate an audience big enough to make a small profit and – equally importantly – avoid that uncomfortable ‘empty room’ feeling, requires a proportionally much higher turnout than is the case in the larger neighbouring villages. The Village Hall Committee would therefore welcome your thoughts as to what kind of events would entice YOU to come along – more comedy, drama, art courses, live music (and of what kind), etc. Please let us know!

Although at the time of writing the new Hall was still lacking a few final details (such as loos!), the social life of the village is back on track. The last Friday of September saw the first Social Evening for three months, and the Committee was delighted to hear that so many people had actively missed this monthly opportunity to catch up with friends and neighbours.